State Historical Society of Wisconsin cn.

Collections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) online

. (page 7 of 58)
Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 7 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Here Poty by locating the capitol of a future State, was
to perpetuate his memory. In Saint Paul's at London, amid



'The Itinerary of the Doty explorers will always ri'Ow iu interest. It
Avas as follows: On the east side of Fox River and Lake AVinnebago to
an Indian village on tlie present site of Fond du Lac; thence to another
fiuch village on Rock River near Wanpun; to another on Green Lake
prairie; to another on the east side of Third Lake, and so to McCrary's
furnace south-west of Blue ^Mounds. Returning th^y came from Blue
]Mounds to Fourth Lake, thence by way of Fort ^^'innebago to F-iutte des
Morts. Ferried over the Fox River there, and swimming their horses, they
followed on the west side of Lake Winnebago the trail to Creen Bay.
So states a Ms. letter of Morgan L. :Martin, inlSS.").

•-' :Mr. Durrie, in his ///.s/or/y o/.ir«(//,sf»?, p., 17, supposed that ITenry S.
Baird came to the site of Mailison with Doty and Martin He must, how-
ever, liave been misinformed, as I Jiave a statenu>nt from :\Iart)n himself
that Baird was not witli Litn on his first visit to the Four Lake'.



Tay-Cho-Pf:-Rah — The Four Lake Country. 75

statiiar}' o.nd bass-reliefs without number, I look at nothing
so long as at the narrow tablet over the north side- door
inscribed with the name of the architect of the pile, and
the words which have become world-famous, namely —
•• Lector, si moniuncntuui retpiiris, clrcumspice .'" ' — Reader,
if you seek his monument, look around. However carefully
Saint Paul's may be guarded from Irish dynamiters, it must
at least crumble and tumble, its very stones gray and death-
like old; but long after that catastrophe, when strangers
here ask for Doty's monument, it will be answer enough to
say — LooJ: around !

Xorth of Fourth Lake, and south of Third, the Doty band
saw Winnebago villages; but none between those waters.
Xot one v/hite face was met between Green Bay and Blue
Mounds.

The next visitor at the site of ]Madison appears to have
been Jefferson Davis. ]\Lr. Davis w^rites me as follows:

" While on detached service in the summer of 1S20, 1 think
I encamped one niglit about [on] the site of Madison. The
nearest Indian village was on the opposite side of the lake.
Xothing, as I think, was known to the garrison of Fort
Winnebago about the Four Lakes before I saw them. In-
deed, sir, it may astonish 5^ou to learn, in view of the [now];
densely populated condition of that country, that I and the
<ile of soldiers who accompanied mo were the first white-
men who ever passed over the country between the Portage
"f the Wisconsi]! and Fox rivers, and the then village of
Chicago. Fish and water-fowl were abundant; deer and.
pheasants less i)lentifu]. The Indians subsisted largely on
Indian corn and wild rice. Wlien sent out on various exj>e-
ditions, I crossed Rock river at different i)oints; but saw no
"^ign of settlement above Dixon's Ferry." ' That point had
been occupied by a white man only one year.

tn August, 182'.), William Deviese, already mining at
^-xeter, near the south line of Dane county, in quest of the



• ll is Olid that the last of llie Latin words means something in I'iDglislj.
'' naturally forms four Euglisli words, namely — " Sir-come-^pn-sce !"
ilS. letter, Boauvoir, Miss., 2"d Feb., 1SS5.



'^G Wisconsin State Historical Society.

horse stolen from him by Indians, as already meDtioned.
was near the site of Madison. What he souglit he found,
on tlie west side of Third or tlie "upper" lake as he term>
it — surviving to tell the story in 1S85.

