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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, situated between 42°30' and 47° north latitude, and 87° and 92°40' west longitude from Greenwich; and is bounded on the north by Lake Superior; on the northeast by the peninsula of Michigan (which it is separated in part by Menomonee river); east by Lake Michigan; south by Illinois; and west by Iowa and Minnesota (from which it is separated in part by the Mississippi river).  Its superficial area is 53,924 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- The face of the country is rather undulating, than either hilly or flat, though both extremes exist.  The highest lands in the state are those forming the dividing ridge between the Mississippi and Lake Superior.  From this ridge, toward the south and southwest, the descent is gradual, until the inclination is interrupted by another ridge, in the region of the Wisconsin and Neenah rivers, which extends across the state.  From the latter ridge proceeds another gentle inclined plain, down which flow the waters of Rock river and its branches into the Illinois.  Along the Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Helena rivers, there are numerous hills and bluffs, varying from 300 to 1000 feet in height above the surface of these streams.  The country bordering directly on Superior has a very precipitous descent toward the lake.  From the entrance of Green bay there is another ridge of broken land, running in a southwesterly direction, more or less uninterrupted, until it passes the confines of the state.  The soil is generally of great fertility and productive of all northern crops, in most situations that are not marshy or too wet.  In Dane county, it is stated that the soil is composed, for the most part, of the black deposit of decayed vegetation, which for countless ages has flourished in wild luxuriance, and rotted upon the surface; of loam; and in a few localities, of clay mixed with sand.  The deposit of vegetable mould has uniformly several inches of thickness on the tops and sides of hills; in the valleys it is frequently a number of feet. A soil thus created, of impalpable powder, formed of the elements of organic matter "the dust of death", we need scarcely remark, is adapted to the highest and most profitable purpose of agriculture; yielding crop after crop, in rank abundance, without any artificial manuring.

Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- The chief rivers are, the Mississippi, Wisconsin, Rock, St Louis, Montreal, Baraboo, Wolf, Fox or Neenah, Black, Chippewa or Ojibwa, Catfish, and the Menomonee.  The principal lakes, besides Superior and Michigan, are, Winnebago, Four Lakes, Wingra, Koshkonog, Packawa, Buffalo, Green, Little Green, Pewaugone, Great and Little Butte-des-Morts, Maquanago, Wissaua, Kanchee, La Belle, Nagowicka, Oconomewoc, Nashotah (Twin Lakes), Como, Delavan, Geneva, Deer, Sarah, Swan, Mud, Katakittekon or Lac Vieux Desert.  The chief bays are the Chegowawegon and Fond du Lac, in Lake Superior, and a part of Green bay in Lake Michigan.

Islands-- These are, Barlett's, Apostles', Stocton's and Madeline, in Lake Superior, and Doty's island in Fox river.

Climate-- The climate of this state, notwithstanding its high northern latitude, is more favorable that that of corresponding parallels in New England and New York.  Yet its winters are severe and long, with continued deep snows for several months, and the lakes and streams are strongly locked up in ice.  The harbor of Milwaukee is usually closed from the middle to the end of November, and is opened in the spring some times as early as the first weeks in March, while in other seasons it is closed as late as the middle of April. During the growing season, however, vegetation springs up as if by magic, and puts forward, with astonishing rapidity and luxuriance.  Spring and autumn are usually mild, and are less liable to destructive frosts then the more easterly states.

Productive Resources-- the chief products of this state are, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, butter, cheese, wax, sugar, wool, hemp, flax, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, potatoes and Indian corn.  Of the mineral wealth, lead, copper and iron are found in considerable abundance, but have not, as yet, been extensively wrought.

Manufactures-- This state is yet too young in years to have made much progress in manufactures.  More than nine tenths of the people are engaged in agriculture, and a portion of the remaining tenth are engaged in mining.  In 1850, there were in the state 1,273 manufacturing establishments, which produced $500 and upward each annually.

Railroads and Canals-- There are several railroads being construction or are already in operation, in Wisconsin.  Among then are, one from Milwaukee to Galena, 70 miles long, forming a junction with the Chicago and Galena Union railroad; and the Rock River road, extending from Chicago, Illinois to Fond du Lac, in this state.  Plank roads are also constructed here to a considerable extent, the abundance of lumber and the level surface of the country offering ready facilities for their construction  The Portage canal, connecting the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, and through them the great lakes with the Mississippi river, is an important internal improvement.

Commerce-- Lying, as this state does, with two of the great inland seas for its northern and eastern boundaries, and the Mississippi upon its western border, Wisconsin possesses commercial facilities not exceeded by those of any other of the western states.

Education-- The principal educational institutions of the higher class in this state are, the Wisconsin university, at Madison, founded in 1849, and the Beloit college, founded in 1847.  These is also a theological seminary (Roman Catholic) at Milwaukee.  The educational resources of the state are extensive.  The school fund consists of the proceeds of about 2,000,000 acres of land, five cents, of the proceeds of all United States land in the state, and moneys arising from several minor sources.

