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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42


Page 20

trade. While the Wisconsin area had no direct involvement in the uprising, many individuals
from the region participated in the raids on English settlements to the east. British fur trade
was hindered by French and Spanish activity on the western frontiers and by some groups,
including the Sauk, Fox, and Potawatomi taking their furs down the Mississippi to St. Louis.
While the British were trying to find a solution to their fur trade problems, the American
colonies declared independence. The war for American independence had little effect on the
Wisconsin fur trade and most groups remained neutral throughout the conflict. The Treaty of
Paris in 1783 gave the Wisconsin Territory, along with all of its British trading posts, to the
Americans. The British traders of the area were not inclined to give up their livelihood so
easily, and by the late 1780s, the Northwest Fur Company had a monopoly on Wisconsin fur
trade. Between 1783 and 1812, relations grew increasingly difficult between the British and
Americans, causing conditions for the tribes in the region to deteriorate. The end of the War of
1812 in 1815 brought to an end the period of strong British influence in the fur trade.
The American government moved quickly to close the country's borders to foreign traders. It also
set up government-operated fur trade factories and military posts in an attempt to gain better
control of the trade. Many Canadian traders left Wisconsin at this time. A few chose to stay.
Many of these individuals accepted American citizenship and sought employment with the
American Fur Company, established in 1808. Butterfield (1879:324) describes a French-
Canadian trader in the vicinity of Janesville.
Thiebault, a Frenchman...established himself at the Turtle Village probably about the
year 1824. Here he remained until after the arrival of the pioneer settlers of the
county.
Gregory (1932:612) adds additional information concerning this French-Canadian trader:
A French-Canadian trader with the Indians, known as Thibault (or Thibeau) came
across Wisconsin from Green Bay and made a settlement on the present site of the city of
Beloit early in the 1820s. There was in this locality when Thibault reached it a large
Indian village, known as The Turtle. In the year 1836, Caleb Blodgett, one of the
earliest to begin the permanent white settlement at Beloit, is reported to have
purchased Thibault's claims on the east side of the Rock River in this region for the sum
of two hundred dollars. Thibault then settled on the shores of Lake Koshkonong in the
northern part of Rock County and continued his activities as interpreter and trader
among the Indians in that district until his unexplained and sudden disappearance
during the winter of 1839-40.
The journal of Issac T. Smith, dated 1835-1836 (Draper 1908:422-423), sheds even more light on
Thibault:
On Sunday, the 22d I was at St. John's and there saw Mr. Caleb Blodgett, and some
others, that were looking claims; and while there a Frenchman, of whom they had
hired some horses, came for them, as they had been retained beyond the time engaged,
and he became uneasy about his pony stock. Seeing the ponies feeding on the flat, he
caught them before coming to the house; and when he came he was very angry; but a
little soft sawder, and the milk of human kindness, put all right; and the old man told
us much about the country and the Black Hawk War, as he was here all through it, and
said that he and Gen. Scott made the treaty at Rock Island. Blodgett bought the old
man's claim where Beloit now stands; he had previously moved to the foot of Lake
Koshkonong where I afterwards was well acquainted with him. He often told me that
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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