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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States
(1880)

Chapter XII,   pp. 698-746 PDF (23.9 MB)


Page 702


HISTORY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY.
here and in Scotland, and efficient in its first organization in Caledonia.
He was for a number
of years chairman of the town of Caledonia, and served as a Justice of the
Peace in his owh
town, but was better known as jovial, companionable old Daddy, and so long
as his vigorous
health lasted, he was the center of attraction wherever he happened to be.
His sallies of wit
were electrical, and so good-natured and pointed were his hits, that his
victim laughed as heartily
as the rest. He was a genius peculiar to Scotland, and of that class which
have no duplicates.
No man living in Caledonia will be more missed, and a void will not only
be felt in that town,
but also in Portage and Dekorra, where his presence has so often, like magic,
driven dull care
away.
                                 'aTo Scotia send this greeting, then,
                                 Please spare us more of just such men.'"
     The first' farm opened up in the town of Caledonia was by Peter Pauquette
for the Indians.
 The first American farming done in the town was by Gideon Low, on the place
that used to
 be called Black Earth, now known as the "Indian Farm," in the
town of Caledonia. But Low
 held the land only as a "claim " at the time, employing another
person to farm it. He pur-
 chased the land when it came into market, it is true, but, admitting that
his farm was the first
 one regularly tilled for an American, it would not entitle him to be called
the first settler in the
 town, as he did not reside upon his "1claim," and was engaged
in other business. The work of
 the farm was done by Leon Braux, The third farm opened up was by John T.
De La Ronde,
 in 1838. De La Ronde was born at Barbeaux, in France, February 25, 1802,
his ancestors
 were men of note in the military and marine service in his native country.
Hlis father, Louis
 Denys, Chevalier De La Ronde, was born at Detroit, Mich., while the grandfather,
an officer in
 the French service, was stationed at Detroit, previous to the final, surrender
of the Canadas by
 the French to the English, in 1760. This same grandfather, Louis Denys De
La Ronde, was at
 one time in command at Chequamegon, on Lake Superior.   The father of John
remained in
 France till the battle of Waterl6o, when, not wishing to live under the
rule of Louis XVIII, he
 came to Canada with all his family, and became a partner in the Northwest
Company. He died
 at Montreal in 1818. The son received a good education in French and English
; he seems to
 have been in the College of Montreal at a very early age, and to have studied
medicine under
 Dr. Robert Nelson V. Smith, but never pr'acticed itas a profession. In 1819,
he became a
 clerk in the Northwest Company, with which he remained seven years, during
which time he
 went to London, England, as a witness in a dispute between his company and
the Hudson Bay
 Company. A settlement having been effected between these companies, he was
transferred to
 the Hudson Bay Company, with which company he remained till 1828, at which
time he came
 to Fort Winnebago, now Portage. This was the year in which Old Fort Winnebago
was built.
 Here Mr. De La Ronde engaged as clerk of the American Fur Company, under
the noted Peter
 Pauquette, whowas then, and for some time thereafter, agent of that company.
Here Mr. De
 La Rondeo married an IndianIwoman of the De Kau-ry tribe of Winnebagdes,
but who had been
 brought up mainly among the whites, and had never worn a blanket. To him
was born from
 this wife one child, a daughter, who was left motherless at the age of two
years, and who was
 married at the age of sixteen to Antoine Grignon, a decendant of the Grignon
who formerly
 lived at Portage, and later about Green Bay. Mr. De La Ronde brought up
this child with
 great care, sending her to Prairie du Chien and other places for school
privileges.
      Her husband was a ivell-educated farmer, and she is an accomplished
woman. They have
 long resided at Trempealeau, in this State. When this daughter was five
years of age, her
 father married another Indian woman of the De Kaury band, who survives him
at his late resi-
 dence in Caledonia, near Portage. She is now totally blind. He also leaves
one son and two
 daughters, who are now grown and live with their mother. Mr. La Ronde, from
the time he
 came to Portage, spent his time trading with the Indians, assisting and
accompanying them on
 their journeys to their reservations, to Washington, and wherever they needed
his services as
 interpreter. He acquired their language thoroughly, and at one time spent
considerable labor
 on a dictionary and grammar of it, but he never completed the work. His
business and his
702


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