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The Wisconsin Blue Book, 1923

Mack, John G. D.
The four Wisconsin capitols,   pp. [41]-52 PDF (4.0 MB)

Page [41]

                        By JOHN G. D. MACK
  Wisconsin territory was created by act of congress April 20, 1836,
including under this act the area of the states of Wisconsin, Minne-
sota, Iowa and the portion of the two Dakotas east of the Missouri
river and its northern tributary, the White Earth river, this latter
being in the northwestern corner of North Dakota. It was then known
that the territory would be reduced in size at a later date.
  The temporary seat of the territorial government was established
at Belmont, a village built for the occasion with the possible hope
that it might become the capital city of the future state, a hope
which was soon shattered.
  Belmont was located in what is now Lafayette county between Platt
and Belmont Mounds, landmarks visible for twenty-five miles in every
direction. The site of the village is about five and one-half miles
northeast of Platteville, about one-fourth mile from the present C. &
N. W. railway station Leslie.
                          The First Capitol
  In anticipation of the coming of the legislature, a frame building had
been erected by James Atchison from whom it was rented for the
use of the legislature.
  This building was a two-story structure with a battlement front,
twenty-five by forty feet in dimensions. The timber for the building
was purchased in Pittsburgh and brought down the Ohio river and up
the Mississippi by steamboat and landed at Galena from whence it
was hauled thirty miles to Belmont. The interior was lathed with
split oak and plastered, making a very substantial frame building
for the time.
   The territorial legislature met in this building in a forty-six day
 session between October 25 and December 9, 1836. A long struggle
 took place during this session in both the council and house of repre-
 sentatives in fixing the location of the future capital city, the follow-
 ing locations being proposed in various motions to replace Madison
 which was named in the bill: Fond du Lac, DuBuque, Portage, Helena,
 Milwaukee, Racine, Belmont, Mineral Point, Platteville, Astor, Cass-
 ville, Belleview, Koshkonong, Wisconsinapolis, Peru, Wisconsin City,
 Burlington, City of the Four Lakes, Osceola, Prairie du Chien.
   Madison was finally selected, probably through the efforts of Judge
 James Duane Doty, later governor, who had had a survey made of
 the present site of Madison in anticipation of its being made the
 capital city. Judge Doty also had surveys of Wisconsinapolis and the
 City of the Four Lakes, being part owner of these sites as well as
 of the Madison site.

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