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
(1998)

2. Immigration and settlement,   pp. 43-51


Page 49

In communities where German immigrants were a large percentage of the population, German-
language newspapers and societies were common. In Janesville, only one German-language
newspaper, The Janesville Journal, was published. It began in 1889 but only published for a few
years. One important German society established in Janesville was the Concordia Society, a
benevolent group organized in 1868. It provided aid to needy and sick German immigrants and
also was a social and musical organization. (Brown 1908"509; City Directories)
Other than the churches mentioned above, there are no identified historic resources associated
with German immigrants in Janesville. A thorough survey of potential resources has not been
undertaken; it is possible that historic resources related to this group may be uncovered in the
future.
Norwegian Settlement
Norwegian immigrants, another large group that came to Wisconsin in the nineteenth century,
established several important Norwegian settlements in Rock County. A number of Norwegians
settled in Janesville, although their numbers never rivaled those of the city's Irish and German
immigrants. Like the Germans, Norwegians centered their social and cultural activities
largely around their church. They founded the Norwegian Lutheran Church, known later as
the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, on the north side of town, where much of the
Norwegian population resided. Services were conducted exclusively in Norwegian until 1881.
The history of this church and its relationship to Norwegian immigrants in Janesville are
given in the Religion chapter. (Brown 1908:417-418, 427; "First Lutheran Marks 125th
Anniversary" 1977:11)
Two Norwegian-language publications were printed very briefly in Janesville during the mid-
nineteenth century. Maanedstidende, a religious monthly magazine, was published between
1850 and 1851. The Demokraten, a weekly newspaper brought to Janesville from Racine, was
published here briefly in 1851. (Brown 1908:440,501)
Other than the Norwegian Lutheran Church, there are no identified historic resources
associated with Norwegian immigrants in Janesville. A thorough survey of potential resources
has not been undertaken; it is possible that historic resources related to this group may be
uncovered in the future.
African-American Settlement
Historically, Janesville has never had a sizable African-American population. For much of
the twentieth century, very few black families have lived in Janesville. In the nineteenth
century, though, there was a small group of African-American families in the city. The
earliest mention of black families was in an October 25, 1845, Janesville Gazette article about
Julius MacCabe's local census. In this article, MacCabe mentioned that there was "... one
colored woman 100 years old..." living in the city.
The 1860 and 1870 federal censuses reported that 93 African-Americans lived in Rock County
during that period, 62 of whom resided in Janesville. After the Civil War, many former black
slaves settled in Wisconsin communities and in rural areas of the state. Strong abolitionist
sentiment in Janesville before the Civil War may have encouraged blacks to settle there. In any
event, in 1867, Janesville's black community was large enough to begin raising funds for a
Methodist church; the church, however, was never built. (Eighth Census of the United States
1860:529, 540; Ninth Census of the United States 1870:293; Bennett & Lawson 1890:223)
Immigration and Settlement
49


Go up to Top of Page