The Birth of Wau-Kau and Why the Menominee Tribe Couldn’t Stay

Rootsweb hosts, the “Menominee Land and People” page, which is where the Menominee images in this post can be found.

NOTE: I left the misspellings/typos as found in the newspaper articles.

THE MENOMINEES.

The proceedings of the public meeting lately held at Wau-Kau, on the subject of the removal of the Monominees, will appear in our next, as also a description of the village of Wau-Kau.

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Mar 15, 1848

The Menomonees.

At a meeting held at Wau-Kau, Feb. 15, 1848, to consider our relations with the Menomonee Tribe, L.M. PARSONS, E.D. HALL and S.M. WHITE were appointed to report resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting.

At a subsequent meeting, the committee made the following report, which was adopted and ordered to be published:

The committee instructed to draft resolutions relative to the Menomonee Tribe of Indians, desire to preface the resolutions which they propose for adoption, with the views they entertain of the relations existing between the red and white man, and the fundamental law upon which they are based.

Your committee believe that the rights of man are vested in his necessities; that whatever is necessary for the moral elevation of a people, they have a right to possess and enjoy; and that all laws, common or conventional, which contravene this principle, are null and void and of no binding force. Fro when there is no necessity, no good to be secured, there is no law. To secure harmony of action, define the limits of existing necessities, and discover those which are essential to progress, conventional bodies are essential to proclaim the law, but their commands have no power where necessity does not justify the action.

No body of men were ever legitimately authorized to make laws. The statutes were enacted in heaven; man has no right to add to or diminish therefrom. It is the business of man to discover, enforce and obey them, instead of enacting his own will.

The earth is dedicated to goodness, and the means essential to its attainment are the laws of all beings capable of participating the Deific enterprise. Existing states of mind seem to indicate three classes of necessities. The arrangement of means to promote discoveries, adapting the present to the future, belongs to the 3d class.

Now it is obvious, that all the means should not be limited to either class of enjoyments; that it is usurption, monopoly in the highest degree, for a people devoted to the first class of necessities, to withhold the means essential to the higher demands of intellectual life. Progression is the order of heaven, of the earth, of matter, of mind. A nation to stand still must perish; the world will pass by her. Progress is the accouching spirit of man’s immortality.

Nations as well as individuals, who will not progress, aspire to the glories of intellectual life, to the model of Deific excellence, must perish. God hath so willed it. Man must eat, incur responsibilities of a higher character — responsibilities which urge him onward from the desert of organic impulse, to the pleasure of intellectual life; from the locality of the finite to the universality of the infinite.

The possession of land is essential to every class of enjoyments. Neither individuals, tribes nor nations, have any right to it, except as they make it the means of elevation and progression. The right to possess in the dowery of heaven. Man cannot claim an endowment before his marriage to husbandry; he must write his title deed with the hoe and seal it with the spade. Science must acknowledge its execution, and the arts admit its registry. In such a title, God hath established man’s physical salvation, and like the waters of life, he hath made it free to every one who will perfect his title thereto.

The earth is sacred to the high purposes of Deity, to all that is excellent, to intellectual life. Land being the gift of God, is above all price — sacred to use and not to monopoly — sacred to life, to freedom, to independence, and to posterity. In the service of cultivating and ornamenting the earth, man enjoys the highest pleasure of physical life. But he who performs this service impelled by the love of the excellent and the intellectual redemption of man, enjoys more; a pleasure scarcely less than that of creating.

The Menomonee Tribe have not made sure title to the land they occupy. From the beginning, they have stood still; they would neither cultivate nor ornament the land; they would not enter into the plans of the Deity — make the present better than the past. The social world has gone by them. It has built temples too high for their perceptions — altars too broad for their devotion. IT claims an interest in a sacrifice too sublime for them to appreciate, and ultimate blessings which have no form in their visions of the future. They worship other gods, moddle their mind after inferior objects, fashion their heaven after the waste places of the earth, and measure its joys by the pleasure of the chase. The dog is their boon companion in life; they mingle spirits in death and hope for a common immorality.

The presence of such a people on our borders, hinders the progress of civilization, and deranges every department of business. Both suffering a loss of which affords no prospect of ultimate advantage to either, for the good of the white man is evil to the red, and the good of the red man is evil to the white. The contact is ruinous to both. Man, without knowledge, cannot participate in these gatherings. Knowledge is the life of the mind, its exciting element, but death to the body when made tributary to the excitement of the senses.

