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thirty-nine, and about 200 feet from a bayou of the .Missis-
sippi, whicli is navi>.^able only by canoes in lo^v water. I
liave just visited the j^roiuul whei'ti the old fort st ;od, ac-
companied by S. A. Clark, who built his d »velling-house
within its nncient I'amparts, about forty yt;ars a;^o; and, in
buildincr, lie used the stanes v/ith which tin; old tiie places
and chimne:ys were constructed. The stockade; ditches on
the east ami north .sides are still vtu'y distinct, not having
been disturbtui by cultivation. The fort proper was small,
but was suri'ounded by a sort of palisade, encbjsiu*^- nearly
two acres, as I traced the trench on the east siile Oi'U feet, in
a very distinct and istraight line. The stone chimnc^ys or
fireplaces were laid up with clay, no appu'arance of lime
having been used. i\ir. Clark noticed tie.:; clay when he re-
moved the stone. I lately visited the old fort locality in
con]pany with Col. ]3risbois and IMr. Clark; and, after a
thorough examination of the surr()andings, and the map
and notes of Lyon, Col. lU'isbois very reluctantly conceded
that he has entertained an erroneous notion as to the locality
of this old landmark, of which j\Ir. Clark and I had no
doubt — he supposing it was in the regio]i of the liail-Uoad
rotmd- house and shops, where there are no old fort or mili-
tary remains.

Sduitiel A. Clark's SlatcDient:— I came to Prairie du
Chien June I'Jlh, 18 Jb. There was then a man residing in
the Lower Town of the name of Ihimmer, an Juiglish-
man, who had the only framed building \n that luiri of the
village, lie saiu to me that he was on the spot wher(> the
told French fort or trading post was located, anil showed me
he old stone that were used for the lire-places. The stone
gave evidence that they had been used around lire, and the
place had tJie appearance of having been the site of an old
fashioned stick chimney, plastered with such clay as is
found about a mile and a half from there in the blutf. It
had the appearance of having been burned down; there was

Early French Fours in Western Wisconsin. ;U5

no wood to be seen, and llie clay lay on top of Ihc rock. I
tliink there were three or four of thesse chinuiey piles. Ho
then showed me the size of the enclosure, v,hicii was dis-
tinctly marked, and can yet be seen for some distance. A
few years since, I shov/ed the same to Ira B. Brunson and
]J. W. JJrislxjis, and after tellinj? them where certain trees
stood, and other land marks, they were satisfied I was corrects

I have often heard Col. 15. W. Brisbois speak of the old
fort, and he always carried the idea to me, that it was the
work of the early French traders.

From the north-east corner of the old fortification, the
north wall or embankment extends towards the bayou or
river, about at right angles, some x'OO feet. The locality of
the chimneys extended from north to south in a row, and
about in the central portion of the enclosure. There were
two small mounds, perhaps one hundred and fifty feet apart,
one south of the other, also nearly in the center of the en-
closure, and hence not near any of the outward walls. The
house built in iy:]G, and repaired by me in 181:5, was a little
south of the northern mound. These mounds were so small
as scarcely to deserve the name. The southernmost of the
four chimney remams, was on the locality of tiie southern
mound. W here the southern line of the enclosure extended,
is now, and has long been, a plowed field.

After a few years, I bought the Brimmer building, and
fitted it up for a dwelling, and lived in it from 1843 till 1857.
I used the stone and clay, the i-emains of the old chimneys, to
put around my house. I think there were a few pieces of pot-
tery found about the chimneys — the only marks of civiliza-
tion I can recall. The whole had the appearance, to me, of
a wooden palisade — I could see the depressions made by
the decaying of the stockade posts. I think the buildings
were burned, and the barricade or i)icketingb( came e.vtinct
by the ravages of time.

There is no foundation for the theory that this structure
was the work of the i\lound Builders. The remains of those
pre-historic people are most distinct to any obgerving person;
there were several of those mounds in the neighborhood of
this structure, but they presented a more ancient appearance.
23— H. c.

3Wj Wisconsin State IIistokical Sucietv.

