The man who founded
the little village of Stoughton was born in Vermont in 1799 and
was a mechanic by trade. He and his wife, Eliza Page Stoughton,
moved to a farm seven miles north of Janesville in 1838.
Later he moved to the
village of Janesville where he was in the merchantile business
and bought and sold real estate. He began looking at some
land between Madison and Janesville along the Catfish River, now
the Yahara River. On July 3, 1847, Luke bought 800 acres
of land for $2,100.
He had a vision of a
perfectly situated little town named after him. It would
have a sawmill, a store, an inn, a blacksmith shop, a carpenter
shop, a doctor, a school and churches. In fact, in the
years after his dream became a reality, he donated land for
three of Stoughton's first churches: the Universalist
Church in 1858, the Congregational Church in 1863 and First
Lutheran Church in 1866.
He also donated land
to the railroad so that it would stop in his village rather than
in the nearby Dunkirk settlement as originally planned.
Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad passenger service began between
Stoughton and Milwaukee on December 15, 1853, just six years
after the village was founded. The first train reached
Madison five months later.
Stoughton was finally
on the map and Luke saw his vision completely fulfilled in 1868
when the Village of Stoughton was legally incorporated. By
then his health had begun to fail. He died in 1874.
Eliza Page Stoughton