History of Milwaukee
From 1840 to 1846, Inclusive.
BY JAMES S. BUCK.
Symks, Swain & Co., Book and Job Printers.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1881, by
JAMES S. BUCK,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Hon. ALEXANDER MITCHELL, President,
THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS,
OF THE OLD SETTLERS' AND PIONEER CLUBS,
IS THIS BOOK MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
BY THE AUTHOR.
Ever like a rolling river,
West, the star of Empire goes.
We, the undersigned members of the Old Settler and Pioneer Clubs
of Milwaukee, hereby certify that we have been shown portions of
the manuscript intended for the second volume of J. S. Buck's Pio-
neer History of Milwaukee, and have no hesitation in saying that we
believe it to be as correct as it is possible for such a work to be made.
And the cuts of the old Cottage Inn, Juneau's old house, the old
Lighthouse, the Rogers' Block, United States Block, and other cuts,
which he has reproduced, arefac similes of those ancient landmarks,
and carry the old settler back to the time when what is now the
abode of wealth and refinement, was new and wild. We also certify
to the lifelike truthfulness of the reminiscial sketches of the pioneers.
And we hereby tender our thanks to Mr. Buck for the invaluable
record of the past, as is portrayed in these two volumes.
Daniel Wells, Jr.,
Wm. S. Trowbridge,
Wm. P. Merrill,
PREFACE TO VOL. II.
When Volume I. was given to the public in 1877, there was some
uncertainty as to whether a second volume would ever be issued. But
as the history seemed so incomplete, the first one only coming up to
1840, inclusive, and as many of the pioneers have desired him to do
so, the writer has concluded to bring it down to 1846, inclusive, when
the first city charter was adopted, which will complete the pioneer
portion of the city's history.
There have also some very important official documents come into
his possession, since Volume I. was issued, too valuable for a mere
newspaper mention, which will appear in Chapter 1 of Volume II.
And all errors in Volume I., as far as known â and it is impossible
but that there should be some in a work of this kind â will be correct-
ed in Chapter 1.
The flattering reception that the first volume received, not only
from the citizens of Milwaukee, but by historical societies throughout
the country, as letters in the writer's possession fully prove, is also a
further inducement for issuing the second, which, it is hoped, will be
received in the some spirit.
And I will close this Preface with an acknowledgment of thanks
to Daniel Wells, Jr., John H. Tweedy, Col. Hans Crocker, Win P.
Merrill, John B. Merrill, Clark Shepardson, Alex. Mitchell, David
Ferguson, Geo. F. Austin, Lindsey Ward, James Bonnell, Wm. H.
Metcalf, R. G. Owens, Clarence Shepard, Frederick Wardner, Frank-
lin J. Blair, Matthew Keenan, Henry M. Bleyer, Asahel Finch, Jr.,
John Furlong, John C. Smith, Daniel D. Sibley, Daniel Tainsh, Maj.
Rufus Cheney, and others, for aid given. But more particularly are
his thanks due to Hon. Albert Fowler, for the valuable documents
furnished, relating to the history of 1835.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER I.â 1834 and 1835 u
Matter Relating to 1834-5, Not Previously Published â Origin of the Word
Milwaukee â Origin of the Word Wisconsin â Sketch of Col. James
Clyman â Killing of Ellsworth Burnett â Letters from Col. Clyman
â Arrest of the Indians â Confession of Ash-e-ka-pa-we â Correspond-
ence â More About Milwaukee and Manitowoc â Corrections of Volume
I. â The First Election.
CHAPTER II.â 1S36 73
Land Speculation â Location of Mahn-a-wauk, Jacques Vieux's old Trading
House â Was Mr. Hathaway a Prophet? â Upper Milwaukee, Where
Located â Lexington and Other Paper Towns â Mechanicsville â Shoot-
ting of Doctor Cary â That Barrel of Pork â A Model Speech â Milwau-
kee's First Editorial â Charlestown, Where Was It? â Pioneer Historical
Society â Laying out Land â Election Returns â The James Madison â
Trouble Among the Masons and Carpenters â Resolutions Against
. Gambling â Spicy Newspaper Articles â Lead Discovered â The Little
Steamer Menomonee â Additional Names of Persons Who Came in
1836 â Lawrence Bennett's Notice â Cut and Sketch of the old Court
House and County Buildings â Contract and Specifiations Under
Which it was Erected, with Remarks of the Author.
