Chapter 26 - Early County Government.


There is much in the early government of Crawford county to demand attention and awaken an interest in the mind of the reader. The subject is naturally divided into two parts; the first includes a narrative of what the county in 1818 1 to the ending of the existence of Michigan territory in 1836; the second includes a sketch of their proceedings down to the year 1848, when the territory of Wisconsin ceased to exist and Crawford became one of the counties of the State of Wisconsin. Of these two divisions, only such extracts from the records are given hereafter as are believed to be of paramount importance.

The government of the various counties of Wisconsin since the admission of the State into the Union is so well understood that only a reference to the changes in the form will here be given.

County Commissioners.

The Legislature, during the winter of 1860-61 passed an act abolishing the board of supervisors and creating the board of county commissioners. Under the former system the county board was composed of one member from each town in the county, while under the new system the board consisted of three commissioners. The county was divided into three districts and each was entitled to one commissioner. The creating act provided that annual meetings should be held on the second Monday in January, of each year.

Supervisors Again.

During the year 1868, the Legislature passed an act changing again the system of county government throughout Wisconsin. This act abolished the commissioner system, or board of three, and reinstated the old system of a board made up of one member from each town and one from each ward of a city and from each incorporated village. This law is still in force.

The record of the board of supervisors of Crawford county since the admission of the State into the Union is very full and complete; but the re-production of even the more important measures adopted by the "county legislature" would extend this history beyond its prescribed limits.

County Commissioners' Record for 1821-22.

On Thursday, the 29th of this month, [November, 1821] a court of the commissioners will be held at 10 o'clock. All persons having demands against the county are requested to bring them in; also, all persons having in their hands property belonging to said county are requested to deliver them [sic] up to the commissioners who will receipt for them. The county treasurer will, on that day, deliver up his accounts with an account current of expenditures since the time of his appointment.

The collector of taxes will also bring in his accounts in the same money that has been paid to him to save an examination. All persons holding contracts with the county are requested to bring them before this court. By order of the commissioners.

John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

The court met on Friday, the 30th of November agreeable to adjournment.

Ordered, That John P. Gates be paid $4.62 1/2 out of the treasury of the county for one book for the court of probate, provided the said book is returned.

Ordered, That Joseph Creely will put all timbers, planks, etc., belonging to the jail of the county, into the jail and nail up the door.

Ordered, That two pair of handcuffs be made for the county and be delivered to the sheriff of said county.

Ordered, That the treasurer, sheriff and collector of this county bring in their respective accounts on Saturday, the 8th instant, or they will be dealt by according to law.

John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

County of Crawford Dec. 3, 1821.

Ordered, That the clerk of the county court receive four books for the use of the county --- the sheriff two, and the commissioners two for their respective offices.

Ordered, That the supervisors of roads and highway have the roads and highways that have been ordered, put in good order without delay.

Ordered, That this court be adjourned until Saturday, the 8th instant, at 10 o'clock, A. M.

John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

The commissioners met on this day, December 10, 1821.

We, the commissioners, on account of the neglect and the infirmity of James McFarland, collector of Crawford county, do appoint Thomas McNair, sheriff, to collect all taxes not collected by said James McFarland, for the years 1820 and 1821.

Ordered, That Thomas McNair, sheriff, who being appointed collector, do enforce the law against all delinquents for county taxes due for 1820 and 1821 and that he render, on Thursday the 20th instant, an account of the same to the commissioners.

Ordered, That Joseph Creeley be paid out of the county treasury $1, not otherwise appropriated. The court adjourned until the 20th of December, 1821. By order.

John L. Findly, Clerk, C. C.

Ordered, That John L. Findley be paid $25 per year as clerk for the commissioners of the county.

Ordered, That the treasurer receive for his services two and one-half cents on all moneys received and disbursed for the county.

By order,
J. L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

The court met on Saturday, Feb. 16, 1822, agreeable to adjournment.

The court adjourned until the first Monday in March, 1822. John L. Findly, Clerk, C. C.

The honorable, the court of commissioners of Crawford county met on Monday, the 4th day of March, 1822.

Ordered, That the public school house be repaired so as to receive all persons holding public courts for the county or meetings.

By order,
John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

March Term, 1822. --- At a court of the commissioners for the county of Crawford, taking into consideration the expenses of the county for the year 1822, upon due consideration had, do order that the assessor take as ratable property for this year, wild and improved lands, horses, mares and geldings, over two years old, gigs, carioles, calashes and pleasure wagons; that the assessor assess all retailers of merchandise $5, and all tavern keepers2 $5; and that all male persons over the age of twenty-one who have resided in the county six months, not having ratables, shall pay $1 poll tax and no more.

Ordered, That John W. Johnson, Michael Brisbois and Oliver Cherrier, be requested to visit the house of Thomas McNair, which is occupied as a jail, there to give their opinion how much said house is worth per month; also to say how much wood has been necessary for said prison per week; and on Saturday, the 9th instant, to examine the county jail to know whether it be sufficient to hold prisoners, and if possible to report to the commissioners on that day in writing.