Within two years after the Green Bay men came hither
prospecting, though not as miners, Abel Rasdall, a Kentuck-
ian, coming from Galena in 1S31, commenced his trading
adventures around the Four Lakes, His cabin was on First
Lake, on the eastern shore, ai)Out half a mile north ' of its
outlet. His wife was a squaw, who, some years afterward,
when her tribe went west, decided to go with them. So she
. and her husband concluded an amicable separation in less
: time than is needed even when tlie proclamation is, "Twenty
minutes for dinner and Chicago divorces." Rasdall and his
partner cut a blanket in two, and each kept half of it. Thus
were they put asunder. This blanket-cutting recalls the
English custom at betrothals and hand-fasts, of breaking in
two a bit of money, each party retaining a portion. So in
Scott's Bride of Lammermoor, the troth-plight of the Master
of Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton " ended in the emblematic
<jereniony of their breaking betwixt them a thin broad piece
vof gold."

Another Indian trader, Wa.llace Rowan, w^as established
at tlie head of Fourth Lake, at the out-break of the Black
Hawk war in 1S32. It is not impossible that he was trading
there before the coming of either Rasdall, or even Armel.
His wife was a white woman, and the first one known to
have pilgrimed into this new country. In 1S:)5, Rowan
entered fifty-two acres of land on the eastern shore of ^Mo-
nona— a fractional farm which included Squaw, or Straw-
beny Point.

As early as 1 8:33, Rowan's trading-post, about three-fourths
of a mile north of the village of Pheasant Branch, had
passed into the hands of Michel St. Cyr, a Canadian half-
breed. Tliis frontiersman, as will be seen in the sc(iucl,
proved a link that could not well have been spared in the
chcvin of events vrliich drew Madison in its train.

>1 write north, tliougli Dunie, p. 21, says soutli. My infonuant wa^
Simeon Mi'ls, who hail often visited the dwelling of liasdall.



Tay-Cho-Pe-Raii — The Four Lake Country. T7

Xear the abode of Ro\vaii and St. Cyr, Col. Dod<j;e, and
Henry Gratiot, Indian agent, backed up by fifty armed
iiorsemen from the Mines, on the ;2ot]i of May, lSd'2, held a
council with the Winnebagoes, and induced that tribe to
pledge themselves to remain neutral in the impending con-
test. That site is also memorable for other events to be
mentioned hereafter, and Capt. Brown's Illinois Rangers lay
encamped there some days in the summer of lS-53.

The last spot where Black Hawk's force halted was on the
site of Madison, and they are said to have thrown up a
brush or log breast- work on University Hill. But they re-
treated towards tlie Wisconsin River as soon as they ascer-
tained that the Americans w^ere advancing from Kosh-
konong. The main camp of tlie wdiites on the night of July
■'•'th, 1832, was ten miles east of Madison. Their advance-
i^uard pushed ahead seven miles further, and passed the
night " about a quarter of a mile north of the north-east end of
Third Lake."' The next morning, starting early, they crossed
the Catfish near where the Williamson street bridge now
stands, before eight o'clock. Pushing on they discov^ered a
solitary savage seated near the shore of Third Lake, a little
east of the foot of King street. Suspecting him to be con-
^'Ootcd with some ambush, they shot him at once. This pre-
^ipitation they afterwards regretted, and the more since
ihey observed that he was lying on an Indian grave. The
main American army was but two miles ^behind, and tra-
\<'i-sing Madison from, east to west, "almost precisely over
i!ie ground that the capitol now stands upon," overtook no
'•nemies in force till they approached the Wisconsin River.

A man who was passing two months afterward to that
f'ver from Fourth Lake, says the trails of the Indians were
■"-•i!! distinct, sometimes they would all converge into a
'•"*'ad and plain path, and then radiate in different direc-
*• 'Us dwindling to a mere trace.' This method of travel
'•'■ is adopted in order to deceive pursuers in regard to their
tru,. roato, and also to help them escape in case of attack.



^f"<- letter of Peter ['arkitisoti, one of the ;ulvauce.
^ ^h\spcnan, ii, p. 209.



