Rome was once part of the Bark River Township until 1846 when the Territorial Legislature divided the town into individual townships to include: Cold Spring, Hebron, Palmyra and Sullivan.
The earliest settler was Peter Knockler and his family who arrived in 1840 and built a log cabin. In 1842, Myron Smith and S.D. Tenny arrived, dammed up the Bark River which created the Rome Mill Pond, the largest in the state and built a saw mill. The mill burned down but Charles DeWitt soon built another. At this time, wagons began arriving with settlers. Among them were Ambrose, Davis, and Dempster Seely of New York State, along with their sister Betsy and her husband Silas Sears and family. Betsy and Silas were burdened with many hardships on the way in the loss of several children. This is recorded in "Lays of Modern Rome' and the History of Jefferson County - 1879. The Seely Brothers purchased the mill and along with others as different intervals, dug the mill race and built a saw mill and turning shop in 1852. Part of the saw mill still stands today.
The railroad was first planned to come through Rome, but because of the vastness of the Rome Mill Pond, it was not possible. Abstracts show the Milwaukee-Rock River Canal Act written on June 18, 1838, planned for the canal that was to connect those two points and would pass just north of Rome. This plan was never enacted.
John Maul shot the last buffalo in this area in the early 1840's near the Rome Mill Pond. The hide is displayed at the Kettle Moraine State Forest Ranger Station near Eagle, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.
On September 9, 1848, Ambrose Seely platted and officially recorded the village of Rome. Rome was named for the place that many of the early settlers came from - Rome, New York.
Silas Sears built a hotel which was named the ‘Live and Let Live’, later changed to ‘The Rome Exchange Hotel’. Early Rome had saw mills, a grist mill, blacksmith, brick and block maker, wagon maker, shoemaker, creamery, hotels, stores, brewery and numerous other industries and businesses.
During the early years and into the early 1900's, Rome was the hub of social, commercial and religious activity for the area. Rome remains a peaceful little village today. In 1998 when the sesquicentennial was celebrated, there were two taverns, a bowling alley, convenience store, volunteer fire department, small private businesses and an active church.
This information was compiled from the booklet put together for the sesquicentennial in 1998.