Sldtrniehl uf Julm II. F<)l.\(jhi. ~ .] o)V:[)]v lUActU:. i\n<] Den-
nis Cui'tois oi't'.'u laiktvl to juc witli ix^^^ud to ihirwihi 1'\tmic1i
f<jrl. Itoletle iiu'iiiiont'd lliat a i>;triy carmi Ik re, and car-
ried oir all th>' furs tht-y i-<,(;](l, and ))iirii..'(J tin; rvuiaiiider.
He also iuforiiifd jiic tliai M i-A. (';;rdiiial witn'-sse*! .this ail' tir
of Capt. Luii;^; and my r.-collcction is. that RolctlL- said lio
)'ec'civcM] the iid'urnuuioii diiccdly froia ^hs. ('ardiual lur-
selJ".' 1 r(uni.inljcr li(;ariii;;- a cniivai'satiuii, in lb.;;, alioui
tills old fort, be'.twHH'ii Judi;',; 1/ i('k\vo(»d, ,Jud;;(' l/iwo, and
Lewis Uousc, all oM ladiau traders, Vvdio talked aijout
iLoiii^'s operatious iu renioviiiL^ the belt.jr i>oj'tioa(jf the fiirs
and peltj'ies, burning the balance and the buddinij' usi d by
the traders, and perhaps tlie stockade with it.

At that eai'ly p^;riod, lifty years ii;.M), thei'e were evidences
of the old fort not now discernible — the clay that closed the
cracks between the logs, and signs that at least a poidion i;f
the building had bee^n bank( d up; and the lo|is of tin; old
jpicketing could still be see^n neai- the surface along the ram-
parts. For three or four months, in IMo, I lived a little v/ay
below the South-west corner, and frc«piently viewed these
ancii^nt remains.

I'his old Pig's ]^ye fort was probably designed for trading
purposes, having a storediou.-(} for storing furs and oui-fils
for traders, and, v/hen necessary, giaudi^d Ijy a company of
men in the long ago, probabl}- before' the ii wolutionary war.
Outside of tliis building, it is my opinion, the enclosuri; was
used for a garden; and the wlnde designed for militai-y pur-
poses in emergencies. All t;arly frontier settlements ha<i
their principal lesidences palisaded. Jiolet'.e's, l-'isher's and
l.ockwood's AN'ere all thus protected, so as to resist Indian
attacks. In ( arly times, as 1 underst(.)od, the village of the
Saiiks and Foxes was a litth; below this old foi't.

Viewinii- recently the old fort locality in C(jmpan)' with
S. A. Clark, I am satislled tliat where ho points oat as ti:e
north-east corniu- is correct; and so, jirob.ibly, is the meas-
urement of th(^ east endjanktnent by the late J udge Ih'unsoii,

' Rolc-ttu no douljt learned tliis fact from ]\Irh.. Ciudinal, l.o liaving si t-

Ik'd at rruiric du Cliitn tu ciiiy-lliifu yuara Wfuiv lar dealli.

L. U. D.

Eakly FitKxnr Forts in AVestkiin Wisconsix. oi:

as about thi'eo hundred nnd seventy feet in leni;^tli. The
southern end o( tliis east Hne, j»erha[)S ihuty to lifty feet,
has been levtdetl down by many years' plowing'. My. CUirk
and I measured west from tlie ncn-lli (last corntU', and found
of the north hne about three hundrfd fe(.^t, and thence to
the water was a hundred and iifty to two huneh-ed fetit. The
embankment is about two feet above tlie level of tlie j^round.
i\lr. (Jlark pointed out to me, as he has in his statement to
tlio Kistorical Society', tlie situation of the old mounds. I
recollected nothin<j^ of them; tiiey mi<^ht have been mounds.
Fifty years ago there was a ditcli outsiile the embankments,
and where the old pickets were. The earth was prubably
taken from the outside, and tiirown against the pickets.
There are now no indications of any entrance or sally-port,
nor bastions or block dunistiS on tlie corners. All the (^arly
settlers, ^Ir. (Jiirtois, (Jol. 1>. W. l^risbois and others, claimed
that the old fort was built by the French; and llolette used
in some way to connect the Spanish with it — perhaps that
it was inttmded to resist their ai)proaches. It fronted the
rig's Kye bayou.

