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reach the sea on the west, or fall into the Gulf of Mexico on the south. The river was called by the Indians Massa
po, or Missi-sipi, great river. For this purpose he sent Father Marquette, a Jesuit, and Joliet, a citizen of Quebec, and several voyageurs, to ascertain the truth of these representations. In 1673, Talon, at his own request, was recalled, and was succeeded by Count de Frontenac, who continued the discoveries commenced by his predecessor. On the 10th day of June, of the same year, Marquette, Joliet, and their voyageurs, lifting their two canoes on their shoulders, walked across the narrow portage that divides the Fox river from the Wisconsin.
“ The guides returned,” says the gentle Marquette, “leaving us alone, in this unknown land, in the hands of Providence."
Embarking on the broad Wisconsin, they sailed down the stream, and on the 17th day of June “they entered happily the Great River, with a joy that could not be expressed;" they descended the river about sixty leagues below the mouth of the Wisconsin, and landed on the borders of a beautiful prairie, where they discovered footprints; leaving their canoes, they walked about six miles, and found a village of Indians, who called themselves Illinois. Thus Marquette and Joliet were the first white men who trod the soil of Iowa.
In 1667, Robert Cavalier de La Salle, attracted by these reports, embarked to seek his fortune in New France, as this part of the country was then called. Encouraged by the French government, in 1679 he started from the vicinity of the Niagara river, with Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan missionary, two other priests, and thirty men, on board a small vessel of ten tons. " This vessel was named the Griffin, in honor of the arms of Frontenac, Governor of Canada,” and was the first vessel of European
construction that had ever ploughed the waters of the great inland seas of America.
The adventurers proceeded up Lakes Erie and Huron into Lake Michigan. After pursuing the voyage as far as Green Bay, La Salle sent the vessel back to Niagara with a rich cargo of furs, while he and his associates proceeded to the southern part of the lake to await her return. The ship, however, foundered on the lake, and nothing was afterwards heard of vessel or crew.
At the head of Lake Michigan and the mouth of St. Joseph's river, “be constructed the trading house, with palisades, known as the Fort of the Miamis.” Despairing of the return of his vessel, in 1680 he sent Father Hennepin with two voyageurs on a tour of discovery to the Upper Mississippi. They descended the Illinois to its junction with this river, and ascended the mighty stream far beyond the mouth of the Wisconsin. After a short captivity among the Sioux, they returned by way of the Wisconsin and Fox rivers, to the French mission of Green Bay.
It is not within the scope of this work to relate the events which led to the further discoveries of La Salle, and to his taking possession of the country on the lower Mississippi in the name of Louis XIV.
After his voyage down this river he returned to France, and, in 1684, sailed from there with a large force to discover the mouth of the Mississippi, but was unsuccessful in his designs. After building two forts on the Gulf of Mexico, and garrisoning them with some of his men, he departed from the Bay of St. Louis, in the northwestern part of the Gulf, on a journey overland to his fort on the Illinois river. Before reaching this fort he was treacherously murdered by some of his followers.
In the year 1679, the Sieur de Luth, a friend and com
panion of La Salle, appears to have been in the neighborhood of Lake Superior, at Pigeon river, on the southern extremity of the lake, where he built a fort and tradingpost, which is still maintained, under the name of Fort Charlotte.
The efforts of these discoverers gave to the French the control of the entire northwest. But this state of affairs could not long continue. The fierce struggles between the French and English for the mastery in Europe were carried to America. The English colonists sided heartily with the mother country. For years the war was confined, on this continent, to predatory excursions : each party, connecting themselves with the savage tribes, met with various success.
On the 13th day of September, 1758, the English army, under General Wolfe, scaled the heights of Abraham, and met the French, under the Marquis de Montcalm, before Quebec. The struggle was well contested, but, as usual, the indomitable bravery of the Anglo-Saxon race carried the day. The French were totally routed. Quebec surrendered, and with it the possessions of France in America fell into the hands of the English.
A few years later the independence of the American Colonies was acknowledged by England. After peace was declared, that vast region we have described was included in the boundaries of the present United States, and was formed by the Ordinance of 1787 into the Northwest Territory. This territory embraced vast, uninhabited, and almost unexplored regions, stretching far beyond the utmost limit of civilization and government; with the exception of a few trading posts, its only inhabitants were the Indians who roamed its wilds in pursuit of game, and who disputed, step by step, the advance of the white man.
In 1830, the combined force of several tribes was met by the Americans under General Atkinşon at the Bad Axe
river, and totally routed. This was the last struggle they made on Wisconsin soil. Several treaties followed, by which they ceded their lands to the United States.
In 1836, Michigan, until that time a part of the Northwest Territory, was formed into a sovereign State, and admitted as one of the Union. A new territorial government was, at the same time, organized over Wisconsin, which included the lands lying between Lake Michigan and the Missouri river.
At this period commenced a new era in the progress of the northwest. No sooner had a few daring pioneers settled in the wilderness, than the eager spirit of trade, ever on the watch for new fields of adventure, discovered the rich promise of gain offered by a region so wide and fertile. Commerce following the footsteps of the pioneers, came with the advance of the army of population.
In 1838, a new territorial government was established over that portion of Wisconsin lying west of the Mississippi, called Iowa. The population of the two territories, at this time, was about 38,000. Such, however, were the inducements that the fertile lands and mineral resources of the Territory of Wisconsin held out to emigrants, that, in the year 1843, it is supposed that over 60,000 persons settled within her limits; and from that time to the presen her increase has been without a parallel in the history of the United States.
In 1848, Wisconsin was, by an Act of Congress, ad mitted into the Union, constituting the twenty-ninth Stato of the confederacy. Its limits were curtailed by making the St. Croix river the northwestern boundary, and giving that part of its land between this river and the Mississippi to the Territory of Minnesota.
In regard to the origin of the name of the State, a communication to the Historical Society says:
consin derives its name from the principal river which runs centrally through it. The Chippewas on its head waters call the river Wees-kon-san, which signifies 'gathering of the waters.' They gave it this name on account of its numerous branches near its head concentrating into one stream, which afterwards runs so great a distance with but comparatively few tributaries to swell its current. The French voyageur called it Ouisconsin, the first syllable of which comes nearer to the sound of the Indian than does Wis. An attempt was made, a few years since, to restore the second syllable of this name to its original Indian sound by substituting k for c; but this would not restore either the first or last. The attempt, however, was unpopular, and the Legislature solemnly decreed that the name should be spelled Wisconsin ; and this, probably, more from opposition to the individual who attempted the restoration, than from correct literary taste, or any regard for the original Indian name."
Before closing these remarks on the history of this State, a short narrative of one of its earliest American settlers may not be out of place. It was published by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
“One of the earliest comers to the southwestern part of the State was Ebenezer Brigham of Blue Mounds, the oldest and undoubtedly the first permanent American settler within the limits of Dane county. He journeyed from Massachusetts to St. Louis in 1818; thence, in the spring of 1828, he removed to Blue Mounds, the most advanced outpost in the mines, and has resided there ever since, being, by four years at least, the oldest white settler in the county. The isolated position he thus settled upon will be apparent from the statement of a few facts. The nearest settler was at what is now Dodgeville, about twenty