My name is Jeanne and I am your host to this site. Our mascot, Tracker, has a very discerning nose and would love to help you "sniff out" your ancestor. So, grab your beverage of choice, pull up a chair and lets delve into the records to see what we can find. Please feel free to contact me if you have any information to contribute or find any errors that need correcting.
The word Wisconsin has its origins in the name given to the Wisconsin River by one of the Algonquian speaking American Indian groups living in the region at the time of European contact. French explorer Jacques Marquette was the first European to reach the Wisconsin River and record its name, arriving in 1673 and calling the river Meskousing in his journal. This spelling was later corrupted to Ouisconsin by other French explorers, and over time this version became the French name for both the Wisconsin River and the surrounding lands. English speakers anglicized the spelling to its modern form when they began to arrive in greater numbers during the early 19th Century. The current spelling was made official by the legislature of Wisconsin Territory in 1845.
About 1000 BC, Wisconsin was the heartland of the "Effigy Mound culture," which built thousands of animal-shaped mounds across the landscape. Later, only about a 1500 years ago, the Mississippian and Oneota cultures built substantial settlements including the fortified village at Aztalan in southeast Wisconsin. The Oneota may be the ancestors of the modern Ioway and Ho-Chunk tribes, who shared the Wisconsin region with the Menominee at the time of European contact. Other Native American groups living in Wisconsin when Europeans first settled included the Ojibwa, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie, who migrated to Wisconsin from the east between 1500 and 1700.
The first European to visit what became Wisconsin was probably the French explorer Jean Nicolet. He canoed west from Montreal through the Great Lakes in 1634, and it is traditionally assumed that he came ashore near Green Bay at Red Banks. Pierre Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers visited Green Bay again in 1654-1666 and Chequamegon Bay in 1659-1660, where they traded for fur with local American Indans. In 1673, Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first to record a journey on the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway all the way to the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien. Frenchmen like Nicholas Perrot continued to ply the fur trade across Wisconsin through the 17th and 18th centuries, but the French made no permanent settlements in Wisconsin before Great Britain won control of the region following the French and Indian War in 1763. Even so, French traders continued to work in the region after the war, and some, like Charles de Langlade, began to settle in Wisconsin permanently after 1764, rather than returning to British-controlled Canada.
Wisconsin became a territorial possession of the United States in 1783 after the American Revolutionary War. However, the British remained in de facto control until after the War of 1812, which finally established an American presence in the area. Under American control, the economy of the territory shifted from fur trading to lead mining. The prospect of easy mineral wealth drew immigrants from throughout the U.S. and Europe to lead deposits in southwest Wisconsin. The rush of settlement prompted tension with local American Indian groups, leading to the Winnebago War of 1827 and the Black Hawk War of 1832. These conflicts hastened the forced removal of American Indians from most parts of the state. Following these conflicts, Wisconsin Territory was organized in 1836. Continued white settlement led to statehood in 1848.
Wisconsin is a state rich in culture and history. Wisconsin farms produce, apples, potatoes, cranberries, honey, beef, milk, and many other products which are consumed the world over. You will find many of these products beneath the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture's "Something Special From Wisconsin" logo. Many of the family farms in Wisconsin during the 19th century and into the 20th century would produce almost everything the family would need.
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