La Pointe: Village Outpost on Madeline Island

By Hamilton Nelson Ross

Hardcover: $34.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-320-6

Paperback: $15.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-321-3

224 pages, 71 b/w photos, maps & graphs, 6 x 9"


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The Society Press has republished a long-out-of-print classic of Wisconsin history, "La Pointe: Village Outpost", by Hamilton Nelson Ross (1889-1957). The book, which first appeared in 1960, provides a 300-year history of La Pointe, a community on Madeline Island, one of Lake Superior's Apostle Islands.

With flair, humor, and solid scholarship, Ross tells the story of the region's evolution. Madeline Island served initially as a refuge for the local Ojibway from their enemy the Sioux before the arrival of French explorers in 1659, then an epicenter of the fur-trade era in the eighteenth century, and finally a summer vacation spot for businessmen and industrialists. Today the island attracts thousands of summer tourists who vastly outnumber the 200 or so year-round residents.

Ross first visited Madeline Island from his native Beloit as an eight-year-old, returning again and again over his lifetime to the Ross family cabin in La Pointe. His years of careful study and observation served him well. Ross told the region's story so eloquently that his book helped persuade Congress and the President in 1970 to preserve the islands in perpetuity as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Foreword by Thomas Vennum, Jr.



  • "As it was in the beginning" Gloria Patri...B.C.? to A.D. 1615
  • "Seek, and ye shall find" Matthew 7:7...1616 to 1677
  • "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you" Matthew 7:7...1678 to1762
  • "So I saw the wicked buried" Ecclesiastes 8:10...1763 to 1816
  • "I go a fishing" John 21:3...1817 to 1842
  • "The forger of brass and iron" Genesis 4:22...1843 to 1877
  • "Behold the fire and the wood" Genesis 22:7...1878-1888
  • "There go the ships" Psalms 104:26...1889 to 1900
  • "Old things are passed away" II Corinthians 5:17...1901 to 1957

Glossary of Ojibway Names

Bibliographical Note




  • La Pointe-Chequamegon Territory and Lake Superior
  • La Pointe and the Apostle Islands
  • Silver Islet and Environs
  • The Keweenaw Peninsula
  • Lake Nemadji State of Lake Superior
  • Lake Duluth Stage of Lake Superior
  • Lake Algonquin Stage of Lake Superior
  • Nipissing Great Lakes Stage
  • Chequamegon Bay. Probable Contours of 1620
  • Great Lakes and Route from Montreal to Lake Huron
  • Chequamegon Bay, 1659-1671
  • Southern River Systems of Chequamegon Region
  • Main Portage Routes from La Pointe to Mississippi River
  • Probable Trail of Early Sioux Indians
  • Brule River and Portage to St. Croix River
  • Brule-St. Croix Portage
  • Key Map to Madeline Island
  • First Location of La Pointe on Madeline
  • First Location of La Pointe (Large Scale)
  • French Fort of 1718
  • Shoals Which Might Have Been Islands
  • Approximate Location of North West Company
  • Location of American Fur Company
  • La Pointe in the 1830s
  • American Fur Company Location in La Pointe
  • La Pointe and Environs
  • Missions of the 1830s
  • Old Trails and Roads, Bayfield Peninsula
  • Old Trails and Roads, Near Ashland
  • Anachronistic Map of Bayfield
  • Quarries in the Chequamegon Region


  • Plan and Elevation of Protestant Mission
  • Water Trolley


  • A selection of photographs depicting scenes from the history of La Pointe follows page 122.
Hamilton Nelson Ross, a native of Beloit, became acquainted with the village of La Pointe in 1894 when he first visited Madeline Island as a boy. In the years that followed, he explored the Apostles, his curiosity piqued by stories he heard about the history of the region, and began his lifelong search for the historical truth that lay behind folklore and legend. Better than anyone before or since, he came to know the islanders and their lives intimately.
The new "La Pointe: Village Outpost" contains a foreword by Thomas Vennum, Jr., of the Smithsonian Institution, who concludes: "Ross closes his book, worrying that 'the importance of the village has probably been overemphasized.' Not so, Hamilton! The Island's role in the fur trade alone earns its place in history. Indeed, the exploration and opening up for settlement of the entire Upper Midwest depended on this far-flung 'outpost.' This reprint of Ross's history should serve future generations interested in the rich history of one small corner of the Northwest."