University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history

2. Immigration and settlement,   pp. 43-51

Page 47

resources has not been undertaken; it is possible that historic resources related to this group
may be uncovered in the future.
Irish Settlement
The Irish were one of the earliest groups to settle in Janesville. In 1850, 247 Irish immigrants
were reportedly living in the city. Of these, nearly 100 were laborers who had been drawn to
the city to work in the mills and factories. Additional Irish immigrants were attracted to
Janesville when the railroad reached the city in 1853. Many men went to work for the
railroads, the first generation as laborers and the second generation in skilled positions. Irish
women were often employed as domestic servants in the wealthier households of the city. By
1860, the Irish population in Janesville exceeded 1,200, or 16 percent of the city's total
population. (McDonald 1954:62-75)
Most of Janesville's Irish settlers lived in the Old Fourth Ward, southwest of the city's
downtown commercial district-reportedly the roughest neighborhood in Janesville in the
nineteenth century. The most important Irish institution established in the city-the Catholic
Church-was located there. St. Patrick's Catholic Church and School was the social and
cultural gathering place for the Irish community. (The church history and its association with
Irish immigrants can be found in the Religion chapter of this book.) The Irish also established
St. Patrick's Total Abstinence and Benevolent Association in 1872. Located in the old Young
America Block (not extant), it promoted temperance and offered a plan for weekly payments to
sick and disabled members. (Unhoefer 1965:19-24; Fleckner:287)
St. Patrick's Church and Parsonage,
315 S. Cherry Street. St. Patrick's is
the oldest church building in Janesville
still in use as a church. This engraving
was published in 1873.
Immigration and Settlement

Go up to Top of Page