Watertown, Wisconsin

Last updated
Watertown, Wisconsin
City
Watertown Main Street.JPG
Main Street in downtown Watertown
Dodge County Wisconsin Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Watertown Highlighted.svg
Location of Watertown in Dodge County, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 43°12′N88°43′W / 43.200°N 88.717°W / 43.200; -88.717 Coordinates: 43°12′N88°43′W / 43.200°N 88.717°W / 43.200; -88.717
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Wisconsin.svg  Wisconsin
Counties Jefferson, Dodge
Government
  TypeMayor – Common Council
  MayorEmily McFarland
Area
[1]
  Total12.51 sq mi (32.40 km2)
  Land12.11 sq mi (31.36 km2)
  Water0.40 sq mi (1.04 km2)
Elevation
[2]
853 ft (260 m)
Population
 (2010) [3]
  Total23,861
  Estimate 
(2018) [4]
23,625
  Density1,970.4/sq mi (760.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 920
FIPS code 55-83975 [5]
GNIS feature ID1576295 [2]
Website www.ci.watertown.wi.us

Watertown is a city in Dodge and Jefferson counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Most of the city's population is in Jefferson County. Division Street, several blocks north of downtown, marks the county line. The population of Watertown was 23,861 at the 2010 census. [6] Of this, 15,402 were in Jefferson County, and 8,459 were in Dodge County.

Dodge County, Wisconsin County in the United States

Dodge County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 88,759. Its county seat is Juneau. The county was created from the Wisconsin Territory in 1836 and organized in 1844.

Jefferson County, Wisconsin County in the United States

Jefferson County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 83,686. Its county seat is Jefferson.

Wisconsin A north-central state of the United States of America

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.

Contents

Watertown is the largest city in the Watertown-Fort Atkinson micropolitan area, which also includes Johnson Creek and Jefferson.

Johnson Creek, Wisconsin Village in Wisconsin, United States

Johnson Creek is a village in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 2,738 at the 2010 census. The village is approximately halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, at the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 26 and Interstate 94.

Jefferson, Wisconsin City in Wisconsin, United States

Jefferson is a city in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, United States, and is its county seat. It is at the confluence of the Rock and Crawfish rivers. The population was 7,973 at the 2010 census. The city is partially bordered by the Town of Jefferson.

History

Origin

Watertown was first settled by Timothy Johnson, who built a cabin on the west side of the Rock River in 1836. He was born in Middleton, Middlesex County, Connecticut, on the 28th of June, 1792. [7] A park on the west side of the city is named in his honor. The area was settled to utilize the power of the Rock River, which falls 20 feet (6.1 m) in two miles (two 10-foot (3.0 m) dams). In contrast, the Rock River falls only 34 feet (10 m) in 58 miles (93 km) upstream from Watertown. [8] The water power was first used for sawmills, and later prompted the construction of two hydroelectric dams, one downtown (where the river flows south) and one on the eastern edge of the city (where the river flows north).

Middlesex County, Connecticut County in the United States

Middlesex County is a county in the south central part of the U.S. state of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the population was 165,676. The county was created in May 1785 from portions of Hartford County and New London County.

Sawmill facility where logs are cut into timber

A sawmill or lumber mill is a facility where logs are cut into lumber. Modern saw mills use a motorized saw to cut logs lengthwise to make long pieces, and crosswise to length depending on standard or custom sizes. The "portable" saw mill is iconic and of simple operation—the logs lay flat on a steel bed and the motorized saw cuts the log horizontally along the length of the bed, by the operator manually pushing the saw. The most basic kind of saw mill consists of a chainsaw and a customized jig, with similar horizontal operation.

Watertown was a New England settlement. The original founders of Watertown consisted entirely of settlers from New England, particularly Connecticut, rural Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well some from upstate New York who were born to parents who had migrated to that region from New England shortly after the American Revolution. These people were "Yankees", that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal as well as the end of the Black Hawk War. When they arrived in what is now Watertown there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, establishing many schools as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. Due to the second Great Awakening some of them had converted to Methodism and some had become Baptists before moving to what is now Watertown. Watertown, like much of Wisconsin, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its early history. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

New England Region in the northeastern United States

New England is a region composed of six states in the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population, is Greater Boston, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Connecticut state of the United States of America

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

In the 1850s, immigrants arrived in Watertown from Germany. These people were fleeing revolutions and turmoil in Germany which often saw pogroms against the wealthy. It was deemed better to be poor or middle class in America than it was to be wealthy in Germany. Most of the German immigrants who arrived in Watertown brought with them the trappings of the German middle class, including a proclivity for classical music, the Latin language and ornate furniture. Unlike instances in other parts of the country in which they faced discrimination and xenophobia, they were welcomed with open arms by the English-Puritan descended "Yankee" population of Watertown and Jefferson County as a whole. This warm reception led to chain migration, which in turn greatly increased the German population of the region. Culturally they had much in common with the New England derived population. For instance both groups unanimously opposed slavery and both had a pronounced love for commerce and industry. Economically both communities would thrive in Watertown for the entirety of the 19th century, not facing any measurable economic hardships until the Great Depression in the following century. [14]

The term "Yankee" and its contracted form "Yank" have several interrelated meanings, all referring to people from the United States; its various senses depend on the context. Outside the United States, "Yank" is used informally to refer to any American, including Southerners. Within the Southern United States, "Yankee" is a derisive term which refers to all Northerners, or specifically to those from the region of New England. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is "a nickname for a native or inhabitant of New England, or, more widely, of the northern States generally"; during the American Civil War, it was "applied by the Confederates to the soldiers of the Federal army".

