Beloit is located near the junction of the Rock River and Turtle Creek, adjacent to the Illinois border in Rock County. Its history can be traced back almost 200 years. Several hundred Ho-Chunk Indians lived in the Beloit area in the early 19th century but abandoned their settlement in 1832 after the Black Hawk War. Private Abraham Lincoln was among the troops led by General Atkinson who camped in Beloit while pursuing Black Hawk.
French trapper Joseph Thiebault came to the area to trade with the Ho-Chunk in the 1820s, the first white man to settle in the area. New Englander Caleb Blodgett purchased Thiebault’s land in 1836 and is credited as Beloit’s first permanent settler.
The New England Immigrating Company, led by Dr. Horace White, arrived in 1836 and began buying land from Blodgett. Soon friends and family were moving to the area. Churches and schools were planned, mills were running using water from the Rock River, businesses took root, and the cornerstone of Beloit College was laid in 1846.
The origin of the town’s name is disputed, but it seems that the name Beloit came from a French word meaning “handsome ground.” The spelling was fashioned after Detroit, a city the settlers saw as a symbol of trade and growth. This alternative was sought after a short-lived time in which the area was known as New Albany.
Beloit’s early settlers were comprised of many European nationalities. Its location was a way-station on the Underground Railroad that drew many African Americans to the area.
By the 1870s, the Beloit area had become a center for cigars in Wisconsin with more than 100 cigar makers. In 1904, the Warner Instrument Company began producing devices for World War I and for automobiles. The invention of the speedometer by Arthur P. Warner (1870- 1957) was done in Beloit. (Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.)
Today, the Town strives to maintain its rural charm and high quality of life while balancing growth and progress in a community of 7,700 people. The Town surrounds the City of Beloit to the north and west. It is also neighbors to the Town of Turtle, the Town of Newark and the Town of Rock. Arterial roadways into the Town include U.S. Highway 51, and State Highways 213 and 81. Interstates 43 and 90 intersect in Beloit, and the area is within an easy drive to Chicago, Rockford, Milwaukee, Janesville and Madison. The greater Beloit area’s population exceeds more than 110,000.