Ripon was founded in 1849 by David P. Mapes, a former New York steamboat captain. Within two years the city had absorbed the nearby commune of Ceresco, established in 1844 by the Wisconsin Phalanx, a group of settlers inspired by the communitarian socialist philosophy of Charles Fourier. Mapes was a founder of Ripon College, originally incorporated as Brockway College in 1851
The city was named for the English cathedral city of Ripon, North Yorkshire, by John S. Horner, one of the community’s original settlers, because that was where his immigrant ancestors originated. Horner also named most of the streets. His house is still standing today.
Ripon is located in the northwest corner of Fond du Lac County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.02 square miles and 7,863 people live there (2020 Census).
Something you might not know…Ripon is the birthplace of the Republican Party. Meeting at a school house in Ripon on March 20, 1854, some 30 opponents of the Kansas–Nebraska Act called for the organization of a new political party (to link their cause with the Declaration of Independence). The group also took a leading role in the creation of the Republican Party in many northern states during the summer of 1854. While conservatives and many moderates were content merely to call for the restoration of the Missouri Compromise or a prohibition of slavery extension, the group insisted that no further political compromise with slavery was possible. The February 1854 meeting was the first political meeting of the group that would become the Republican Party. The modern Ripon Society, a Republican think tank, takes its name from Ripon, Wisconsin.
More stuff of interest…Ripon lies in the Sinnipee Group, a geologic formation composed primarily of dolomite, with limestone as a secondary rock type. Ripon’s bedrock is primarily limestone. The limestone indicates that Ripon’s location was once a shallow sea.