The Full Wiki

History of Wisconsin: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The history of Wisconsin encompasses the story not only of the people who have lived in Wisconsin since it became a state of the U.S., but also of the Native American tribes who made their homeland in Wisconsin, the French and British colonists who were the first Europeans to live there, and the American settlers who lived in Wisconsin when it was a territory. Wisconsinmarker became a state on May 29, 1848, but the land that makes up the state has been occupied by humans for thousands of years.

Pre-Columbian history

The first known inhabitants of what is now Wisconsin were called Paleo-Indians, who first arrived in the region in about 10,000 BC. They hunted animals such as mammoths and mastodons. The Boaz mastodon, and the Clovis artifacts discovered in Boaz, Wisconsinmarker, show that hunting was a primary occupation for these people. The Plano cultures began to dominate Wisconsin around 7000 BC, as the last glaciers retreated from the state. During the Archaic stage, from 6,000 – 1,000 BC, Wisconsin was inhabited by the Boreal Archaic and the Old Copper Indians. People during this time lived in small groups or bands, and continued to depend on hunting and gathering for their existence.

By the time of the early Woodland period that began around 500 BC, farming began to replace hunting and gathering as a means of supplying food. This allowed for the creation of permanent settlements. With permanent settlement came more advanced art and pottery. The first Indian mounds were built during this period, mainly for burial purposes. As the Hopewell culture emerged in around 100 BC, farming, art, and mound building were significantly advanced. The late Woodland period began in about 600 AD. The Effigy mound culture dominated Wisconsin during this time, and built sophisticated mounds in the shapes of animals for ceremonial reasons. The Mississippian culture began to expand into Wisconsin in 1050 AD, and established a settlement at Aztalan, Wisconsinmarker. The Mississippian culture was replaced by the Oneota people in around 1200 AD. This culture eventually evolved into the Siouan tribes known to European explorers. When the first Europeans reached Wisconsin, the primary inhabitants were the Ojibwa, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox.

Exploration and colonization

French exploration

The first known European to enter Wisconsin was French Voyageur Jean Nicolet. In 1634, Samuel de Champlain, governor of New France, gave Nicolet the task of searching for a water route to China through North America. Accompanied by seven Huron Indian guides, Nicolet left New France and canoed through Lake Huronmarker and Lake Superiormarker, and then became the first European to enter Lake Michiganmarker. Nicolet proceeded to row into Green Baymarker and came ashore near the present-day city of Green Bay, Wisconsinmarker. When Nicolet reached land, he was greeted by several Ho-Chunk living in the area. Nicolet remained with the Ho-Chunk at Green Bay through the winter and established a trading post there.

The next major expedition into Wisconsin was that of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673. After hearing rumors from Indians telling of the existence of the Mississippi River, Marquette and Joliet set out from St. Ignacemarker, in what is now Michigan, and entered the Fox River at Green Bay. They canoed up the Fox until they reached the river’s westernmost point, and then portaged, or carried their boats, to the nearby Wisconsin River, where they resumed canoing downstream to the Mississippi River. Marquette and Joliet reached the Mississippi near what is now Prairie du Chien, Wisconsinmarker in June, 1673.

French colonization

French colonists were interested primarily in the fur trade, and established only a few small outposts. The first, at Green Baymarker, was called simply “La Baye” by the French, and was started with Nicolet’s original trading post in 1634. A Jesuit mission was established at Green Bay in 1671, and a fort was built at the settlement in 1717.

Nicolas Perrot, French commander of the west, established Fort St. Nicholas at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsinmarker in May, 1685, near the southwest end of the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway. Perrot also built a fort on the shores of Lake Pepinmarker called Fort St. Antoine in 1686, and a second fort, called Fort Perrot, on an island on Lake Peppin shortly after. In 1727, Fort Beauharnois was constructed on what is now the Minnesotamarker side of Lake Peppin to replace the two previous forts. A fort and a Jesuit mission were also built on the shores of Lake Superiormarker at La Pointemarker, in present day Wisconsin, in 1693 and operated until 1698. A second fort was built on the same site in 1718 and operated until 1759. These were not military posts, but rather small storehouses for furs.

None of the French posts had permanent settlers; fur traders and missionaries simply visited them from time to time to conduct business.

