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.

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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.
"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." - Thomas Vennum Jr., Senior Ethnomusicologist Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution