Richard J Harney.

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

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droppings of the pay-house.

The agent, having distributed the goods
brought for that purpose, and everything in
readiness, he proceeds to pay out the money,
specie. As the interpreter calls the name of
the head of a family from the roll, the indi-
vidual so called enters the pay-house, walks
up to the counter, reports the number com-
prised in his family, and if this corresponds
with the number on the roll, he receives the
amount for the entire family, and secreting it
as far as possible under his blanket, he emerges
from the building, at the end opposite the
door he entered, and passes along between
two files of soldiers, who protect him for a
considerable distance from the mob of traders,
who are greedily awaiting an opportunity to
pounce upon him. He no sooner passes the
last soldier than he is seized by two, three or,
perhaps a half dozen of this motley crowd,
each one claiming to have an old account
against him, and each striving to get the first
chance at the pittance just drawn from the pay
table. In an instant he is stripped of every-
thing that could hide a dime, and each of his
captors taking an amount sufficient to satisfy
his rapacity, the victim is released and left to
gather up his scanty clothing, and depart with
the small amount, if anything, he has left.
In the meantime another debtor has been
turned loose from the pay-house, to run the
same gauntlet, and another set of traders are
relieving him in the same manner.

The true definition of "Indian trader" is:
" A man to whom the Indians are always
indebted. " This constitutes the main differ-
ence between that class and merchants, or
peddlers. Having escaped this debtor's court,
from which there is no appeal, he is now beset
at every step, with temptations to part with
what remains. Blankets, broadcloths, cali-
coes, saddles, fancy bridles, beads, brass but-
tons, ear-rings and finger-rings, are everywhere
conspicuously displayed. Pint bottles of
whiskey, two-thirds water, are offered him at
about the price of a gallon, and are seldom

At last the payment is over, the eating-
houses have received a considerable money
for a small amount (in value) of provisions, the

gamblers have reaped a rich harvest, the
whiskey-dealers have figured up a profitable
trip, the merchants have taken a great deal of
money, and have a large proportion of their
goods left, and the spectators have been hand-
somely remunerated in amusements, and all in
the space of three or four days.

There is one more feature of the payment
which should not be omitted. After it is all
over and the natives have taken time to figure
up their gains and losses, it is found that some
persons, or perhaps families, are, either from
age or infirmity, in need of assistance, where-
upon the young men of the nation, ornamented
with paint and feathers, proceed to the wig-
wam of some more fortunate family, where a
peculiar dance for their purpose is performed
at the door, at the end of which the head of
the family, perhaps a chief or prominent man
of the tribe, appears and responds in an elo-
quent address, and again stepping inside brings
out his donation of pork, flour, tea, coffee, or
whatever he may be disposed to give, which
is gratefully received by the party, with a few-
words from their speaker, and they proceed to
the next wigwam that promises success, where
the same forms are repeated.

Having completed their rounds they now
proceed to distribute their charities in the
same manner, and with the same forms, the
speaker of the party delivering the address and
the recipient responding; the music and dance
are varied somewhat, beingmore orless afterthe
order of the "Dead March in Saul;" and this, the
only creditable act in the "grand scheme" is
the finale of the payment, the Indians returning
to their hunting-ground and winter quarters.

This was also the site of an Indian village,
the headquarters of a chief called Grizzly Bear
and his band. A Catholic mission was estab-
lished here for the Indians, in 1844, by Father
Bonduel, and a trading-post about the same
time by George Coustaugh (Cowen).

The first move toward a settlement of the
town by white men was in the spring of 1849,
when John Keefe, then residing at Waukau,
located a claim, but for the time continued his
labor and residence as before.

In the fall, Mr. Thomas Mettam came here
with his family, and found Messrs. George
Rawson and Brother, Jerry Caulkins and
Thomas Robbins, who had all arrived within a
few weeks.

Mr. Thomas Brogden and Henry Cole, with
their families, Richard Barron, George Bur-
lingame, Joseph Felton, Jonathan and David
Maxon and Reed Case, followed immediately
after, and John Keefe returned with his family




before the expiration of the year.
In 1850, Philander Hall, James Heffron,
James Barron, William Johnson, G. and S.
Wiseman, H. Scofield, William Tritt and
E. B. Wood, became residents of the
town. Michael O'Reiley came in the spring


The first religious services were held by Mr.
Charles Duro, at the residence of Henry Cole,
tn the winter of 1849 and 1850.