Ordered, That this court is adjourned until Monday, the 16th instant; nevertheless, should the sheriff want any provisions for Jourdan [prisoner] between this and that time, he can get them by calling on one of the commissioners.

The commissioners met this day, March 16, 1822, agreeable to adjournment.

Ordered, That Thomas McNair and Oliver Cherriere, freeholders, shall be appointed to estimate the ratable property of this county for this year, 1822, and report agreeable to law.

This court is adjourned until the first Monday in May next. By order.

John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

June 3, 1822. --- The commissioners of Crawford county met according to law and adjourned until Monday, the 17th instant.

John L. Findly, Clerk C. C.

June 17, 1822. --- The court met agreeable to adjournment.

Ordered, That the percentage be one-fourth of one per cent on every dollar for this year.

Ordered, That James Reed, deputy sheriff, be appointed collector of the county tax for this year.

Ordered, That all persons not holding property to the amount of $400 shall pay $1 poll tax.

Ordered,, That the court adjourn until further orders.

Nov. 30, 1822.

TERRITORY of MICHIGAN, ) 
	                > ss.
   COUNTY of CRAWFORD, )

At a special meeting of the commissioners for the said county, Joseph Rolette and James H. Lockwood, having taken into consideration the necessity of a having a sufficient jail for criminals until the county jail shall be repaired --- they do hereby order that the guard room of Fort Crawford shall be for the time being a county jail.

The honorable, the court of commissioners for Crawford county, met on the first Monday in December, 1822, according to law.

Ordered, That the following persons shall receive from the treasurer the following sums: Joseph Rolette, $12, for interest due from the county; John L. Findly, $12, in part for his services; Thomas McNair, $5, in part of his account; Charles Mendenhall, $14; balance due on account; Dennis Courtois, $3.87 1/2, in full of his account; and the United States factory agent, $7.60 in full of his account; and the court adjourns until Friday, the 6th instant.

Miscellaneous Extracts from Commissioner's Record.

Monday, June 16, 1823. --- The court met, and issued a precept to the sheriff of the county to collect the taxes for the year 1823, amounting to $241.55, and adjourned to meet agreeable to law. By order.

J. H. Lockwood, Deputy clerk.

TERRITORY of MICHIGAN  } 
			>  ss. March term,1824. 
COUNTY of CRAWFORD.    }

At a court of commissioners held at Prairie du Chien, on the 1st day of March, 1824, present J. H. Lockwood, D. Courtois and Joseph Rolette it was

Resolved, that the supervisor be directed to build a bridge across the marais, or slough to St. Feriole with the labor of the road tax, at the point which the supervisor shall deem more for the accommodation of the public, at any place between the pond in said marais at Pierre Lariviere's and the outlet of said marais, and the Mississippi.

TERRITORY of MICHIGAN, } 
			> 
COUNTY of CRAWFORD.    }

Court of the commissioners for said county, of the term of September, 1825. Present: Joseph Rolette and James H. Lockwood, who proceeded to examine the accounts presented against said county, as follows: Ezekiel Lockwood, services rendered, as sheriff pro tem. for said county, $31.31; Thomas McNair, for services rendered as sheriff at the election for delegate to Congress, $5; Charles Giasson, for services rendered as clerk of the circuit and county courts, as clerk of the commissioners, and hire of a house for court room, etc., $63.43; Joseph Brisbois, as clerk of election for a delegate to Congress, and for a member of the Legislative Council (of Michigan Territory), $6; James Reed, for assessing at Prairie du Chien and Fever river, and for summoning grand and pettit, jurors for the circuit court, $25.50; Jean Brunet for hire of room for grand jurors etc., $5; Thomas H. Januaus, assessing at Fever river, $4; James H. Lockwood, one double bolt, etc., furnished for the county, $5.75. All of which accounts are allowed by us.

					Joseph Rolette }
							      > Com.
					J. H. Lockwood }

Prairie du Chien, Sept. 6, 1825.
Charles Grasson, Clerk to committee.
Territory of Michigan  )
		        > ss 
County of Crawford.    )

At a court of commissioners held at Prairie du Chien on Monday the 5th of December, 1825. Present: Dennis Courtois, Joseph Rolette and James H. Lockwood. The commissioners proceeded to examine the account of the supervisor of roads, and find that the tax roll for 1824, has been expended by Oliver Cherrier, the supervisor, except the sum of $9 for money commuted for days, and that the roll for 1825, has not been worked or commuted for days except $6.

The commissioners then proceeded to lay the county into road districts; and it is hereby resolved that the township of Prairie du Chien be one road district, and that John Brunet be appointed supervisor of roads for said district; and that the supervisor proceed with the taxes, of said district to erect a bridge over the marais of St. Feriole, opposite to the road leading from the Mississippi to Lariviere's; the bridge to be built above common high water mark in the spring; to be twenty feet wide; to be built in the following manner, that is to say: Stone wall to be built at the direction of the supervisor as to thickness on each side, and filled with earth, and a place of twenty-five feet left over the principal channel of the river; to be made of strong pieces and covered with hewed timber; to be made with railing three and a half feet high.

