Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Farnsworth, William 1796 - 1860

Farnsworth, William 1796 - 1860 | Wisconsin Historical Society

pioneer fur trader, lumberman, b. Vermont. He moved to Wisconsin from Canada in 1818 and settled in the Green Bay district, where he was employed by the American Fur Company. Quarrelsome and belligerent, Farnsworth was dismissed from the company in 1819, and established himself as an independent trader at the present site of Marinette. There, due to the influence and assistance of his wife, the half-Menominee Marinette Chevalier [Queen Marinette] (q.v.), he developed a prosperous trade. During the winter of 1831-1832, in partnership with Charles R. Brush of Detroit, he built the first sawmill on the Menominee River. In 1833, Farnsworth moved to the site of Sheboygan, established a lumber and real-estate business and built the first sawmill on the Sheboygan River. He was drowned when the excursion steamer "Lady Elgin" sank in Lake Michigan. C. Zillier, ed., Hist. of Sheboygan Co. (2 vols., Chicago, 1912); Coils, State Hist. Soc. Wis., 4 (1859), 9 (1882); WPA MS.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]