Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

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" native, and to the manor born. " In
all negotiations between France and
England, England and the United States, quit-
claims to a vast extent of territory were passed
from one to the other, which were simply
intended to decide which one of these great
powers sliould possess the exclusive right to
rob the native of his heriditary title to the soil.
The United States, fully vested with this
power, adopted a scheme in 183 i for the civil-
izing, Christianizing and general improvement
of the Menomonce tribe, who had selected this
place for their principal village, and who were
owners of the contiguous country. • 1




In pursuance of this plan, a grist mill, saw-
mill, blacksmith shop and Feveral block houses
about sixteen by twenty feet in size, were
erected in 1835-6; also, five larger block
houses for the use and occupation of the offi-
cers and teachers in charge, the smaller ones
for Indian residences, and models after which
the Indians were to build for themselves as

One of the large and one of the small houses
were built on the point near the head of the
channel and the old Council Tree; a large one
on the lake shore at the east end of Wisconsin
Avenue, long the residence of Harrison Reed,
one near the grist mill, vi'hich has given place
to the Winnebago Paper Mills; another on the
Blair farm, and the other on the Neff farm; the
last two being near the mounds of Buttes des
Morts, on the west shore of the lake, the smaller
ones being located conveniently within the
same area. Upon the completion of these
buildings in 1836, Clark Dickinson, Nathaniel
Perry, Robert Irwin and Mr. Baird, father of
the late Hon. Henry S. Baird, were appointed
to supply the place of teachers in farming; Col-
onel David Johnson as miller, Joseph Jourdan
and a man named Hunter as blacksmiths; a
clergyman by the name of Gregory, and his
brother, for teachers of religion and morals.

Water, for supplying the mills, was provided
by the construction of a wing dam some two
hundred feet in length. The Indians, informed
that they were at liberty to occupy the smaller
houses, at once removed the floors and pitched
their wigwams on the ground within, or erect-
ing wigwams outside, stabled their ponies

For a long time previous to 1833, the Win-
nebago Indians had owned and occupied the
Island and a small tract north of the Lake and
east of Fox river. (See Indian boundary lines.)
On the Island was situated their headquarters,
the village of "Four Legs," a prominent Win-
nebago chief, commmanding this channel and
where tribute was often exacted for passing.
This had given it the name of "Winnebago
Rapids," which naturally attached to the soil.
These two prominent villages being separated
only by the stream, the Menomonees and Win-
nebagoes had long lived on the most intimate
and amicable relations — often intermarrying.
In September, 1836, at the annual payment,
then held at Cedar Rapids, the Menomonees
ceded to the United States all lands lying
within the present limits of Winnebago County
(and much more, see Indian boundary lines),
except that portion previously ceded by the
Winnebagoes, In 1839, this treaty having
been ratified, orders were issued to Surveyor

General Ellis, and this acquisition was surveyed,
and October 2nd, 1843, all of Township 20,
north. Range 17, east, lying west of Lake
Buttes des Morts, was offered for sale, except-
ing and reserving such as was declared con-
nected with the improvements; and the Chris-
tianizing enterprise was abandoned,


By an act of Congress approved March 3,
1843, the war department was authorized to
advertise and sell this reservation, with the
improvements, utensils, etc. In the meantime
Mr. Harrison Reed visited this locality, in the
winter of 1842-3, and became so favorably
impressed with its advantages that he came
again in the spring for the purpose of selecting
a site and establishing a permanent home —
leaving his family in Milwaukee. Finding this
reservation advertised he sent in a bid, which
was approved by the Secretary of War in 1844.
This sale included 562 44-100 acres of land,
and the price paid was $4,760. When Mr.
Reed came in the spring of 1843 lie was accom-
panied by Charley Wescott, now residing at
Shawano, who worked for Mr. Reed that sea-
son, and was succeeded, in 1844, by Gil Brooks.
Mr. Reed brought his family here in the winter
of 1843-4. Mr. Reed's purchase included
562 44-100 acres of land, all buildings, a quan-
tity of logs and timber, wagons, carts, farming
implements, a supply of building material and
a stock of iron in the blacksmith shop. His
residence was the block house on the lake
shore, which he occupied for many years.
In June, 1843, George H. Mansur left Buf-
falo with his family on the steamer Black Hawk,
owned and commanded by Captain P. Hotaling,
and coasting along the lakes, arri\-ed at Green
Bay in the latter part of that month. With
the intention of running the rapids of Fox ■
River to Lake Winnebago, the Black Hawk
was taken to the foot of the Rapids at Grand
Kaukauna. Here, her wheel, a stern wheel,
was taken off, placed upon the shore and cov-
ered with a large canvas, and Mansur's family
moved into the wheel, where they resided for
three weeks. Meanwhile, the boat was drawn
out on rollers, and an attempt made to con-
vey her around the rapids in this manner; but
after progressing about three-fourths of a mile
the project was abandoned, the boat restored
to her natural element, and the wheel replaced.
Captain Hotaling and Mansur now started to
make a trip around Lake Winnebago, and on
their return by Winnebago Rapids, met Mr.
Reed, who wishing to obtain the services of
just such men, soon induced Mansur to locate