And ignorant man could not live in the garden of Eden. All men who will not avail themselves of the councils of science, must be driven from its presence. God hath so willed it. As it was in the days of Adam, so it is in our day. All men fall in the scale of being, degenerate and must ultimately become exterminated, as nations, tribes or clans who will not build themselves up by educational influences.

In all these matters, the Menomonee stands condemned. He invokes the penalties of ignorance; the law of progress commands them to hide away from the light of science, to turn away from the pleasant paths of art, to be driven from the pleasures of Eden — from the tree of knowledge, that the Lord at this coming may not see the day they have sacrificed, nor smell the incence of their altars; lest goodness and truth in their beauty and excellence be hindered in their progress over the earth.

Therefore,

Resolved, That this meeting regard it the imperative duty of every lover of man, every one who desires his moral elevation, his restoration to an equal heritage in the gifts of God; every one who hates monopoly and its kindred slavery, to raise his voice against the high handed usurption of he Menomonee Tribe, in withholding their lands from culture and consequent aid in perfecting the intellectual redemption of man.

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to circulate petitions, addressed to the President, urging him to conclude a treaty with said tribe, with as little delay as circumstances will admit.

Resolved, That our friends and the friends of land culture and equal distribution, be solicited to co-operate with us in this matter.

Other resolutions omitted.

R. MANNING, Ch’m.

DIKE HALL, Clerk.

Watertown Chronicle — Mar 22, 1848

Wau-Kau, Winebago Co.

At a meeting held at Wau-Kau, on the 20th of February, 1848, L.M. PARSONS was appointed a committee to prepare a description of our place for publication. At a subsequent meeting, the following report was presents, adopted and directed to be published in the Watertown Chronicle, and such other papers as may please to copy the same.

URIAH HALL, Ch’n.

JOHN HALL, Clerk.
___

WAU-KAU.

Location — On the outlet of Rush Lake, 2 1/2 miles north of said lake, 2 1/2 south of Fox River, 12 west of Oshkosh, 10 east of Strong’s Landing and 14 north of Ceresco.

Settlement — Commenced March 7, 1846. Nearest neighbor was then 10 miles distant. The country is now well settled by eastern people.

Water Power — The stream falls 70 feet in two miles, so that the water can be used over six times. The greatest head at any one piece is 23 feet, designed for a grist mill. The stone, timber, &c., are now on the ground for that purpose, and the race partly dug. A saw mill is now in operation, doing a good business. There is a dam at the lake, which retains all surplus water for future use. The lowest measure of water was last November. There was then only 288 inches issuing from the lake, measured in a current having a decent of 4 inches in 16 feet. There is now an issue from the fame floom of 720 inches, when the gait is up. The area of the lake is over 12 square miles.

Advantages — No other water power within 14 miles; proximity to the different varieties of timber, (contracts having been made for the delivery of pine logs, &c.;) proximity to navigable waters; in the heart of a rich farming country, already settled with an enterprising people.

Society — Our village population numbers 140 souls; have a good school, regular religious meetings, temperance society embracing nearly all the people, a well attended debating club, Sunday school, &c. The religious meetings and schools are under the immediate charge of Elder Manning, who is doing much towards making our place what every good citizen would wish it to be.

Health — We have two physicians, but very little for them to do.

Artists — Shoe shop, (two workmen,) blacksmith shop, (two fires,) cabinet shop, (two workmen,) one tailor shop, one turning shop, one wagon maker, five carpenters and joiners; and a sash factory and tannery are about being erected.

Merchants — One store, (Messrs. Elliott & White,) doing a fine business.

Position– Our place is elevated and dry. Banks of the stream about 80 feet high. On the one side, forest timber; and on the other, light openings.

Population — 140 souls.
___
Early Days of Wau-Kau.

[Correspondence of the Watertown Chronicle.]

WAU-KAU, March, 8, 1848.

On the first day of April, 1846, myself with several other pioneers, (as we termed ourselves,) by dint of presevarnce and a sprinkling of moral caurage, displayed in following sundry Indian trails, and in some instances no trails at all, made the best of our straggling way into what seemed, as it truly was, an unbroken wilderness. We arrived at last, after fording streams and forcing through bush tickets, which nearly left our [seeing sense] minus, about 9 in the evening — right glad to find a place where civilization had a home, having traveled all day with only one or two in the shape of white men to guess with us the locality of our place, our direction to find it, or distance to the same.

