Christmas Card Town of Wisconsin
Elkhorn, the county seat for Walworth County, is a fast-growing community with a population of over 8,500. It is a city rich in history and tradition, with the warmth and friendliness of a small town. Elkhorn Prairie was crossed by an Army trail in the 1800s and had been surveyed a year earlier. Its name already had been given by Col. Samuel F. Phoenix who had spied an elk’s antlers in a tree, perhaps placed there by earlier travelers.
Three men, LeGrand Rockwell, Hollis Latham and Horace Coleman, searched for and located the stake which denoted the center of the four central townships.
The original town was one of five organized by an act of the territorial legislature in January 1838, and included the four towns in the northwestern quarter of the county. These are now known as Whitewater, LaGrange, Richmond and Sugar Creek.
Elkhorn enjoys the honor of being known as “Christmas Card Town.” It all started back in World War II days when a program of festive holiday decorations was initiated which transformed the downtown area into a Christmas card cover scene.
In 1952, Elkhorn received national recognition when the old March of Time television series chose Elkhorn as the setting for one of its shows, a program which depicted a small American town during the Christmas season. The show was seen by millions of viewers nationwide and was rerun for several years.
Then, in 1858, New York artist Cecile Johnson was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company to create a series of six watercolor paintings to illustrate an article for their magazine, the “Ford Times.” Again, Elkhorn was chosen as the locale. Five of the six paintings were later used by a major publisher as artwork for Christmas cards – cards which were subsequently printed and reprinted into the hundreds of thousands, which found their way into virtually every corner of the world. Currently carrying on the tradition is well-known Wisconsin artist Jan Castle Reed. She has created 10 wonderful paintings and continues each year with another beautiful scene of Elkhorn, frozen in time for all the world to see and enjoy.