Climatological observations at Portage, 1828-1842

Diary of Weather at Fort Niagara, 1823-1826, and Fort Winnebago, 1828-1842

When the American Revolution ended in 1783, Wisconsin became part of the United States. Most residents, however, maintained much closer ties to the British in Montreal than they did to Washington. For the next 30 years, Wisconsin's white settlers and Indian nations were much more likely to consider themselves part of Canada than of the U.S. After the War of 1812, the U.S. government established firmer control. American traders throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley asked the government to erect military outposts along the Canadian border and down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Three forts were constructed in Wisconsin: Fort Howard at Green Bay, which functioned 1816-1852; Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien, which operated 1816-1856; and Fort Winnebago at Portage, which was staffed 1828-1845.

Soldiers and officials stationed at these forts preserved the peace, protected American commerce from Canadian interlopers, negotiated treaties with Indian nations, and constructed Wisconsin┐s first roads. Military personnel also provided social, legal, medical and educational services to settlers living near them. To Yankees relocating westward, the forts were cherished bastions of civilization in a hostile wilderness. To the French fur traders, the outposts were unwelcome intrusions, bringing competition for trade and military commanders opposed to French-Canadian land claims and culture. To Native Americans, the forts represented both commercial opportunity and military oppression.

The three volumes given here are daily weather diaries kept by soldiers at Fort Winnebago from October 1828 through December 1842. The first volume opens with weather records from Fort Niagara (on Lake Ontario, 30 miles north of Buffalo, N.Y., at the mouth of the Niagara River), from July 1823 to January 1828. Each day's entry records the temperature and wind at standard times, as well as the amount of rainfall and general notes on weather conditions. They provide the earliest systematic record of climate conditions in Wisconsin.

Related Topics: Territory to Statehood
Early U.S. Settlement
Creator: United States. Army. Hospital Department.
Pub Data: Digitized from the original unpublished manuscripts in the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, call no. Wis Mss CL, volumes 1-3
Citation: United States. Army. Hospital Department. Diary of Weather at Fort Niagara, 1823-1826, and Fort Winnebago, 1828-1842. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 5/22/2018