At a special court of the commissioners for the county of Crawford held at Prairie du Chien, the 28th day of June, 1826, present Joseph Rolette and Dennis Courtois, who proceeded to examine the assessment roll for the year which amounted to $248.41, which they adjudged to be a correct assessment, and accordingly gave an order to the sheriff for the collection thereof, and directed the clerk to make duplicate tax rolls according to the statute.

Territory of Michigan,  ) 
			 > 
County of Crawford.     )

At a special meeting of commissioners of the term of June, 1827. The commissioners, according to law, present --- Joseph Rolette, James H. Lockwood and Dennis Courtois; who proceeded to examine the assessment roll produced by the assessors, and having found said roll correct, do hereby direct the clerk of said court to make out duplicate tax roll according to the statute, directed to be collected by Edward Pizanne, under sheriff; and Michael Brisbois, treasurer of said county, being absent from said county, it is hereby ordained that Oliver Cherrier be appointed treasurer pro tem., and that he give bond in the sum of $500.

A Change.

The last session of the court of commissioners of Crawford county, was at the March term, 1828. The labors of the commissioners, Dennis Courtois, J. H. Lockwood, and Joseph Rolette, then came to an end, and in place of them were appointed three supervisors for the county --- John Marsh, John Simpson, and Dennis Courtois. The county was also erected into one township, called St. Anthony, the supervisors of the county being also supervisors of the township. The following is the first record under the new arrangement:

Territory of Michigan, ) 
			> 
County of Crawford.    )

At a session of the supervisors of the county of Crawford and township of St. Anthony, held on the second day of June, 1828, was present, John Marsh, John Simpson and Dennis Courtois, supervisors of said township, and took into consideration and examined the accounts against the county of Crawford, and allowed what we have found just and correct; there was presented the account of Pierre Lariviere, of $1 as assessor; Augustus Hebert, for $1, as assessor; John Marsh, account, $1; John Simpson, account, $1; John Simpson, account, $4; Dennis Courtois, account, $1; Daniel Curtis, account, $26; Joseph Brisbois, account, $17; Michael Brisbois, account, $10; Antoine Lachapelle, account, $2.50; Francois Galarneaux, account, seventy-five cents; Oliver Cherrier, account, $8.34; Pierre Lariviere, account, $1, and Augustus Hebert, account $1.

The collector not having presented his security for the collection of the taxes thereof, we allow to said collector ten days to find security, and the court adjourn until the first Monday in July next, at 9 o'clock A. M.

John Marsh,
his
John x Simpson,
Mark.
Dennis Courtois, Supervisors.
Attest: Joseph Brisbois,
Clerk of St. Anthony Township.

Territory of Michigan, ) 
		        > ss. 
County of Crawford.    )

At a session of the supervisors of the county of Crawford, and township of St. Anthony, held on the 7th day of July, 1828, present, John Marsh, John Simpson and Dennis Courtois, supervisors of said township, was presented the account of Pierre Lembert of $1.50, which was allowed; and Dennis Courtois, account of $1; John Simpson, of $1; John Marsh, of $1, and Joseph Brisbois, of $2, which was allowed.

Upon the representation of the sheriff that the prison is insufficient for the safe keeping of D. McNutt, a prisoner confined on the charge of murder, a request was made to the commanding officer of Fort Crawford to take the prisoner into his custody for safe keeping. The court adjourned until the first Monday in September next, at ten o'clock A. M.

A New Board.

A new board of supervisors for the county of Crawford, and township of St. Anthony, was now appointed, consisting of Joseph M. Street, Jean Brunet and Joseph Rolette. The record of their first meeting was follows:

Territory of Michigan, ) 
			> 
County of Crawford.    )

At a session of the supervisors of the county of Crawford and township of St. Anthony, according to previous notice, present, Joseph M. Street and Joseph Rolette.

Resolved, That an account made by Isaac Harrison, for the amount of $56 has been found illegal, and that any part which may have been paid will be charged to Daniel Curtis, sheriff of said county.

Resolved, That the account of James and George Kernely be made out by the clerk and duly certified to and sent for collection to St. Louis.

Resolved, That the account of Ezekiel Lockwood, for monies received by him as treasurer of the corporation of Prairie du Chien and remaining in his hands be made out by the clerk and duly certified to and sent to Galena for collection.

Resolved, That the account of Jean Brunet, as supervisor for monies paid to him by Oliver Cherrier, be made out and duly certified to and handed over to the sheriff for collection.

Prairie du Chien, April 13, 1829.

Territory of Michigan,  ) 
		         > ss. 
County of Crawford.     )

At a special session of the supervisors for the county aforesaid, and township of St. Anthony, there were present: Joseph Rolette, Joseph M. Street and Jean Brunet, supervisors of said township, and they took in consideration to settle the accounts of the treasury, but the sheriff being absent they postponed the said settlement to Saturday, the 3d day of April next. The following accounts were presented and allowed, to-wit:

Name.Account.Amount.
Joseph Rolette.do.$8 00
Jean Brunetdo.8 00
Joseph M. Streetdo8 00
Joseph Brisboisdo.5 50
James B. Dallamdo.2 00
American Fur Companydo.7 00

Then the court adjourned until Saturday, the 3d of April next. Prairie du Chien, March 29, 1830.

