Seymour Wilcox was the first man to select the area now known as Waupun as the location for his home. He came alone to the area in the fall of 1838 and filed a claim upon the area. In February of 1839, Mr. Wilcox, along with John Ackerman and Hiram Walker, brought supplies to build a shelter, the first official home in Waupun. In March of that same year, Mr. Wilcox brought his family, who at the time were living in Green Bay, to the new home in this new area.
In 1840, the Postal Service was inaugurated in Waupun, and at that time the name of the settlement was to be “Waubun,” which translates to “dawn of day.” However, an error resulted in the spelling of the settlement as “Waupun,” and the name remained. Waupun was officially incorporated as a city in the year 1878.
Waupun has a long tradition of library support. The first library in Waupun was established in 1858 by 80 of Waupun’s own citizens when they signed a petition establishing the Waupun Library Association. Membership in the Association entitled members to the privilege of checking out as many books as desired for the small sum of $3.00 per year with the city’s first library residing in the insurance office of Mr. Edwin Hillyer. Saturday was the busiest night for the library, people coming into town on Saturday for their weekly cut and shave and visit to the library.
The Waupun Library Association survived until 1904 when the City of Waupun established the Waupun Public Library, making the Waupun Public Library one of only three public libraries in the state of Wisconsin that can trace a continuous line back to the city’s library association (the other two libraries in this category are the Milwaukee and Madison public libraries). It was in that year that construction began on the Waupun Public Library building shown below (this is a recent picture of the building).
Library service continued in this building until 1968, when construction was completed and opening ceremonies conducted on the current library building. (The Carnegie building is now home to the Waupun Heritage Museum.) In 1998, an addition to the current building was completed to increase the amount of space for the growing collection. Another addition to the current building was completed in 2009 for the same reason.