History of Calumet County
Calumet County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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History of Northern Wisconsin

History of Northern Wisconsin
Publisher Chicago The Western Historical Company, A.T. Andreas, Proprietor
1881 Copyright The Western Historical Co.
Reprint The Ralph Secord Press Iron Mountain MI. 1988

Calumet County


As the first strokes in the name of civilization were delivered by Indians, it is neccessary to glance back and ascertain the causes which led up to this unusual but commendable result. The fertile region was chosen as the home of Bauda known as Brothertowns and Stockbridges. These educated men selected large tracts of land lying on the east bank of Lake Winnebago, and there cut the first tree, erected the first cabin, made the first clearing and engaged in the first agricultural labors in the county. Their supplies were taken by boat up the lower Fox, and thence wearily carried on men's backs to the places designated as the new homes. Many of those who made the venture remained to enjoy the fruits of their industry, and they and their descendants now conspicious part of the substantial citizens of the county. The Brothertowns eventually outstripped the Stockbridges in the march improvement, being the first and most serious in their application for the rights of citizenship, and otherwise indicating that they possessed at a very early day the true American spirit. It is interesting to trace back to the cause of this difference to a period over a hundred years ago. The cause is a common one, and which has always operated favorably- a mixture of many shades of blood, which has always brought strength. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, the Farmington Indians were settled in the North Atlantic States. By an unchecked course of miscegenation, considerable Negro blood had been poured into their veins. Many of them had even been sold into slavery, and were, all in all, brought down to a very low condition. Moving further north they were finally emancipated through the endeavors of Capt. Hendricks, one of their former chiefs, who proved their origin and originally pure American blood. David Fowler, an educated Montauk Indian, then induced them, in company with remnants of Narragansetts, Mohegans, Pequoits and other tribes of former power, to migrate further to the northwest and settle upon a tract of land granted by the Oneidas, near Utica, N.Y. Here a union was formed and the nation became Brothertown and its people the Brothertowns. In 1822 they were removed to Green Bay, and commenced the formation of Brothertown colony in Calumet County in 1833-34. Marks of colored blood crop out at times quite prominently, even to this day. Upon their first settlement they seem also to have brought with them the instincts of land cultivation and the love of some fixed spot, however humble, to be called home, which traits belong to the colored race in contrast to the nomadic disposition of the pure blooded Indian. When the Brothertowns settled in their new New York home, the Stockbridges had been torn by the Oneidas and the whites to a shred of their former power, and were living upon a small reservation only about five miles square, which the former had granted them in Oneida County. They came to Wisconsin with the Brothertowns, and commenced to settle in the town of Stockbridge during the same year as the former, in 1833. A tract of land along Lake Winnebago had been obtained by the leaders of the two tribes in 1831, but the real settlement did not begin until two years later. Since then the now organized towns of Brothertown and Stockbridge have generally kept pace with other portions of the county in materiel and even mental improvement, having sent several representatives to the Legislature, and developed educated and refined citizens.