1 have spoken of Mr. Curtois. lie had live dauglilers. I
may add, that the Kev. Alfred Brunson took much pains to
ascertain Mrs. (Cardinal's great age — she was a centenarian
— and to fix the time when she settled liere.

Gen. John Lntclers Slak'ntent:—Ta(i old French fort was
located on r. spot in Lower Town of Prairie du Chien, about
a mile south of the present court house, at a point on the
Mississippi known and designated by the classic and eu-
phoneous name of Tig's Eye, through which steamers
passed until isiU, when the business was transferred to the
Upper Town, which left the "Eye" to repose in its primi-
tive undistuil)ed beauty.

I pretty distinctly call to mind, that the old settlers, (^.1.
Brisbois included, gave no credit to the AEound Ihiilders for
constructing the old fort. The fort was the work of the

French. '

Hon. O. B. Thomas, who represents this district in Con-
gress, whose residence here dates back to early boyhood, is
thoroughly fan^liar with the legends, traditions and folk-


Wisconsin State Histokkwi. Society

lore of this liistoric old treasure trove, and can tell all

about it.

Hon. O. r>. 'ilioinay^ Slctnucul:— Kver since 1 can remem-
ber, the old n^ilitary remams you in(iuired a.bout, have biu;n
called "the old French fort," Ihouj^^h some insist that it
was a Spanish slrucUire. If we talce tratlition as our •;ui<le,
there is no more (luestio)i as to its having been a fort, than
there is about Fort Crawford having been erected for mili-
tary purposes. I have never heard a doubt expressed by
the old settlers, lliat what is known as the old French fort
was designed by the whites as a fort for defensive purposes.
The late Col. IL. F. Dousmau, Sr., John \i. Fonda, 15. W.lh-is-
bois, and all the old French inhabitants, spoke of it as a
fort, and the most of them, as a fort erected by the French.
Col. Isaac Leo's statement, and the alUdavitsof the old set-
tlers, taken by him in \&10, found in the fourth volume of
the Aiitericaii State Papers, represent the tradition as 1 iiave
heard it all my life. This old fort was located near the liank
of the J^Iississippi, on the west of the present highway, and
on the west end of farm lot No. :V.i, in what is now called
Lower Town.

Mr. S. A.Clark showed me where, in an early day, he
dug up rock on this ground to use in building, which were
liniestone, such as are found in the bluifs. These rocks
were burned, or had tlie api>earance of having been used in
a fire-place and chimney; ho found three such places, lie
thought the rampart was where the stockade was, and there
appears to have been an outer ditch or / Messrs. I'.run-
son and Clark are correct at5 to the location of the old fort.
1 went over the ground with Mr. Clark, who showed me
the old lines, or so much of them as can now be seen. The
east line is quite distinct; the west line, near tlu. river, lias
beenobliteratod by cultivation and the construction of the
rail-road; tiie line on the north has, in many places, been
destroyed by the plow, and the line on the south is enlirtay
gone, being now in a cultivated lield. TUp highway from
the Upper to the Lower Town, used for many years, and
which I can trace back lifty years or more by the old jjeople,
was where it nov/ is, immediately east of tlie old fort.

Early Fkencii Forts in Western AVisconsin. 319

What I desii^nate as the east line, is ciaito distinct. It is
a slight elevalioii which can be traced on that side, running
northerly and southerly. It must have been three or four
hundred feet lon^^; part of this on the south (md, runs into
a plowed fiehi, so that 1 think its exact len;^th cannot now be
stated from actual measurement. Judge Brunson is prob-
ably correct in stating the length to be about '.uU feet. ( )n the
outside, or eastern side of this elevation, is a depression,
which is now very slight; but there is no depression or ditch
on the inside — what might ai^pear at iirst as such is evidently
caused by the diil'erence between the elevation and level
ground. The elevation was, it appears to me, made by the
earth taken from this ditch or depression on the outside.

