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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Milwaukee's First Settler Bites the Dust


The first permanent buildings on the site of modern Milwaukee were constructed by fur trader Solomon Juneau.

In 1816 he began his career as a clerk for Jacques Vieau, who had only a seasonal trading post on the Menominee River. In 1819 he bought out Vieau's post, in 1822 he built the first log house in Milwaukee, and in 1824 the first frame building, pictured here.

At the end of his life he went up to the Wolf River to attend a treaty payment with the Menominee. These annual deliveries of cash from the U.S. government, which was paid in compensation for tribes' giving up lands, were rich oppoprtunities for traders to separate Indians from their money; pictures and first-hand accounts of some are available at Turning Points in Wisconsin History. According to Juneau's nephew, he was poisoned by a rival trader while attending the 1856 Menominee annuity payment. His life and sudden death are described in detail here.
:: Posted in Strange Deaths on June 9, 2005

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