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Get Lost! In Vernon County

Get Lost! In Vernon County: Rockton

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Get Lost! In Vernon County: Rockton

Vernon S. Quatch visits the Rockton Cemetery to pay his respects to early settlers.

Hi. Vern here. So, did you know that the Kickapoo River and I are pretty similar creatures? Yeah, the river might look prettier and smell a little better, but the Kickapoo, or as the natives called it “Kiwegapaw” literally means “he moves about, standing now here, now there”—Jeepers, if that doesn’t describe me to a T, then I might as well jump off a bridge. Hey now, don’t be like me folks! It’s just a saying. But, if you were to go bridge jumping, at one time there were 28 bridges built on the Kickapoo in 29 miles!

Two large bridges were built in Rockton, also known as “A Town on the Rocks.” Long before the bridges were built, the Sacs, Foxes and Winnebagos used to travel through and set up temporary hunting camps in this area. When the pioneers came around, the country was as wild as it gets. I remember this one human party who was traveling to go try and set up a homestead in Rockton literally had to chop their way the last 10 miles to get to there. The human men of the party went on ahead and blazed a road through the woods over the best ground they could find, then chopped it out as they came back to the wagon. The teams of oxen were then driven up to the end of the road and the work began all over again. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is some hard work to get somewhere!

Anyways, the more roads they cut allowed more to come and once there were more than a few humans living on the rocks they decided, hey—let’s make this a town! So right there, about 75 feet up on a big rock from the Kickapoo River, on the borders of Whitestown and Stark townships, Rockton was born. Most everything that built the town had something to do with the river and the trees. From lumbering and sawmills, a grist mill, a barrel stave mill, hoop pole chair business…a post office, a blacksmith, a school (one of the best in the county!), two hotels, cheese factory, a community hall with a saloon on the bottom and a dancehall on top.

Now, I know you all have been wondering how I stay looking so young, right? Well, it’s all the ginseng in these hills! The woods were full of “seng” – and Rockton was a place to take it to be bought before they shipped it down to Woodstock to be washed, dried and prepared for market. They say the more the ginseng root resembled the human form the better it was at warding off disease and the better anti-aging benefits. I personally find the Sasquatch form to be more appealing, but hey, what do I know…

Christina Dollhausen, Vernon County’s economic development coordinator, will be sharing with Vernon County View readers the adventures of Vernon S. Quatch.

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