The first birth was that of Charles, son of
John Keefe, in February, 1850.

In 1853, a log school-house was erected in
the northeast corner of southeast quarter of
southeast quarter of Section 35, and, in the
winter following, Miss Julia Jordan officiated as
teacher therein.

In the spring of 1854, a school-house was
erected in the Mettam neighborhood — Dis-
trict Number 2.

March 29, 1855, occurred the first death,
that of Hugh Mongan.

Regular religious exercises were instituted
by Rev. Maxon, in 1851, at the house of
Thomas Brogden.

A post-office called Powaickam was estab-
lished July 8, 1852, and WilHam S. Webster
appointed postmaster. The name of the office
was subsequently changed to Poygan.


The Town of Poygan was set off and organ-
ized as a separate town by action of the
County Board, November 11, 1852, compris-
ing Town 19, north. Range 14, east.

At the first annual town meeting, held at the
house of Jonathan Maxon, April 5, 1853,
William Hammond was chosen chairman, B.
Wilkinson, clerk, William Tritt and William
Johnson, inspectors. There were forty votes
polled, resulting in the election of Thomas
Brogden. chairman; Edmond Cain and David
Safiford, supervisors; Charles B. Wilkinson,
clerk; William Tritt, treasurer; Benedict Ham-
ilton, William Johnson, Jonathan Maxon and
James Brodcrick, justices; Michael O'Reiley,
Orson Cass, and Thomas Kenney, assessors.

At the election of April 4, 1854, the success-
ful candidates were: Orson Case, chairman;
Joseph Felton and Henry Cole, supervisors;
C. B. Wilkinson, clerk; William Tritt, treas-
urer; Thomas Brogden and Edward S. Thomp-
son, justices; Thomas Mettam, assessor.

The above names of candidates for justices
in 1853 and 1854, and of assessors in 1853,

were voted for, but we find no record showing
the number elected or to be elected.

Wm. Tritt, chairman; James Heffron and
Frederick Tegtmyre, supervisors; David Blish,
clerk; Michael Broderick, treasurer; Bernard
Mongan, assessor; A. B. Blackburn and G. K.
Whitney, justices.



Silualion — Face of the Country — Handsome Tract Border-
ing the Lake — Beautiful Wooded Points — The Camping
Grounds of Summer Excursionists — Indian Neighbors of
the Early Settlers — Soil — Timber — Water — Streams —
Good Gravel Roads — Well Cult'vated Farms — Inhab-
itants — Early Settlers — Society in the Early Day —
Humorous Incidents — Town Organization — Organic
Election — Schools — Population.

fLACK WOLF is situated in the south-
east corner of the county and on the
shore of Lake Winnebago, which forms
its entire eastern boundary. It com-
prises Fractional Township 17, Range
17, and the eastern tier of sections of Town-
ship 17, Range 16, the whole being about half
of a township.

That portion of the town embracing a tract,
a mile to two miles in width, bordering the
lake-shore, is very handsome undulating
land, indented with bays, which form beautiful
wooded points. These points are the favorite
camping-grounds of excursionists during the
summer months — parties frequently camping
there for weeks at a time. The shores are
generally gravelly and stony, with handsome
sloping banks, which were originally covered
with a fine forest growth. In many places
enough trees have been preserved to retain
much of the original appearance; in others the
timber has been cleared off.

Along the shore in this town were what was .
called "timber openings," and Indian planting-
grounds; being very large, tall oaks, with an
occasional tree of hickory, bass, elm, and other
varieties. These trees were scattered at inter-
vals with open spaces and thickets of hazel
brush, plum and crab-apple. The under-
growth was so kept down by the annual fires,
that large tracts presented the appearance of
great well- kept parks. So open was the coun-
try that in some places the lake could be
seen through the trees for a distance of a mile
or more from the shore.

The Indian planting-grounds were more




open spaces, with an occasional scattering tree
and clump of hazel-brush, and were the sites
of Indian villages that formerly occupied the
more eligible points on the lake-shore. On
one of these points, called Black Wolf Point,
was the village of Black Wolf — a famous and
shrewd Winnebago chief, who was skilled in
all the arts of Indian diplomacy, and who
exercised much influence in Indian affairs. The
town was named after him.

