Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Friday, June 5, 2015

Historian's View of Winnebago County

from Prairies, Pines, and People (1976)
As with many historical references, sometimes I end up with more questions than answers.  So, today I'm explaining away some of the lesser-known labels on this map (at least to me):
Poygan Paygrounds: The "Poygan Paygrounds" was a 90 acre plot in Winneconne Township, Section 18. Here the Government made annual payments for 20 years. Payment occurred in October for 10 days. The Government Agency set up office with soldiers from Fort Howard to protect Indians while being paid.  Indians had to come to the office even though it was difficult for some to make it.  Once off the Paygrounds they were disgracefully relieved of their payment by scallawags laying in wait for them.
---from Mariam Smith's The History of Omro [1976]
Ball Prairie: On a range of glacial hills on the Cross farm in section one in northeast corner of the town of Winneeonne, and on the summit of the most prominent elevation, there was a series of thirteen hill mounds within a distance of 900 feet, which in 1848 were about four feet high and conical in form. When the early surveyor passed these mounds they were prominent against the horizon for a long distance, resembling a row or cluster of balls, from which the surveyor gave the region the name "Ball Prairie," a name it has borne ever since and often placed on maps. ---from P.V. Lawson's  History Winnebago County Wisconsin: Its Cities, Towns, Resources, People (1906)

Samuel Rogers Buried:  There is an Official Wisconsin Marker erected in 1976 in honor of Samuel N. Rogers Sr., a soldier of the American Revolution. ---from Wisconsin Historical Markers blog

Partridge Child Lost: The account of this case is quite involved, but it involves a little 4 year old boy named Casper Partridge who disappeared into the woods in 1850.  It was believed that the Menominee Indians had abducted him.  Casper's father searched for two years, and in 1852, while attending a meeting where the Menominees were given Government payments, friends of his thought they saw an "extra child."  Convinced it was his Casper, they had the child taken by the authorities.  Eventually, a trial of sorts decided that the boy was not Casper, but that did not stop the Partridges from taking this boy and fleeing to Ohio.  You can read the very extensive record of this case at the following link:

Garlic Island: Old records owned by the Schmitt Abstract Title Co. of Oshkosh reveal that, the island was sold by the federal government to Ann Smith, its first private owner, on Feb. 1, 1843. There appears to have been a succession of owners until July of 1877, when the property was acquired by the Island Park Association, a stock company comprised originally of 20 members of the Oshkosh Yacht Club, as a rendezvous point for the organization's cruises and summer outings. The new owners built a summer hotel and, later, a number of cottages, according to a brief history of Garlic Island written by H. B. Harshaw, one of the Island Park Association incorporators. The summer hotel, "as I remember, was carried on for one or two seasons by Joe Heath." Harshaw wrote, "and was largely used by the members of the Yacht dub, and other citizens of Oshkosh, as a summer camping and outing ground.  "In the early days, as early as 1856 to my personal recollection, the island was a great resort for boys out of school on their summer vacations. "While it was in the ownership of the original 20," Harshaw continued, "jt was always open to the public, and was a popular resort for picnic and excursion parties from Fond du Lac, Neenah, Oshkosh and other cities on the waters of Lake Winnebago and the river. "All church societies and civic societies who had their conventions in Oshkosh held their outings-.on the island. "I believe," the Oshkosh yachtsman noted, "that the location of the Northern Hospital (now Winnebago Mental Health Institute) and the State Normal School (the University of Wisconsm-Oshkosh) is largely due to the hospitality shown the locating committees by the citizens of Oshkosh on Island Park." At one time, Harshaw recalled, "there were upwards of 500 elm trees. . .on the island , besides many fine old basswoods. "The raising of the waters of the lake, by reason of the Neenah and Menasha dams, has greatly reduced the size of the island, and many of its finest trees have been carried away by the high water and by the ice." Harshaw described Garlic Island's harbor, about 800 feet from the mainland, as "the finest in the world. The water in the channel has a depth of 20 feet, with perfect anchorage and safety for boats in any wind, and campers never need to fear mosquitoes." There is a legend that Garlic Island acquired its name when an early settler mistook the leeks with which it abounded for garlic. Garlic Island later came into the possession of Stephen C. Radford, an Oshkosh lumberman who owned the property many years. Charles H. Williams, was one of three incorporators of Island Point, Inc., which acquired the island in 1931, several years after Radford's death. The other owners were J. C. Thompson, also an attorney, and Clyde B. Terrell, a businessman. Garlic Island has been owned since June of 1948 by Lynn Werner of the Town of Menasha, who uses it for hunting. Little more than a hunting shack and a boat dock remain on the once busy island, according to Werner. The Oshkosh Public Museum proposed to excavate part of Garlic Island during the summer of 1970, primarily in the hope of finding relics of the British occupation during the War of 1812.  Robert J. Hruska, museum assistant director and curator of anthropology, said the plan was abandoned because the project probably would have been beyond the abilities of available student archeologists, most of them of high school age.  Hruska said that so far as he knows there never has been a professional excavation of historic Garlic Island.  ---Appleton Post-Crescent, October 31, 1976

1 comment:

  1. Garlic Island tidbits:

    British Colonel Richard Dickson (Dixon) and a detachment of 27 soldiers got stranded there on November 14, 1813 when an early cold snap iced them in for the winter. They nearly starved. Appleton Post Crescent November 21, 2013.

    In 1828, Morgan Martin reported a Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) village on the island. Reminisces of Morgan Martin.

    G. I. was purchased in 1867 by Phelix Carter and James Lucy for $80 with designs to turn it into a poultry yard. Island City Times Oct. 22, 1867.

    "Originally "Garlic Island," then "Island Park, now "Sawyer Island," have been the names successively bestowed upon the little gem of an island six miles north of Oshkosh. The new name is Sawyer Island." Neenah Daily Times August 25, 1890.

    Richard P. Mason and his wife Carol performed limited test excavations at Garlic Island in 1881. Most of the pottery and lithics that they found could be dated to Late Woodland. They also found some historic trade goods that could be related to the Ho-Chunk village. Fox Valley Archeology June, 1987.

    Don Nussbaum