Territory of Michigan, ) 
			> ss. 
County of Crawford.    )

Term of May, 1830. At a session of the supervisors of the township of St. Anthony and county of Crawford, on Monday, the 10th day of May, present: Jean Brunet, Joseph M. Street and Joseph Rolette, supervisors of the township and county aforesaid, it was the opinion of the supervisors that they settle with J. C. Hayes, by receiving from him all monies he has received, or the county treasurer's receipt for what he has received and paid over and the tax list with what he has not collected. In the case of county tax and the sheriff [J. C. Hayes] not having his account ready, they postponed to Wednesday, the 12th instant.

At a court of the supervisors held according to the adjournment, on Monday, the 20th day of Dec. 1830, present: the Hon. Jean Brunet and Joseph Rolette, supervisors of the township of St. Anthony and county of Crawford and Territory of Michigan.

Resolved, That $20 be allowed Joseph Brisbois for removing the county jail from its present situation and placing the timber on the mound of the court house on or before the 10th day of Feb. 1831, according to previous notices.

WHEREAS, The supervisors of the county of Crawford, in the Territory of Michigan, did at a former meeting agree to convey to the United States the lots of land heretofore deeded to them by J. D. Doty, on which to erect the new buildings of Fort Crawford, on condition that when said new fort should be ready to accommodate the troops, the land and part of the building of the old Fort Crawford should be given to the said county as a court house, jail and other uses; and the officer now in command at Fort Crawford having written to the secretary of the department of war, requesting that the said lot of land whereon the old fort stands, with a part of the buildings, be conveyed to said county, or that he be ordered to surrender them to them; We, the undersigned, supervisors of the said county, now in session, pray that the Congress of the United States would pass such law or laws as may be necessary to authorize the conveyance of the said land and buildings of the old Fort Crawford to the supervisors of said county and their successors in office for the use and benefits of the said county, on which to erect a court house, jail and for such other public use as they may deem for the benefit of the county.

Done in open court, Jan. 10, 1831.

		      Joseph M. Street, ) 
				     Joseph Rolette,  > Supervisors. 
		         Jean Brunet.  )
Attest:
    J. Brisbois, Town Clerk.

Supervisor's Court for the County ) 
Of Crawford, Prairie du Chien,    > 
	    March 14, 1831.       )

Col. William Morgan:
    Commanding at Fort Crawford:

Sir: The people of the county of Crawford not having erected buildings for the transaction of public business, we would be greatly obliged to you to permit the people of the county of Crawford and their public functioners to have the use of the block house, in the southeast corner of the old Fort Crawford, as a clerk's office, court house, etc., for the transaction of their public business. Should you concede the privilege, be so obliging as to direct the key of the building to be given to Mr. Joseph Brisbois, the clerk of the county.

Respectfully,
Joseph M. Street,
Jean Brunet,
Supervisors for the county of Crawford, Michigan Territory.

New Supervisors Appointed.

In 1832 J. H. Lockwood took the place of Joseph Rolette upon the board of supervisors, in the early part of the year, but was superceded in the fall by Thomas P. Burnett, so that the members at that time were: Joseph M. Street, Jean Brunet and Thomas P. Burnett. However, in June, 1833, J. Brisbois, Joseph Rolette and Jean Brunet constituted the board; and B. W. Brisbois was township clerk. In 1834 H. L. Dousman and Thomas P. Street took the places of J. Brisbois and Joseph Rolette. In 1835 the members were: Thomas P. Street, H. L. Dousman and J. H. Lockwood. They continued in office until March, 1836, when Samuel Gilbert took the place of H. L. Dousman; so that when the territory of Wisconsin was formed and Crawford county was no longer a part of Michigan Territory, the members of the board of supervisors for the county, and for the township of St. Anthony, were: Thomas P. Street, Samuel Gilbert and J. H. Lockwood, with J. Brisbois clerk.

The last meeting "of the supervisors of the township of St. Anthony and the county of Crawford" before the township and county became a part of Wisconsin Territory, was held March 31, 1836. It was during this term that the supervisors sent the following:

A Petition to the President of the United States.

To His Excellency, the President of the United States:

The supervisors of the county of Crawford in the Territory of Michigan, acting for and on behalf of the people of said county and at their request, would most respectfully submit to your excellency the following representation and petition:

The county of Crawford as it is now defined, includes only the country lying between the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers, to which the Indian title has been extinguished and extends only to the reservation at and around the ancient settlement at Prairie du Chien. Owing to the indefinite language of the different Indian treaties relative to the settlement, it is left in doubt and uncertainty as to what extent of country, precisely, the Indian title has been extinguished and what are the proper limits of the county.

