The first settlers came to this area in 1838. Being near the river was a huge plus for the development of this area. By 1846 Baraboo became the County Seat (still is); by 1866 it became an official Village; & by 1882 it was sporting the title of City. In October of 2004, Baraboo became a 3rd class city having hit the 11,000 mark in population.
Baraboo is most often known as “Circus City” for several reasons, not just for the fact that the Ringling Brothers called Baraboo home and had their winter quarters here through 1918. In 1884 the young Ringling Brothers gave their first official circus performance. They rapidly grew successful and eventually joined forces with the Barnum & Bailey show which gave rise to the name we are all so familiar with: The Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. Not only the Ringlings called Baraboo home; other circuses started in Baraboo as well: Gollmar Brothers (1891 to 1916), John Robinson (1898), Forepaugh Sells Brothers (1910-1911, Fun on the Farm (1924), & Wilbur W. Deppe’s Classic Country Circus (1961-1966).
The circus wasn’t the only thing that put Baraboo on the map. Newspaper history was also made here. As the story goes: “When his partner quit to fight the Civil War, Editor Ansel H. Kellogg kept the Baraboo Republic in publication by ordering two pages of printed war news each week from a Madison newspaper & printing Baraboo news on the blank sides in his shop. Other newspapers joined in buying the ready prints & Kellogg developed his idea into the first syndicated newspaper. Today, every newspaper in the nation subscribes to articles from national & international news sources – they’re called boilerplates. Few small town newspapers could exist without this important source for reportable news & it all began here in Baraboo.” Incidentally, the News Republic still exists today as Baraboo’s daily newspaper & the official paper of the City!