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Title: Stories of the Badger State
Author: Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 1853-1913
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories of the Badger State" ***

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    COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY



    W. P. I.


The student of nature lives in a broader and more interesting world than
does he who has not learned the story of the birds, the streams, the
fields, the woods, and the hedgerows. So, too, the student of local
history finds his present interest in town, village, city, or State,
growing with his knowledge of its past.

In recognition of this fact, these true stories, selected from
Wisconsin's history, have been written as a means to the cultivation of
civic patriotism among the youth of our commonwealth. It is not the
purpose of the book to present a continuous account of the development
of the State; for this, the author begs to refer to his larger work,
"The Story of Wisconsin" (in the Story of the States Series). Rather is
it desired to give selections from the interesting and often stirring
incidents with which our history is so richly stored, in the hope that
the reader may acquire a taste for delving more deeply into the annals
of the Badger State.

Wisconsin had belonged, in turn, to Spain, France, and England, before
she became a portion of the United States. Her recorded history begins
far back in the time of French ownership, in 1634. The century and a
third of the French régime was a picturesque period, upon which the
memory delights to dwell; with its many phases, several of the following
chapters are concerned. The English régime was brief, but not without
interest. In the long stretch of years which followed, before Wisconsin
became an American State, many incidents happened which possess for us
the flavor of romance. The formative period between 1848 and 1861 was
replete with striking events. In the War of Secession, Wisconsin took a
gallant and notable part. Since that great struggle, the State has made
giant strides in industry, commerce, education, and culture; but the
present epoch of growth has not thus far yielded much material for
picturesque treatment, perhaps because we are still too near to the
events to see them in proper perspective. An attempt has been made to
present chapters representative of all these periods, but naturally the
earlier times have seemed best adapted to the purpose in hand.

R. G. T.


    The Mound Builders
    Life and Manners of the Indians
    The Discovery of Wisconsin
    Radisson and Groseilliers
    The Story of Joliet and Marquette
    The Jesuit Missionaries
    Some Notable Visitors to Early Wisconsin
    A Quarter of a Century of Warfare
    The Commerce of the Forest
    In the Old French Days
    The Coming of the English
    Wisconsin in the Revolutionary War
    The Rule of Judge Réaume
    The British capture Prairie du Chien
    The Story of the Wisconsin Lead Mines
    The Winnebago War
    The Black Hawk War
    The Story of Chequamegon Bay
    Wisconsin Territory formed
    Wisconsin becomes a State
    The Boundaries of Wisconsin
    Life in Pioneer Days
    The Development of Roads
    The Phalanx at Ceresco
    A Mormon King
    The Wisconsin Bourbon
    Slave Catching in Wisconsin
    The Story of a Famous Chief
    A Fight for the Governorship
    Our Foreign-born Citizens
    Swept by Fire
    Badgers in War Time



In the basin of the Mississippi, particularly in that portion lying east
of the great river, there are numerous mounds which were reared by human
beings, apparently in very early times, before American history begins.
They are found most frequently upon the banks of lakes and rivers, and
often upon the summits of high bluffs overlooking the country. No
attempt has ever been made to count them, for they could be numbered by
tens of thousands; in the small county of Trempealeau, Wisconsin, for
instance, over two thousand have been found by surveyors. Most of the
mounds have been worn down, by hundreds of years of exposure to rain and
frost, till they are but two or three feet in height; a few, however,
still retain so majestic an altitude as eighty or more feet. The conical
mounds are called by ethnologists _tumuli_. Other earthworks are long
lines, or squares, or circles, and are probably fortifications; some of
the best examples of these are still to be traced at Aztalan, Wisconsin.
In many places, especially in Ohio and Wisconsin, they have been so
shaped as to resemble buffaloes, serpents, lizards, squirrels, or
birds; and some apparently were designed to represent clubs, bows, or
spears--all these peculiarly shaped mounds being styled _effigies_.

The mounds attracted the attention of some of the earliest white
travelers in the Mississippi basin, and much was written about them in
books published in Europe over a hundred years ago. Books are still
being written about the mounds, but most of them are based on old and
worn-out theories; those published by the Ethnological Bureau, at
Washington, are the latest and best. Many thousands of these earthworks
have been opened, some by scientists, many more by curiosity seekers,
and their contents have, for the most part, found their way into public
museums. Many of the mounds have been measured with great accuracy, and
pictures and descriptions of them are common.

Until a few years ago, the opinion was quite general, even among
historians and ethnologists, that the mounds were built by a race of
people who lived in the Mississippi basin before the coming of the
Indians, and that the mound builders were far superior to the Indians in
civilization. Many thought that this prehistoric race had been driven
southward by the Indians, and that the Aztecs whom the Spaniards found
in Mexico and Central America four hundred years ago were its
descendants. We have in Wisconsin a reminder of the Aztec theory, in the
name Aztalan, early applied to a notable group of earthworks in
Jefferson county.

There were many reasons why, in an earlier and more imperfect stage of
our knowledge concerning Indians, this theory seemed plausible. It was
argued that to build all these mounds required a vast deal of steady
labor, which could have been performed only by a dense population,
working under some strong central authority, perhaps in a condition of
slavery; that these people must have long resided in the same spot; and
must have been supported by regular crops of grain, vegetables, and
fruit. It was shown that Indians, as we found them, lived in small
bands, and did not abide long in one place; that their system of
government was a loose democracy; that they were disinclined to
persistent labor, and that they were hunters, not farmers. Further, it
was contended that the mounds indicated a religious belief on the part
of their builders, which was not the religion of the red men. The result
of these arguments, to which was added a good deal of romantic fancy,
was to rear in the public mind a highly colored conception of a mythical
race of Mound Builders, rivaling in civilization the ancient Egyptians.

But we are living in an age of scientific investigation; scientific
methods are being applied to every branch of study; history has had to
be rewritten for us in the new light which is being thrown upon the path
of human development. This is not the place to set forth in detail the
steps by which knowledge has been slowly but surely reached, regarding
the history of the once mysterious mounds. The work of research is not
yet ended, for the study of ethnology is only in its infancy;
nevertheless, it is now well established that the Indians built the
mounds, and we may feel reasonably certain for what purpose they used

Indian population was never dense in North America. The best judges now
agree that the entire native population consisted of not over two
hundred thousand at the time when the Pilgrim Fathers came to Plymouth.
Of these, Wisconsin probably had but nine thousand, which, curiously
enough, is about its present Indian population. But, before the first
whites came, many of the American tribes were not such roamers as they
afterward became; they were inclined to gather into villages, and to
raise large crops of Indian corn, melons, and pumpkins, the surplus of
which they dried and stored for winter. We shall read, in another
chapter, how the white fur trader came to induce the Indian
agriculturist to turn hunter, and thereby to become the wandering savage
whom we know to-day. Concerning the argument that the modern Indian is
too lazy to build mounds, it is sufficient to say that he was, when a
planter, of necessity a better worker than when he had become a hunter;
also, that many of the statements we read about Indian laziness are the
result of popular misunderstanding of the state of Indian society. It is
now well known that the Indian was quite capable of building excellent
fortifications; that the most complicated forms of mounds were not
beyond his capacity; and that, in general, he was in a more advanced
stage of mental development than was generally believed by old writers.
Modern experiments, also, prove that the actual work of building a
mound, with the aid of baskets to carry the earth, which was the method
that they are known to have employed, was not so great as has been

It has been recently discovered, from documents of that period, that
certain Indians were actually building mounds in our southern States as
late as the Revolutionary War. In the north, the practice of mound
building had gone or was going out of fashion about a hundred and
twenty-five years before, that is, in the days when the French first
came to Wisconsin. It is thought that some of our Wisconsin mounds may
be a thousand years old; while others are certainly not much over two
hundred years of age, for skeletons have been found in some of them
wearing silver ornaments which were made in Paris, and which bear dates
as late as 1680.

It is easy to imagine the uses to which the Wisconsin mounds were put by
their Indian builders. We can the more readily reason this out, because
we know, from books of travel published at the time, just what use the
southern Indians were making of their mounds, in the period of the
Revolutionary War. The small tumuli were for the most part burial
places for men of importance, and were merely heaps of earth piled above
the corpse, which was generally placed in a sitting posture; he was
surrounded with earthen pots containing food, which was to last him
until his arrival at the happy hunting ground, and with weapons of stone
and copper, to enable him there to kill game or defend himself against
his enemies. The larger tumuli were, no doubt, the commanding sites of
council houses or of the huts of chiefs. Each Indian belonged, through
his relationship with his mother's people, to some clan; and each clan
had its symbol or _totem_, such as the Bear, the Turtle, the Buffalo,
etc. The Indians claimed that the clan had descended from some giant
animal whose figure, or effigy, was thus honored. Many white people
place their family symbol, or crest, or coat of arms on their letter
paper, or on the panels of their carriage doors, or upon their
silverware; so Indians are fond of displaying their respective totems on
their utensils, weapons, canoes, or wigwams. In the mound building days,
they reared totems of earth, and probably dwelt on top of them. As in
each village there were several clans, so there were numerous earth
totems, many of them of great size. This, no doubt, is the origin of the
so-called effigies. Add to these the mystic circles of the medicine men,
the fantastic serpents, and the fortifications necessary to defend the
village from the approach of an enemy up some sloping bank or
sharp-sided ravine, and you have the story of the mounds. An Indian
village in those old mound building days must have presented a
picturesque appearance.

Just why the Indians stopped building mounds is not settled; but it is
noticeable that they were being built in various parts of the country
about up to the time of the white man's entry. It may be that the coming
of the stranger, with his different manners, hastened the decay of the
custom; or perhaps it had practically ceased about that time, as many
another wave of custom has swept over primitive peoples and left only
traces behind.

The mounds, with which the forefathers of our Indians dotted our land,
remain to us as curious and instructive monuments of savage life in
prehistoric times. No castles or grand cathedrals have come down to us,
in America, to illustrate the story of the early ages of our own race;
but we have in the mounds mute, impressive relics of a still earlier
life upon this soil, by our primitive predecessors. It should be
considered our duty, as well as our pleasure, to preserve them intact
for the enlightenment of coming generations of our people.


At the time when white men first came to Wisconsin, there were found
here several widely differing tribes of Indians, and these were often at
war with one another. The Winnebagoes, an offshoot of the Sioux,
occupied the valleys of the Wisconsin and the Fox, and the shores of
Green Bay as far down as Sturgeon Bay. If the theory of the ethnologists
be correct, that most of the Wisconsin mounds were built by the
Winnebagoes, then at times they must have dwelt in nearly every corner
of the State. This is not unlikely, for the centers of Indian population
were continually shifting, the red men being driven hither and thither
by encroachments of enemies, religious fancies, or the never-ending
search for food. We know only that when the whites found them, they were
holding these two valleys, between Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. A
broad-faced people, with flat noses, they were in personal appearance,
habits, and morals the least attractive of all our tribes. Their
cousins, the wild and dashing Sioux, were still using northwest
Wisconsin as a hunting ground, and had permanent villages in Minnesota,
and elsewhere to the west of the Mississippi River. The Chippewas (or
Ojibways, as the name was originally spelled), the best of our
Wisconsin aborigines, were scattered through the northern part of the
State, as far south as the Black River, and perhaps as far eastward as
the Wolf. East of them were the Menominees (Wild-Rice Eaters), a
comparatively gentle folk, who gathered great stores of grain from the
broad fields of wild rice which flourishes in the bayous and marshy
river bottoms of northeast Wisconsin. The Pottawattomies, with feminine
cast of countenance, occupied the islands at the mouth of Green Bay, and
the west shore of Lake Michigan, down into Illinois. The united Sacs (or
Saukies) and Foxes (Outagamies) were also prominent tribes. When first
seen by whites, the Sacs and Foxes were weak in numbers, but, being a
bold and warlike people, they soon grew to importance, and crowded the
Winnebagoes out of the Fox valley and, later, out of much of the
Wisconsin valley, becoming in their pride and strength bitter enemies of
the French.

Scattered elsewhere through the State were some smaller tribes: the
Mascoutins (Fire Nation), chiefly in the neighborhood of the present
city of Berlin; the short-limbed Kickapoos, in the Kickapoo valley; and,
at various periods, bands of Hurons, Illinois, Miamis, and Ottawas, none
of whom ever played a large part here. The Stockbridges, Oneidas,
Brothertowns, and Munsees, now numerous in northeast Wisconsin, are
remnants of New York and Massachusetts tribes who were removed hither by
the general government in 1822 and later.

No two tribes spoke the same language. In Wisconsin, the Indians were
divided by language into two great families, the Algonkin and the
Dakotan. The Sioux and the Winnebagoes belonged, by their similar
speech, to the Dakotan family, just as the English and the Germans
belong to the great Teutonic family. All the others were of the Algonkin
group, just as the French, the Spanish, and the Italians belong to what
is called the Latin family, and speak languages which have the same
origin. The Indian history of Wisconsin is the more interesting, because
here these two great families or groups met, clashed, and intermingled.
Despite the diversity of tongues, they were, with certain variations,
much the same sort of people; and for our present purpose, the
description of one tribe will serve for the description of all.

In size, Indians resemble Europeans; some are shorter than the average
white man, some taller; the Kickapoos were among the short men. Indians
have black eyes and coarse, black hair. Most of them wear no beard, but
as the hairs appear, pluck them out with tweezers of wood or clam shell.
They have thin lips, high cheek bones, broad faces, and prominent noses;
the Winnebago's nose is large, but much flattened.

In primitive times, the summer dress of the men was generally a short
apron made of the well-tanned skin of a wild animal, the women being
clothed in skins from neck to knees; in winter, both sexes wrapped
themselves in large fur robes. In some parts of North America,
especially in the south, where the Indians were more highly developed
than those in the north, they wove rude cloths of thread spun from
buffalo hair, or of sinews of animals killed in the chase. It is not
supposed that there was much of this cloth made in Wisconsin. What
specimens have been discovered in our mounds, no doubt were obtained
from the native peddlers, who wandered far and wide carrying the
peculiar products of several tribes, and exchanging them for other
goods, or for wampum, the universal currency of the forest. Moccasins of
deerskin were in general use; also leggins, with the fur turned inward
or outward according to the weather. Much of their clothing was stained
red or black or yellow; some was painted in stripes or lace work, and
some was decorated with pictures of birds and beasts, or with scenes
which they wished to commemorate. One old writer quaintly speaks of "a
great skinne painted and drawen and pourtrayed that nothing lacked but
life." Their dress was also ornamented by beads and porcupine quills; in
the fringed borders of their leggins and robes were often fastened
deer's hoofs, the spurs of wild turkeys, or the claws of bears or
eagles, which rattled as their wearers walked along. Around their necks
were strings of beads, and their ears and noses were pierced for the
hanging of various other ornaments. In their hair, the men tied eagle
feathers, one for each scalp taken.

The "war bonnet," worn by the leading warriors, was a headdress of skins
and feathers, which trailed down the back and often to the ground, and
was highly picturesque. Add to this, the general habit of tattooing, or,
on ceremonial occasions, of fantastically, often hideously, painting the
face and neck and breast in blue, black, and red, and one can well
imagine that an Indian village, on a fête day, or at other times of
popular excitement, presented a striking scene.

Each tribe could be readily distinguished from others, by the shape and
material of its wigwams or huts. The Chippewas, for instance, lived in
hemispherical huts, covered with great sheets of birch-bark; the
Winnebago hut was more of the shape of a sugar loaf, and was covered
with mats of woven rushes; the Sioux dwelt in cone-shaped huts
(_tepees_), covered with skins, the poles sticking out at the top. These
huts were foully kept, and all manner of camp diseases prevailed;
pulmonary complaints and rheumatism were particularly frequent, and both
men and women looked old and haggard before they reached middle age.

In the old mound building days, the huts of the village leaders or
chiefs were no doubt built upon the tops of the mounds, while the common
people lived on the lower level. On top of a very large, conspicuous
mound was the council house, where important events were discussed and
action taken. Every warrior, that is, every man who had taken the scalp
of an enemy, was permitted to be heard around the council fire; but the
talking was for the most part done by the privileged class of headmen,
old men, wise men, and orators.

The political organization of the Indians was weak. The villages were
little democracies, where one warrior considered himself as good as
another, except for the respect naturally due to the chiefs or headmen
of the several clans, or to those who had the reputation of being wise
and able. The sachem, or peace-chief, whose office was hereditary
through connection with his mother's family, had but slight authority
unless his natural gifts commanded respect.

When war broke out, the fighting men ranged themselves as volunteers
under some popular leader, perhaps a regular chief, or perhaps only a
common warrior. When the village council decided to do something, any
man might, if he wished, refuse to obey. It was seldom that an entire
tribe, consisting of several villages, united in an important
undertaking; still more unusual was it, for several tribes to unite.
This was, of course, a weak organization, such as a pure democracy is
sure to be. The Indian lacked self-control and steadfastness of purpose,
and the tribes and villages were jealous of one another; so they yielded
before the whites, who better understood the value of union in the face
of a common foe. The formidable conspiracies of King Philip, Pontiac,
and some others were the work of Indians of quite unusual ability in
the art of organization; but the leaders could find few others equal to
their skill, and the uprisings were shortlived.

The Indian's strength as a fighter lay in his capacity for stratagem, in
his ability to thread the tangled forest as silently and easily as the
plain, and in his habit of making rapid, unexpected sallies for robbery
and murder, and then gliding back into the dark and almost impenetrable
forest. He soon tired of long military operations, and, when hard
pressed, was apt to yield to the white men who were often inferior in
numbers, but who soon learned to adopt the aborigine's skulking method
of warfare.

Lord of his own wigwam, and tyrannical over his squaws, the Indian was
kind and hospitable to unsuspected strangers, yet merciless to a
captive. Nevertheless, prisoners were often snatched from the stake, or
the hands of a cruel captor, to be adopted into the family of the
rescuer, taking the place of some one killed by the enemy. The red man
was improvident, given to gambling, and, despite the popular notion, was
a jolly, easy-going sort of fellow around his own fire; but in council,
and when among strangers, he was dignified and reserved, too proud to
exhibit curiosity or emotion. He indulged in a style of oratory which
abounded in metaphors drawn from his observations of nature. He was
superstitious, peopling the elements with good and bad spirits; and was
much influenced by the medicine men, who were half physicians and half
priests, and who commanded long fastings, penances, and sacrifices, with
curious dances, and various forms of necromancy.

The Indian made tools and implements which were well adapted to his
purpose; the boats which he fashioned of skins, of birch-bark, or of
hollowed trunks of trees have not been surpassed. He was remarkably
quick in learning the use of firearms, and soon equaled the best white
hunters as a marksman. A rude sense of honor was developed within him;
he had a nice perception of what was proper to do; he knew how to bend
his own will to the force of custom, thus he overcame to some extent the
natural evils of democracy. He understood the arts of politeness when he
chose to practice them. He could plan admirably, and often displayed
much skill in strategy; his reasoning was good. He knew the value of
form and color, as we can see in his rock-carvings, in his rude
paintings, in the decorations on his leather, and in his often graceful
body-markings. In short, he was less of a savage than we are in the
habit of thinking him; he was barbarous from choice, because he had a
wild, untrammeled nature and saw little in civilized ideas to attract
him. This is why, with his polite manner, he always seemed to be
yielding to missionary efforts, yet perhaps never became thoroughly
converted to Christianity.

When first discovered by white men, Wisconsin Indians were using rude
pottery of their own make. Their arrowheads and spearheads, axes,
knives, and other tools and weapons were of copper obtained from Lake
Superior mines, or of stone suitable for the purpose. They smoked
tobacco in pipes wrought in curious shapes from a soft kind of stone
found in Minnesota, and ornaments and charms were also frequently made
from this so-called "pipestone." Game they killed with arrows or
sling-shots, and in war used these, as well as stone spears and hatchets
and stone-weighted clubs. The bulk of their food they obtained by
hunting, fishing, and cultivating the soil, although at times they were
forced to resort to the usually plentiful supply of fruits, nuts, and
edible roots. Indian corn was the principal crop. Beans were sown in the
same hills, while sometimes between the rows were planted several
varieties of pumpkins, water-melons, and sunflowers. Tobacco and sweet
potatoes were grown by some tribes, but not in Wisconsin. In our State,
wild rice (or oats) furnished a good substitute for corn, and was
similarly cooked.

The whites wrought a serious change in the life and manners of the
Indians. They introduced firearms among the savages, and induced them to
become hunters, and to wander far and wide for fur bearing animals, the
pelts of which were exchanged for European cloths, glass beads, iron
kettles, hatchets, spears, and guns and powder. Thus the Indian soon
lost the old arts of making their own clothing from skins, kettles from
clay, weapons from stone and copper, and wampum (beads used both for
ornament and money) from clam shells. It did not take them long to
discover that their labor was more productive when they hunted, and
purchased what they wanted from the white traders, than when they made
their own rude implements and utensils and raised crops. But the result
was bad, for thereby they ceased to be self-sustaining; their very
existence became dependent on the fur traders, who introduced among them
many vices, not least of which was a love for the intoxicating liquors
in which the traders dealt.

The Indian, at best, was never a lovable creature. He was dirty,
improvident, brutal; he was, as compared with a European, mentally and
morally but an undeveloped man. He is to-day, as we find him upon the
reservations, pretty much the same as when found by the French over two
and a half centuries ago, except that to his original vices he has added
some of the worst vices of the white man. The story of the Indian is
practically the story of the fur trade, and that is the story of
Wisconsin before it became a Territory.


In the year 1608, the daring French explorer, Samuel de Champlain,
founded a settlement on the steep cliff of Quebec, and thus laid the
foundations for the great colony of New France. This colony, in the
course of a century and a half, grew to embrace all of what we now call
Canada and the entire basin of the Mississippi River.

[Illustration: CHAMPLAIN]

New France grew slowly. This was largely owing to the opposition of the
fierce Iroquois Indians of New York, whom Champlain had greatly angered.
Another reason was the changing moods of the Algonkin Indians of Canada
and the Middle West; and still another, the enormous difficulties of
travel through the vast forests and along streams frequently strewn with
rapids. Champlain was made governor of New France, and varied his duties
by taking long and painful journeys into the wilderness, thus setting
the fashion of extensive exploration. There were two very good reasons
for encouraging explorers: in the first place, New France was then
largely controlled by a company of merchants, called the Hundred
Associates, who desired to push the fur trade far and wide among the
savage tribes; in the second place, the French Catholic missionary
priests were anxious to reach the Indians, to convert them to the
Christian religion. Thus it came about that, during the twenty-five
years when the energetic and enterprising Champlain was governor, there
was little talked or thought about in New France but exploration, the
fur trade, and the missions to the Indians.

In order to carry out his schemes for opening new fields to the traders
and missionaries, Champlain found it necessary to train young men to
this work. Only those were selected for the task who had a fair
education, and were healthy, strong, well-formed, and brave. They were,
often when mere boys, sent far up into the country to live among the
Indian tribes, to be adopted by them, to learn their habits and
languages, and to harden themselves to the rough life and rude diet of
the dusky dwellers in the forest. It took several years of this
practice, with patient suffering, for a youth to become an expert who
could be trusted to undergo any hardship or daring task that might be
asked of him. It was one of these forest-bred interpreters who became
the first white discoverer of Wisconsin.

In those early days of New France, most of its people were from the west
and northwest provinces of France. The crews of the ships which engaged
in the trade to New France were nearly all from the ports of Rouen,
Honfleur, Fécamp, Cherbourg, Havre, Dieppe, and Caen; in these
north-coast cities lived the greater part of the Hundred Associates, and
from their vicinity came nearly all of the Jesuit missionaries and the
young men who were trained as interpreters.

Jean Nicolet was born in or near Cherbourg, and was the son of a mail
carrier. He was about twenty years of age when, in 1618, he arrived in
Quebec; "and forasmuch as," says an old Jesuit writer of that time, "his
nature and excellent memory inspired good hopes of him, he was sent to
winter with the Island Algonkins, in order to learn their language. He
tarried with them two years, alone of the French, and always joined the
Barbarians in their excursions and journeys, undergoing such fatigues as
none but eyewitnesses can conceive; he often passed seven or eight days
without food, and once, full seven weeks with no other nourishment than
a little bark from the trees." These "Island Algonkins" lived on
Allumettes Island in the Ottawa River, nearly three hundred miles from
Quebec; their language was the principal one then used by the Indians in
the country on the north bank of the St. Lawrence and in the great
valley of the Ottawa.

Although the life was so hard that few white men could endure it,
Nicolet, like most of the other interpreters, learned to enjoy it; and,
passing from one tribe to another, in his search for new languages and
experiences, he remained among his forest friends for eight or nine
years. He had been with the Algonkins for three or four years when he
went, at the head of four hundred of them, into the Iroquois country,
and made a treaty of peace with this savage foe, whom the Algonkins
always greatly feared. It is related that thence he went to dwell with
the Nipissing Indians, living about Lake Nipissing, "where he passed
for one of that nation, taking part in the very frequent councils of
those tribes, having his own separate cabin and household, and fishing
and trading for himself."

Possibly Nicolet might have been recalled from the woods before this,
but, between 1629 and 1632, Canada was in the hands of the British; and
he remained among the Indians, inspiring them to hostility against the
strangers. In 1632, when the country was released to France, Champlain
and his fellow-officers returned to Quebec, and Nicolet was summoned
thither, and was employed as clerk and interpreter by the Hundred

Champlain was eager to resume his explorations. He had once been up the
great Ottawa River, and thence had crossed over to Lake Huron, and had
become keenly interested in what were then termed the "upper waters." Of
Lakes Ontario and Erie he knew nothing, for the dreaded Iroquois had
prevented the French from going that way; and Lakes Superior and
Michigan were, as yet, undiscovered by whites. Vague rumors of these
unknown regions had been brought to Quebec by bands of strange savages
who had found their way down to the French settlements in search of
European goods in exchange for furs.

Among the many queer stories brought by these fierce, painted barbarians
was one which told of a certain "Tribe of the Sea" dwelling far away on
the western banks of the "upper waters," a people who had come out of
the West, no man knew whence. In those early days, Europeans still clung
to the notion which Columbus had always held, that America was but an
eastern projection of Asia. This is the reason that our savages were
called Indians, for the discoverers of America thought they had merely
reached an outlying portion of India; they had no idea that this was a
great and new continent. Governor Champlain, and after him Governor
Frontenac, and the great explorer La Salle, all supposed that they could
reach India and China, already known to travelers to the east, by
persistently going westward. When, therefore, Champlain heard of these
strange Men of the Sea, he at once declared they must be the long-sought
Chinese. He engaged Nicolet, in whom he had great confidence, to go out
and find them, wherever they were, make a treaty of peace with them, and
secure their trade.

Upon the first day of July, 1634, Nicolet left Quebec, a passenger in
the second of two fleets of canoes containing Indians from the Ottawa
valley, who had come down to the white settlements to trade. Among his
fellow passengers were three adventurous Jesuit missionaries, who were
on their way to the country of the Huron tribe, east of Lake Huron.
Leaving the priests at Allumettes Island, he continued up the Ottawa,
then crossed over to Lake Nipissing, visited old friends among the
Indians there, and descended French Creek, which flows from Lake
Nipissing into Georgian Bay, a northeastern arm of Lake Huron. On the
shores of the great lake, he engaged seven Hurons to paddle his long
birch-bark canoe and guide him to the mysterious "Tribe of the Sea."

Slowly they felt their way along the northern shores of Lake Huron,
where the pine forests sweep majestically down to the water's edge, or
crown the bold cliffs, while southward the green waters of the inland
sea stretch away to the horizon. Storms too severe for their frail craft
frequently detained them on the shore, and daily they sought food in the
forest. The savage crew, tiring of exertion, and overcome by
superstitious fears, would fain have abandoned the voyage; but the
strong, energetic master bore down all opposition. At last they reached
the outlet of Lake Superior, the forest-girt Strait of St. Mary, and
paddled up as far as the falls, the Sault Ste. Marie, as it came to be
called by the Jesuit missionaries. Here there was a large village of
Algonkins, where the explorer tarried, refreshing his crew and gathering
information concerning the "Tribe of the Sea." The explorers do not
appear to have visited Lake Superior; but, bolder than before, they set
forth to the southwest, and passing gayly through the island-dotted
Straits of Mackinac, now one of the greatest of the world's highways,
were soon upon the broad waters of Lake Michigan, of which Nicolet was
probably the first white discoverer.

Clinging still to the northern shore, camping in the dense woods at
night or when threatened by storm, Nicolet rounded far-stretching Point
Detour and landed upon the shores of Bay de Noquet, a northern arm of
Green Bay. Another Algonkin tribe dwelt here, with whom the persistent
explorer smoked the pipe of peace, and they gave him further news of the
people he sought. Next he stopped at the mouth of the Menominee River,
now the northeast boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan, where the
Menominee tribe lived. Another council was held, more tobacco was
smoked, and one of Nicolet's Huron companions was sent forward to notify
the Winnebagoes at the mouth of the Fox River that the great white chief
was approaching; for the uncouth Winnebagoes were the far-famed "Tribe
of the Sea" whom Nicolet had traveled so far to find.

The manner of their obtaining this name, which had so misled Champlain,
is curious. The word was originally "ouinepeg," or "ouinepego," and both
Winnipeg and Winnebago are derived from it. Now "ouinepeg" was an
Algonkin term meaning "men of (or from) the fetid (or bad-smelling)
water." Possibly the tribe, far back in their history, once dwelt by a
strong-smelling sulphur spring. The French, in their eagerness to find
China, fancied that the fetid water must necessarily be salt water,
hence the Western Ocean or "China Sea;" that is why they called the
Winnebagoes the "Tribe of the Sea," and jumped at the conclusion that
they were Chinese.

By this time, Nicolet had his doubts about meeting Chinese at Green Bay.
As, however, he had brought with him "a grand robe of China damask, all
strewn with flowers, and birds of many colors," such as Chinese
mandarins are supposed to wear, he put it on; and when he landed on the
shore of Fox River, where is now the city of Green Bay, strode forward
into the group of waiting, skin-clad savages, discharging the pistols
which he held in either hand. Women and children fled in terror to the
wigwams; and the warriors fell down and worshiped this Manitou (or
spirit) who carried with him thunder and lightning.

"The news of his coming," says the old Jesuit chronicler, "quickly
spread to the places round about, and there assembled four or five
thousand men. Each of the Chief men made a feast for him, and at one of
these banquets they served at least six-score Beavers." There was a
great deal of oratory at these feasts, with the exchange of belts of
wampum, and the smoking of pipes of peace, and no end of assurances on
the part of the red men that they were glad to become the friends of New
France and to keep the peace with the great French father at Paris.

Leaving his new friends at Green Bay, the explorer ascended the Fox
River as far as the Mascoutins, who had a village upon a prairie ridge,
near where Berlin now lies. He made a similar treaty with this people,
and learned of the Wisconsin River which flows into the Mississippi, but
did not go to seek it. He then walked overland to the tribe of the
Illinois, probably returning to Quebec, in 1635, by way of Lake
Michigan. Nicolet had proceeded over nearly two thousand five hundred
miles of lake, river, forest, and prairie; had been subjected to a
thousand dangers from man and beast, as well as from fierce rapids and
stormtossed waters; had made treaties with several heretofore unknown
tribes, and had widely extended the boundaries of New France.

For various reasons, it was nearly thirty years before another visit was
made by white men to Wisconsin. Nicolet himself soon settled down at the
new town of Three Rivers, on the shores of the St. Lawrence, between
Quebec and Montreal, as the agent and interpreter there of the great fur
trade company. He was a very useful man both to the company and to the
missionaries; for he had great influence over the Indians, who loved him
sincerely, and he always exercised this influence for the good of the
colony and of religion. He was drowned in the month of October, 1642,
while on his way to release a poor savage prisoner who was being
maltreated by Indians in the neighborhood.


In the preceding chapter, the story was told how, in the year 1634, only
fourteen years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Jean Nicolet
was sent by Governor Champlain, of Quebec, all the way out to Wisconsin,
to make friends with our Indians, and to induce them to trade at the
French villages on the lower St. Lawrence River. Whether any of them
did, as a result of this visit, go down to see the palefaces at Three
Rivers or Quebec, and carry furs to exchange for European beads,
hatchets, guns, and iron kettles, we do not know; there is no record of
their having done so, neither are we aware that any white man soon
followed Nicolet to Wisconsin.

Fur traders were in the habit of wandering far into the woods, and
meeting strange tribes of Indians; sometimes they would not return to
Quebec until after years of absence, and then would bring with them many
canoe-loads of skins. The fur trade was under the control of the Company
of the Hundred Associates. The laws of New France declared that there
could be no traffic with the Indians, except what this great company
approved; for they had bought from the king of France the right to do
all the trading and make all the profits, and New France really existed
only to make money for these rich Associates. The fur trade laws
provided severe punishments for those violating them; nevertheless,
although the population was small, and everybody knew everybody else in
the whole country, there were many brave, daring men who traveled
through the deep forests, traded with the Indians on their own account,
and paid no license fees to the Associates. These men, whom an
oppressive monopoly could not keep down, were the most venturesome
explorers in all this vast region; they were known as _coureurs des
bois_, or "wood rangers." La Salle, Duluth, Perrot, and many other early
Western explorers, were, at times in their career, _coureurs des bois_.

Now, as a _coureur de bois_ was an outlaw, because he wandered and
traded without a license, naturally he was not in the habit of telling
where he had been or what he had seen; then again, though brave men, few
of these outlaws were educated, hence they seldom wrote journals of
their travels. For these reasons, we are often obliged to depend on
chance references to them, in the writings of others, and to patch up
our evidence as to their movements, out of many stray fragments of

So far as we at present know, there were no white men in Wisconsin
during the twenty years following the coming of Nicolet. It is uncertain
when the next white men came upon our soil, but there is good reason to
believe that it was in the autumn of 1654. These men were Pierre-Esprit
Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseilliers. Like so many others in New
France, they were from the northern part of old France, and came to
Canada while yet lads, Groseilliers in 1641, and Radisson ten years
later. In 1653, Groseilliers married a sister of Radisson, and after
that the two men became inseparable companions in their long and
romantic wanderings.

They experienced a number of thrilling adventures with Indians, both as
traders to the forest camps of savages friendly to New France, and as
prisoners in the hands of the French-hating Iroquois of New York.
Nevertheless they had grown accustomed to the hard, perilous life of the
wilderness, and were thoroughly in love with it. It was, as near as we
can ascertain, early in the month of August, 1654, when these two
adventurers started out "to discover the great lakes that they heard the
wild men speak of." They followed, most of the way, in the footsteps of
Nicolet, up the Ottawa River, and by the way of Lake Nipissing and
French River to Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. This had now become a
familiar route to the fur traders and Jesuit missionaries; but of the
country west of the eastern shore of Lake Huron scarcely anything was
yet known, except what vague and often fanciful reports of it were
brought by the savages.

Like Nicolet, our two adventurous explorers traveled by canoes, with
Indians to do the paddling. Passing between the Manitoulin Islands, in
the northern waters of Lake Huron, they visited and traded with the
Huron Indians there, thence proceeded through the Straits of Mackinac,
and across to the peninsula of Door county, which separates Green Bay
from Lake Michigan. Here they spent the winter with the Pottawattomies;
they held great feasts with them, at which dogs and beavers, boiled in
kettles into a sort of thick soup, were the greatest delicacies; they
smoked pipes of peace with them, at wordy councils which often lasted
through several days; they hunted and fished with them, in a spirit of
good fellowship; and, in general, they shared the fortunes of their
forest friends, whether feasting or starving, after the manner of all
these early French explorers and fur traders. In the curious journal
afterward written in wretched but picturesque English by Radisson, he
says, "We weare every where much made of; neither wanted victualls, for
all the different nations that we mett conducted us & furnished us with
all necessaries."

