Walworth County Historical Society

Romance of Walworth County Place names

ALLEN'S GROVE: Founded by four brothers, Pliny, Sidney, Phillip and Harvey Allen.**

BELLE'S CORNERS: Probably took its name from the first Postmaster, William Belle.

BIG FOOT PRAIRIE: Named for Chief Big Foot of the Potawatomi Tribe.

BLOOMFIELD: Assumed to have been named because of blooming wildflowers in the area.

BLOOMING PRAIRIE: So named for the carpet of blooming flowers in the area.

BRADLEY'S: Now called Elkhorn, this settlement was originally named after a tavern keeper of the early 1830's.

BROOKS COVE: This cove, a part of Beulah Lake, is named after David Brooks, a local landowner.

CEDAR POINT: Settlement on the east shore of Williams Bay. The Indian name was Ke-she-ge-ki-ah-ke-tah-ke-wum meaning "cedar hill" or "cedar ridge."

DARIEN: John Bruce came from New York in 1857 and bought up most of the land which is now Darien Township. He set aside a strip of land to be known as The Commons as early New England towns had done. This area is now known as Darien Village Park. Mr. Bruce sold lots around The Commons and gradually it became known as Bruceville. In 1838 many settlers came from Darien, New York, and decided to change the name. By 1860 Darien was said to have then the largest shipping point for stock, grain and pine lumber between Milwaukee and the Mississippi River.

DELAVAN: Henry and Samuel Phoenix, founders of Delavan, were sympathetic with the temperance movement of the 1850's, and when they platted the town insisted on total abstinence in the town. They named the town after Edward Cornelius Delavan, a rich man of Albany, New York and a prominent temperance leader until 1870. To the best of anyone's knowledge, Mr. Delavan never visited the town.

EAST TROY: So named by the first settlers from Troy, New York. The first claim was on the banks of Honey Creek near the present site of the East Troy mill where a Mr. Roberts pitched his tent. Asa Blood came to join him and to build the first house. In 1836 this settlement was one township known as Troy, but seven years later it was separated into Troy and East Troy townships.

ELKHORN: (The County Seat) In July 1836, Col. Samuel F. Phoenix was traveling along an army trail when he came upon a stretch of prairie and sat down under a burr oak tree to rest. He looked up into the branches and saw a large elk's horns that someone had hung there. He named the prairie Elkhorn, and the village also took the name.

FAIRFIELD: Was first known as Maxsonville, after its first settlers, Jospeh Maxson and his son Austin. Joseph operated the first post office and lived in a log house. Soon after the post office was established, for an unknown reason, the name of the settlement was changed to Fairfield.

FONTANA: On September 25,, 1839, a gathering was held in a small log house at the head of the lake. It consisted of the seven heads of the families in the neighborhood. Mathias Moore suggested the town be named Fontana. They thought it was a French word for "a place of many springs".

GENOA JUNCTION: (City) The village was laid out about 1859 by James F. Dickerson and became a mill site named after Genoa, New York. When two railroad lines formed a junction there, the word Junction was added to avoid confusion with Genoa, Illinois. The name of the town was later changed to the Village of Genoa City.

HONEY CREEK: Early settlers found many wild bees and rich stores of honey when they first came across the stream. It is the largest stream in the county, and there is a town named after it.

KENDALL'S CORNER: Captain George Washington Kendall owned a tavern at this corner.

LAGRANGE: The township is said to have been named after the native town of General LaFayette in LaGrange, France.

LAKE GENEVA: The Potawatomi Indians named the lake after their chief, Muck-Suck, meaning Big Foot. The French called it Gros Pied. About 1836 John Brink surveyed this vicinity and thought the lake was too beautiful for such an uncouth name. The lake reminded him of Seneca Lake in New York, which had the town name of Geneva on its shore. Since this lake is smaller than Seneca Lake, he thought one name would serve both the lake and the village.

LINN: Dr. Lewis Field Linn of Missouri was Colonel Benton's colleague in the United States Senate from 1833 until his death.

LYONS: This township was set off from the town of Geneva in 1844 and named Hudson. It is claimed the first settlers came from the Hudson River area in New York State. Among them were William Hudson, James C. and Thomas K. Hudson, although their names were not found in the earliest records. In a few years the city of Hudson in St. Croix County had become more prominent, so the name was changed to Lyons after Thomas Lyons and his sons who had built a dam and a saw mill by 1840. The railroad station was first called Lyonsdale and then Lyons.

