In 1855 the Chicago & Northwestern Railway built toward Janesville, Wisconsin,
from Cary. Projecting where trains from Chicago would have to stop for servicing in the days of wood fuel, Elbridge
Gerry Ayer and two other North Western stockholders platted a community in southeastern Chemung Township. They
purchased the land without mentioning their railroad affiliation. In April 1856, the railroad accepted Ayer's town
plat as a station named Harvard. When the North Western's Kenosha-Rockford line entered Harvard in 1859, the railroad
built engine-handling facilities there. As railroad employment expanded, Harvard's population ballooned. In 1868
voters incorporated the community, and elected Ayer as president.
In 1942, Harvard instituted an annual celebration called Harvard Milk Days.
A lavish parade down whitewashed streets presided over by a large fiberglass Holstein cow named (since 1970) Harmilda attracted thousands.
The town of Harvard is located mainly in the township of Chemung.
Other towns in the area include Chemung, Lawrence, Big Foot Prairie, and Hartland.