Six Generations of The Hughes Family

Whilden Hughes came to Janesville in 1844 from Michigan. His great-grandfather Hughes had come from Wales in 1690. Whilden Hughes was born in Cape May, NJ. April 27, 1818 and was named after his mother's maiden name. He died July 22, 1870 on the 80 acre farm he purchased in 1854 in Sec. 6 and 7 on Beloit Ave. Mr Hughes married Malvina A. Foster June 23, 1847 in Northville, MI. They had three sons; Carl and Edgar Washington and were in the grain elevator business, and Albert settled in Minneapolis.

Mr. Hughes was a millwright and assisted in construction of the large mill built in Janesville. It was considered the largest in Wisconsin and the largest buckwheat mill in the country at the time. He traveled throughout the state assisting in maintenance and construction of mill. He was a Methodist and was clever at turning out furniture on his lathe.

In1850 Whilden Hughes was elected Sheriff of Rock County. He was also active in the Rock Co. Agricultural Society and Mechanic's Institute. He was its treasurer in 1857 when the Society, with the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, organized the State Fair held in Janesville that year. (The first state fair had been held in 1851 in Janesville.)

Malvina Hughes died Aug. 5, 1860. Whilden then married Anna Bradstreet Hill of New York State in March 1864, and a son, Whilden Hill Hughes, was born Jan. 23, 1866. In 1869 Anna B. Hughes took son Whilden to New York where she studied art at Ingham Univ. Prior to her marriage, she had studied art at Oberlin, Ohio, College for 3 years periodically since she would have to return home to raise money by dressmaking or raising sheep.

After Whilden Hughes died in 1870, Mrs. Hughes continued to live on the farm and made a specialty of marketing dairy products. She had to learn how to handle the financial affairs of the farm, borrow money from Mr. Jackman at the bank at 10 and 12%, buy livestock and land, and hire farm hands who lived in a 2-story dwelling on the farm. In later years she started a milk route and a large ice house was built.

Young son Whilden H. often herded 100 head of cattle alone down the Beloit Ave. hill to Spring Brook, where they would drink. He would return them, with only a long whip to control them. The cows were housed in a 46 x 100 basement dairy barn the J.P. Cullen built in 1879. It was his first big job. The barns were built a distance apart for fire protection. there was also a cistern that stored water for livestock and fires. The Hughes' had an understanding with the Janesville Fire Department that they would supply a fresh team to help pull the fire engine up that steep Beloit Ave. hill which has been cut down many times since. 

There was a root cellar on the farm with 1 1/2 foot think plastered brick walls. There were also 2 iron kettles by the pig pen where gruel could be heated for the pigs. It was also a fine kettle to scald a pig when butchering. A platform wagon scale was in the yard and area farmers could come weigh their hay or grain. A Fairbanks-Morse windmill grinder was 1 of 3 mills on the farm.

In 1907 Anna B. Hughes sold 100 acres to the Chicago and Northwestern railroad. They had plans to build a large roundhouse and repair engines there, but their plans did not develop fully. Anna B. used that money to purchase the 160 acre James Scott farm on E. Delavan Dr. and also a house in Oberlin, OH. The farm had a wonderful orchard and many trees. It also had 2 old buffalo wallows on it, and many prairie chickens. Later, Anna B. moved to Oberlin where she was a matron for the college students, and taught classes there. Her son Whilden attended the College for 3 years. From 1910-1920 three of her granddaughters attended the college and Anna May Hughes graduated from there. They all lived with her while at Oberlin.

Anna B. Hughes did oil paintings until she was 91 when her sight failed. At age 94, she lived with her son's family on E. Delevan Dr. and died there at near 96 years, Jan. 8, 1928.


Whilden Hill Hughes started managing his mother's 324 acre farm in 1890 and he continued the 2 wagon leader dairy she had started until about 1900. He introduced bottled milk, which housewives did not accept as well as the previous practice of using dippers. He encouraged farm machinery development and worked closely with the Experimental Dept. of the of the Janesville Machine Co. He had an early corn shredder and promoted the use of lime and commercial fertilizer. He grew alfalfa and soybeans for the enrichment of the soil and stock, worked for introduction of new plant strains and grew crops for the canning and sugar factories.