Population-- in 1840 was 30,945 and in 1850 was 305,191

Government-- The legislative power is vested in an assembly, of not fewer than 54 nor more than 100 members, chosen annually; and in a senate, numbering not less than a third nor more than one half the members of assembly, chosen for two years, one half each year.  The executive power is vested in a governor and lieutenant governor, who are chosen by a plurality vote for two years.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, circuit courts and probate courts, the judges of which are all chosen by the people -- supreme and circuit judges for six years and probate judges and justices of the peace for two years.  State election the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November.  All white males citizens of the United States, or white foreigners, who have declared their intentions to become citizens, who have resided in the state one year, have the right of suffrage.

History-- The first European settlement made within the limits of the present state of Wisconsin was by the French missionary Claude Allouez and others, at La Pointe, on Madeline island, in the western end of Lake Superior in 1665.  This state embraces a part of the territory of Upper Louisiana, as claimed by the French, prior to 1763, when it was ceded to England, together with all their territory east of the Mississippi river, under whose jurisdiction it remained until the treaty of Grenville, in 1765.   The year following it was ceded to the United States, and in 1800 it was annexed to the "Territory northwest of the River Ohio."  In 1802, Ohio was detached and formed into an independent state; and in 1805, a territorial government was established in Michigan, under whose jurisdiction for civil purposes Wisconsin remained until 1836, when it was erected into a distinct territory.  In 1847, Wisconsin, with its present boundaries, was formally admitted into the Union as a sovereign state.  Motto of the seal, Civilias successit Barbarum, "Civilization has succeeded Barbarism."

1850 Counties of  Wisconsin

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Brown northeast part, intersected by Depere 1150 Green Bay 6,215
Calumet eastern part, east side of Lake Winnebago 300 Pequot 1,743
Chippewa northern part, on NW side of Mississippi river & crossed by Chippewa river blank not listed 615
Columbia towards the south, crossed by Wisconsin river blank De Korra 9,565
Crawford western boundary between Mississippi & Wisconsin rivers blank Prairie du Chien 2,498
Dane southern part, Wisconsin river on northwest side ad contains the "Four Lakes" 1234 Madison (also State Capital) 9,366
Dodge eastern part 756 not listed 3,892
Fond Du Lac eastern part, Lake Winnebago on the north 400 Fond Du Lac 2,024
Grant southwest corner, Mississippi river on southwest, Wisconsin river on northwest not listed Lancaster 9,107
Greene southern boundary 576 Monroe 6,179
Iowa south western part, Wisconsin river on north 1300 Mineral Point 5,672
Jefferson southeast part, crossed by Rock river 576 Jefferson 6,955
Kenozha southeast corner on Lake Michigan blank Kenozha 10,734
Lafayette south boundary blank blank 11,531
Manitoowoc east boundary on Lake Michigan 468 Manitoowoc 3,702
Marquette central part blank Marquette 8,642
Milwaukee eastern boundary on Lake Michigan, crossed by Milwaukee river blank Milwaukee 31,010
Portage in central part, crossed by Wisconsin river 800 Ft Winnebago 1,250
Racine east boundary, Lake Michigan on east 610 Racine 10,833
Richland western part, Wisconsin river on south blank Richmond 903
Rock on south boundary, crossed by Rock river blank Janesville 20,708
St Croix in north western part, Mississippi river on southwest, St Croix river & lake on west blank St Croix 624
Sauk central part, Wisconsin river on south, also crosses it in northeast blank Adams 4,371
Sheboygan on east boundary, Lake Michigan on west 500 Sheboygan 8.378
Walworth on south boundary, Geneva lake at the south 675 Elkhorn 17,862
Washington on east boundary, Lake Michigan on east blank Ozaukee 19,485
Waukesha in southeast part blank Waukesha 19,248
Winnebago toward east part, Winnebago lake on east, other bodies of water in interior 500 Oshkosh 10,167

Milwaukee, WI

The chief city of Wisconsin, and next to Chicago, the largest on Lake Michigan, is situated in Milwaukee Co, finely located for commerce, on both sides of Milwaukee river, at its entrance into the lake. 90 miles north of Chicago, 90 miles east of Madison and 805 miles from Washington.  It is the market of a large part of the productions of the state.  Steamboats and other vessels, navigating Lake Michigan, touch here, on their way to and from Detroit and points on Lake Erie, and the ST Lawrence, Erie and Welland canals.  The surrounding region is rich, and rapidly increasing in an industrious and enterprising population, of which Milwaukee is the nucleus and the center of trade.  This city is remarkable for the peculiarly bright straw color and excellent quality of its bricks, for which the rich clay beds along the lake afford abundant material.  Besides the large quantities of these which are exported, they are used for the majority of the buildings, some of which, in large and uniform rows of dwellings or stores, present a beautiful and splendid effect.  Here are churches, a jail, courthouse and other prominent edifices.  The Milwaukee and Mississippi railroad is completed to Palmyra, 43 miles westward.

Population: in 1840 was 1,700 and 1850 was 20,026

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