MILLARD: First known as Baker's Corners. Later named Millard in honor of President Millard Fillmore.

PELL LAKE: Named for a Mr. Pell who drowned in the lake.

REEDER'S GROVE: John Reeder settled in this section of the town of Sharon in 1837.

RICHMOND: The township was set off in 1841. Thomas James, Perry James, and Robert Sherman came here from Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island.

SHARON: Supposedly some of the first settlers came from the town of Sharon in New York State. The first people to settle here were William Van Ostrand and a Mr. Southard who came in 1842. By an act of the territorial legislature, approved March 21, 1843, this township was set off from Delavan Township and called Sharon.

SPRINGFIELD: Named and platted by the Racine - Mississippi Railroad.

SPRING PRAIRIE: The original name was Franklin. A large log tavern was built by Dr. Hemenway in 1837 and used for religious services, public meetings, store, post office and polling place. The name then adopted was Hemenway's the spelling apparently altered a little for convenience. Abigail A Whitmore Hemminway suggested the name Spring Prairie because of the natural springs that discharged into Spring Brook, a branch of Sugar Creek.

SUGAR CREEK: Sugar maple trees along the creek were tapped by the Indians for maple syrup. The Potawatomi Indian name was Sis-po-quiet-spee meaning "sugar maples along the valley".

TIBBETS: The home of Samuel H. Tibbets served as a post office after 1842. Previously it had been located at Kendall's Corner.

TROY: An early name for this settlement was Meacham after a tavern keeper known as Major Meacham. Another local tavern owned by Austin McCracken gave the name McCracken's for a short time. The first settlers came from Troy in New York.

TROY CENTER: This community was created by the Railroad Company because a station was needed here at a meeting of highways. In 1871 the Railroad Company bought land from Gardiner Briggs and laid out a village plat. A post office was established, and a hotel, stores, warehouse, blacksmith shop and about thirty comfortable homes. It was named Troy Center because it was located in the center of the township.

VIENNA: The community was first called Martinsburg, after the John Martin family who lived here. Winslow Page Storms built Vienna House here in 1848, a store, a tavern and a post office. It is said that Mr. Storms came from a town named Vienna in New York State.

VOREE: This settlement, in the town of Spring Prairie, was founded by Jesse James Strang, a Mormon in 1844. He intended to build a city and a temple here, but in 1847 he fled with his disciples to Mackinaw Straits. It is not known whether he found the name for his holy city in the Book of Mormon, or whether it was revealed to him in another way. Voree means, "garden of Peace".

WALWORTH COUNTY: Colonel Samuel F. Phoenix, founder of Delavan, suggested that the county be named in honor of Reuben Hyde Walworth, the last chancellor of New York State, the chancery court was abolished at the close of his term. He was known as a great equity jurist, and a man of outstanding character in temperance work and other movements. Walworth was one of the very first counties in Wisconsin.

WALWORTH: Christopher Douglass broke ground on the prairie in 1837, plowed furrows two and one half miles long. Later he built the first tavern, which became known as Douglass Corners. Just to the north was Bell's Corners, a trading center where a post office had been established since 1839. By 1851 the post office was transferred to Douglass Corners and renamed after the county.

WHITEWATER: Indians called the river Wau-be-gan-naw-po-cat, which means "white water" and referred to the white soft clay and sand in the bottom. When the town was organized in 1842 it took the same name. The first settler arrived July 1, 1837.

WILLIAMS BAY: Israel Williams was a New Englander who had fought in the War of 1812 as a captain. He came to the Lake Geneva region in 1836 with his wife, her aged mother and his seven sons. He settled on the north shore of the lake on this bay.

ZENDA: When the railroad came through this small town came into existence. The post office was opened in 1902. The railroad president's daughter was reading " The Prisoner of Zenda" at the time, hence the name.

** additional information in the holding of WCHS

Most of the above information taken from "The Romance of Wisconsin Place names", by Robert Gard & L. G. Sorden. Reprinted with permission of the Walworth County Sesquicentennial Committee, "Exploring Walworth County."