CHAPTER III.â 1841 81
Opening Prelude â Sketch of James Kneeland â Milton E. Lyman â
Rockwell's Store â Cole & Arnold, McKinstry & Willard, and others,
Where Located â Rogers' Block, sketch of â Cady & Farwell â Higby
& Wardner â Powder â John Pritzlaff â Jacob L. Bean â Geo. F. Austin
â The Arcade â Chas. S. Hurley â The Sill Brothers â The Blacksmiths
â Dentists and Doctors â Lawyersâ Sketch of Finch & Lynde â David
Ferguson â Druggists, Jewelers and Lumbermen â Hotels â Sketch of
the Vails â The Death of Levi Vail â Names â Sketch of J. W. Dunlop
â Elections â Board Meetings â Whig Celebration, and Its Results â
Temperance Society â Washington's Birthday â F. W. Horn â Pros-
pects â Noonan Takes the Advertiser â Buildings â Improvements of
Streets â A Large Family â Conventions â Election â H. N. Wells' Let-
ter â Steamboats â Arrival of the Milwaukee â McCabe â Stuck Down
â Turkey Shooting â The First Brewery â Close of the Year.
CHAPTER IV.â 1842 117
Opening of the Year â Arrival of Geo. W. Fay and others â Wells' New
Block â Russell Wheeler Came â Arrival and Sketch of Messrs. Shep-
ard& Bonnell. Geo. Fowler and W. H. Byronâ Sketch of S. M. Dillaye
and others â Philetus C. Hale, Sketch of â Sketch of Judge Abram D.
Smith, Jason Downer, J. H. Eviston, Geo. Reed and others â Elisha
Eldred, Sketch of â L. H. Cotton â Clark Shepardson â John N. Bone-
steel Came â Joseph R. Treat â F. Huebschmann â Sketch of Chauncey
Simonds and Wm. Brooke â Hotels â Juneau's Old House â Incidents
â The Mitchell Buildingâ Election of Trustees â First Election of
Town Officers under New Law â Newspaper Warfare â Harbor â
Doty's Military Appointments â Roads and Bridges â Col. Morton â
Steamer Trowbridge Goes Ashore â A Reminiscence â County Conven-
tion â Election â The First Tannery â Improvements â Shipments â
Steamboats â Arrivals â Dr. Weeks Speculates in Salt â Immigiation.
CHAPTER V.â 1843 151
Opening Prelude â The Illinois Arrives from Chicago â Kilbourn Cuts
Through the Beach â The First Pier â Tufts & Kendall â Stockton &
McClure Bring the Patronage â Wm.W. brown, his Death â First Boat
from Below â Arrival of Bradley & Metcalf, Sketch of â Sketch of Gid-
eon P. Hewitt â R. D. & E. C. Jennings Came â Williams Lee Came â
Holton & Goodall Start an Ashery â F. J. Blair Came, Sketch of â
Sketch of E. R Persons â Mercantile Changes â Foundry â James
Douglass, Sketch of â Names â Alex. Matthews â J. S. Fillmore â
Sketch of Caleb Wall â Hotels â Brick Yardsâ The Childs Bros.â
Water Power â Election of Trustees â Fire â A Useless Fire Engine,
and its Results â Fraud Discovered â Improvements â St. Patrick's Day
in the Morning â Harbor Celebration â County Convention â Election
â The Old Lighthouse â Eli Bates â W. W. Kelloggâ Holton Elected
Sheriff â Election Returns â Street Sprinkling â Statement of Wiscon-
sin Marine and Fire Insurance Co. â Statistics of Milwaukee â Huron
Street â The Body of Johnson Found â Juneau Turned Out of the Post
Office â Mass Meeting â County Convention â Immigration â Attempt at
City Charter â Corporation Proceedings â Water Power â Population â
Prospects â Lost â The Old Cottage Inn, Sketch of â Sketch of the
New â Land Office â Fire â Hotels â Imports â Exports â Steamboats
Rum Holes â Close of the Year â The Piers.
CHAPTER VI.â 1844 197
Close of 1843 â Opening Prelude â Election of Trustees â Water Power â
Fire â Political â Jackson's Birthday â Bridges â April Election â Dem-
ocratic Courtesy â Hotels â Cut of Block 3, Extending from Wisconsin
to Michigan Streets, How and by Whom Occupied â John N. Bone-
steel, Sketch of â Sand Operations- -Geo. E. S. Vail â E. Stats â D.
Newhall, Sketch of â Sketch of Kirby â A. J. Langworthy â R. Wheeler
and Nazro & King, Where Located -Richardson, Geo. G. and R. D.
