What we know as Kenosha, Wisconsin today is what an early group of Native Americans originally named Kenozia. This word means "place of the Pike". Pike is a type of fish. The name would change a few times after that. In 1836, after more settlers arrived and the first post office was established, it was renamed to Pike Creek. In the ensuing years, the area became an important Great Lakes shipping port and the village’s name was changed to Southport. In 1850, one last change gave Kenosha its current title, a modernized version of the early Kenozia, and the name for which the county is also named.
Kenosha was long known as a manufacturing town – with the transportation industry having a strong presence in Kenosha for more than 100 years. Kenosha has been home to such automotive industry leaders as Thomas B. Jeffery Co., Nash Motor Company, American Motors Company, and DaimlerChrysler Corporation.
Kenosha has also been the home to such companies as Hill Steamboat Line, American Brass, Simmons Bedding Company, N. R. Allen’s Sons Company, Bain Wagon, Peter Pirsch & Sons, MacWhyte Company, Frost Manufacturing Company, Dynamatic Corporation, and many more.
Industry giants that make the Kenosha Area their home today include Jockey, Snap-on, Amazon, Ocean Spray, Uline, and more. Kenosha is the global headquarters for Jockey International, Inc. The company has been here since the late 1800s. Jockey (then known as S.T. Cooper & Sons) was founded in 1876 by Samuel T. Cooper. Kenosha is also the world headquarters for Snap-on, Incorporated. The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1920 and moved here to Kenosha in 1930.
The Kenosha Area is filled with interesting and unique historical places, including the United States' oldest operating velodrome (bicycle racing track), the oldest continuously operating lunch car diner in the U.S., and the 1920 ballpark where the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team Kenosha Comets played.
Kenosha has more than one National Register Historic District. Visit Kenosha's four historic districts — including the Civic Center Historic District, Library Park Historic District, Third Avenue Historic District (where Kemper Center is), and the Pearl Street Historic District — as well as two historic lighthouses. Kenosha’s rich history is preserved and proudly displayed at our various museums, including the home of the Kenosha County Historical Society – the Kenosha History Center.
What Famous People Are From Kenosha?
Over the years, Kenosha has been the hometown of a number of famous names and faces such as:
- Actor, writer, director, and producer Orson Welles
- Actor Mark Ruffalo
- Actor Don Ameche
- Actor Al Molinaro
- Actor Daniel J. Travanti
- Actor Thom Bierdz
- Actress Concetta Tomei
- Actress and singer Bethany Thomas
- Actor and director Charles Siebert
- NFL player Alan Ameche
- NFL player Melvin Gordon III
- NFL player Trae Waynes
- NFL player Daviyon Nixon
- MLB player Gavin Lux
- MLB player Ray Berres
- NBA player Nick Van Exel
- Mixed martial artist Ben Rothwell
- Portrait painter George Pollard
- Children’s book author Florence Parry Heide
- Visual Effects Supervisor on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and triple Academy Award Winner, Jim Rygiel
- L.A. based musician Tom Goss
- Comedian Jeff Cesario
- Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler
- Chef Tony Mantuano
- Chef Daniel Bonanno
- Writer and producer Keith Huff
- Film director and writer Nathan Greno
- Cartoonist John Hambrock
- Inventor Christopher Latham Sholes (inventor of the QWERTY keyboard and believed to be one of the inventors of the first typewriter)
- Inventor of Zerk fittings - Oscar Zerk
- Manufacturer Peter T. Pirsch
- Inventor of the first phone answering machine - Joseph Zimmerman
- Fashion designer Kendra Scott
- Songwriter, singer, and guitarist John Sieger
- Betsy Ade: singer/songwriter, 2019 contestant on NBC's "The Voice", member of Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers
- Tristan Jass: basketball player, entrepreneur, content creator, influencer, and social media star