Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County
County government, pp. 58-77 PDF (14.0 MB)
County Government Why Adams County? A dams County was created by the legislature of Wisconsin Territory on March 11, 1848. Reportedly named in honor of both John Adams, the second President of the United States, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth President who died in February 1848, the entire county was west of the Wisconsin and south of the Lemonweir Rivers in what is now southern and western Juneau County. The non- Indian population of this area was less than 200, far too small to justify or support a county govern- ment. So why was Adams County created? Therein lies a story. In the 1840s, Sauk County was involved in a dispute over the site of its county seat, which the legislature had placed at Prairie du Sac in 1844. Since Prairie du Sac was located on the southern edge of the county, it was expected that county residents would someday relocate the county seat to a more centrally-located site. In fact, one limitation the legislature placed on counties selecting a site was that the county seat be located reasonably near the center of the county. As expected, settlers moved into central and northern Sauk and demanded that the county seat be moved out of Prairie du Sac. The leading contenders for the honor were two new villages on the Baraboo River, Reedsburg and "Adams." In a hotly-contested election in 1846, county voters selected "Adams" for their county seat. Reedsburg boosters refused to accept the loss and worked to reverse it. They suffered a setback when the legislature, led by Delano Pratt of "Adams" village, created Adams County just north of Reedsburg. No connection between the naming of "Adams" village and Adams County has been found--yet. Perhaps it is only a coincidence. When the new boundary lines were drawn, Reedsburg found itself on the northern edge of Sauk County and less eligible for the county seat. Reedsburg then countered by electing one of its own, Caleb Crosswell, to the legislature in 1850. He persuaded the legislature to change the borders and shift nearly all of the original Adams County 58 Above: An 1849 map of Wiscon- sin depicting the original Adams County west of the Wisconsin and south of the Lemonweir Rivers and the village of Adams in Sauk County.
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