Houghton, Sketch of â I. A. Hopkins â C. Preusser and the Bradford
Brothers Came â Sketch of John Plankinton â Railroad Meetting â
Opening of Erie Street â Repudiation and Political Chicanery, and its
Effects â Where is Milwaukee ? â New Stage Line â Editorial â
Michael Burke's Raid â Bad Blood â Celebration of the 4th â Improve-
ments â Sketch of James B. Martin â Rogers' Block, Sketch and Cut
of â Sketch of Jas. H. Rogers â McCabe, Sketch ofâ His Death â Them
Pills â Convention at Prairieville â Election â Remarks â New Bridge at
Walker's Point â Military Company Organized â Bull Whackers â City
Charter â Boats â Census â Climate â Remarks upon Climate â Re-
marks upon Previous Winters â The Champion.
CHAPTER VII.â 1845 230
Opening Remarks â Election of Trustees â Committee to Draft City Char-
ter Appointed â Editor's Comments Thereon â Meeting to Take Action
upon the Charter â Board Meetings â Report of Committee on Finance
â Harbor â Political â The Great Eire of April, 1845 â Editorial Re-
marks â United States Hotel, Sketch of â Burning of City Records â
Letter to Marshal Shaunier â Town Officers Elected â Improvements â
The Harpers Came â Mercantile Changes â Military Hall and Tremont
House Erected, Where Located, and Description of â Description and
Cut of Chamber of Commerce â New Arrivals and New Firms â Or-
ganization of lire Department â Emery's Shot â Jesse M. Van Slyck â
Milwaukee Mutual Insurance Co. Organized â Military Organization â
Old Settlers' Ball â County Election, and Its Results â Same in 1846 â
Medical Department â Public Meeting â Close of the Year â Vote upon
the Charter, and Its Adoption â First Election Under the Charter â
Census â Division of County â Remarks of the Author â List of Mayors
â Bad Legislation â Time Table â Egbert Herring Smith â Miscellan-
eous â Biographical â -Bridge War â First Carriage â First Steam Flour-
ing Mill â Speeding a Dog.
Claim Organization of 1837 325
Claim Entry Record 334
In offering Volume II. of the Pioneer History of Milwaukee to the
public, the author is fully aware of the difficulties he has to contend
with, and has, at times, notwithstanding his fellow citizens have, with
few exceptions, subscribed liberally for the work, almost been on the
point of abandoning it altogether.
When Volume I. was in progress, he had no competitors, but now
he has. And it is this fact, more than anything else, that has dis-
couraged him. But as he was first in the field, and has already spent
so much time and money, besides a large amount of the gas compa-
ny's gas, and no small amount of his own, he feels compelled to
go on, and take his chances.
He does not claim that his work will contain all that was done in
the five years which it covers, such a thing being an impossibility.
But he believes, as he was upon the ground during all these years, and
has a pretty fair acquaintance with the people of Milwaukee, he can
make a more perfect record of what he does write about, than it is
possible for any stranger to do. And if his work is not as voluminous
or as richly bound as is the one issued by his competitors, he will
make the assertion that its contents will prove as interesting, at least
to the old settlers, and as a pioneer work, of much more value to the fu-
There are many persons who have lived here in former years, who
have removed to other cities, or are dead, whose personal character-
istics no stranger can portray, as well as many pioneer buildings
since pulled down or burnt, which they cannot describe or locate;
many of which, both persons and buildings, were among our most
prominent in the olden times.
The illustrations of the Cottage Inn, Juneau's old house, and the
old Lighthouse, are fac similes of those ancient structures ; and the
biographical and reminiscial sketches, (some of which have previously
appeared in the papers,) are intended solely to illustrate pioneer life
and personal characteristics. Neither are any of them untrue, and
some of them are certainly amusing. And in weaving them into his-
tory, simple justice will be accorded to all.
Matter Relating to 1834-5, Not Previously Published â Origin of the Word Mil-
waukee â Origin of the Word Wisconsin â Sketch of Col. James Clyman â
Killing of Ellsworth Burnett â Letters from Col. Clyman â Arrest of the
Indians â Confession of Ash-e-ka-pa-we â Correspondence â More about Mil-
waukee and Manitowoc â Corrections of Volume I. â The First Election.
The first mention of the place by the newspapers of the day in
reference to its settlement by the whites, appears in the Green Bay
Iniellige7icer of April 16, 1834, and reads as follows:
The Milwaukee country is attracting much attention. A settlement has
commenced near its mouth, and there can be no doubt that it will be much
visited during the coming season by northern emigrants, and by all who fear the
bilious fever and other diseases incident to more southern climates. Two or
three young men from the State of New York (Albert Fowler and party,) have
commenced the erection of a saw mill* on the first rapid, about three miles above
the mouth of the river, which will, no doubt, soon be in operation.