Springtime (1655) came at last, and the two traders proceeded merrily up
the Fox River, still in the wake of Nicolet, past the sites of the
present cities of Green Bay, De Pere, Kaukauna, Appleton, Neenah, and
Menasha. They frequently had to carry their boats around the rapids and
waterfalls, but after passing Doty's Island they had a smooth highway.
Paddling through Lake Winnebago, and past the site of Oshkosh, then an
Indian village, they pushed on through the winding reaches of the Upper
Fox, and at last came to a broad prairie near Berlin, whereon was
stationed the village of the Mascoutins, or Fire Nation.

The Mascoutins treated the strangers, as they had Nicolet, with great
kindness. With this village as headquarters, the explorers made frequent
expeditions, "anxious to be knowne with the remotest people." Radisson
quaintly writes, "We ware 4 moneths in our voyage without doeing any
thing but goe from river to river." The explorers cared little, we may
suppose, except to have a good time and make a profitable trade with the
Indians; they do not appear to have made any map. Writing about their
travels, many years after, Radisson says, in one place, that they went
into a "great river" which flowed southward, and journeyed to a land of
continual warmth, finer than Italy, where he heard the Indians describe
certain white men living to the south, who might be Spaniards. It is
supposed by many historians that Radisson meant that he was on the
Mississippi; if this supposition be true, then the two explorers
undoubtedly found the great river by going up the Fox from the Mascoutin
village, carrying their canoe over the mile and a half of intervening
marsh at Portage, and gliding down the Wisconsin to its junction with
the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. This is important, for the credit
of discovering the Upper Mississippi is usually given to Louis Joliet
and Father Marquette, who took this very course in 1673, eighteen years
later. But the whole question of what "great river" Radisson meant to
describe is so involved in doubt, that very likely we shall never know
the truth about it.

Leaving their Mascoutin friends at last, apparently in the autumn of
1655, the two adventurers returned down the Fox River to Green Bay;
thence on to the large villages of Indians which clustered around the
Sault Ste. Marie. Received there, as elsewhere, with much feasting and
good will, Radisson and Groseilliers conducted trade with their hosts,
and explored a long stretch of the southern coast of Lake Superior, but
do not appear to have ventured so far as the Pictured Rocks. They also
made long expeditions into the country, on snowshoes, to visit and trade
with other tribes in the Michigan Peninsula and northern Wisconsin, and
even as far off as Hudson Bay, at one time being accompanied by a
hundred and fifty Indian hunters.

In this wild fashion they spent the winter of 1655-56, and finally
reached Quebec in August, 1656. They had been absent from home for two
years, and had experienced many singular adventures. It happened that
during their absence the Iroquois had succeeded in keeping the Hurons
and other friendly Indians from visiting Quebec, so that the fur trade,
upon which New France depended, was now quite ruined; for this reason
the arrival of Radisson and Groseilliers, with a great store of furs
from far-away Wisconsin and Lake Superior, was hailed as a joyful event,
and, despite their having departed without a license, they were made
welcome at Quebec, the cannons being fired and the people flocking on
the beach to meet them.

Men who love adventure cannot be kept out of it long, whatever the risk.
Three years later, in the summer of 1659, Radisson and Groseilliers
again set off for Lake Superior, up the old Ottawa and Georgian Bay
routes. This time they were specially bidden by the king's officers at
Quebec not to go, so that they were obliged to slip off secretly, and
join a fleet of Indian canoes returning home after the annual trade at
the French settlements.

At Sault Ste. Marie they spent a short time with their savage friends,
and then paddled westward, along the southern shore of Lake Superior. In
their company were several Huron and Ottawa Indians, who had recently
been compelled to flee to Wisconsin because of Iroquois raids, which now
extended as far west as Michigan. The travelers were obliged to carry
their boats across Keweenaw Point, and at last found their way to
Chequamegon Bay, a noble sheet of water, hemmed in by the beautiful
Apostle Islands, and to-day a popular summer resort.

Not far to the west of where Ashland now lies, somewhere near
Whittlesey's Creek, they built for themselves a rude hut, or fort, of
logs. The place was a small point of land jutting out into the water, a
triangle, Radisson describes it, with water on two sides and land at the
base. The land side of the triangle was guarded with a palisade of
pointed stakes, and to prevent surprises by night, for Indians were
always prowling about looking for plunder, the traders surrounded their
house with boughs of trees piled one upon the other, intertwined with a
long cord hung with little bells.

After staying at their fort for a few weeks, they managed to _cache_
(secretly bury) the greater part of their goods; and then set out on a
hunt with their Huron neighbors upon the headwaters of the Chippewa
River. Unusually severe weather set in, and a famine ensued, for there
was no game to kill, and the snow was so deep that they could hardly

In the following spring (1660) the Frenchmen went with their Hurons on a
long search for provisions, getting as far west as the Sioux camps in
northern Minnesota. Then they returned to Chequamegon Bay, where they
built another little fort, and from which they visited some Indians on
the northwest shore of Lake Superior. In August they returned home,
again in a fleet of Huron canoes going down to Montreal to trade. But
this time the officers of the colony punished them for being _coureurs
des bois_, and confiscated most of their valuable furs, which meant the
loss of nearly all the property they possessed.

Angered at this treatment, Groseilliers went to Paris to seek justice
from the king; but, obtaining none, he and Radisson offered their
services to the English, whom they told of Hudson Bay and its great
furtrading possibilities. It took several years, however, for
negotiations to be completed; and it was while in London that Radisson,
for the information of the English king, wrote his now famous journal of
explorations in the Lake Superior country. Finally, after some
unfortunate voyages, our explorers, in 1669, reached Hudson Bay in an
English ship; and, as a result, there was formed in England the great
Hudson Bay Company, which from that day to this has controlled the rich
fur trade of those northern waters.

In later years (1678), we find Radisson and Groseilliers, who had been
pardoned by Louis XIV., king of France, for their desertion to the
English, back again in Paris. But after a time, suspicions as to their
loyalty spread abroad, and they again joined the English, to whom they
were useful in attracting Indian trade away from the French to the
Hudson Bay Company. They died at last, in London, considered by the
French as traitors to their own country. They will, however, live in
history as daring explorers, who opened to the fur trade the country now
known as Wisconsin, the waters of Lake Superior, and the vast region of
Hudson Bay.


In history there are two "discoveries of the Mississippi"; the lower
waters were discovered by the Spanish explorer, De Soto (April, 1541);
and the upper waters, by Frenchmen from Canada or New France. Nothing
came of De Soto's discovery for over a hundred years, for the Spaniards
had no love for exploration that gave no promise of mines of precious
metals, and it is to the French that we give chief credit for finding
the Mississippi; for their discovery immediately led the way to a
general knowledge of the geography and the savages of the great valley,
and to settlements there by whites.

It is seldom safe to say who was the first man to discover anything, be
it in geography, in science, or in the arts; generally, we can tell only
who it was that made the first record of the discovery. Now it is quite
possible that Frenchmen may have wandered into the Upper Mississippi
valley before Radisson and Groseilliers appeared in Wisconsin (1654);
but, if they did, we do not know of it. It is still a matter of dispute
whether the "great river" described in Radisson's journal was the
Mississippi; some writers think that it was, and that to him and to
Groseilliers belongs the honor of the first-recorded discovery. Then,
again, there are some who think that in 1670 the famous fur trader La
Salle was upon the Mississippi; but that is a mere guess, and honors
cannot be awarded upon guesswork. We do know, however, that in 1673
Joliet and Marquette set out for the very purpose of finding the
Mississippi, and succeeded; and that upon their return they wrote
reports of their trip and made maps of the country. Having thus opened
the door, as it were, white men were thereafter frequent travelers on
the broad waterway. Hence it is idle to discuss possible previous
visits; to Joliet and Marquette are due the credit of regular,
premeditated discovery.

Louis Joliet, who led this celebrated expedition, was at the time but
twenty-eight years old. He was born in Quebec, had been educated at the
Jesuit college there, and early in life became a fur trader. He learned
several Indian languages, and made numerous long journeys into the
wilderness, and, like Jean Nicolet before him, was regarded by the
officers and the missionaries at Quebec as a man well fitted for the
life of an explorer. In 1671 he went with Saint Lusson, one of the
officials of New France, to Sault Ste. Marie. St. Lusson made peace with
the Indians of the Northwest, and, in the name of the king of France,
took possession of all the country bordering on the upper Great Lakes.

Upon returning to Quebec, Joliet met the famous Count Frontenac, but
recently arrived from Paris, where he had been appointed as governor of
New France. Frontenac was curious to know more about the Mississippi
River, especially whether it flowed into the Pacific Ocean, or the
"Southern Sea" as it was then called in Europe. In looking about for a
man to head an expedition to the great river, he could hear of no one
better prepared for such service than Joliet.

In those early days, no exploring party was complete without a priest;
the conversion of the savages to Christianity was quite as important, in
the eyes of the king, as the development of the fur trade. Father
Jacques Marquette, then thirty-six years of age, was the Jesuit
missionary at Point St. Ignace, on the Straits of Mackinac. When Joliet
reached that outpost, after a long and weary canoe voyage up the now
familiar Ottawa River and Georgian Bay route, he delivered orders to
Marquette to join his party. Joliet was a favorite with his old
instructors, the Jesuits, so that the two young men were well pleased
with being united upon this project, Joliet to attend to the worldly
affairs of the expedition, and Marquette to the religious. Both of them
had had long training in the hard life of the wilderness, and
understood Indian character and habits as well as any men in New France.

It was upon the 17th of May, 1673, that the two explorers, in high
spirits, set forth from Marquette's little mission at Point Ignace. Five
French boatmen paddled their two canoes, and did most of the heavy work
of the journey, carrying the boats and cargoes around rapids, or along
portage trails from one river to another. Marquette says in his journal:
"Our joy at being chosen for this expedition roused our courage, and
sweetened the labor of paddling from morning to night."

The course they took was, no doubt, that followed through nearly two
hundred years thereafter by persons journeying in canoes from Mackinac
to Green Bay. They paddled along the northern shores of Lake Michigan
and Green Bay, until they could cross over through the stormy water
known as "Death's Door," to the islands beyond the Door county
peninsula; and then crept down the east shore of Green Bay, under the
lee of the high banks.

They seem to have made good time, for on the 7th of June they reached
the village of the Mascoutins, on the south shore of Fox River, near
where Berlin now is, the same village, it will be remembered, where
Nicolet, Radisson, and Allouez had already been entertained. We do not
know upon what day our two explorers had reached De Pere, where the
Jesuit mission was established, but they probably stayed among their
friends there for some days, before going up the Fox.

In his journal, the good missionary described nearly everything he saw,
with much detail. The Menominee Indians interested him greatly; he calls
them "the People of the Wild Oats," and tells how they gather the grain
of these wild oats (or wild rice), by "shaking the ears, on their right
and left, into the canoe as they advance" through the swamps. Then they
take the grain to the land, strip it of much of the chaff, and "dry it
in the smoke on a wooden lattice, under which they keep up a small fire
for several days. When the oats are well dried, they put them in a skin
of the form of a bag, which is then forced into a hole made on purpose
in the ground; then they tread it out, so long and so well, that the
grain being freed from the chaff is easily winnowed; after which they
reduce it to meal." There are still to be seen, on the shores of Lake
Koshkonong, and several other Wisconsin lakes and rivers, the shallow,
bowl-like holes used by the Indians in threshing this grain, as
described by Marquette two and a quarter centuries ago.

The Mascoutin village also claims much attention in the missionary's
diary. The Mascoutins themselves are rude, he says; so also are the
Kickapoos, many of whom live with them. At this village are also many
Miami Indians, who had fled from their homes in Indiana and Ohio,
through fear of the fierce Iroquois of New York. These Miamis are,
Marquette tells us, superior to the Wisconsin Indians, being "more
civil, liberal, and better made; they wear two long earlocks, which give
them a good appearance," and are brave, docile, and devout, listening
carefully to the missionaries who have visited them. The Father also
describes the site of the village: "I felt no little pleasure in
beholding the position of this town; the view is beautiful and very
picturesque, for from the eminence on which it is perched, the eye
discovers on every side prairies spreading away beyond its reach,
interspersed with thickets or groves of lofty trees. The soil is very
good, producing much corn; the Indians gather also quantities of plums
and grapes, from which good wine could be made, if they chose. As bark
for cabins is rare in this country, they use rushes, which serve them
for walls and roof, but which are no great shelter against the wind, and
still less against the rain when it falls in torrents. The advantage of
this kind of cabins is that they can roll them up, and carry them easily
where they like in hunting-time."

Above the Mascoutin village, the Fox begins to narrow, being hemmed in,
and often choked, by broad swamps of reeds and wild oats. The canoe
traveler who does not know the channel, is sometimes in danger of
missing it, and getting entangled in the maze of bayous. Two Miami
guides were therefore obtained from their hosts, and on the 10th of June
the travelers set off for the southwest, "in the sight of a great crowd,
who could not wonder enough to see seven Frenchmen alone in two canoes,
dare to undertake so strange and so hazardous an expedition." The guides
safely conducted them to the place where is now situated the city of
Portage, helped them over the swampy plain of a mile and a half in
width, and, after seeing them embarked upon the broad waters of the
Wisconsin River, left them "alone in an unknown country, in the hands of

The broad valley of the Wisconsin presents a far different appearance
from that of the peacefully flowing Upper Fox, with its outlying marshes
of reeds, and its numerous lakes. The Wisconsin, or Meskousing, as
Marquette writes it, is flanked by ranges of bold, heavily wooded
bluffs, which are furrowed with romantic ravines, while the channel is,
at low water, studded with islands and sand bars, and in times of flood
spreads to a great width. Marquette himself describes it thus: "It is
very broad, with a sandy bottom, forming many shallows, which render
navigation very difficult. It is full of vine-clad islets. On the banks
appear fertile lands diversified with wood, prairie, and hill. Here you
find oaks, walnut, whitewood, and another kind of tree with branches
armed with long thorns. We saw no small game or fish, but deer and moose
in considerable numbers." About ninety miles below Portage, they thought
that they discovered an iron mine.

At last, on the 17th of June, they swiftly glided through the
picturesque delta of the Wisconsin, near Prairie du Chien, and found
themselves upon the Mississippi, grateful that after so long and
tiresome a journey they had found the object of their search. Joliet's
instructions were, however, to ascertain whether the great stream flowed
into the "Southern Sea"; so they journeyed as far down as the mouth of
the Arkansas. There they gathered information from the Indians which
led them to believe that the river emptied into the Gulf of Mexico; thus
the old riddle of the supposed waterway through the heart of the North
American continent was left unsolved.

In returning, Joliet and Marquette came up the Illinois River, and
reached Lake Michigan by portaging over to the Chicago River. They were
back at the Jesuit mission at De Pere, in September. Marquette having
fallen ill, Joliet was obliged to return to Quebec alone, leaving the
missionary to spend the winter with his Wisconsin friends. When almost
within sight of the French settlement at Montreal, at the mouth of the
Ottawa River, poor Joliet lost all his papers in the dangerous Lachine
rapids, and could make only a verbal report to the government. He later
prepared a map of his route, with great care, and forwarded that to
France; it is one of the best maps of the interior parts of North
America made in the seventeenth century. Joliet, as the leader of the
expedition, had hoped to receive, either in office or lands, substantial
rewards for his great discoveries; but there were now new officials at
Quebec, with whom he had little influence, and the recompense of this
brave spirit was small. Others reaped what advantages there were in the
opening of the Mississippi valley to the fur trade.

On the other hand, the unworldly priest who was his friend and
companion, and who neither desired nor needed special recognition for
what he had done, has, all unconsciously, won most of the glory of this
brilliant enterprise. Under the rules of the Jesuit order, each
missionary in New France was obliged to forward to his superior at
Quebec, once each year, a written journal of his doings. Marquette
prepared his report at leisure during the winter, while at De Pere, and
in the spring sent it down to Quebec, by an Indian who was going thither
to trade with the whites. Accompanying it was a crudely drawn but fairly
accurate map of the Mississippi basin. The journal and map arrived
safely, but for some reason neither was then printed; indeed, they
remained almost unknown to the world for a hundred and seventy-nine
years, being at last published in 1852. Marquette never learned the fate
of either Joliet's elaborate records or his own simple story of the
expedition, for he died in May, 1675, on the eastern shore of Lake
Michigan, worn out by disease and by excessive labors in behalf of the

By the time Marquette's journal was finally published, Joliet had been
well-nigh forgotten; and to Marquette, because his journal was the only
one printed, is given the chief credit in nearly every American history.
The legislature of Wisconsin has placed a beautiful marble statue of the
gentle Marquette, as the discoverer of the Mississippi, in the capitol
in Washington; whereas the name of his sturdy chief is perpetuated only
in the principal prison city of Illinois.


In planting settlements in Canada (or New France, as it was then
called), the French had two principal objects in view: the fur trade
with the Indians, and the conversion of these Indians to the Christian
religion. Roman Catholic missionaries from France therefore accompanied
the first settlers, and were always prominent in the affairs of the
colony. Governor Champlain brought to Quebec some missionaries of the
Recollect order, a branch of the Franciscans; but after a few years, the
difficulties of their task proved so great that the Recollects asked the
Jesuits, a much stronger order, to come over and help them. It was not
long before nearly all the Franciscans returned home, and the Jesuits
were practically the only missionaries in New France.

During the first few years, these missionaries spent their winters in
Quebec, ministering to the colonists, and each spring went out to meet
the Indians in their summer camps. It was soon found, however, that
greater persistence was needed; and after that, instead of returning
home in the autumn, they followed the savages upon their winter hunts.
In order to convert the Indians, the missionaries studied their many
languages, their habits, and their manner of thought, lived as they
lived, and with them often suffered untold misery, for life in a savage
camp is sometimes almost unbearable to educated and refined white men,
such as the French Jesuits were. They did not succeed in winning over to
Christianity many of their savage companions; indeed, the latter
frequently treated them with great cruelty, and several of the
missionaries were tortured to death.

Such were the ignorance and superstition of the Indians, that every
disaster which happened to them, poor luck in hunting, famine, accident,
or disease, was attributed to the "black gowns," as the Jesuits were
called because of their long black cassocks. When the missionaries were
performing the rites of their church, baptizing children or sick people,
or saying mass, it was thought by these simple barbarians that they were
practicing magic for the destruction of the red men. Thus the Jesuits,
during the hundred years or more which they spent in traveling far and
near through the forests of New France, seeking new tribes to convert,
while still laboring with those already known, were in a state of
perpetual martyrdom for the cause of Christianity. No soldier has ever
performed greater acts of heroism than these devoted disciples of the
cross. Several of the best and bravest of them were among the pioneers
of the Wisconsin wilderness.

The first Jesuit missionary to come to Wisconsin was Father René Ménard
(pr. _Ray-nay' May-nar'_). He had sailed from France to Canada in the
year 1640, when he was thirty-five years old, and on his arrival was
sent to the savages east of Lake Huron, among whom he labored and
suffered for eight years. Later, he went to the Iroquois, in New York,
and at last had to fly for his life, on account of an Indian plot to
murder all the French missionaries in that country. He was for some time
the superior of his order, at the Three Rivers mission, on the St.
Lawrence, halfway between Quebec and Montreal, and in the early autumn
of 1660 was summoned to go to Lake Superior, which had been made known
through the explorations of Radisson and Groseilliers.

These brave adventurers had returned from their second voyage into the
Northwest, accompanied by a fleet of Indian canoes; several of the
canoes were manned by Hurons from the Black River, who had come down all
the way to Montreal to trade their furs for European goods. The red men
spent some ten days there, feasting with the fur trade agents, and about
the first of September set out on their return. With them were Ménard,
his servant, and seven other Frenchmen.

Ménard was now only fifty-five years old, but so severe had been his
life among the Indians, that his hair was white, he was covered with the
scars of wounds, and "his form was bent as with great age." The long
journey was therefore a severe strain upon the good man, for in addition
to the exposure to weather, he was forced to paddle most of the time, to
carry heavy packs over the numerous portage trails, and to suffer many
indignities at the hands of his hosts. By the time the company had
finally made their weary way up the Ottawa River, over to Georgian Bay,
and through to Sault Ste. Marie, the missionary was in a deplorable
condition. An accident happened to his canoe, and the Frenchmen and
three Indians were abandoned on the south shore of Lake Superior, at
Keweenaw Bay. There he was forced to spend the winter in a squalid
Ottawa village, and nearly lost his life in a famine which overtook the
natives of that region.

In the spring of 1661, while at Keweenaw Bay, Ménard received an
invitation to visit a band of poor, starving Hurons at the headwaters of
the Black River. Several of these Indians had been baptized by Jesuits
before the Iroquois had driven them out from their old home to the east
of Lake Huron. In spite of his weak condition, and the many perils of
this journey of a hundred and fifty miles through the dense forest, the
aged missionary bade farewell to the Keweenaw Ottawas, among whom had
also wintered several French fur traders, and in July set out to obey
the new summons. In his company were his servant and several Hurons who
had come to trade with the Ottawas.

They proceeded along the narrow trail which ran from Keweenaw Bay to
Lake Vieux Désert, the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, but the
feeble missionary's gait was too slow for the Indians, who, after the
manner of their kind, promptly deserted their white friends, leaving
them to follow and obtain food as best they might. At the lake the
Frenchmen embarked in a canoe upon the south-flowing Wisconsin, and
paddled down as far as Bill Cross Rapids, some five or six miles above
the mouth of Copper River, and not far from where is now the city of
Merrill. From the foot of these rapids, they had intended leaving their
canoe, and following a trail which led off westward through the woods to
the headwaters of the Black, near the present town of Chelsea. Ménard's
servant took the canoe through the rapids, while the missionary, as
usual, to lighten the boat, walked along the portage trail. He must have
lost his way and perished of exposure in the depths of the dark and
tangled forest, for his servant could not find any trace of him. Thus
closed the career of Wisconsin's pioneer missionary, who died in the
pursuit of duty, as might a soldier upon the field of battle.

The death of Ménard left the Lake Superior country without a missionary;
but four years later (1665), another Jesuit was sent thither in the
person of Claude Allouez (pr. _Al-loo-ay'_), who chose Chequamegon Bay
for the seat of his labors. There he found a squalid village, near
Radisson and Groseilliers' old forts, on the southwest shore; it was
composed of remnants of eight or ten tribes, some of whom had been
driven westward by the Iroquois and others eastward by the Sioux. He
called his mission La Pointe, from the neighboring long point of land
which, projecting northward, divides Chequamegon Bay from Lake Superior.

Allouez could make little impression upon these poor savages. After four
years of hard service and ill-treatment, he was relieved by Jacques
Marquette, a youthful and enthusiastic priest. Late in the autumn of
1669, Allouez went to Fox River, and there he founded the mission of St.
Francis Xavier, overlooking the rapids of De Pere.[1] This was a more
successful mission than the one at Chequamegon Bay; for, during the next
summer, the western Sioux furiously attacked the Indian neighbors of
Marquette and sent them all flying eastward, like dry leaves before an
October gale. The zealous Marquette accompanied them, and, with such
bands as he could induce to settle around him, opened a new mission on
the mainland near Mackinac Island, at the Point St. Ignace of to-day.

[Footnote 1: Called by the early French _Rapides des Pères_, or "The
Fathers' Rapids"; but it was soon shortened into _Des Pères_, and
finally, by the Americans, into _De Pere_.]


Meanwhile, Allouez continued his mission at De Pere, making long trips
throughout Wisconsin, preaching to the Indians, and establishing the
mission of St. Mark on the Wolf River, probably on or near Lake Shawano,
where the Chippewas then lived in great numbers. Later, he opened St.
James mission at the Mascoutin village near Berlin. His churches were
mere huts or wigwams built of reeds and bark, after the manner of the
natives. Another Jesuit, Louis André, was sent to Wisconsin to assist
this enterprising missionary, and they traveled among the tribes,
preaching and healing the sick in nearly every Indian village in the
wide country between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi. The career of
these good missionaries was not one of ease. Their lives were frequently
in peril; they suffered severely from cruel treatment, hunger, cold, and
the many hardships of forest travel; and were rewarded by few

Allouez remained in Wisconsin until 1676, when he departed to carry on a
similar work in Illinois, dying thirteen years later, after a score of
years spent in Western missions. In Wisconsin, he was succeeded, in
turn, by several others of his order; chief among them were Fathers
Silvy, Albanel, Nouvel, Enjalran, and Chardon. Chardon was the last of
his kind, for he, with other Frenchmen, was driven out of Wisconsin in
1728, at the time of the Fox War.

It was during the time of Enjalran, at De Pere, that Nicolas Perrot, a
famous fur trader, was military commandant for the French in the country
west of Lake Michigan. In all this vast district, Enjalran was then the
only priest. In token of his appreciation of its work, Perrot presented
to the mission a beautiful silver _ostensorium_ (or _soleil_) made in
Paris. The _ostensorium_ is one of the vessels used at the altar, in
celebrating the mass. This was in the year 1686; the following year,
during one of the frequent outbursts of Indian hostility against the
missionaries, Enjalran was obliged to fly for his life. In order to
lighten his burden, he buried this silver vessel, evidently intending to
return some time and regain possession of it.

In 1802, a hundred and fifteen years later, a man was digging a cellar
in Green Bay, several miles lower down the bank of the Fox River than is
De Pere, when his pickax ran through this piece of silver. It was
brought to light, and for safe keeping was given to the Catholic priest
then at Green Bay. Nobody would have known its story except for the
clearly engraved inscription on the bottom; the words are in French, but
in English they signify: "This soleil was given by Mr. Nicolas Perrot to
the mission of St. Francis Xavier, at the Bay of the Puants, 1686"; for
the early French name for Green Bay was "Bay of the Puants." The old
_ostensorium_, with its inscription just as plainly to be read to-day as
when engraved over two centuries ago, can now be seen among the
treasures of the State Historical Society, at Madison. It is an enduring
memorial to the labors and the sufferings of Wisconsin's first


It has been pointed out that wandering fur traders were in Wisconsin at
a very early date. We have seen that Nicolet, Radisson, and Groseilliers
made Wisconsin known to the world, at a time when Massachusetts colony
was still young. It will be remembered that when Father Ménard went to
Lake Superior, in 1660, to convert the Indians, there were several
French fur traders with him. As early as the spring of 1662, these same
traders had gone across country to the mouth of the Fox River. Three
years later the Menominees and Pottawattomies, then living on both sides
of the bay, were visited by Nicolas Perrot, a daring young spirit from
Quebec, who had come to the then Far West to make his fortune in trading
with the red men.

Perrot was one of the most picturesque characters in Wisconsin history.
In Canada he had been a servant of the Jesuit missionaries, acquiring in
this work an education which was slight as to books, but broad as to
knowledge of the Indians and of forest life. He was now twenty-one years
of age, and started out for himself as soon as he was his own master.
For five years Perrot wandered up and down the eastern half of
Wisconsin, frequently visiting his friends, the Mascoutins and Miamis,
on the Fox River. He smoked pipes of peace with them and with other
forest and prairie tribes, and joined in their feasts of beaver, dog,
and other savage delicacies.

In 1670 he and four other Frenchmen, packing their furs into bundles of
convenient size, joined a large party of Indians going down to Montreal
in canoes, to trade. Perrot did not return with his companions, but
visited Quebec, and there received an appointment from the government to
rally the Western tribes in a great council at Sault Ste. Marie. Here a
treaty was to be made, binding the savages to an alliance with France.
The French were very jealous of the English, who had, through the
guidance of Radisson and Groseilliers, commenced fur trade operations in
the Hudson Bay country. It was feared that they would entice the Indians
of the upper Great Lakes to trade with them, for the English offered
higher prices for furs than did the French.

Perrot spent the winter in visiting the tribes in Wisconsin and along
the northern shores of Lakes Michigan and Huron, and succeeded in
inducing large bands of them to go to the Sault early in May (1671). The
council was attended by an enormous gathering, representing tribes from
all over the Northwest, even from the north shores of Lake Superior and
Hudson Bay. Father Marquette was there with the Ottawas, and several
other famous missionaries came to the council. The interpreter, who knew
Indian dialects by the score, was no less a person than Louis Joliet.
The French government was represented by Saint Lusson, who concluded
the desired treaty, with great ceremony, took formal possession of all
this country for the king of France, and reared on the spot a great
cedar pole, to which he fastened a lead plate bearing the arms of his
country. This symbol the simple and wondering savages could not
understand: and as soon as the Frenchmen had gone home again, they tore
it down, fearing that it was a charm which might bring bad luck to the

And now we find Perrot suddenly losing his office, and forced for ten
years to live a quiet life in the French settlements on the lower St.
Lawrence. He married a well-to-do young woman, reared a considerable
family, and became a man of some influence. But he was always eager to
be back in the forest, wandering from tribe to tribe, and engaging in
the wilderness trade, where the profits were great, though the risks to
life and property were many. In 1681 he returned to the woods, but not
till three years later was he so far west as Mackinac.

In 1685 he appeared once more at Green Bay, this time holding the
position of Commandant of the West, with a little company of twenty
soldiers. He now had almost unlimited authority to explore and traffic
as he would, for the only salary an official of that sort used to get,
in New France, was the right to trade with the Indians. He had already
lost money in working for the government as an Indian agent, and his
present operations were wholly directed toward getting it back again. He
went up the Fox and down the Wisconsin, and then ascended the
Mississippi to trade with the wild Sioux tribe. For headquarters, he
erected a little log stockade on the east bank of the Mississippi, about
a mile above the present village of Trempealeau, and south of the mouth
of Black River. In the year 1888, the site of this old stockade was
discovered by a party of historical students, and many of the curious
relics found there can now be seen in the museum of the State Historical
Society, at Madison.

All through the winter of 1685-86, Perrot traded here with the Sioux. He
had a most captivating manner of treating Indians; for a long time, few
of them ventured to deny any request made by him. Chiefs from far and
near would come to the Trempealeau "fort," as it was called, and hold
long councils and feasts with the great white chief, and more than once
he was subjected to the curious Sioux ceremony of being wept over. A
chief would stand over his guest and weep copiously, his tears falling
upon the guest's head; when the chief's tear ducts were exhausted, he
would be relieved by some headman of the tribe, who in turn was
succeeded by another, and so on until the guest was well drenched. This
must have been a very trying experience to Perrot, but he was shrewd
enough to pretend to be much pleased by it.

In the spring of 1686, the same year in which he gave the silver
_ostensorium_ to the Jesuit chapel at De Pere, the commandant proceeded
up the Mississippi to the broadening which was, about this time, named
Lake Pepin by the French. On the Wisconsin shore, not far above the
present village of Pepin, he erected another and stronger stockade,
Fort St. Antoine. It was here, three years later, that, after the manner
of Saint Lusson at Sault Ste. Marie, he formally took possession, in the
name of his king, of all the Upper Mississippi valley.

Several other forts were built by Perrot along the Mississippi, none of
them more than groups of stout log houses. These were surrounded by a
stockade wall of heavy logs well planted in the ground, sharpened at the
top, pierced for musket fire, and sometimes surmounted by a small
cannon. The stockade whose ruins were unearthed at Trempealeau, measured
about forty-five by sixty feet. One of his stockades, Fort Perrot, was
on the Minnesota shore of Lake Pepin; still another, Fort St. Nicholas,
was near the "lower town" of the Prairie du Chien of to-day, at the
confluence of the Wisconsin and the Mississippi; and it also appears
that he had a stockade lower down the Mississippi, to guard a lead mine
which he had discovered near Galena, because lead was an important
article for both fur traders and Indians. Sometimes traders fought among
themselves, for the possession of a lead mine.

Perrot made frequent voyages to the settlements on the St. Lawrence
River, and engaged in some of the French expeditions against the hostile
Iroquois of New York. While, on the whole, he was successful in holding
the Western tribes in friendship to New France, his position was not
without grave perils. One time his old friends, the Mascoutins, rose
against him, claiming that he had killed one of their warriors. The
claim may have been true, for he was a man of violent temper, and ruled
the Wisconsin forests after the despotic fashion of an Asiatic prince.
The Mascoutins captured Perrot, in company with a Pottawattomie chief,
and carrying them to their village, robbed the commandant of all his
furs, and decided to burn the prisoners at the stake. But while being
conducted to the fire, the two managed by artifice to escape, and at
last reached in safety their friends at the mouth of the Fox River.
Another time, the Miamis captured Perrot, and would have burned him
except for the interference of the Fox Indians, with whom he was

In 1699, owing to the uprising of the Foxes, the king ordered that all
the Western posts be abandoned, and their little garrisons removed to
Montreal and Quebec. Thus suddenly ended the career of Perrot, who
returned a poor man, for his recent losses in furs had been heavy, and
his expenses of keeping up the posts large. Again and again he sought
redress from the government, and the Wisconsin Foxes earnestly pleaded
that he be sent back to them, as "the best beloved of all the French who
have ever been among us." But his star had set, he no longer had
influence; and it had just been decided to punish his friends the Foxes.
Perrot lived about twenty years longer, on the banks of the Lower St.
Lawrence, and died in old age, like Joliet, in neglect and poverty.

During much of the time that Perrot was commandant of the West, several
other great fur traders were conducting operations in Wisconsin. The
greatest of these was the Chevalier La Salle, the famous explorer, who
plays a large part on the stage of Western history, particularly in the
history of the Mississippi valley. It has been claimed for La Salle that
he was in Wisconsin in 1671, two years before Joliet, and actually
canoed on the Mississippi River, but this is more than doubtful. We do
know that in 1673 one of his agents was trading with the Sioux to the
west of Lake Superior; and that in 1679 he came to Green Bay in a small
vessel called the _Griffin_, the first sailing craft on the Great Lakes
above the cataract of Niagara. La Salle was a _coureur de bois_, most of
this time, for he operated in a field far larger than that for which he
had a license. Leaving his ship, which was afterward wrecked, he and
fourteen of his men proceeded in canoes southward along the western
coast of Lake Michigan, visiting the sites of Milwaukee and other
Wisconsin lakeshore cities. Finally, after many strange adventures, they
ascended St. Joseph River, crossed over to the Kankakee River, and spent
the winter in a log fort which they built on Peoria Lake, a broadening
of the Illinois River.

At least one priest was thought necessary in every well-equipped
exploring expedition. La Salle had quarreled with the Jesuits, and hated
them; hence the ministers of religion in his party were three Franciscan
friars, one of them being Father Louis Hennepin, who afterward became
famous. When La Salle determined to spend the winter at Peoria Lake, he
sent Hennepin forward with two _coureurs de bois_, to explore the upper
waters of the Mississippi. These three adventurers descended the
Illinois River in their canoe, and then ascended the Mississippi to the
Falls of St. Anthony, where now lies the great city of Minneapolis;
there they met some Sioux, and went with them upon a buffalo hunt. But
the Indians, although at first friendly, soon turned out to be a bad
lot, for they robbed their guests, and practically held them as

This was in the early summer of 1680. Luckily for Hennepin and his
companions, the powerful _coureur de bois_, Daniel Graysolon Duluth (_du
Luth_) appeared on the scene. Duluth was, next to Perrot, the leading
man in the country around Lake Superior and the Upper Mississippi
valley. He had been spending the winter trading with the Sioux in the
lake country of northern Minnesota, and along Pigeon River, which is now
the dividing line between Minnesota and Canada. With a party of ten of
his boatmen, he set out in June to reach the Mississippi, his route
taking him up the turbulent little Bois Brulé River, over the mile and a
half of portage trail to Upper Lake St. Croix, and down St. Croix River
to the Mississippi. On reaching the latter, he learned of the fact that
Europeans were being detained and maltreated by the Sioux, and at once
went and rescued them. The summer was spent among the Indians in company
with Hennepin's party, who, now that Duluth was found to be their
friend, were handsomely treated. In the autumn, Duluth, Hennepin, and
their companions all returned down the Mississippi, up the Wisconsin,
and down the Fox, and spent the winter at Mackinac. After that, Duluth
was frequently upon the Fox-Wisconsin route, and traded for buffalo
hides and other furs with the Wisconsin tribes.