It must be remembered, that all these appearances are not
now as distinct as they Avere thirty, forty or lifty years ago.
The prairie is composed of a deep bed of sand, supposed to
be over a hundred feet in thickness, covered with but a
slight sod of prairie grass, easily elfected by time. It is to
me a great wonder, that there is any appearance of trench
or wall left. The north side elevation or wall is not as ob-
servable as that on the east; still it may yet be traced from
the north-east corner towards the river; but, as before stated,
it has been destroyed in many places.

There are no absolute indicaticjns of a bastion at the
northeast corner, though tradition is not wanting to show
that there were rude block-houses or bastions at each of tl:e
four cornors. Tlie enclosure was probably nearly eqiiare,
as there is much more than enough room for it between the
river and the eastern line. Judge IJrunson's statement
about the old fort extendmg to within X'OO feet of the river,
it seems to me, is a mistake. I should think it was nearer
though it might be so, if we suppose the fort, or enclosure
was an oblong in shai)e.'

The places where Mr. Clark indicated by the old rocks

' On Col. Lee's map of 1820, the old fort is rL-prcHented an square in form;
while on Lyou'a map of 1828, it is given aa somewliat oblong in hliape,
fronting the river leuglhwise, and in both cases, regular bastions are
shown at each corner. LCD

350 WiscoNSix State ITistoiucal Society.

and clay, as the locality of the c^ld fhu-places, were about
the center of the groiuul from nonh to south, and also about
centrally located from east to west, if the enclosure by its
walls and trenches was about ;]7o feet each way — in other
words a square. This is simply my jiulgment; if ]\Lessrs.
Clark, Folsom, and others give you the exact nu'asurement,
that will be more reliable.

The river ojjijo^ite the site of tiie sujjposed fort has been
called a bayou; but it is really the .Alississippi river, and is
the lirst ])lace on the bank, after leaving the mouth of the
Wisconsin, where a boat of any kind could land on the
prairie; and both the bank and landing place are asgocjd as
could be desired.

There are no mounds that I am able to discover near the
supposed wall or embankment. There are many mounds
on the prairie, and several places that look as though
mounds that once existed within the enclosure, had been
leveled so as hardl}- to be distinguished, and I am unable
to see that the supposed ramparts have any ci)nnection
whatever with these mounds. There was a very large
mound on the site of F(a-L Crawford.

In my opinion, this old fort, conceding that it was a fort,
was designed as a defense against Indians; the buildings
being probably of logs, and, as a farther protection, liaving
a sort of palisade, or row of posts, set lirm in the ground,
with a ditch on the out.side, and probably rude bastions on
each corner. Thus, I think, you get all there ever was of
" the old French fort."

Hon. Horace Beaclis Statement: — It seems quite certain
that there was a stockade fort on S. A. Clark's old home-
stead, on farm lot No. 3'J, near the Mississippi. Tradiii*)a
says ib was built by some adventurous Frenchim.'n for jmr-
pcses of Indian trade; Col. D. W Bjibbois, among others,
made this statement. That the Spanish Uovernor of St.
Louis, apprised of this trade, concluded to send a detachment
of men to seize the furs and destroy the stockade; learning
of this intended movement by some friendly Indians, the
traders hastdy loaded their best furs into boats, setting fire
to the stockade, and burning all that could not be carried

. Eakly French Forts in Western Wisconsin. ;]5l

away, ami escaped up the Wisconsin. This I learued from
B. W. Brisbois.

The stockade was built near l.lie bank of the river, which
afforded plenty of water, with springs alonj^^ its banks. lu
company with S. A. (Mark, I havt; examined the ;site of tlie
supposed old French fort. Not mucli is left to indicate; its
exact locality. Mr. Clark informs me, that when he occu-
pied the ground, nearly fifty years ago, there was some-
evidence of a fort and stockade; tliat there were ruins ot
three or four stone chimneys or lire places, in a straight
line from north to south, and laicl up with clay mortar; that
the stone of these' chimneys remains, which showed evi-
dence of contact with fire, and which he used in making im-
provements about his house. Tiie rampiirt or wall, I should
judge, was about ooO to ;>:'> feet, as pointed out by Mv.
Clark, on the eastern side.