The Second Fox War

In in the 1720's, the anti-French Fox tribe, lead by war chief Kiala, raided French settlements on the Mississippi River and disrupted French trade on Lake Michigan. From 1728 to 1733, the Fox fought against the French supported Potawatomi, Ojibwa, Huron and Ottawa tribes. In 1733, Kiala was captured and sold into slavery in the West Indiesmarker along with other captured Fox.

Before the war, the Fox tribe numbered 1500, but by 1733, only 500 Fox were left. As a result, the Fox joined the Sac tribe.

The British period

The British gradually took over Wisconsin during the French and Indian War, taking control of Green Bay in 1761 and gaining control of all of Wisconsin in 1763. Like the French, the British were interested in little but the fur trade. The first permanent settlers, most of them French Canadians, arrived in Wisconsin while it was under British control. Charles Michel de Langlade is generally recognized as the first settler, establishing a trading post at Green Bay in 1745, and moving there permanently in 1764. Settlement began at Prairie du Chien around 1781.

The territorial period

The United States acquired Wisconsin in the Treaty of Paris . Shortly afterward, in 1787, the Americans made Wisconsin part of the new Northwest Territory. Later, in 1800, Wisconsin became part of Indiana Territory. Despite legally belonging to the United States at this time, however, the British continued to control the local fur trade and maintain military alliances with Wisconsin Indians.

The War of 1812 and the Indian wars

The United States did not firmly exercise control over Wisconsin until the War of 1812. In 1814, the Americans built Fort Shelby at Prairie du Chienmarker. During the war, the Americans and British fought one battle in Wisconsin, the July, 1814 Battle of Prairie du Chien, which ended as a British victory. The British captured Fort Shelby and renamed it Fort McKay, after Major William McKay, the British commander who lead the forces that won the Battle of Prairie du Chien. However, the 1815 Treaty of Ghent reaffirmed American jurisdiction over Wisconsin, which was by then a part of Illinois Territory. Following the treaty, British troops burned Fort McKay, rather than giving back to the Americans, and departed Wisconsin. To protect Prairie du Chien from future attacks, the United States Army constructed Fort Crawfordmarker in 1816, on same site as Fort Shelby. Fort Howard was also built in 1816 in Green Bay.

Significant American settlement in Wisconsin, a part of Michigan Territory beginning in 1818, was delayed by two Indian wars, the minor Winnebago War of 1827 and the larger Black Hawk War of 1832.

Map of Black Hawk War sites

Battle (with name) Fort / settlement Native village

Symbols are wikilinked to article

The Winnebago War

The Winnebago War started when, in 1826, two Winnebago men were detained at Fort Crawford on the charges of murder and then transfered to Fort Snellingmarker in present day Minnesota. The Winnebago in the area believed that both men had been executed. On June 27, 1827, a Winnebago war band led by Chief Red Bird and the prophet White Cloud (Wabokieshiek) attacked a family of settlers outside of Prairie du Chien, killing two men. They then went on to attack two keel-boats on the Mississippi River that were heading toward Fort Snelling, killing two men and injuring four more. Seven Winnebago warriors were killed in those attacks. The war band also attacked settlers on the lower Wisconsin River and the lead mines at Galena, Illinoismarker. The war band surrendered at Portage, Wisconsinmarker, rather than fighting the United States Army that was pursing them.

The Black Hawk War

In the Black Hawk War, Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo Native Americans, led by Chief Black Hawk, who had been relocated from Illinois to Iowa attempted to resettle in their Illinois homeland on April 5, 1832. On May 10, 1832, Chief Black Hawk decided to go back to Iowa. On May 14, 1832, Black hawks forces met with a group of militia men led by Isaiah Stillman. All three members of Black Hawk's parley were shot and one was killed. The Battle of Stillman's Runmarker ensued leaving twelve militia men and three to five sauk and fox warriors dead. Of the fifteen battles of the war, six took place in Wisconsin. The other nine as well as several smaller skirmishes took place in Illinois. The first confrontation to take place in Wisconsin was the first attack on Fort Blue Moundsmarker on June 6, 1832 in which one member of the local militia was killed outside of fort. There was also the Spafford Farm Massacremarker on June 14, 1832, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on June 16, 1832, which was a United States Victory, the second attack on Fort Blue Mounds on June 20, 1832, and the Sinsinawa Mound raidmarker on June 29, 1832. The Native Americans were defeated at the Battle of Wisconsin Heightsmarker on July 21, 1832, with forty to seventy killed and only one killed on the United States' side. The Black Hawk War ended with the Bad Axe Massacremarker on August 1-2, 1832 with over 150 Native Americans dead and 75 captured and only five killed in the United States forces. Many of the Native American warchiefs were handed over to the United States on August 20, 1832 with the exception of Black hawk and White Cloud, who surrendered on August 27, 1832. Black Hawk moved back to Iowa in 1833, after being held prisoner by the United States government.

