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Madeline Island Historical Museum

Madeline Island Historical Museum

Furs drove the frontier economy of New France, and the Chequamegon Bay region, rich in fur resources, represented a most coveted prize from the start. As a result, in 1659, Madeline Island's first recorded European visitors, Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers, came seeking furs to return to the warehouses of New France. Thus the fur trade represented a key catalyst in the early westward surge of settlement, and Madeline Island provided an irresistible lure.

In the 19th century, the area began to attract summer visitors spurred by railroad promoters and word of mouth. Summer cottages began springing up around the island's shoreline around 1895 and by the early 20th century, summer excursions to Madeline Island had become a yearly ritual for many wealthy families.

Into Madeline Island's mix of historical pageantry and tourism came Leo and Bella Capser who decided to establish a museum. The Capsers opened Madeline Island Historical Museum on June 15, 1958, and a decade later deeded the property to the Wisconsin Historical Society as a historic site.

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Related Topics: Explorers, Traders, and Settlers
Arrival of the First Europeans
The French Fur Trade
Colonialism Transforms Indian Life
Treaty Councils, from Prairie du Chien to Madeline Island
Wild Rice Harvesting
Creator: Wisconsin Historical Society
Pub Data: Wisconsin Historical Society
Citation: Madeline Island Historical Museum. Wisconsin Historical Society. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 4/19/2014
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