:i' H-; -i



%

78 Wisconsin State PIistoeical Society. %

I
In IS^jj, Thomas W, Sutherland, a young Philadelphia 1

lawyer, floated down the Mississippi from the Falls of St. |
Anthony, in a skiff, to the mouth of Rock River, and paddled
up that stream and the Catfish, to the spot where Madison
is now huilt. His father, through the United States sur-
veyor, had secured lands in the vicinity. Young Suther-
land spent some time in an Indian camp at "Winnequah, on
the east side of Lake Monona — opposite the capitol. He
became an early settler in ]\Iadison, and was elected the
fn-st President of the village council, and the first Secretary
of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Of the first comers to the Four Lakes, Armel, St. Cyr, and
other half-breeds or French of their type, would have
roamed or reveled there all tlie same had the old French re-
gime that ended in 17G;] still continued.

It was otherwise with Anglo-Saxon pioneers like Rasdall.
and especially Brigham, — men who removed hither in or-
der to develop the country by persistent toil, in farming. |
mining or other occupations of civilized life. Movements
or events, favoring the entrance of such settlers into the
ISTorth-West, may be traced back a long way, and they art
worth tracing.

Downward from 17S3, the region was by treaty a part j^
of the United States; but the forts — which were its keys— |
were not delivered up by the British till near tlie close of |
the eighteenth century, in ITiHi. TJien treaties with Indian.-
were jieeded. Six of them were made within three decade?
in the years 1804, ISIG, 1825, J 8-.' T, 1828, and 1820. It wa-
necessary to enforce those compacts by war Avith Red Bird,
and especially afterward with Black Hawk, before a settlor \
could open a farm, and yet not lose his scalp.
■ The earliest Anglo-Saxon adventurers to AVisconsin, Iionv
ever, were not farmers but miners. Lead mines, near th
corner where Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa meet togetho! \
were knowji to the early Frcnich. They were worked afto:
a fa'^hion by the Indians. 'J'hey remain to this day the sen'
of air lead mining in the United States, except Leadvill'



' United sillies C'ensus Coinjinifliioii, p. 1,238.



. 1 ■ ■ 1 .1



Tay-Cho-Pe-Rah — The Four Lake Country. 70

and places like it, where lead is a subordinate element in the
ore. Mines of a metal so important, and those so nearly
unique, were naturally a strong attraction.

This industry took a swift expansion as soon as steamers
liad free course on the Upper ^Mississippi. It was in 1821,
that the lirst steam-paddles reached Prairie du Chien; and
in the fifth year thereafter, 1S29, the lead harvest at Galena,
where seven years before only one house was standing,
amounted to twelve million pounds. The Diggings of ^Mc-
Xutt, afterwards called ICemp and Collins, and those of
Brigham, — both in or near Dane county — had been started
in IS'^S, the very next jear after the capture of Red Bird
had made prospectors safe there.

Miners need food and shelter. Those from Southern Illi-
nois went home to winter; those from the east could not,
but dodged the cold in such dug-outs as they could hurry up.
The eastern men were hence nicknamed Badgers, as if bur-
rowing in similar holes with those animals. This jocose ap-
pellation became the badge of all the Wisconsin tribe; and it
will remain indelible forever.' Farmers and lumbermen soon
sprang up. Natives became jealous and hostile.' An irre-
pressible conflict ensued. The result v/as the survival of
the fittest. Lead, lurking in the mine, killed the Indians as
inevitablv as it ever did when moulded into rifle bullets.



'Regarding the sobriquet, Badger, there is a ludicrous etyuiological
I'Uiudor in Meyer's GcTHtau iJa»fZ-L'oo/i, tliough it is in the main a most
tiust-wortliy Gazetteer. i\[eyer, aware that the l)adger lioards grain, and
"K'ntioniug that tliat aniinal's Latin name is Frnmentarias, i\\n.i is, the'
eorn commissary, siys that Wisconsin, hciug fertile in corn, is called the
r>adg«'r State, because farmers tliere lay up corn after the manner of the
K'idgors. Had Meyer moved among AVisconsin j)ioneer?, lie would liave
ht-ard them styled r3adgers before tliey had begun to raise corn. There is
•1 "^iuiilar anachronism in saying, as many do, that Dane county was so
'ii'.tutd liecause the Scandmavian element is there so large. Tiie truth is,
^'lat county was called Dane before one single Dane liad made liis home
'M'-^ti its acres.