The settlements at Prairie du Chien were originally made by French traders while the country belonged to the government of France as a dependency of Canada.3 The ownership of the soil was then in the Fox Indians who were found in its occupancy and possession. A district of country was purchased by those traders from the Indians, according to the custom of making such purchases under that government for the purpose of making a settlement. The period at which this was done is so remote that it is perhaps impossible to ascertain certainly the extent of the purchase that was thus made;4 but it is understood at this day by the traders and the Indians and the oldest citizens of the place that it includes all the lands lying between the Kickapoo, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers and about fifteen or twenty miles north from the mouth of the Wisconsin. After the Canadas and all their dependencies passed from the possession of the French to that of the British government, the purchase was renewed by the agent for this part of the country of the British Indian department, who paid the Indians, on account of his government, a large amount of goods for the relinquishment of their title. This took place about the year 1785 and is recollected by some of the old settlers of this place who were here at the time.5

The neighboring Indians consider the district of country just defined as properly belonging to the white people. They have not had for many years, any village or settlement upon it and rarely hunt upon the ground, no more than they do upon other unsettled lands of the United States in their vicinity. The Winnebagoes own the surrounding country on the north and east, and occupy the northern bank of the Wisconsin above the mouth of the Kickapoo, as the successors of the Sacs and Foxes, who have been driven step by step from Canada to the west of the Mississippi. The Winnebagoes never owned the district of country which we have designated above,6 and the Foxes, who were found in possession of it by the first settlers have been, by different treaties removed some fifty miles to the west.

The old French settlements at various places in the northern and western part of the country have always been secured and protected by the government of the United States and have been frequently reserved and confirmed by treaties with different Indian tribes. The 3d Article of the treaty of Greenville, made the 3d of August, 1795, fixes the boundary line between the Indian tribes and the United States; and by it the Indians cede to the United States various small specified tracts, beyond the said boundary line; and by the 4th Article, the United States relinquish their claim to all other lands beyond the said boundary line between the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers, the lakes, and the northern boundary of the United States, explicitly excepting Gen. George Roger Clark's grant near the Rapids [Louisville, Ky.], of the Ohio river, the post at St. Vincennes, and the lands adjacent to which the Indian title has been extinguished, the post of Fort Massac, and the lands at all other places in possession of the French people and other white settlers of which the Indian title has been extinguished by gifts or grants to the French or English governments. The provisions of this treaty, it is considered, embraced the settlement at Prairie du Chien and the adjacent country, as it had been in possession of the French people for a long time previous by the British government as we have before mentioned.7

By the 3d article of the treaty of St. Louis, made Aug. 24, 1816, there was reserved from the Indians three leagues square at the mouth of the Wisconsin river, including both banks and such other tracts on or near the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers as the President of the United States should think proper to reserve:8 provided that such tract should not exceed in the whole the quantity that would be contained in five leagues square. It is not known to us that the President has ever exercised the power vested in him by the treaty of reserving any quantity of land in this vicinity in addition to the three leagues square.

The reservation has never been surveyed and it is not known with certainty what extent of country will be included in it, but it is believed that the three leagues square and the quantity of five leagues square, which the President has the power (if not heretofore exercised elsewhere) to add to it, will embrace all the country between the Kickapoo, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, and the second large creek that empties into the Mississippi from the east, above the mouth of the Wisconsin, called by the French, Coulee des Male.

By the 10th article of the treaty of Prairie du Chien, made Aug. 19, 1825, establishing the boundary line of the different Indian tribes parties thereto, among other reservations and exceptions, the ancient settlement at Prairie des Chiens and the land properly thereto belonging, are explicity excepted from the claims of any of the Indian tribes.9

In considering the exception, the question arises. What is the land properly belonging to this ancient settlement? We think that, upon examination, it will be found that but one answer can be given; that the land properly belonging to the ancient settlement includes all the land originally granted by the Indians for the use of the French settlers extending to the limits above mentioned.10

This opinion receives strength and confirmation from the fact that the Winnebagoes who occupied the country on the north and east, never owned this tract and that they do not, as we understand, pretend to claim any part of it; and the Foxes who were the owners of it, at the time when the original settlement was made, do not now own a foot of land on the east side of the Mississippi nor within less than about fifty miles of this place on the west. And although the last mentioned treaty fixed the boundary of the Winnebago country from where the Sioux crosses the Mississippi opposite the mouth of the upper Iowa up to the Chippewa country and round to the north, east, south and west, up to the Wisconsin, it leaves the line between that tribe and the settlement at Prairie du Chien altogether undefined.11 Whether the question is considered with this view of the subject or in reference to the express reservation under the treaty of 1816, and the additional reservation in the power of the President to make, it will secure to the settlement the district of country above designated.

We beg leave most respectfully to call the attention of the President to the importance to the people of this country that the above construction should be given to the Indian grants and treaty stipulations (which seem to us to be the only proper one of which they are susceptible) and of having the county surveyed and the boundaries designated and established.

