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Term: Tank, Nils Otto 1800 - 1864


Moravian religious leader, land speculator, canal and railroad promoter, b. near Fredrikshald, Norway. The son of a wealthy politician and landowner, Tank was educated in various European universities. Disinherited after his first marriage and his conversion to the Moravian faith, Tank left Norway to become a teacher and missionary in the Dutch colony of Surinam. There he allegedly discovered rich gold fields, but soon left the colony, and in 1847 moved to Amsterdam, Holland. In 1850 he migrated to the U.S., and in New York became acquainted with a Milwaukee Moravian minister, A. Iverson. Intrigued by Iverson's story of the poverty of his parishioners in Wisconsin, Tank promised to help; he moved to Wisconsin, and purchased a tract of nearly 1,000 acres on the west bank of the Fox River at Fort Howard, where he planned to establish a communal society. He took up residence there in the Roi-Porlier-Tank cottage, but personal differences soon arose between Tank and Iverson over leadership of the community. The colonists themselves suspected Tank of planning to establish a tenant system or attempting to force them from their lands once improvements had been made. Their suspicions seemed to be confirmed when Tank refused to grant title to the land, and, aided by the governing body of the Moravian Church, they rejected Tank's leadership and left to establish a new settlement under Iverson. Shortly thereafter, Tank became associated with the Fox-Wisconsin River improvement scheme, but eventually lost heavily in the venture; he then turned his promotional activities to land speculations in Menasha and Manitowoc, and to railroad ventures, chiefly the Green Bay and Minnesota R.R. His wife, CAROLINE L. A. TANK, b. Amsterdam, Holland, lived on wealth inherited from her own family after the death of her husband. During the 1870's she gave money to several missions in China, to American schools, and to the city of Green Bay. In 1867 she donated a large collection of Dutch-language books to the State Historical Society, and at her death bequeathed the Tank collection of paintings to the Society. Green Bay Advocate, May 5, 1864; Wis. Mag. Hist., 22, 24, 25, 35; Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1891 (1892), 1908 (1909); Green Bay Gazette, Nov. 28, 1901; N. O. Tank Papers.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Nils Otto Tank Papers for details.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

63 records found

Tadych, Albert R. 1932
Tainter, Andrew 1823 - 1899
Tainter, Jeremiah Burnham 1836 - 1920
Tallmadge, Nathaniel Pitcher 1795 - 1864
Talon, Jean, comte d'Orsainville (c.1625-1694)
Talsky, George J. 1899
Tamms, Erwin G. 1931
Tank, Nils Otto 1800 - 1864
Tanner, Herbert Battles 1859 - 1933
Tatum, Arthur Lawrie. 1884 - 1955
Taylor, David 1818 - 1891
Taylor, Horace Adolphus 1837 - 1910
Taylor, Lena C. 1966
Taylor, William Robert 1820 - 1909
Te Winkle, William P. 1954
Teasdale, Howard (1855 - 1936)
Tecumseh, Shawnee War Chief (c.1768-1813)
Tehan, Robert, 1905-1975.
Tenney, Horace Addison 1820 - 1906
Terry, Earle Melvin 1879 - 1929
Terry, Walter E.
Tesmer, Louise M.
Thayer, Eugene Butler 1853 - 1931
Thayer, Jesse B. 1845 - 1910
The Smoker, Ho-Chunk chief
Theno, Daniel U. 1947
Thomas, Ormsby Brunson 1832 - 1904
Thompson, Barbara 1924
Thompson, Carl W. 1914
Thompson, George 1918
Thompson, John C[Ameron] 1872 - 1934
Thompson, Robert M. 1927
Thompson, Tommy G. 1941
Thomson, Alexander Mcdonald 1822 - 1898
Thomson, Vernon W. 1905
Thorp, Joseph G. 1812 - 1895
Thunder, Betsy
Thwaites, Reuben Gold 1853 - 1913
Timlin, William Henry 1852 - 1916
Timme, Ernst Gerhardt 1843 - 1923
Timmerman, Lawrence W. 1910
Tittemore, James Nelson 1864 - 1949
Titus, William Albert 1868 - 1951
Tobiasz, Raymond J. 1916
Tomah, Menominee leader, ca. 1752 - 1818
Towns, Debi 1956
Townsend, John F. 1938
Tracy, Clarissa Tucker 1818 - 1905
Trane, Reuben Nicholas 1886 - 1954
Travis, David M. 1948
Tregoning, Joseph E. 1941
Tremain, Ben 1888
Treutel, Arthur H. 1897
Trever, Albert Augustus 1874 - 1940
Trinke, William F. 1897
Tropman, Peter J. 1944
Tuczynski, Phillip James 1947
Turba, Wilfrid J. 1928
Turneaure, Frederick Eugene 1866 - 1951
Turner, Andrew Jackson 1832 - 1905
Turner, Frederick Jackson 1861 - 1932
Turner, Robert L. 1947
Tweedy, John Hubbard 1814 - 1891

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