From the History of Northern Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1881
The region organized under the name of Adams County lies in nearly the center of the State, is bounded north by Wood and Portage counties, east by Waushara and Marquette, south by Columbia and west by Juneau, from which it is separated by the Wisconsin River. The general surface of the county may be designated rolling. As the Wisconsin River is approached, however, the country becomes broken, offering to the artist fine opportunities for the display of taste and skill in rugged studies. The famous "Dells" are partly within the limits of this county, in the southwestern portion, and several of the grandest glimpses of scenery are here obtained. Among these are "Cold Water Canyon", and "Witches Gulch" which extend back into the country a mile or more from the river. There are also "The Devil's Jug," "Ruffle Rocks," "Steamboat Rock," "Rood's Glen," and other exceedingly curious and picturesque localities, celebrated not only in the immediate region, but known to tourists from all parts of the Union. In the northern towns the view along the river is less grand, though the bluffs are always bold, and the scene ever varied. This is due to the action of the water on the soft sandstone, which forms the banks, and which, by constant erosion, has been fashioned into an endless variety of forms. The bluffs vary in height, from a gentle ascent from the water's edge to ragged precipitous walls that rise abruptly 200 feet or more. The county has but few streams, the principal being the Big and Little Roche-a-Cri, White and Grignon's creeks. All these afford water-power, and abound in the common kinds of fish. The soil of the county is below average for cultivation, being quite sandy; however in the southern part, there is considerable good land; and this region is the home of many thrifty and well-to-do farmers. About 50,000 acres in the county are under cultivation--the crops being corn, wheat, rye and hops, in the order of enumeration. The county suffered greatly by depression in hops in 1868, and has never fully rallied from the financial losses. Considerable attention is being paid to fruit raising, but it has been attended with only medium success. The greater part of the county is covered with an inferior class of timber, such as the oak, ash and basswood, there being only a little pine toward the northern end. About twenty percent is marsh, some of which is adapted to cranberry culture, while other parts make valuable meadows. Sandstone is quarried at different places in the county, but is used only for local purposes.The population in 1880 was 6,741, of which more than 5,000 were Americans; the rest being Swedes, Germans, Danes and immigrants from other European countries. The county is traversed by no railroad as yet, although future internal improvements may bring that section of the State into closer communication with other counties. At present Kilbourn City is the chief depot of supplies, and is the outer terminus of a daily stage line.
The necessity which induced white settlement in Adams County was the supplying of food to lumbermen going into the pineries of the upper Wisconsin. A post was estab- lished in the county as early as 1838, in what is now New Haven Town, less than two miles from Big Springs Post Office. The pioneer who therby won for himself a place in history was Jared Walsworth, a man of no slight experience in frontier ways, and who had served as an engineer on a Mississippi River steamer. The supply post kept by Walsworth was not only the first mercantile venture, but it was also the home of the first white woman to settle here; as Mrs. Walsworth and her family came at the same time as the trader. He died some years since. The "Walsworth Tavern", as it was called, witnessed the birth of the first white child born in the territory named. The name of this note-worthy child is J. S. W. Pardee, son of George Pardee; and the year of the event was 1843. George Stowell, in the employ of Walsworth originally, claims the honor of having first settled upon lalnd in the county in 1844. His frame "shanty" was put up in the town of New Haven, and there he began the cultivation of a small tract of land. In 1845 Amos Landt, Judge Smith, Robert Ramsey and his three sons, "Uncle" Ward and a man named Winchell became "squatters" in the same town, near what is now Big Springs Post Office. They tilled the soil and erected log cabins. The Territorial road from Milwaukee to Stevens Point passed through Adams County, and upon this highway, in 1845, William Sylvester opened a supply post combined with a "tavern," and what is now Grand Marsh post office. Soon afterwards one Strong began a similar enterprise on the Big Roche-a-Cri, not far from Cotton's, about eight miles north of Friendship. Among the settlers in what is now Dell Prairie in 1849-50, were Thomas Rich, William Davis, Holland Carter, George Knox, Cotterel and Matthews. Wells, Tyler and William Armstrong located on the banks of the Wisconsin in 1851. From the year 1850 to 1853 immigration poured into Adams County. In 1850 the first schoolhouse in the county was built. The site of this building was what is now known as Dell Prairie post office. It was built by Thomas Rich, who hired Lewis Carter as teacher at $12 and board per month, and invited the neighbors to send in their children. Reverend Anderson preached the first sermon in the county, in 1852, at the house of Mr. Rich, who paid him one dollar a visit. He afterward grumbled at the salary, and thought they ought to furnish him with a conveyance. Mr. Rich thereupon bought him a horse for $65 and told him to wear his legs out in the good cause. A church was erected in 1854, at the Dell Prairie post office, and Reverend C.L. Fisher, a Baptist minister, was employed to regularly supply the pulpit. The first white settler who died was one Horton, who was killed in the summer of 1850, while digging a well. The two towns, Dell Prairie and New Haven, are the best settled, and the richest in the county. There are still tracts of land in the northern part of the county owned by the State and Federal Government, for sale at a low figure. In these northern towns are found deposits of bog iron ore, and also some beds of kaolin. The first newspaper in the county was the Adams County Independent, issued in May, 1858, by Julius C. Chandler, in the interest of removing the county seat to Friendship. The paper was discontinued in 1862. In 1860 the Adams County Press was started by the "Press Publishing Company," under the direction of S.W. Pierce.