The settlement at Prairie du Chien is the extreme northwestern settlement of the United States and one of the oldest on the frontier. It has always been exposed, perhaps more than any other, to all the dangers, hardships and privations incident to the situation. Its location and relative position to other parts of the country render it a place of great public importance as a depot for the army and for the commerce of the upper Mississippi and the Wisconsin. The county of Crawford is the oldest organized county in the Territory [of Michigan] west of the Wisconsin portage and under the laws of the Territory, the people of the county have to bear all the burdens of supporting their public institutions without any aid from the territorial treasury. The small portion of land to which private titles have been acquired or which is open to purchasers, and the uncertainty which generally prevails as to the extent of country to which the Indian title has been extinguished discourage emigration and greatly restrict the growth and prosperity of the community. The claims that have been confirmed to the old settlers are not sufficient for the present population, and of all the land in the county owned by individuals there is not a single acre of timber, all the supplies of that article for the use of the citizens have, of necessity, to be drawn from the public lands; many parts of the country between the Kickapoo and the Mississippi are well adapted to agriculture, and could the lands be purchased they would be soon settled both by our own citizens and by emigrants who would be induced by the many advantages of the situation to establish themselves here if they could secure titles to their homes. The timber alone would induce almost every citizen who is able, to purchase a tract for the necessary use of his house and farm.

The survey and sale of the district with its boundaries established upon the principles above set forth, would be a measure of incalculable advantage to the people of the county. It would encourage and promote agriculture, extend the necessary means of a poor but hardy and exposed race of citizens, advance the population by inciting emigration and settlement, increase the political consequence and importance of the county and promote the domestic prosperity of the community and thereby add to the general interest of our common country.

We therefore pray that the president will, in pursuance of the different treaty stipulations and grants to the old French settlers according to the common understanding of the Indians and the people, cause the reservation at this place to be established so as to include all the land lying between the Kickapoo, the Wisconsin and the Mississippi rivers as far north as Coulee des Male, and the east line drawn from the head of that stream to the Kickapoo; and that the country may as soon as practicable, be surveyed and offered for sale.

We are not assured whether any act of Congress will be necessary to enable the President to carry out these views, in case they should receive his sanction; should it be so, we pray that a recommendation may be made from the proper department for the passage of such an act as may be necessary, securing the usual pre-emption right to actual settlers. Should it be considered necessary to enter into further stipulations with the Indians relative to their boundary before the one prayed for can be established, we pray that the necessary measures may be taken to hold a treaty with the Winnebagoes for the purpose of fixing and establishing the limits between them and the settlement at this place.

Accompanying this is a rough sketch of the country embraced in the petition, which, though not drawn from any survey is believed to be in general correct.12

J. H. Lockwood,
Thomas P. Street,
H. L. Dousman,
Sups. Of the County of Crawford, M. T.

I certify the foregoing is a true copy of the original petition.

J. Brisbois,
Clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

County Commissioners --- A New Board.

From 1836 to 1838, the board of Supervisors of the township of St. Anthony and the county of Crawford consisted of the following persons:

1836. --- Thomas P. Street, Samuel Gilbert, J. H. Lockwood.
1837. --- H. L. Dousman, W. Wilson, B. W. Brisbois.
1838. --- B. W. Brisbois, W. Wilson, H. L. Dousman.

But now a change was made from supervisors to county commissioners, as the following entry shows:

Prairie du Chien, March 17, 1838.
James H. Lockwood, Samuel Gilbert, and Levi P. Marsh, having been, on the 5th inst., elected county commissioners of the said county of Crawford, held their first meeting this day, at the court house, pursuant to public notice; whereupon Joseph Brisbois, late town clerk, handed over the books, papers etc., belonging to said county, which were in the hands of the late supervisors, and Joseph Brisbois, the treasurer handed in his account current with the said county, and voucher therefor, showing a balance due said treasurer of $11.19 1/4.

Prairie du Chien, April 7, 1838.
The board of county commissioners met this day at the court house, agreeable to public notice, at 10 A. M., and proceeded to draw a panel of grand and petit jurors from the following list of names, taken from the tax roll, for the year 1838:

Benjamin Bolles, B. W. Brisbois, Tunis Bell, Simon Barthe, George P. Brisbois, Peter A. Bazin, Ira B. Brunson, James Bunker, John Boston, Theodore Bugbee, James F. Chapman, David Clark, Jr., Francis Chinevert, Sr., Nicholas Chinevert, Bazil Chinevert, Oliver Chierrier, Sr., Oliver Cherrier, Jr., Lester Deming, Francis Deschauquette, N. C. Dimmick, Jesse Dandly, John H. Fonda, John H. Folsom, William H. C. Folsom, Leyman Frost, James Fisher, Hiram Francis, George Fisher, William Fisher, Francis Gallineaux, A. Grignon, Bazil Gagnier, James Gilbert, Samuel Griffen, Thomas Hore, J. P. Hall, Richard Hartwell, Daniel Hopkins, Seth Hill, L. Hill, Joshua M. Hosmer, Henry Johnson, Francis Labath, William S. Lockwood, Charles Lapointe, Francis Lapointe, Barthelemie Lapointe, John Lemerge Pierre Lachapelle, A. Lachapelle, Julien Larivierre, Baptiste Lariviere, Theodore Lupine, Joseph T. Mills, John Miller, Charles Menard, Sr., Charles Menard, Jr., Louis Menard, John B. Mayand, Alexander McGregor, John M. Merritt, Frederick Oliver, Elijah Osborne, Harvey Osborne, Ezra Putnam, Francis Provost, L. B. Pion, James Reed, Stephen Richards, Henry W. Savage, Hyacinth St. Cyr, Seth Sanford, Stephen G. Tainter.

