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 1877Madison is promoted as a tourist destination in 1877
Link to article: Quality of life in Madison in 1850Quality of life in Madison in 1850
Link to article: A woman's memoir of the founding of SheboyganA woman's memoir of the founding of Sheboygan
Link to article: Memories of Milwaukee's first familyMemories of Milwaukee's first family
Link to article: Recollections of Old SuperiorRecollections of Old Superior
Link to article: The Origin of Milwaukee's nameThe Origin of Milwaukee's name
Link to article: A young boy's experience of Madison in the 1830'sA 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: Letters from Milwaukee in its infancy, 1836-1846Letters from Milwaukee in its infancy, 1836-1846
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: An Indian woman founds the town of MarinetteAn Indian woman founds the town of Marinette
Link to book: A local historian chats about Prairie du Chien (vol. 1)A local historian chats about Prairie du Chien (vol. 1)
Link to book: A local historian chats about Prairie du Chien (vol. 2)A local historian chats about Prairie du Chien (vol. 2)
Link to book: An early history of Madison illustrated with contemporary photographsAn early history of Madison illustrated with contemporary photographs
Link to book: An Abolitionist Recalls Anti-Slavery Days in WisconsinAn Abolitionist Recalls Anti-Slavery Days in Wisconsin
Link to book: A colorful and opinionated guide to Milwaukee businesses, 1877A colorful and opinionated guide to Milwaukee businesses, 1877
Link to book: Promoters try to entice settlers to Bayfield CountyPromoters try to entice settlers to Bayfield County
Link to book: Promoters describe Superior in its infancyPromoters describe Superior in its infancy
Link to collections: The Founding and Early History of MadisonThe Founding and Early History of Madison
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: Madison's first white woman settlerMadison's first white woman settler
Link to images: The first house in Madison, built in 1837The first house in Madison, built in 1837
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to images: Bird's-eye views of Wisconsin cities and townsBird's-eye views of Wisconsin cities and towns
Link to manuscript: An early Milwaukee settler recalls the city's infancyAn early Milwaukee settler recalls the city's infancy
Link to manuscript: Oral traditions about Milwaukee's foundingOral traditions about Milwaukee's founding
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 map: A territorial leader lays out imaginary city blocks in Milwaukee (1835).A territorial leader lays out imaginary city blocks in Milwaukee (1835).
Link to map: Two founders of Milwaukee design its downtown in 1837.Two founders of Milwaukee design its downtown in 1837.
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: States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.
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