here. After making arrangements for a Dur-
ham boat, whenever he should send for it, Mr.
Mansur, with Captain HotaHng returned to
Kaukauna, arriving about noon. About the
middle of the afternoon he sent his son, Jeff,
then a lad of thirteen years, back to Mr. Reed's
for the boat. Jeff started out through the
woods, without a road except the Indian trail
which frequently branched to the right or left,
barefooted and alone, but was soon overtaken
by Captain Powell and some one else on horse-
back. Inquiring the way of them, he found
their destination was Winnebago Rapids, and
at once resolved to keep them in sight, which
he succeeded in doing, and reached his desti-
nation before night. The ne.xt morning he
was fitted out with a Durham boat manned
by seven Indians, with which he arrived
safely at Kaukauna, where the family effects
were soon loaded, including one additional
member in the person of Esther, a daughter
born July 17th, during their sojourn at Kau-
kauna, Before leaving this point, it may be
well to state that they here found the families
of George Law and Augustin Grignon, old
French traders from whom they received very
hospitable treatment in the absence of Mr.
Mansur. Poling and pulling the boat, they
reached the foot of the Grand Chute, a per-
pendicular fall of seven feet; but the rock hav-
ing been worn away near the shore, unladen
Durham boats were drawn through the rapids
by the use of tow-ropes. Here they camped
for the night, unloaded their cargo, carried it
along the bank past the rapids, towed the boat
to a point above, and reloaded. Leaving their
encampment in the morning, they arrived at
Mr. Reed's, the block house before mentioned,
during the day, August 9, 1843, the first white
family permanently settled within the present
limits of the City of Neenah.

Mr. Mansur was soon set to work repairing
the old mills, and managed them until the
spring of 1844. April 10, 1844, he made the
claim of his present farm. Thus early in the
season, the family inform me that the wild
plum trees were in full bloom. There being
an endless profusion of this fruit, and the crab-
apple along the shore of the lake and rivers,
they became, when in blossom, very conspic-

In June, following, Mr. Mansur removed
his family to this claim, where he has ever
since resided, and claims he can still hoe a
man's row, while Jeff, the lad of thirteen sum-
mers, has developed a muscle capable of sus-
taining twenty-five pounds, in each hand, at
arm's length, but Jeff has always been careful of
his strength, reserving it to fill his father's place.

Gilbert Brooks, still a resident of the county,
was here, in the employ of Mr. Reed, this

March 14, 1844, a postoffice was established,
and Harrison Reed appointed postmaster.


In 1845, Governor Doty, having built the
log house on the Island during this and the
preceding year, now took up his residence

August 28, Gorham P. Vining and George
Harlow declared their intention of becoming
residents, and, by an arrangement with Mr.
Reed, made some repairs on the mills and
wingdam, and run them through the winter,
and are now residents of the town. They kept
bachelor's hall the first winter in the block-
house near the mill.