■ ^^ illiam Dfviese, while prospecting or mining near tlia south line of
t'aue county, in ISiOand onward, had six or seven liorses stolen from him
'■> Indians, and alr.o many mining tools. Yet lie did not think tiiat the
'satives had anv more dislike to liim than to others of his class.



!■,.-(



80 Wisconsin Stafe Historical Society.

The long and short of the Black HaAvk war was chasing
that chief and his four hundred braves, who had crossed
the Mississippi from Iowa, near tlie mouth of Rock river,
up that water to Koslikonong, and thence by way of
the Four Lakes and the AVisconsin river, back to Iowa.
In this chase, the whites — mainly farmers' boys— each
picked out for himself a good farm.'

As soon as soldiering was over, many a 3-outh made haste
to break up his land, bringing with him, or soon after, the
girl he had left behind him wlien he marched to the fron-
tier. Such, in a nutshell, is the Genesis and Exodus, — the
rise and progress — the Avholc Instory of Wisconsin.

Eastern men are said to come west with a view to grow
up with the country. Some of them thus migrated in the
hope of carving out Stat^.s in quite another form than that
now existing. About 1S"^5, enterprising settlers had planted
themselves in Green Bay, sanguine that a vast State, called
Superior, was about to be born, with Green Bay as its
natural capital. Such anticipations were a " hatching of
vain empires." But tliey would have been reasonable, had
not Congress, robbing Peter to pay Paul, transferred the
grand Northern Peninsula to Michigan, and thus kept her
from fighting with Ohio for the swamps around Toledo.

Roads v.'ere demanded to facilitate settlement. A military
road from Prairie du Chien to Portage was laid out by Gov.
Doty, as United Slates Commissioner in 18;50; and soldiers
in the garrisons at both places were set at work for construct-
ing that thorough-fare. Thus the road-raising army brought
more civilization into Wisconsin by jdow-shares than by
swords. In the day of small things, its high-waj^s were as
invaluable as any rail- way has been since. The track of the



''The discovery of oxcelleiit prairit.'S and oak openiiif^s through all tlio
breadth of AVisconsia was a surpriso to tlie volunteers, It had long been
reported hy fur traders, whoso interests were adverse to agriculture, that
Wisconsin was in the main a great I Hsnial Su'ainjv and so the myth coti-
coriiing a great American Desert .still found its local habitation on the east
side of the Mississippi. It was long the purpose at \VashiuL;ton to reserve
tlie region now Wisconsin for an Indian Territory. AVith tliis view various
tribes were removed thither from New York.



Tay-Cho-Pe-Raii — The Foun Lake Country. si

N'ortli western Rail-way west ward from Mount Horeb station,
fur twenty miles or more, is now laid on the line of the Doty
military road. . ,

Traversin<5 rough regions on military causeways, I haYo
often said, as the Irishman did concerning the ofTicer who
made the Scotch highlands carriageable —

"If you had seen tliess roads before they w. re made,
You would lift up both hands and bless General Wade,"

The United States survey of the Four Lake country was
not accomplished till the last days of the year 183L The field-
notes of the surveyors are still preserved in the vault of the
Land Office in the capitol. In a little volume, Xo. 82, about
six inches by four — a stoutly bound pocket-book — I have
examined the field -notes regarding the then unsuspected site
of State Government — a plot of ground described as T. 7,
H. E., of 4 P. ]\I. — that is, township seven north of south
State line, and range nine east, of the fourth principal merid-
ian. When Madison has an illustrated history, the survey-
or's plotting will be reprocluced in fac simile.

