Yes, we really have a Fort!
In July 1832, General Henry Atkinson and his troops built Fort Koshkonong during the Black Hawk War. The war had begun a few months earlier when the Sauk warrior Black Hawk crossed the Mississippi River back into Illinois in an attempt to reclaim the Sauk and Fox homelands there. Soon General Henry Atkinson was hot on his trail, forcing Black Hawk and his people to flee north into what is now Wisconsin. By the time Atkinson arrived here, he was short on supplies and frustrated by his inability to find Black Hawk. So he halted his men and built a fort along the Rock River that would soon house the supplies being sent to him.
The impressive roster of Black Hawk War participants included future presidents Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. It was the commanding general however, whose name was forever attached to our town when in 1841 congress declared us now and forever more to be called Fort Atkinson.
Fort Atkinson is proud to be the home of William Dempster Hoard, the governor of Wisconsin from 1889 to 1891 and the man who is considered the “father of dairy farming” in Wisconsin. Hoard was a newspaperman and enthusiastic dairy promoter who started the Jefferson County Union newspaper in 1870 and Hoard’s Dairyman magazine in 1885 – both of which are still being published today.
To help preserve our rich history the Hoard family gave their historic 1864 home to the city in 1956 to be used as a museum. Now expanded far beyond its original size, the Hoard Museum boasts a tremendous Woodland Indian artifact collection, an impressive civil war library and exhibit, as well as a local history research room and many other exhibits. The museum complex, visited by thousands every year, also includes the National Dairy Shrine’s Visitor Center where guests can learn about the past, present and future of the dairy industry.