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Walworth County Wisconsin




The Walworth County Courthouse is located at 100 West Walworth Street, Elkhorn, Wisconsin 53121.

Beginnings [1]

The first steps toward settlement of Walworth County were made by the Government in surveying the domain acquired from the Indians by the treaty of 1833. John Brink and John Hodgson were the original surveyors, having taken the contract to run the town lines of what are now Rock and Walworth Counties. Brink had with him Reuben T. Ostrander, William Ostrander and Jesse Eggleston. Hodgson was accompanied by Henry Mullett and others. Brink completed his survey of towns to the eastern boundary of Walworth in October, 1835, and he and his party were first to reach Lake Geneva early in that month.

The party of surveyors, all engineers of practical vision, were quick to note the splendid water power and made a claim by blazing trees to indicate their priority and entered a description in their federal notes. The land thus claimed by Brink and the two Ostranders was part of what became the town of Geneva, including the outlet of the lake and the water power. It was they who named the place Geneva, and then went on with their survey, intending to return and improve their claim at a later time.

The actual settlement of the county dates from 1836. Prior to that date, no claims were made on which the claimants remained as settlers.

Reuben Hyde Walworth

With territorial government came need of new counties. Iowa, Crawford and Milwaukee were at once set off from Brown (with Des Moines and Dubuque across the river). In 1830 Milwaukee County, though much the smallest of these, was the most sub-divided, and one of the new counties was named for the then chancellor of the State of New York, Reuben Hyde Walworth, of Saratoga, the last of a short, illustrious line of judges (beginning in 1777 and ending with 1847). But not as chancellor was he thus honored in Wisconsin. He was president of the New York State Temperance Society, and his name, with that of Edward C. Delavan, of Albany, were thought peculiarly fit for a new county and one of its towns—since the town was already founded on a moral idea, and pious men of Delavan, Spring Prairie and Geneva were trying to build the county on the same foundation.

  1. Western Historical Company, History of Walworth County Wisconsin, Chicago, 1882.
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