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Rusk County, WI Origins

Rusk County, WI

Origins of Rusk County, WI

When Wisconsin was a U.S. territory, the land known as Rusk County was originally part of Crawford County. It remained a part of Crawford County until 1845, when Wisconsin territory saw the creation of Chippewa County.

A decision was made to create a separate county from a section of Chippewa County land which was a rectangle 42 miles from east to west by 24 miles from north to south. A prominent land man, James L. Gates said he would donate $10,000 to the county if it bore his name. As a result of this promise, in 1901, the area became known as Gates County.

When James Gates did not keep his promise of donating $10,000 to the county, the legislature decided to change the name of the county to Rusk County. (This was decided without consulting the county.) The bill which made this change was signed on June 19, 1905 by Governor Robert LaFollette.

The county was the 71st county to be formed in Wisconsin. Rusk County currently consists of 936 square miles, with 24 townships, 8 villages, and 1 city.

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Last Revision Date: 04/06/02