This aerial photo of what eventually became Sweet-Allyn Park and the Shopiere Mill was taken in the 1930s.

The view looks south over Turtle Creek and the mill. You might get the impression that there wasn't much more to the village, but Shopiere was a thriving farm community.

Sweet-Allyn Park, which old-timers still call Shopiere Park, has been part of the village’s Fourth of July celebrations for more than 160 years.

In a letter to the Janesville Morning Gazette published July 6, 1858, a “Chicagoan” commended the village for its efforts and detailed the day’s events.

Despite a night of heavy showers, “at an early hour the farmers of Shopiere and the surrounding country, with their families, began to congregate in a beautiful grove south of the Presbyterian Church.”

After speeches and songs, visitors enjoyed a “most excellent collation provided by the fair daughters of Shopiere,” and the evening featured fireworks that “enlivened the whole village.”

It’s unknown where Shopiere’s Presbyterian church was located. The village’s Congregational church, built in 1850, still stands, and its steeple can be seen in the recent photo.

The Shopiere Mill was an important part of the community, as well.

The Aug. 20, 1865, edition of the Janesville Daily Free Press notes that the “Shopiere Mill has been standing still for several weeks past, but will soon be started again by Samuel Miller, Esq., who has rented it of the owners David Harvey and Mrs. Governor Harvey.”

Mrs. Governor Harvey was Cordelia Harvey, the wife of Wisconsin’s Gov. Louis Harvey. Harvey died four months into his first term while delivering medical supplies to troops in the Civil War. Cordelia Harvey became known as “Wisconsin’s Florence Nightingale” for her work with wounded soldiers.

Shopiere Park became Sweet-Allyn Park in 1945. It was a gift of Ida Louise Sweet, who owned much of the land, according to the Rock County Parks Department website.

The park was a favorite fishing and swimming spot. When the dam was removed, fishing continued, but swimmers had to be content with wading.

View more Then and Now blog entries at www.gazettextra.com/then_now.

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