The signs of Indian cultivation were plainly
visible in many places on the lake-shore, in this
town, up to within a very recent period, and
probably the corn-hills can yet be seen in some

These old Indian planting-grounds are
lovely spots, with the great spreading oaks
and greensward in handsome contrast with
the sparkling waters of the lake, and were once
the homes of a dense Indian population.

For many years after the white settlement of
the county, the Indians made this locality a
favorite resort — living on very friendly terms
with the early settlers, and in many instances,
preserving the latter from starvation.

An old acquaintance and friend^ of the
writer — Wm. Armstrong, who settled on the
lakeshore, in this town, in 1845, at which time
there was only one other house between his
place and Fond du Lac — a distance of
twelve miles, stated that on several occasions,
when his family were out of food, the Indians
who were very friendly to them, brought them
corn, wild-rice, maple-sugar and venison.
The Indians were, of course, very frequently
the recipients of the bounty of the whites.

That portion of the town lying west of the
tract just described is more level, and was
originally covered with a forest growth of
maple, oak, ironwood, bass, elm, poplar, hick-
ory and other varieties. In the southeastern
part of the town are found large hay marshes.
The soil varies from a black loam on the lower
land to a clay loam, and is generally fertile
and highly productive.

The town is noted for the superior quality
of its wheat, which took the first premium at
the Paris E.xpositinn, in competition with all
other countries.

Three small streams traverse the town, and
empty into the lake, forming good harbors
for sail craft. Good well water is readily
obtained, by digging or drilling.

The soil is largely impregnated with decayed
or disintegrated limestone, and portions of the
land are stony, abounding in " hard heads,"
large boulders, and limestone. The base is
limestone, and the soil is generally a good
wheat soil. Bank-gravel is found at intervals

in thelake-shore district, and furnishes an excel-
lent material for roads.

The roads on the lake-shore are now among
the best in the county, although at an early
day they were execrable, in fact almost impass-
able during wet periods.

In the days of the early settlement of the
town, a party of travelers on their way from
Fond du Lac to Oshkosh, after dragging all
day through the mud — in some places hub-
deep, brought up at a settler's house, on the
r:)adside, glad to avail themselves of an oppor-
tunity for a little rest and refreshment.

It happened that this settler's family were
then e.vperiencing their first year of back
wood's life, and were people who were brought
up in a city where they had been formerly
surrounded with the luxuries of life, and
moved in the cultured circles of society. Some
of the travelers, in a pompous, rude manner,
made disparaging remarks about the country
and its roads; expressing a sort of supercilious
pity for backwoods people, and enquired:
What possessed them to settle in such a
place(?)" The lady of the house, amused at
the vulgar pretentions, and rudeness of her
interrogators, laughingly replied: " That the
fact was, they had straggled off here, hardly
knowing where they did want to go, and had
traveled through the mud as far as they could
get, and were glad to stop."

The early-day traveler through Black Wolf
would hardly recognize the excellent roads,
delightful scenery, and highly cultivated farms
of the present day, as the same place; although
in a state of nature it was very handsome, the
chief drawbacks being the bad roads, with
which all new countries are afflicted.

A large portion of the cultivated land is now
cleared of stumps, and the farms generally
present a fine appearance, with good buildings
and all the comforts and conveniences of farm

The inhabitants of the lake-shore are prin-
cipally Americans. In the interior part of the
town they are chiefly Swiss and German.

The first settler in the town was Clark Dick-
inson, who moved on a piece of land in the
northern part of the town, in the spring of
1 841. He was followed by C. R. Luce, Ira
Aiken, Wm. and Thos. Armstrong, Chas. Gay,
T. and H. Hicks.

