Jefferson County and World War I

Date in History: Pre 1920’s Over 1600 men and women from Jefferson County served in the armed forces during World War I. Most of the men from the Fort Atkinson area served in the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, which had a very distinguished war record in France. Eleven of our soldiers never came home from that war, including Edwin Frohmader, whose name is now associated with the local chapter of the VFW, and Paul Frank Florine, whose name lives on with our American Legion Post. On the homefront, any sign of Germanism had to be eradicated and a wave of renaming began. Sauerkraut became liberty cabbage, and hamburger became liberty steak. In Fort Atkinson, Germany Street became Sherman Avenue and LaFollette Street, named after Wisconsin’s isolationist Senator Bob LaFollette, was renamed Wilson Street after President Wilson. The Jefferson County Union even discontinued its German language edition that had been in existence for over 25 years. This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on...

Women’s Suffrage

Date in History: 1920 In 1906, the great American feminist, Susan B. Anthony, died. As president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association she had fought tenaciously for the right of women to vote. In 1920, fourteen years after her death, the nineteenth amendment was finally passed giving woment that right. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the amendment. Tuesday, September 7th, 1920 was a new day for Jefferson County women. Women who registered ahead of time could vote for the first time in their life. Unfortunately, large numbers of women failed to register since the amendment was ratified only three weeks earlier. Still, in Fort Atkinson, of the exactly 1,000 votes cast, 302 of them were from women. This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on...

Fort Atkinson Waterworks

Date in History: 1901 Throughout the nineteenth century, residents in the growing community of Fort Atkinson got their water from the Rock River or from private wells. By 1900, however, many Fort citizens were agitated that our slow town was still without a public waterworks to provide pure water and adequate fire protection. In February of 1901 a referendum on the waterworks won by a whopping 6 to 1 margin and a waterworks system was constructed with a marvelous new water tower on High Street. The elevated tank held 100,000 gallons and it remained in service until 1988. Though no longer in use, the old water tower serves as a visual reminder of the beginning of city services and the birth of the modern city of Fort Atkinson. This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on...

Uncle Sam on the Rock River

Date in History: 1898 The Rock River travels 310 miles from Horicon’s glacial lake deposits to Rock Island, Illinois where it meets the Mississippi River. One hundred years ago the Rock River was a great source of recreation for the people of Fort Atkinson. A number of passenger boats plied its waters, including the steamer the -Uncle Sam.- Built in 1898, the Uncle Sam could carry 175 people and its engine produced enough electricity to light the boat at night. It also had a tremendous whistle that could be heard for miles. For 25 cents you could board the boat in downtown Fort Atkinson and travel down the river and across Lake Koshkonong. The Uncle Sam was also often chartered for group parties and it was not unusual to see the entire Fort Atkinson band on board. Trips were often eventful and sometimes delayed when the boat became stranded on rocks or the boiler quit. This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on...

Trash Collection

Date in History: 1830s on TWhat did the citizens of Fort Atkinson do with their garbage before garbage trucks and recycle plants? Early settlers did not have the amount of material goods (and hence garbage) that we now have so they often simply buried it in the backyard and fed kitchen scraps to the family’s livestock. The Rock River was a popular dumping site for citizens up until the construction of the river wall. According to early citizens, when the City Dump was established, Saturday nights there were great social events. While people dumped their trash others scoured the piles for “one man’s treasure.” It was a unique opportunity to visit with friends. In 1936 city wide pick up was established. Unlike today, the garbage collector would retrieve the can at the house then return it after emptying the garbage. his historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on...
Top