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Commemorative biographical record of the Fox River Valley counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, and of many of the early settled families
(1895)

Biographical,   pp. [unnumbered]-[1232] PDF (429.7 MB)


Page 10


COMMEMORA TI 'E BLOGRAPtIICAL RECORD.
you would settle a trifling store bill," the
Judge's own words. Such in brief is an
outline of the life of Judge Martin as a
pioneer of northern Wisconsin; and the
early history of the city of Green Bay, as
well as of the entire Fox River Valley, is
so intervolved with the active period of
his life, that a record of the one is essen-
tially a record of the other.
    From the I Reminiscences" wxe ex-
cerpt the following, illustrative of the
early efforts toward the improvement of
the Fox-WVisconsin river highway, an im-
portant feature in the development of
this portion of the State. The statement
is substantially in the Judge's own words:
  The first movement by the general guyV
ernment toward the improvement of the
Fox-Wisconsin river highwayx-with a
viexv to making a continuous line of navi-
gation from Lake Michigan to the Missis-
sippi riverv-was made in 1839, while I
was in the Territorial council.  Capt.
Thomas J. Cram, of the topographical
engineers, made, under the direction of
the War Department, a preliminary sur-
vey of the rivers and an estimate of the
cost of their improvement. In 1846,
while a delegate in Congress, I secured,
by dint of very hard work, the passage of
an Act (approved August 8) making a
grant of land to the State, upon its ad-
mission into the Union, for the improv3-
ment of the Fox river alone, and the build-
ing of a canal across the portage between
the two rivers. The grant covered every
odd-numbered section xvithin three miles
of the canal, the river and the lake, en
routl, from the portage to the mouth.
When the second Constitutional Conven-
tion was held, this proposition on the
part of Congress was endorsed, and, at
the first session of the State Legislature,
the latter body passed an Act, approved
August 8, 1848, appointing a board of
public works consisting of five persons
and providing for the improvement of the
river.   * * On January I, 1851, the
board reported to the Legislature that
the work would have to stop unless some
device for a more rapid sale of land could
be originated. While the affair was in
this condition, I made a proposition to
the Legislature, through Gov. Dexvey, to
do the work from Green Bay to Lake
Winnebago, except what the board of
public works had finished or was already
under contract for. The board had dug
the canal at Portage, before there was
any steam navigation possible on the
Lower Fox. " * * The Legislature of
1851 accepted my proposition, and I
went to work with about five hundred
men, commencing at Kaukauna. Oper-
ations were carried on throughout that
season, along the entire distance from
Green Bay to Lake \Viincbago."  The
Improvement Company went on with the
work until I856, in which year the first
boat, the " Aquilla," passed through the
works-from Pittsburg to Green Bay.
    From 1831 to 1835 Judge Martin was
a member of the legislative council of
Michigan Territory, and from 1838 to
1844 Ile was one of the Territorial council
of \Visconsin. In 1845-47 he represented
his Territory in Congress with marked
ability; xxas president of the State Con-
stitutional Convention of 1847-48, and
both in the chair and on the floor was
one of the guiding spirits of the body
which framed the charter under which
the Conmmonxvealth of Wisconsin still
operates. In 1855 he xvas elected a
member of the State Assembly, and three
years later was sent up to the Senate.
Throughout the entire period of the Civil
war he served as an army paymaster. In
1866 he was appointed Indian agent,
holding the position until 1869, when the
War Department took charge of Indian
affairs. In I866 he was the candidate
(under the Johnson movement) for Con-
gress, from the Fifth District, in which
campaign he was defeated by Philetus
Sawyer. In 1870 lie resumed the prac-
tice of law which he had temporarily laid
aside, and in 1873 he was again elected
to the Assembly. From 1875 until his
decease he served as county judge of
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