The Armstrongs came in 1845, and settled
near Black Wolf Point. The country at that
time was an unbroken wilderness, and their near-
est neighbors four miles distant. No road had
been cut out and the only line of travel was
Indian trails, or by canoe on Lake Winne-

1843 79-]



bago. The Armstrongs were gentlemen of fine
address and polished manners — having passed
their earlier years in the most polished and
cultured circles of society. They were Irish
by birth — their father a surgeon in the British
Army — but leaving home at an early day,
they passed many years with a wealthy uncle
at New York City, and, subsequently went to
Santa Cruz, one of the Dutch West India
Islands, where they lived for some time with
another uncle, on a sugar plantation. In 1836,
they came to the then Eldorado of the West,
Chicago, where they lived several years, when
Thomas returned to Santa Cruz; and William,
in connection with Gurdon S. Hubbard, of
Chicago, engaged in looking up choice lands
for purchase. While making his explorations,
he visited the Lake Winnebago country, and
was charmed with this lake and its delightful
surroundings. In the winter of 1843, accom-
panied by Charles Gay, a cousin of his wife,
and formerly a midshipman in the British
Navy, he went to the now town of Black
Wolf, and selected for a home the former
planting grounds and village site of Black
Wolf, since known as Black Wolf Point, and
near this point, on the lake shore, built a log
house. He then returned for his family, con-
sisting of wife, one child, and his wife's young
brother and sister. They started for their new
home, and in due time reached Fond du Lac,
where they took the ice, the lake being yet
frozen, and reached their place on the 4th of
March, 1843.* It was truly a home in the
wilderness, the nearest neighbors being set-
tlers in the vicinity of Fond du Lac, some
eight miles distant, and Clark Dickinson, five
miles, with no means of communication but
an Indian trail or the lake. It was a dreary,
cheerless season of the year, and there was no
one but Mr. Gay and a band of Menominee
Indians encamped near by, to welcome them to
their new home. The Indians were very
friendly and neighborly, and they became
quite intimate with them. The melting snows
and the rains soon filled the sloughs, and the
trails became impassable; while at the same
time the broken ice in the lake made canoe
navigation impracticable. In this emergency
their provisions gave out, and for three days
they lived on maple-sugar procured from their
Indian friends, who were making that article
at a sugar camp near by. The Indians told
them that the fish would soon begin to run up
the creek; so, after living for three days on

*N0TE. — It is erroneously stated in the former part of this
article that Armstrong settled in Black Wolf in 1845. It
should have been 1843.

sugar, the Indians brought them fish, which
varied the bill of fare for two more days, at
the end of which time Mr. Armstrong, who
had gone to Fond du Lac for flour, returned
with a fifty-pound sack, which he had backed
from that point, through the sloughs, by the
Indian trail.

The warm spring days soon changed the
face of nature; and their surroundings assumed
a more cheerful appearance. They prepared
a small piece of ground, which they planted,
and then set to work preparing more land for
breaking. In the early summer they were
regaled with strawberries, which grew abun-
dantly in the vicinity. The band of Indians
which they found on their arrival, continued
to camp near them for several seasons, and
they found them quite companionable, and in
time regarded them as old acquaintances.
Wild game and fish were plentiful, and they
easily supplied themselves with an abundance
of meat and fish. The Indians used to trade
two measures of maple-sugar for one of flour.

In a few years settlers began to flock in and
occupy the adjoining land.

This town, in the early day, presented apecu-
liar social phase. On the lake shore were con-
gregated a number of persons, many of whom
had mingled in the world's widest currents of
social life, and in its aristocratic circles. Wil-
liam Armstrong and wife; Dr. Carey, a grad-
uate of Edinburg College, his wife the daugh-
ter of an Irish Baronet; Charles Gay, form-
erly a midshipman in the British Navy; Old
Mr. John Harney and William Greenwood, the
last three natives of the City of Halifax, all
men of cultured manners, and of professional
or business antecedents. Old Mr. Harney
was particularly noticeable for his well-bred,
courteous manners, and was held in the high-
est esteem. He had been for many years
engaged with his father in conducting a heavy
business — that of contracting for the supplies
of the army and navy, at Halifax. On the
death of his father, he moved with his young
family to Chicago, in 1836, where he engaged
in the wild speculations of the day, making
considerable money, only to lose it again, in
the financial crash of 1837-8. In 1843, he
moved to Racine, and from there to Black
Wolf, where his friends, the Armstrongs, were
living. Like many others, he never recovered
from his fallen fortunes, and died in Blaek
Wolf on the 14th of May, 1877, at the
advanced age of 82.

William Greenwood, educated as a lawyer,
came to Black Wolf in 1850, where he settled
on a farm, and soon became an adept in pio-
neer farming. ' In his earlier years he had




mingled in the aristocratic circles of St. Johns,
New Brunswick, but having a passion for
farm life, he visited his relatives, the Arm-
strongs, and being attracted with the hand-
some locality, purchased a farm and gave up
Blackstone for the plow.