Milwaukee and Rock River Canal

A canal from Milwaukee to the Watertown area was once planned, but was replaced by railroad before any work had been completed, other than a dam in Milwaukee. [15] The territorial legislature incorporated the Milwaukee and Rock River Canal company in 1836, but the plan was abandoned in 1848. The canal would have provided a waterway between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but even if completed, it may not have seen much success because railroads had already become the preferred mode of transportation.

Canal Man-made channel for water

Canals, or navigations, are human-made channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles. It can be thought as an artificial version of a river.

Milwaukee Largest city in Wisconsin

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States. The seat of the eponymous county, it is on Lake Michigan's western shore. Ranked by its estimated 2014 population, Milwaukee was the 31st largest city in the United States. The city's estimated population in 2017 was 595,351. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee metropolitan area which had a population of 2,043,904 in the 2014 census estimate. It is the third-most densely populated metropolitan area in the Midwest, surpassed only by Chicago and Detroit, respectively. Milwaukee is considered a Gamma global city as categorized by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network with a regional GDP of over $105 billion.

Great Lakes System of interconnected, large lakes in North America

The Great Lakes, also called the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes primarily in the upper mid-east region of North America, on the Canada–United States border, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. They consist of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Hydrologically, there are only four lakes, because Lakes Michigan and Huron join at the Straits of Mackinac. The lakes form the Great Lakes Waterway.

19th century growth

In 1853, a plank road was completed from Milwaukee to Watertown. [16] After plank roads were no longer used, the route was replaced by highway (Wisconsin Highway 16) and a railroad. A street named "Watertown Plank Road" survives in Milwaukee. It is referred to in the "Plank Road Brewery" family of beers, produced by Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee.

The downstream of Watertown's two dams, with a portion of downtown in the background Fischers building and dam.JPG
The downstream of Watertown's two dams, with a portion of downtown in the background
Watertown's Octagon House Octagon House.JPG
Watertown's Octagon House

There was an influx of German immigrants in the late 19th century. The city is the home of the first kindergarten in the United States, started in 1856 by Margarethe Schurz, wife of statesman Carl Schurz; the building that housed this kindergarten is now located on the grounds of the Octagon House Museum in Watertown.

City railroad bond default

Growth of the city was substantially hampered when Watertown issued almost half a million dollars in bonds to support the building of two railroads to town to encourage further growth: the Chicago & Fond du Lac Company and the Milwaukee, Watertown & Madison Road. [17] The success of the plank road convinced residents that a railroad would be even more beneficial, and bonds were issued from 1853 to 1855. The Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad, as it was called before it extended to Madison, was completed in 1855, only the second line in the state. [18]

Soon after, in the Panic of 1857, the two railroads went bankrupt. The bonds were sold by the original investors to out-of-town speculators at a small fraction of their face value. Since the railroads were never built and did not produce revenue, the city was unable to pay off the bonds. Moreover, the city did not feel compelled to do so because the creditors (those who held the bonds) were not only from out of town, but weren't even the original holders. Yet the creditors exerted so much pressure on the city to pay off the bonds that Watertown effectively dissolved its government so that there was no legal entity (the government as a whole or officers) that could be served a court order to pay or appear in court. The case was not resolved until 1889, when it had risen all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which essentially dismissed the case of the creditors. A small amount remained to be paid, and this was not paid off until 1905, half a century later. [19]

Geography and climate

Watertown is located in southeastern Wisconsin, approximately midway between Madison and Milwaukee, at 43°12'N 88°43'W (43.193, −88.724). [20] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.51 square miles (32.40 km2), of which, 12.11 square miles (31.36 km2) is land and 0.40 square miles (1.04 km2) is water. [1] Small communities in the immediate area (e.g., within the school district) include Richwood, Lebanon, Old Lebanon, Sugar Island, Pipersville, Concord, Ebenezer, and Grellton.

The Rock River flows through Watertown in a horseshoe bend before heading south and west on its way to the Mississippi River. The city originally developed inside the horseshoe, though it has long since grown beyond. Silver Creek adjoins the river in the city, as does a short creek on the west side.

The most notable geographical feature is a high density of drumlins, long hills formed by the glaciers of the Wisconsin glaciation as they retreated northwards. Hills in the area are elongated in the north-south direction.