Ira Baird and wife also arrived in December,
and in the same month Rev. O. P. Clinton
made a short visit, but of sufficient length to
decide upon this as a place for future residence.
In March, 1846, he removed his family to one
of the block-houses near the Council Tree. In
the fall, finding the other house vacant and
more comfortable for a winter's campaign, he
made some repairs, and moved his family into

Mr. Clinton settled here under the auspices
of the American Board of Home Missions; his
circuit for that year included Oshkosh, Rosen-
dale, Springvale, Waukau, Rushford, Strong's
Landing, now^ Berlin, Fond du Lac and Nee-

The payment for Mr. Reed's purchase from
the United States having become due, and
being unable of his own means to pay the
required amount, he, through the instrumen-
tality of Mr. Clinton, had opened negotiations
wMth Mr. Harvey Jones, of Gloversville, New
York. L. H. Jones, abrother of Harvey, and
Perrin Yale, a nephew in business at Wauke-
sha, acting in the capacity of agents for Har-
vey Jones, came here in the spring and exam
ined the property. Upon a favorable report
from these agents, Mr. Reed went to Glovers
\'ille, where an arrangement was made by
which Mr. Jones furnished the money, and Mr.
Reed, in July, satisfied the demand. The
terms of this contract will, probably, never be
known, as the statements in reference to it are
extremely conflicting.

In March, James Ladd, Samuel Mitchell and
L. S. Wheatley arrived, the former locating
west of Lake Buttes des Mort, and the two
latter near Mr. Reed's.





The first marriage occurring within the pres-
ent limits of the city was at one of the block-
houses near the Council Tree, the residence of
Elder Clinton, in IVIay. The victims were John
F. Johnston and Jeanette Finch, a sister of
Mrs. Clinton, the Elder officiating. The first
white child born within the present limits of
the city, and the first female in the town, was
a daughter of Harrison and A. Louisa Reed,
in August, and was named Nina, a near
approach to Neenah.

The first death was that of Stephen Hart-
well, September fourth, at one of the block
houses near the Council-tree, the remains with
those of Jenson, who died the next day, (see
Town of Menasha,) were buried neartheButtes
des Morts mounds.

There seems to be a difference of opinion as
to the time " regular " religious services were
instituted. During the stay of Mr. Gregory,
United States Missionary to the Menomonees,
divine services was no doubt conducted by
him. It is also stated that a religious meeting
was held at the house of Harrison Reed in
1845, by a Methodist Minister, who in his
travels happened to stop at Mr. Reeds, but it
is probably safe to say that the first " regular "
meeting was conducted by the Rev. O. P.
Clinton, at his residence, the Sabbath after his
arrival, in March 1846, which was attended
by Governor Doty and wife, Harrison Reed
and wife and his aunt, a Mrs. Griswald,
Thomas Burdick, John F". Johnston, Henry
Finch, Jeanette Finch and Mr. and Mrs. Clin-
ton, a large majority ol the settlers at that


In September, Mr. Harvey Jones came on,
with his wife and son, Gilbert C. , now a resi-
dent of the city, and for the first time exam-
ined his purchase. Remaining here during
the winter, he employed several men in making
improvements about the mills. Nelson Dan-
forth was employed as miller.

Loyal H. Jones and Ferine Yale seem to
have settled here during the winter, also Asa
Jones, another brother who became a promin-
ent resident, for many years occupying a farm
near the West shore of Buttes des Morts


During the year, the lands in this vicinity
on the South and West were placed in market,
and many tracts claimed or entered, initiating
the first settlement for purposes of agriculture.

Among the new comers of 1846, were
Lucius A. Donaldson, Cornelius Northrop,
Corydon Northrop, Phillip Brien and Milton
Huxley, with their families. John F. John-
son, Henry C. Finch, Stephen Hartwell, A.
B. Brien, and one Jensen.


February 8, 1847, by an act of the Legisla-
ture, approved this date, a company was
chartered, consisting of Governor Doty, his son
Charles, Curtis Reed, Harrison Reed, and
Harvey Jones, with authority to construct and
maintain a dam across each channel. It would
seem that at this time the parties were all
mutually interested in producing a water-
power at the foot of Lake Winnebago, that
should be second to none on this continent, all
advantages considered; and there is little
doubt that if amicable relations had continued,
the energies of the entire company would
have been devoted to that end, and the
improvements confined to the South channel,
the State canal included, except so far as
might be necessary, from the nature of the
case, to maintain a dam on the North Side.
The charter obtained, differences at once
sprung up between the parties; and the Doty's
with Curtis Reed, were driven to the North
Side, when Jones and Reed, unable to work
together for their mutual benefit, the latter
was compelled to follow. Jones on one side,
the Doty's and Reeds on the other, were soon
arrayed in perfect hostility. Law-suits were
at once instituted, implicating the title on the
South Side and were for years an obstacle to