Others have become wealthy and have sent their children to college and university; but as regards general prosperity the verdict is that the Brothertowns have outstripped the Stockbridges; and the explanation which has been given of the fact is deemed both sufficient and original. The first settlement formed by the Brothertowns was called Deansburg, in honor of their former Indian agent, Thomas Dean. It afterwards became "Ball's Corner." Foremost among those who located were William Dick, father of Hon. William H. Dick, Elkanah Dick, Randall Abner, Thomas Cumnock and S. Adams. Soon after this settlement was formed, a number of Stockbridges located near the shore of Lake Winnebago. The settlers were not citizens, and therefore could receive no organizing authority from the Legislature; but each tribe assumed substantially the town system of government, and proceeded like other pioneers to clear the country of timber and erect their dwelling houses. The Brothertowns, after a three year struggle with rough forest provender, employed Moody Mann, a white settler, to build them a mill, the cost of which was to be defrayed from their annuity fund. At first the mill ground by water-power, and was the pioneer of its class for miles around. In the meantime (1834) Johns Dean, formerly Jeff. Davis' lieutenant at Fort Howard, Jesse Mills, J.B. Horn, and a few other comrades in arms, had settled among the Stockbridges. During 1834-35 Rev. Cutting Marsh, who may be called the Latter-day missionary of Wisconsin Indians, superintended the erection of a mission house, where he held services for sixteen years. Other white settlers followed, so that both Brothertown and Stockbridge walked nearly hand in hand. If Stockbridge had to go to Brothertown's mill, Brothertown would have to attend Stockbridge's church, or none. By the time. the grist-mill and the mission church were in good running order, the military road from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien had been cut through Calumet County, taking in its route the only settlements, Brothertown and Stockbridge. Some of the workmen, soldiers from the Fort Howard garrison, remained to swell the population along the shore of Lake Winnebago. When Calumet County was formed from Brown in December of this year (1836), it had no effect upon the settlers. A majority of them were yet unnaturalized, and the county therefore remained attached to Brown for judicial, revenue and election purposes. The next year several locations were selected by "first settlers" further to the south. George C. Bull was the pioneer of the town of Woodville, purchasing land near "the Beach farm." His brother-in-law, a Mr. Westfall, started a tavern still further south, in order to catch the travel, which had become considerable, over the military road. Having finished the Brothertown mill, Moody Mann, afterwards Judge, erected himself a house at Clifton and invited future scribes to write him down as the first settler in the town of Harrison. Cato Stanton, a brother of Moses, the founder of Chilton, built a tavern directly on the military road in 1838, and kept it for years. Under the guidance of Thomas McLean, the future metropolis, Saint Catherine, to the north of Brothertown and Stockbridge, was increased in the persons of a few families. The first murder had been committed. The tragedy occurred July 3, 1837, at the house of Peter and Jacob Koukopot, two Stockbridge Indians. They had already reduced to small measure an immoderate supply of whisky, when Joseph Palmer, a Brothertown Indian, in company with another of his tribe and a white man, entered their cabin. The latter party had just returned from the Fox River with a full jug, "fire-water" being then an unknown commodity of sale in Calumet County. They drank together several times, but with this fresh supply the Koukopots' loud demands for more continued and increased beyond the bounds of reason or considerate fellowship. Palmer, therefore, refused to be robbed further of his " Fourth of July," whereupon he and his comrades were assaulted by their crazed and unreasonable companions, one wielding an ax and the other a club. Being unarmed the former here unable to defend themselves. Palmer was liberally hacked and beaten to pieces. The other two escaped. Without going into details, the murderers were arrested, tried in October before a commission chosen from both tribes, and sentenced to be hanged near the dividing line between the two reservations. On the day preceding that fixed for the execution (October 24), they escaped across Lake Winnebago in a boat furnished by friends, and were never recaptured. In 1838 a Frenchman killed his Indian wife, while under the influence of liquor, escaped through tlhe meshes of the law, but never returned to claim his household goods. In the Winter of 1840, a Mr. Sherman was murdered in Stockbridge by Isaac Littleman. The murderer had heard that Sherman possessed quite a large sum of money, and as he lived alone in a secluded spot, thought his crime could be committed with safety. He therefore supped with his victim, and, it is supposed when they had both retired, killed him with an ax, in cold blood. The murder was not discovered until a week after, when the corpse, nearly eaten by rats, was found by distant neighbors frozen solidly to the bloody floor. Littleman was arrested, denied his guilt, but his premises were searched and some of the dead man's property found in his possession. He then admitted his crime, and when about to be hanged, confessed to a second murder, committed at Depere. This was the first murder of a white man, the trial of the prisoner being conducted by the Stockkbridge lndians. Through all this bloodshed, the mill at Brothertown continued to grind peaceably on. In 1840 Daniel Whitney, of Green Bay, did for Stockbridge what Mr. Mann had done for Brothertown. But the outcome was different. He erected a grist-mill and operated a store in connection with it. The Stockbridges, not so prudent or so fortunate as their contemporaries (for they did not own the property), became involved in debt. Many of their farms were sold to white settlers, and in fact this seems to the turning point backward in their prosperity as an Indian tribe. The Brothertowns, on the other hand, in March, 1839, had been granted their petition to Congress to be accorded the rigilts of citizenship. By the act passed on the third of that month their lands were divided so that each person received fifty acres. The Stockbridges continued aliens from the General Government until 1843, when they likeswise became citizens and were absorbed into the body politic of the Territory.

The preceding pages have brought the early history of Calumet County up to and partially inclusive of the year 1840. The close of this year may be said to have ended her pioneer life.

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Transcribed by Debie

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