Another famous visitor to Wisconsin, in those early days, was Pierre le
Sueur, who in 1683 traveled from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, over
the Fox-Wisconsin route, and traded with the Sioux at the Falls of St.
Anthony and beyond. His fur trade grew, in a few years, to large
proportions; for he was a shrewd man, and was related to some of the
officials of New France. This enabled him to secure trading licenses for
the Western country, and other valuable privileges, which gave him an
advantage over the unlicensed traders, like Duluth, who had no official
friends. In 1693, Le Sueur was trading in Duluth's old country; and, in
order to protect the old Bois Brulé and St. Croix route from marauding
Indians, he built a log fort at either end, one on Chequamegon Bay, and
the other on an island in the Mississippi, below the mouth of the St.
Croix. A few years later, Le Sueur was in France, where he obtained a
license to operate certain "mines of lead, copper, and blue and green
earth," which he claimed to have discovered along the banks of the Upper
Mississippi. In the summer of 1700, he and his party opened lead mines
in the neighborhood of the present Dubuque and Galena, and also near the
modern town of Potosi, Wisconsin. He does not appear to have been very
successful as a miner; but his fur trade was still enormous, and his
many explorations led to the Upper Mississippi being quite correctly
represented on the maps of America, made by the European geographers.

A missionary priest, Father St. Cosme, of Quebec, was in Green Bay in
October, 1699, and proposed to visit the Mississippi region, by way of
the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. But the warlike Foxes, who were giving
the French a great deal of trouble at this time, had forbidden any white
man passing over this favorite waterway, so St. Cosme was obliged to go
the way that La Salle had followed, up the west shore of Lake Michigan
and through Illinois. The party stopped at many places along the
Wisconsin lake shore, but the only ones which we can identify are the
sites of Sheboygan and Milwaukee, where there were large Indian

It is not to be supposed that these were all the Frenchmen to tarry in
or pass through Wisconsin during the latter half of the seventeenth
century. Doubtless there were scores, if not hundreds of others, fur
traders, _voyageurs_, soldiers, and priests; we have selected but a few
of those whose movements were recorded in the writings of their time.
Wisconsin was a key point in the geography of the West; here were the
interlaced sources of rivers flowing north into Lake Superior, east and
northeast into Lake Michigan, and west and southwest into the
Mississippi River. The canoe traveler from Lower Canada could, with
short portages, pass through Wisconsin into waters reaching far into the
interior of the continent, even to the Rocky Mountains, the lakes of the
Canadian Northwest, and the Gulf of Mexico. This is why the geography of
Wisconsin became known so early in the history of our country, why
Wisconsin Indians played so important a part on the stage of border
warfare, and why history was being made here at a time when some of the
States to the east of us were still almost unknown to white men.


Wisconsin was important, from a geographical point of view, because here
were the meeting places of waters which flowed in so many directions;
here were the gates which opened upon widely divergent paths. The
explorer and the fur trader soon discovered this, and Wisconsin became
known to them at a very early period. France had two important colonies
in North America, New France (or Canada), upon the St. Lawrence River,
and Louisiana, extending northward indefinitely from the Gulf of Mexico.
It was found necessary, in pushing her claim to the ownership of all of
the continent west of the Alleghany Mountains and east of the Rockies,
to connect New France and Louisiana with a chain of little forts along
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The forts at Detroit,
Mackinac, Green Bay, Prairie du Chien, and Kaskaskia (in Illinois) were
links in this chain, at the center of which was Wisconsin; or, to use
another figure, Wisconsin was the keystone of the arch which bridged the
two French colonies.

There were six principal canoe routes between the Great Lakes and the
Mississippi: one by way of the Maumee and Wabash rivers, another by way
of St. Joseph River and the Kankakee and the Illinois, another by way
of the St. Joseph, Wabash, and Ohio rivers, still another by way of the
Chicago River and the Illinois, and we have already seen that from Lake
Superior there were used the Bois Brulé and the St. Croix routes. But
the easiest of all, the favorite gateway, was the Fox-Wisconsin route,
for all the others involved considerable hardship; this is why Wisconsin
was so necessary to the French military officers in holding control of
the interior of the continent.

Affairs went well enough so long as the French were on good terms with
the warlike and crafty Fox Indians, who held control of the Fox River.
But after a time the Foxes became uneasy. The fur trade in New France
was in the hands of a monopoly, which charged large fees for licenses,
and fixed its own prices on the furs which it bought, and on the Indian
goods which it sold to the forest traders. On the other hand, the fur
trade in the English colonies east of the Alleghanies was free; any man
could engage in it and go wherever he would. The result was that the
English, with the strong competition among themselves, paid higher
prices to the Indians for furs than the French could afford, and their
prices for articles which the Indians wanted were correspondingly lower
than those of the French.

The Indians were always eager for a bargain; and although the French
declared that those trading with the English were enemies of New France,
they persisted in secretly sending trading parties to the English, who
were now beginning to swarm into the Ohio valley. The Foxes, in
particular, grew very angry with the French for charging them such high
prices, and resented the treatment which they received at the hands of
the traders from Quebec and Montreal. At one time they told Perrot that
they would pack up their wigwams, and move in a body to the Wabash River
or to the Ohio, and form a league with the fierce Iroquois of New York,
who were friends and neighbors of the English. Had they done so, the
French fur trade in the West would have suffered greatly.

The Foxes began to make it disagreeable for the French in Wisconsin.
They insisted on collecting tolls on fur trade bateaux which were being
propelled up the Fox River, and even stopped traders entirely; several
murders of Frenchmen were also charged to them. The French thereupon
determined to punish these rebellious savages who sat within the chief
gateway to the Mississippi. In the winter of 1706-07, a large party of
soldiers, _coureurs des bois_, and half-breeds, under a captain named
Marin, ascended the Fox River on snowshoes and attacked the Foxes,
together with their allies, the Sacs, at a large village at Winnebago
Rapids, near where is now the city of Neenah.

Several hundreds of the savages were killed in this assault, but its
effect was to make the Foxes the more troublesome. A few summers later,
this same Marin arranged again to surprise the enemy. His boats were
covered with oilcloth blankets, in the manner adopted by the traders to
protect the goods against rain; only two _voyageurs_ were visible in
each boat to propel it. Arriving at the foot of Winnebago Rapids, the
canoes were ranged along the shore, and nearly fifteen hundred Indians
came out and squatted on the bank, ready to collect toll of the traders.
All of a sudden the covers were thrown off, and the armed men appeared
and raked the Indians with quick volleys of lead, while a small cannon
in Marin's boat increased the effectiveness of the attack. Tradition
says that over a thousand Foxes and Sacs fell in this massacre; this is
one of the many incidents in white men's relations with the Indians,
wherein savages were outsavaged in the practice of ferocious treachery.

Despite the great slaughter, there appear to have been enough Foxes left
to continue giving the French a great deal of annoyance. There were
fears at Quebec that it might be necessary to abandon the attempt to
connect New France and Louisiana by a trail through the Western woods,
in which case the English would have a free run of the Mississippi
valley. There seem, however, not to have been any more warlike
expeditions to Wisconsin for several years. But in May, 1712, the
French induced large numbers of the Foxes, with their friends, the
Mascoutins, the Kickapoos, and the Sacs, to come to Detroit for the
making of a treaty of peace. At the same time the French also assembled
there large bands of the Pottawattomies and Menominees from Wisconsin,
with Illinois Indians, some camps from Missouri, and Hurons and Ottawas
from the Lake Huron country; all of these were enemies of the Foxes.

The records do not show just why it happened; but for some reason the
French and their allies fired on the Foxes and their friends, who were
well intrenched in a palisaded camp outside the walls of Detroit. A
great siege ensued, lasting nineteen days, in which the slaughter on
both sides was heavy; but at last the Foxes, worn out by loss of
numbers, hunger, and disease, took advantage of a dark, rainy night to
escape northward. They were pursued the following day, but again
intrenched themselves with much skill, and withstood another siege of
five days, when they surrendered. The French and their savage allies
fell upon the poor captives with fury and slew nearly all of them, men,
women, and children.

The poor Foxes had lost in this terrible experience upward of fifteen
hundred of the bravest of their tribe, which was now reduced to a few
half-starved bands. But their spirit was not gone. Next year the
officers at Quebec wrote home to Paris: "The Fox Indians are daily
becoming more insolent." They had begun to change their tactics; instead
of wasting their energies on the French, they began to make friends
with, or to intimidate, neighboring tribes. By means of small, secret
war parties, they would noiselessly swarm out of the Wisconsin forests
and strike hard blows at the prairie Indians of Illinois, who preferred
to remain their enemies. In this manner the Illinois Indians were
reduced to a mere handful, and were compelled to seek shelter under the
guns of the French fort at Kaskaskia. At the same time the Foxes were in
close alliance with the Sioux and other great western tribes, who helped
them lock the gate of the Fox-Wisconsin rivers, and plunder and murder
French traders wherever they could be found throughout Wisconsin.

Again it seemed evident that New France, unless something were done,
could never maintain its chain of communication with Louisiana, or
conduct any fur trade in the Northwest. The something decided on was an
attempt to destroy the Foxes, root and branch. For this purpose there
was sent out to Wisconsin, in 1716, a well-equipped expedition under an
experienced captain named De Louvigny, numbering eight hundred men,
whites and Indians. The Foxes were found living in a walled town upon
the mound now known as Little Butte des Morts, on the west side of Fox
River, opposite the present Neenah. The wall consisted of three rows of
stout palisades, reënforced by a deep ditch; tradition says there were
here assembled five hundred braves and three thousand squaws and other

The French found it necessary to lay siege to this forest fortress, just
as they would attack a European city of that time; trenches and mines
were laid, and pushed forward at night, until, at the close of the third
day, everything was ready to blow up the palisades. At this point the
Foxes surrendered, but they gained easy terms for those days, for De
Louvigny was no butcher of men, and appeared to appreciate their
bravery. They gave up their prisoners, they furnished enough slaves to
the allies of the French to take the place of the warriors slain, they
agreed to furnish furs enough to pay the expenses of the expedition, and
sent six hostages to Quebec to answer for their future behavior. The
next year, De Louvigny returned to the valley of the Fox, from Quebec,
and made a treaty with the Foxes, but nothing came of it. Treaties were
easily made with Indian tribes, in the days of New France, and as easily
broken by either side.

In the very next year, the Foxes were again making raids on the
French-loving Illinois, and the entire West was, as usual, torn by
strife. It was evident that the Foxes were trying to gain control of the
Illinois River, and thus command both of the principal roads to the
Mississippi. The French were at this time enthusiastic over great
schemes for opening mines on the Mississippi, operating northward from
Louisiana; agriculture was beginning to flourish around Kaskaskia; and
grain, flour, and furs were being shipped down the Mississippi to the
French islands in the West Indies, and across the ocean to France. More
than ever was it necessary to unite Louisiana with Canada by a line of

But just now the Foxes were stronger than they had been at any time.
Their shrewd warriors had organized a great confederacy to shut out the
French, and thereby advance the cause of English trade, although it is
not known that the English assisted in this widespread conspiracy. Fox
warriors were sent with pipes of peace among the most distant tribes of
the West, the South, and the North, and it seemed as if the whole
interior of the continent were rising in arms. A French writer of the
period says of the Foxes: "Their fury increased as their forces
diminished. On every side they raised up new enemies against us. The
whole course and neighborhood of the Mississippi is infested with
Indians with whom we have no quarrel, and who yet give to the French no

This condition lasted for a few years. But Indian leagues do not
ordinarily long endure. We soon find the Foxes weak again, with few to
back them; in 1726, at a council in Green Bay, they were apologizing for
having made so much trouble. The French were, however, still afraid of
these wily folk, and two years later (1728) a little army of four
hundred Frenchmen and nine hundred Indian allies advanced on the Fox
villages by way of the Ottawa River route and Mackinac. The Foxes,
together with their Winnebago friends, had heard of the approach of the
whites, and fled; but the white invaders burned every deserted village
in the valley, and destroyed all the crops, leaving the red men to face
the rigor of winter with neither huts nor food.

Fleeing from their native valley before the onset of the army, the
unhappy fugitives, said to have been four thousand in number, descended
the Wisconsin and ascended the Mississippi, to find their Sioux allies
in the neighborhood of Lake Pepin. But the Sioux had been won by French
presents, distributed from the fur trade fort on that lake, and turned
the starving tribesmen away; the ever-treacherous Winnebagoes of the
party sided with the Sioux; the Sacs expressed repentance, and hurried
home to Green Bay to make their peace with the French; the Mascoutins
now proved to be enemies. Thus deserted, the disconsolate Foxes passed
the winter in Iowa, and sent messengers to the Green Bay fort, begging
for forgiveness.

But there was no longer any peace for the Foxes. Indians friendly with
the French attacked one of their Iowa camps; and in the autumn of 1729
they sought in humble fashion to return to the valley of the Fox; but
they were ambuscaded by a French-directed party of Ottawas, Menominees,
Chippewas, and Winnebagoes, and after a fierce fight lost nearly three
hundred by death and capture; the prisoners, men, women, and children,
were burned at the stake.

Turning southward, the greater part of the survivors of this ill-starred
tribe sought a final asylum upon the Illinois River, not far from
Peoria. Three noted French commanders, heads of garrisons in the Western
country, now gathered their forces, which aggregated a hundred and
seventy Frenchmen and eleven hundred Indians; and in August, 1730, gave
battle to the fugitives, who were now outnumbered full four to one. The
contest, notable for the gallant sorties of the besieged and the
cautious military engineering of the besiegers, lasted throughout
twenty-two days; probably never in the history of the West has there
been witnessed more heroic conduct than was displayed during this
remarkable campaign. It was inevitable that the Foxes should lose in the
end, but they sold themselves dearly. Not over fifty or sixty escaped;
and it is said that three hundred warriors perished in battle or
afterwards at the stake, while six hundred women and children were
either tomahawked or burned.

It is surprising, after all these massacres, that there were any members
of the tribe left; yet we learn that two years later (1732) three
hundred of them were living peaceably on the banks of the Wisconsin
River, when still another French and Indian band swept down upon and
either captured or slaughtered them all. Of another small party, which
sought mercy from the officer of the fort at Green Bay, several,
including the head chief of the Foxes, Kiala, were sent away into
slavery, and wore away their lives in menial drudgery upon the tropical
island of Martinique.

The remainder took refuge with the Sacs, on Fox River; and the following
year the French commander at Green Bay asked the Sacs to give them up.
This time the Sacs proved to be good friends, and refused; and in the
quarrel which followed at the Sac town, eight French soldiers were
killed. This led to later retaliation on the part of the French, but in
the battle which was fought both sides lost heavily; and then both Sacs
and Foxes fled from the country, never to return. They settled upon the
banks of the Des Moines River, in Iowa, whither French hate again sought
them out in 1734. This last expedition, however, was a failure, and the
Fox War was finally ended, after twenty-five years of almost continuous
bloodshed. During this war not only had the great tribe of the Foxes
been almost annihilated, but the power of France in the West had
meanwhile been greatly weakened by the persistent opposition of those
who had held the key to her position.


We have seen in previous chapters why Wisconsin, with her intermingling
rivers, was considered the key to the French position in the interior of
North America; why it was that fur traders early sought this State, and
erected log forts along its rivers and lakes to protect their commerce
with the people of the forest. It remains to be told what were the
conditions of this widespreading and important forest trade.

The French introduced to our Indians iron pots and kettles, which were
vastly stronger than their crude utensils of clay; iron fishhooks,
hatchets, spears, and guns, which were not only more durable, but far
more effective than their old weapons of stone and copper and bone;
cloths and blankets of many colors, from which attractive clothing was
more easily made than from the skins of beasts; and glass beads and
silver trinkets, for the decoration of their clothing and bodies, which
cost far less labor to obtain than did ornaments made from clam shells.
To secure these French goods, the Indians had but to hunt and bring the
skins to the white men. The Indian who could secure a gun found it
easier to get skins than before, and he also had a weapon which made him
more powerful against his enemies. It was not long before the Indian
forgot how to make utensils and weapons for himself, and became very
dependent on the white trader. This is why the fur trade was at the
bottom of every event in the forest, and for full two hundred years was
of supreme importance to all the people who lived in the Wisconsin

All trade in New France was in the control of a monopoly, which charged
heavy fees for licenses, severely punished all the unlicensed traders
who could be detected, and fixed its own prices for everything. French
traders were obliged, therefore, to charge the Indians more for their
goods than the English charged for theirs; and it was a continual and
often bloody struggle to keep the Indians of the Northwest from having
any trade with the English colonists from the Atlantic coast, who had
with great labor crossed the Alleghany Mountains and were now swarming
into the Ohio River valley. It was impossible to prevent the English
trade altogether, but the policy was in the main successful, although it
cost the French a deal of anxiety, and sometimes great expense in
military operations.

During the greater part of the French régime in Wisconsin, the bulk of
the goods for the Indians came up by the Ottawa River route, because the
warlike Iroquois of New York favored the English, and for a long time
kept Frenchmen from entering the lower lakes of Ontario and Erie.
Finally, however, after the fort at Detroit was built (1701), the lower
lakes came to be used.

It was, by either route, a very long and tiresome journey from Quebec or
Montreal to Wisconsin, and owing to the early freezing of the Straits
of Mackinac, but one trip could be made in a year. It was not, however,
necessary for every trader to go to the "lower settlements" each year.
At the Western forts large stocks of goods were kept, and there the furs
were stored, sometimes for several seasons, until a great fleet of
canoes could be made up by bands of traders and friendly Indians; and
then the expedition to Montreal was made, with considerable display of
barbaric splendor. When the traders reached Montreal, the inhabitants of
the settlement turned out to welcome their visitors from the wilderness,
and something akin to a great fair was held, at which speculators bought
up the furs, feasts were eaten and drunk, and fresh treaties of peace
were made with the Indians. A week or two would thus pass in universal
festivity, at the end of which traders and savages would seek their
canoes, and, amid volleys of cannon from the fort, martial music, the
fluttering of flags, and the shouts of the _habitants_, the fleet would
push off, and soon be swallowed again by the all-pervading forest.

When the French were driven out of Canada, in 1760, and the British
assumed control, the English Hudson Bay Company began spreading its
operations over the Northwest. But in 1783, at the close of the
Revolutionary War, the Northwest Company was organized, with
headquarters at Montreal. The British still held possession of our
Northwest long after the treaty with the United States was signed. Soon
sailing ships were introduced, and many goods were thus brought to
Mackinac, Green Bay, and Chequamegon Bay; nevertheless, canoes and
bateaux, together with the more modern "Mackinac boats" and "Durham
boats," were for many years largely used upon these long Western
journeys from Montreal. To a still later date were these rude craft sent
out from the Mackinac warehouses to Wisconsin, or from Mackinac to the
famous headquarters of the company at the mouth of Pigeon River, on the
western shore of Lake Superior, the "Grand Portage," as it was called.

It was a life filled with great perils, by land and flood; many were the
men who lost their lives in storms, in shooting river rapids, in deadly
quarrels with one another or with the savages, by exposure to the
elements, or by actual starvation. Yet there was a glamour over these
wild experiences, as is customary wherever men are associated as
comrades in an outdoor enterprise involving common dangers and
hardships. The excitement and freedom of the fur trade appealed
especially to the volatile, fun loving French; and music and badinage
and laughter often filled the day.

After the Americans assumed control, in 1816, Congress forbade the
British to conduct the fur trade in our country. This was to prevent
them from influencing the Western Indians to war; but turning out the
English traders served greatly to help the American Fur Company, founded
by John Jacob Astor, and having its headquarters on the Island of
Mackinac. Nevertheless the agents, the clerks, and the _voyageurs_ were
still nearly all of them Frenchmen, as of old, and there was really very
little change in the methods of doing business, except that Astor
managed to reap most of the profits.

[Illustration: JOHN JACOB ASTOR]

The fur trade lasted, as a business of prime importance to Wisconsin,
until about 1835. It was at its greatest height in 1820, at which time
Green Bay was the chief settlement in Wisconsin. By 1835 new interests
had arisen, with the development of the lead mines in the southwest, and
with the advent of agricultural settlers from the East, upon the close
of the Black Hawk War (1832).

The fur trade led the way to the agricultural and manufacturing life of
to-day. The traders naturally chose Indian villages as the sites for
most of their posts, and such villages were generally at places well
selected for the purpose. They were on portage trails, where craft had
to be carried around falls or rapids, as at De Pere, Kaukauna, Appleton,
and Neenah; or they were on portage plains, between distinct water
systems, as at Portage and Sturgeon Bay; or they were at the mouths or
junctions of rivers, as at Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Oshkosh, Lacrosse, and
Prairie du Chien; or they occupied commanding positions on lake or river
bank, overlooking a wide stretch of country. Thus most of the leading
cities of Wisconsin are on the sites of old Indian villages; for the
reasons which led to their choice by the Indians held good with the
white pioneers in the old days when rivers and lakes were the chief
highways. Thus we have first the Indian village, then the trading post,
and later the modern town.

The Indian trails were also largely used by the traders in seeking the
natives in their villages; later these trails developed into public
roads, when American settlers came to occupy the country. Thus we see
that Wisconsin was quite thoroughly explored, its principal cities and
highways located, and its water ways mapped out by the early French,
long before the inrush of agricultural colonists.


In establishing their chain of rude forts, or trading posts, along the
Great Lakes and through the valley of the Mississippi, the French had no
desire to plant agricultural settlements in the West. Their chief
thought was to keep the continental interior as a great fur bearing
wilderness; to encourage the Indians to hunt for furs, by supplying all
their other wants with articles made in Europe; and to prevent them from
carrying any of their furs to the English, who were always underbidding
the French in prices.

The officers of these forts were instructed to bully or to persuade the
Indians, as occasion demanded; and some of them became very successful
in this forest diplomacy. Around most of the forts were small groups of
temporary settlers, who could hardly be called colonists, for they
expected when they had made their fortunes, or when their working days
were over, to return to their own people on the lower St. Lawrence
River. It was rather an army of occupation, than a body of settlers.
Nearly every one in the settlement was dependent on the fur trade,
either as agent, clerk, trapper, boatman, or general employee.

Sometimes these little towns were the outgrowth of early Jesuit
missions, as La Pointe (on Chequamegon Bay), or Green Bay (De Pere);
but sooner or later the fur trade became the chief interest. Most of the
towns, however, like Milwaukee, La Crosse, or Prairie du Chien, were the
direct outgrowth of commerce with the savages. There were trading posts,
also, on Lakes Chetek, Flambeau, Court Oreilles, and Sandy, but the
settlements about them were very small, and they never grew into
permanent towns, as did some of the others.

At all these places, the little log forts served as depots for furs and
the goods used in trading with the Indians; they were also used as
rallying points for the traders and other white inhabitants of the
district, in times of Indian attack. They would have been of slight
avail against an enemy with cannon, but afforded sufficient protection
against the arrows, spears, and muskets of savages.

The French Canadians who lived in these waterside hamlets were an
easy-going folk. Nearly all of them were engaged in the fur trade at
certain seasons of the year. The _bourgeois_, or masters, were the
chiefs. The _voyageurs_ were men of all work, propelling the canoes and
bateaux when afloat, carrying the craft and their contents over
portages, transporting packs of goods and furs along the forest trails,
caring for the camps, and acting as guards for the persons and property
of their employers. The _coureurs de bois_, or wood rangers, were
everywhere; they were devoted to a life in the woods, for the fun and
excitement in it; they conducted trade on their own account, far off in
the most inaccessible places, and were men of great daring. Then there
were the _habitants_, or permanent villagers; sometimes these worked as
_voyageurs_, but for the most part they were farmers in a small way,
cultivating long, narrow "claims" running at right angles to the river
bank; one can still find at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, traces of
some of these old "French claims." The object of having them so narrow
was, that the _habitants_ could live close to one another, along the

They were of a very social nature, these French _habitants_. They liked
to meet frequently, enjoy their pipes, and tell stories of the hunt or
of old days on the St. Lawrence. They were famous fiddlers, too. No
wilderness so far away that the little French fiddle had not been there;
the Indians recognized it as a part of the furniture of every fur
trader's camp. Music appealed strongly to these warm natures, and the
songs of the _voyageurs_, as they propelled their canoes along the
Wisconsin rivers, always greatly interested travelers. French Canadians
are still living in Wisconsin, who remember those gay melodies which
echoed through our forests a hundred years ago.

The old French life continued in Wisconsin until well into the
nineteenth century. Although New France fell in 1760, and the British
came into control, they never succeeded in Anglicizing Wisconsin.
English fur companies succeeded the French, and British soldiers
occupied the Wisconsin forts; but the fur trade itself had still to be
conducted through French residents, who alone had the confidence of the
Indians. Great Britain was supposed to surrender all this country to the
United States in 1796; but it was really 1816 before the American flag
floated over Green Bay, and the American Fur Company came into power.
But, even under this company, most of the actual trading was done
through the French; so we may say that as long as the fur trade remained
the chief industry of Wisconsin, about to the year 1835, the old French
life was still maintained, and French methods were everywhere in

It is surprising how strongly marked upon our Wisconsin are the memories
of the old French days. A quiet, unobtrusive people, were those early
French, without high ambitions, and simple in their tastes; yet they and
theirs have displayed remarkable tenacity of life, and doubtless their
effect upon us of to-day will never be effaced. Our map is sprinkled all
over with the French names which they gave to our hills and lakes and
streams, and early towns. We may here mention a few only, at random:
Lakes Flambeau, Court Oreilles, Pepin, Vieux Désert; the rivers Bois
Brulé, Eau Claire, Eau Pleine, Embarrass, St. Croix; the counties Eau
Claire, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Langlade, Marquette, Portage, Racine,
St. Croix, Trempealeau; the towns of Racine, La Crosse, Prairie du
Chien, Butte des Morts. Scores of others can readily be found in the
atlas. In the cities of Green Bay, Kaukauna, Portage, and Prairie du
Chien, and the dreamy little Fox River hamlet of Grand Butte des Morts,
are still to be found little closely-knit colonies of French Creoles,
descendants of those who lived and ruled under the old French régime.

The time must come, in the molding of all the foreign elements in our
midst into the American of the future, when the French element will no
longer exist among us as an element, but merely as a memory. If our
posterity can inherit from those early French occupants of our soil
their simple tastes, their warm hearts, their happy temperament, their
social virtues, then the old French régime will have brought a blessing
to Wisconsin, and not merely a halo of historical romance.


Upon the eighth day of September, 1760, the French flag ceased to fly
over Canada. In a long and bitter struggle, lasting at intervals through
an entire century, French and English had been battling with each other
for the control of the interior of this continent; and the former had
lost everything at the decisive battle on the Plains of Abraham, before
the walls of Quebec.

Reduced to the last extremity, the authorities of New France had ordered
her fur traders, _coureurs de bois_ and all, to hurry down to the
settlements on the St. Lawrence, and aid in protecting them against the
English. Thus in the Wisconsin forests, when the end came, there were
left no Frenchmen of importance. Leaving their Indian friends, and many
of them their Indian wives and half-breed families, they had obeyed the
far away summons, and several lost their lives in the great battle or in
the skirmishes which preceded it. The others, who at last returned, were
quick to show favor to the English, for little they really cared who
were their political masters so long as they were let alone. The
Indians, too, although personally they preferred the French to the
English, were glad enough to see the latter, because they brought
better prices for furs.

Wisconsin was so far away that it took a long time for British soldiers
to reach the deserted and tumbledown fort at Green Bay. About the middle
of October, 1761, there arrived from Mackinac Lieutenant James Gorrell
and seventeen men to hold all of this country for King George. The
station had been called by the French Fort St. Francis, but the name was
now changed to Fort Edward Augustus.

It was a very lonely and dismal winter for the British soldiers, for
nearly all the neighboring savages were away on their winter hunt and
did not return until spring. Mackinac, then a poor little trading
village, was two hundred forty miles away; there was a trading post at
St. Josephs on the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, four hundred miles
distant; and the nearest French villages on the Mississippi were eight
hundred miles of canoe journey to the southwest. All between was
savagery: here and there a squalid Indian village, with its conical
wigwams of bark or matted reeds, pitched on the shore of a lake, at the
foot of a portage trail, or on the banks of a forest stream. Now and
then a French trading party passed along the frozen trails, following
the natives on the hunt and poisoning their minds against the newcomers,
who were struggling to make their poor old stockade a fairly decent
shelter against the winter storms.

But, when the savages returned to Green Bay in the spring, they met with
fair words from Gorrell, a plentiful distribution of presents, and good
prices for furs, and their hearts were won. In 1763 occurred the great
uprising led by Pontiac against the English in the Northwest, during
which the garrison at Mackinac was massacred. This disturbed the
friendship of Gorrell's neighbors, with the exception of a Menominee
band, headed by chief Ogemaunee; and in June of that year the little
garrison, together with the English traders at Green Bay, found it
necessary to leave hastily for Cross Village, on the eastern shore of
Lake Michigan, escorted by Ogemaunee and ninety painted Menominees, who
had volunteered to protect these Englishmen from the unfriendly Indians.

At Cross Village were several soldiers who had escaped from Mackinac,
and the two parties and their escorts soon left in canoes for Montreal,
by the way of Ottawa River. This old fur trade route was followed in
order to escape Pontiac's Indians, who controlled the country about
Detroit and along the lower lake. They arrived safely at their
destination in August. The following year there was held a great council
at Niagara, presided over by the famous Sir William Johnson, who was
then serving as British superintendent for the Northern Indians. At this
council Ogemaunee was present representing the Menominees of Wisconsin.
In token of his valuable services in escorting Lieutenant Gorrell's
party to Montreal, and thereby delivering them safely from the great
danger which threatened, Ogemaunee was given a certificate, which reads
as follows:--


     [SEAL OF WAX] By the Honourable Sir William Johnson Baronet,
     His Majesty's sole agent and superintendent of the affairs of
     the Northern Indians of North America, Colony of the six United
     Nations their allies and dependants &c. &c. &c.

To OGemawnee a Chief of the Menomings Nation:

     Whereas I have received from the officers who Commanded the Out
     posts as well as from other persons an account of your good
     behaviour last year in protecting the Officers, Soldiers &c. of
     the Garrison of La Bay, and in escorting them down to Montreal
     as also the Effects of the Traders to a large amount, and your
     having likewise entered into the strongest Engagements of
     Friendship with the English before me at this place. I do
     therefore give you This Testimony of my Esteem for your
     Services and Good behaviour.

    Given under my hand & Seal at Arms at
    Niagara the first day of August 1764.

    Wm. Johnson.]

This piece of paper, which showed that he was a good friend of the
English, was of almost as great importance to Ogemaunee as a patent of
nobility in the Old World. He carried it with him back to Wisconsin, and
it remained in his family from one generation to another, for fully a
hundred years. One day a blanketed and painted descendant of Ogemaunee
presented it to an American officer who visited his wigwam. This
descendant, doubtless, knew little of its meaning, but it had been used
in his family as a charm for bringing good luck, and in his admiration
for this kind officer he gave it to him, for the Indian is, by nature,
grateful and generous. In the course of years the paper was presented to
the State Historical Society, by which it is preserved as an interesting
and suggestive relic of those early days of the English occupation of


We ordinarily think of the Revolutionary War as having been fought
wholly upon the Atlantic slope. As a matter of fact, there were enacted
west of the Alleghanies, during that great struggle, deeds which proved
of immense importance to the welfare of the United States. Had it not
been for the capture from the British of the country northwest of the
Ohio River by the gallant Virginia colonel, George Rogers Clark, it is
fair to assume that the Old Northwest, as it came to be called, the
present States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin,
would to-day be a part of the Dominion of Canada.

After the brief flurry of the Pontiac conspiracy (1763), the Indians of
the Old Northwest became good friends of the British, whose aim was to
encourage the fur trade and to keep the savages good-natured. The
English have always been more successful in their treatment of Indians
than have Americans; they are more generous with them, and while not
less firm than we, they are more considerate of savage wants. The French
and the half-breeds, too, were very soon the warm supporters of British
policy, because English fur trade companies gave them abundant
employment, and evinced no desire other than to foster the primitive
conditions under which the fur trade prospered.

The English were not desirous of settling the Western wilderness with
farmers, thereby driving out the game. Our people, however, have always
been of a land-grabbing temper; we have sought to beat down the walls of
savagery, to push settlement, to cut down the forests, to plow the land,
to drive the Indian out. This meant the death of the fur trade; hence it
is small wonder that, when the Revolutionary War broke out, the French
and Indians of the Northwest upheld the British and opposed the

A number of scattered white settlers and a few small villages had
appeared along the Ohio River and many of its southern tributaries. In
Kentucky there were several log forts, around each of which were grouped
the rude cabins of frontiersmen, who were half farmers and half hunters,
tall, stalwart fellows, as courageous as lions, and ever on the alert
for the crouching Indian foe, who came when least expected. The country
northwest of the Ohio River was then a part of the British province of
Quebec. Here and there in this Old Northwest, as we now call it, were
small villages of French and half-breed fur traders, each village
protected by a little log fort; some of these villages were garrisoned
by a handful of British soldiers, and others only by French Canadians
who were friendly to the English. Such were Vincennes, in what is now
Indiana; Kaskaskia and Cahokia, in the Illinois country; Prairie du
Chien and Green Bay, in Wisconsin; and Mackinac Island and Detroit, in
Michigan. Detroit was the headquarters, where lived the British
lieutenant governor of the Northwest, Henry Hamilton, a bold, brave,
untiring, unscrupulous man.

Hamilton's chief business was to gather about him the Indians of the
Northwest, and to excite in them hatred of the American settlers in
Kentucky. In 1777, war parties sent out by him from Detroit, under cover
of the forts of Vincennes, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia, swept Kentucky from
end to end, and the whole American frontier was the scene of a frightful
panic. The American backwoodsmen were ambushed, many of the blockhouse
posts were burned, prisoners were subjected to nameless horrors, and it
seemed as if pandemonium had broken loose. By the close of the year,
such had been the rush of settlers back to their old homes, east of the
mountains, that but five or six hundred frontiersmen remained in all
Kentucky. Had the British and the Indians succeeded in driving back all
of the settlers, they would have held the whole interior of the
continent, and the American republic might never have been permitted to
grow beyond the Alleghanies and the Blue Ridge; hemmed in to the
Atlantic slope, this could never have become the great nation it is

Prominent among the defenders of Kentucky in 1777 was George Rogers
Clark. He was but twenty-five years of age, had come from a good family
in Virginia, and had a fair education for that day, but had been a wood
rover from childhood. He was tall and commanding in person, a great
hunter, and a backwoods land surveyor, such as Washington was. With
chain and compass, ax and rifle, he had, in the employ of land
speculators, wandered far and wide through the border region, knowing
its trails, its forts, its mountain passes, and its aborigines better
than he knew his books. Associated with him were Boone, Benjamin Logan,
and others who were prominent among American border heroes.

