Historic Map - Milwaukee, WI - 1854
Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Geo. J. Robertson del. ; D.W. Moody lith.
Charming illustrated view of the city of Milwaukee, drawn by Geo. J. Robertson in 1854, reprint. While the region had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years, the city of Milwaukee can be traced back to a series of trading posts established by French fur-trader, Jacques Vieau, in 1795. Solomon Juneau purchased the trading post that Vieau had established at the mouth of the Milwaukee River in 1820.
During the 1830's, three settlements emerged around this portion of the river, one being a settlement called Juneautown, founded by Solomon Juneau and his new partner, Green Bay lawyer Morgan Martin, who purchased 160 acres of land between Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River. Land west of the Milwaukee River was purchased by Byron Kilbourn, who founded the settlement of Kilbourntown. South of these two settlements, the town of Walker's Point was founded by George H. Walker in 1835. The three settlements engaged in fierce competition to attract residents and grow their towns. When the Wisconsin State Legislature ordered the construction of a bridge over the Milwaukee River in 1840, it was to Juneautown's advantage. In 1845, Byron Kilbourn destroyed a portion of the bridge. This began what is known as the "Milwaukee Bridge War" which resulted in the injury of several persons involved in skirmishes. On January 31, 1846 the three settlements merged into the incorporated city of Milwaukee, with Solomon Juneau elected mayor. The new city was now the largest in the territory, with a population of about 10,000.
An article that appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel in June, 1897, provides an interesting insight into the impression made by Milwaukee on German-born Franz Neukirch, who arrived in the Milwaukee region in 1839 and sent for his family to follow in 1840. It is provided in the form of a letter describing the area to his friends in Germany. This letter and others he wrote generated such interest in Milwaukee that the Burgermeister of Darmstadt, Germany, Neukirch's native city, said 2,000 Germans were induced to emigrate to Milwaukee as a result of reading them.
An excerpt from one of Neukirch's letters is provided below:
"Most fruits grown here are indigenous. Wild apples, cherries and plums are found in abundance. There is plenty of hunting and fishing. The Indians are peaceful and the character of the white settlers is above reproach. Nothing is ever stolen and everything is left wide open. Envy is unknown. Work alone commands respect. The inhabitants are all hard working people and help each other as much as they can. There are no beggars. Every male inhabitant is obliged to work two days a year on the streets, which are in bad condition. Canals and railroads are projected to form a direct communication with New Orleans. I think that Wisconsin will some day be one of the wealthiest and best states in the Union."
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