Wisconsin Counties
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Wisconsin Counties

There are seventy-two counties in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin became part of the Territory of Michigan and divided into two counties: Brown County in the northeast along Lake Michigan and Crawford County in the southwest along the Mississippi River. The state of Wisconsin was created from Wisconsin Territory on May 29, 1848, with 28 counties.

Rusk County, Wisconsin

Rusk County Education, Geography, and History

Rusk County, Wisconsin Courthouse

Rusk County is a county in the state of Wisconsin. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 14,755. Its county seat is Ladysmith.

Etymology - Origin of Rusk County Name

originally named Gates in honor of John L. Gates, then a prominent Milwaukee lumberman and capitalist. It was changed (1905) to Rusk in honor of Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk (1830-93). Rusk was born in Ohio, and removed to Wisconsin in 1853, settling at Viroqua. A member of the legislature of 1861, he served in the federal army throughout the War of Secession. From 1865-67, Rusk was bank-comptroller; 1871-77, member of Congress; and 1882-89, governor of the State. Under President Benjamin Harrison, he was the first secretary of agriculture, an office wherein he was highly efficient. He died at his Viroqua home, soon after his last term of public service.

[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Rusk County History

Rusk County is a county in the US state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 15,347. Its county seat is Ladysmith. Founded in 1901, Rusk County was originally named "Gates" County. It was formed out of the northern portion of Chippewa County.

Logging was the industry that opened up the territory in 1884 and the Chippewa River. Weigor and Thornapple Rivers were a solid mass of logs being floated down river. Also, in 1884, the Soo Line was completed from the west to Bruce and many homes and business places were constructed.

Small towns developed in a line east of Bruce as the Railroad developed and soon Ladysmith boomed.

Rusk County was originally named Gates County in 1901, when it was formed out of the northern part of Chippewa County.

Ladysmith was made the county seat by the Legislature in honor of Jeremiah M. Rusk, a Civil War hero, Wisconsin Congressman, 3-term Governor of the State and the first United States Secretary of Agriculture under President Benjamin Harrison.

Farming developed slowly starting in the Bruce area where lumber-jacks acquired 40 or 80 acres, bought a cow or two, and raised food for their own use and fodder for their stock.
Rusk County consists of 936 square miles, with 24 townships, 8 villages, and 1 city.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 931 square miles (2,411 km2), of which, 913 square miles (2,365 km2) of it is land and 18 square miles (46 km2) of it (1.91%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Sawyer County - north
  • Price County - east
  • Taylor County - southeast
  • Chippewa County - south
  • Barron County - west
  • Washburn County - northwest


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