Clark saw that the best way to defend Kentucky was to strike the enemy
in their own country. Gaining permission from Patrick Henry, governor of
Virginia, for Kentucky was then but a county of Virginia, and obtaining
some small assistance in money, he raised, in 1778, a little army of a
hundred fifty backwoodsmen, clad in buckskin and homespun, who came from
the hunters' camps of the Alleghanies. The men collected at Pittsburg
and Wheeling, and in flatboats cautiously descended the Ohio to the
falls, where is now the city of Louisville. Here, on an island, they
built a fort as a military base, and the strongest of the party pushed
on down the river to the abandoned old French Fort Massac, ten miles
below the mouth of the Tennessee, from which they marched overland, for
a hundred twenty miles, to Kaskaskia in western Illinois.

Capturing Kaskaskia by surprise (July 4), and soon gaining the good will
of the French there, Clark sent out messengers who easily won over the
neighboring Cahokia; and very soon even Vincennes, on the Wabash River,
sent in its submission. It was not long before Hamilton, at Detroit,
heard the humiliating news. He at once sent out two French agents,
Charles de Langlade and Charles Gautier, of Green Bay, to raise a large
war party of Wisconsin Indians. They succeeded so well, that Hamilton
set out from Detroit in October, to retake Vincennes. His force
consisted of nearly two hundred whites (chiefly French) and three
hundred Indians. Such were the obstacles to overcome in an unbroken
wilderness, that he was seventy-one days in reaching his destination.
Clark had left but two of his soldiers at Vincennes, and as their French
allies at once surrendered, there was nothing to do but to give up the

Now came one of the most stirring deeds in our Western history. Clark,
at Kaskaskia, soon learned of the loss of Vincennes; at the same time,
it was told him that the greater part of Hamilton's expedition had
disbanded for the winter, the lieutenant governor intending to launch a
still larger war party against him in the spring. Thereupon Clark
determined not to await an attack, but himself to make an attack on
Hamilton, who had remained in charge of Vincennes.

The distance across country, from Kaskaskia to Vincennes, is about two
hundred thirty miles. In summer it was a delightful region of
alternating groves and prairies; in the dead of winter, it would afford
fair traveling over the frozen plains and ice-bound rivers; but now, in
February (1779), the weather had moderated, and great freshets had
flooded the lowlands and meadows. The ground was boggy, and progress was
slow and difficult; there were no tents, and the floods had driven away
much of the game; and Clark and his officers were often taxed to their
wits' ends to devise methods for keeping their hard-worked men in good
spirits. Often they were obliged to wade in the icy water, for miles
together, and to sleep at night in soaked clothes upon little
brush-strewn hillocks, shivering with cold, and without food or fire.

But at last, after nearly three weeks of almost superhuman exertion and
indescribable misery, Vincennes was reached. The British garrison was
taken by surprise, but held out with obstinacy, and throughout the long
moonlight night the battle raged with much fury. The log fort was on the
top of a hill overlooking the little town; it was armed with several
small cannon, but Clark's men had only their muskets. They were,
however, served freely with ammunition by the French villagers; and,
being expert marksmen, could hit the gunners by firing through the
loopholes, so that by sunrise the garrison was sadly crippled. The
fight continued throughout the following morning, and in the afternoon
the British ran up the white flag. Hamilton and twenty-six of his
fellows were sent as prisoners overland to Virginia.

Clark remained as master of the Northwest until the close of the
Revolutionary War. The fact that the flag of the republic waved over
Vincennes, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia when the war ended, had much to do
with the decision of the peace commissioners to allow the United States
to retain the country lying between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and
the Great Lakes.

During the Revolution, none of the forts in Wisconsin were occupied by
British soldiers, and they were allowed to tumble into decay. Wisconsin
was, however, used as a recruiting ground for Indian allies. Not only
did Langlade and Gautier raise a war party of Wisconsin Indians to help
Hamilton in his expedition against Vincennes, but they were frequently
in Wisconsin on similar business during the war. In 1779 Gautier led a
party of Wisconsin Indians to Peoria, in the Illinois country, where
there was an old French fort which, it was thought, might fall into the
hands of the Americans. Gautier burned this fort, and then hastily
retreated because he found that Clark was making friends with all the
Illinois Indians.

Clark's agents traded as far north as Portage, in Wisconsin. At Prairie
du Chien they induced Linctot, a famous French fur trader, to join the
Americans. Linctot put himself at the head of a party of five hundred
French and half-breed horsemen, who were of much assistance to Clark in
his various movements after the capture of Vincennes. Meanwhile another
large party, chiefly of Indians, assembled at Prairie du Chien in the
British cause, led by three French traders, Hesse, Du Charme, and Calvé.
They raided the upper Mississippi valley, capturing provisions intended
for the Americans, and making a futile attack on the Spanish village of
St. Louis, which was thought to be assisting Clark.

Despite these military operations in Wisconsin, the English fur trade
continued in full strength, with headquarters upon the Island of
Mackinac, but with French agents and boatmen, whose principal dwelling
places were at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. Upon Lake Superior large
canoes and bateaux were used; but upon Lake Michigan were three small
sloops, the _Welcome_, the _Felicity_, and the _Archangel_, which
carried supplies and furs for the traders, and made frequent cruises to
see that the "Bostonians," as the French used to call the Americans,
obtained no foothold upon the shore of the lake.

Just before the close of the war, the British commander at Mackinac
Island, Captain Patrick Sinclair, held a council with the Indians, and
for a small sum purchased for himself their claims to that island and to
nearly all of the land now comprising Wisconsin. But the treaty of 1783,
between the British and the Americans, did not recognize this purchase,
and Sinclair found that he was no longer the owner of Wisconsin. It had
become, largely through the valor of Clark, and the persistence of our
treaty commissioners, a part of the territory of the United States.


By the treaty of peace with Great Britain, in 1783, the country
northwest of the Ohio River was declared to be a part of the territory
of the United States; but it was many years before the Americans had
anything more than a nominal control of Wisconsin, which was a part of
this Northwestern region. The United States was at first unable to meet
all of its obligations under this treaty; hence Great Britain kept
possession of the old fur trade posts on the Upper Lakes, including
Mackinac, of which Wisconsin was a "dependency." A British garrison was
kept at Mackinac, thus controlling the fur trade of this district, but
no troops were deemed necessary within Wisconsin itself.

To the few white inhabitants of the small fur trade villages of Green
Bay and Prairie du Chien, there was slight evidence of any of these
various changes in political ownership. Beyond the brief stay among them
of Lieutenant Gorrell and his little band of redcoats, in the years
1761-63, the French and half-breeds of Wisconsin led much the same life
as of old.

In 1780, an English fur trader, John Long, passed up the Fox River and
down the Wisconsin, and bought up a great many furs in this region. Some
years later he wrote a book about his travels, and from this we get a
very good idea of life among the French and Indians of the Northwest.
Long was at Green Bay for several days, and tells us that the houses
there were covered with birch bark, and the rooms were decorated with
bows and arrows, guns, and spears. There were in the village not over
fifty whites, divided into six or seven families. The men were for the
most part engaged as assistants to the two or three leading traders;
they spent their winters in the woods, picking up furs at the Indian
camps, and in summer cultivated their narrow strips of gardens which ran
down to the river's edge. It mattered little to them who was their
political master, so long as they were left to enjoy their simple lives
in their own fashion.

To this primitive community there came one day, in 1803, a portly,
pompous, bald headed little Frenchman, named Charles Réaume. Wisconsin
was then a part of Indiana Territory, of which William Henry Harrison
was governor. It was for the most part a wilderness; dense woods and
tenantless prairies extended all the way from the narrow clearing at
Green Bay to the little settlement at Prairie du Chien. There were small
clearings at Portage, Milwaukee, and one or two other fur trading posts.
There was no civil government here, and the few white people in all this
vast stretch of country practically made their own laws, each man being
judge and jury for himself, so long as he did not interfere with other
people's rights.

Réaume bore a commission from Governor Harrison, appointing him justice
of the peace at Green Bay, which meant nearly all of the country west of
Lake Michigan. Thus "Judge Réaume," as he was called, was the only civil
officer in Wisconsin, and although apparently never reappointed, he
retained this distinction by popular consent until after the War of
1812-15; indeed, for several years after that, he was the principal
officer of justice in these parts.

The judge was a good-hearted man, when one penetrated beneath the crust
of official pomposity with which he was generally enveloped. He appears
to have owned a volume of Blackstone, but the only law he understood or
practiced was the old "Law of Paris," which had governed Canada from the
earliest time, and which still rules in the Province of Quebec, and it
is related that he knew little of that. His decisions were arbitrary,
but were generally based on the right as he saw it, quite regardless of
the technicalities of the law.

A great many queer stories are told of old Judge Réaume. He loved
display after his simple fashion, and invented for himself an official
uniform, which he wore on all public occasions. This consisted of a
scarlet frock coat faced with white silk, and gay with spangled buttons;
it can still be seen in the museum of the State Historical Society. He
issued few warrants or subpoenas; it is told of him that whenever he
wanted a person to appear before him, either as witness or principal, he
sent to that person the constable, bearing his honor's well-known large
jackknife, which was quite as effectual as the king's signet ring of
olden days.

Quite often did he adjudge guilty both complainant and defendant,
obliging them both to pay a fine, or to work so many days in his garden;
and sometimes both were acquitted, the constable being ordered to pay
the costs. It is even said that the present of a bottle of whisky to the
judge was sufficient to insure a favorable decision. The story is told
that once, when the judge had actually rendered a decision in a certain
case, the person decided against presented the court with a new
coffee-pot, whereupon the judgment was reversed.

There may be some exaggeration in these tales of the earliest judge in
Wisconsin, but they appear to be in the main substantiated.
Nevertheless, although there doubtless was some grumbling, it speaks
well for the old justice of the peace, and for the orderly good nature
of this little French community without a jail, that no one appears ever
to have questioned the legality of Réaume's decisions. These were
strictly abided by, and although he was never reappointed, he held
office under both American and British sway, simply because no one was
sent to succeed him.

Not only was Réaume Wisconsin's judge and jury during the first two
decades of the nineteenth century, but as there was, during much of his
time, no priest hereabouts, he drew up marriage contracts, and married
and divorced people at will, issued baptismal certificates, and kept a
registry of births and deaths. He certified alike to British and
American military commissions; drew up contracts between the fur traders
and their employees; wrote letters for the _habitants_; and performed
for the settlers all those functions of Church and state for which we
now require a long list of officials and professional men. He was a
picturesque and important functionary, illustrating in his person the
simple fashions and modest desires of the French who first settled this
State. We are now a wealthier people, but certainly there have never
been happier times in Wisconsin, all things considered, than in the
primitive days of old Judge Réaume and his official jackknife.


Although the Northwest was obtained for the United States by the treaty
with Great Britain in 1783, the fur trade posts on the Upper Great Lakes
were openly held by the mother country until the new republic could
fully meet its financial obligations to her. After thirteen years, a new
treaty (1796) officially recognized American supremacy. Nevertheless,
for another thirteen years English fur traders were practically in
possession of Wisconsin, operating through French Canadian and
half-breed agents, clerks, and _voyageurs_, until John Jacob Astor
(1809) organized the American Fur Company, and English fur traders were
forbidden to operate here.

The military officers in Canada were firmly convinced that the Americans
could not long hold the Northwest. They believed that some day there
would be another war, and the country would once more become the
property of Great Britain. Therefore they sought to keep on good terms
with our Indians and French, giving them presents and employment.

Thus, when our second war with Great Britain did break out, in 1812,
nearly all the people living in Wisconsin, and elsewhere in the wild
northern parts of the Northwest, were strong friends of the British
cause. To them the issue was very clear. British victory meant the
perpetuation of old times and old methods, so dear to them and to their
ancestors before them. American victory meant the cutting down of the
forests, the death knell of the fur trade, and the coming of a swarm of
strange people, heretofore almost unknown to Wisconsin. These people had
been described to them as an uneasy, selfish, land grabbing folk, who
knew not how to enjoy themselves, and were for turning the world upside
down with their Yankee notions. Naturally, the easy-going, comfort
loving Wisconsin French looked upon their coming with great alarm.

The principal event of the war in Wisconsin was the capture of Prairie
du Chien by the British, in 1814. Wisconsin was then a part of Illinois
Territory, and west of the Mississippi River lay the enormous Missouri
Territory. General William Clark, a younger brother of George Rogers
Clark, was governor of Missouri Territory, and had in charge the conduct
of military operations along the Upper Mississippi River.

Governor Clark had heard that the British, by this time strongly
intrenched on Mackinac Island, intended to send an expedition up the Fox
River and down the Wisconsin, to seize upon Prairie du Chien, which had
not been fortified since the old French days. Clark recognized that the
power that held Prairie du Chien practically held the entire Upper
Mississippi River, and controlled the Indians and the fur trade of a
vast region. Accordingly, early in June (1814) he ascended the river
from his headquarters at St. Louis, with three hundred men in six or
eight large boats, including a bullet-proof keel boat, and erected a
stockade on the summit of a large Indian mound which lay on the bank of
the Mississippi a mile or two above the mouth of the Wisconsin. The name
given to this stockade was Fort Shelby. Lieutenant Joseph Perkins was
left in charge of the garrison, which was divided between the fort and
the keel boat, the latter being anchored out in the Mississippi.

The British expedition from Mackinac had been greatly delayed. During
the preceding autumn, Robert Dickson, an English fur trader, had been
engaged in recruiting a large band of Indians in the neighborhood of
Green Bay, and with them intended to occupy Prairie du Chien. But the
Indians were evidently afraid to fight the Americans, and delayed
Dickson so that the canoes of his party were caught in the ice on Lake
Winnebago (December, 1813), and he was obliged to go into winter
quarters on Island Park (known to the white pioneers as Garlic Island).

Poor Dickson had a sorry time with his war party. As soon as it was
learned that provisions were being freely given out at this island camp,
Indians from long distances came to visit him, under pretense of
enlisting under the banner of the British chief. Councils innumerable
were held, presents and food had to be given the visitors continually,
and Dickson was put to sore straits to keep them satisfied. He found it
impossible to get sufficient supplies from British headquarters on
Mackinac Island, and was being severely criticised by the officers
there, for his exorbitant demands upon them. Nevertheless, unless he
kept his Indians good-natured, they would promptly desert him. He was,
therefore, forced to rely upon the French of Green Bay for what food he
needed. This came grudgingly, and at so high prices that Dickson roundly
scolded the Green Bay people, and promised to report them for punishment
to the British king, for daring to take advantage of his Majesty's

While Dickson was thus engaged in Lake Winnebago, a British captain was
drilling a number of young Frenchmen at Green Bay, and trying to make
soldiers of them; at Mackinac, a similar work was being done among the
_voyageurs_ by the two leading fur traders of Prairie du Chien, Brisbois
and Rolette. On the other hand, at Prairie du Chien, the American Indian
agent, Boilvin, was issuing circulars calling on the people to claim
American protection before it was too late.

Late in June the leaders of the expedition started from Mackinac, under
the command of Major William McKay, and at Green Bay, Lake Winnebago,
and Portage picked up various parties of French and Indians. These bands
were much reduced from those who had been so liberally maintained during
the winter, for most of the Indians were anxious to keep away from the
fighting until it should be evident which side would win, and many of
the French were of the same mind. By the time Fox River had been
ascended by the fleet of canoes, and the descent of the Wisconsin begun,
the allied forces consisted of but a hundred twenty whites and four
hundred fifty Indians. All of the latter, according to McKay's report,
proved "perfectly useless."

On the 17th of July, the British war party landed at Prairie du Chien,
to find the Americans, some sixty or seventy strong, protected by a
stockade and two blockhouses, on which were mounted six small cannon. In
the river, the keel boat contained perhaps seventy-five men and fourteen
cannon. The British had, besides their muskets, only a three-pounder,
and the situation did not look promising.

Perkins was summoned to surrender, but he declared that he would "defend
to the last man." For two days there was a rather lively discharge of
firearms on both sides. Apparently, the British were the better gunners;
their cannonading soon forced the men on the keel boat to desert their
comrades on shore, and McKay then centered his attention on the fort.
The Indians were unruly, being principally engaged in plundering the
Frenchmen's houses in the village. The British supply of ammunition had
quite run out by the evening of the 9th, and McKay was seriously
contemplating a retreat, when he was surprised to see a white flag put
out by the garrison.

It appears that the stock of food had become exhausted in the fort, and
Perkins had formed an exaggerated idea of the strength of the invaders.
The British guaranteed that the Americans should march out of Fort
Shelby at eight o'clock in the morning of the 20th, with colors flying
and with the honors of war, and that the Indians should be prevented
from maltreating them. This last agreement McKay found it very difficult
to carry out, for the savages wished, as usual, to massacre the
prisoners. To the honor of the British, it should be recorded that they
exercised great vigilance, and spared neither supplications nor threats,
to insure the safety of their prisoners, whom they soon sent down the
river to the American post at St. Louis.

When the British flag was run up on the stockade, the name was changed
to Fort McKay, in honor of the British leader. During the long autumn
and succeeding winter, the British experienced their old difficulties
with the Indian allies. The warriors sacked the houses of the French
settlers, all over the prairie, and destroyed crops and supplies.
Council after council was held at Fort McKay, and large bands of lazy,
quarrelsome savages, encamped about the fort, were fed and were loaded
with presents; altogether, the occupation of Wisconsin proved an
expensive luxury. It was no doubt with some relief that the British
garrison at last learned, late in May 1815, of the treaty of peace
signed on the previous 24th of December, and made arrangements to
withdraw up the Wisconsin and down the Fox, and across the great lake to

In point of fact, the withdrawal of Captain Bulger, at that time in
charge of Fort McKay, was in reality a hasty and undignified retreat
from his own allies. The Indians had learned with amazement that the
British palefaces were going to surrender to the American palefaces,
without showing fight, and simply because somewhere, far away in another
part of the world, some other palefaces, whom these Englishmen had never
even seen, had held a peace council and buried the hatchet. This sort of
thing could not be understood by the savages encamped outside the walls
of Fort McKay, save as an evidence of rank cowardice. They called the
redcoats a lot of "old women," became insolent, and even threatened

Captain Bulger saw that it would not do to await the arrival of the
American troops from St. Louis, so he sent an Indian messenger with a
letter to the American commander, telling him to help himself to
everything in Fort McKay. Then, only forty-eight hours after the arrival
of the peace news, he pulled down his flag and hurried home as fast as
he could, fearful all the way that an Indian war party might be at his
heels. Thus ignominiously ended the last British occupation of


It was the fur trade that first brought white men to Wisconsin. The
daring Nicolet pushed his way through the wilderness, a thousand miles
west of the little French settlement at Quebec, solely to introduce the
traffic in furs to our savages, and others were not long in following
him. Soon it was learned that there were lead mines in what is now
southwest Wisconsin.

It is not probable that the aborigines, before the coming of white men,
made any other use of lead than from it to fashion a few rude ornaments.
But the French at once recognized the great value of this mineral, in
connection with the fur trade. They taught the Indians how to mine it in
a crude fashion, and to make it into bullets for the guns which they
introduced among them.

The French traders themselves mined a good deal of it for their own use,
and shipped it in their canoes to other parts of the West, where there
were no lead mines, but where both white men and Indians needed bullets.
For in a remarkably short period nearly all the Indians had turned from
their old pursuits of raising maize and pumpkins, and killing just
enough game with slings and arrows to supply themselves with skins for
their clothing and flesh for their food. They had now become persistent
hunters for skins, which they might exchange with white men for
European-made guns, ammunition, kettles, spears, cloths, and ornaments.

Some of the Indians in the neighborhood of the lead mines found it more
profitable to mine lead for other hunters, than to hunt; hence we find
that, at an early date, the mines came to be regarded as the particular
property of the Indians, a fact which had considerable influence upon
the history of the region. With the French, most of our Wisconsin
Indians were quite friendly. The French were kind and obliging, often
married and settled among them, and had no thought of driving them away.
They throve upon the fur trade with the Indians, and in general did not
care to become farmers. The English and the Americans, on the contrary,
felt a contempt for the savages, and did not disguise it; the aim of the
Americans, in particular, was gradually to clear the forest, to make
farms, and to build villages. In the American scheme of civilization the
Indian had no part. Therefore we find that Frenchmen were quite free to
work the lead mines in company with the savages; but the Anglo-Saxons,
when they arrived on the scene, were obliged to fight for this right. In
the end they banished the Indians from the "diggings."

Marquette and Joliet had heard of the lead mines, and of the Frenchmen
working at them, when they made their famous canoe trip through
Wisconsin, in 1673. Through the rest of the seventeenth century,
wherever we pick up any French books of travel in these regions, or any
maps of the Upper Mississippi country, we are sure to find frequent,
though rather vague, mention of the lead mines.

The first official exploration of them appears to have been made in 1693
by Le Sueur, the French military commandant at Chequamegon Bay, on Lake
Superior. He was so impressed by the "mines of lead, copper, and blue
and green earth" which he found all along the banks of the Upper
Mississippi, that he went to France to tell the king about his great
discoveries, and seek permission to work them. It was forbidden to do
anything in New France without the consent of the great French king,
although the free and independent fur traders did very much as they
pleased out here in the wilderness. But Le Sueur was a soldier, and had
to ask permission. Obtaining it, he returned at great expense with
thirty miners, who proceeded up the Mississippi from New Orleans; but
somehow nothing came of these extensive preparations.

Several French speculators, in succeeding years, thought to make money
out of supposed mines of gold, silver, lead, and copper along the upper
waters of the Mississippi. Some of them came over from France with bands
of miners and little companies of soldiers to guard them; but, like Le
Sueur, they spent most of their time and money in exploration, not
content with those lead mines that were well known to exist, and
invariably left the country in disgust, their money and patience
exhausted. Now and then a more practical man came quietly upon the
scene, and seemed well satisfied with lead when he could not find gold;
most of such miners were French, but a few were Spanish, for Spain then
owned all the country lying westward of the Mississippi River.

Occasionally the French commandant at Mackinac or Detroit would come to
the mines, and with the aid of his soldiers and the Indians, get out a
considerable quantity of the ore, and take it home with him in his fleet
of canoes; or a fur trader would do the same, for the purposes of his
own trade with the savages. The little French village of Ste. Geneviève,
near St. Louis, had become, by the opening of our Revolutionary War, a
considerable lead market, from which shipments were made in flatboats
and bateaux down the Mississippi to New Orleans, or up the Ohio to
Pittsburg. Lead was, next to peltries, the most important export of the
Upper Mississippi region, and throughout the West served as currency.

During the Revolutionary War, the British were at first in command of
the upper reaches of the great river, and guarded jealously the approach
to the lead mines, for bullets were necessary to the success of the fast
growing Kentucky settlements; American military operations against the
little British garrisons at Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Detroit
would be powerless without lead. Gradually the influence of the American
fur trade grew among the Indians, and it was not long before the
Americans in the West were able to obtain through them all the lead they

Toward the close of the war, Julien Dubuque, a very energetic French
miner, bought up large claims from the Spaniards, in Missouri and Iowa,
and for about a quarter of a century was the principal man in the lead
region. He was remarkably successful in dealing with the Indians, whom
he employed to do the principal work. His mining and trading operations
were not confined to the Spanish side of the river, but were carried on
in American territory as well, and his influence with the savages for a
time prevented American miners and fur traders from obtaining a

When at last (1804) the United States obtained possession of the lands
west of the Mississippi, numerous enterprising Americans forced their
way into the lead district. They managed to mine a good deal of the
metal, here and there, but frequently met with armed opposition from the
Indians. It was fifteen years before the Americans equaled the French
Canadians in number. In 1819, the Indian claims to the mining country
having at last been purchased by the federal government, there was a
general inrush of Americans. Among the earliest and most prominent of
these was James W. Shull, the founder of Shullsburg, in Iowa county.
Another man of note was Colonel James Johnson, of Kentucky, who brought
negro slaves into the region, to do his heaviest labor, and maintained a
fleet of flatboats to carry lead ore from Galena River to St. Louis, New
Orleans, and Pittsburg.

At first the operations of Johnson, Shull, and others had to be carried
on under military protection; for the Indians, although they had sold
their claims, persisted in annoying the newcomers, being urged on by the
French miners and traders who were still numerous in the mining
country. But so soon as the news spread that a large trade in lead was
fast springing up, other Americans began to pour in; mining claims were
entered in great numbers, a federal land office was opened, and by 1826
two thousand men, including negro slaves brought in by Kentucky and
Missouri operators, were engaged in and about the mines. The following
year the town of Galena was founded, and in 1829 there was a stampede

Henceforth, for many years, the lead trade of southwestern Wisconsin,
northwestern Illinois, and parts of Missouri and Iowa was the chief
interest in the West. By this time the fur trade had almost died out,
and the old French Canadian element had become but a small proportion of
the population of the Mississippi valley. In those days, Galena, Mineral
Point, and other lead mining towns were of much more importance than
Chicago or Milwaukee, and their citizens entertained high hopes of the
future. The lead trade with St. Louis and New Orleans was very large;
but the East also wanted the lead, and the air was filled with projects
to secure routes by which lead might be carried to vessels plying on the
Great Lakes, which could transport it to Buffalo and other far away

For a time the most popular of these projects was the old fur trade
route of the Wisconsin and Fox rivers. A canal was dug along the famous
carrying trail at Portage, and the federal government was induced to
deepen Fox River, which is naturally very shallow, and to attempt to
create a permanent channel in the Wisconsin River. But, although much
money has been spent on these schemes, from that day to this, the
Fox-Wisconsin route is still impracticable save to boats of
exceptionally light draft; and in our time the project of connecting the
Mississippi River with Lake Michigan, by the way of Portage and Green
Bay, is almost wholly abandoned. Another scheme was the proposed
Milwaukee and Rock River canal, by which Milwaukee was to be connected
with the Rock River, which joins the Mississippi at Rock Island; but
this plan died a still earlier death. It was the struggle to connect the
port of Milwaukee with the lead region that finally led to the building
of the railroad between that city and Prairie du Chien.

More immediately effective for the benefit of the lead trade, was the
opening of a wagon road from the lead mining towns, through Madison, to
Milwaukee, along which great canvas-covered caravans of ore-laden
"prairie schooners" toiled slowly from the mines to the Lake Michigan
docks, a distance of about a hundred and fifty miles. Other roads led
to Galena and Prairie du Chien, where the Mississippi River boats
awaited similar fleets of "schooners" from the interior. A good deal of
the lead was sent by similar conveyances to Helena, a little village on
the Wisconsin River, where a shot tower had been built against the face
of a high cliff; from here, shallow-draft boats took the shot to Green
Bay, by way of the Portage Canal and Fox River, or descended the
Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien.

From various causes, the lead trade of the Upper Mississippi region had
sadly declined by 1857. Among these causes was the finding of gold in
California (1849), which attracted large numbers of the miners to a more
profitable field; again, the surface or shallow diggings having been
exhausted, much more capital was required to operate in the lower
levels; more serious was the lack of sufficient transportation
facilities, and these did not come until the great silver mines of the
Rocky Mountains had been opened, lead being thenceforth more profitably
produced in connection with silver.

The effect of the lead industry upon the development of Wisconsin was
important. Many years before farmers would naturally have sought
southern Wisconsin in their pushing westward for fresh lands, the
opening of the mines brought thither a large and energetic industrial
population, and a considerable capital, and awakened popular interest in
land and water transportation routes.


The world over, white men, representing a higher type of civilization,
have wrested, or are still wresting, the land from the original savage
occupants. This seems to be inevitable. It is one of the means by which
civilization is being extended over the entire globe. We glory in the
progress of civilization; but we are apt to ignore the hardship which
this brings to the aborigines. While not relaxing our endeavor to plant
the world with progressive men who shall make the most of life, we
should see to it that the savage races are pushed to the wall with as
kindly and forbearing a hand as possible; that we apply to them humane
methods, and give them credit for possessing the sentiments of men who,
like us, dearly love their old homes, and are willing to fight for them.
These sentiments have certainly not often been applied in the past, by
our Anglo-Saxon race, to the Indians of North America.

We have failed to appreciate that the Indian, in being driven from his
lands, has retaliated from motives of patriotism. His methods of
fighting are often cruel and treacherous; but it must be remembered that
he is in a stage of development akin to that of the child, and that
white men upon the frontier have often been quite as cruel and
treacherous toward the Indian as he was toward them, for such are ever
the methods of the weak and the primitive. The Indian is blamed for his
custom of wreaking vengeance upon all white men, when but an individual
has injured him; yet, on the border, it has always been seen that white
men have retaliated on the Indians in exactly the same spirit. "The only
good Indian is a dead Indian," has been their motto, the offense of one
Indian being considered the offense of all. Our dealings with the red
men, both as individuals and as a nation, have, for over a hundred
years, often been such as we should blush for. We are doing better now
than formerly; but our treatment of the weak and unfortunate aborigines
is still far from being to our credit.

The story of the Winnebago War, in Wisconsin, is illustrative of the
old-time method of treating our barbaric predecessors. No doubt it would
have been better if the United States had, from the first, held all the
Indians to be subjects, and forced them to obey our laws. But the tribes
were considered in theory to be distinct nations, over whom we exercised
supervision, and with whom we held treaties. This at first seemed
necessary, owing to the patriarchal system among the Indians, by which
heads of families or clans are supposed to control the younger members,
all affairs being decided upon in councils, in which these wise old men
participate. It was thought that, through the chiefs, binding agreements
could be made with entire tribes. It was not then generally understood
that each Indian is, according to the customs of those people, really a
law unto himself; that the chiefs, in signing a treaty, are seldom
representative in the sense that we use the word, and that they
generally represent no one but themselves; that the only way in which
they can commit their tribes is through the respect or fear which they
may foster in the minds of their followers.

In the month of August, 1825, when Wisconsin was still a part of
Michigan Territory, there was a treaty signed at Prairie du Chien
between the United States and the Indians of what are now Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The treaty set boundaries between the
quarrelsome tribes, and agreed on a general peace upon the border. Like
most Indian treaties, this document was drawn up by the officers of the
general government; and the chiefs, knowing little of its contents, were
simply invited to sign their names to it. They signed as requested, but
went home in bad temper, because the American commissioners would not
make them costly presents of guns, ammunition, beads, hatchets, cloths,
and rum, as the British in Canada always did; and the savages were not
even allowed to celebrate the treaty by a roistering feast. The
Americans, from their cold, businesslike conduct, impressed the Indians
as being "stingy old women."

Nobody on the frontier, the following winter, seemed to pay the
slightest attention to the terms of the treaty. The Sioux, who lived
west of the Mississippi, the Winnebagoes in southern and western
Wisconsin, and the Chippewas in the north, quarreled with one another
and scalped one another as freely as ever; while French traders, in
British employ, stirred up the red men, and told them that Great Britain
would soon have the whole country back again. The Winnebagoes, in
particular, were irritated because two of their braves had been
imprisoned for thieving, at Fort Crawford, in Prairie du Chien. They
held numerous councils in the woods, and resolved to stand by the
British when the war should break out. In the midst of this uneasiness,
the troops at Fort Crawford were suddenly withdrawn to Fort Snelling, on
the Upper Mississippi River, near where St. Paul now is. This was
supposed by the Indians to mean that the American soldiers were afraid
of them.

The spring of 1827 arrived. A half-breed named Methode was making maple
sugar upon the Yellow River, in Iowa, a dozen miles north of Prairie du
Chien. With him were his wife and five children; all were set upon by
some Winnebagoes and killed, scalped, and burned. Naturally there was an
uproar all along the Upper Mississippi. Excitement was at its height,
when word was brought in by Sioux visitors to the village of Red Bird, a
petty Winnebago chief, that the two men of his tribe who had been
imprisoned in Fort Crawford had been hung when the troops reached Fort
Snelling. The wily Sioux suggested vengeance. The Winnebago code was two
lives for one. Inflamed with rage, Red Bird set out at once upon the
warpath to take four white scalps.

Meanwhile the clouds were gathering for a general storm. The American
Indian agent at Prairie du Chien, with singular indiscretion, was not
treating his Winnebago visitors with kindness. English and French fur
traders were, on behalf of Great Britain, making liberal promises for
the future. Winnebagoes were being brutally driven from the lead mines
by the white miners, who were now swarming into southwest Wisconsin. The
Sioux along the west bank of the Mississippi, in Minnesota, were
encouraging the Winnebagoes to revolt; and were displaying a bad temper
toward Americans, whom they thought cowardly because apparently
unwilling to use military force to keep the Indians in order.

One day in June, Red Bird, a friend named Wekau, and two other
Winnebagoes, appeared at the door of a log cabin owned by Registre
Gagnier, a French settler living on the edge of Prairie du Chien
village. Gagnier was an old friend of Red Bird, and invited the four
Indians in to take dinner with him and his family. For several hours the
guests stayed, eating and smoking in apparent good humor, until at last
their chance came. Gagnier and his serving man, Lipcap, were instantly
shot down; an infant of eighteen months was torn from the arms of Madame
Gagnier, stabbed and scalped before her eyes, and thrown to the floor as
dead; but the woman herself with her little boy, ten years of age,
escaped to the woods and gave the alarm to the neighbors. The Indians
slunk into the forest and disappeared. The villagers buried Gagnier and
Lipcap, and, finding the infant girl alive, restored her to her mother.
Curiously enough, the scalped child recovered and grew to robust

According to the Winnebago code, four white scalps must be taken in
return for the two Indians supposed to have been killed at Fort
Snelling. Red Bird had now secured three, those of Gagnier, Lipcap, and
the infant; a fourth was necessary before he could properly return to
his people in the capacity of an avenger, the proudest title which an
Indian can bear. How he obtained these scalps was, to the mind of his
race, unimportant; the one idea was to get them.

On the afternoon of the third day after the massacre, Red Bird and his
friends were visiting at a camp of their people, near the mouth of the
Bad Ax River, some forty miles north of Prairie du Chien. A drunken
feast was in progress, in honor of the scalp taking, when two keel boats
appeared on their way down the Mississippi from Fort Snelling to St.
Louis. The Sioux, at what is now Winona, had threatened the crews, but
had not attempted to harm them. The Winnebagoes now appeared on the bank
and raised the war whoop, but the crew of the foremost boat thought it
only bluster, so in a spirit of bravado ran their craft toward shore.
When it was within thirty yards of the bank, the Indians, led by Red
Bird, poured a volley of rifle balls into the boat. The crew were well
armed, and, rushing below, answered by shooting through the portholes.
The boat ran on a bar, and a sharp fire lasted through three hours,
until dusk, when the craft was finally worked off the bar, and dropped
downstream in the dark. Although seven hundred bullets penetrated the
hull, only two of the crew were killed outright, two others dying later
from wounds, and two others were slightly wounded. The Indians lost
seven killed and fourteen wounded.

The "battle of the keel boats" was the signal for military activity. In
July a battalion of troops from Fort Snelling came down to Prairie du
Chien; and a little later a full regiment from St. Louis followed.
General Henry Atkinson was in command, and early in August he ordered
Major William Whistler, then in charge of Fort Howard, to proceed up Fox
River with a company of troops, in search of the fugitives Red Bird and
Wekau. At a council held with the Winnebagoes, at Butte des Morts, the
chiefs were notified that nothing short of the surrender of the leaders
of the disturbance would satisfy the government for the attack on the
boats; were they not delivered up, the entire tribe should be hunted
like wild animals.