Weather

Climate data for Watertown, Wisconsin
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °F28304155687882807160423256
Average low °F10142435445559575039281736
Average rainfall inches1.41.32.12.93.34.03.73.53.82.52.21.632.3
Average high °C−2−15132026282722166013
Average low °C−12−10−427131514104−2−82
Average rainfall mm3633537484100948997645641820
Source: Weatherbase [21]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1850 1,451
1860 5,302265.4%
1870 7,55042.4%
1880 7,8834.4%
1890 8,75511.1%
1900 8,437−3.6%
1910 8,8294.6%
1920 9,2995.3%
1930 10,61314.1%
1940 11,3016.5%
1950 12,4179.9%
1960 13,94312.3%
1970 15,68312.5%
1980 18,11315.5%
1990 19,1425.7%
2000 21,59812.8%
2010 23,86110.5%
Est. 201823,625 [4] −1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [22]

As of the census of 2010, there were 23,861 people residing in the city. [23]

2010 census

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 23,861 people, 9,187 households, and 6,006 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,970.4 inhabitants per square mile (760.8/km2). There were 9,745 housing units at an average density of 804.7 per square mile (310.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.0% White, 0.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 2.7% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.3% of the population.

There were 9,187 households of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.6% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.03.

The median age in the city was 35.7 years. 25.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.4% were from 25 to 44; 24% were from 45 to 64; and 14.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census

As of the census [5] of 2000, there were 21,598 people, 8,022 households, and 5,567 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,974.1 people per square mile (762.3/km2). There were 8,330 housing units at an average density of 761.4 per square mile (294.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.90% White, 0.25% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.69% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.94% of the population.

There were 8,022 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,562, and the median income for a family was $50,686. Males had a median income of $34,825 versus $23,811 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,977. About 4.6% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.8% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Education

Watertown is in the Watertown Unified School District. The city has one public high school, Watertown High School. Riverside Middle School is on the eastern edge of the city. The public elementary schools in the city are: Lincoln, Schurz, Douglas, and Webster. The city also has one charter high school, Endeavor Charter School.

Six parochial schools serve elementary and middle school students in Watertown, four Lutheran and two Catholic. Luther Preparatory School, a school affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), is located in the central city.

Maranatha Baptist University and its associated private high school, Maranatha Baptist Academy, are located on the west side of Watertown. A branch of the Madison Area Technical College is also on the west side.

Business and industry

Watertown's major employers are the school district, Watertown Regional Medical Center, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, several light industries, food processing, metals, electronics, and regional distribution companies. [24]

Transportation

Primary automobile transportation is provided via Highways 19, 26 and 16. Highway 19 begins in Watertown and runs westward. Highway 16 runs east-west across Wisconsin from Milwaukee to La Crosse, passing around Watertown via a bypass. Business highway 26 runs north-south through the center of the city, while highway 26 bypasses the town to the west. Highways 26 and 16 provide access to Interstate 94. Highway 16 provides access to the Milwaukee metro area, and highway 19 provides access to the Madison metro area.

Airport

Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYV) provides service for the city and surrounding communities.

Rail

Amtrak's Empire Builder passenger train passes through, but does not stop in, Watertown.

Bus/Taxi

The city subsidizes a "Watertown Transit" service that provides taxi and small bus "ride sharing" service between requested stops. [25]

Media

The local newspaper, the Watertown Daily Times, dates back to November 23, 1895, when John W. Cruger and E. J. Schoolcraft formed a partnership to publish a daily newspaper. [26] The newspaper currently has 25,000 readers. [26]

The radio station WTTN, AM 1580, was licensed to Watertown [27] but is now licensed to with the transmitter located west of Columbus, Wisconsin while the studio was moved to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. [28] WJJO 94.1 FM was originally in Watertown, but is now located in Madison.

Watertown operates a local Government-access television (GATV) channel. [29] Programming includes church services from around the area, as well as special programming, sports, and community events.

Historic landmarks

Notable people

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  4. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved July 28, 2019.
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  8. Upper Rock River Basin – WDNR. Dnr.state.wi.us.
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  16. Watertown Historical Society. Watertown Wisconsin History Timeline. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  17. Ben Feld, "City Government 101" in Ken Riedl (ed.), History of Watertown, Wisconsin.
  18. M. Wyman. The Wisconsin Frontier. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
  19. Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad. Watertown History.
  20. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  21. "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Watertown, Wisconsin, United States of America" . Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  22. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. 2010 Demographic Profile. Census.gov (March 13, 2012).
  24. "Watertown Wisconsin Major Employers". Watertown Economic Development Corporation. Retrieved 21 Apr 2014.
  25. City of Watertown - Watertown Transit http://www.ci.watertown.wi.us/residents/watertown_transit . Retrieved 5 June 2017.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. 1 2 Daily Times History, Watertown Daily Times, March 31, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  27. OnTheRadio.net. None.
  28. Radio Locator. Radio Locator (May 14, 2009).
  29. "Watertown TV". watertowntv.com. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  30. Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for the Years 1880, 1881, and 1882 vol. 9, Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1882, p. 449.
  31. The Wisconsin Blue Book 1919 . Madison: State Printing Board, 1919, p. 472.
  32. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1905,' Biographical Sketch of Edward Racek, pg. 1101

Further reading