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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Walworth County [origin of place name]


at the suggestion of Col. Samuel F. Phoenix, founder of the town of Delavan, named for Chancellor Reuben H. Walworth of New York -- History of Walworth County (Chicago, 1882), p. 315.

Walworth (1788-1867) was the last chancellor of that state (1828-48), the chancery court being abolished at the close of his term. He was known as a great equity jurist, and an early friend of the temperance movement.

Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer: "WALWORTH, County, is bounded north by Jefferson and Waukesha, east by Racine and Kenosha, south by the State of Illinois, and west by Rock. It was set off Dec. 7, 1836, from Mil waukee. The county seat is at Elkhorn, the centre of the county. The surface is for the most part undulating, but through its whole extent there are small bodies of level prairie or meadow land, and abrupt and irregular hills or knobs. A chain of these enters the county, about the middle of the northern line, and runs through the northwestern corner. The greater portion of the county consists of oak openings. There are some 12 or more prairies of limited size, exclusive of low lands and marshes. There are also a few small bodies of heavy timber. Of soil, there are many varieties. The prairie-high and low, the openings of white, black, and burr oak, all have their peculiarities of soil, and are all fitted in a high degree to the different productions of the country. The most considerable streams are the Geneva Outlet, Sugar and Honey Creeks, running eastward into Fox river and Turtle and Whitewater creeks, running westward into Rock river. These all head in the county, and are fed by springs. The population of the county consists mainly of people from the New England and other Eastern States. It ranks among the very first counties of the State for its intelligence, enterprize, fertility and wealth. The principal villages are Geneva, Delavan, Whitewater, Elkhorn and East Troy. Population in 1838,1,019; 1840, 2,611; 1842, 4,618; 1846,13,439; 1847, 15,039; 1850, 17,866; with 1,960 farms, 3,092 dwellings, and 82 manufactories."

[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]
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