Friday ought never to be counted a day of ill omen in
-Madison, for on that day the work of surveying was begun
there. That Friday was the fourtli of December, ^S:] {. The
measurement of what is now the Capitol Square was, how-
over, made on Sunday. The surveyor Avas Orson Lyon. On
one of his pages, Third and Fourth Lakes are plotted. Be-
tween Third and Wingra, called a pond, a line is drawn and
in>cribed ("Indian trail.") It runs northwest to Fourth
Lake, striking it in section eighteen.

Xorth-west of Fourth Lake, the military road appears with
the legend "Mitcheirs field, U chains; dwelling and trading-
house." The name " Mitchell " perplexed me not a little, till
I^r. Draper suggested that it was the surveyor's name for
^t. Cyr, whose Christian name I found to be Michel, the
l*>ench form of .Alirhael.

'Llie surveyor notes that he set a post on the north side of

f»ird Lake, between sections twenty-three and twenty-four,
^''ith bearing-trees, a hickory eighteen inches in diameter,
'^^^fth thirty degrees, east fifty-two links, and a burr-oak of



83 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

eleven inclies, north fifty-three west, forty-six links. Two
years afterwards this section-post became historic. Still
more notable was the post where sections fourteen, fifteen,
twenty-four and twenty three corner, for it stood just be-
neath the main western threshold of the present Capitol of
Wisconsin. Its bearing-trees were a white oak of twenty-
two inches diameter, scventy-eij2^ht degrees southeast, sixty-
one links and a burr-oak seventeen inches diameter, forty
degrees souih-west, sixty-nine links. Far nobler were these
monarchs of the forest than any that now survive there.

The survej'or's Madisonian remarks are: "' Land rolling
and, except marsh, second rate, timbered with white, black
and burr-oak, under-growth the same. T]ie lakes shallow,
the larger with one perpendicular bluff about sixty feet
high, and about two liundred acres of sugar trees.'"

The surveyor's impressions of the region were more fav-
orable than those of Wakefield, the Illinois soldier, who two
years before liad passed through it in chase of Black Hawk,
and who wrote:

'' If these Lakes were any where else except in the coun-
tr3^ they are, they would be considered among the wonders
of the world. Bat the country they are situated in is not fit
for an}^ civilized nation of peo])le to inhabit. It ai)pcars
that the Almighty intended it for the children of the
forest."

Our rectangular surveys, with measurements as certain
as the courses of the stars, stand in strauge contrast with
the uncertainties of all i>ast ages concerning metes and
bounds. Owing to such uncertainties, English parishes were
perambulated every Spruig on the so-called gang-day. INlag-
istrates, priests and people, gii'ls bearing gang-flowers,
walked in i»n)cession along boundary lines. Psalms were
chanted. I'oiieath gospel-trees, so styled. Holy Writ was
read. If disDub^s aros,> as to any boundary, the point was
decided l)y the iliguitarics ]>rosent, a land-mark was set, and
frequently a boy was flogged on the spot, to the end that his
memory of it might become moi'e tenacious. Something
was, lio\vev(M", paid to such a mnemonic sufferer. Four shil-



Tay-Ch()-Pe-1vah — The Four Lake Country. s:]

lings of such smart-money, 1 see, to have been paid in one
parish, in the year 1079 . In IGol Capt. Keen and seven
others were chosen to go " the bounds of Boston in peram-
bulation betwixt it and the towns around.'"'

Judge Doty has already been described as prospecting
upon Second, Third and Fourth lakes in 18:20, as early as
May, — that is more than five years before the Government
survey of that land took place. The land office at Green
Bay was opened in 1835. In October of that year, Doty en-
tered one hundred acres in T. 7, R. 0, S. E. -] of section 1;?.
lie thus became owner of the v/ater power on the Catfish,
the value of which he over-rated. The Government price of
land was then $1. •■?."■> per acre.