This old fort was located a little below the Pig's Eye — this
Pig's Eye bayou is the first and only opening from liie main
channel of the i^lisskssii)pi, above the mouth of the Wiscon-
sin. It was a V(;ry natural and convenient locality for a fort.
What appears to have been a ditch and embankment sur-
rounding a parallelogram is still to be seen; but no vestige
of any remaining palisades. The ground is not now en-
closed, but appears to liave been plowed. I hardly think
plowing up against fences w^ould have tlu'own up such an
embankment as now exists. The eastern embankment (jr
fosse is, in some places, from twenty inches to two feet
higher thaa the prairie outside; and, in some places, there
ajtpearsto liave been a ditch outside, but dibtinct evidence
of the ditch i-^ not now very satisfactory.

As to mounds, there are no vestiges of any inside of the
old fort enclosure. About two hundred feet north of the
north embankment, there is sligJit evidence of jnoiaids,
which, if they ever existed, have been mostly obliterated.
Mound works are very common, and exist all over this

Thus we have a uniform and unbroken line of tradition
of this old French fort at Prairie du Chien, for over a cen-

352 WiscoN.-^iN State Ulstokicvi. Society.

tury, and not one of the early settlers ever quostioniiig or
doubting it; while no solitary tradition can be cit(?d, nor
any f(n"t remains pointed out at any point, v.iihin reason-
able distanee, below the Wiseonsin.


]\Ir. lUitterflidd, in the i>receding paper, as well as in his
History of Crairford Counttj, attempts to account for the
old French fort by boldly declaring that it was no French
fort at all, but simply the Avork of the j\Iound-lhiilders, He
cites no authority to sustain his oijinion, save a palpable
misconstruction of Iiong's Travels, and Snyder and Van \\*i-h-
ten's Ifisforical Athis of Wisconsin, oi which latter work he
himself was the principal w'riter, and doubtless prepared
the very statement to which he now refers to strengthen his

Col. Isaac Lee, an oflicer wiio had se'en much service dur-
ing the war of isi'i, unhesitatingly pronounced it, in Ib'M,
a military structure of the French, as did lion. Lucius
Lyon a few years later; and both marked upon their respec-
tive maps, a fortress with bastions at each corner, and
denominated it "the old I'^rench fort.'' Ik' v. Lr. Alfred
Brunson states, in our Society's fourth volume of Cullec-
t/'ons, that Crawford County, in which I'rairie du Chieu i.s
situated, was very prolific in remains of the ]\lound-
Ihiilders, having at least live hundred of those interesting
tumuli within its borders, of which a hundred could be
found in the towns of Prairie du Ciiien and Wauzeka alone.
The old settlers of Prairie du Chien were familiar with
these prediistoric remains — some of which were from ten
to twenty feet in height; and neither Dr. Brunson nor any
others of the old stittlers ever regarded " tbe old J-'rench
fort" as ranking in that class of anLinuities.

In Squier and Diwis' Ancient Moiunnenls of the .Missis-
sippi Valley, the opinion is expressed, and cittsd with ap-
proval in JJr. Foster's able work on the rrcllistoric llaces,
that among the Mound Builders there seems to have ex-
isted a great defensive line, or system of defences, extend-
ing from the sources of the Alleyhany and Sustjuehanna,

Early French Forts in AVkstern Wisconsin. obZ

in New York, dia-onally tbrou-h cc'iitral and Northern
Ohio, to the Wabash. These works, regarded as defensive,
arc t'he lar^^est and most numerous in the country. Here
the trenches are on the oHt.ulc of the parapet; while m
most of the other works, where there are any trenches at
all, they are on the .u.s/./.- perhaps excavated for the
material with which to construct the parapets, and which
class Dr. Foster regards as sacred enclosures.' Ihshop Madi-
son, an early and able writer on American anti.iuities, de-
clares that the ditch is found inside the walls of nearly alt
the remains to be traced in his day.