Whilden Hill Hughes was an organizer and promoter of the Milk Producers and Dealers Assoc. of the 1890's, the Milk Marketing Co. of the 1920's, the livestock Marketing Assoc., The Pure Milk Assoc. and the Farm Bureau. He was a member of the Gravel Hill School Board, Milk Testing Assoc., and Spray Ring Assoc. of many orchards of the region. He and John McCann owned a cider press and mill. He had one of the first stave silos built in the area in 1912 on E. Delavan Drive. When it was blown down in a storm, it was rebuilt on the Hughes Farm on Beloit Ave. and is still standing. Other early stave silos were on the Will Sherman, now Wayne Funk farm and the George Conway farm. The Conway silo was torn down in 1983.

Mr. Hughes tested his herd of Holsteins for tuberculosis, as did is mother 50 years before it was required. He grew hybrid corn years before most farmers knew what it was. in 1923 he was a member of the Purebred Duroc-Jersey Hog Assoc. along with neighbors J.J. MeCann and Edward Parker. He showed hogs at eh Rock County Fair, which he helped to promote and start.

Whilden H. Hughes married Maud Nutten (1871-1954) in Michigan. He died Dec. 22, 1940, 2 months before their 50th wedding anniversary. They were both members of the first congregational Church of Janesville. the had 2 boys and 6 girls, all of whom had some form of higher education, and half had a degree or two. Anna May Hughes (1892-1979) taught history at a Detroit high school before retiring to her home farm in La Prairie in 1949.

Charlotte Hughes (1894-1919) died in the influenza epidemic 7 months after her marriage to Paul E. Taylor. Frances Willard Hughes (1898-1976) married F.L. Bollinger and lived in New York and Ohio with their two girls who both received their degrees from the UW.

Marie Antionette Hughes married Hugh Conway. Genevieve Folson Hughes married Ivan Stehman and lived in Pennsylvania with their one boy and two girls. Gen was a social case worker. Her twin Whilden Bradstreet Hughes married Ida Louisa Hadley in 1929. She was trained as a country school teacher. They lived in La Prairie before retiring to Harmony Township. They have four children Whilden, Wesley, Elwood, and Gwendolyn. Whilden Bradstreet Hughes Jr. (1930-2011) married Patricia Jane Barry. Their children: Christine Marie, Craig Barry, Whilden Randall, and Andrea Beth.  Wesley Hadley Hughes married Mary Lynn Wolfe and their children are Lisa Ann Golladay, Sara Jo, Kerrie Lynn Thisile, and Thomas Wesley. Elwood Beach Hughes married Dorothy Marlene Love in Pittsburg and their two children are Elwood Alan and Ann Elizabeth. Marlene is a trained nurse and Elwood taught school. Gwendolyn Crane Hughes married Richard J. Croft and lives with son Charles and Kevin in Rockford.

Ruth N. Hughes was employed at the Tallman Restorations where her education in art was a fine asset, as were her hobbies in hand weaving and spinning. She was also proficient in vegetable dying of wool. She sang in choruses and church choirs for 17 years.

Elwood E. Hughes (1910-1943) contracted a strep bug from poisoned food at college. There were no antibiotics then and the strep bug ruined his health and gradually took his life.

Whilden B. Hughes Sr. and wife Ida lived on the original hughes farm on 1421 Beloit Ave. for 10 years. When his brother Elwood owned the E. Delevan Dr. farm, Elwood suggested that another house be built on that farm in the orchard for his mother and 3 sisters in 1941. After Elwood and his father Whilden H. died, the Delevan Dr. farm was sold in 1943 to Whilden B. Sr. and they moved to that farm. Whilden was involved in school, 4-h, and other community activities and he worked for the Consolidated School and serves on its board. He was a director on the Farm Bureau Board and the Production Credit Assoc. Ida formed and organized the state "Make it Yourself with Wool" contest and directed it for 10 years. She directed and worked in 4-h and sold Farm Bureau Insurance.

Today the family farm is owned and operated by Whilden Randall (Randy) and his wife Judy. Their two children Whilden David (Willie) and Julianne Burns both work on the farm as well.  As of 2015, The Hughes Family has been farming in Rock County for over 167 years.

Whilden Hughes (1818-1870)

Whilden Hughes (1818-1870)

Whilden Hill Hughes (1864-1940)

Whilden Hill Hughes (1864-1940)

Whilden Bradstreet Hughes (1905-1991)

Whilden Bradstreet Hughes (1905-1991)