Lincoln-Tallman House Museum
A Rock County icon, the Lincoln-Tallman House museum originally was the residence of the William Tallman family from 1857 to 1915.
Operating as a historic house museum since 1951, the Lincoln-Tallman House has evolved into a site that can offer a traditional museum experience while providing its spaces for everyday use by the community. Rentals, educational programs, dining and other non-museum events have been hosted by the Tallman house in the recent past.
The Lincoln-Tallman House is now seen as a venue that can be used and shared by all to create new history while still being true to its mission of interpreting local history.
The Rock County Historical Society offers several Tallman tours. Each, in its own way, will educate, excite and stimulate the senses as we take you on an exciting journey, telling the story of a Rock County family, during a turbulent period in American history. From our Traditional Tour to Help Wanted, we have a story to tell to every visitor inside the Lincoln-Tallman House.
Make your own history inside the Lincoln-Tallman House! Host your next party, meeting or activity in the ornate spaces of this historic, 19th-century Italianate mansion. Rental and photography packages are available that offer that one-of-a-kind, vintage, unforgettable experience. Be comfortable with the knowledge that your rental and use of the venue directly supports its sustainability.
Help us take down the velvet ropes of the Tallman house as we create unique, dynamic events that make history fun and entertaining. Our goal is to make the Lincoln-Tallman House relevant to the next generation. Offering the site as a forum for other organizations and individuals is essential in broadening the site and the Society’s mission in Rock County.
January & February
March to May
Monday thru Friday
June to December
Seven days a week
Seeing Janesville, Wisconsin, as the perfect place from which to manage his land purchases, William Morrison Tallman constructed a stately residence just north of the city’s center. Completed in 1857, the Tallman’s lived an affluent life, common to the upper-class in America during the 19th Century. With the help of family diaries and letters, as well as newspapers from the period, we are able to provide detailed information about their lives and the history of the area.
Three generations of Tallmans lived on the original footprint of the family homestead, finally shuttering the original residence in 1915. The transfer of property to the City of Janesville ensured that their home would be operated as a house museum in perpetuity for the benefit of Janesville and Rock County residents and visitors.
William Morrison Tallman
Originally settling in Janesville to manage his land holdings, Tallman quickly became a local leader, participating in law and politics. An abolitionist, Tallman attended a speech in Beloit by a politician named Abraham Lincoln, who had similar abolitionist leanings. So struck by his words, Tallman invited Lincoln to speak in Janesville the next day. With nowhere to stay, Tallman offered his residence to Lincoln for the evening. The rest, as they say, is history.
Emeline Dexter Tallman
The wife of William Morrison Tallman. Emeline and their two youngest children joined William in Janesville in 1850. No records exist documenting how she felt about the move west.
William Henry Tallman
The Oldest Son
Meet William Henry
The oldest child of William Morrison and Emeline Tallman, William Henry never lived at the Tallman residence. He arrived in Janesville a year after the rest of his family in order to finish up an apprenticeship at a pharmacy in New York. Upon arriving in Janesville, William Henry, with the help of his father, bought an interest in the drugstore Holden and Kemp. In 1857, the company is called Tallman and Collins’ Empire Drug Store and by 1868, William owned the company. William remained in Janesville his entire life, dying in 1902.
Cornelia Augusta Tallman
The Only Daughter
The only daughter and youngest child of William and Emeline Tallman, Gussie Tallman arrived in Wisconsin at the age of 12 and was 19 when she moved into the Tallman residence. A diary kept by Gussie in 1860 indicates that she was well read, enjoyed going to parties and social gatherings, and was a good friend of Nellie Norton, her brother’s future wife. Gussie left the Tallman residence for Chicago after marrying John Beach in 1865. She died the following year in June. The cause of her death is unknown.
Edgar Dexter Tallman
The Second Son
Edgar and Nellie lived 2 blocks from each other after the 21-year-old Edgar moves into the Tallman house. After the Civil War, Edgar and Nellie move back to the Tallman residence, living there the rest of their married life, taking care of the house after Edgar’s parents die, and giving birth to both of their sons. Edgar dies in the house in 1896.
Nellie Norton Tallman
A Good And Caring Woman
Although married in 1861, the 1860 diary kept by Gussie Tallman makes no mention of a possible “romantic” relationship between them. Nellie continues to live in the house with her children’s family until the house is abandoned in 1915. She then spends the rest of her life, until her death in 1924, living in her children’s houses.
Charles Edward Tallman
The Favorite Grandson
The children of Edgar and Nellie Tallman, Stanley and Charles, were both born and grew up in the Tallman residence. Stanley married in 1911 while Charles married earlier in 1908. Family records indicate that Charles and his family resides on the main floor of the Tallman residence, turning the drawing room into a bedroom. In 1915, both brothers built a residence for their respective families on the Tallman property, just south of the original Tallman residence. Today, those residences are 430 and 426 North Jackson Streets, respectively. Stanley died in 1922 and Charles in 1948.
George Kemp Tallman
The Last Link
George was the grandson of William Morrison Tallman, the builder of the Tallman House. He was born in December 1874 and became a lawyer, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. He and his wife Alice McGregor Tallman donated the Tallman House to the city of Janesville just prior to his death in 1950.
Contact us for more information on the Lincoln-Tallman House
Rock County Historical Society
440 North Jackson Street
Janesville, WI 53547
(608) 756-4509 ext. 305