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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter I: Prairie du Chien and the Red Cedar,   pp. 1-6


Page 4

4                      HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
It appears that traders and trappers in large numbers were then pressing up the
Mississippi and its branches. There is no direct evidence that these trappers caught
these beavers, yet it is a fair inference that they did and that they knew of and
traversed the Red Cedar Valley.
That the validity of this supposition, that white men were on this river as early
as the year 1700 should not be impugned by reason of the absence of direct written
evidence coming from the trappers themselves, is evident. They as a class were men
who could neither read nor write. It was then unlawful for any one to trap for
fur-bearing animals, especially beaver, without a license from the government. It
was also unlawful to engage on the frontier in the fur trade without such license.
Notwithstanding these prohibitions many communications addressed to the
government show that illicit trading and trapping was carried on to so great an
extent that at one time the price of pelts was so reduced that there was fear that the
fur trade would be ruined. Trappers often staid in the wilderness several years at
a time and engaged friendly Indians to market, as their own, the pelts taken by
them in violation of the regulations of the government. Soldiers neglected their
duties and went on trapping -,xcursic: . Some even deserted and took to the wan-
dering life of trappers.
Du Luth and Le Sueur were accused of engaging in this illicit trade. The former
was said to cloak his trade under pretense of exploring new lands, and the latter to
hide his violation of the law by eager search for mines. It was pointed out that
both of these men carried on their operations in the best fur producing regions,
and went equipped with large quantities of merchandise solely adapted to the Indian
fur trade.
The Red Cedar being a side stream would naturally be visited, if visited at all,
by individual trappers or small parties of trappers, who probably had no license.
Even had they had the ability to make a record, such adventurers would not publish
their discoveries. They would not by publication invite detection and punishment
and at the same time inform rivals in trade of the locations where pelts were to be
gathered in plenty.
The next reference to the Red Cedar after that of Le Sueur's journey of 1700 is
in an account of a journey by Jonathan Carver. In 1767 he made his way tip the
Chippewa River and incidentally remarks: "Nearly thirty miles up, it separates
into two branches, and I took my course through that which lies to the eastward."
He followed this branch (the main Chippewa) to some distance beyond its falls.
Then by one of the trails passing by Lake Court d'Oreilles he went to the head-
waters of the St. Croix. Of the lower Chippewa, he says: "The country adjoining
the river, for about sixty miles is vtery level, and on its banks lie fine meadows,
where larger droves of buffalo and elks were feeding than I observed in any other part
of my travels."
Carver was a Connecticut man who had served in the British army in North
America during the French war, and seems to have been the first Englishman to
make a journey Lhrough 1he Northwest. He is the first person for whom is made a
claim of proprietorship of the site of Menomonie. The claim rested on a deed said
to have been given by two Sioux chiefs to Carver, covering lands in western Wis-
consin, including Dunn County. The territory of these two counties was in the
early political organization of this state included in Crawford County, and this
deed showing the symbol signatures of the chiefs, a turtle and a snake, is spread
upon the records of that county. By the terms of the deed, this land grant had a
maximum width of 120 miles on the line drawn due north from a point due east
100 miles from the head of Lake Pepin to form its east boundary; and from the
north end of that line the northern or northwestern boundary ran southwestwardly
in a straight course about 175 miles to the Falls of St. Anthony. The side formed
by the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin, in their irregular meandering but generally
southeastward course extends on a direct line between its ends about 70 miles.
Measuring due east 100 miles from the foot of Lake Pepin at the mouth of the
Chippewa River, the southeast corner of this grant, is found in the central part of
Wood County, Wisconsin, about five miles southeast of Pittsville. Thence the east


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