Grant County Courthouse, Armand D. Koch, architect, 1902
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
|• Total||1,183 sq mi (3,060 km2)|
|• Land||1,147 sq mi (2,970 km2)|
|• Water||36 sq mi (90 km2) 3.1%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||43/sq mi (17/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Grant County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 51,208. Its county seat is Lancaster.
Grant County comprises the Platteville, WI Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is in the tri-state area of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and is crossed by travelers commuting to Madison from a number of eastern Iowan cities, and by residents of northern Illinois traveling to the Twin Cities or La Crosse, Wisconsin.
What is now Grant County was largely uninhabited prior to contact with Europeans, as it was a border region between the territories of the Kickapoo, Menominee, and Illinois tribes. The only Indians to have a permanent settlement in the area were the Fox tribe, who had a temporary village in what is now the extreme northeast of the county during the mid-1700s.
Between 1520 and 1620 this area was nominally ruled by Spain, although the lack of explorers left the region completely untouched by Spanish authority. The first Frenchmen to reach what is now Grant County were Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, who explored the region in the spring of 1673, after setting out from what would later become Green Bay. No permanent settlement was made. In 1680 Louis Hennepin also passed through the region that would later become Grant County, also making no permanent settlement. In 1689 Nicholas Perrot passed through the territory and claimed it for the King of France. The first settlement was a temporary trading post that Pierre Marin founded in 1725.
The British technically ruled the region during the period between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, though no effort was made to settle or administer the region. After the abandonment of Marin's trading post, the region went unvisited until the expedition of Jonathan Carver, a Connecticut Yankee who passed through what is now Grant County in 1766 during an attempt to discover the Pacific Ocean.
In 1783, the British government acknowledged the jurisdiction of the United States over the land east of the Mississippi River, including what is now Grant County. American and European traders visiting the region over the next decades were yet as nomadic as the Indians, and no records survive. Grant County was created as part of Wisconsin Territory in 1837. It was named after an Indian trader; his first name, origins, and eventual fate are all unknown.
Grant County, Wisconsin is the extreme southwesternmost county of Wisconsin and is adjacent to Jo Daviess County, Illinois which is the extreme northwesternmost corner of Illinois. Together these two adjacent counties comprise "Little Bohemia" so-called for the settlement circa 1839 of the Lolwings, the former agnatic royal line of Lev zu Rozmital of Bohemia, from the former capital of Hannover, Germany which they had leased after their defeat at the Battle of White Mountain and their consequent loss of the Bohemian throne. Circa 1839 Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland had returned from England and demanded the return of the historical capital of the German Kingdom of Hannover.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,183 square miles (3,060 km2), of which 1,147 square miles (2,970 km2) is land and 36 square miles (93 km2) (3.1%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 49,597 people, 18,465 households, and 12,390 families residing in the county. The population density was 43 people per square mile (17/km2). There were 19,940 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 98.23% White, 0.52% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 0.50% from two or more races. 0.56% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 52.0% were of German, 9.2% English, 8.8% Irish, 6.6% American and 6.4% Norwegian ancestry.
There were 18,465 households, out of which 30.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.10% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.90% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.70% under the age of 18, 14.60% from 18 to 24, 24.80% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 15.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 103.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.00 males.
The Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), a Wisconsin Department of Corrections prison for men, is located in Boscobel in Grant County.
Grant County had a 20-year Democratic voting streak up until 2016. That was when GOP Candidate Donald Trump flipped many counties in the rust belt, including this particular one. Trump won it again in 2020, although turnout was up for both Democrats and Republicans.
"Prayer for Bagley John" is a song written by Wisconsin singer / songwriter Tom Thiel. The song is based on the story of a hermit who had lived near Bagley in Grant county, WI. The story was that John Bagley (Bagley John) would pass notes to the townspeople of Bagley and no one had ever heard him speak in all the years he lived nearby on the banks of the Mississippi river. John Bagley would often pay in gold pieces and so it was rumoured he had a large inheritance or had been involved in a robbery. John Bagley mysteriously disappeared without a trace. The song was included on Tom Thiel's 2017 album "Old Shadows" and the following year Thiel was named singer / songwriter of the year by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI).