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

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

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

Page 12

conflict with the French by the Mascouten and the Kickapoo. Resentful toward the French, the
Fox refused to move to Detroit with other tribal groups in 1704. Between 1714 and 1734, a new
series of conflicts broke out between the Fox and the French, along with Native American allies
of the French. The Fox suffered a major defeat at Lake Butte des Mortes in 1716. Eight years
later a temporary truce was arranged by the French. However, by 1728, the Governor of Canada
was sending expeditions to drive the Fox out of the Fox-Wisconsin River area. The Fox suffered
additional defeats in 1730 and 1731, and scattered groups sought refuge with the Sauk. By the
late 1730s, the Fox were moving westward along the Wisconsin River. By the late 1760s, they
were retreating south and west out of the Wisconsin under pressure from the Chippewa. The
Fox probably never had a major village in Rock County; their relationship to the Janesville
area lies in their control the Wisconsin River, the major trade route through southern
Wisconsin. This control lasted from approximately 1690 to 1730.
The Kickapoo and Mascouten probably first encountered the French in the Green Bay area. By
1685, they formed a powerful confederacy with the Fox against France and her Native
American allies (Gibson 1963:6). A period of mixed conflict and peace existed until about 1710,
when the aggression escalated. The Kickapoo and Mascouten were allied against the Iroquois,
Illinois, and some Siouan groups to the west. By 1718, the Kickapoo had absorbed the
remaining Mascouten and were primarily found on the Rock River (Gibson 1963:14). After
making peace with the French, this amalgamated group moved south and west out of
Wisconsin. While their villages may have been located along the Rock River, none have been
positively identified. Their importance is that the Kickapoo and Mascouten played a
prominent role in the fight over control of Wisconsin in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
The Potawatomi originally lived in the western part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Incessant
Iroquoian attacks eventually drove them to enter into what is now Wisconsin through the
islands at the mouth of Green Bay. In 1653, the French enumerated the Potawatomi as having
400 men (Clifton 1975:45). By 1658, the number had grown to 700 warriors and a total of 3,000
people. The Potawatomi developed a strong alliance with the French while setting
themselves up as middlemen in the fur trade. In the end, the Potawatomi could not establish a
monopoly on trade in the Green Bay area, remaining on equal footing with the other groups in
the area (Clifton 1977:63). The early eighteenth century saw the majority of the Potawatomi
located along the St. Joseph River and at Detroit. Some also lived at this time with the
Winnebago. Sometime around 1750, the Potawatomi began moving into southern Wisconsin and
Illinois to take advantage of the weakened Illinois groups (Clifton 1977:72). Their main
village was established at Milwaukee as Potawatomi occupation of Wisconsin shifted south
from Green Bay (Clifton 1977:160). After 1800, white settlement caused the Potawatomi to
move further west. They were reported in the Watertown and Koshkonong areas in 1840. The
earlier treaties of 1829 and 1833 ceded Potawatomi lands in Wisconsin to the United States
government, spawning much of the Potawatomi movement. In 1836, they were moved first to
Iowa and then to Kansas. While officially removed, numerous small bands remained in
Wisconsin and over the next 70 years numerous Potawatomi individuals and small groups
returned from their western communities to settle in Wisconsin.
The Winnebago were the last aboriginal group to control the area now encompassed by Rock
County. They may have a possible origin in the Oneota manifestation in Wisconsin (Hall 1962;
McKern 1942, 1945; Quimby 1960; Hall 1993, 1995), although this is an area of some dispute
(Spector 1974). The Winnebago were known to the French prior to Nicolet's visit to the area;
they appeared on Champlain's map of the area as "le Nation des Puans"(Kellogg 1925:75).
Indeed, contact with the Winnebago may have been one of the reasons for Nicolet's expedition.
In 1634, Nicolet contacted the Winnebago near the Green Bay area (Turner 1889:59-61; Spector
1974:44). While the Winnebago were dispersed in the 1640s and 1650s due to conflict with
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation

Go up to Top of Page