In the fall of 1847, Daniel Priest put in
operation a carding-machine, which was run
for several years, when Mr. Priest, having
become a resident of Menasha, removed the
carding-mill to that side. This was the pion-
eer institution of its kind in this county and
vicinity and was the nucleus of the present
Menasha Woolen Mills. The Town of Neenah
was organized February 11, 1847, (see Town
of Neenah). This reminds us of an old story,
occasionally revived relating to this word
" Neenah; " to the effect that Governor Doty
once asked an Indian Chief, pointing to the
river. " What is that ? " The chief replied,
supposing that Doty meant the water,
"Neenah" — Hence the name of river and
town. We wish to say that no white man
better understood the language, customs or
character of these people than Governor Doty,
and to accuse him of ignorance of the name of




Fox River in any Indian language spoken
upon its banks is simply absurd.


September 8, 1847, the first village plat of
Neenah was recorded by Harrison Reed, pro-
prietor. The dam was built this fall, though
not completed; in fact it was not completed
for many years. It being difficult to obtain
boarding-places for the men engaged on the
dam, and a necessity existing for a house of
public entertainment, Mr. James Ladd, who
had, in October previous, taken up his resi-
dence in the Government block-house, which
stood on the present Blair farm, was induced
to erect a building that would serve the double
purpose; and proceeded at once to put up a
building which might be considered a very
good barn or an inferior residence. Choosing
it for the latter purpose, he accommodated
fifty boarders and all travelers that might
apply. His son Christopher informs us that
at one time there were thirteen different
languages spoken under that roof. Where is
Babel now ? This was the first frame building
erected in Neenah, except the Government
mills. In the fall, Mr. Ladd commenced the
erection of the Winnebago Hotel, now standing
on the southwest corner of Walnut Street and
Wisconsin Avenue. This he completed the
same season, converting the boarding-house
into a barn — it having been located and built
with that intention. For obtaining lime, Mr,
Ladd built a kiln in the bend of the river,
above the house, took the stone from the bed
of the river and burned them. When the old
Government buildings were erected, in 1835-6,
a brick yard was started at the foot of the
island, and here he dug out enough for chim-
neys. To supply the lumber and shingles,
pine logs were cut, in the northwestern part of
the pfesent Town of Menasha, taken to the
old Government mill and sawed, or shaved
into shingles.


Early in the season Mr. Clinton, with the
assistance of some members of his congrega-
tion, fitted up a log house, built by Smith
Moores, in 1845, for religious services. Here
Miss Caroline Northrup opened a private
school, and in the fall, the first public school
was inaugurated, with one Lambert for
teacher, an itinerant dancing, singing and
general teacher, but after about a month, an
extended furlough was granted him, and his
place supplied by Wm. Dcnnison. The follow-
ing summer Miss Northrup officiated as

We have incidently spoken of Smith

Moores, whose name seems somewhat con-
nected with those of Col. Fuller, Robert Irwin,
Archibald Caldwell, and probablj' some others,
who were located here at an early day, as
Indian traders, without any intention of mak-
ing this a permanent residence, excepting
perhaps Moores, who might have become
more fully identified with the place, but for
his death, which occurred in 1851, from small
pox, contracted at the Indian payment that
fall, instead of 1853, as has been represented.


During this season, 1847, Jones & Yale
already mentioned, opened a stock of general
merchandise and Indian goods, in one of the
block-houses, which the early settlers found
a great convenience, and which was the first
mercantile undertaking, except such as had
been established for Indian traffic.

From this time the new arrivals, with the
many changes, came crowding upon each
other in such rapid succession, that we are
unable to give a detailed account of each and
every person, and event, but shall endeavor to
record each as fully and accurately as space
and circumstances will admit. Thus far we
have endeavored to give a history of the
increase in population, the preparations for an
extended business in the future, and the dis-
advantages encountered. If any names have
been omitted it has been wholly unintentional,
on our part, and in many instances they will
probably be found in connection with the
towns with which they afterwards became
more closely identified.