Great consternation prevailed among the tribesmen, as the runners sent
out from the Butte des Morts council carried the terrible threat to all
the camps of the Winnebagoes, in the deep forests, in the pleasant oak
groves, and upon the broad prairies throughout southern Wisconsin.
Whistler had reached the ridge flanking the old portage trail between
the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, but had not fully completed the
arrangements of his camp when an Indian runner appeared in hot haste,
saying that Red Bird and Wekau would surrender themselves at three
o'clock in the afternoon of the following day, that the tribe might be

Whistler and his officers, as true soldiers, were prompt to appreciate
bravery. They were broad enough to judge these savages by the standards
of savagery, not by those of a civilization from which the Indian is
removed by centuries of human progress. They knew full well that the
culprits were but carrying out the law of their race in seeking white
scalps in vengeance for the Winnebagoes supposed to have been slain at
Fort Snelling. Whistler knew that the Indians considered Red Bird and
Wekau as heroes, and could feel no pangs of conscience, because
treachery toward enemies was the customary method of Indian warfare.
Realizing these facts, the American officers recognized that it required
a fine type of heroism on the part of these simple natives thus to offer
themselves up to probable death, to redeem their tribe from destruction.

For this reason the soldiers were brought out on parade; and when,
prompt to the hour named, Red Bird and Wekau, accompanied by a party of
their friends, came marching into camp, clad in ceremonial dress, and
singing their death songs, they were received with military honors. The
native ceremony of surrender was highly impressive. Red Bird conducted
himself with a dignity which won the admiration of all. Wekau, on the
contrary, was an indifferent looking fellow, and commanded little

Red Bird made but one request, that, although sentenced to death, he
should not be placed in chains. This was granted; and while, during his
subsequent imprisonment at Prairie du Chien, he had frequent
opportunities to escape, he declined to take advantage of them. A few
months later he fell an easy victim to an epidemic then raging in the
village, thus relieving the government from embarrassment, for it was
felt that he was altogether too good an Indian to hang; indeed, his
execution might have brought on a general border war.

The murderers of Methode were also apprehended and given a death
sentence; but upon the Winnebagoes promising to relinquish forever their
hold upon the lead mines of southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern
Illinois, President Adams pardoned all the prisoners then living. The
following year (1828), a fort was erected at the Fox-Wisconsin portage,
near the scene of Red Bird's surrender; being in the heart of that
tribe's territory, it was called Fort Winnebago. Thereafter the
Winnebagoes were kept in entire subjection. Indeed, the three forts,
Howard at Green Bay, Winnebago at Portage, and Crawford at Prairie du
Chien, now gave the United States, for the first time, firm grasp upon
the whole of what is now Wisconsin.


In November, 1804, the Sac and Fox Indians, in return for a paltry
annuity of a thousand dollars, ceded to the United States fifty million
acres of land in eastern Missouri, northwestern Illinois, and
southwestern Wisconsin. There was an unfortunate clause in this compact,
which quite unexpectedly became one of the chief causes of the Black
Hawk War of 1832; instead of obliging the Indians at once to vacate the
ceded territory, it was stipulated that, "as long as the lands which are
now ceded to the United States remain their property, the Indians
belonging to said tribes shall enjoy the privilege of living and hunting
on them."

Within the limits of the cession was the chief seat of Sac power, a
village lying on the north side of Rock River, three miles above its
mouth. It was picturesquely situated on fertile ground, contained the
principal cemetery of the tribe, and was inhabited by about five hundred
families, being one of the largest Indian towns on the continent.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, the principal character in
this village was Black Hawk, who was born here in 1767. Black Hawk was
neither an hereditary nor an elected chief, but was, by common consent,
the village headman. He was a restless, ambitious, handsome savage; was
possessed of some of the qualities of successful leadership, was much of
a demagogue, and aroused the passions of his people by appeals to their
prejudices and superstitions. It is probable that he was never, in the
exercise of this policy, dishonest in his motives. A too confiding
disposition was ever leading his judgment astray; he was readily duped
by those who, white or red, were interested in deceiving him. The effect
of his daily communication with the Americans was often to shock rudely
his high sense of honor; while the studied courtesy accorded him upon
his annual begging visit to the British military agent at Malden, in
Canada, contrasted strangely, in his eyes, with his experiences with
many of the inhabitants on the Illinois border.

[Illustration: BLACK HAWK]

At the outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and the United
States in 1812, Black Hawk naturally allied himself with Tecumseh and
the British. After burying the hatchet, he settled down into the
customary routine of savage life, hunting in winter and loafing about
his village in summer, improvidently existing from hand to mouth,
although surrounded with abundance. Occasionally he varied the monotony
by visits to Malden, whence he would return laden with provisions, arms,
ammunition, and trinkets, his stock of vanity increased by wily
flattery, and his bitterness against the Americans correspondingly
intensified. It is not at all surprising that he hated the Americans.
They brought him naught but evil. The even tenor of his life was
continually being disturbed by them; and a cruel and causeless beating
which some white settlers gave him, in the winter of 1822-23, was an
insult which he treasured up against the entire American people.

In the summer of 1823, squatters, covetous of the rich fields cultivated
by the "British band," as Black Hawk's people were often called, began
to take possession of them. The treaty of 1804 had guaranteed to the
Indians the use of the ceded territory so long as the lands remained the
property of the United States and were not sold to individuals. The
frontier line of homestead settlement was still fifty or sixty miles to
the east; the country between had not yet been surveyed, and much of it
not explored. The squatters had no rights in this territory, and it was
clearly the duty of the general government to protect the Indians within
it so long as no sales were made.

The Sacs would not have complained had the squatters settled in other
portions of the tract, and not sought to steal the village which was
their birthplace and contained the cemetery of their tribe. There were
outrages of the most flagrant nature. Indian cornfields were fenced in
by the intruders, squaws and children were whipped for venturing beyond
the bounds thus set, lodges were burned over the heads of the occupants.
A reign of terror ensued, in which the frequent remonstrances of Black
Hawk to the white authorities were in vain. Year by year the evil grew.
When the Indians returned each spring from the winter's hunt, they found
their village more of a wreck than when they had left it in the fall. It
is surprising, in view of their native love of revenge, that they acted
so peaceably while the victims of such harsh treatment.

Returning to his village in the spring of 1831, after a gloomy and
profitless winter's hunt, Black Hawk was fiercely warned away by the
whites; but, in a firm and dignified manner, he notified the settlers
that, if they did not themselves remove, he should use force. This
announcement was construed by the whites as a threat against their
lives. Petitions and messages were showered in by them upon Governor
John Reynolds, of Illinois, setting forth the situation in exaggerated
terms that would be amusing, were it not that they were the prelude to
one of the darkest tragedies in the history of our Western border.

The governor caught the spirit of the occasion, and at once issued a
flaming proclamation calling out a mounted volunteer force to "repel the
invasion of the British band." These volunteers, sixteen hundred strong,
coöperated with ten companies of regulars in a demonstration before
Black Hawk's village on the 25th of June. During that night the Indians,
in the face of this superior force, quietly withdrew to the west bank of
the Mississippi, whither they had previously been ordered. On the 30th
they signed a treaty of capitulation and peace, solemnly agreeing never
to return to the east side of the river without express permission of
the United States government.

The rest of the summer was spent by the evicted savages in a state of
misery. It being now too late to raise another crop of corn and beans,
they suffered for want of the actual necessaries of life. White Cloud,
the eloquent and crafty Prophet of the Winnebagoes, was Black Hawk's
evil genius. He was half Sac and half Winnebago, a hater of the whites,
an inveterate mischief maker, and, being a "medicine man," possessed
much influence over both tribes. He was at the head of a Winnebago
village some thirty-five miles above the mouth of the Rock, on the east
side of the Mississippi; and to this village he invited Black Hawk,
advising him to raise a crop of corn there, with the assurance that in
the autumn the Winnebagoes and Pottawattomies would join him in a
general movement against the whites in the valley of the Rock.

Relying on these rose-colored promises, Black Hawk spent the winter on
the west bank of the Mississippi, recruiting his band, and on the 6th of
April, 1832, crossed the great river at Yellow Banks, below the mouth of
the Rock. Thus he invaded the State of Illinois, in the face of his
solemn treaty of the year before. With him were his second in command,
Neapope, a wily scoundrel, who was White Cloud's tool, and about five
hundred Sac warriors with their women and children, and all their
belongings. Their design was to carry out the advice of the Prophet, in
regard to the corn planting, and if possible to take up the hatchet in
the autumn.

But it became evident to Black Hawk, before he reached the Prophet's
town, that the main body of the Pottawattomies, now controlled by the
peace loving Chief Shaubena, did not intend to go to war; and that the
rascally Winnebagoes, while cajoling him, were preparing as usual to
play double. He tells us in his autobiography that, crestfallen, he was
planning to return peacefully to the west side of the Mississippi, when
of a sudden he became aware that the whites had raised an army against
him, and he was confronted with a war not in the time and manner of his

The news of his second invasion had spread like wildfire throughout the
Illinois and Wisconsin settlements. The United States was appealed to
for a regiment of troops; and meanwhile, under another fiery
proclamation from the governor of Illinois, an army of eighteen hundred
militiamen was quickly mustered. Amid intense popular excitement, during
which many settlers fled from the country, and others hastily threw up
log forts, the army was mobilized by General Atkinson, who appeared at
the rendezvous with three hundred regulars. There were many notable men
upon this expedition: Abraham Lincoln, then a rawboned young fellow, was
captain of a company of Illinois rangers; Zachary Taylor, famous for his
bluff manner, was a colonel of regulars; and Jefferson Davis, who was
wooing Taylor's daughter, was one of his lieutenants; also of the
regulars, was Major William S. Harney, afterward the hero of Cerro Gordo
in the Mexican War; and the mustering-in officer was Lieutenant Robert
Anderson, who was to become famous in connection with Fort Sumter.

Black Hawk was foolish enough to send a message of defiance to General
Atkinson, and, retreating up the Rock, he came to a stand at Stillman's
Creek. Here he repented, and sent out runners with a flag of truce, to
inform the white chief that he would surrender; but the drunken pickets
of the militia advance wantonly killed these messengers of peace. This
so angered the Hawk that with a mere handful of thirty-five braves, on
foot, and hid in the hazel brush, he turned in fury upon the two hundred
seventy-five horsemen who were now rushing upon him. The cowardly
rangers, who fled at the first volley of the savages, without returning
it, were haunted by the genius of fear, and, dashing madly through
swamps and creeks, did not stop until they had reached Dixon,
twenty-five miles away. Many kept on at a keen gallop till they reached
their own firesides, fifty or more miles farther, carrying the absurd
report that Black Hawk and two thousand bloodthirsty warriors were
sweeping northern Illinois with the besom of destruction.

Rich in supplies captured in this first encounter, and naturally
encouraged at the result of his valor, the Hawk thought that so long as
the whites were determined to make him fight, he would show his claws
in earnest. Removing the women and children to far-away swamps on the
headwaters of the Rock River, in Wisconsin, he thence descended with his
braves for a general raid through northern Illinois. The borderers flew
like chickens to cover, on the warning of the Hawk's foray. There was
consternation throughout the entire West. Exaggerated reports of his
forces, and of the nature of his expedition, were spread throughout the
land. His name became coupled with fabulous tales of savage cunning and
cruelty, and served as a household bugaboo the country over. The effect
on the Illinois militia was singular enough, considering their haste in
taking the field; in a frenzy of fear, they instantly disbanded!

A fresh levy was soon raised, but in the interval there were irregular
hostilities all along the Illinois-Wisconsin border, in which Black Hawk
and a few Winnebago and Pottawattomie allies succeeded in making life
miserable enough for the frontier farmers of northern Illinois and the
lead miners of southwest Wisconsin. In these border strifes fully two
hundred whites and nearly as many Indians lost their lives; and there
were numerous instances of romantic heroism on the part of the settlers,
men and women alike.

In about three weeks after Stillman's defeat the reorganized militia
took the field, reënforced by the regulars under Atkinson. Black Hawk
was forced to fly to the swampy region of the upper Rock; but, when the
pursuit became too warm, he hastily withdrew with his entire band
westward to the Wisconsin River. Closely following upon his trail were a
brigade of Illinois troops under General James D. Henry, and a
battalion of Wisconsin lead mine rangers under Major Henry Dodge,
afterwards governor of Wisconsin Territory.

The pursuers came up with the savages at Prairie du Sac. Here the south
bank of the Wisconsin consists of steep, grassy bluffs, three hundred
feet in height; hence the encounter which ensued is known in history as
the Battle of the Wisconsin Heights. With consummate skill, Black Hawk
made a stand on the summit of the heights, and with a small party of
warriors held the whites in check until the noncombatants had crossed
the broad river bottoms below, and gained shelter upon the willow-grown
shore opposite. The loss on either side was slight, the action being
notable only for the Sac leader's superior management.

During the night, the passage of the river was accomplished by the
fugitives. A large party was sent downstream upon a raft, and in canoes
begged from the Winnebagoes; but those who took this method of escape
were brutally fired upon near the mouth of the river by a detachment
from the garrison at Prairie du Chien, and fifteen were killed in cold
blood. The rest of the pursued, headed by Black Hawk, who had again made
an attempt to surrender his forces, but had failed for lack of an
interpreter, pushed across country, guided by Winnebagoes, to the mouth
of the Bad Ax, a little stream emptying into the Mississippi about forty
miles above the mouth of the Wisconsin River. His intention was to get
his people as quickly as possible on the west bank of the Mississippi,
in the hope that they would there be allowed to remain in peace.

The Indians were followed, three days behind, by the united army of
regulars, who steadily gained on them. The country between Wisconsin
Heights and the Mississippi is rough and forbidding in character; there
are numerous swamps and rivers between the steep, thickly wooded hills.
The uneven pathway was strewn with the corpses of Sacs who had died of
wounds and starvation; and there were frequent evidences that the
fleeing wretches were sustaining life on the bark of trees and the flesh
of their fagged-out ponies.

On Wednesday, the 1st of August, Black Hawk and his now sadly depleted
and almost famished band reached the junction of the Bad Ax with the
Mississippi. There were only two or three canoes to be had, and the
crossing of the Father of Waters progressed slowly and with frequent
loss of life. That afternoon there appeared upon the scene a government
supply steamer, the _Warrior_, from Fort Crawford (Prairie du Chien), at
the mouth of the Wisconsin. The Indians a third time tried to surrender,
but their white flag was deliberately fired at, and round after round of
canister swept the camp.

The next day the pursuing troops arrived on the heights above the river
bench, the _Warrior_ again opened its attack, and thus, caught between
two galling fires, the little army of savages soon melted away. But
fifty remained alive on the spot to be taken prisoners. Some three
hundred weaklings had reached the Iowa shore through the hail of iron
and lead. Of these three hundred helpless, half-starved, unarmed
noncombatants, over a half were slaughtered by a party of Sioux, under
Wabashaw, who had been sent out by our government to waylay them. So
that out of the band of a thousand Indians who had crossed the
Mississippi over into Illinois in April, not more than a hundred and
fifty, all told, lived to tell the tragic story of the Black Hawk War, a
tale that stains the American name with dishonor.

The rest can soon be told. The Winnebago guerrillas, who had played fast
and loose during the campaign, delivered to the whites at Fort Crawford
the unfortunate Black Hawk, who had fled from the Bad Ax to the Dells of
the Wisconsin River, to seek an asylum with his false friends. The proud
old man, shorn of all his strength, was presented to the President at
Washington, imprisoned in Fortress Monroe, forced to sign articles of
perpetual peace, and then turned over for safe keeping to the Sac chief,
Keokuk, his hated rival. He died on a small reservation in Iowa, in
1838. But he was not even then at peace, for his bones were stolen by an
Illinois physician, for exhibition purposes, and finally were
accidentally consumed by fire in 1853.

Black Hawk, with all the limitations of his race, had in his character a
strength and manliness of fiber that were most remarkable, and displayed
throughout his brief campaign a positive genius for military evolutions.
He may be safely ranked as one of the most interesting specimens of the
North American savage to be met with in history. He was an indiscreet
man. His troubles were brought about by a lack of mental balance, aided
largely by unfortunate circumstances. His was a highly romantic
temperament. He was carried away by mere sentiment, and allowed himself
to be deceived by tricksters. But he was honest, and was more honorable
than many of his conquerors were. He was, above all things, a patriot.
The year before his death, in a speech to a party of whites who were
making a holiday hero of him, he thus forcibly defended his motives:
"Rock River was a beautiful country. I liked my town, my cornfields, and
the home of my people. I fought for them." No poet could have penned for
him a more touching epitaph.


Chequamegon Bay, of Lake Superior, has had a long and an interesting
history. Nearly two and a half centuries ago, in the early winter months
of 1659, two adventurous French traders, Radisson and Groseilliers,
built a little palisade here, to protect the stock of goods which they
exchanged with the Indians for furs. This was on the southwestern shore
of the bay, a few miles west of the present city of Ashland, and in the
neighborhood of Whittlesey's Creek.

These men did not tarry long at Chequamegon Bay. For the most part, they
merely kept their stock of goods hid in a _cache_ there, while for some
ten months they traveled through the woods, far and wide, in search of
trade with the dusky natives. But they made the region known to
Frenchmen in the settlements at Quebec and Montreal, as a favorite
meeting-place for many tribes of Indians who came to the bay to fish.

The first Jesuit mission on Lake Superior was conducted by Father René
Ménard, at Keweenaw Bay; but he lost his life in the forest in 1661. In
1665 the Jesuits determined to reopen their mission on the great lake,
and for that purpose sent Father Claude Allouez. Having heard of the
advantages of Chequamegon Bay, Allouez proceeded thither, and erected
his little chapel in an Indian village upon the mainland, not far from
Radisson's old palisade, and possibly at the mouth of Vanderventer's
Creek. He called his mission La Pointe.

Conversions were few at La Pointe, and Allouez soon longed for a broader
field. He was relieved in 1669 by Father Jacques Marquette, a young and
earnest priest. But it was not long before the Sioux of Minnesota
quarreled with the Indians of Chequamegon Bay; and the latter, with
Marquette, were driven eastward as far as Mackinac.

Although the missionaries had deserted La Pointe, fur traders soon came
to be numerous there. One of the most prominent of these was Daniel
Grayson Duluth, for whom the modern lake city of Minnesota was named.
For several years he had a small palisaded fort upon Chequamegon Bay,
and, with a lively crew of well-armed boatmen, roamed all over the
surrounding country, north, west, and south of Lake Superior, trading
with far-away bands of savages. He had two favorite routes between the
Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. One was by way of the narrow and
turbulent Bois Brulé, then much choked by fallen trees and beaver dams;
a portage trail of a mile and a half from its headwaters to those of the
St. Croix River; and thence, through foaming rapids, and deep, cool
lakes, down into the Father of Waters. The other, an easier, but longer
way, was up the rugged St. Louis River, which separates Wisconsin from
Minnesota on the northwest, over into the Sand Lake country, and thence,
through watery labyrinths, into feeders of the Mississippi.

Another adventurous French forest trader, who quartered on Chequamegon
Bay, was Le Sueur, who, in 1693, built a fort upon Madelaine Island.
During the old Fox War the valleys of the Fox and the Wisconsin were
closed to Frenchmen by the enraged Indians. This, the most popular route
between the Great Lakes and the great river, being now unavailable, it
became necessary to keep open Duluth's old routes from Lake Superior
over to the Upper Mississippi. This was why Le Sueur was sent to
Chequamegon Bay, to overawe the Indians of that region. He thought that
his fort would be safer from attack upon the island, than upon the
mainland. As La Pointe had now come to be the general name of this
entire neighborhood, the island fort bore the same name as the old
headquarters on land. It is well to remember that the history of
Madelaine Island, the La Pointe of to-day, dates from Le Sueur; that
the old La Pointe of Radisson, Allouez, Marquette, and probably Duluth,
was on the mainland several miles to the southwest.

In connection with the La Pointe fort protecting the northern approach
to Duluth's trading routes, Le Sueur erected another stockade to guard
the southern end, the location of this latter being on an island in the
Mississippi, near the present Red Wing, Minnesota. The fort in the
Mississippi soon became "the center of commerce for the Western parts";
and the station at La Pointe also soon rose to importance, for the
Chippewas, who had drifted far inland with the growing scarcity of game,
were led by the presence of traders to return to Chequamegon Bay, and
mass themselves in a large village on the southwest shore.

Although Le Sueur was not many years in command at the bay, we catch
frequent glimpses thereafter of fur trade stations here, French,
English, and American in turn, most of them doubtless being on Madelaine
Island. We know, for instance, that there was a French trader at La
Pointe in 1717; also, that the year following, a French officer was sent
there, with a few soldiers, to patch up and garrison the old stockade.
Whether a garrisoned fort was kept up at the bay, from that time till
the downfall of New France (1763), we cannot say; but it seems probable,
for the geographical position was one of great importance in the
development of the fur trade.

We first hear of copper in the vicinity, in 1730, when an Indian brought
a nugget to the La Pointe post; but the whereabouts of the mine was
concealed by the savages, because of their superstitions relative to
mineral deposits.

The commandant of La Pointe, at this time, was La Ronde, the chief fur
trader in the Lake Superior country. He and his son, who was his
partner, built for their trade a sailing vessel of forty tons burden,
without doubt the first one of the kind upon the great lake. We find
evidences of the La Rondes, father and son, down as late as 1744; a
curious old map of that year gives the name of "Isle de la Ronde" to
what we now know as Madelaine.

We find nothing more of importance concerning Chequamegon Bay until
about 1756, when Beaubassin was the French officer in charge of the
fort. The English colonists were harassing the French along the St.
Lawrence River; and Beaubassin, with hundreds of other officers of
wilderness forts, was ordered down with his Indian allies to the
settlements of Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec, to defend New France.
The Chippewas, with other Wisconsin tribes, actuated by extravagant
promises of presents, booty, and scalps, eagerly flocked to the banner
of France, and in painted swarms appeared in fighting array on the banks
of the St. Lawrence. But they helped the British more than the French,
for they would not fight, yet with large appetites ate up the provisions
of their allies.

The garrison being withdrawn from La Pointe, Madelaine Island became a
camping-ground for unlicensed traders, who had freedom to plunder the
country at their will, for New France, tottering to her fall, could no
longer police the upper lakes. In the autumn of 1760 one of these
parties encamped upon the island. By the time winter had set in upon
them, all had left for their wintering grounds in the forests of the far
West and Northwest, save a clerk named Joseph, who remained in charge of
the goods and what local trade there was. With him were his wife, his
small son, and a manservant. Traditions differ as to the cause of the
servant's action; some have it, a desire for plunder; others, his
detection in a series of petty thefts, which Joseph threatened to
report. However that may be, the servant murdered first the clerk, then
the wife, and in a few days, stung by the child's piteous cries, killed
him also. When the spring came, and the traders returned to Chequamegon,
they inquired for Joseph and his family. The servant's reply was at
first unsatisfactory; but when pushed for an explanation, he confessed
to his terrible deed. The story goes, that in horror the traders
dismantled the old French fort, now overgrown with underbrush, as a
thing accursed, sunk the cannon in a neighboring pool, and so destroyed
the palisade that to-day certain mysterious grassy mounds alone remain
to testify of the tragedy. They carried their prisoner with them on
their return voyage to Montreal, but he is said to have escaped to the
Huron Indians, among whom he boasted of his act, only to be killed by
them as too cruel to be a companion even for savages.

Five years later a great English trader, Alexander Henry, who had
obtained the exclusive trade on Lake Superior, wintered on the mainland
opposite Madelaine Island. His partner was Jean Baptiste Cadotte, a
thrifty Frenchman, who for many years thereafter was one of the most
prominent characters on the upper lakes. Soon after this, a Scotch
trader named John Johnston established himself on the island, and
married a comely Chippewa maiden, whose father was chief of the native
village situated four miles across the water, on the site of the
Bayfield of to-day.

About the beginning of the nineteenth century, Michel, a son of old Jean
Baptiste Cadotte, took up his abode on the island; and from that time to
the present there has been a continuous settlement there, which bears
the name La Pointe. Michel, himself the child of a Chippewa mother, but
educated at Montreal, married Equaysayway, the daughter of White Crane,
the village chief on the island, and became a person of much importance
thereabout. For over a quarter of a century this island nabob lived at
his ease; here he cultivated a little farm, commanded a variable but
far-reaching fur trade, first as agent of the Northwest Company, and,
later, of the American Fur Company, and reared a large family. His sons
were educated at Montreal, and become the heads of families of traders,
interpreters, and _voyageurs_.

To this little paradise of the Cadottes there came (in 1818) two sturdy,
fairly educated young men from Massachusetts, Lyman Marcus Warren, and
his younger brother, Truman Warren. Engaging in the fur trade, these two
brothers, of old Puritan stock, married two half-breed daughters of
Michel Cadotte. In time they bought out Michel's interests, and managed
the American Fur Company's stations at many far-distant places, such as
Lac Flambeau, Lac Court Oreilles, and the St. Croix. The Warrens were
the last of the great La Pointe fur traders, Truman dying in 1825, and
Lyman twenty-two years later.

Lyman Warren, although possessed of a Catholic wife, was a Presbyterian.
Not since the days of Marquette had there been an ordained minister at
La Pointe, and the Catholics were not just then ready to reënter the
long-neglected field. Warren was eager to have religious instruction on
the island, for both Indians and whites; and in 1831 succeeded in
inducing the American Home Missionary Society to send hither, from
Mackinac, the Rev. Sherman Hall and wife, as missionary and teacher.
These were the first Protestant missionaries upon the shores of Lake
Superior. For many years their modest little church building at La
Pointe was the center of a considerable and prosperous mission, both
island and mainland, which did much to improve the condition of the
Chippewa tribe. In later years the mission was moved to Odanah.

Four years after the coming of the Halls, there arrived at the island
village a worthy Austrian priest, Father (afterward Bishop) Baraga. In a
small log chapel by the side of the Indian graveyard, this new mission
of the older faith throve apace. Baraga visited Europe to beg money for
the cause, and in a few years constructed a new chapel; this is
sometimes shown to summer tourists as the original chapel of Marquette,
but no part of the ancient mainland chapel went into its construction.
Baraga was a man of unusual attainments, and spent his life in laboring
for the betterment of the Indians of the Lake Superior country, with a
self-sacrificing zeal which is rare in the records of any church. At
present, the Franciscan friars, with headquarters at Bayfield, on the
mainland, are in charge of the island mission.

La Pointe has lost many of its old-time characteristics. No longer is it
the refuge of squalid Indian tribes; no longer is it a center of the fur
trade, with gayly clothed _coureurs de bois_, with traders and their
dusky brides, with rollicking _voyageurs_ taking no heed of the morrow.
With the killing of the game, and the opening of the Lake Superior
country to the occupation of farmers and miners and manufacturers, its
forest trade has departed; the Protestant mission has followed the
majority of the Indian islanders to mainland reservations; and the
revived mission of the Mother Church has also been quartered upon the
bay shore.


What we now know as Wisconsin was part of the vast undefined wilderness
to which the Spaniards, early in the sixteenth century, gave the name
Florida. Spain claimed the country because of the early discoveries of
her navigators and explorers. Her claim was undisputed until there came
to North America the energetic French, who penetrated the continent by
means of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and the Great Lakes, and
gradually took possession of the inland water systems, as fast as
discovered by their fur traders and missionaries. It should be
understood, however, that there were very few, if any, Spaniards in all
this vast territory, except on or near the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1608 Quebec was founded. It is supposed that twenty-six years later
the first Frenchman reached Wisconsin, which may, from that date (1634)
till 1763, be considered as a part of French territory. When Great
Britain conquered New France, Wisconsin became her property, and so
continued till the treaty of 1783, by which our Northwest was declared
to be American soil.

Owing to the vague and undefined boundaries given by the British
government to its original colonies on the Atlantic slope, several of
the thirteen States claimed that their territory extended out into the
Northwest; but finally all these claims were surrendered to the general
government, in order that there might be formed a national domain, from
which to create new States. By the famous Ordinance of 1787, Congress
created the Northwest Territory, which embraced the wide stretch of
country lying between the Great Lakes and the Ohio and the Mississippi
rivers. The present Wisconsin was a part of this great territory.

In the year 1800 Indiana Territory was set off from the rest of the
Northwest Territory, and took Wisconsin with it. Nine years later
Illinois Territory was formed, Wisconsin being within its bounds. Nine
years after that, when Illinois became a State, all the country lying
west of Lake Michigan was given to Michigan Territory; thus was the
ownership of Wisconsin once more changed, and she became a part of

By this time settlers were coming into the region west of the lake.
There had long been several little French villages; but, in addition to
the French, numerous American farmers and professional men had lately
arrived. The great distance from Detroit, at a time when there were no
railways or telegraphs, was such as to make it almost impossible to
carry on any government here. Hence, after a good deal of complaint from
the frontiersmen living to the west of Lake Michigan, and some angry
words back and forth between these people and those residing east of the
lake, Congress was induced, in 1836, to erect Wisconsin Territory, with
its own government.

Thus far, this region beyond Lake Michigan had borne no particular name.
It was simply an outlying part of the Northwest Territory; or of the
Territories of Indiana, Illinois, or Michigan, as the case might be.
But, now that it was to be a Territory by itself, a name had to be
adopted. The one taken was that of its principal river, although
"Chippewau" was preferred by many people. Wisconsin is an Indian name,
the exact meaning of which is unknown; some writers have said that it
signifies "gathering of the waters," or "meeting of the waters," but
there is no warrant for this. The earliest known French form of the word
is "Misconsing," which gradually became crystallized into "Ouisconsin."
When the English language became dominant, it was necessary to change
the spelling in order to preserve the sound; it thus, at first, became
"Wiskonsan," or "Wiskonsin," but finally, by official action,
"Wisconsin." The "k" was, however, rather strongly insisted on by
Governor Doty and many newspaper editors, in the days of the Territory.

The first session of the legislature of the new Territory of Wisconsin
was held at the recently platted village of Belmont, in the present
county of Lafayette. The place of meeting was a little story-and-a-half
frame house. Lead miners' shafts dimpled the country round about, and
new stumps could be seen upon every hand. There were many things to be
done by the legislature, such as dividing the Territory into counties,
selecting county seats, incorporating banks, and borrowing money with
which to run the new government; but the matter which occasioned the
most excitement was the location of the capital, and the bitterness
which resulted was long felt in the political history of Wisconsin.

A month was spent in this contest. The claimants were Milwaukee, Racine,
Koshkonong, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Madison, Wisconsinapolis, Peru,
Wisconsin City, Portage, Helena, Belmont, Mineral Point, Platteville,
Cassville, Belleview, and Dubuque (now in Iowa, but then in Wisconsin).
Some of these towns existed only upon maps published by real estate

Madison was a beautiful spot, in the heart of the wild woods and lakes
of central southern Wisconsin. It was unknown save to a few trappers,
and to the speculators who had bought the land from the federal
government, and thought they saw a fortune in inducing the legislature
to adopt it as the seat of government. Madison won, upon the argument
that it was halfway between the rival settlements on Lake Michigan and
the Mississippi, and that to build a city there would assist in the
development of the interior of the Territory.

When Madison was chosen, a surveyor hurried thither, and in a blinding
snowstorm laid out the prospective city. The village grew slowly, and it
was November, 1838, before the legislature could meet in its new home.


Some of the people of Wisconsin were not long content with a Territorial
government. The Territory was only two years old when a bill was
introduced in Congress for a State government, but the attempt failed.
In 1841 Governor Doty, the leader in the movement, had the question put
to popular vote; but it was lost, as it also was in the year following.
In 1843 a third attempt was defeated in the Territorial council (or
senate); and in 1845, still another met defeat in the Territorial house
of representatives (or assembly).

But at last our Territorial representative in Congress gave notice
(January 9, 1846), "of a motion for leave to introduce a bill to enable
the people of Wisconsin to form a constitution and State government, and
for the admission of such State into the Union." He followed this, a few
days later, by the introduction of a bill to that effect; the bill
passed, and in August the measure was approved by President Polk.

Meanwhile, the council and house of Wisconsin Territory had favorably
voted on the proposition. This was in January and February, 1846. In
April the question of Statehood was passed upon by the people of the
Territory, the returns this time showing 12,334 votes for, and 2487
against. In August, Governor Dodge issued a proclamation calling a
convention for the drafting of a constitution.

The convention was in session in the Territorial capitol at Madison,
between October 5 and December 16, 1846. But the constitution which it
framed was rejected by the people. The contest over the document had
been of an exciting nature; the defeat was owing to differences of
opinion upon the articles relating to the rights of married women,
exemptions, banks, the elective judiciary, and the number of members of
the legislature.

As soon as practicable, Governor Dodge called a special session of the
Territorial legislature, which made provisions for a second
constitutional convention. Most of the members of the first convention
declined reëlection; six only were returned. The second convention was
in session at Madison from December 15, 1847, to February 1, 1848. The
members of both conventions were men of high standing in their several
communities, and later many of them held prominent positions in the
service of the State and the nation.

The constitution adopted by the second convention was so satisfactory to
most people, that the popular verdict in March (16,799 ayes and 6384
noes) surprised no one. Arrangements for a new bill in Congress,
admitting Wisconsin to the Union, were already well under way. Upon the
very day of the vote by the people, before the result was known, the
Territorial legislature held its final meeting, and left everything
ready for the new State government.

The general election for the first State officers and the members of the
first State legislature was held May 8. President Polk approved the
congressional act of admission May 29. Upon the 7th of June, Governor
Nelson Dewey and his fellow-officials were sworn into office, and the
legislature opened its first session.

In the old lead mining days of Wisconsin, miners from southern Illinois
and still farther south returned home every winter, and came back to the
"diggings" in the spring, thus imitating the migrations of the fish
popularly called the "sucker," in the south-flowing rivers of the
region. For this reason the south-winterers were humorously called
"Suckers." On the other hand, lead miners from the far-off Eastern
States were unable to return home every winter, and at first lived in
rude dugouts, burrowing into the hillsides after the fashion of the
badger. These burrowing men were the first permanent settlers in the
mines north of the Illinois line, and called themselves "Badgers." Thus
Wisconsin, in later days, when it was thought necessary to adopt a
nickname, was, by its own people, dubbed "The Badger State."


In the Ordinance of 1787, whereby Congress created the old Northwest
Territory out of the triangle of country lying between the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers and Lake of the Woods and the Great Lakes, it was
provided that this vast region should eventually be parcelled into five
States. The east-and-west dividing line was to be "drawn through the
southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan"; south of this line were to
be erected three States, and north of it two. "Whenever," the ordinance
read, "any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants
therein, such State shall be admitted" to the Union.

It should be said, in explanation of this east-and-west line, that all
the maps of Lake Michigan then extant represented the head of the lake
as being much farther north than it was proved to be by later surveys.
The line as fixed in the ordinance proved to be a bone of contention in
the subsequent carving of the Northwest Territory into States, leading
to a good deal of angry discussion before the boundaries of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the five States eventually
formed from the Territory, became established as they are to-day.

Ohio, the first State to be set off, insisted that Maumee Bay, with the
town of Toledo, should be included in her bounds, although it lay north
of the east-and-west line of the ordinance. Michigan, on the other hand,
stoutly insisted on the line as laid down in the law. In 1835 and 1836
there were some popular disturbances along the border; one of these,
though bloodless, was so violent as to receive the name of "the Toledo
war." Congress finally settled the quarrel by giving Ohio the northern
boundary which she desired, regardless of the terms of the ordinance;
Michigan was compensated by the gift of what we now call the "northern
peninsula" of that State, although it had all along been understood that
the country lying west of Lake Michigan should be the property of the
fifth State, whenever that was created. Thus, in order that Ohio might
have another lake port from Michigan, Wisconsin lost this immense tract
of mining country to the north.

When Indiana came to be erected, it was seen that to adopt the
east-and-west line, established by the ordinance, would be to deprive
her entirely of any part of the coast of Lake Michigan. In order,
therefore, to satisfy her, Congress took another strip, ten miles wide,
from the southern border of Michigan, and gave it to the new State.
Michigan made no objection to this fresh violation of the agreement of
1787, because there were no important harbors or towns involved.

