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The Founding of Major Cities

Until the nineteenth century, white settlement in Wisconsin was sparse and centered almost solely on the fur trade and military posts at Green Bay, LaPointe, and Prairie du Chien. With increased westward migration after the War of 1812, white settlers initially settled in two areas: the lead mining regions along the Mississippi and along the lakeshore in what later became the city of Milwaukee. Because water routes remained the only feasible means for travel and transporting goods in the early nineteenth century, towns and cities usually fanned out from rivers and lakes. Although the major lead mining towns of Platteville,... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A teenager comes to Green Bay as a new bride in 1824.  A teenager comes to Green Bay as a new bride in 1824.
Link to article: An early Yankee settler recalls Prairie du Chien's infancy.  An early Yankee settler recalls Prairie du Chien's infancy.
Link to article: A Green Bay girlhood in the 1820s.  A Green Bay girlhood in the 1820s.
Link to article: Madison is promoted as a tourist destination in 1877  Madison is promoted as a tourist destination in 1877
Link to article: Quality of life in Madison in 1850  Quality of life in Madison in 1850
Link to article: A woman's memoir of the founding of Sheboygan  A woman's memoir of the founding of Sheboygan
Link to article: An Indian woman founds the town of Marinette  An Indian woman founds the town of Marinette
Link to article: Recollections of Old Superior  Recollections of Old Superior
Link to article: A young boy's experience of Madison in the 1830's  A young boy's experience of Madison in the 1830's
Link to article: The founding of Portage, by Frederick Jackson Turner (1883)  The founding of Portage, by Frederick Jackson Turner (1883)
Link to article: Memories of Milwaukee's first family  Memories of Milwaukee's first family
Link to article: A journalist describes Ashland's premature demise, and its resurrection.  A journalist describes Ashland's premature demise, and its resurrection.
Link to article: Letters from Milwaukee in its infancy, 1836-1846  Letters from Milwaukee in its infancy, 1836-1846
Link to article: The Origin of Milwaukee's name  The Origin of Milwaukee's name
Link to book: An early history of Madison illustrated with contemporary photographs  An early history of Madison illustrated with contemporary photographs
Link to book: An Abolitionist Recalls Anti-Slavery Days in Wisconsin  An Abolitionist Recalls Anti-Slavery Days in Wisconsin
Link to book: A colorful and opinionated guide to Milwaukee businesses, 1877  A colorful and opinionated guide to Milwaukee businesses, 1877
Link to book: Promoters describe Superior in its infancy  Promoters describe Superior in its infancy
Link to book: Promoters try to entice settlers to Bayfield County  Promoters try to entice settlers to Bayfield County
Link to collections: The Founding and Early History of Madison  The Founding and Early History of Madison
Link to images: The first house in Madison, built in 1837  The first house in Madison, built in 1837
Link to images: Madison's first white woman settler  Madison's first white woman settler
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868  Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to images: Prairie du Chien merchant and judge James H. Lockwood, 1856.  Prairie du Chien merchant and judge James H. Lockwood, 1856.
Link to images: Bird's-eye views of Wisconsin cities and towns  Bird's-eye views of Wisconsin cities and towns
Link to manuscript: An early Milwaukee settler recalls the city's infancy  An early Milwaukee settler recalls the city's infancy
Link to manuscript: A historian and old settler describes Milwaukee's origins, 1873.  A historian and old settler describes Milwaukee's origins, 1873.
Link to manuscript: Oral traditions about Milwaukee's founding  Oral traditions about Milwaukee's founding
Link to map: States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.  States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.
Link to map: The imaginary capital city that its chief promoter envisioned, 1836.  The imaginary capital city that its chief promoter envisioned, 1836.
Link to map: Two founders of Milwaukee design its downtown in 1837.  Two founders of Milwaukee design its downtown in 1837.
Link to map: A territorial leader lays out imaginary city blocks in Milwaukee (1835).  A territorial leader lays out imaginary city blocks in Milwaukee (1835).

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to book: A historical, documentary, and descriptive history of Wisconsin to 1854  A historical, documentary, and descriptive history of Wisconsin to 1854
Link to book: The people and places of Fond du Lac County  The people and places of Fond du Lac County
Link to book: Bizarre tales from La Crosse newspapers  Bizarre tales from La Crosse newspapers
Link to book: A minister seeks to attract settlers to La Crosse in 1854  A minister seeks to attract settlers to La Crosse in 1854
Link to book: Derivations of Indian Place Names around the Great Lakes  Derivations of Indian Place Names around the Great Lakes
Link to book: A narrative and documentary history of La Crosse county (1907)  A narrative and documentary history of La Crosse county (1907)
Link to book: Reminiscences of early La Crosse by L.H. Pammel  Reminiscences of early La Crosse by L.H. Pammel
Link to book: Wisconsin Blue Books  Wisconsin Blue Books
Link to book: John Nolen envisions the future of Madison, 1911  John Nolen envisions the future of Madison, 1911
Link to collections: Biographical sketches and writings of some Wisconsin pioneer women  Biographical sketches and writings of some Wisconsin pioneer women
Link to collections: The Wisconsin State Journal looks at Madison from 1852 to 1902  The Wisconsin State Journal looks at Madison from 1852 to 1902
Link to images: Images and maps of Milwaukee Neighborhoods, 1885-1992  Images and maps of Milwaukee Neighborhoods, 1885-1992
Link to images: Historic postcards of Milwaukee  Historic postcards of Milwaukee
Link to images: A bird's-eye view of Milwaukee in 1854  A bird's-eye view of Milwaukee in 1854
Link to manuscript: Reminiscences of an early settler in Milwaukee, 1835  Reminiscences of an early settler in Milwaukee, 1835
Link to map: An 1887 atlas of landownership maps of Racine and Kenosha counties  An 1887 atlas of landownership maps of Racine and Kenosha counties

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