Before the close of the year the board of commissioners consisted of L. R. Marsh, J. H. Lockwood and H. L. Dousman.

January 7, 1839.
The clerk of the board presented the petition of the inhabitants and claimants along the Wisconsin for a road leading from the Prairie, commencing at Dousman's Coulee, and running in an easterly direction through Samuel Gilbert's claim, to the Grand Gres, together with the viewers' report of the blazing out of the same, which petition and report was accepted, and the road ordered to be opened according to law (66 feet wide), and that the district surveyor be requested to survey the same forthwith.

Ordered, That the first road district be and it is hereby established, to be drawn on a line running on the south side of the road leading east and west from the slough of St. Feriole to the bluffs (north, and by the side of Tainter's hotel) comprising all the inhabitants south of said line, and those residing up, and along the Wisconsin, as far as the Grand Gres. (The people residing on the bluff at the head of said east and west line are excluded from the said first district.)

The second road district shall be, and the same is hereby established, from the northern boundary of the said first district, including the people on the bluffs at the head of late Miller's road, and those residing south of the line running between farm lots No. 22 and No. 23, and also to include all the people in the main village [of Prairie du Chien].

The third road district shall comprise all the people residing north of said line between farm lots 22 and 23. Christopher Bowen was appointed supervisor of the first district; William Wilson, of the second; and Francis Chinevert, Sr., of the third district.

The board of commissioner for the year 1839, consisted of H. L. Dousman, Samuel Gilbert and Levi R. Marsh. The same gentleman constituted the board for 1840 and 1841; for 1842 the members were Samuel Gilbert, John H. Manahan and David Clark, Jr. The next year (1843) I. P. Perret Gentil took the place of Manahan.

At a regular meeting of the board of county commissioners for the county of Crawford, W. T., held pursuant to law, on the 3d day of April, 1843; present, David Clark, Jr., Samuel Gilbert and I. P. Perret Gentil, the board proceeded to set off and divide and name the different precincts in the county of Crawford, viz:

No. 1. --- First precinct to be called the Prairie du Chien precinct --- bounded as follows: On the south and east by the boundaries of said county of Crawford; on the west by the Mississippi river; and on the north by a line drawn due east from the mouth of Coon river, so called; and the following named persons are hereby appointed judges of elections: Stephen G. Tainter, H. L. Dousman and Daniel G. Fenton.

No. 2. --- Second precinct to be called the Black River Falls precinct (and the elections to be held at the house of Mr. O'Neil) --- bounded as follows: On the south by a line drawn due east from the mouth of Coon river; on the west by the Mississippi river; on the north by a line drawn due east from the mouth of Riviere Aux Boeuf; and on the east by the east boundary of said county of Crawford. The following named persons are hereby appointed judges of election: William Lewis, George Miller and Levi M. Mills.

No. 3. --- Third precinct to be called the Chippewa Fall Mill precinct --- election to be held at the house of Jean Brunet, near said fall --- bounded as follows: On the south by a line drawn due east from the mouth of Riviere Aux Boeuf; on the east by the east boundary of said county; on the north by the north boundary of the aforesaid county; and on the west by the Little Elk creek or river and down the Chippewa river on the south side of said river to the Mississippi thence down the Mississippi to the mouth of Riviere Aux Boeuf, or Buffalo river. The following named persons are hereby appointed judges of elections, for said precinct: Lyman M. Warren, Jean Brunet and George P. Brisbois.

No. 4. --- South precinct to be called the Menomonee precinct, bounded as follows: On the north by the north boundary of the county; on the east by the Little Elk creek or river; on the south by the Chippewa river; and on the west by the dividing ridge between the Menomonee river and the Aux Gallait river. The following named persons are hereby appointed judges of elections for said precinct: Hiram S. Allen, S. S. McCann and Arthur McCann.

No. 5. --- Fifth precinct to be called the Aux Gallait precinct (the elections to be held at the house of T. A. Savage & Co., at the mill) bounded as follows: On the north by the north boundary of the county; on the west by the Mississippi river; on the south by the Chippewa river; and on the east by the dividing ridge between the Aux Gallait river and the Menomonee river. The following named persons are hereby appointed judges of elections for said precinct: George C. Wales, Henry Eaton and A. Richardson.

The following named persons were commissioners for 1844: David Clark, Jr., Joseph Morrill, William Curts. For the year 1845, the following named persons constituted the board: William Curts, Joseph Morrill and Henry Brandes. The next year (1846), Ralph Smith took the place of Henry Brandes. For 1847, the following persons were commissioners: William Curts, Ralph Smith and Edward Hughes. The commissioners for 1848 --- the last year of Wisconsin as a territory, were: H. L. Dousman, Edward Hughes and Nathan Myrick.

