Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County
Mackesy, Lillian; Schubert, William E.; Brummund, Walter H.
Industrial progress, pp. 141-163 PDF (6.9 MB)
THE LAND OF rHE FOX and setting his pole in the river bottom, he walked the length of the boat, dis- engaged the pole and then walked back to the bow to start poling all over again. Thirty tons of freight were carried in these boats which measured from 40 to 60 feet in length. When the Durhams came to the rapids they were portaged by either being pushed through the shallows at the shoreline with the steel-tipped poles or being pulled by oxen hired from some enterprising settler who lived near the portage. Indians frequently were used in getting the boats and goods around the rapids. Henry A. Gallup, a traveler in 1836 on the Fox River, gives a description of the Durham boats in action in his writ- ings. ''Five miles further brought us to the Grand Chute. Here was a perpendicular fall in the river of seven feet, but close to the shore the rock had worn away so that a boat could take a plunge in going down and be led by ropes if quite light. Here the Durham boats which did all the freighting at the time, up and down the river, were obliged to discharge their freight and roll it along the banks on poles to above the falls. The boats were then lifted and dragged up by a large party of Indians and reloaded above. I "The amount of freighting was then considerable. All the government supplies for Fort Winnebago were passed up this way and detachments of soldiers often passed in the same grand manner." EARLY ROADS The Menominee Indians at Little Chute helped build one of the earliest important roads in the county according to George W. Lawe, Kaukauna pioneer, who de- scribes in pioneer records how a wagon road was cut in 1839 from Kaukauna to connect with the Military road that ran from Fort Howard at Green Bay through Fond du Lac to Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. 'When I arrived in Kaukauna (1839), I found a veritable wilderness, there were no roads and no way of traveling except on Indian trails or by water. Green Bay was our source of supplies and I was desirous of opening wagon communica- tions with that place. I went down to see Mr. Wright (Hoel Wright), the founder of Wrightstown five miles down the river, he was a particular friend of mine, and had settled there four or five years before. I wanted him to run a ferry across the river so that he could reach the military road running from Green Bay to Fond du Lac. This he agreed to do if I would open a road from Kaukauna to his ferry. I pledged my word I would do so at once. "Much pleased in making such arrange- ments, the next day I called on my neigh- bor and laid the matter before him for approval, expecting him to aid me, but to my surprise he was opposed to any such radical change. He said, 'My father lived a good many years in Kaukauna and had no wagon road to Green Bay; he got along very well by travelling on horse- back or afoot and I guess I can do the same. 'Not to be overcome by this exhibition of conservatism I resolved to try the head Menominee Chief at Little Chute, Tyom- etaw, and see if he would aid me. He summoned young men to council-they said yes we will go. The next day I had 50 Indians to help me. In the 2 days time we had a road cut out. The next week we all worked together again and cut the road to Appleton. They were not worked out highways but trails wide enough for wagons from which logs and underbrush were cut and removed." The next year Ephraim St. Louis chopped a road for his ox team and cart to travel from Little Chute to the Grand Chute since, as he points out in the County Pioneer Association records, settlements round Lake Winnebago were increasing and he found that money could be made with his ox team and cart. He was in those days his "own supervisor, path- 142
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