The Pioneer Hotel, under the supervision of Mr. Parsons, the proprietor, gave us welcome, and we received at the hands of his numerous tenants a well relished supper served up in Badger style — to which our keen appetite did ample justice. After relating the adventures of the day to others who, like ourselves, had quartered themselves here for the night, our whole company consisting of eight, thought best thus early to seek our needful repose. Our kind landlord soon relieved our curiosity, naturally excited as to the whereabouts of our night’s berth, located as we were in a native cabin a little more than 7 by 9, with room for only one bed to accommodate the whole. Our plan of camping was a singular one, but if any of your readers should ever find himself in a similar condition, it may be of service to him. Two bedsteads were placed side by side, and the beds thrown on. We then placed ourselves in as compact position as possible, with a tier of heads on the outside all round, our feet lapping by so as to come in pretty close contact with our neighbors faces. In this manner we spent the night and if, when we arose in the morning, we were fortunate enough to get our own legs to stand on, instead of our neighbor’s, we considered it, at least in the confusion a lucky escape.

But WAU-KAU has since undergone a great change, as the statistics of the place, which have been furnished you, will prove. Come friend Hadley, and take a stroll with us, where, a year ago, was the silent wilderness, listen to the woodman’s ax, witness the signs of improvement in every direction; and if you do not call our portion of the country a second Eden, you will be constrained to call it, with us, “a little better than the best” of the new towns of the West.

Truly, W.

Watertown Chronicle — Mar 22, 1848

The Whigs of Winnebago county have nominated Mr. URIAH HALL, of Waukau, for the Assembly. Mr. H. is a good and strong man.

Watertown Chronicle — May 3, 1848

THE MENOMONEES — From a long article furnished by our valued Waukau correspondent, we copy the following paragraphs, showing the power of the ancient Menomonees. The crowded state of our columns, will not admit of the publication of the entire article.

“The Menomonee tribe of Indians occupy the country west of Wolf and north of Fox River. They number about 2,400 souls. They are paid about $8 00 per head each by government, for lands sold several years ago. They were formerly a very numerous and warlike people, made war a trade for many years, and became a terror to the neighboring tribes. It is said they conquered in one night the Winnebago, Fox and Saux tribes, by a most adroit stratagem and deadly strife. The hills of

“Little and Big Butte des Most,” or hill of the dead, are records which tell of their might in battle and gathered honors of war. Their prisoners they retained as slaves. More than a century and a half ago, they attained the elevated position of slaveholders, and established that law requiring the weak to serve the strong, to which civilized nations have added the sanctions of religion.  But when the Catholic fathers came among them, and told them that the Great Spirit “made all men free and independent,” they repented of the evil they had done, and told their slaves that they too were children of the Great Spirit, and thereafter should be free to enjoy his blessings.

“Before their knowledge of the whites, their living was the luxuries of nature. They reveled in Eden’t garden. None knew the tree of knowledge, and of course none fell by eating of its fruit. Of he simple provisions of nature they ate, and life and pleasure sprang up in all the fullness of being. But the white man visited them, and now they are but dust in that balance which once weighed down all the tribes east of the father of rivers.”

Watertown Chronicle – May 31, 1848

A new postoffice has been established at Waukau, Winnebago Co., and Wm. H. Elliott appointed postmaster.

Rock River Pilot (Watertown, WI) Aug 16, 1848

Image of Waukau Creek  posted by Linda F. on Pbase.

SOMETHING SINGULAR — OVERFLOWING WELLS.

A correspondent writing from Waukau, makes the following statement:

There are three wells near this place, discharging fine little rivulets from their surface. They measure 23, 30, and 54 feet in depth; soil red marl. You will hardly believe me when I tell you these wells discharge double the quantity of water when the wind is south that they do when the wind is north; still the whole neighborhood will testify to the fact. The water in other wells in the vicinity will rise a foot on the wind blowing a good breeze from the south. I have not sufficiently examined the subject to solve the mistery. But as Rush Lake is within three miles and on high ground, it is propable the source from which the well are supplied, and a south wind driving upon the coarse sands of the beach increases the discharge of water thro’ the sand into channels which find vent in those wells. — Wash. Co. Eagle.

Rock River Pilot – Aug 23, 1848

“Wisconsin Gristmill” by Burton Boundey – Clars Auction Gallery website

GRIST MILL AT WAUKAU.

The grist mill at Waukau has finally been put in motion. It will prove a great convenience to the people of the region.

Watertown Chronicle – Aug 14, 1850

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