University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest
(1880)

Winnebago County,   pp. 94-137 PDF (36.5 MB)


Page 97

page 97
HISTORY OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY, WISCONSIN.
The notable products of the county are
wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, buckwheat,
hops, potatoes, butter and cheese, horses, 
cattle, sheep and hogs; apples, plums, pears,
cherries, grapes, and a profusion of the smaller
fruits, with an abundance of hay, both natural
and cultivated.
As evidence of the inexhaustible fertility of
the soil, Mr. Commodore Rogers, of the town
of Oshkosh, pointed out a field of wheat, just
harvested, the twenty-fourth consecutive crop
on that piece of land; which was equal to the
average of this year's growth within the town.
CHAPTER XXXI.
Early French Settlers of Winnebago -The Trading-Post at
Butte des Morts - L. B. Porlier - The Grignons -The
Business Center of the Upper Fox -Trading-Post at Coon's
Point, Algoma - Captain William Powell - William Johnson, the Interpreter
- Charles Grignon and Family - James
Knagg's Trading Post and Ferry, Near the Site of Algoma
Bridge  Government Agency for the Instruction and Civilization of the Indians,
Established at Winnebago Rapids (now
Neenah) - Mills and Buildings Erected for the Use of the
Indians at that Place in 1835-36-- Archibald Caldwell -
The Abandonment of the Enterprise and Sale of the Site
and Buildings to Harrison Reed.
IN 1818, Augustin Grignon and James
Porlier established a trading post, just
below the present village of Butte des Morts,
on the bank of the lake.  Mr.
Grignon was at that time a resident of
Kaukauna, and Mr. Porlier resided at Green
Bay.   Robert Grignon had charge of the post
for a time, but subsequently went to Algoma,
and started   another.  In  1832, Mr. L. B.
Porlier took charge of the post at Butte des
Morts, and for many years did an extensive
business at that point.  He still resides at that
place, which is one of the oldest historical
land-marks of the country; while he is a 
surviving representative of the old French-Indian
occupation.
This place in its day was the business center
of the Upper Fox; the Indian trail from Green
Bay to Fort Winnebago crossed the Fox at this
point. The opposite shore, now a wet marsh,
afforded solid footing for a horse. A ferry was
kept and a public house for the accommodation of travelers.  At times a large
number of
Indians were congregated at this post, trading
their furs for Indian goods, and many a festive
backwoods frolic has occurred there.
Augustin   Grignon, a    man   most highly
esteemed by the old settlers, also kept a public house at Kaukauna, which
was a favorite
resort of officers from forts Howard and 
Winnebago, who on great occasions used to assemble
with their ladies; to trip the light fantastic
toe.
General Cass, Governor Dodge, and other
high dignitaries, even, have participated in
these festive occasions.
Another early settler was Peter Powell. He
built a place on the shore of the lake in 1832.
His son, Captain William Powell, who lived
with him at that time, acted a conspicuous
part in the early day, and was very popular with
both the white settlers and the Indians. He
was noted for his fine address and pleasing,
genial ways, and for being one of the dryest
jokers in the country.
In 1835, another trail was adopted for the
mail route between forts Howard and Winnebago. This trail crossed the river
just below
the foot of Lake Butte des Morts, near the
present Algoma bridge, and in that year,
George Johnson, father of William Johnson,
well known to the old settlers, as the Indian
interpreter, built on what was afterwards
known as Coon's point, two log houses, established a ferry, and opened a
tavern. He sub-
sequently sold the whole establishment to
Robert Grignon and William Powell. They
afterwards sold the same to James Knaggs, a
half-breed, who immediately opened up at this
point, a trading post, with a large stock of
Indian goods.  This was the first business
concern within what is now  the limits of
Oshkosh.
In 1839, Charles Grignon, with his family,
settled on what is now known as Jackson's
Point. A band of Menominees soon joined
him, and an Indian village, with adjacent
planting-grounds, sprung up on that site.
In 1831, a treaty was concluded with the
Menominee Indians, which provided for the
payment to them from the Government, of
$5,000 per annum, for four years, and after the
expiration of that time, $6,ooo for twelve
years; $4,000 of this latter yearly annuity was
to be expended in arms and ammunition; and
in pursuance of a plan adopted by the Government 
for the civilizing of the Indians, it
was agreed upon, that an agency should be
established at some suitable place, a Govern-
ment grist and saw mill erected, and log dwell-
ing houses for the use of such Indians as would
live in them.  It was also provided that five
farmers should be established at the agency, at
a salary of $300 each per annum, five female
school teachers, at $60 each per annum, and
mechanics, tools and farming implements. In
1834, Winnebago Rapids (the site of Neenah),
was selected for the location of the agency,
where the Indians were to be instructed in the
arts of civilized life; and in that year Nathaniel


Go up to Top of Page