Territorial settlement

The resolution of these Indian conflicts opened the way for Wisconsin's settlement. Many of the region's first settlers were drawn by the prospect of lead mining in southwest Wisconsin. This area had traditionally been mined by Native Americans. However, after a series of treaties removed the Indians, the lead mining region was opened to white miners. Thousands rushed in from across the country to dig for the "gray gold". Expert miners from Cornwallmarker, England, formed a large part of the wave of immigrants. Boom towns like Mineral Pointmarker, Plattevillemarker, Shullsburgmarker, Belmontmarker, and New Diggingsmarker sprang up around mines. The first two federal land offices in Wisconsin were opened in 1834 at Green Bay and at Mineral Point. By the 1840s, southwest Wisconsin mines were producing more than half of the nation’s lead.

Although the lead mining area drew the first major wave of settlers, its population would soon be eclipsed by growth in Milwaukeemarker. Milwaukee, along with Sheboyganmarker, Manitowocmarker, and Kewauneemarker, can be traced back to a series of trading posts established by the French trader Jacques Vieau in the 1790s. Vieau's post at the mouth of the Milwaukee River was purchased in 1820 by Solomon Laurent Juneau, who had visited the area as early as 1818. Juneau moved to what is no Milwaukee and took over the trading post's operation in 1825.

When the fur trade began to decline, Juneau focused on developing the land around his trading post. In the 1830s he formed a partnership with Green Bay lawyer Morgan Martin, and the two men bought 160 acres (0.6 km²) of land between Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River. There they founded the settlement of Juneautown. Meanwhile, an Ohio businessman named Byron Kilbourn began to invest in the land west of the Milwaukee River, forming the settlement of Kilbourntown. South of these two settlements, George H. Walker founded the town of Walker's Point in 1835. Each of these three settlements engaged in a fierce competition to attract the most residents and become the largest of the three towns. In 1840, the Wisconsin State Legislature ordered the construction of a bridge over the Milwaukee River to replace the inadequate ferry system. In 1845, Byron Kilbourn, who had been trying to isolate Juneautown to make it more dependent on Kilboruntown, destroyed a portion of the bridge, which started the Milwaukee Bridge War. For several weeks, skirmishes broke out between the residents of both towns. No one was killed but several people were injured, some seriously. On January 31, 1846 the settlements of Juneautown, Kilbourntown, and Walker’s Point merged into the incorporated city of Milwaukee. Solomon Juneau was elected mayor. The new city had a population of about 10,000 people, making it the largest city in the territory. Milwaukee remains the largest city in Wisconsin to this day.

Map of Wisconsin Territory 1836-1848

Wisconsin Territory

Wisconsin Territory was created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1836. The new territory initially included all of the present day states of Wisconsinmarker, Minnesotamarker, and Iowamarker, as well as parts of Northmarker and South Dakotamarker.

The first territorial governor of Wisconsin was Henry Dodge. He and other territorial lawmakers were initially busied by organizing the territory’s government and selecting a capital city. The selection of a location to build a capitol caused a heated debate among the territorial politicians. At first, Governor Dodge selected Belmont, located in the heavily populated lead mining district, to be capital. Shortly after the new legislature convened there, however, it became obvious that Wisconsin's first capitolmarker was inadequate. Numerous other suggestions for the location of the capital were given representing nearly every city that existed in the territory at the time, and Governor Dodge left the decision up to the other lawmakers. The legislature accepted a proposal by James Duane Doty to build a new city named Madisonmarker on an isthmus between lakes Mendota and Monona and put the territory’s permanent capital there. In 1837, while Madison was being built, the capitol was temporarily moved to Burlingtonmarker. This city was transferred to Iowa Territory in 1838, along with all the lands of Wisconsin Territory west of the Mississippi River.

