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Term: Caspar Partridge case, 1850-1855


episode of racist hysteria resulting in the kidnapping of a Menominee child by white settlers.  

On April 9, 1850, Alvin and Lucia Partridge took their children maple sugaring in the woods near their farm in the Winnebago Co. township of Vinland, outside Oshkosh. Their four-year-old son, Caspar, wandered away and, despite days of searching by hundreds of neighbors, was never seen again.

Relations between new settlers and the Menominee Indians were tense at the time. The federal government was trying to force the Menominee off their Wisconsin homeland, the tribe was resisting through legal means, and disputes over local tribal boundaries and annuity payments had increased anxiety. Many settlers could recall the violence of the Black Hawk War 18 years earlier, and rumors spread through white communities that Caspar Partridge had been stolen by Menominee Indians.

Eighteen months later, Mr. Partridge's sister spotted a light-skinned boy with a Menominee family near Waupaca. Twenty-two white men invaded their camp, seized the child (named Oakaha), and summoned Alvin Partridge, who thought the boy might be his missing son but was not sure.
Other members of the Partridge family were more certain and obtained a writ of habeas corpus to prevent Oakaha from being returned to the Menominee. In early 1852 a six-day trial was held in Oshkosh to determine Oakaha's true parents. In their testimony, Partridge family members pointed to a general physical resemblance, but Menominee elders, Catholic missionaries, and white traders all swore that they had known the child since his birth. The judge ruled that Oakaha should be returned to his Menominee mother, but before that could occur, vigilantes spirited te boy away to the Partridge homestead in Ohio.
Eighteen months later, in May of 1853, a child's decomposed remains discovered on the Partridge family's Wisconsin farm were assumed to be those of Caspar Partridge. This prompted federal officials to track Oakaha to McHenry Co., Illinois, where they seized him late in 1854. They were en route to northern Wisconsin to reunite the boy with his mother when the Partridges filed an injunction to stop them. Before a legal hearing could be held, family members kidnapped him a second time, on March 5, 1855 in Milwaukee, and then fled into the wilds of Kansas Territory.
Despite repeated efforts, neither the federal government nor the Menominee Nation were able to recover Oakaha again. Renamed Joseph Partridge, he grew up in Kansas, served in the Civil War, and spent most of his adult life plagued by mental health and financial problems. He wandered unhappily throughout the Midwest until his death near New Lisbon, Wis., in 1916.

View more information in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Summer, 1975): 258-312.

[Source: Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Summer, 1975): 258-312.]

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94 records found

Atkinson, Henry, 1782-1842
Bad Axe River, Crawford Co.
Bad Axe, Battle of
Battle of Bad Axe (Historic Marker Erected 1955)
Battle of Wisconsin Heights (Historic Marker Erect
Beloit [brief history]
Black Hawk 1767 - 1838
Black Hawk at Turtle Village (Historic Marker Erec
Black Hawk War (1832)
Black Hawk War (Historic Marker Erected 1968)
Black Hawk War Encampment "Burnt Village" (Histori
Black Hawk War Encampment (Historic Marker Erected
Black Hawk [origin of place name]
Black Hawk, Sauk Co.
Blackhawk Island, Jefferson Co.
Blue Mounds (geology)
Brigham Park (Historic Marker Erected 1955)
Brigham, Ebenezer 1789 - 1861
Bunyan, Paul
Caspar Partridge case, 1850-1855
Clark, Satterlee [Jr.?] 1816 - 1881
Clermont, Alexis 1808 - 1898
Crelie, Joseph 1773 - 1866
Davis, Jefferson (in Wisconsin)
Decorah family
Decorah Peak (Historic Marker Erected 1958)
Decorah, One-Eyed, 1772?-1864, Ho-Chunk chief
Dodge's Grove and Fort Union (Historic Marker Erec
Dodge, Henry 1782 - 1867
Dodgeville [brief history]
Drummond's Island
Dunn [origin of place name]
Dunn, Charles 1799 - 1872
Fennimore [origin of place name]
Forsyth, Thomas, 1771-1833.
Fort Atkinson [brief history]
Fort Atkinson [origin of place name]
Fort Atkinson, Jefferson Co.
Fort Blue Mounds
Fort Defiance (Historic Marker Erected 1995)
Fort Hamilton
Fort Koshkonong (Historic Marker Erected 1966)
Fox Wars (ca. 1710-1740)
Gratiot, Henry 1789 - 1836
Grignon, Charles Augustin, 1808 - 1862
Grignon, Pierre Sr. 1740 - 1795
Hamilton, William Stephen 1797 - 1850
Helena, Iowa Co.
Indian Lake Passage (Historic Marker Erected 1997)
Keokuk, Sauk chief, 1780?-1848.
Lincoln, Abraham (in Wisconsin)
Meeker, Moses 1790 - 1865
Military River Crossing (Historic Marker Erected 1
Monfort [origin of place name]
Neopope, Sauk warrior, dates unverified
Niedecker, Lorine (1903-1970)(Historic Marker Erec
Niedecker, Lorine, 1903-1970
Ocooch Mountains (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
Oshkosh, Menominee chief, 1795 - 1858
Paquette, Pierre 1799? - 1836
Parkinson, Daniel Morgan 1790 - 1868
Pecatonica River, Green Co. [origin of place name]
Pheasant Branch Encampment (Historic Marker Erecte
Pope-Roberts, Sondy 1950
Potosi [origin of place name]
Presidential Visits to Madison
Prophet, The (Winnebago)
Robson, Judith Biros
Rountree, John Hawkins 1805 - 1890
Route of Abraham Lincoln, 1832 and 1859 (Historic
Sauk and Fox Treaty of 1804 (St. Louis)
Schooff, Dan 1971
Soldiers Grove Origins (Historic Marker Erected 19
Souligny, Menominee leader, 1785-1864
Spotted Arm (Broken Arm), Ho-Chunk chief
Stambaugh, Samuel C.
Storrs Lake, Milton (Historic Marker Erected 1976)
Street, Joseph Montfort 1780 - 1840
The Pursuit West (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
The Smoker, Ho-Chunk chief
The U.S. Military at Turtle Village (Historic Mark
Third Lake Passage (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1784-1835
Tragedy of War (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
Trail Discovery (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
Treaty of 1832 (Fort Armstrong)
Troop Encampment (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
Victory, Vernon Co.
Western Escape (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
White Crow, Ho-Chunk chief
Whittlesey, Charles 1808 - 1886
Winnebago Indians (Historic Marker Erected 1973)
Yankees in Wisconsin

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