Illinois next knocked at the door of the Union. The same conditions
applied to her as to Indiana; a strict construction of the ordinance
would deprive her of an opening on the lake. The Illinois delegate who
argued this matter in Congress was shrewd; he contended that his State
must become intimately connected with the growing commerce of the
northern lakes, else she would be led, from her commercial relations
upon the south-flowing Mississippi and Ohio rivers, to join a Southern
confederacy in case the Union should be broken up. This was in 1818, and
shows how early in our history there had come to be, in the minds of
some far-seeing men, a fear that the growing power of slavery might some
time lead to secession. The argument prevailed in Congress, and there
was voted to Illinois a strip of territory sixty-one miles wide, lying
north of the east-and-west line.

Thus again was the region later to be called Wisconsin deprived of a
large and valuable tract. When Wisconsin Territory was created, there
was a great deal of indignation expressed by some of her people, at
being deprived of this wide belt of country embracing 8500 square miles
of exceedingly fertile soil, numerous river and lake ports, many miles
of fine water power, and the sites of Chicago, Rockford, Freeport,
Galena, Oregon, Dixon, and numerous other prosperous cities.

An attempt was made in 1836, at the time the Territory was established,
to secure for Wisconsin's benefit the old east-and-west line, as its
rightful southern boundary. But Congress declined to grant this request.
Three years later, the Wisconsin Territorial legislature declared that
"a large and valuable tract of country is now held by the State of
Illinois, contrary to the manifest right and consent of the people of
this Territory."

The inhabitants of the district in northern Illinois which was claimed
by Wisconsin, were invited by these resolutions to express their opinion
on the matter. Public meetings were consequently held in several of the
Illinois towns interested; and resolutions were adopted, declaring in
favor of the Wisconsin claim. The movement culminated in a convention at
Rockford (July 6, 1839), attended by delegates from nine of the fourteen
Illinois counties involved. This convention recommended the counties to
elect delegates to a convention to be held in Madison, "for the purpose
of adopting such lawful and constitutional measures as may seem to be
necessary and proper for the early adjustment of the southern

Curiously enough, the weight of public sentiment in Wisconsin itself did
not favor the movement. At a large meeting held in Green Bay, the
following April, the people of that section passed resolutions "viewing
the resolutions of the legislature with concern and regret," and asking
that they be rescinded. With this, popular agitation ceased for the
time; and in the following year the legislature promptly defeated a
proposition for the renewal of the question.

Governor Doty, however, was a stanch advocate of the idea, and at the
legislative session of 1842 contrived to work up considerable enthusiasm
in its behalf. A bill was reported by the committee on Territorial
affairs, asking the people in the disputed tract to hold an election on
the question of uniting with Wisconsin. There were some rather fiery
speeches upon the subject, some of the orators going so far as to
threaten force in acquiring the wished-for strip; but the legislature
itself took no action. However, in Stephenson and Boone counties,
Illinois, elections were actually held, at which all but one or two
votes were cast in favor of the Wisconsin claim.

Governor Doty, thus encouraged, busily continued his agitation. He
issued proclamations warning Illinois that it was "exercising an
accidental and temporary jurisdiction" over the disputed strip, and
calling on the two legislatures to authorize the people to vote on the
question of restoring Wisconsin to her "ancient limits." At first,
neither the legislatures of Illinois nor Wisconsin paid much attention
to the matter. Finally, in 1843, the Wisconsin legislature sent a rather
warlike address to Congress, in which secession was clearly threatened,
unless the "birthright of Wisconsin" were restored. Congress, however,
very sensibly paid no heed to the address, and gradually the excitement
subsided, until eventually Wisconsin was made a State, with her present

We have seen that the northern peninsula was given to Michigan as a
recompense for her loss of Toledo and Maumee Bay. But when it became
necessary to determine the boundary between the peninsula and the new
Territory of Wisconsin, now set off from Michigan, some difficulty
arose, owing to the fact that the country had not been thoroughly
surveyed, and there was no good map of it extant.

There were various propositions; one of them was, to use the Chocolate
River as part of the line; had this prevailed, Wisconsin would have
gained the greater part of the peninsula. But the line of division at
last adopted was that of the Montreal and Menominee rivers, by the way
of Lake Vieux Désert. This line had been selected in 1834, because a map
published that year represented the headwaters of those rivers as
meeting in Lake Vieux Désert; hence it was supposed by the congressional
committee that this would make an excellent natural boundary. When,
however, the line came to be actually laid out by the surveyors, six
years later, for the purpose of setting boundary monuments, it was
discovered that Lake Vieux Désert had no connection with either stream,
being, in fact, the headwaters of the Wisconsin River; and that the
running of the line through the woods, between the far-distant
headwaters of the Montreal and Menominee, so as to touch the lake on the
way, involved a laborious task, and resulted in a crooked boundary. But
it was by this time too late to correct the geographical error, and the
awkward boundary thus remains.

As originally provided by the Ordinance of 1787, Wisconsin, as the fifth
State to be created out of the Northwest Territory, was, even after
being shorn upon the south and northeast, at least entitled to have as
her western boundary the Mississippi to its source, and thence a
straight line running northward to the Lake of the Woods and the
Canadian boundary. But here again she was to suffer loss of soil, this
time in favor of Minnesota.

As a Territory, Wisconsin had been given sway over all the country lying
to the west, as far as the Missouri River. In 1838, all beyond the
Mississippi was detached, and erected into the Territory of Iowa. Eight
years later, when Wisconsin first sought to be a State, the question
arose as to her western boundary. Naturally, the people of the eastern
and southern sections wished the one set forth in the ordinance. But
settlements had by this time been established along the Upper
Mississippi and in the St. Croix valley. These were far removed from the
bulk of settlement elsewhere in Wisconsin, and had neither social nor
business interests in common with them. The people of the northwest
wished to be released from Wisconsin, in order that they might either
cast their fortunes with their near neighbors in the new Territory of
Minnesota, or join a movement just then projected for the creation of
an entirely new State, to be called "Superior." This proposed state was
to embrace all the country north of Mont Trempealeau and east of the
Mississippi, including the entire northern peninsula, if the latter
could be obtained; thus commanding the southern and western shores of
Lake Superior, with the mouth of Green Bay and the foot of Lake Michigan
to the southeast.

The St. Croix representative in the legislature was especially wedded to
the Superior project. He pleaded earnestly and eloquently for his
people, whose progress, he said, would be "greatly hampered by being
connected politically with a country from which they are separated by
nature, cut off from communication by immense spaces of wilderness
between." A memorial from the settlers themselves stated the case with
even more vigor, asserting that they were "widely separated from the
settled parts of Wisconsin, not only by hundreds of miles of mostly
waste and barren lands, which must remain uncultivated for ages, but
equally so by a diversity of interests and character in the population."
All of this reads curiously enough in these days, when the intervening
wilderness resounds with the hum of industry and "blossoms as the rose."
But that was long before the days of railroads; the dense forests of
central and western Wisconsin then constituted a formidable wilderness,
peopled only by savages and wild beasts.

Unable to influence the Wisconsin legislature, which stubbornly
contended for the possession of the original tract, the St. Croix people
next urged their claims upon Congress. The proposed State of Superior
found little favor at Washington, but there was a general feeling that
Wisconsin would be much too large unless trimmed. The result was that
when she was finally admitted as a State, the St. Croix River was, in
large part, made her northwest boundary; Minnesota in this manner
acquired a vast stretch of country, including the thriving city of St.

Wisconsin was thus shorn of valuable territory on the south, to please
Illinois; on the northeast, to favor Michigan; and on the northwest,
that some of her settlers might join their fortunes with Minnesota. The
State, however, is still quite as large as most of her sisters in the
Old Northwest, and possesses an unusual variety of soils, and a great
wealth of forests, mines, and fisheries. There is a strong probability
that, had Congress, in 1848, given to Wisconsin her "ancient limits," as
defined by the Ordinance of 1787, the movement to create the proposed
state of "Superior" would have gathered strength in the passing years,
and possibly would have achieved success, thus depriving us of our great
northern forests and mines, and our outlet upon the northern lake.


So long as the fur trade remained the principal business in Wisconsin,
the French were still supreme at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien; and,
until a third of the nineteenth century had passed away, there existed
at these outposts of New France a social life which smacked of the "old
régime," bearing more traces of seventeenth-century Normandy than of
Puritan New England. With the decline of the fur trade, a new order of
things slowly grew up.

There being little legal machinery west of Lake Michigan, before
Wisconsin Territory was erected, local government was slow to establish
itself. Nothing but the good temper and stout common sense of the people
prevented anarchy, under such a condition of affairs. For many years,
the few public enterprises were undertaken at private expense. At Green
Bay, schools were thus conducted, as early as 1817. In 1821 the citizens
of that village raised a fund by popular subscription, and built a jail;
and eleven years later, they asked the legislature of Michigan Territory
to pay for it. There were some Territorial taxes levied in 1817, but the
gathering of them was not very successful. The first county to levy a
tax was Crawford, of which Prairie du Chien was the seat, but
considerable difficulty appears to have been experienced in collecting
the money.

Finally, Wisconsin Territory was organized, and the legislature
assembled (1838) in Madison, the new capital. The accommodations at that
raw little woodland village were meager, even for pioneer times. The
Territorial building of stone, and a few rude frame and log houses in
the immediate neighborhood, were all there was of the infant city. Only
fifty strangers could be decently lodged there, and a proposition to
adjourn to Milwaukee was favored. But as the lakeshore metropolis, also
a small village, could offer no better accommodations, it was decided to
stay at the capital, and brave it out on the straw and hay mattresses,
of which, however, there were not enough to supply the demand.

This was long before railroads had reached Wisconsin. Travel through the
new Territory was by boat, horseback, or a kind of snow sledge called a
"French train." There were no roads, except such as had been developed
from the old deep-worn Indian trails which interlaced the face of the
country, and traces of which can still be seen in many portions of the
State. The pioneers found that these trails, with a little
straightening, often followed the best possible routes for bridle paths
or wagon roads. It was not long before they were being used by long
lines of teams, transporting smelted lead from the mines of southwest
Wisconsin to the Milwaukee and Galena docks; on the return, they carried
supplies for the "diggings," and sawmill machinery into the interior
forests. Farmers' wagons and stagecoaches followed in due time. Bridges
were but slowly built; the unloaded wagons were ferried across rivers in
Indian "dugout" canoes, the horses swimming behind, and the freight
being brought over in relays.

In 1837 there was a financial crisis throughout the country, and this
checked Western immigration for a few years. But there was not enough
money in Wisconsin for bank failures materially to affect the people;
so, when the tide of settlement again flowed hither, the Badgers were as
strong and hopeful as ever.

People coming to Wisconsin from the East often traveled all the way in
their own wagons; or would take a lake boat at Buffalo, and then proceed
by water to Detroit, Green Bay, or Chicago, thence journeying in
caravans to the interior.

Frontier life, in those days, was of the simplest character. The
immigrants were for the most part used to hard work and plain fare.
Accordingly the privations of their new surroundings involved relatively
little hardship, although sometimes a pioneer farmer was fifty or a
hundred miles from a gristmill, a store, or a post office, and generally
his highway thither was but a blazed bridle path through the tangled

Often his only entertainments throughout the year were "bees" for
raising log houses or barns for newcomers, and on these occasions all
the settlers for scores of miles around would gather in a spirit of
helpful comradery. Occasionally the mail carrier, either afoot or on
horseback, would wish accommodation over night. Particularly fortunate
was the man who maintained a river ferry at the crossing of some
much-frequented trail; he could have frequent chats with strangers, and
collect stray shillings from mail carriers or other travelers whose
business led them through the wilderness.

Often the new settler brought considerable flour and salt pork with him,
in his journey to the West; but it was not at first easy to get a fresh
supply. Curiously enough, although in the midst of a wild abundance,
civilized man at the outset sometimes suffered for the bare necessaries
of life. As soon, however, as he could garner his first crop, and become
accustomed to the new conditions, he was usually proof against disaster
of this kind; fish and game were so abundant, in their season, that in
due time the backwoodsman was able to win a wholesome livelihood from
the storehouse of nature.

Satisfactory education for youth was a plant of comparatively small
growth. At first there was not enough money in the country to pay
competent teachers. The half-educated sons and daughters of the pioneers
taught the earliest schools, often upon a private subscription basis;
text-books were few, appliances generally wanting, and the results were,
for many years, far from satisfactory. As for spiritual instruction,
this was given by itinerant missionary preachers and priests, of various
denominations, who braved great hardships while making their rounds on
horseback or afoot, and deserve to rank among the most daring of the
pioneer class. In due time churches and schools were firmly established
throughout the Territory.

In addition to these farmer colonists, there came many young
professional and business men, chiefly from New York and New England,
seeking an opening in the new Territory for the acquisition of fame and
wealth. Many of these were men of marked ability, with high ambition and
progressive ideas, who soon took prominent part in molding public
opinion in the young Wisconsin. There are, all things considered, no
abler, more forceful men in the Wisconsin of to-day than were some of
those, now practically all passed away, who shaped her destinies in the
fourth and fifth decades of the nineteenth century.

The sessions of the legislature were the principal events of the year.
Prominent men from all over Wisconsin were each winter attracted to
Madison, as legislators, lobbyists, or visitors, crowding the primitive
little hotels and indulging in rather boisterous gayety; for humor in
those pioneer days was often uncouth. There was overmuch "horseplay,"
hard drinking, and profanity; and now and then, as the result of a warm
discussion, a tussle with fists and canes.

The newspapers were given to rude personal attacks upon their enemies;
one would suppose, to read the columns of the old journals, that editors
thought it their chief business in life to carry on a wordy, bitter
quarrel with some rival editor or politician. But this was largely on
the surface, for effect. As a matter of fact, strong attachments between
men were more frequent then than now. There was a deal of dancing and
miscellaneous merrymaking at these legislative sessions; and travelers
have left us, in their letters and journals, statements which show that
they greatly relished the experience of tarrying there on their winter
journeys across the Territory, and of being entertained by the
good-hearted villagers.

Pioneers, in their stories of those early years, are fond of calling
them the "good old times," and styling present folk and manners
degenerate. No doubt there was a certain charm in the rude simplicity of
frontier life, but there were, as well, great inconveniences and rude
discomforts, with which few pioneers of our day would wish to be
confronted, after having tasted the pleasures arising from the wealth of
conveniences of every sort which distinguishes these latter days. As far
back in time as human records go, we ever find old men bewailing
prevalent degeneracy, and sighing in vain for "the good old times" when
they were young. It is a blessing given to the old that the disagreeable
incidents of their youth should be forgotten, and only the pleasant
events remembered. As a matter of fact, we of to-day may well rejoice
that, while Wisconsin enjoyed a lusty youth, she has now, in the
fullness of time, grown into a great and ambitious commonwealth, lacking
nothing that her sisters own, in all that makes for the prosperity and
happiness of her people.


When white men first came to our land, the Indian trails formed a
network of narrow, deep-sunken paths over the face of the country, as
they connected village with village, and these with the hunting and
fishing resorts of the aborigines. Many of the most important trails
simply followed the still earlier tracks of the buffalo, which in great
herds wandered from plain to plain, in search of forage, or in hiding
from man, through the dark forest and over the hills. The buffalo
possessed an unerring instinct for selecting the best places for a road,
high ridges overlooking the lowlands, and the easy slopes of hills. In
the Far West, they first found the passes over the Rockies, just as,
still earlier, they crossed the Alleghanies by the most favorable

The Indian followed in the footsteps of the buffalo, both to pursue him
as game, and better to penetrate the wilderness. The white man followed
the well-defined Indian trail, first on foot, then on horseback; next
(after straightening and widening the curving path), by freight wagon
and by stagecoach; and then, many years later, the railway engineer
often found his best route by the side of the developed buffalo track,
especially in crossing the mountain ranges. The Union Pacific and the
Southern Pacific railways are notable examples of lines which have
simply followed well-worn overland roads, which were themselves but the
transcontinental buffalo paths of old.

An interesting story might be written concerning the development of the
principal Indian trails in Wisconsin into the wagon roads of the
pioneers, and some of these into the military roads made by the federal
government for the marching of troops between the frontier forts.
Without fairly good roads, at least during the winter and summer months,
it would have been impossible for Wisconsin to grow into a great State;
for good roads are necessary to enable settlers, tools, and supplies to
get into the country, and to afford an outlet for crops. For this
reason, in any newly settled region, one of the first duties of the
people is to make roads and bridges.

We have still much to do in Wisconsin, before we can have such highways
as they possess in the old eastern States. In many parts of our State,
the country roads in the rainy seasons are of little credit to us. But
the worst of them are much better than were some of the best in pioneer
days, and some of our principal thoroughfares between the larger cities
are fairly good.

The federal government set a good example by having its soldiers build
several military roads, especially between Forts Howard (Green Bay),
Winnebago (Portage), and Crawford (Prairie du Chien). In Territorial and
early Statehood days, charters were granted by the legislature for the
building and maintenance of certain tollroads between large towns; some
of these were paved with gravel or broken stone, others with planks.
Many of the plank roads remained in use until about 1875; but before
that date all highways became the property of the public, and tollgates
were removed. Bridges charging tolls are still in use in some parts of
the State, where the people have declined to tax themselves for a public
bridge, which therefore has been built by a private company in
consideration of the privilege of collecting tolls from travelers.

Early in the year when Wisconsin Territory was erected (1836), and while
it was still attached to Michigan Territory, there was a strong
movement, west of Lake Michigan, in favor of a railway between Milwaukee
and Prairie du Chien, connecting the lake with the Mississippi River.
Congress was petitioned by the legislative council of Michigan to make
an appropriation to survey the proposed line. There were as yet very few
agricultural settlers along the route; the chief business of the road
was to be the shipment of lead from the mines of the southwest to the
Milwaukee docks; thence it was to be carried by vessels to Buffalo, and
sent forward in boats, over the Erie Canal, to the Hudson River and New

This was in January; in the September following, after Wisconsin
Territory had been formed, a public meeting was held in Milwaukee, to
petition the Territorial legislature to pass an act incorporating a
company to construct the proposed lead-mine road, upon a survey to be
made at the expense of the United States, and there was even some talk
of another road to the far-away wilderness of Lake Superior.

But this early railway project was premature. Wisconsin had then but
twenty-two thousand inhabitants, and Milwaukee was a small frontier
village. Then again, railroading in the United States was still in its
infancy. In Pennsylvania there was a small line, hardly better than an
old-fashioned horse car track, over which a wheezy little locomotive
slowly made occasional trips, and the Baltimore and Ohio railway had not
long before experimented with sails as a motive power. It is not
surprising, therefore, that Congress acted slowly in regard to the
overambitious Wisconsin project, and that it was nearly fourteen and a
half years before a railway was actually opened in this State.

Indeed, many people thought at that time that canals, costing less in
construction and in operation, were more serviceable for Wisconsin than
railways. The people of northern Wisconsin were particularly eager for
canals; in the southern part, railways were most popular. The most
important canal project was that known as the Fox and Wisconsin rivers
improvement. From the earliest historic times, these two
opposite-flowing rivers, whose waters approach within a mile and a half
of each other at Portage, had been used as a boat route between the
Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. We have seen, in preceding
chapters, what an important part was played by this route in the early
history of Wisconsin. But when large vessels became necessary to the
trade of the region, and steam navigation was introduced, it was found
that the historic water way presented many practical difficulties: the
Fox abounds in rapids below Lake Winnebago, and in its upper waters is
very shallow; the Wisconsin is troubled with shifting sand bars. In
order to accommodate the traffic, a canal was necessary along the
portage path, and extensive improvements in both rivers were essential.

As early as 1839, Congress was asked to aid in this work, and from time
to time such aid has been given. But, although several millions of
dollars have, through all these years, been spent upon the two streams,
there has been no important modern navigation through them between the
Great Lakes and the great river. The chief result has been the admirable
system of locks between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay, making available
the splendid water power of the lower valley of the Fox.

Another water way project was that of the Milwaukee and Rock River
Canal. This was designed to connect the waters of the Milwaukee and Rock
rivers, thereby providing an additional way for vessels to pass from
Lake Michigan to the Mississippi. A company was incorporated, with a
capital of a million dollars, and Congress made a large grant of land to
Wisconsin Territory. But after some years of uncertainty and heavy
expense the project was abandoned as impracticable.

The Territorial legislature began to charter railway companies as early
as 1836, but the Milwaukee and Mississippi was the first road actually
built. The track was laid in 1851 and a train was run out to Waukesha, a
distance of twenty miles. In 1856 the line reached the Mississippi. This
was the modest beginning of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul system.

The Chicago and Northwestern Railway entered Wisconsin from Chicago
about the same time (1855). Numerous small lines were built before the
War of Secession, nearly all of them being soon swallowed up by the
larger companies. During the war, there was stagnation in railway
building, but when peace was declared there was renewed activity, and
to-day Wisconsin is as well provided with good railways as any State of
its size and population in the Union.


In the fourth decade of the nineteenth century there was much agitation,
both in France and America, over the teachings of a remarkable man named
François Marie Charles Fourier. He claimed that if people would band
themselves together in communities, in the proper spirit of mutual
forbearance and helpfulness, and upon plans laid down by him, it would
be proved that they could get along very well with no strife of any
sort, either in business, or religion, or politics. Then, if the nations
would but unite themselves in the same way, universal peace would reign.

During the stirring times of the French Revolution and of the great
Napoleon, there had been much social agitation of the violent sort. A
reaction had come. The talk about the rights of man was no longer
confined to the violent, revengeful element of the population; it was
now chiefly heard among the good and gentle folk, among men of wealth
and benevolence, as well as those of learning and poverty.

In France, Fourier was the leader among this new class of socialists. In
France, England, and Holland, colonies more or less after the Fourier
model were established; and it was not long before communities came to
be founded in the United States. The most famous of these latter was
Brook Farm, in Massachusetts, because among its members were several
well-known authors and scientists, who wrote a great deal about their
experiences there. But the only community in America conducted strictly
on Fourier's plan, flourished in Wisconsin.

The _New York Tribune_, edited by Horace Greeley, a noted reformer, was
earnest in advocating Fourierism, as it was called, doing much to
attract attention to "the principle of equitable distributions." One of
the many readers of the _Tribune_ was Warren Chase, of Kenosha, a young
New Hampshire man, thirty years of age, who became much attached to the
new idea.

This was during the winter of 1843-44. Chase gathered about him at
Kenosha a group of intelligent men and women, some of whom had property,
and they formed a stock company, incorporated under the laws of
Wisconsin Territory, but based strictly on the plans laid down by

Having purchased six hundred acres of government land, in a gentle
valley within the present Ripon township, in Fond du Lac county,
nineteen pioneers, led by Chase, made their way thither in May. There
were no railroads in those days, and the little company proceeded
overland through flower-decked prairies, and over wooded hills, in
oxcarts and horse wagons, with droves of cattle, and tools and utensils.

The reformers called their colony "Ceresco," after Ceres, the goddess of
agriculture. Plowing was commenced, buildings were erected, shops and
forges established. Very soon some two hundred men, women, and children
had arrived, and in due time many branches of industry were in full

The Ceresco community was, as suggested by Fourier, styled a "phalanx."
The members were classified, according to their capacity to labor, in
educational, mechanical, and agricultural series, each series being
divided into groups. The government was headed by a president and nine
councilors; each series had a chairman, and each group a foreman.

Labor was voluntary, the shops being owned by the community at large;
while the land was divided equally among all the members, old and young,
save that no family might possess over forty acres. As the community
grew, more land was purchased for their use. The council laid out the
work to be done, or the policy to be pursued. When there was a question
to be decided, the series interested voted upon it; but in some
important cases, the matter was referred for final action to the several
groups. Each person received pay according to his value as a worker, the
record being kept by the foreman of his group. They were not paid upon
the same scale; for instance, the members of the council and the
school-teachers received more than skilled mechanical laborers, and
these in turn more than ordinary workmen.

The phalanx at first lived in temporary quarters, and a year later
erected a large building "four hundred feet in length, consisting of two
rows of tenements, with a hall between, under one roof." Each family
lived in its own compartments, but all ate in common at a boarding
house called the "phalanstery," where a charge was made of seventy-five
cents a week for each person. The "unitary" was a large building used
for business and social meetings, these being held in the evenings; each
Tuesday evening the literary and debating club met, Wednesday evening
the singing school, and Thursday evening a dancing party.

Unlike many other communities, the Fourier colonies were not religious
in character. Each member of the phalanx at Ceresco might worship as he
pleased. At various times, for the membership fluctuated somewhat,
ministers of different denominations were members of the colony, and
frequently there were visits from wandering missionaries.

None of the colonists were allowed to use intoxicating liquors as a
beverage. There must be no vulgar language, swearing, or gambling; and
one of the by-laws commanded that "censoriousness and fault-finding,
indolence, abuse of cattle or horses, hunting or fishing on the first
day of the week, shall be deemed misdemeanors, and shall be punishable
by reprimand or expulsion." These punishments were the only ones which
the community could inflict upon its members, for it had no judicial
powers under the law.

But there was small need of punishments at Ceresco. Its members were, as
a rule, men and women of most excellent character. There was never any
dishonesty, or other serious immorality, within the phalanx; the few
neighboring settlers regarded the reformers with genuine respect. All
the proceedings of the community were open, and its carefully kept
accounts and records might be inspected by any one at any time.
Whenever charges were brought against a member, they were laid before
the full assembly at the next weekly meeting; a week elapsed before
consideration, in order to give ample opportunity for defense; then the
entire body of colonists, women as well as men, voted on the question,
acquitting the offender or reprimanding him or, by a two-thirds vote,
expelling him from the phalanx.

Wisconsin was then sparsely settled at best; the peaceful little valley
of Ceresco was equally far removed from the centers of population at
Green Bay and in the southern portion of the Territory. Yet many
pioneers came toiling over the country, to apply for admission to this
Garden of Eden. But it is recorded that not one in four was taken into
fellowship, for the phalanx desired "no lazy, shiftless, ne'er-do-well
members," and only those believed to be wise, industrious, and
benevolent were taken into the fold.

And thus the Ceresco phalanx seemed mightily to prosper. Its stock
earned good dividends, its property was in excellent condition, the
quality of its membership could not be bettered. Far and near were its
praises sung. The _New York Tribune_ gave weekly news of its doings, and
was ever pointing to it as worthy of emulation; the Brook Farm paper
hailed it as proof that socialism had at last succeeded.

Had each member been equally capable with his fellows, had the families
been of the same size, had there been no jealousies, no bickerings, had
these good folk been without ambition, had they, in short, been
contented, the phalanx might have remained a success. They were
clothed, fed, and housed at less expense than were outsiders; they had
many social enjoyments not known elsewhere in the valley; and, according
to all the philosophers, should have been a happy people.

The public table, the public amusement rooms, and all that, had at first
a spice of pleasant novelty; but soon there was a realization that this
had not the charm of home life, that one's family affairs were too much
the affairs of all. The strong and the willing saw that they were yoked
to those who were weak and slothful; there was no chance for natural
abilities to assert themselves, no reward for individual excellence.

Wisconsin became a State in 1848. Everywhere, ambitious and energetic
citizens in the rapidly growing commonwealth were making a great deal of
money through land speculations and the planting of new industries,
everywhere but in Ceresco, where the community life allowed no man to
rise above the common level. The California gold fields, opened the
following year, also sorely tempted the young men. The members of the
phalanx found themselves hampered by their bond. Caring no longer for
the reformation of society, they eagerly clamored to get back into the
whirl of that struggle for existence which, only a few years before,
they had voted so unnecessary to human welfare.

In 1850 the good folk at Ceresco voted unanimously, and in the best of
feeling toward one another, to disband their colony. They sold their
lands at a fair profit to each; and very soon, in the rush for wealth
and for a chance to exercise their individual powers, were widely
distributed over the face of the country. Some of them ultimately won
much worldly success; others fell far below the level of prosperity
maintained in the phalanx, and came to bemoan the "good old days" of the
social community, when the strong were obliged to bolster the weak.


In the year 1843 there came from New York to the village of Burlington,
Racine county, an eccentric young lawyer named James Jesse Strang.
Originally a farmer's boy, he had been a country school-teacher, a
newspaper editor, and a temperance lecturer, as well as a lawyer.
Possessed of an uneasy, ambitious spirit, he had wandered much, and
changed his occupation with apparent ease. Strang was passionately fond
of reading, was gifted with a remarkable memory, and developed a
fervent, persuasive style of oratory, which he delighted in employing.
He often astonished the courts by the shrewd eloquence with which he
supported strange, unexpected points in law. It is related of him that,
soon after he came to Wisconsin, he brought a suit to recover the value
of honey which, he claimed, had been stolen from his client's hives by
the piratical bees of a neighbor, and his arguments were so plausible
that he nearly won his case.

In less than a year after his arrival in Burlington, the village was
visited by some Mormon missionaries. They came from Nauvoo, Illinois, on
the banks of the Mississippi River, where there was a settlement of
so-called Latter-Day Saints, who lived under the sway of a designing
knave named Joseph Smith. Strang at once became a convert, and entered
into the movement with such earnestness that, with his oratory, his
ability to manage men, and his keen zest for notoriety, he became one of
the most prominent followers of the faith.

Six months after Strang's conversion, Joseph Smith, the president and
prophet of the Mormons, was killed by an Illinois mob. At once there
arose a desperate strife among the leaders, for the successorship to
Joseph. Two of the number, Brigham Young and Strang, were men of
ability, and the contest soon narrowed down to them. Young had the
powerful support of the council of the church, known as "the twelve
apostles"; but Strang produced a letter said to have been written by
Joseph just before his death, in which Strang was named as his
successor, with directions to lead the Mormons to a new "city of
promise" in Wisconsin, to be called "Voree."

The "apostles" at Nauvoo denounced Strang as an impostor, declared that
his letter was a forgery, and attacked him bitterly in their official
newspapers, published at Nauvoo and at Liverpool, England. But Strang
was not easily put down. A great many of the fanatics at Nauvoo believed
in this impetuous young leader, who defended his cause with tact and
forceful eloquence; and for a time it looked as if he might win.

However, in the end the "apostles" had their way, and the adroit Young
was elected to the headship of the church. Strang at once called forth
his followers, and in April, 1845, planted the "City of Voree" upon a
prairie by the side of White River, in Walworth county, Wisconsin. It
soon became a town of nearly two thousand inhabitants, who owned all
things in common, but were ruled over, even in the smallest affairs of
life, by the wily President Strang, who claimed to be divinely
instructed in every detail of his rigorous government.

The people dwelt "in plain houses, in board shanties, in tents, and
sometimes, many of them, in the open air." Great meetings were held at
Voree, and the surrounding settlers gathered to hear Strang and his
twelve "apostles" lay down the law, and tell of the revelations which
had been delivered to them by the Almighty. Strang, who closely imitated
the methods of Joseph, pretended to discover the word of God in
deep-hidden records. Joseph had found the Book of Mormon graven upon
plates dug out of the hill of Cumorah, in New York; so Strang discovered
buried near Voree similar brazen plates bearing revelations, written in
the rhythmic style of the Scriptures, which supplemented those in the
Book of Mormon.

President Strang was a very busy man as the head of the Voree branch of
the Mormon church. He obtained a printing outfit, and published a little
weekly paper called _Gospel Herald_, besides hundreds of pamphlets, all
written by himself, in which he assailed the "Brighamites" in the same
violent manner as they attacked him in their numerous publications. He
also, with his missionaries, conducted meetings in Ohio, New York, and
other States in the East, gathering converts for Voree, and boldly
repelling the wordy attacks of the Brighamites, whose agents were
working the same fields.

Despite some backslidings, and occasional quarrels within its ranks,
Voree grew and prospered. By 1849 there was a partially built stone
temple there, which is thus described by an imaginative letter writer of
the time: "It covers two and one-sixth acres of ground, has twelve
towers, and the great hall two hundred feet square in the center. The
entire walls are eight feet through, the floors and roofs are to be
marble, and when finished it will be the grandest building in the

Nevertheless, it was early seen by Strang that the growing opposition of
neighboring settlers would in the end cause the Mormons to leave
Wisconsin, just as the Nauvoo fanatics were compelled (in 1846) to flee
from Illinois, to plant their stake in the wilderness of the Far West.

He therefore made preparations for a place of refuge for his people,
when persecutions should become unbearable. In journeying by vessel,
upon one of his missions, he had taken note of the isolation of an
archipelago of large, beautiful, well-wooded islands near the foot of
Lake Michigan. The month of May, 1846, found him with four companions
upon Beaver Island, in this far-away group. They built a log cabin,
arranged for a boat, and returned to Voree to prepare for the migration
of the faithful.

The new colony at first grew slowly, but by the summer of 1849 the
"saints" began to arrive in goodly numbers. Strang himself now headed
the settlement; and thereafter Voree ceased to be headquarters for the
"Primitive Mormons," as they called themselves, although a few remained
in the neighborhood.

Very soon, about two thousand devotees were gathered within the "City of
St. James," on Beaver Island, with well-tilled farms, neat houses, a
sawmill, roads, docks, and a large temple. A hill near by they renamed
Mount Pisgah, and a River Jordan and a Sea of Galilee were not far away.

One beautiful day in July, 1850, Strang, arrayed in a robe of bright
red, was, with much ceremony, crowned by his "apostles" as "King of the
Kingdom of St. James." Foreign ambassadors were appointed, and a royal
press was set up, for the flaying of his enemies. Schools and debating
clubs were opened; the community system was abolished; tithes were
collected for the support of the government; tea, coffee, and tobacco
were prohibited; and even the dress of the people was regulated by law.
Never was there a king more absolute than Strang; doubtless, for a time,
he thought his dream of empire realized at last, and that here in this
unknown corner of the world the "saints" might remain forever

But the sylvan archipelago, and Beaver Island itself, had other
inhabitants; these were rude, sturdy, illiterate fishermen, who lived in
huts along the coast, and had little patience with the fantastic
performances of their neighbors, King Strang and the court of St. James.
His majesty had, also, jealous enemies among his own subjects.

Trouble soon ensued. The fishermen frequently assaulted the "saints,"
and carried on a petty warfare against the colony at large, in which the
county sheriff was soon engaged; for false charges came to be entered
against these strange but inoffensive people, and they were now and then
thrown into jail. The king, thereupon, in self-defence, "went into
politics." Having so many votes at his command, he easily secured the
election of Mormons to all the county offices, and of himself to the
legislature of Michigan.

But despite these victories over outside foes, matters at home went from
bad to worse. The enemies in his camp multiplied, for his increasingly
despotic rule gave them abundance of grievances. At last, about the
middle of June, 1856, two of the malcontents shot their monarch from
behind. He was taken by vessel to his old home in Voree, where he was
tenderly cared for until his death, a month later, by his poor,
neglected wife, who had remained behind when he went forth to the
island. His kingdom did not long survive him. The unruly fishermen came
one day with ax and torch, leveled the royal city to the ground, and
banished the frightened "saints."

To-day the White River prairie gives no evidence of having once borne
the city of Zion, and even in the Michigan archipelago there remain few
visible relics of the marvelous reign of King Strang.


Two years after Louis the XVI., Bourbon king of France, and his
beautiful queen, Marie Antoinette, were beheaded by the revolutionists
in Paris, in the closing decade of the eighteenth century, their
imbecile child of eight years, called the "dauphin," was officially
reported to have died in prison. But the story was started at the time,
and popularly believed, that the real dauphin, Louis the XVII., had been
stolen by the royalists, and another child cunningly substituted to die
there in his place. The story went that the dauphin had been sent to
America, and that all traces of him were lost; thus was given to any
adventurer of the requisite age, and sufficiently obscure birth, an
opportunity to seek such honor as might be gained in claiming identity
with the escaped prisoner.

