Roxbury, Wisconsin

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Roxbury is a town in Dane County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 1,700 at the 2000 census.



Roxbury was called "Dane County’s most historic township" by the Wisconsin State Journal.[3] Among its earliest recorded occurrences is the Battle of Wisconsin Heights, the penultimate engagement of the 1832 Black Hawk War between the United States militia and the Sauk and Fox tribes, led by Black Hawk. After being pursued from Illinois, Black Hawk’s band took a stand against the militia just south of the Wisconsin River, in what is today the Town of Roxbury. Although Black Hawk’s band took severe casualties, their stand allowed several hundred noncombatant Sauk and Fox to retreat to the Mississippi River which saved their lives.

Five years later, Charles Floyd, an Eastern speculator, established a company whose goal was to build an exemplary city in the Midwest.[4] Floyd bought over 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land in section 19 in Roxbury and had it surveyed. Then he drew up a map depicting streets, public buildings, and parks in what he called the "City of Superior", boasting that he would make the area known throughout the country.[4] His map was circulated in Chicago, New York, and Boston, along with glowing descriptions of the city.[5] Lots were sold to investors, including Daniel Webster,[5] but there were no settlers. The 1842 census showed only two residents in the town. Floyd’s grand plan had been a failure.[6]

A settlement located across the Wisconsin River, in what is today Sauk City, was the impetus for the next development in Roxbury. In 1840, Agoston Haraszthy, a colorful[7][8] nobleman and political refugee from Hungary, arrived in the United States. By 1841, he had purchased a large parcel of land where Sauk City now stands.[6][9] He also built a hunting lodge, opposite his home, on a bluff in Roxbury overlooking the river.[3][4][6][9] For the next several years, Haraszthy was active as a trader, hunter, steamboat operator, and viticulturist, and his business activities attracted attention to the area.[3] He established a ferry that crossed the river, connecting Roxbury with Sauk City (then named "Haraszthy"), and in 1841, Robert Richards and Jacob Fraelich, the ferry operators, became the first settlers in Roxbury after Haraszthy.[4]

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