In the spring of 1848, Harvey Jones became
a permanent resident, having, as proprietor,
caused a plat of the village of Winnebago
Rapids, in the town of Neenah, to be recorded
January 6, 1848. Soon after his arrival, he
commenced the erection of a sawmill, Charles
Lindsly being associated with him in the

In June, Mr. Harvey L. Kimberly came
here and made an agreement with Mr. Jones,
which ga\'e him the privilege of purchasing
two lots in each block of the plat of Winne-
bago Rapids.

Mr. Kimberly now returned to his home in
New Haven, Connecticut, and at once made
arrangements accordingly. Forming a part-
nership with his brother, John R. Kimberly,
then a resident of Troy, New York, their
native place, and leaving their families behind,
they arrived at Neenah in September, having
shipped a stock of merchandise from Buffalo
to Green Bay, bj' schooner, which they char-



tered in connection with Jones & Yale, for that
purpose. On reaching Neenah, they then
announced their readiness to fulfill their agree-
ment with Jones, and carry out their business
intentions, but here a difficulty arose. When-
ever they made a selection of any lots, they
were either disposed of or reserved. At last,
unable to obtain suitable lots for their pur-
pose, they began to talk of accepting some
very favorable offers proposed by Reed at
Menasha, which soon produced its effect,
and they were permitted to make their own
selection, for building a residence, a store and
mill. It now became necessary for one of
them to go to Green Bay, to forward their
goods, shipped from Buffalo, Jones & Yale
were also expecting the arrival of their goods
at the Bay.

H. L. Kimbeily and L. H. Jones, accord-
ingly, started on horse back over the only road
— the old Government road — cut through the
woods many years prior, and now grown full
of underbrush, leaving a mere bridle path.
Mr. Jones being obliged to return home
immediately, Mr. Kimberly remained to look
after the interest of both, in the coming
freight. At the end of a weeks delay, the
necessary arrangements completed, Mr. Kim-
berly set out on his return, accompanied by
M. L. Blood, then proprietor of the Astor
House, at the Bay, bound for Grand Chute.
Arriving at the present site of Appleton, they
found John F. Johnston, before mentioned,
living in a board shanty, the only resident of
the place. This being the point of Mr.
Blood's destination, and unable to find lodging
for both, Mr. Kimberly was advised, and in
fact compelled, to push on a mile and a half
to a Mr. Muich's. Scarcely had he resumed
his way, whca the sky became overcast, and
he found himself in almost total darkness,
obliged to depend entirely upon the instinct
of his horse, v.hich at least brought him to
a barway at t'le road side. Opening this, and
unable to see anything, he again seated him-
self in the saddle with unlimited confidence in
his four footed companion and soon found him-
self at the house, where he was informed that
they had no ;'.ccommodation for man or beast,
but, pointing to a light at Mr. Crafts, some
half a mile across the field, he could probably
find what he was in search of, there. Making
his way tow ard the light, he met with no better
success, but was advised to make another
effort at Murche's. Retracing his steps, he
this time found Mr. Murch, who granted his
request, and entertained him with perfect
pioneer hospitality.

On the arrival of the goods they were dis-

played in a building erected for the purpose,
that year, by Benjamin Paddock, who occu-
pied the upper story as a residence, situated
across the street from the present barrel
factory, and which may be seen at the present


S. R. Kellogg also came in the spring, and
" viewing the prospect o'er " with very satis-
factory results, returned for his family, with
which he returned in August, accompanied by
Mr. Benjamin Simmons.

In the mean time Lucius A. Donaldson and
John B. Lajest had commenced the erection
of a building, on the water-power, near where
Patton's paper mill now stands, for a planing
mill, sash, door and blind factory. Messrs.
Kellogg & Simmons, owners of machinery for
the manufacture of bedsteads and chairs, soon
after formed a partnership with Donaldson &
Lajest, setting up their machinery in the same
building, and the entire business was conducted
under the firm name of Donaldson, Lajest &
Co. This was the first building completed on
the water power, always excepting the Gov-
ernment enterprise, and was also occupied by
a wool-carding machine, owned and operated
by Daniel Priest, which had been running in
another building.


A.*^. Cronkhite opened the first drug store
in the place in September.

Captain J. M. Ball, born at Southboro,
Worcester County, Massachusetts, in 1816,

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 41 of 71)