Community History

  Lancaster is the county seat of Grant County. Grant County comprises the extreme southwest corner of the state of Wisconsin and the Mississippi River forms the county’s western edge. The discovery of lead in this region in the early years of the nineteenth century resulted in its being one of the earliest places where settlement occurred in the state and the places where these settlers congregated are thus among the earliest communities in Wisconsin. Lancaster owes its existence to its position near the geographical center of the county.

  In 1836, Grant County was created by the first Wisconsin territorial legislature and a competition then ensued to locate the new county’s seat. The winner proved to be a site promoted by land speculator Major Glendower Morgan Price, who proposed a forty-seven-block plat located near the center of the county. This plat had streets aligned on a north-south, east-west grid and it also had a block specifically dedicated to the “public” located at its center.
  In 1837, Price’s proposal won out over two other speculative town sites and several established communities located elsewhere in the county, thanks partly to its central location and thanks also to Price’s donation to the county of the public square shown on his plat for a courthouse site and his further donation of $1000.00 for its construction. He was persuaded to name it Lancaster by a homesick relative who emigrated from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


  A few historical facts:

  • Lancaster is home to the first publicly conceived Civil War monument, which was dedicated in 1867.
  • Wisconsin’s first Governor, Nelson Dewey, was from Lancaster and is buried here.
  • The Patrick Kinney House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is in Lancaster.
  • Dave Schreiner from Lancaster was the first All American from the University of Wisconsin.
  • Pleasant Ridge, just outside the city limits, was first settled by freed slaves and established one of the first integrated schools in the nation.