At a session of the board of county commissioners begun and held at the office of the clerk of said board on the 9th day of January, 1849, in pursuance of law, Thomas J. De Frees and Jacob Spaulding appeared and filed their certificates and oath of office as county commissioners of said county; and the board proceeded to elect their chairman; and, on examining the votes, Jacob Spaulding was found duly elected.

The board then proceeded to divide the county into four towns; and the following is the description of said towns, to-wit:

Prairie du Chien (town No. 1) comprises that part of the county lying south of the line between townships number 9 and 10 north.

Bad Ax (town No. 2) comprises that portion of the county lying north of township number 9, and south of the line between townships number 16 and 17 north, including not only the whole of what is now Vernon county, but parts of the present counties of La Crosse and Crawford.

Albion (town No. 3) comprises that part of the county lying north of the line between townships number 16 and 17 north, and south of the line between townships 22 and 23 north.

Pine Valley (town No. 4) comprises all of the county north of township 22.

The board then proceeded to designate the places in these towns, at which the first town meetings should be held, to-wit:

Prairie du Chien (town No. 1) at the court house in the village of St. Feriole.

Bad Ax (town No. 2) at the residence of Hiram G. Rice.

Albion (town No. 3) at the residence of Jacob Spaulding, at Black River Falls.

Pine Valley (town No. 4) at the residence of James O'Neill.

The formation of Bad Ax and La Crosse counties, in 1851, of course blotted out from Crawford county, the whole of the towns of Pine Valley and Albion, and nearly all the town of Bad Ax. Since the reduction of Crawford to its present limits by the creation of those two counties, towns have been formed at various times, until their limits have been fixed as we now (1884) find them, which limits will be fully defined in subsequent chapters.


1 - As will be hereafter seen, the record of Crawford countie's government begins in 1821. Back of that, nothing has been preserved:

2 - There can be no doubt, from this wording, that there were taverns in Prairie du Chien as early as 1822. The following, which has passed into history as a part of the narrative of John H. Fonda, must be considered as erroneous so far as the house he speaks of being "the first tavern" in Prairie du Chien:

"I continued in government employ until the fall of 1831, when having saved some money, I formed a co-partnership with a person named Perry, and went to keeping a boarding house and tavern. I can say that I kept the first tavern in this town [Prairie du Chien]. It was kept in a house we bought of J. H. Lockwood, which house [in 1858] is still standing. I continued in the business some time, and found it very profitable; but afterwards sold my interest to Perry, who became involved. A suit arose about this time between J. H. Lockwood and myself, about some notes. This suit lasted several years, and was finally decided in my favor."

3 - We have shown, in another chapter, the incorrectness of this statement. The settlement was made, originally, in 1781, when the country belonged to Great Britain. --- Ed.
4 - It is now a well-established fact that it included only the prairie extending from the mouth of the Wisconsin, some eight miles up the Mississippi, and back to the bluffs, on which the city of Prairie du Chien is now located. --- Ed.
5 - The reader will not fail to see, in all this, a confused account of the purchase of "the prairie" in 1781, by Sinclair as fully explained in another chapter of this book. --- Ed.
6 - No such non-ownership, was ever suggested by the Winnebagoes to the United States at any treaty, either before or after this petition was drawn up. --- Ed.
7 - The provisions of the treaty of Greenville, did embrace "the prairie," on which, in 1836, was Prairie du Chien, but not "the adjacent country," as the petition would have it. In 1820, when the French settlers were called upon to declare what their rights were, no claim was made by them outside of "the prairie." --- Ed.
8 - But why reserve all this, if the Indians made no claim to it? The fact is they did claim it, and the reservation was made for the purpose of erecting a post thereon by the United States. --- Ed.
9 - The "ancient settlement at Prairie des Chiens" was the cluster of houses on the immediate bank of the Mississippi and St. Feriole beyond the marias, or marsh; while "the lands thereunto belonging" were the residue of the prairie as claimed by the early settlers, individually or in common. --- Ed.
10 - This clause would be entirely correct had it ended with these words: --- "Extending to the limits of the prairie." --- Ed.
11 - It is only necessary here to state that the treaty of 1825 above referred to, was held five years after a large part of the "Prairie des Chiens" had been confirmed to the settlers thereon; so there was no need of defining the boundary between the Winnebagoes "and the settlers at Prairie du Chien." --- Ed.
12 - This map is a fair representation of the country between the Kickapoo, the Wisconsin and the Mississippi, as far up the latter as the Coulee des Male. Upon the bank of the Mississippi is marked the village of Prairie du Chien and the second Fort Crawford. There is a public road indicated, leading off in a southeasterly direction to the Wisconsin where there is a ferry designated. The streams emptying into the Mississippi from the east are named (going north) Fisher's creek, Picardy, Prairie des Sioux river and Coulee des Male.


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