The act creating the county of Adams was approved March 11, 1848. The new county was created from territory hitherto belonging to Portage, and embraced a region defined by a line commencing at the "northwest corner of Sauk county, and running due north to the middle of the Lemonweir River; thence down the main channel of that river to its mouth; thence down the Wisconsin River to the point where it crosses the north line of township 13; and thence due west to the point of beginning." The new county was attached to Sauk for legal purposes. This boundary was of short furation, however, for by an act of the Legislature, approved March 8, 1879, the county was greatly enlarged in area. By this act, it included all north of the middle of Township 15 north, in Ranges 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 east, to the north line of Township 20 north. At this time the county contained about 1,435 square miles, or about 919,000 acres. By an act of March 14, 1853, it was again enlarged and made to include Townships 14 to 20 north, inclusive, lying in Ranges 2 to 7 east, inclusive. By another act of the same date, it was organized for county and judicial purposes from and after the first Tuesday in April. By this act, also, it was organized into the five towns of Jackson, polls to be open at the house of Thomas Ritchie; Grand Marsh, voting to occur at the house of Mr. Peck; Quincy, first election to be held at the house of H. W. Kingsbury, Necedah, first election at the house of Thomas Weston & Co.; Lemonweir, voting to occur at the house of Mr. Findlay. Town elections were ordered by the act, and such political machinery as was indispensable to the complete formation of a county was provided for and set in motion. An election was ordered in these several towns for such officers as they were allowed by virtue of the organization. The county seat was fixed, for a term of five years, on the southwest quarter of Section 7 Township 16 north of Range 5 east--the village of Quincy. The county was, by the same act, made part of the third judicial district. The election, which occurred on the first Tuesday of April. resulted in the selection of E. S. Miner, County Judge; W. J. Sayers, Sheriff; S. G. Holbrook, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and also County Treasurer; W. H. Spain, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors; William H. Palmer, Register of Deeds; D. A. Bigelow, District Attorney; Caleb McArthur, County Surveyor; and W. I. Webster, County Coroner. The Board of Canvassers, which was composed of the Chairman of the County Board, assisted by two Justices of the Peace, decided that H. G. Holbrook could not legally hold two offices, and accordingly declared the office of treasurer vacant, and appointed to that position Daniel Young. At a special meeting of the Board in August, 1853, Stillman Niles gave bond to furnish a court-room and three office rooms for the county. The Legislature passed an act, approved March 8, 1855, authorizing the people to submit the question of still another division of the county to a popular vote. The measure created an intense feeling, and the question was fought with considerable bitterness. Those in favor of division prevailed in the contest, and the Wisconsin River became the western boundary of Adams, and the new county of Juneau was formed. The latter county remained attached to Adams for judicial purposes. By this division the county seat was left on the western boundary of the county, and was distasteful to a large number of citizens. As an outgrowth of this feeling, the Legislature, by an act approved March 24, 1858, allowed the people to vote on the removal of the capital from Quincy to the village of Friendship. The vote resulted in a majority of 155 for removal, and in January following, the books and records were taken to Friendship, where they have since remained. Adams county was named in honor of President John Adams, second President of the United States. The present subdivision comprises the organized towns of Adams, Big Flats, Dell Prairie, Easton, Jackson, Leola, Lincoln, Monroe, New Chester, New Haven, Preston, Quincy, Richfield, Rome, Springville and Strong's Prairie. The county seat is Friendship, situated on Section 5, in the Town of Adams. This point was first settled in 1856, by people from Friendship, Allegany County, New York. The village has a population of about 400, who are engaged in the various industries tributary to an agricultural region. The public buildings are the courthouse, a frame building, thirty-two by forty-six feet, two stories high, having a stone fire-proof vault; a fine two-story school-house, thirty by forty-six feet; and a good church building, erected by the Congregational society, and jointly occupied by that and the Methodist society. Friendship is the largest village in the County. A daily stage runs between this place and Kilbourn City, on the St. Paul Railway, in Columbia County.