In January following, he was trying to organize a com-
pany of twelve, each partner contributing a hundred dollars,
for purchasing land on the Four Lakes in order to take ad-
vantage of the water privileges. Early in the same year he
raised his aims higher, and in Gov. Mason, of Michigan, he
found an associate with money. Thus he was enabled, on
the sixth of April, 18:JiJ, to enter on the Madison site about a
tliousand acres for i\Iason,'' and two hundred and sixty-one
for himself. He was empowered by Mason and another
buyer in the same ti-act, to use and dispose of tJieir land as
should seem to him best. He thus became the plenipoten-
tiary over a sort of blind pool covering more than two
square miles between Third and I'^ourth lakes.

He was not without rivals. In June or July of this same
year, 183G, the so-called "City of the Four Lakes" was
founded near Livesey's Spring, on the site of the trading post



^Record Commission, Doc. 46, p. lOG.

■Stevens Tlionijison Musou, born i.i Virginia in ISll— at the i:j;e of
twenty \vas ai)i>ointed hy i'resitlent Jackson, Secretary of tlie Territory of
^li'-Iiigan, wliicli tiien included Wisconsin— and in August of tlie same
.VeuT-, 1831, liel)ec^ino Acting Governor over tliat vast region, on tlio trans-
fer of Gov. Cuss to the W.ir Department in Wushmgton. He continued
'n Ifiis ofnce until Michigan became a State in 1?;?7, and %vus tlien unani-
niously elected its first Governor, and was rr-elected. He U celebrated in
J:in- books as an "infant" otlice-liolder, and deserves fame on the higher
t^iound of liaving nii old lu';id on Ids voung shi)ulders.



;' 1



84 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

then occupied by St. Cyr, and before him by Rowan. It was
laid out not only on paper, but on terra jinna, by the sur-
veyors of 31. L. Martin and Col. W. B. Slaughter. But, as
it turned out, all investors there were laid out too, and
that so cold and stiff that they never rose ag'ain. The
earth hath bubbles as the water hath, and Four Lake City
was of them — the baseless fabric of a vision.

In the Autumn of 1830, Doty proceeded to commence a city
on the land of v/hich he had acquired control. For this
purpose he was on the ground early in October. He brought
little baggage, except a green shawl and a shot-gun. He
'was, however, accompanied by a surveyor with chain and
compass. The twain — a, modern Bomulus and Remus —
were assisted in the day and lodged at nigbt by the half
breed St. Cyr, In the course of three days they had com-
pleted all the meanders and measurements that were neces-
sary for drawing the plat of the embryo city — a site which
Doty began at once to talk of to his engineer as bound by
manifest destiny to become the ^Visconsin capital.

As soon as meager field-notes had been finished at the
Four Lakes, Doty hurried sixty miles west to Belmont, where
the Territorial Legislature was already in session. His plan
of a capital — borro^\'od in some particulars from that of
Washington — and embodying all the characteristic features
of Madison to-day, was soon in readiness. Every hamlet in
Wisconsin was its own first choice for the metropolis, as
every Greek ollicer voted for himself as having done the
best service against Xerxes; and the claims of a dozen sites,
not yet settled at all, were urged by land speculators, of
whom Doty was chief. He came ofT conqueror over all
competitors. His success was largely due to his "one man
power," or absolute contri^l over all the acres he would have
the Legislators delight to honor. Wlieii he took them up
into the mount of temptation, showing them corner lots
with the glory of tliem, and saying, "All these things will I
give you!" it was well known that his were not the prom-
ises of the Father of Lies. His chain of title was perfect,
and his title deeds beyond suspicion, needing no warranty.






TAY-CHo-rK-HAii — The Four Lake CouxTifv. 85

Some rivals may have had as liberal souls as his was: but
none of them had as much soil to give.

President Hayes is charged with loving his enemies bet-
ter than his friends. Being sure of friends, he used patron-
age to make sure of enemies. This policy has an awkward
resemblance to that of a certain religious sect, the Yezidees.
who worship only Satan, and that to disarm his enmity.
Doty lived before tlie reign of Hayes, and probably knew
nothing about the devil- worshipers; but he instinctively



Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 7 of 58)