When did the old cattle barn burn down? Located on the current site of Rotary Gardens, a woman remembered the barn fire and was hoping to find an article in The Janesville Gazette. A guidebook at Rotary Gardens dated the fire of the auction barn in the late 1930s. "Lillian" felt certain it happened after 1939. Reference librarians checked available sources for information, with no success.
Our Local History Database had related information about the Janesville Livestock Exchange sales pavilion in another location, Beloit Avenue, but no mention of a fire at what is now Rotary Gardens.
The library's AccessNewspaperArchive database, available at Badgerlink.net, provided two clues. An article from The Sheboygan Press dated June 1, 1932, explained that "plans are under way to establish the Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market in Janesville". An article from The Janesville Gazette, dated February 17, 1968, had this headline: "Cattle Sales Barn Leased by Norwood". It announced the sale barn went out of business, and the structure at 1901 Beloit Avenue would be converted to a warehouse facility for Norwood Mills. The article included this tidbit: 'In May 1940, the property [at 1901 Beloit Avenue] was taken over by Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market Inc., owned by Dr. R.H. Bussewitz, Walter Gasper and Robert Morton".
Could May, 1940, be the correct time frame for the fire at the Rotary Gardens site?
We contacted the Rock County Historical Society archives for help.
Their Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the years 1926-1944 included this message printed on the map, with a mark on the spot of the current Rotary Gardens site: "May 1944 - Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market Sales Barn".
Could May, 1944, be the time frame for the fire?
Our older Janesville City Directories list the address for the Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market as 915 S. Main Street from 1934 through 1941. The 1943 directory lists their new address: RD3, PO Box 172 - which is the 1901 Beloit Avenue site.
Reference librarians decided to search our Janesville Gazette microfilm, starting with May, 1944. We found this article in the Monday, May 15th issue, on page one:
(Click to enlarge) It continues on page nine:
We were unable to reach "Lillian" by phone, and had planned to mail the article to her. She happened to stop by the desk the very next day!
We're so glad Lillian asked the question.....she was right about the date. We'll share this with the Rock County Historical Society and Rotary Gardens, and add it to our local history files.
12/22/2011 posted by sb