Fourth of July Parade, 1869, Downtown Janesville

Photo of a horse-drawn float full of flower-bedecked women dressed in white riding in an 1869 July 4th parade in front of the Myers House. James Webb's jewelry store, located in the Myers House building, is also visible.image

St. Paul's Evangelical Church history @Hedberg Public Library

Hedberg Public Library has the entire run of our local newspaper, The Gazette, on microfilm dating back to the 1840's.  Using our microfilm readers, you can print a hard copy or save an electronic copy of any article found.   

However, there is no *index* to the entire newspaper.  Unless you know the time frame in which an article appeared, you may not be able to locate the information you seek.  Reference librarians can help!   We have access to online and print resources that may assist in your search.

A longtime member of St. Paul's Evangelical Church called the library to ask questions about the history of the church, especially the German Lutheran church that was dedicated in 1883 and still stands in Janesville at 169 S. Academy (All Saints Anglican Church).

The patron knew that the church was dedicated December 2, 1883 so we checked one of our online newspaper resources and found an extensive article in the December 3, 1883 Gazette about the dedication.  Our patron wanted to know who the contractors were and the article listed the names of the contractors and the mason!  The total cost for building the church was $10,000. 

We were also able to find obituaries for Pastor Droegemueller and also for one of the wives (Emma Treu) of his predecessor, Rev. E.A.L. Treu.  Our online newspaper resource, Access Newspaper Archive, used in conjunction with our online database subscription to Ancestry, and Google searches, brought up many 'hits' and our patron was thrilled with the information. 

Here's the Janesville Gazette article from Access Newspaper Archive, dated Wednesday, May 25, 1966, page 2:

Access Newspaper Archive is available through any Internet connection using your library card. 

Contact Hedberg Public Library's reference librarians to learn more. Email or call 608-758-6581.

Posted 11/12/2013 by sb/dm

Lavinia Goodell - Wisconsin's first Woman Lawyer

"Rhoda Lavinia Goodell came from a family dedicated to public service.  Her grandfather Goodell was a missionary to Constantinople; her father was an active abolitionist, temperance advocate, and supporter of women's rights.  What I wanted to convey in this play is that Lavinia Goodell is more than a name on a dusty list of Important Women in Wisconsin History.  She was a woman who desired to serve, but perhaps more importantly, more humanly, she was also just a woman who wanted to be able to use her gifts to the fullest degree possible, and if that meant taking on the patriarchy, well, then that's what it meant."   --Playwright Betty Diamond's notes from program

HPL Reference librarians attended a reading of a new play about Lavinia Goodell, the first woman to be admitted to the Wisconsin bar.  Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley S. Abramson introduced the play and playwright Betty Diamond.  Here's the March 8, 2013, program cover:

Lavinia is one of several women depicted in a mural on the outside of the Rock County Courthouse building. Read about the mural dedication here.

Hedberg Public Library's Local History Database is an index to newspaper clippings and other materials in the library's local history collection.  Find references to Janesville's famous female lawyer on the search page to the
Local History Database.  Enter the words:  lavinia goodell in the search by Subject Heading box. 

The library's Janesville's Past collection of digitized materials points to other resources. 

For assistance, contact Reference Librarians at Hedberg Public Library 608-758-6581 or

-posted by sb

Jim Fitzgerald - Native Son, Janesville, Wisconsin

James Francis Fitzgerald, Sr., passed away in Janesville in June, 2012.
He graduated from Janesville High School in 1944, served in the Navy, graduated from Notre Dame in 1947, and eventually returned to Janesville, where he operated a service station with Fred Weber, and oil jobbing business. He and his wife raised six children, and in 1956 he was voted Janesville Man of the Year.

With local businessman J.P. Cullen, they started the first two modern shopping centers in Janesville - Creston Park and Sunnyside Shopping Center.

In July 1961, he is part-owner of the new Holiday Inn hotel and swimming pool that opens at 2723 Milton Avenue, located at the current site of Toys 'R Us.

In May 1965, the new Oasis Restaurant, with a lake, opens near the I-90 interchange.  Bessie the cow graced its entrance.

In September 1966 he brought Total TV, Wisconsin's first cable television system, to Janesville. 

In October 1976 he bought the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team, hiring Don Nelson to replace Larry Costello as coach 18 games into the season. Nelson, who had no previous coaching experience, would guide the Bucks to the playoffs in 9 of his 11 years with Miwlaukee.

For complete obituary, view The Janesville Gazette online:

--posted by sb

Susan B. Anthony - The Janesville Connection

Susan B. Anthony
February 15, 1820 - March 13, 1906
Janesville was involved with the women's rights movement in Wisconsin in the late 1800's. Susan B. Anthony, an American civil rights leader, lectured at the All Souls Unitarian church in Janesville, located on the northwest corner of Court and Bluff (now Parker Drive) streets, on March 27, 1878. "Woman wants Bread, not the Ballot", was the title of her talk.
Susan visited Janesville again, according to the Gazette of September 22, 1887. "Susan is Late: To-morrow morning is the date of the first session of the women's suffrage meeting. Miss Susan B. Anthony was to have made the opening address, but a telegram to the Gazette from the Rev. Olympia Brown states that Miss Anthony will not arrive in time to carry out this part of the programme", read the opening paragraph. The next day's paper announced that her lecture will be delivered at the woman's suffrage meeting in the Court Street M.E. church lecture room that evening, September 23, 1887.
Another article, from September 26, 1887, states that 'Susan B. Anthony took occasion Saturday night to draw the Rev. T. DeWitt Peake over the coals....'
On November 18, 1872 Susan was arrested for voting in the 1872 Presidential election. She went to trial, was fined $100, but not imprisoned, and refused to pay her fine.
She was born on February 15, 1820 and died on March 13, 1906.
--posted by sb 2/14/2012

Old Sale Barn Fire at Rotary Gardens Site

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, 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

Salute to Rock County Vietnam War Soldiers

This past Veterans Day ceremony at Traxler Park in Janesville included a special exhibit.

Pat Riley, of VietNam Veterans of America, Rock County Chapter 236, compiled a list of names of Rock County VietNam veterans killed during the war. Pat's goal was to locate an obituary for each soldier. Pat contacted reference librarians at Hedberg Public Libraryfor help. The AccessNewspaperArchive database, available at, was used to find many obituaries from area newspapers. Pat also searched microfilm for The Janesville Gazette, here at the library. Obituaries for most of the 40 men were found, copied, and displayed at Traxler Park. A photograph of this display from November 11, 2011, can be found online at The Gazette's web site.

Here is Pat's list of Rock County servicemen killed in VietNam during the war:

Timothy Agard, Vincent Agius, Thomas Becker, Leslie Bellrichard, Glen Bjerke, Nolan Black, Edwin Brown, Jerald Bulin, John DeBock, James Donstad, Donald Downing, David Drought, John Fiedler, Harry Geary, Willard Godfrey, William Grudzinski, Alvin Halverson, David Hellenbrand, John Kessinger, Earl Knutson, William Martin, Robert McCartney, James McConnell, Jeffrey Mead, Michael Nielson, Timothy Norman, Carl Oldfield, Melvin Rimel, Elwood Roehl, Harry Warren Schneider, William Schneider, Gerald Schultz, Mike Schumacher, Richard Stindl, Leonard Tauschek, Earnest Tews, Thomas Vail, Ralph Wixson, and Dennis Wood.

Copies of the obituaries found are being added to the library's local history collection.

posted 11/21/2011 by sb