A correspondent from Chicago, under date of May 19, also gives a
glowing description of the country around Root river (Racine,) Pike
river (Kenosha,) and Milwaukee; and describes the modus operandi
of making claims, much too lengthy, however, for insertion here.
The Original Name of Milwaukee.
August Grignon, in his " Recollections," in Volume III. State His-
torical publications, states, on the authority of an Indian, that the
word Milwaukee is derived from a certain aromatic root, called
" Man-wau ;" hence, " Man-a-wau-kee," or the land, or place of the
" Man-wau." Also, that it simply means pleasant land, or good land.
The latter definition is also given by Louis Moran, a French resident
*Bigelow's mill, this side of Humboldt. See Vol. I., page 26.
12 PIONEER HISTORY
and interpreter for the Chippewas. I have therefore come to the
conclusion that this definition is the correct one ; and it is certainly
an appropriate one.
Note. â By reference to the Green Bay Intelligencer of August n,
1834, it will be found that all the old maps, as far back as 1820, men-
tion the south branch of the Milwaukee River (the present Menomo-
nee,) as the " May-nay- wau-kee," and those used at the trenty of
1825, held at Prairie du Chien, of 1827 at Butte des Mori, and of
1830 with the Menomonees at Green Bay, all speak of it by that
name, and that the southern boundary of the Menomonee country
was a line drawn trom the head of Lake Winnebago to the mouth of
the Milwaukee river.
The Origin of the Word Wisconsin.
The rapids of the Wisconsin river were called by the French boat-
men, "Ou est ce qu'on descend?" pronounced " Ous-con-do-san,"
Ousconsin, English, Wis-con-san, and now Wisconsin.
In the Intelligencer of October 10, 1835, * s tne following :
The Milwaukee is progressing rapidly. Application was made a few months
since for the services of an officer of the Engineer Corps to survey the harbor at
the mouth of the river. We are happy to learn that the Secretary of War has
very promptly complied with the request, and that an officer has been detailed for
This was the survey made by Lieutenants Rose and Center.
Col. James Clyman.
Among those who came to Milwaukee in 1835, was Col. James
Clyman, a man who, for his singular traits of character, as well as for
his daring spirit, many yet living cannot fail to remember, and
who, in company with Linnah Arnet, made a claim upon the north-
west quarter of Section 26, Town 7, Range 21, Town of Wauwatosa,
May 30, 1836.
Col. Clyman was a native of Kentucky, and previous to his settle-
ment in Milwaukee, had not only been a resident of nearly every
State north of the Ohio river, but he had also explored much of the
vast territory lying west of the Mississippi, then an unbroken wilder-
OF MILWAUKEE. 13
ness, he having crossed the Rocky Mountains three different times
and returned, once to California and twice to Oregon, besides serving
five years in the United States army ; and was probably not over forty
years of age when he came here, Few men then living had seen so
much of life in the rough, or were better constituted to enjoy it than
he, if they had. To him the frontier was a paradise. He was also
part owner of the saw mill erected on the same quarter section,
known afterwards as the " Ross Mill," every vestige of which has
long since disappeared, where a large amount of lumber was manu-
factured for several years ; a mill that, like its congener, built by Shew
Bros., was a faithful worker while it lasted.
What a place it was below the dam of that old mill, in the early
spring, for fish ; pike, pickerel, muscalonge and suckers used to come
up there by the million, and were taken out by the cart load by the
settlers living near there ; a sight that will never be witnessed again
That old veteran, Col. Elisha Starr, relates the taking of a wagon
load from there in the spring of 1837, to supply his table when keep-
ing the old " Bellevue," which were served up in molasses. Only
think of that ! Suckers and molasses, as a tonic, in lieu of the tradi-
tional brimstone and molasses! He also relates the finding of a pair
of gold-bowed spectacles on the head of one of these suckers, which
were lost in the lake by the late Eliphalet Cramer, when landing
from the old steamer Columbus, June 17, 1836. There may possibly
be some doubt about the truth of the latter statement. But I digress.
In person, Col. Clyman was tall and slim. He had dark brown
hair, and a dark or swarthy complexion. His head was rather larger
than the average, with a high forehead. He had small, dark blue
eyes, set wide apart, that seemed to look you through. His face was
thin and beardless, with high cheek bones. His mouth was small,
and his lips, which were thin, were generally slightly pressed together.
