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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 13

other tribes, including the Illinois, small refugee groups rapidly regained strength and numbers.
At first they supported the Fox against the French, but they soon deserted to the French cause.
In 1729, they were besieged by the Fox at their Lake Winnebago village site in eastern
Wisconsin; this siege was broken by their French and Menominee allies. After 1670, the
Winnebago began to move west and south, taking advantage of the turmoil caused by the
French-Fox conflicts. This movement intensified after the 1730s and by the 1760s they
controlled much of the Fox-Wisconsin River system. The Winnebago generally supported the
European forces who controlled the Wisconsin area (i.e., the French, and later the British).
They were anti-American in their pursuits and supported the Shawnee prophet Tecumseh
against westward American expansion. During the War of 1812, the Winnebago joined with
British Colonel McKay on his way to capture Prairie du Chien from the American garrison.
By 1760, numerous Winnebago villages were clustered in Dane, Sauk, Rock, and Columbia
counties. During the next 100 years or so, southern Wisconsin was occupied by the Winnebago.
The Winnebago agreed to give up their land in Wisconsin, including their Rock County claims,
in 1837. Because this treaty was widely regarded as fraudulent in terms of representation of the
tribe and pressure applied by the U.S. government, many Winnebago refused to leave. In 1840,
many were removed by the 5th and 8th Regiments of the U.S. Infantry; more removals followed
in 1846 and 1850 (De LaRonde 1908:362). For many years, groups of Winnebago returned to what
they felt was their ancestral land. In 1873, Colonel Hunt removed 100 Winnebago who were
feasting on the Baraboo River (Jones 1914:30; Lawson 1907:115). Most of these individuals
returned by the next summer as popular sentiment turned in favor of allowing the Winnebago to
remain in Wisconsin (Lawson 1907:115-116). During the late-nineteenth century, the
Winnebago only occasionally returned to the Rock County area to trap, collect berries, and
obtain odd jobs. As late as 1895, a small band wintered at Lake Koshkonong (Lawson 1907:100-
102)
Previously Developed Themes
Cultural Resource Management in Wisconsin identifies important themes (or contexts) of
Wisconsin's history, described chronologically. While events taking place throughout the
entire state act as a backdrop, broad temporal and geographical boundaries are also
established for each theme. Below, aspects of American Indian occupation and use of the
Janesville area are discussed within four existing statewide contexts: the Historic Indian
Theme, Fur Trade Theme, Government Theme, and Settlement Theme. Later in this chapter,
four new contexts are developed specifically for the Janesville area: Woodland Mound
Construction in the Janesville Area, American Indian Transportation Routes, the Black Hawk
War, and Euro-American Settlement of the Janesville Area. Because events described in the
locally developed contexts were influenced by and often tied to events taking place throughout
the state and region, there will be some overlap of the presented data.
Historic Indian Theme
A general outline of the American Indian groups who may have occupied and/or used the lands
within Rock County was given earlier in this chapter. This section will integrate the
statewide Historic Indian Theme, taken from the Cultural Resource Management in Wisconsin
management plan, with events that are known to have occurred or may have occurred in the
Janesville area.
The year 1634 is given as the start of the "historic period" in Wisconsin. In that year, Jean
Nicolet is believed to have visited the Green Bay area. During this visit he encountered
numerous Winnebago and smaller numbers of other tribal groups. European trade goods,
however, had probably made their way into southern Wisconsin before Nicolet's visit.
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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