Early statehood

By the mid 1840s, the population of Wisconsin Territory had exceeded 150,000, more than twice the number of people required for Wisconsin to become a state. In 1846, the territorial legislature voted to apply for statehood. That fall, 124 delegates debated the state constitution. The document produced by this convention was considered extremely progressive for its time. It banned commercial banking, granted married women the right to own property, and left the question of African-American suffrage to a popular vote. Most Wisconsinites considered the first constitution to be too radical, however, and voted it down in an April 1847 referendum.

In December 1847, a second constitutional convention was called. This convention resulted in a new, more moderate state constitution that Wisconsinites approved in a March 1848 referendum, enabling Wisconsin to become the 30th state on May 29, 1848.

The early state economy

In 1847, the Mineral Point Tribune reported that the town's furnaces were producing 43,800 pounds (19,900 kg) of lead each day. Lead mining in southwest Wisconsin began to decline after 1848 and 1849 when the combination of less easily accessible lead ore and the California Gold Rush made miners leave the area. The lead mining industry in mining communities such as Mineral Point managed to survive into the 1860s, but the industry was never as prosperous as it was before the decline.

A railroad frenzy swept Wisconsin shortly after it achieved statehood. The first railroad line in the state was opened between Milwaukee and Waukeshamarker in 1851 by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. The railroad pushed on, reaching Milton, Wisconsinmarker in 1852, Stoughton, Wisconsinmarker in 1853, and the capital city of Madison in 1854. The company reached its goal of completing a rail line across the state from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River when the line to Prairie du Chien was completed in 1857. Shortly after this, other railroad companies completed their own tracks, reaching La Crossemarker in the west and Superiormarker in the north, spurring development in those cities. By the end of the 1850s, railroads criss-crossed the state, enabling the growth of other industries that could now easily ship products to markets across the country.

Civil War and Gilded Age: 1860-1900

Civil War

Wisconsinmarker enrolled 91,379 men total for service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Of these, 3,794 were killed in action or mortally wounded, 8,022 died of disease, and 400 were killed in accidents. The total mortality was 12,216 men, about 13.4 percent of total enlistments.

Economic growth: dairy, lumber

Agriculture was a primary component of the Wisconsin economy during the 19th Century. Wheat was a primary crop on early Wisconsin farms. In fact, during the mid 19th century, Wisconsin produced about one sixth of the wheat grown in the United States. However, wheat rapidly depleted nutrients in the soil, and was vulnerable to insects and bad weather. As the soil lost its quality and prices dropped, the practice of wheat farming moved west into Iowa and Minnesota. Some Wisconsin farmers responded by experimenting with crop rotation and other methods to restore the soil’s fertility, but a larger number turned to alternatives to wheat.

The most popular replacement for wheat was dairy farming. As wheat fell out of favor, many Wisconsin farmers started raising dairy cattle and growing feed crops. One reason for the popularity of dairy farming was that many of Wisconsin’s farmers had come to the state from New York, which was the leading producer of dairy products at the time. In addition, many immigrants from Europe brought an extensive knowledge of cheese making. Dairying was also promoted by the University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker, which offered education to dairy farmers and researched ways to produce better dairy products. At the start of the 20th century, Wisconsin had become the leading producer of dairy products in the United States, a title it held until the 1990s.

Agriculture was not viable in the densely forested northern half of Wisconsin. Settlers came to this region for logging. Lumberjacks used rivers like the Wisconsin River to transport logs from remote forests to city sawmills. Sawmills in cities like Wausaumarker and Stevens Pointmarker sawed the lumber into boards that were transported across the Midwest by railroad, and used for construction. Later a growing paper industry in the Fox River Valley made use of wood pulp from the state’s lumber industry.

Logging was a dangerous trade, with high accident rates. On October 8, 1871, the Peshtigo Fire burned 1,875 square miles (4,850 km²) of forestland around the timber industry town of Peshtigo, Wisconsinmarker, killing between 1,200 and 2,500 people. It was the deadliest fire in United States history.