Frances Weyerhorst, a native of Holland,
came to Black Wolf, then called Brighton, in
April, 1846, and settled on section 12, entering
the land direct from the government. In 1847,
he started a tan-yard, on what was known as
Dickinson's Creek. In 1848, he was joined by
his sister and father, Mr. Hermann Weyerhorst.
In 1855, Mr. Weyerhorst was married to Miss
Henrietta Eversz; and they still reside on the
spot where the old log cabin stood, a fine, tasty
house having superceded the old log house.
At one time, during the first years ol his resi-
dence in the town, he took his sister to visit
the Indians, who were encamped on the shore
near the south line of the land now owned by
Wm, B. Knapp. The Indians were Menomi-
nees and numbered about five hundred. They
were holding one of their annual feasts, and
large quantities of game and fish had been
secured for the occasion. A very long lodge
or wigwam, nearly two hundred feet long,
faced the lake, while hundreds of canoes, many
of birch bark and gaily ornamented, covered
the beach. On landing from their canoe, Mr.
W.'s sister was received by a party of well-
dressed squaws, who conducted her through
the lodge and exhibited specimens of their
weaving and fancy bead work, with as much
grace and politeness as could have been
expected from a civilized people, The Indians
were well behaved and there was no drunken-
ness or disorderly conduct, but everyone
seemed intent on having a good time.

Alexander Bangs was born in Denmark in
1814, and was married in 1844, to Miss Char-
lotta Rendliff, at Copenhagen. In 1848, they
moved to the United States and settled, that
year, on Government land in the then town of
Brighton (now Black Wolf), where he still

Mr. Bangs' son, Henry, now owns a large
part of the old homestead, on which he resides,
and another son, Nicholas, owns the Arm-
strong place.

Mr. Bangs has ever been regarded as one of
the substantial men of the town, and one of
its most successful farmers and respected citi-
zens, and his sons are young men of most
industrious and exemplary habits.

Mr. Nicholas Bangs settled in this town in
1845. The Armstrongs and one other family
were the only settlers between him and Fond
du Lac, a distance of twelve miles. While

making a trip to Fond du Lac in a sail boat,
in company with Mr. Murphy and a Mr. Strang-
man, all residents of the town, the boat was
capsized, between Long Point and Fond du
Lac, and all three were lost. Mr. Bangs was
a man of much culture, and highly esteemed
for his many good qualities.

Milton Cleveland came from Oswego County,
New York, in 1849, and settled in the Town
of Brighton (now Black Wolf), on Section 7,
and resides yet on the same location where he
first stuck his stakes. His finely cultivated
farm is one that he has hewed out of the wilder
ness, and its creditable appearance well attests
the industry and successful management of its
prosperous owner.

Henry C. Morgan moved to Black Wolf in
1851, and built a large saw-mill at the mouth
of Murphy's Creek, and also a steamboat dock.
The mill was run very successfully for several
years, and shipped large quantities of lumber.
Steamboats landed daily at the dock, while
vessels were almost constantly loading lumber.
The hard times of 1857, and the general depres-
sion of the lumber business, made the manu-
facture of lumber at this point unprofitable,
and the mill stopped. A few years afterwards
the enterprising proprietor died, and thus
passed away a man of remarkable energy, fine
business ability, great public spirit and of
unquestioned integrity. After Mr. Morgan's
death, the mill was moved away and the little
hamlet that sprang up around it disappeared.

Mr. Warren Morley moved, in 1849, into
the now town of Black Wolf, and settled on
Section 21, where he still resides. In 1850,
he built a steamboat dock on his bay, where
steamboats daily landed, to wood. On the
breaking out of the war, his sons were among
the first to enlist; and seven of them were in
the service — Isaac, Aden, Arual, Asahel,
Rich, Francis and Albert. Two died in the
service — Isaac and Rich — and Francis died
a few days after his return home. Asahel
received a gunshot wound in the knee at the
battle of Winchester.

Daniel Madden, with his father, moved to
this town in 1849, and settled on Section 18,
where he continued to reside until a few years
since. By industry and good management he
converted the tract on which he settled into a
highly productive farm, and became one of
the most thrifty and successful farmers in the

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 58 of 71)