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

Kinney, Thomas P. / Irish settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860

Fox settlement,   pp. 42-47 PDF (2.6 MB)

Page 44

Foxmount, located in the countryside east of Waterford, Ireland, was
home to the William and Eleanor Fox family, who immigrated to the
United States in 1832. Their son, George Fox, used Foxmount's floor
plan in building Fox Hall in Fitchburg. Photo taken in 1975.
that his father treated not only settlers in Fitchburg, but also
local Winnebago Indians who suffered from fever.
The chief sickness among the Indians was fever and
ague, probably due to the climatic conditions and expo-
sures under which the Indians lived.... Indians, number-
ing sometimes a couple of dozen or more, [sat] around
under the trees in our dooryard at the old farm, while my
father, with an assistant (usually one of his own daugh-
ters), administered to these sick Indians in the following
manner; He would have a common dish-pan with a lot of
powder in it, presumably mostly quinine. He would walk
with this from one Indian to another, using a large table-
spoon with which to put a dose of this powder in the
Indians' mouths, then his assistant, walking behind, would
have a pan full of little chunks of raw salt pork, and with a
fork would place one chunk in the mouth of each Indian
for him to chew, and with which to work the powder
down.... [A]s far as I can remember, I did not see a
single Indian spit the powder out....
In exchange for his services, the Indians would leave Dr. Fox,
whom they called a "medicine man," tanned hides of deerskin
and bearskin.7
Dr. Fox was involved in Fitchburg government and
became the first township treasurer in 1847. Also in that year
he was a member of the Wisconsin state constitutional conven-
tion, serving on a committee that tackled a vast array of topics,
including preamble, boundaries, franchise, internal improve-
ments, taxation and finance, militia, and bill of rights.98
Another person with a number of responsibilities was
John Keenan. In addition to raising a wheat cash crop and
hauling it by ox team to market in Milwaukee and to lumber
camps farther north, he was active in local government and was
chairman of the Fitchburg Town Board from 1851 to 1857.
John Keenan also served a number of terms on the County
Board of Supervisors in the 1850's. In 1859, his wife Flora
worked the farm while John served a term in the state legisla-
ture, where he was a member of the Assembly standing com-
mittee for state lands.99
Community events such as weddings were a focal point
of Fox Settlement life. In January, 1850, John Keenan married
Flora McKee. The bride's mother wrote to her sister Margaret
who lived in County Down, Ireland, "Flora... was married on
the sixteenth of the month. They were married before supper.
Tea and supper are all one here. We had all things decent. They
stayed with us all night and went home to their house the next
day.'00 Evidently, the demise of the afternoon tea tradition was
noteworthy to the Irish immigrants.
John Keenan's brother, George, raised extra cash by work-
ing as a shoemaker in Madison, which entailed traveling
by horseback one hour each way Another pioneer, John

Go up to Top of Page