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Revised 27 December 2010


Settlement of Wisconsin dates back to the early Stone Age, but for our purposes, we date to the first explorer.  Wisconsin was explored in 1634 by French Explorer, Jean Nicolet, who made his arrival on the Green Bay Shore.  in 1673, Louis Jolliet and Father Jacque Marquette explored the upper Mississippi River Valley.  and a settlement was established at Green Bay.  The English took control of this area after the French and Indian War but the area was regained as part of the Northwest Territory in 1783 and Britain gained control.  After the Revolutionary War, in 1763, The United States gained control of Wisconsin as part of the great Northwest Territory.  

Europeans came to the area in search of furs. With the discovery of  huge outcroppings of lead in 1822, settlement began in earnest.  Miners were so eager to stake out a claim that they dug shelters into the sides of the hills as protection from the winter and thus the nickname "badgers" came about.  The Blackhawk Indians declared war in resistance to the settlement of their territory and fought fiercely to protect their lands.  This war ended in 1832.

Wisconsin was established as a territory in 1836.  Twelve years later, on 29 May 1848, it became the 30th state of the union.  In 1854, when citizens were faced with the possibility of being declared a slave state, a new political party was organized at Ripon and became known as the Republican Party.  

Wisconsin gained its reputation as the Dairyland of the nation back in the 1870s when the lead mines finally played out.  Wheat farming was attempted, but soon devastated the fragile topsoil of the area.  As an alternative crop, a newspaperman named William Demster Hoard recommended growing clover and grass, which was better suited to the area and that cows be raised for dairy farming.  Wisconsin thrived on the results and European cheese makers moved to settle in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin also produces more snap beans and sweet corn than those of any other state as well as a third of the nations cranberries.  

Anyone seeking information on people who were known to have worked for the circus would do well to check the Wisconsin records.  Baraboo, Wisconsin, has long been the training field of the nations clowns and has perhaps one of the few official clown schools in existence.  You will also want to check the cities of the great lakes as points of entry for your emigrant ancestors as many later arrivals came in through the great canals and by steamer across these Great Lakes before embarking to points west and south into the farmlands.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Adams 1848 Portage Friendship
Ashland 1856 Unorganized Territory Ashland
Bad Axe 1851 Renamed Vernon in 1862  
Barron 1868 Dallas, Polk Barron
Bayfield 1866 Ashland, La Pointe Washburn
Brown 1818 Territorial County Green Bay
Buffalo 1853 Trempealeau Alma
Burnett 1865 Polk Grantsburg
Calumet 1836 Territorial County Chilton
Chippewa 1845 Crawford Chippewa Falls
Clark 1853 marathon Neillsville
Columbia 1846 Portage Portage
Crawford 1818 Territorial County Prairie du Chien
Dallas 1859 Renamed Barron in 1869  
Dane 1838 Territorial County Madison
Dodge 1836 Territorial County Juneau
Door 1851 Brown Sturgeon Bay
Douglas 1854 Unorganized Territory Superior
Dunn 1856 Chippewa Menomonie
Eau Claire 1856 Chippewa Eau Claire
Florence 1882 Marinette, Oconto Florence
Fond du Lac 1836 Territorial County Fond du Lac
Forest 1885 Langlade, Oconto Crandon
Gates 1901 Formed from Chippewa County in 1901 and changed to Rusk County in 1905  
Grant 1836 Territorial County Lancaster
Green 1836 Territorial County Monroe
Green Lake 1859 Marquette District Green Lake
Iowa 1829 Territorial County Dodgeville
Iron 1893 Ashland, Oneida Hurley
Jackson 1853 LaCrosse Black River Falls
Jefferson 1837 Milwaukee Jefferson
Juneau 1856 Adams Mauston
Kenosha 1850 Racine Kenosha
Kewaunee 1852 Manitowoc Kewaunee
la Crosse 1851 Unorganized Territory Lacrosse
Lafayette 1846 Iowa Darlington
La Pointe 1845 1845.  Renamed to Bayfield in 1866  
Langlade 1880 Oconto Antigo
Lincoln 1866 Marathon Merrill
Manitowoc 1836 Territorial County Manitowoc
Marathon 1850 Portage Wausau
Marinette 1879 Oconto Marinette
Marquette 1836 Marquette District Montello
Milwaukee 1834 Territorial County Milwaukee
Monroe 1856 Unorganized Territory Sparta
New County 1880 Renamed Langlade  
Oconto 1851 unorganized Territory Oconto
Oneida 1885 Lincoln Rhinelander
Outagamie 1851 Brown Appleton
Ozaukee 1853 Milwaukee Port Washington
Pepin 1851 Chippewa Durand
Pierce 1853 St. Croix Ellsworth
Polk 1853 St. Croix Balsam Lake
Portage 1836 Territorial County Stevens Point
Price 1878 Chippewa Phillips
Racine 1836 Territorial County Racine
Richland 1842 Iowa Richland Center
Rock 1836 Territorial County Jamesville
Rusk 1902 Chippewa Ladysmith
St. Croix 1840 Territorial County Hudson
Sauk 1840 Territorial County Baraboo
Sawyer 1883 Ashland, Chippewa Hayward
Shawano 1856 Oconto Shawano
Sheboygan 1836 Territorial County Sheboygan
Taylor 1875 Clark, Lincoln, Marathon, Chippewa Medford
Trempealeau 1854 Crawford, LaCrosse Whitehall
Vernon 1863 Richland, Crawford, Bad Ax Viroqua
Vilas 1893 Oneida Eagle River
Walworth 1836 Territorial County Elkhorn
Washburn 1883 Burnett Shell Lake
Washington 1836 Territorial County West Bend
Waukesha 1840 Milwaukee Waukesha
Waupaca 1861 Brown, Winnebago Waupaca
Waushara 1851 Marquette Wautoma
Winnebago 1838 Territorial County Oshkosh
Wood 1856 Portage Wisconsin Rapids