He spoke with a slight Southern accent, in a clear, distinct tone, and
was a man of few words, but of wonderful deeds. In manner he was
a perfect gentleman, courteous and dignified to all ; but at the same
time, not over easy to get acquainted with; and, like Orrendorf, "a
dangerous foe when aroused." He possessed the keenest sight of
any man I ever knew. He seldom laughed or showed any emotion,
14 PIONEER HISTORY
except when an Indian was in sight, when an expression would ap-
pear upon his face not difficult to interpret, and one that most cer-
tainly boded no good to the Indian. He walked with a long, quick
stride, stooped a little, a habit no doubt acquired in his early frontier
life, from carrying a pack. He was a splendid woodsman ; no better
ever lived here, and was possessed of wonderful powers of endurance,
as his journey from Rock river to Milwaukee, after the killing of Bur-
nett, fully proves. He was from habit an " Indian hater," and has
no doubt assisted at the " obsequies " of a great many more of them
than he ever told of.
Killing of Ellsworth Burnett.
As many of the present residents of Milwaukee have perhaps never
heard of this unfortunate occurrence, although a short account of it
appeared in Volume I., page 31 of my Pioneer History, I have
thought it perhaps not inopportune to give a more extended account
of it in this connection, while sketching one of the prominent actors
in the tragedy. And, given in his own words, it was substantially as
Clyman and Burnett left Milwaukee on the 4th of November, 1S35,
for a trip to Rock river, in search of land. They reached the river
on the second day out. At a point where the present village of The-
resa, Dodge county, now stands, they found an Indian wigwam, oc-
cupied by a squaw, from whom they purchased a canoe for fifty
cents, in which to descend the river, and into which they placed their
baggage and proceeded on their way. They were hardly out of sight
of the wigwam, wnen two Indians, one the husband and the other
the son of the squaw, came home, who, on learning what had oc-
curred, at once started in pursuit for the purpose of killing both of
them, partly for the recovery of the canoe, but principally to avenge
the death of a brother of the squaw, who was killed by a soldier at
Fort Winnebago, two years before.
Meanwhile, Clyman and Burnett had reached a point about a mile
and a half from Theresa, about sunset, and were preparing to take
up their quarters for the night in an old deserted cabin which some
wandering trapper had erected there in former years, when the two
Indians came up and entered the cabin, where Burnett was busy
OF MILWAUKEE. 15
making a fire. He was instantly shot by the son, before Clyman, who
was outside gathering wood for the night, had any suspicion of their
The report of the gun, followed by a screech of agony from Bur-
nett, caused Clyman to look up, when he saw the old Indian, whose
name was "Ash-e-ka-pa-we," or in English, " I stand here, or here I
stand," standing in the door of the cabin, beckoning him to come
quickly, giving him to understand at the same time that Burnett had
accidentally shot himself. Clyman at once started for the cabin, and
had nearly reached it, when the old rascal threw off the mask, and
raised his gun to shoot him. This at once opened Clyman's eyes as
to what had happened to Burnett, as well as to what would be likely to
happen to himself if he remained there long; and he at once com-
menced to run, jumping at the same time from side to side, in order
to make it the more difficult for the old sinner to hit him.
Old Ash-e-ka-pa-we, seeing that his little game was not only dis-
covered, but that his victim was also likely to escape, at once fired,
the shot taking effect in Clyman's left arm, breaking the bone just
below the elbow ; while at the same time the son, Ush-ho-ma, alias
Mach-e-oke-ma (or the little chief) came out of the cabin, and taking
Clyman's own gun, which stood leaning against it, loaded with buck-
shot, discharged the contents into his back, after which both started in
pursuit. This last shot was not very effective, on account of the dis-
tance Clyman was from them by that time, for he could run like a
deer ; and the principal effect was to make him, as he expressed it,
" as mad as hell " to be peppered in that way with his own gun, and
he would have liked to return the compliment very much, but as
sauve qui pent was the order of the day just then, he kept on, until
the voices of his pursuers, as they called to each other, one of them
keeping on each side of, and about parallel with him for a short
time, were lost in the distance, when he hid under a fallen tree.*
By this time it was dark, and after listening until their retreating
footsteps were lost in the distance, he bound up his wounded arm
with his handkerchief, after which he took his course for Milwaukee,
*So close was the search for him that they both stood at one time upon this very
tree, beneath which he was concealed, and so near him that he could hear all they
16 PIONEER HISTORY
distant fifty miles, and every foot of the way an unbroken wilderness.
He held his left arm in his right hand, traveled hard all that night,
during which it rained steadily, the next day and night, and in the
forenoon of the second day came out near the Cold Spring, having