The previous Janesville Gazette building.


If journalism is “the first rough draft of history,” then The Gazette has spent 175 years writing a history book on this community.

It started publishing in 1845, eight years before Janesville incorporated and three years before Wisconsin was a state.

The Gazette is Janesville’s oldest business.

This special section takes a look at Janesville’s history as told through 175 years of Gazette journalism. We couldn’t include everything, but this section gives a sample of news from almost all of the past 175 years.

Some of the items are about events that changed the community.

1848: Capt. Ira Miltimore builds the Monterey Dam. Residents complained that the blasting of stones and general construction made it sound like the "Battle of Monterey.”

1853: The railroad has arrived in Janesville, with the first train pulling into a depot on a bluff east of the gas works, The Gazette reports in a Jan. 8, 1853, story.

Some are tragic.

1873: The McLean Woolen Mills at Monterey, the Notbohm Woolen Mills at Monterey, Cairns Bros. Dry Goods on Milwaukee Street and the H.A. Doty Feed Mill on North Main Street all burn down.

1896: Two men suffocate in Gray’s cesspool on Locust Street.

Some are odd.

1897: Judge Phelps of Hanover, who owns a large dairy and stock farm, plans to drain the nearby swamps and grow celery. His initial experiments with the crop have resulted in celery that is “said to be much superior to the Kalamazoo celery.”

1936: Gerta Odegaard is chosen as the “healthiest girl” at the Rock County 4-H Fair. She also took home the prize for handicrafts.

Taken together, the collection of history drawn from Gazette pages tells the story of a community growing, overcoming adversity, struggling with change and looking forward.

We can only hope for more of the same in Janesville's future.

Sid Schwartz arrived at The Gazette as a reporter 1990 and has been editor since 2015.