Great was the excitement in the United States, when, in 1853, it was
confidently announced by a New York magazine writer that the long lost
prince had at last been discovered, in the person of the middle-aged
Eleazer Williams, an Episcopal missionary to the Oneida Indians at
Little Kaukauna, in the lower valley of the Fox.

The Bonaparte family, represented by Louis Napoleon, were just then in
control of France; but the Bourbon family, of which Louis the XVII.,
were he alive, would naturally be the head, considered themselves
rightful hereditary masters of that country. Of course, there was at the
time no opportunity for any Bourbon actually to occupy the French
throne; but the people of that country are highly emotional, revolutions
have been numerous among them, and displaced royalists are always hoping
for some turn in affairs which may enable them once more to gain the
government. It was this possible chance of the Bourbons getting into
power once more, that added interest to the story.

Let us see what sort of person this Eleazer Williams of Wisconsin was,
and how it came about that he made the assertion that he was the head of
the Bourbons, and an uncrowned king. It had heretofore been supposed by
every one who knew him that he was the son of Mohawk Indian parents,
both of whom had white blood in their veins, living just over the New
York border, in Canada. Certain Congregationalists had induced this
couple to allow two of their sons, Thomas and Eleazer, to be educated in
New England as missionaries to the Indians; and for several years they
attended academies there, becoming fairly proficient in English,
although their aboriginal manners were not much improved.

At last returning to his Canadian home, Eleazer neglected his
Congregational benefactors, and soon became interested in the Episcopal
Church. He would have become one of its missionaries at once, but just
at that time the War of 1812-15 broke out; and instead he became a spy
in the pay of the United States, conveying to his employers important
information concerning the movements of British troops in Canada. When
the war was over, having, as an American spy, incurred the dislike of
the Canadian Mohawks, he was sent as an Episcopal missionary to the
Oneida Indians, then living in Oneida county, New York.

Williams appears to have differed from the ordinary Indian type,
although he was thickset, dark haired, and swarthy of skin. Some took
him to be a Spaniard; others there were who thought him French; and
comments which he had heard, concerning his slight resemblance to the
pictures of the Bourbons, doubtless caused Eleazer in later years to
pretend to be the lost dauphin. He was a fair orator, and in his earlier
years succeeded well in persuading the simple red men about him. His
plausible manner, and this ease of persuasion, finally led him astray.

The Oneida Indians in New York and their neighbors (formerly from New
England), the Munsees, Stockbridges, and Brothertowns, were just then
being crowded out of that State. A great company had acquired the right
from the federal government to purchase the lands held by these Indians,
whenever they cared to dispose of them. In order to hurry matters, the
company began to sow among the poor natives the seeds of discontent.

Certain of their leaders, among them Williams, advocated emigration to
the West. It appears that Williams, who was a born intriguer, conceived
the ambitious idea of taking advantage of this movement to establish an
Indian empire in the country west of Lake Michigan, with himself as

Moved by the clamor of the red men, the federal government sent a
delegation to Wisconsin, in 1820, to see whether the tribes west of the
lake would consent to accept the New York Indians as neighbors. This
delegation was headed by Dr. Jedediah Morse, a celebrated geographer and
missionary. Morse visited Mackinac and Green Bay, and returned with the
report that the valley of the lower Fox was the most suitable place in
which to make a settlement. That very summer, Williams himself, with
several other headmen, had on their own account journeyed as far as
Detroit on a similar errand, but returned without discovering a

The owners of the land selected by Morse were the Menominees and
Winnebagoes, with whom Williams and his followers held a council at
Green Bay, the following year. A treaty was signed, by which the New
York Indians were granted a large strip of land, four miles wide, at
Little Chute.

The ensuing year (1822), at a new council held at Green Bay, the New
Yorkers asked for still more land. The Winnebagoes, much incensed,
withdrew from the treaty, but the Menominees were won over by Williams's
eloquence, and granted an extraordinary cession, making the New York
Indians joint owners with themselves of all Menominee territory, which
then embraced very nearly a half of all the present State of Wisconsin.

Ten years of quarreling followed, for there was at once a reaction from
this remarkable spirit of generosity. In 1832 there was concluded a
final treaty, apparently satisfactory to most of those concerned, and
soon thereafter a large number of New York Indians removed hither. The
Oneidas and Munsees established themselves upon Duck Creek, near the
mouth of the Fox, and the Stockbridges and Brothertowns east of Lake
Winnebago. As for Williams, the jealousies and bickerings among his
people soon caused him to lose control over them, thus giving the
deathblow to his wild dreams of empire.

During the next twenty years, in which he continued to serve as a
missionary to the Wisconsin Oneidas, Williams was a well-known and
picturesque character. His home was on the west bank of the river, about
a mile below Little Kaukauna. Although a man of much vigor and strength
of mind, he soon came to be recognized as an unscrupulous fellow by the
majority of both whites and reds in the lower Fox, and his clerical
brethren, East as well as West, appear to have regarded him with more or
less contempt.

Baffled in several fields of notoriety which he had worked, Williams
suddenly posed before the American public, in 1853, as the hereditary
sovereign of France. He was too young by eight years to be the lost
dauphin; that he was clearly of Indian origin was proved by a close
examination of his color, form, and feature; his dusky parents protested
under oath that the wayward Eleazer was their son; every allegation of
his in regard to the matter has often been exposed as false; and all
his neighbors who knew him treated his claims as fraudulent.

Nevertheless, he succeeded in deceiving a number of good people,
including several leading clergymen of his church; one of the latter
attempted in an elaborate book, "The Lost Prince," to prove conclusively
that Williams was indeed the son of the executed monarch.

The pretensions of Eleazer Williams, who dearly loved the notoriety
which this discussion awakened, extended through several years. They
even won some little attention in France, but far less than here, for
several other men had claimed to be the lost dauphin, so that the
pretension was not a new one over there. Louis Philippe, the head of the
Bourbon-Orleans family in France, sent him a present of some finely
bound books, believing him the innocent victim of a delusion; but,
further than that, and a chance meeting at Green Bay, between Eleazer
Williams and another French royalist, the Prince de Joinville, then on
his travels through America, the family in France paid no attention to
the adventurous half-breed American Indian who claimed to be one of

The reputation of Williams as a missionary had at last fallen so low,
and the neglect of his duties was so persistent, that his salary was
withdrawn by the Episcopal Church, and his closing years were spent in
poverty. He died in 1858, maintaining his absurd claims to the last.


There had been a few negro slaves in Wisconsin before the organization
of the Territory and during Territorial days. They had for the most part
been brought in by lead miners from Kentucky and Missouri. But, as the
population increased, it was seen that public opinion here, as in most
of the free States, was strongly opposed to the practice of holding
human beings as chattels. Gradually the dozen or more slaves were
returned to the South, or died in service, or were freed by their
masters; so that, at an early day, the slavery question had ceased to be
of local importance here.

As the years passed on, and the people of the North became more and more
opposed to the slave system of the South, the latter lost an increasing
number of its slaves through escape to Canada. They were assisted in
their flight by Northern sympathizers, who, secretly receiving them on
the north bank of the Ohio River, passed them on from friend to friend
until they reached the Canadian border. As this system of escape was
contrary to law, it had to be conducted, by both white rescuers and
black fugitives, with great privacy, often with much peril to life;
hence it received the significant, popular name of "The Underground
Railroad." Wisconsin had but small part in the working of the
underground railroad, because it was not upon the usual highway between
the South and Canada. But our people took a firm stand on the matter,
sympathizing with the fugitive slaves and those who aided them on their
way to freedom.

When, therefore, Congress, in 1850, at the bidding of the Southern
politicians, passed the Fugitive Slave Law, Wisconsin bitterly condemned
it. This act was designed to crush out the underground railroad. It
provided for the appointment, by federal courts, of commissioners in the
several States, whose duty it should be to assist slaveholders and their
agents in catching their runaway property. The unsupported testimony of
the owner or agent was sufficient to prove ownership, the black man
himself having no right to testify, and there being for him no trial by
jury. The United States commissioners might enforce the law by the aid
of any number of assistants, and, in the last resort, might summon the
entire population to help them. There were very heavy penalties provided
for violations of this inhuman law.

The Fugitive Slave Law was denounced by most of the political
conventions held in our State that year. In his message to the
legislature, in January, 1851, Governor Dewey expressed the general
sentiment when he said that it "contains provisions odious to our
people, contrary to our sympathies, and repugnant to our feelings." But
it was three years before occasion arose for Wisconsin to act.

In the early months of 1854, a negro named Joshua Glover appeared in
Racine, and obtained work in a sawmill four miles north of that place.
On the night of the 10th of March, he was playing cards in his little
cabin, with two other men of his race. Suddenly there appeared at the
door seven well-armed white men,--two United States deputy marshals from
Milwaukee, their four assistants from Racine, and a St. Louis man named
Garland, who claimed to be Glover's owner.

A desperate struggle followed, the result being that Glover, deserted by
his comrades and knocked senseless by a blow, was placed in chains by
his captors.

Severely bleeding from his wounds, he was thrown into an open wagon and
carted across country to the Milwaukee county jail, for the man hunters
feared to go to Racine, where the antislavery feeling was strong. It was
a bitter cold night, and Glover's miseries were added to by the brutal
Garland, who at intervals kicked and beat the prisoner, and promised
him still more serious punishment upon their return to the Missouri

The news of the capture was not long in reaching Racine. The next
morning there was held in the city square a public meeting, attended by
nearly every citizen, at which resolutions were passed denouncing the
act of the kidnapers as an outrage; demanding for Glover a trial by
jury; promising "to attend in person to aid him, by all honorable means,
to secure his unconditional release"; and, most significant of all,
resolving that the people of Racine "do hereby declare the slave
catching law of 1850 disgraceful and also repealed." There were many
such nullifying resolutions passed in those stirring days by mass
meetings throughout the country, but this was one of the earliest and
most outspoken. That afternoon, on hearing where Glover had been
imprisoned, a hundred indignant citizens of Racine, headed by the
sheriff, went by steamer to Milwaukee, arriving there at five o'clock.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee had been active. News of the capture had not been
circulated in that city until eleven o'clock in the morning. One of the
first to learn of it was Sherman M. Booth, the energetic editor of a
small antislavery paper, the _Wisconsin Free Democrat_. Riding up and
down the streets upon a horse, he scattered handbills, and, stopping at
each crossing, shouted: "Freemen, to the rescue! Slave catchers are in
our midst! Be at the courthouse at two o'clock!"

Prompt to the hour, over five thousand people assembled in the
courthouse square, where Booth and several other "liberty men" made
impassioned speeches. A vigilance committee was appointed, to see that
Glover had a fair trial, and the county judge issued in his behalf a
writ of _habeas corpus_, calling for an immediate trial, and a show of
proofs. But the federal judge, A. G. Miller, forbade the sheriff to obey
this writ, holding that Glover must remain in the hands of the United
States marshal, in whose custody he was placed by virtue of the Fugitive
Slave Law.

The local militia were called out to suppress the disorder, but they
were without power. It soon became noised about that Glover was to be
secretly removed to Missouri. This made the mob furious. Just at this
time the Racine contingent arrived, adding oil to the flames. The
reënforced crowd now marched to the jail, attacked the weak structure
with axes, beams, and crowbars, rescued the fugitive just at sunset, and
hurried him off. An underground railroad agency took the poor fellow in
charge, and soon placed him aboard a sailing vessel bound for Canada,
where he finally arrived in safety.

Throughout Wisconsin the rescue was approved by the newspapers and
public gatherings. Sympathetic meetings were also held in other States,
at which resolutions applauding the action of Booth and his friends, and
declaring the slave catching law unconstitutional, were passed with much
enthusiasm. There was also held at Milwaukee, in April, a notable State
convention, with delegates from all of the settled parts of the
commonwealth; this convention declared the law unconstitutional, and
formed a State league for furnishing aid and sympathy to the Glover

In 1857, as a result of the Glover affair, the Wisconsin legislature
passed an act making it a duty of district attorneys in each county "to
use all lawful means to protect, defend, and procure to be discharged
... every person arrested or claimed as a fugitive slave," and throwing
around the poor fellow every possible safeguard. Such was Wisconsin's
final protest against the iniquity of the Fugitive Slave Law.

Naturally, Booth had been looked upon by the United States marshal as
the chief abettor of the riot. He was promptly arrested for violating a
federal law by aiding in the escape of a slave; but the State supreme
court promptly discharged him on a writ of _habeas corpus_. Thereupon he
was brought before the federal court, but again the State court
interfered in his favor, because of a technical irregularity.

On the first of these occasions, the State court issued a very
remarkable decision upon State rights, that attracted national attention
at a time when this question was violently agitating the public mind. It
declared, after a clear, logical statement of the case, that the
Fugitive Slave Law was "unconstitutional and void" because it conferred
judicial power upon mere court commissioners, and deprived the accused
negro of the right of trial by jury. One of the justices of the court,
in an individual opinion, went still further: he held that Congress had
no power to legislate upon this subject; that "the States will never
quietly submit to be disrobed of their sovereignty" by "national
functionaries"; that the police power rested in the State itself, which
would not "succumb, paralyzed and aghast, before the process of an
officer unknown to the constitution, and irresponsible to its
sanctions"; and that so long as he remained a judge, Wisconsin would
meet such attempts with "stern remonstrance and resistance."

The federal court reversed this action, and again arrested Booth in
1860, but he was soon pardoned by the President, and met with no further
trouble on account of the Glover affair.

As for the people of Racine, they made life rather uncomfortable for the
men who had assisted the Milwaukee deputy marshals in arresting Glover.
The city became a fiercer hotbed of abolition than ever before, and
several times thereafter aided slaves to escape from bondage.
Fortunately for their own good, as well as for the cause of law and
order, they found no further occasion to take the law into their own
hands, in the defense of human liberty.


One of the best-known Indians with whom Wisconsin Territorial pioneers
were thrown into personal contact was Oshkosh, the last of the Menominee
sachems, or peace chiefs. It is worth while briefly to relate the story
of his career, because it was the life of a typical Indian leader, at
the critical time when the whites were coming into the country in such
numbers as to crowd the reds to the wall.

Oshkosh was born in 1795, at Point Bas, on the Wisconsin River.
Cha-kau-cho-ka-ma (meaning Old King), the peace chief of the Menominees
at that time, was his maternal grandfather. The war chief was Glode, the
orator of the tribe, and a mighty hunter. The Old King lived until 1826,
but Glode died in 1804, his successor being Tomah (the French
pronunciation of Thomas, his English name).

In the War of 1812-15, a large band of Wisconsin Indians joined the
ranks of Tecumseh, in raiding upon the American borderers. The principal
Menominee chiefs were Tomah, Souligny, Grizzly Bear, and Iometah, and
among the young men was Oshkosh.

Their first expedition was against Fort Mackinac, in 1812, that
stronghold being captured from the Americans without bloodshed. Among
white men, such an enterprise would not seem to offer much opportunity
for the display of personal bravery; but savage and civilized standards
of courage differ, and young Oshkosh appears to have satisfied the old
men upon this occasion, so that he then received the name by which we
know him, meaning in the Menominee tongue, "brave."

By the following May, Oshkosh, now in his nineteenth year, and prominent
among the young warriors, went out with Souligny and Tomah, and joined
Tecumseh in the siege of Fort Meigs at the rapids of the Maumee River.
Later, during the same summer, he was engaged in the memorable
British-Indian siege of Sandusky. The succeeding year he was one of a
large party of Menominees assisting the British to repel a fierce but
futile American attempt to recapture Fort Mackinac. This was his last
campaign, for peace between Great Britain and the United States soon

Oshkosh, now living upon the lands of the tribe in northeastern
Wisconsin, appears to have passed a quiet existence, after his exploits
of 1812-15. Lacking the stimulus of war, he maintained a state of
artificial excitement by the use of fire water, and soon won a bad
reputation in this regard. But he was not wholly debased. Few in council
had more power than he. Although he was slow to speak, his opinion when
given had much weight, because of a firm, resolute tone, beside which
the impassioned flights of Tomah and Souligny often failed in effect.

When the Old King died without any sons, a contest arose over the
successorship to the chieftaincy. In many tribes there would have been
no question about the election of Oshkosh, for he was the son of Old
King's daughter; but the Menominees did not recognize any heirship
except through sons. So many claimants arose, each determined to fight
for the position, that the United States government feared an outbreak
of civil war within the tribe, with possible injuries to the neighboring
white settlers.

Hence a court of claims was organized, to choose a chief among the
contestants. This court, headed by Governor Lewis Cass, of Michigan
Territory, met at Little Butte des Morts (near Neenah) in August, 1827,
and selected Oshkosh. Cass, in the presence of the tribesmen, hung a
medal about the neck of the victor, shook hands with him, and ordered a
feast in honor of the event.

The first five years of the reign of this dusky chieftain were peaceful
enough, so far as relations with other tribes were concerned. But within
the Menominee villages there were frequent drunken frolics, which
sometimes ended in bloodshed or in endless disputes between families;
and in these disturbances, which often greatly alarmed the white
settlers, Oshkosh had his full share.

When in June, 1832, the great Sac leader, Black Hawk, was harassing the
settlements in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, while being
slowly driven northward by the white troops, fears were entertained in
the valley of the lower Fox that he would turn toward Green Bay. With
the hope of preventing this, a force of three hundred Menominee Indians
was recruited there, and sent to the seat of war, officered by American
and French residents. Oshkosh headed his people, but arrived too late to
do any fighting; Black Hawk had already been vanquished by white
soldiers, at the battle of the Bad Ax. Oshkosh and his braves found no
more savage foe than a small party of Sacs, old men and women and
children, flying from the battlefield, and these they promptly
massacred, proudly carrying the scalps back with them to Green Bay.

Four years later, the Menominees sold all of their lands in Wisconsin to
the federal government, and were placed upon the reservation at Keshena,
where they still live.

In 1840, the little four-year-old white settlement at the junction of
the upper Fox with Lake Winnebago thought itself large enough to have a
post office, hence the necessity for adopting a permanent name. The
place had at first been known to travelers as Stanley's Tavern, because
here a man named Stanley ran a ferry across Fox River, and kept a log
hotel. Then the Green Bay merchants fell into the habit of marking
"Athens" on boxes and bales which the boatmen carried up to Stanley's.

When the question arose over the name for the post office, there were
several candidates, "Osceola," "Galeopolis," and "Athens" being
prominent. Robert Grignon, a French fur trader at Grand Butte des Morts,
desiring to be on good terms with his Menominee neighbors, proposed
"Oshkosh." Thereupon party spirit ran high. Upon a day named, a popular
election without distinction of race was held at the office of the
justice of the peace, who provided a free dinner to the voters; among
them were a score of Indians, brought in by Grignon. Several ballots
were taken, between which speeches were made in behalf of the rivals.
"Oshkosh" finally won, chiefly by the votes of Grignon's Indians.
Harmony was soon restored, and the election ended in drink and smoke,
after the fashion of border gatherings in those days.

We hear little more of old chief Oshkosh, until fifteen years later. In
the year 1852 occurred a kidnaping case, which became famous in the
frontier annals of Wisconsin. Nahkom, a Menominee squaw, was accused of
having stolen a little white boy, the son of Alvin Partridge, of the
town of Neenah, in Winnebago county. The Indians stoutly denied the
truth of this accusation; indeed, Partridge himself failed to recognize
his lost son in the person of Nahkom's boy. But the relatives and
neighbors of Partridge were confident as to the identity, and the
bereaved father was induced to ask aid of the courts in obtaining the

The case hung fire for three years, the courts always deciding in favor
of Nahkom, although Partridge regained temporary possession of the boy
under writs of _habeas corpus_. Finally, pending the decision of a
Milwaukee judge upon the application for a writ, the little fellow was
placed in the jail of that city. From there the Partridges kidnaped him
and fled to Kansas, leaving poor Nahkom childless, for undoubtedly it
was a case of mistaken identity, and the child was really hers.
Ultimately the boy was found and restored to her.

This was in 1855. Oshkosh and a number of Menominee headmen went at once
to Milwaukee, upon learning of the jail delivery, and laid their
complaints before the judge. Recognizing the press as a medium of
communication with the public, Oshkosh and Souligny also visited the
editor of the _Sentinel_, asking him to state their grievance and plead
their cause. The speech which Oshkosh made to the editor was given in
full in that paper, and is a good specimen of the direct, earnest method
in Indian oratory.

He said, among other things: "Governor Dodge told us that our great
father [the President] was very strong, and owned all the country; and
that no one would dare to trouble us, or do us wrong, as he would
protect us. He told us, too, that whenever we got into difficulty or
anything happened we did not like, to call on our great father and he
would see justice done. And now we come to you to remind our great
father, through your paper, of his promise, and to ask him to fulfil
it.... We thought our child safe in the jail in the care of the
officers; that none could get the child away from them unless the law
gave them the right. We cannot but think it must have been an evil
spirit that got into the jail and took away our child. We thought the
white man's law strong, and are sorry to find it so weak." Upon the
conclusion of his visit, Oshkosh and his friends returned to their
reservation, determined never again to mingle with the deceitful and
grasping whites.

Upon their way home to Keshena, Oshkosh stopped at the thriving little
city which had been christened for him, and expressed pride at having so
large a namesake. It was his first and only visit. Three years later he
died in a drunken brawl, aged sixty-three years. He was a good Indian,
as savages go, his chief vice being one borrowed from the whites, who
forced themselves upon his lands and contaminated him and his people.


Between the time when Wisconsin became a state (1848), and the opening
of the War of Secession (1861), party feeling ran high within the new
commonwealth. Charges of corruption against public officials were freely
made; many men sought office for the plunder supposed to be obtained by
those "inside the ring"; newspaper editors appeared to be chiefly
engaged in savage attacks on the reputations of those who differed from
them, and general political demoralization was prevalent. When, however,
important issues arose out of the discussions of the strained relations
between North and South, a higher and more patriotic tone was at once
evident, and this has ever since been maintained in Wisconsin politics.

The most striking event of the years of petty partisan strife which
preceded the war, was the fight for the governorship of the State,
between William A. Barstow and Coles Bashford.

Barstow, a Democrat from Waukesha county, had been secretary of state
during Governor Dewey's second term (1850-51). Owing to bitterness
occasioned by the rejection of the first State constitution, the
Democratic party in Wisconsin was torn into factions, at the head of one
of which was Barstow. While serving as secretary of state, he made many
enemies, who freely accused him of rank official dishonesty, and
associated him with the corrupt methods of the early railway companies
which were just then seeking charters from the legislature.
Nevertheless, like all strong, positive men, he had won for himself warm
friends, who secured his election as governor for the year 1854-55.

[Illustration: COLES BASHFORD]

His enemies, however, grew in number, and their accusations increased in
bitterness. His party renominated him for governor; but he had lost
ground during the term, and could not draw out his full party strength
in the November election of 1855. Besides, the new Republican party,
although as yet in the minority, was making rapid strides, and voted
solidly for its nominee, Bashford, a Winnebago county lawyer. As a
result, the voting for governor proved so close that for a full month no
one knew the outcome. Meanwhile there was, of course, much popular
excitement, with charges of fraud on both sides.

[Illustration: WILLIAM A. BARSTOW]

Finally, in December, the State board of canvassers met at Madison. It
consisted of the secretary of state, the State treasurer, and the
attorney-general, all of them Barstow men. Their report was that he had
received one hundred fifty-seven more votes than his opponent. The
Republicans at once advanced the serious charge that the canvassers had
deliberately forged supplemental returns from several counties,
pretending to receive them upon the day before the count. Large numbers
of people soon came to believe that fraud had been committed, and
Bashford prepared for a contest.

Upon the day in early January when Barstow was inaugurated at the
capitol, with the usual military display, Bashford stepped into the
supreme court room and was quietly sworn in by the chief justice.
Thereupon Bashford appealed to the court to turn Barstow out, and
declare him the rightful governor.

There followed a most remarkable lawsuit. The constitution provides that
the State government shall consist of three branches, legislative,
judicial, and executive. It was claimed that never before in the history
of any of the States in the Union had one branch of the government been
called upon to decide between rival claimants to a position in another
branch. Barstow's lawyers, of course, denied the jurisdiction of the
court to pass upon the right of the governor to hold his seat; for, they
argued, if this were possible, then the judiciary would be superior to
the people, and no one could hold office to whom the judges were not
friendly. There was a fierce struggle, for several weeks, between the
opposing lawyers, who were among the most learned men of the State, with
the result that the court decided that it had jurisdiction; and, on
nearly every point raised, ruled in favor of the Bashford men.

Before the decision of the case, Barstow and his lawyers withdrew,
declaring that the judges were influenced against them by political
prejudices. However, the court proceeded without them, and declared that
the election returns had been tampered with, and that Bashford really
had one thousand nine majority. He was accordingly declared to have been
elected governor.

This conclusion had been expected by Barstow, who, determined not to be
put out of office, resigned his position three days before the court
rendered its decision. Immediately upon Barstow's resignation, his
friend, the lieutenant governor, Arthur McArthur, took possession of the
office. He claimed that he was now the rightful governor, for the
constitution provides that in the event of the resignation, death, or
inability of the governor, the lieutenant governor shall succeed him.
But the supreme court at once ruled that, as Barstow's title was
worthless, McArthur could not succeed to it, a logical view of the case
which the Barstow sympathizers had not foreseen.

It was upon Monday, March the 24th, that the court rendered its
decision. Bashford announced that he would take possession of the office
upon Tuesday. There had been great popular uneasiness in Madison and the
neighboring country, throughout the long struggle, and the decision
brought this excitement to a crisis. Many of the adherents of both
contestants armed themselves and drilled, in anticipation of an
encounter which might lead to civil war within the State. There were
frequent wordy quarrels upon the streets, and threats of violence; and
many supposed that it would be impossible to prevent the opposing
factions from fighting in good earnest.

Affairs were in this critical condition upon the fateful Tuesday. Early
in the day people began to arrive in Madison from the surrounding
country, as if for a popular fête. The streets and the capitol grounds
were filled with excited men, chiefly adherents of Bashford; they
cheered him loudly as he emerged from the supreme court room, at eleven
o'clock, accompanied by the sheriff of the county, who held in his hand
the order which awarded the office to Bashford.

Passing through the corridors of the capitol, now crowded with his
friends, Bashford and the sheriff rapped upon the door of the governor's
office. McArthur and several of his friends were inside; a voice bade
the callers enter. The new governor was a large, pleasant-looking man.
Leisurely taking off his coat and hat, he hung them in the wardrobe, and
calmly informed McArthur that he had come to occupy the governor's

"Is force to be used in supporting the order of the court?" indignantly
asked the incumbent, as, glancing through the open door, he caught sight
of the eager, excited crowd of Bashford's friends, whose leaders with
difficulty restrained them from at once crowding into the room.

"I presume," blandly replied Bashford, "that no force will be
essential; but in case any is needed, there will be no hesitation
whatever in applying it, with the sheriff's help."

McArthur at once calmed down, said that he "considered this threat as
constructive force," and promptly left his rival in possession. As he
hurried out, through rows of his political enemies, the corridors were
ringing with shouts of triumph; and in a few moments Bashford was
shaking hands with the crowd, who, in the highest glee, swarmed through
his office.

The legislature was divided in political sentiment. The senate received
the new governor's message with enthusiasm, and by formal resolution
congratulated him upon his success. The assembly at first refused,
thirty-eight to thirty-four, to have anything to do with him; but upon
thirty of the Democrats withdrawing, after filing a protest against the
action of the court, the house agreed, thirty-seven to nine, to
recognize Governor Bashford. Thereafter he had no trouble at the helm of


It is probable that no other State in the Union contains so many
varieties of Europeans as does Wisconsin. About seventeen per cent of
our entire population were born in Germany; next in numbers come the
Scandinavians, natives of Great Britain, Irish, Canadians, Poles,
Bohemians, Hollanders, Russians, and French.

These different nationalities are scattered all over the State; often
they are found grouped in very large neighborhoods. Sometimes one of
these groups is so large that, with the American-born children, it
occupies entire townships, and practically controls the local churches
and schools, which are generally conducted in the foreign tongue. There
are extensive German, Scandinavian, and Welsh farming districts in our
State where one may travel far without hearing English spoken by any
one. Some crowded quarters of Milwaukee are wholly German in custom and
language; and there are other streets in that city where few but Poles,
Bohemians, or Russians can be found.

Although these foreign-born people, as is quite natural, generally cling
with tenacity to the language, the religion, and many of the customs in
which they were reared, it is noticeable that all of them are eager to
learn our methods of government, and to become good citizens; and their
children, when allowed to mingle freely with the youth of this country,
become so thoroughly Americanized that little if any difference can be
distinguished between them and those whose forefathers have lived here
for several generations past.

There is, however, hardly a family in Wisconsin which is not of European
origin. Some of us are descended from ancestors who chanced to come to
the New World at an earlier period than did the ancestors of others of
our fellow-citizens; that is all that distinguishes these "old American
families" from those more recently transplanted.

It is a very interesting study to watch the gradual evolution of a new
American race from the mingling on our soil of so many different
nationalities, just as the English race itself was slowly built up from
the old Britons, Saxons, Norsemen, and Norman French. But we must
remember that this "race amalgamation," although now proceeding upon a
larger scale than was probably ever witnessed before, has always been
going on in America since the earliest colonial days, when English,
French, Hollanders, Swedes, Scotch, and Irish were fused as in a melting
pot, for the production of the American types that we meet to-day.

A variety of reasons induced foreigners to come to Wisconsin in such
large numbers; they may, however, be classified under three heads,
political, economic, and religious. The political reason was
dissatisfaction with the government at home, chiefly because it
repressed all aspiration for liberty and forced young men to sacrifice
several of the best years of their lives by spending them in the army.
The most powerful economic reason was inability to earn a satisfactory
living in the fatherland, because worn-out soils, low prices for
produce, overcrowding of population, and excessive competition among
workmen resulted in starvation wages. The religious reason was the
disposition of European monarchs to interfere with men's right to
worship God as they pleased.

In 1830 there were serious political troubles in Germany, and thousands
of dissatisfied people emigrated from that country to America. Many of
the newcomers were young professional men of fine education and lofty
ideals. In those early days American society was somewhat crude,
especially upon the frontier. These spirited young Germans complained
that, both in religion and politics, the life of our people was sordid
and low, with little appreciation for the higher things of life; and
especially did they resent our popular lack of appreciation of their

Therefore, in 1835, there was formed in New York a society called
"Germania," which was to induce enough Germans to settle in some one of
the American States to be able to gain control of it and make it a
German State, with German life and manners, with German schools,
literature, and art, with German courts and assemblies, and with German
as the official language. A great deal of discussion followed, as to
which State should be chosen; some preferred Texas, others Oregon, but
most of the members wished some State in what was then called the
Northwest, between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The
society disbanded without result; but the agitation to which it gave
rise was continued throughout many years on both sides of the ocean.

Wisconsin was strongly favored by most of the German writers on
immigration, especially about the time that it became prominent through
being admitted to the Union (1848). Nothing came of all this agitation
for a German State, except the very wide advertising which Wisconsin
obtained in Germany, as a State admirably suited for Germans, in soil,
climate, liberal constitution, and low prices for lands, and as
possessing social attractions for them, because it had early obtained an
unusually large German population.

The counties near Milwaukee were the first to receive German settlers.
This movement began about 1839, and was very rapid. Soon after that,
Sauk and Dane counties became the favorites for new arrivals. Next,
immigrants from Germany went to the southwestern counties, about Mineral
Point, and northward into the region about Lake Winnebago and the Fox
River. By 1841 they had spread into Buffalo county, and along the
Mississippi River; but since 1860 they have chiefly gone into the north
central regions of the State, generally preferring forest lands to
prairies. The first arrivals were mainly from the valley of the Rhine;
next in order, came people from southern Germany; but the bulk of the
settlers are from the northern and middle provinces of their native

The principal Swiss groups in Wisconsin are in Green, Buffalo, Sauk,
Fond du Lac, and Taylor counties. That at New Glarus, in Green county,
is one of the most interesting. In the sterile little mountainous
canton of Glarus, in Switzerland, there was, about 1844, much distress
because of over population; the tillable land was insufficient to raise
food for all the people. It was, therefore, resolved by them to send
some of their number to America, as a colony.

Two scouts were first dispatched, in the spring of 1845, with
instructions to find a climate, a soil, and general characteristics as
nearly like Switzerland as possible. These agents had many adventures as
they wandered through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, before finally
selecting Green county, Wisconsin, as the place best suited for their

It was supposed that those left behind would wait until a report could
be sent back to them. But one hundred ninety-three of the intending
emigrants soon became restless, and started for America only a month
later than the advance guard. The party had a long and very disagreeable
journey, down the Rhine River to the seaport, where after many sore
trials they obtained a vessel to take them across the Atlantic. This
ship was intended for the accommodation of only one hundred forty
passengers; but nearly two hundred crowded into it, and had a
tempestuous and generally disheartening passage of forty-nine days, with
insufficient food.

At last, reaching Baltimore, they proceeded by canal boat to the foot of
the Alleghanies, crossed the mountains by a crude railway, and then
embarked in a steamer down the Ohio River, bound for St. Louis. After
their arrival at that city, there ensued a long and vexatious search
for the scouts, who, not expecting them, had left few traces behind. But
perseverance finally won, and by the middle of August all of these weary
colonists were reunited in the promised land of New Glarus, five
thousand miles away from their native valleys.

The experience of the first few years was filled with privations,
because these poor Swiss, fresh from narrow fields and small shops at
home, did not comprehend the larger American methods of farming, with
horse and plow. But, by the kindness of their American neighbors, they
finally learned their rude lessons; and, soon adopting the profitable
business of manufacturing Swiss cheese, by thrift and industry they in
time succeeded in making of New Glarus one of the most prosperous
agricultural regions in Wisconsin.

It is estimated that in Green county there are now eight thousand
persons of Swiss birth, or the descendants of Swiss, about one-third of
the entire population. The language which they still use in business
affairs is the German-Swiss dialect.


The first Norwegian immigrants to America arrived in 1825, after some
strange adventures on the ocean, and settled in the State of New York;
this was before Wisconsin was ready for settlers. From 1836 to 1845,
thousands of Norwegians came to Illinois and Wisconsin, their first
settlement in Wisconsin being made in 1844, in the town of Albion, Dane
county. They are now scattered quite generally over the State, in large
groups, with hundreds of ministers and churches, and many newspapers;
but they are still strongest in Dane county, where, probably, there are
not less than fourteen thousand who were either born in Norway or are
the children of Norwegian-born parents.

The Belgians are closely massed in certain towns of Door, Kewaunee, and
Brown counties, in the northeastern portion of the State. The beginning
of their immigration was in 1853, when ten families of the province of
Brabant, in Belgium, determined to move to America, where they could win
a better support for themselves, and suitably educate their children.
The vessel in which they crossed the Atlantic was forty-eight days in
sailing from Antwerp to New York, the passage being tedious and rough,
accompanied by several terrific hurricanes. The poor pilgrims suffered
from hunger and thirst, as well as sickness, and lost one of their
number by death.

It was while on board ship that the majority decided to settle in
Wisconsin, and upon landing, hither they promptly came. Arriving in
Milwaukee, they knew not what part of the State was best suited for
them; but began to prospect for land, and finally settled near Green
Bay, simply because a large portion of the population of that village
could speak French, which was their own language. At first they had
determined to locate near Sheboygan, but were annoyed at not being able
to make themselves understood by the inhabitants of that place. The
little band of Belgians was at last established within rude log huts, in
the heart of a dense forest, ten miles from any other human habitation,
without roads or bridges, or even horses or cattle. They experienced the
worst possible inconveniences and hardships naturally appertaining to
life in the frontier woods, and for the first year or two the colony
seemed in a desperate condition. Its hopeful members, however, hiding
their present misery, sent cheerful letters home, and enticed their old
neighbors either to join them, or to form new settlements in the
neighborhood. In due time, the Belgians of northeastern Wisconsin became
prosperous farmers and merchants.

