Term: Carver, Jonathan 1710 - 1780
explorer, author, b. Weymouth, Mass. He moved with his family to Canterbury, Conn., when he was about eight years old, and there learned the shoemaker's trade. From 1746 to 1759 he served with the Connecticut provincial troops, and in 1759 moved his family to Montague, Mass., where he served with the Massachusetts provincial troops until 1763, rising to the rank of captain. He taught himself map-making and in 1766 was sent by Robert Rogers, then governor of Mackinac, to map the main rivers of Wisconsin and Minnesota in preparation for an expedition to search for an overland Northwest passage. Carver traveled the Fox-Wisconsin route, then up the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to a point west of the Falls of St. Anthony, where he wintered with the Sioux Indians. The Wisconsin portion of his travel book is online in our American Journeys collection.
In 1767 he joined the party sent by Rogers to find a route to the Pacific. They went as far as Grand Portage on Lake Superior, where they were forced to turn back for lack of supplies. In 1769 he went to London, collected his pay and expenses, published his Travels through the Interior Parts of North America (1778), which gave a vivid description of Wisconsin and Minnesota territory, Indian life and customs, and a short treatise on tobacco. The book had great popularity in America and Europe, and the accuracy of his observations proved valuable to future exploration. A worthless deed to a large part of Wisconsin, alleged to have been given Carver by the Sioux, was exploited for half a century by land speculators. He himself, unable to obtain government employment, died a pauper. Dict. Amer. Biog.; L. P. Kellogg, British Regime in Wis. . . . (Madison, 1935); Wis. Mag. Hist., 3; Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1912 (1913); Miss. Valley Hist. Review, 7.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Jonathan Carver Papers for details.
View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.
View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]