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

14. Notable people,   pp. 249-261

Page 249

Notable People
Carol Lohry Cartwright
Atwood, Volney
One of the earliest settlers in Janesville and a noted businessman and civic leader, Volney
Atwood was a native of Vermont who came west in 1837. After first traveling in the St. Louis
area, Atwood was drawn to the Wisconsin Territory. Arriving in Racine, he went to work for a
survey crew laying a road across the territory. The crew ended its work near Janesville, and
Atwood claimed a 320-acre parcel northeast of the future city. In 1843, he sold this land and
purchased the American Hotel (N. Main and E. Court streets, not extant). During the 1840s,
Atwood served as deputy sheriff and sheriff of Rock County and was elected to the position of
register of deeds. Later, he served as a county supervisor and on the city council. In 1847, he
formed a partnership with William Lawrence in a hardware business. The firm of Lawrence
and Atwood was a successful and long-lived business in Janesville. The partners also invested in
and operated a woolen mill. In 1887, Atwood retired from the hardware business and served as
president of the Oak Hill Cemetery Association until the early 1900s. He died in 1906 at the
age of 94. (Portrait and Biographical Album 1889:296; Atwood Family History)
Bennett, John R.
A prominent attorney and jurist in nineteenth-century Janesville, John R. Bennett was born in
New York State and trained as a lawyer there. In 1848, he came to Janesville and engaged in a
legal practice. He was elected Rock County district attorney in 1863 and circuit court judge in
1882. (Portrait and Biographical Album 1889:191-192)
Bostwick, Joseph M.
Joseph M. Bostwick founded the dry goods store that became the most prominent retail business
in nineteenth-century Janesville and helped make the city a successful commercial center.
Bostwick was born in New York State in 1834 and came to Janesville with his family in 1847.
After attending local schools, Bostwick began work as a retail store clerk and, by the late 1850s,
was in partnership with William Knowles in his own retail store. After several partnerships
in the dry goods business, Bostwick opened his own dry goods and department store in 1881. In
1882, his sons entered the business, which was then renamed J. M. Bostwick & Sons. Known as
Bostwick's Department Store in the twentieth century, it was the most important retail store in
downtown Janesville until well past the mid-twentieth century. (Rock RiverValley II 1926:78-
Notable People

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