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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 22

Rock River and would include fur trader's cabins and small, short-term camp sites. While
there is little evidence for their existence (see the "Black Hawk War" theme below),
American Indian villages and cemeteries should be included as potential site types.
Government Theme
The instances when territorial, federal, state, and local governments had direct dealings with
the American Indians in the Janesville area are few. The major events are those that took
place during the Black Hawk War. These are outlined in detail later in this chapter under the
"Black Hawk War" context. Outside of the Black Hawk affair, little data concerning
government-American Indian interaction in and around Janesville was encountered within the
primary and secondary sources during the supplementation of this theme.
With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the British ceded to the newly created United
States of America vast holdings east of the Mississippi River, including the area of present-
day Wisconsin. As a part of the United States, Wisconsin was successively governed by the
Northwest Ordnance of 1787, the laws of the Indiana Territory, the Illinois Territory, the
Michigan Territory, and the Wisconsin Territory. On May 29, 1848, Wisconsin became the
thirtieth state to be admitted to the Union. Numerous government-related decisions were made
that would have affected American Indians living in and utilizing Rock County. Several of
these decisions included the policy of removal west of the Mississippi, forced schooling, and
the right to vote. The military role of the government, however, is the most significant
consideration. It is also the only consideration in which the little data available (having to
do with the Sauk chief Black Hawk) can be used to supplement the government-related
American Indian context for the Janesville area.
Early military forts and their garrisons of soldiers maintained control among American,
British, and French trappers and traders and tribal groups throughout Wisconsin. Later, as
miners and settlers began moving into southern Wisconsin, these garrisons constructed roads,
provided protection from Indian threats, and often formed a nucleus around which communities
developed. Along with federal troops and forts, local and state militias organized around the
state in response to American Indian threats and to fulfill social and fraternal needs. The
nearest military garrison to Janesville was located several miles northeast of Lake Koshkonong
(Draper 1908:161). First known as Fort Koshkonong and later as Fort Atkinson, it was erected as
a stockade to garrison supplies and wounded when the main body of troops departed in their
pursuit of Black Hawk. It was garrisoned by Captain Gideon Lowe with 30 or 40 men. At the
conclusion of the Black Hawk War it was abandoned and Lowe marched his men to Fort
Winnebago.
Government-related actions undoubtedly had a direct impact on American Indians in the
Janesville area. However, very few of these direct impacts have been documented. One
documented event somewhat related to the government's Indian removal policy was the murder
of Joseph Thibault by one of his American Indian wives and her son in 1837-38. This event,
which occurred near Lake Koshkonong where the family lived, developed out of a family
quarrel in which the husband wished to remain in Wisconsin and the wife wanted to follow the
local tribal groups across the Mississippi (Draper 1908:423).
Potential Associated Site Types
Few cultural resources associated with Wisconsin's military frontier are extant. Archeological
sites are the most common resources from this period; however, very few are associated directly
with American Indians (and very few are related directly with the Janesville area). Most sites
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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