See also



  • Campbell, Henry C. Wisconsin in Three Centuries, 1684-1905 (4 vols., 1906), highly detailed popular history
  • Conant, James K. Wisconsin Politics And Government: America's Laboratory of Democracy (2006)
  • Current, Richard. Wisconsin: A History (2001)
  • Gara, Larry. A Short History of Wisconsin (1962)
  • Holmes, Fred L. Wisconsin (5 vols., Chicago, 1946), detailed popular history with many biographies
  • Nesbit, Robert C. Wisconsin: A History (rev. ed. 1989)
  • Quaife, Milo M. Wisconsin, Its History and Its People, 1634-1924 (4 vols., 1924), detailed popular history & biographies
  • Raney, William Francis. Wisconsin: A Story of Progress (1940)
  • Robinson, A. H. and J. B. Culver, ed., The Atlas of Wisconsin (1974)
  • Vogeler, I. Wisconsin: A Geography (1986)
  • Wisconsin Cartographers' Guild. Wisconsin's Past and Present: A Historical Atlas (2002)
  • Works Progress Administraton. Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State (1941) detailed guide to every town and city, and cultural history

Detailed scholarly studies

  • Anderson, Theodore A. A Century of Banking in Wisconsin (1954)
  • Braun, John A. Together in Christ: A History of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (2000)
  • Brøndal, Jørn. Ethnic Leadership and Midwestern Politics: Scandinavian Americans and the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1914. (2004) ISBN 0-87732-095-0
  • Buenker, John D. The History of Wisconsin, Volume 4: The Progressive Era, 1893-1914. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1998. highly detailed history
  • Butts, Porter. Art in Wisconsin (1936)
  • Clark, James I. Education in Wisconsin (1958)
  • Cochran, Thomas C. The Pabst Brewing Company (1948)
  • Corenthal, Mike Illustrated History of Wisconsin Music 1840-1990: 150 Years (1991)
  • Current, Richard Nelson. History of Wisconsin, Volume 2: The Civil War Era, 1848-1873. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976. standard state history
  • Curti, Merle and Carstensen, Vernon. The University of Wisconsin: A History (2 vols., 1949)
  • Curti, Merle. The Making of an American Community A Case Study of Democracy in a Frontier County (1969), in-depth quantitative social history
  • Fries, Robert F. Empire in Pine: The Story of Lumbering in Wisconsin, 1830-1900 (1951).
  • Geib, Paul. "From Mississippi to Milwaukee: A Case Study of the Southern Black Migration to Milwaukee, 1940-1970" The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 83, 1998
  • Glad, Paul W. The History of Wisconsin, Volume 5: War, a New Era and Depression, 1914-1940. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1990. standard state history
  • Haney, Richard C. A History of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since World War II
  • Jensen, Richard The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888-1896 (1971)
  • Lampard, Eric E. The Rise of the Dairy Industry in Wisconsin (1962)
  • McBride, Genevieve G. On Wisconsin Women: Working for Their Rights from Settlement to Suffrage
  • Herbert F. Margulies; The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920 (1968)
  • Merrill, Horace S. William Freeman Vilas: Doctrinaire Democrat (1954) Democratic leader in 1880s and 1890s
  • Nesbit, Robert C. The History of Wisconsin, Volume 3: Industrialization and Urbanization 1873-1893. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1973.
  • Frederick I. Olson, Milwaukee: At the Gathering of the Waters
  • Schafer, Joseph. A History of Agriculture in Wisconsin (1922)
  • Schafer, Joseph. 'The Yankee and Teuton in Wisconsin', Wisconsin Magazine of History, 6: 2 (Dec 1922), 125-145, compares Yankee and German settlers
  • Smith, Alice. The History of Wisconsin, Volume 1: From Exploration to Statehood. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1973.
  • Still, Bayrd. Milwaukee: The History of a City (1948)
  • Thelen, David. Robert M. LaFollette and the Insurgent Spirit (1976)
  • Unger, Nancy C. Fighting Bob LaFollette: The Righteous Reformer (2000)

Primary sources


  1. Background on land offices and settlement

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address