Wisconsin was no exception to this general rule -that
the great line of contest and defence in pre- historic times
extended from Western New York to the Wabash, demote
from those scenes, the character of our ancient remains
go to corroborate the idea, that their early occupants wore
not a warlike people. Dr. Drunson remarks tlmt " while in
Ohio the most prominent of these tumuli were forts or forti-
fications, in Wisconsin but few of that description are
found;" and he adds, ^ 1 can noV call to mind but one such,
that at Aztalan." ^ This exception is an error; for bquier
and Davis, Dr. Lapham and Dr. Foster, unite in declaring
that the works at Aztalan were not built for defensive pur-
poses, having no ditches, and completely comman ed fro
L summit of a ridge, extending along the -f ^^^J -
hhrlier than the west walls themselves, and withm la
ai^owshot. Judge a.le ^^^^^'^' ]^-' ^'^-T'^Z^::
scarcely dignify any of her old - ^' - -'^f "^^^^ ^' t^
tions," and adds, that there is no probability tha. A/talan is

an exception.' . . >.

Dr. Lapha,n the exisleucc .t but a s,n,lc ancen
structure in Wi.«.u.i.."w,lli a re;:ular ditch or toss. aU
aro nd the wail.." h. at..l at or near Plover Portage, on he
Uu er; and tins he did not i-ersonally .n. P ,
hut gives the statem^ent on U.e re,.eM^.on ot^e..^

» Foster's Pre-Hintorie Races, 174-70.
■-' Wis. Hist. Colls., iv., 224-25.
3 Gale's Vyper WisooiiHin,2?,.

Sot AViscoNsiN State Historical Society.

pondent.' Hon. C. D. liobinson, in his Legend of the. Red
Biuihs, on tlio eastern shore of Ureen Bay, about twi'lvo
miles from Green T.ay City, deserihes an eartliwork hear-
ing a singular resemblance to niniifrn military defonces,
having a ditch or moat on the om/.si!'(/o' of its walls: ' while
Hon. M. L. Martin, inhis adiJress before our SjcietN-^ in l•^.il,
speaks of the };arapet, ni ikiug no reference to any duch.
These two exceptions, if true, do not invalidate the general
rule, that thousands of structures of mounds and elli-
gies within our borders, are surviving witnesses of the
peaceful occupations of those who constructed them.

Rev. Steplien D. Peet, editor of the ^Iz/^yy/ov^/i. A/ih'iiudriun,
and author of several treatises on the prediistoric rcMuains
of the North-West, writes: " The did:\!rence b.^tween a fort,
whether French, Maglish or American, and any of the
Mound-Jluilders' works, is manifest in several particulars.

" First: The forts ordinarily have trenches on the oiil.s/dr;
the mound builders' enclosures, if they liad trenches at all,
had them on the insidi'.

^'Secontl: The wal's (jf foi'ts are generally straight, and
the angles in the walls are sharj) and well-defined. Tiie
]\Iound-Builders" enclosures are ordinarly circular, and with-
out bastions. Occasionally a straight wall, like that at
Aztalan, may be found; bat the bastions, so called, in this,
are mere projt'cLions, Ujoking like mounds, rounded on the
outside, with a slight break in th'e wall in the rear of them.
This is an exception to ]\Ioundd>uilders' enclosures; ])rob-
ably not another one like it in the State, and only two in the
United States, namely in Tennessee.

"Third: The forts generally contain remains of chimneys,
fire-placcB, stone- walls and houses. No Mound Ijuilders' en-
closure ever contains any such tokens.

''Fourth: Wells are out of the (picstion with .Mound-
Builders' works. There may be excavations inside the wall
as at Fort Ancient, and springs outside the walls, but never
wells. The sink-hole or cistern at ]\[arietta has not been
explained; it is an exception if it is a well.

' Lapham's Anti<iaities, 73.

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