Similar tales might be related, of the great difficulties and hardships
bravely overcome by several other foreign groups in Wisconsin: for
instance, the Poles, the Dutch, the Welsh, the Bohemians, the Cornishmen
of the lead-mine region, and the Icelandic fishermen of lonely
Washington Island. But the foregoing will suffice to show of what sturdy
stuff our foreign-born peoples are made, and cause us to rejoice that
such material has gone into the upbuilding of our commonwealth.


Before the great inrush of agricultural settlers, in 1836, most of the
surface of Wisconsin was covered with dense forests. In the northern
portion of the State, pines, hemlocks, and spruce predominated, mingled
with large areas of hard wood; elsewhere, hard wood chiefly prevailed,
the forests in the southern and eastern portions being frequently broken
by large prairies and by small treeless "openings."

In the great northern pine woods, lumbermen have been busy for many
years. They leave in their wake great wastes of land, some of it covered
with dead branches from the trees that have been felled and trimmed;
some so sterile that the sun, now allowed to enter, in a rainless summer
bakes the earth and dries the spongy swamps; while all about are great
masses of dead stumps, blasted trunks, and other forest débris. Settlers
soon pour in, purchase the best of this cut-over land, and clear the
ground for farms. But there are still left in Wisconsin great stretches
of deforested country, as yet unsettled; some of these areas are
worthless except for growing new forests, an enterprise which, some day,
the State government will undertake for the benefit of the

Now and then, in dry seasons, great fires start upon these "pine
barrens," or "slashings," as they are called, and spread until often
they cause great loss to life and property. These conflagrations
originate in many ways, chiefly from the carelessness of hunters or
Indians, in their camps, or from sparks from locomotives, or bonfires
built by farmers for the destruction of rubbish.

Nearly every summer and autumn these forest fires occur more or less
frequently in northern Wisconsin, working much damage in their
neighborhoods; but usually they exhaust themselves when they reach a
swamp, a river, or cleared fields. When, however, there has been an
exceptionally long period of drought, everything in the cut-over lands
becomes excessively dry; the light, thin soil, filled with dead roots
and encumbered by branches and stumps, becomes as inflammable as tinder;
the dried-up marshes generate explosive gases.

The roaring flames, once started in such a season, are fanned by the
winds which the heat generates, and, gathering strength, roll forward
with resistless impetus; dense, resinous forest growths succumb before
their assault, rivers are leaped by columns of fire, and everything goes
down before the destroyer. In a holocaust of this character, all
ordinary means of fire fighting are in vain; the houses and barns of
settlers feed the devouring giant, whole towns are swept away, until at
last the flames either find nothing further upon which to feed, or are
quenched by a storm of rain.

The most disastrous forest conflagration which Wisconsin has known,
occurred during the 8th and 9th of October, 1871. There had been a
winter with little snow, and a long, dry summer. Fires had been noticed
in the pine forests which line the shores of Green Bay, as early as the
first week in September. At first they did not create much alarm; they
smouldered along the ground through the vegetable mold, underbrush, and
"slashings," occasionally eating out the roots of a great tree, which,
swayed by the wind, would topple over with a roar, and send skyward a
shower of sparks.

Gradually the "fire belt" broadened, and, finding better fuel, the
flames strengthened; the swamps began to burn, to a depth of several
feet; over hundreds of square miles the air was thick and stifling with
smoke, so that the sun at noonday appeared like a great copper ball set
on high; at night the heavens were lurid. Miles of burning woods were
everywhere to be seen; hundreds of haystacks in the meadows, and great
piles of logs and railroad ties and telegraph poles were destroyed.

For many weeks the towns along the bay shore were surrounded by cordons
of threatening flame. The people of Pensaukee, Oconto, Little Suamico,
Sturgeon Bay, Peshtigo, and scores of other settlements, were frequently
called out by the fire bells to fight the insidious enemy; many a time
were they apparently doomed to destruction, but constant vigilance and
these occasional skirmishes for a time saved them.

Reports now began to come in, thick and fast, of settlers driven from
blazing homes, of isolated sawmills and lumber camps destroyed, of
bridges consumed, of thrilling escapes by lumbermen and farmers. On
Sunday, the 8th of October, a two days' carnival of death began. In
Brown, Kewaunee, Oconto, Door, Manitowoc, and Shawano counties the
flames, suddenly rising, swept everything within their path. Where
thriving, prosperous villages once had stood, blackened wastes appeared.
Over a thousand lives were lost, nearly as many persons were crippled,
and three thousand were in a few hours reduced to beggary. The horrors
of the scenes at New Franken, Peshtigo, and the Sugar Bush, in
particular, were such as cannot be described.

This appalling tragedy chanced to occur at the same time as vast prairie
fires in Minnesota, and the terrible conflagration which destroyed
Chicago. The civilized world stood aghast at the broad extent of the
field of needed relief; nevertheless, the frenzied appeals for aid,
issued in behalf of the Wisconsin fire sufferers, met with as generous a
response as if they alone, in that fateful month of October, were the
recipients of the nation's bounty. Train loads of clothing and
provisions, from nearly every State in the Union, soon poured into Green
Bay, which was the center of distribution; the United States government
made large gifts of clothing and rations; nearly two hundred thousand
dollars were raised, and expended under official control; and great
emergency hospitals were opened at various points, for the treatment of
sick and wounded.

As for the actual financial loss to the people of the burned district,
that could never be estimated. The soil was, in many places, burned to
the depth of several feet, nothing being left but sand and ashes; grass
roots were destroyed; bridges and culverts were gone; houses, barns,
cattle, tools, seed, and crops were no more. It was several years before
the region began again to exhibit signs of prosperity.

In the year 1894, forest fires of an appalling magnitude once more
visited Wisconsin, this time in the northwestern corner of the State.
Again had there been an exceptionally dry winter, spring, and summer.
The experience gained by lumbermen and forest settlers had made them
more cautious than before, and more expert in the fighting of fires; but
that year was one in which no human knowledge seemed to avail against
the progress of flames once started on their career of devastation.

During the summer, several fires had burned over large areas. By the
last week of July, it was estimated that five million dollars' worth of
standing pine had been destroyed. The burned and burning area was now
over fifty miles in width, the northern limit being some forty miles
south of Superior. Upon the 27th of the month, the prosperous town of
Phillips, wholly surrounded by deforested lands, was suddenly licked up
by the creeping flames, the terrified inhabitants escaping by the aid of
a railway train. Neighboring towns, which suffered to a somewhat less
degree, were Mason, Barronett, and Shell Lake.

In 1898 Wisconsin was again a heavy sufferer from the same cause. The
fires were chiefly in Barron county, upon the 29th and 30th of
September. Two hundred fifty-eight families were left destitute, and the
loss to land and property was estimated at $400,000. Relief agencies
were established in various cities of the state, and our people
responded as liberally to the urgent call for help as they had in 1871
and 1894.

A more competent official system of scientifically caring for our
forests, restricting the present wasteful cutting of timber, and
preventing and fighting forest fires, would be of incalculable benefit
to the State of Wisconsin. The annual loss by burning is alone a
terrible drain upon the resources of the people, to say nothing of the
death and untold misery which stalk in the wake of a forest fire.


The men of Wisconsin who had fought and conquered the hard conditions of
frontier life, developing a raw wilderness into a wealthy and
progressive commonwealth, were of the sort to make the best of soldiers
when called upon to take up arms in behalf of the nation.

From the earliest days of the War of Secession until its close,
Wisconsin troops were ever upon the firing line, and participated in
some of the noblest victories of the long and painful struggle. General
Sherman, in his "Memoirs," paid them this rare tribute: "We estimated a
Wisconsin regiment equal to an ordinary brigade." It is impracticable in
one brief chapter to do more than mention a few of the most brilliant
achievements of the Badger troops.

In April, 1862, the Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Eighteenth Wisconsin
infantry regiments, although new in the service, won imperishable
laurels upon the bloody field of Shiloh. The men of the Fourteenth were
especially prominent in the fray. Arriving on the ground at midnight of
the first day, they passed the rest of the night in a pelting rain,
standing ankle-deep in mud; and throughout all the next day fought as
though they were hardened veterans.

A Kentucky regiment was ordered to charge a Confederate battery, but
fell back in confusion; whereupon General Grant asked if the Fourteenth
Wisconsin could do the work. Its colonel cried, "We will try!" and then
followed one of the most gallant charges of the entire war. Thrice
driven back, the Wisconsin men finally captured the battery; confusion
ensued in the Confederate ranks, and very soon the battle of Shiloh was
a Union victory.

In the Peninsular campaign of the same year, the Fifth Regiment made a
bayonet charge which routed and scattered the Confederates, and turned
the scales in favor of the North. In an address to the regiment two days
later, General McClellan declared: "Through you we won the day, and
Williamsburg shall be inscribed on your banner. Your country owes you
its grateful thanks." His report to the War Department describes this
charge as "brilliant in the extreme."

Some of the highest honors of the war were awarded to the gallant Iron
Brigade, composed of the Second, Sixth, and Seventh Wisconsin, the
Nineteenth Indiana, and the Twenty-fourth Michigan. At Gainesville, in
the Shenandoah Valley campaign, also in 1862, this brigade practically
won the fight, the brunt of the Confederate assault being met by the
Second Wisconsin, which that day lost sixty per cent of its rank and
file; the brigade itself suffered a loss of nine hundred men.

The Third opened the battle at Cedar Mountain, and very soon after that
was at Antietam, where it lost two-thirds of the men it took into
action. The Fifth also was prominent near by, and the Iron Brigade,
behind a rail fence, conducted a fight which was one of the chief events
of the engagement.

At the battle of Corinth, several Wisconsin regiments and four of her
batteries won some of the brightest honors. In the various official
reports of the action, such comments as the following are frequent:
"This regiment (the Fourteenth) was the one to rely upon in every
emergency;" a fearless dash by the Seventeenth regiment, one general
described as "the most glorious charge of the campaign"; there was an
allusion to the Eighteenth's "most effectual service"; in referring to
the Sixth battery, mention is made in the reports, of "its noble work."

At Chaplin Hills, in Kentucky, a few days later, the First Wisconsin
drove back the enemy several times, and captured a stand of Confederate
colors. The Tenth was seven hours under fire, and lost fifty-four per
cent of its number. General Rousseau highly praised both regiments,
saying, "These brave men are entitled to the gratitude of the country."
The Fifteenth captured heavy stores of ammunition and many prisoners;
the Twenty-fifth repulsed, with withering fire, a superior force of the
enemy, who had suddenly assaulted them while lying in a cornfield; and
the Fifth battery three times turned back a Confederate charge, "saving
the division," as General McCook reported, "from a disgraceful defeat."

At Prairie Grove, in Arkansas, at Fredericksburg, and at Stone River,
still later in the campaign of 1862, Wisconsin soldiers exhibited what
General Sherman described as "splendid conduct, bravery, and

Men of Wisconsin were also prominent in the Army of the Potomac, during
the famous "mud campaign" of the early months of 1863. At the crossing
of the Rappahannock, theirs was the dangerous duty to protect the makers
of the pontoon bridges. In the course of this service, the Iron Brigade
made a splendid dash across the river, charged up the opposite heights,
and at the point of the bayonet routed the Confederates who were
intrenched in rifle pits.

At Chancellorsville, the Third Wisconsin, detailed to act as a barrier
to the advance of the Confederates under Stonewall Jackson, was the last
to leave the illfated field.

At Fredericksburg, not far away, the Fifth Wisconsin and the Sixth Maine
led a desperate charge up Marye's Hill, where, in a sunken roadway, lay
a large force of the enemy; this force, a few months before, had killed
six thousand Union men who were vainly attempting to rout them. This
second and final charge overcame all difficulties, and succeeded. As the
Confederate commander handed to the colonel of the Wisconsin regiment
his sword and silver spurs, he told the victor that he had supposed
there were not enough troops in the Army of the Potomac to carry the
position; it was, he declared, the most daring assault he had ever seen.
Such, too, was the judgment of Greeley, who declared that "Braver men
never smiled on death than those who climbed Marye's Hill on that fatal
day." The correspondent of the _London Times_ also wrote, "Never at
Fontenoy, Albuera, nor at Waterloo was more undaunted courage

In the campaign which resulted in the fall of Vicksburg, in 1863,
numerous Wisconsin regiments participated, many of them with conspicuous
gallantry. It was an officer of the Twenty-third who received, at the
base of the works, the offer of the Confederates to surrender.

The part taken by Wisconsin troops at Gettysburg, was conspicuous. The
Iron Brigade and a Wisconsin company of sharpshooters were, day by day,
in the thickest of the fight, and gained a splendid record. At
Chickamauga, several of our regiments fought under General Thomas, and
lost heavily. They afterward participated in the struggle at Mission
Ridge, which resulted in the Confederate army under Bragg being turned
back into Central Georgia.

The Iron Brigade was in Grant's campaign against Richmond, serving
gallantly in the battles of the Wilderness, in the "bloody angle" at
Spottsylvania, at Fair Oaks, and in the numerous attacks before

Wisconsin contributed heavily to the army of Sherman, in his "march to
the sea," and in the preliminary contests won distinction on many a
bitterly contested field. Several of our regiments were in the assault
on Mobile, the day when Lee was surrendering to Grant, in far-off
Virginia. Others of the Badger troops, infantry and cavalry, served in
Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, fighting the Confederate guerillas,
while our artillerymen were distributed throughout the several Union
armies, and served gallantly until the last days of the war.

Wisconsin soldiers languished in most of the great Southern military
prisons. A thrilling escape of Union men from Libby Prison, at Richmond,
was made in February, 1864, by means of a secret tunnel. This was
ingeniously excavated under the superintendence of a party of which
Colonel H. C. Hobart of the Twenty-first Wisconsin was a leader.

Another notable event of the war, of which a Wisconsin man was the hero,
occurred during the night of the 27th of October, 1864. The Confederate
armored ram _Albemarle_, after having sunk several Union vessels, was
anchored off Plymouth, North Carolina, a town which was being attacked
by Federal troops and ships. Lieutenant W. B. Cushing of Delafield,
Waukesha county, proceeded to the _Albemarle_ in a small launch, under
cover of the dark; and, in the midst of a sharp fire from the crew of
the ram, placed a torpedo under her bow and blew her up. The daring
young officer escaped to his ship, amid appalling difficulties, having
won worldwide renown by his splendid feat.

The saving of the Union fleet in the Red River was an incident which
attracted national attention to still another Wisconsin man. The
expedition up the river, into the heart of the enemy's country, was a
failure, and immediate retreat inevitable. But the water had lowered,
and the fleet of gunboats found it impossible to descend the rapids at
Alexandria. The enemy were swarming upon the banks, and the situation
was so hazardous that it seemed as if the army would find it necessary
to desert the vessels. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey of the Fourth
Wisconsin infantry, serving as chief engineer on General Franklin's
staff, proposed to dam the river, then suddenly make an opening, and
allow the boats to emerge with the outrush of imprisoned water. The plan
is a familiar one to Wisconsin lumbermen, in getting logs over shoals;
but it was new to the other officers, and Bailey was laughed at as a
visionary. However, the situation was so desperate that he was allowed
to try his experiment. It succeeded admirably; the fleet, worth nearly
two millions of dollars, was saved, and the expedition emerged from the
trap in good order. Bailey was made a brigadier general, and the
grateful naval officers presented him with a valuable sword and vase.

No account of Wisconsin's part in the War of Secession should, however
brief, omit reference to a conspicuous participant, "Old Abe," the war
eagle of the Eighth Regiment. He was captured by an Indian, on the
Flambeau River, a branch of the Chippewa, and until the close of the
long struggle was carried on a perch by his owners, the men of Company
C. He was an eyewitness of thirty-six battles and skirmishes, and
accompanied his regiment upon some of the longest marches of the war.
Frequently he was hit by the enemy's bullets, but never was daunted, his
habit in times of action being to pose upon his perch or a cannon,
screaming lustily, and frequently holding in his bill the corner of a
flag. No general in the great struggle achieved a wider celebrity than
"Old Abe." Until his death, in 1881, he was exhibited in all parts of
the country, at State and national soldiers' reunions, and at fairs held
for their benefit. At the great Sanitary Fair in Chicago, in 1865, it is
said that the sales of his photographs brought $16,000 to the soldiers'
relief fund.

Upon the opening of the Spanish-American War, in April, 1898,
Wisconsin's militia system was one of the best in the country, and its
quota of 5390 volunteers was made up from these companies.

The First Regiment was sent to Camp Cuba Libre, at Jacksonville,
Florida; the Second and Third to Camp Thomas, at Chickamauga; and the
Fourth, at first to the State military camp at Camp Douglas, and later
to Camp Shipp, Alabama. The First was the earliest raised, and the best
equipped, but its colonel's commission was not so old as those held by
the other regimental commanders from this State; therefore, when two
Wisconsin regiments were to be sent in July to Puerto Rico, the Second
and Third were selected, leaving the First reluctantly to spend its
entire time in camp. After the war, it had been intended to detail the
Fourth, not mustered in until late in the struggle, to join the
American army of occupation in the West Indies; but, owing to the fact
that a large percentage of the men were suffering from camp diseases,
they were finally mustered out without leaving the country.

The Second and Third had an interesting experience in Puerto Rico.
Arriving at the port of Guamico upon the 25th of July, they took a
prominent part in the bloodless capture of the neighboring city of
Ponce. This task completed, they were detailed, with the Sixteenth
Pennsylvania, to form the advance guard of the army, which prepared at
once to sweep the island from south to north. Our men were almost daily
under fire, particularly in road clearing skirmishes under General Roy

Two days after the landing at Guamico, Lieutenant Perry Cochrane, of Eau
Claire, an officer of the Third, was sent forward with seventeen other
Eau Claire men, to open up the railway line leading to the little
village of Yauco, lying about twenty miles westward of Ponce, and to
capture that place. The track and the bridges had been wrecked by the
fleeing enemy, so that Cochrane's party endured much peril and fatigue
before they reached their destination; and Yauco was not disposed to
succumb to this handful of men. Cochrane successfully held his own,
however, until the following day, when reënforcements arrived.

A few days after the fall of Ponce, the Sheboygan company was acting as
guard to a detachment repairing the San Juan road, several miles out of
town. Hearing that a party of Spanish soldiers had taken a stand at
Lares, eighteen miles away, a detail was sent with a flag of truce, to
treat with them. The squad consisted of Lieutenant Bodemer, four
privates, and a bugler. The Spaniards were not in a pleasant frame of
mind, and but for their officers would have made short shrift of the
visitors, despite the peaceful flag which they bore. Finally, the
Spaniards agreed to receive a deputation of native Puerto Ricans, and
talk the matter over with them. Our men withdrew, and sent natives in
their stead; but the latter were treacherously assaulted, and only one
of them escaped to tell the story.

Upon the 9th of August, there was a sharp fight at Coamo. Both of our
regiments were actively employed in this encounter, and were of the
troops which finally raised the American flag over the town walls.

The final engagement was fought two days later, at the mountain pass of
Asomanta, near Aibonito, where 2500 Spanish troops were centered. The
Second Wisconsin was the last American regiment in this fight, and lost
two killed and three wounded. These were Wisconsin's only field losses
during the war, although her deaths from camp diseases were about


    Albanel, Father Charles, 57.
    Albion, 227.
    Algonkin tribes, 16, 24.
    Allouez, Father Claude, 45, 55-57, 147, 149.
    American Fur Company, 85, 86, 90.
    André, Father Louis, 57.
    Apostle Islands, 40.
    Appleton, 36, 86.
    Ashland, 40, 146.
    Astor, John Jacob, 85.
    Atkinson, General Henry, 131, 139-141.
    Aztalan, 7, 8.

    Bad Ax River, 130, 142, 143, 212.
    Badger State, origin of term, 161.
    Bailey, Colonel Joseph, 242, 243.
    Baraga, Father Frederick, 153.
    Barron County, 235.
    Barronett, 235.
    Barstow, Colonel William A., 216-221.
    Bashford, Governor Coles, 216-221.
    Bayfield, 154.
    Beaubassin, Hertel de, French commandant, 150.
    Beaver Island, 193, 194.
    Belgians in Wisconsin, 228, 229.
    Belleview, 158.
    Belmont, 157, 158.
    Berlin, 15, 37.
    Bill Cross Rapids, 55.
    Black Hawk, Sac chief, 212.
    Black Hawk War, 86, 134-145.
    Black River, 15, 53-55, 62.
    Bohemians in Wisconsin, 222, 229.
    Bois Brulé River, 67, 71, 90, 148.
    Booth, Sherman M., 205-208.
    Brisbois, Michel, 113.
    Brothertown Indians, 15, 198, 200.
    Brown County, 228, 233.
    Buffalo County, 225.
    Bulger, Captain Alfred, 116.
    Burlington, 190.
    Butte des Morts, Grand, 91, 131, 213.
    Butte des Morts, Little, 76, 211.

    Cadotte, Jean Baptiste, 152.
    Cadotte, Michel, 152.
    Calvé, Joseph, 104.
    Cass, Governor Lewis, 211.
    Cassville, 158.
    Ceresco Phalanx, 183-189.
    Cha-kau-cho-ka-ma (Old King), 209, 211.
    Champlain, Samuel de, 24, 25, 27, 28, 33, 51.
    Chardon, Father Jean B., 57.
    Chase, Warren, 184.
    Chelsea, 55.
    Chequamegon Bay, 40, 55, 56, 67, 84, 87, 88, 146-154.
    Chippewa Indians, 14, 15, 18, 57, 78, 127, 149, 150, 152, 153.
    Chippewa River, 40, 243.
    Clark, General George Rogers, 97-104, 111.
    Clark, General William, 111.
    Cochrane, Lieutenant Perry, 244, 245.
    Copper mines, 21.
    Copper River, 55.
    Cornish in Wisconsin, 229.
    Crawford County, 171.
    Cushing, Lieutenant W. B., 241, 242.

    Dakotan tribes, 16.
    Dane County, 225, 227, 228.
    Davis, Jefferson, 140.
    Delafield, 242.
    De Louvigny, French captain, 75, 76.
    De Pere, 36, 45, 49, 50, 56-58, 86, 88.
    Dewey, Governor Nelson, 161, 203, 216.
    Dickson, Robert, 112, 113.
    Dodge, Major Henry, 142, 160, 214.
    Door County, 35, 45, 228, 233.
    Doty, Governor James D., 157, 159, 166.
    Doty's Island, 36.
    Dubuque, Julien, 120, 121.
    Ducharme, Jean Marie, 104.
    Duck Creek, 200.
    Duluth, Daniel Graysolon, 34, 66, 67, 147-149.
    Dutch in Wisconsin, 222, 229.

    Eau Claire, 244.
    Eau Claire County, 90.
    Eau Claire River, 90.
    Eau Pleine River, 90.
    Embarrass River, 90.
    English in Wisconsin, 92-98, 104-106, 110-116, 118.
    Enjalran, Father Jean, 57, 58.
    Equaysayway, Chippewa maid, 152.

    Flambeau River, 243.
    Fond du Lac, 158, 182.
    Fond du Lac County, 90, 184, 225.
    Fort Crawford, 128, 133.
    Fort Edward Augustus, 93.
    Fort Howard, 131, 133.
    Fort McKay, 115, 116.
    Fort Perrot, 63.
    Fort St. Antoine, 63.
    Fort St. Francis, 93.
    Fort St. Nicholas, 63.
    Fort Shelby, 112-116.
    Fort Snelling, 128, 130-132.
    Fort Winnebago, 133.
    Fox Indians (Outagamies), 15, 57, 64, 69, 71-80, 134.
    Fox River, 14, 15, 30, 32, 36-38, 45, 56, 58-61, 64, 67, 68, 71,
      72, 76, 79, 111, 113, 114, 122-124, 131, 133, 148, 180, 182, 199,
      200, 212, 213, 225.
    French in Wisconsin, 15, 24-91, 97, 98, 104-110, 117-122, 127, 155,
      222. _See_, also, Fur Trade.
    Frontenac, Governor of New France, 28, 43, 44.
    Fur Trade in Wisconsin, 22-25, 27, 28, 32-41, 43, 44, 49, 51, 53,
      59-93, 97, 98, 104, 105, 109-113, 117, 118, 120, 127, 146, 149,
      152, 171.

    Gagnier, Registre, 129, 130.
    Galena, Illinois, 63, 68, 122, 124, 172.
    Galena River, 121.
    Gautier, Charles, 100, 101, 103.
    Germans in Wisconsin, 222, 224, 225.
    Glode, Indian chief, 209.
    Glover, Joshua, 204-208.
    Gorrell, Lieutenant James, 93-96, 105.
    Grand Portage, 84.
    Green Bay, 14, 15, 29, 30, 35, 36, 38, 45, 58, 61, 65, 68, 70,
      77-79, 84, 85, 88-91, 93-96, 98, 104-106, 112, 113, 123, 124, 131,
      158, 166, 171, 173, 178, 182, 187, 199, 212, 213, 228, 232, 234.
    Green County, 225-227.
    Grignon, Robert, 213.
    Grizzly Bear, Indian chief, 209.
    Groseilliers, Médard Chouart des, 34-41, 53, 55, 59, 60, 146.

    Hall, Rev. Sherman, 153.
    Harrison, Governor William H., 106.
    Helena, 124.
    Hennepin, Father Louis, 66, 67.
    Henry, General James D., 142.
    Hesse, English captain, 104.
    Hobart, Colonel H. C., 241.
    Hudson Bay Company, 41, 60, 84.
    Huron Indians, 15, 28-30, 39-41, 53, 54, 74, 151.

    Icelanders in Wisconsin, 229.
    Illinois Indians, 15, 32, 74-76.
    Indians, as mound builders, 7-14, 19; life and manners of, 14-23;
      pottery, 21; copper and stone implements, 21, 22. _See_, also,
      the several Tribes.
    Iometah, Indian chief, 209.
    Iowa County, 121.
    Irish in Wisconsin, 222.
    Iron Brigade, 237-240.
    Iroquois Indians, 24, 27, 38, 39, 45, 53, 63, 72.

    Janesville, 182.
    Jesuit Missionaries in Wisconsin, 25, 26, 29, 31, 32, 35, 42-59,
      62, 66, 87, 88.
    Johnson, Colonel James, 121.
    Johnson, John, 152.
    Joliet, Louis, 37, 38, 42-50, 60, 65, 118.
    Joseph, fur-trade clerk, 151.

    Kaukauna, 36, 86, 91.
    Kenosha, 184.
    Keokuk, Sac chief, 145.
    Keshena, 212, 215.
    Kewaunee County, 228, 233.
    Kiala, Fox chief, 79.
    Kickapoo Indians, 15, 16, 46, 74.
    Kickapoo River, 15.
    Koshkonong, 158.

    La Crosse, 86, 88, 91.
    La Crosse County, 90.
    Lafayette County, 157.
    Lake Chetek, 88.
    Lake Court Oreilles, 88, 90, 153.
    Lake Flambeau, 88, 90, 153.
    Lake Koshkonong, 46.
    Lake Michigan, 15, 27, 29, 32, 35, 49, 57, 60, 65-67, 69, 93, 94,
      104, 123, 157, 158, 162, 164, 171, 179, 182, 193, 198.
    Lake Pepin, 62, 63, 78, 90.
    Lake St. Croix (Upper), 67.
    Lake Sandy, 88.
    Lake Shawano, 56, 57.
    Lake Superior, 27, 29, 38-41, 53-56, 59, 60, 65, 66, 71, 104, 146,
      148, 150, 151, 154.
    Lake Vieux Désert, 54, 55, 90, 167.
    Lake Winnebago, 37, 112, 113, 181, 200, 212, 225.
    Langlade, Charles de, 100, 101, 103.
    Langlade County, 90.
    La Pointe, 55, 56, 147-150, 152-154.
    La Ronde, fur trader, 150.
    La Salle, Chevalier de, 28, 34, 43, 64-66, 69.
    Lead Mining in Wisconsin, 63, 68, 117-124.
    Le Sueur, Pierre, 67, 68, 119, 148, 149.
    Lincoln, Abraham, 139.
    Linctot, Godefroy, 103, 104.
    Lipcap, killed by Indians, 129, 130.
    Little Chute, 199.
    Little Kaukauna, 196, 200.
    Little Suamico, 233.
    Long, John, 105, 106.

    McArthur, Lieutenant Governor Arthur, 219, 220.
    McKay, Major William, 113, 114.
    Mackinac, 29, 35, 44, 45, 56, 61, 67, 70, 78, 83, 84, 93, 94, 98,
      99, 104, 105, 111-114, 120, 147, 199, 209, 210.
    Madelaine Island, 148-150.
    Madison, 123, 158, 160, 165, 172, 175, 182, 217, 220.
    Manitowoc County, 233.
    Marin, French captain, 72, 73.
    Marquette, Father Jacques, 37, 38, 42-50, 56, 60, 118, 147, 149,
    Marquette County, 90.
    Mascoutin Indians (Fire Nation), 15, 37, 38, 45-47, 57, 60, 63, 64,
      74, 78.
    Mason, destroyed by fire, 235.
    Massachusetts Indians in Wisconsin, 15.
    Ménard, Father René, 52-55, 59, 146.
    Menasha, 36.
    Menominee Indians, 15, 46, 59, 74, 78, 94-96, 199, 209-214.
    Menominee River, 30, 167, 168.
    Merrill, 55.
    Methode, killed by Indians, 128, 133.
    Miami Indians, 15, 46, 47, 60, 64.
    Miller, A. G., 206.
    Milwaukee, 66, 69, 86, 88, 106, 122, 123, 158, 172, 179, 180, 182,
      204, 214, 222, 225, 228.
    Mineral Point, 122, 158, 225.
    Mississippi River, 14, 32, 37, 42-50, 57, 62, 63, 65-70, 72, 73,
      76-78, 87, 93, 104, 111, 112, 119, 120, 123, 124, 127, 128, 138,
      139, 142, 143, 148, 149, 156, 158, 162, 164, 168, 169, 179, 180,
      182, 190, 225.
    Mohawk Indians, 197, 198.
    Montreal River, 167.
    Mormons in Wisconsin, 190-195.
    Morse, Dr. Jedediah, 199.
    Munsee Indians, 15, 198, 200.

    Nahkom, Indian woman, 213, 214.
    Neapope, Sac leader, 139.
    Neenah, 36, 73, 76, 86, 211, 213.
    New Franken, 233.
    New Glarus, 225, 227.
    New York Indians in Wisconsin, 15.
    Nicolet, Jean, 26-33, 36, 37, 43, 45, 59, 117.
    Northwest Company, 84.
    Nouvel, Father Henri, 57.

    Oconto, 233.
    Oconto County, 233.
    Odanah, 153.
    Ogemaunee, Menominee chief, 94-96.
    "Old Abe," Wisconsin war eagle, 243
    Oneida Indians, 15, 196, 198, 200.
    Oshkosh (city), 37, 86, 213.
    Oshkosh, Indian chief, 209-215.
    Ottawa Indians, 15, 39, 53, 60, 74, 78.

    Partridge, Alvin, 213, 214.
    Pensaukee, 233.
    Perkins, Lieutenant Joseph, 112, 114.
    Perrot, Nicolas, 34, 57-64, 66, 72.
    Peshtigo, 233.
    Phillips, 235.
    Platteville, 158.
    Point Bass, 209.
    Poles in Wisconsin, 222, 229.
    Pontiac's War, 94, 97.
    Portage, 37, 47, 48, 86, 90, 91, 103, 106, 113, 122, 131, 133, 158,
      178, 180.
    Portage County, 90.
    Potosi, 68.
    Pottawattomie Indians, 15, 36, 59, 64, 74, 138, 141.
    Prairie du Chien, 14, 37, 48, 63, 70, 86, 88, 89, 91, 98, 103-105,
      110-116, 123, 124, 127-133, 142, 144, 172, 178, 179.
    Prairie du Sac, 142.

    Racine, 91, 158.
    Racine County, 90, 190.
    Radisson, Pierre-Esprit, 34-41, 45, 53, 55, 59, 60, 146, 147, 149.
    Réaume, Charles, 105-109.
    Red Bird, Winnebago chief, 128-133.
    Roads in Wisconsin, 177-182.
    Rock River, 123, 134, 138, 141, 145, 182.
    Rolette, Joseph, 113.
    Russians in Wisconsin, 222.

    Sac Indians, 15, 73, 74, 78-80, 134-145, 212.
    St. Cosme, Father Jean François Buisson, 68, 69.
    St. Croix County, 90.
    St. Croix River, 67, 68, 71, 90, 148, 169, 170.
    St. Francis Xavier mission. _See_ De Pere.
    St. James, Jesuit mission, 57.
    St. Louis River, 148.
    St. Mark, Jesuit mission, 56, 57.
    Sauk County, 225.
    Sault Ste. Marie, 43, 60, 61, 63.
    Scandinavians in Wisconsin, 222, 227, 228.
    Scotch in Wisconsin, 222.
    Shawano County, 233.
    Sheboygan, 69, 86, 228.
    Shell Lake, 235.
    Shull, James W., 121.
    Shullsburg, 121.
    Silvy, Father Antoine, 57.
    Sinclair, Captain Patrick, 104.
    Sioux Indians, 14, 16, 18, 40, 56, 62, 66, 67, 78, 127-130, 144,
    Slavery in Wisconsin, 202-208.
    Souligny, Indian chief, 209, 210, 214.
    Spaniards in lead mines, 120, 121.
    Spanish-American War, Wisconsin in, 243-245.
    Stockbridge Indians, 15, 198, 200.
    Strang, James Jesse, 190-195.
    Sturgeon Bay, 86, 233.
    Sturgeon Bay (water), Indians on, 14.
    Sugar Bush, 233.
    Superior, 235.
    Swiss in Wisconsin, 225-227.

    Taylor, Zachary, 139.
    Taylor County, 225.
    Tecumseh, 135, 209, 210.
    Tomah, 209, 210.
    Trempealeau, 62, 63, 169.
    Trempealeau County, 7, 90, 91.

    Vanderventer's Creek, 147.
    Voree, 191-193, 195.

    Wabashaw, Sioux chief, 144.
    Walworth County, 192.
    War of Secession, Wisconsin in, 236-245.
    Warren, Lyman Marcus, 152, 153.
    Warren, Truman, 152, 153.
    Washington Island, 229.
    Waukesha, 182.
    Waukesha County, 216, 242.
    Wekau, Winnebago avenger, 129-133.
    Welsh in Wisconsin, 222, 229.
    Whistler, Major William, 131, 132.
    White Cloud, Sac leader, 138, 139.
    White Crane, Chippewa chief, 152.
    White River, 192, 195.
    Whittlesey's Creek, 146.
    Williams, Eleazer, 196-201.
    Winnebago County, 213.
    Winnebago Indians, 14-16, 18, 30-32, 78, 125-133, 138, 139, 141,
      142, 144, 199; as mound builders, 14.
    Winnebago Rapids, 73.
    Wisconsin City, 158.
    Wisconsin River, 14, 15, 32, 37, 48, 55, 61, 63, 67, 68, 71, 78,
      79, 113, 114, 122-124, 133, 141, 142, 148, 167, 180.
    Wisconsinapolis, 158.
    Wolf River, 15, 56.

    Yellow Banks, 138.


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