Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Menominee Pioneers

The Menominee River

Dear George,
Northern Wisconsin and the U.P. were wilderness regions until well into the 1800’s (and, of course, large chunks still are today).  Nonetheless, archeologists have established that members of the Old Copper Culture lived in the Menominee-Marinette area 10,000 years ago.  The first recorded inhabitants of the Menominee River Basin were the Menominees, known as the “wild rice people.”  Early French explorers described a tribe of 40-80 men living in a small village on the Menominee River near the present-day Riverside Cemetery.  The tribe also had a summer camp near what’s now Pine Beach along the Green Bay shore in Marinette.  By the early 1820’s the population of the Menominee tribe had reached about 500, spread across a dozen villages in Wisconsin.  As European-American settlers were drawn to the area by vast lumber and mineral resources, the Menominee faced encroachment pressures and eventually sold most of their land between 1821 and 1848 through a series of treaties with the federal government.  (6) (20)

Louis Chappee, the first settler of European origin on the Menominee River, established a fur trading post there in 1796.  Farnsworth and Brush built the first sawmill on the river in 1832, and a logging boom had its start by the 1850’s.  Charles MacLeod constructed the first frame building in what was to become the village of Menominee in 1852.  Menominee County’s population in 1860 was less than 500, most of whom were loggers working on the Menominee River.  Menominee County was officially organized in 1863, and the city of Menominee was chartered in 1883.  Thanks to accounts by E. S. Ingalls (1876), the Western Historical Company (1883), A. L. Sawyer (1911), C. Moore (1915), and others, we have available a rich history available of the city of Menominee and the people who played major roles in its development.  Drawing from these and other sources, here are stories of several of the most prominent Menominee pioneers during the early to mid-1800’s: Louis Chappee, William Farnsworth, John G. Kittson, Charles McLeod, Andrus Eveland, and John Quimby.  (4) (12) (20) (numbers refer to sources at end)

Louis Chappee’s gravestone, Menominee County

Louis Chappee
Stanislaus (Louis) Chappee (also spelled Chappieu or Chaput; pronounced “Shappee”), a French-Canadian fur trader, was the first settler of European ancestry in the Menominee River area.  Chappee was born in 1766 in the parish of L’Assumption, Quebec, Canada.  He came to Green Bay in 1783, then to Menominee in about 1796 where he established a trading post on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee River (close to where the Hattie Street bridge now stands).  Most historical accounts indicate that Chappee was an agent of the British American Fur Company which was operating in the area.  At that time thousands of Indians visited the Menominee River every year because of its abundance of deer, beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, bear, and other game.  Chappee was described as a bold, powerful man who carried on a successful business with Native Americans in the area for a number of years.  He often had numerous French-Canadian men who worked for him, and his trading post had the character of a well garrisoned fort.  Historian Alvah L. Sawyer (1911) wrote: “He seems to have preferred the solitudes and savagery of nature to the civilization he left behind, and he continued that solitary life, with only the Indians and his helpers as his companions…”  E.S. Ingalls (1876) recounts an anecdote about Chappee being confronted by a band of Indians who had come there to rob him.  Rolling a keg of gunpowder into the room, Chappee pointed a loaded pistol into it and threatened to blow everyone up.  Impressed with his courage, the Indians made friends with him and traded with him for decades thereafter.  Along with most Green Bay fur traders, Chapee fought in the British attack on Fort Mackinac during the War of 1812, then returned to the fur trade after the war, working for Green Bay fur magnate John Lawe.  Despite his success, Chappee was forced to move five miles upriver on the Michigan side in 1824 by William Farnsworth and Charles Brush,  competing fur traders who had arrived a year earlier and who wanted the Menominee River site for a sawmill.  Chappee lived at his new trading post and traded with the Menominees and other tribes until his death on May 6, 1854.  Chappee was married to Ke No Ny Ka, a Native American woman, and they had five children, Jacques, Pauline, Louis, John, and Therese.  Fellow pioneer John Kittson wrote, “He lived a strange life in the bosom of primeval forests, and saw strange and startling changes in his time.”  There is a historical marker in Menominee County near Chappee’s burial site at the rapids along County Road 581.  The inscription reads: “Louis Chappee, 1766-1856 --  S. Chaput, a noble Frenchman and soldier, explorer, trader and trapper on the Menominee River.  He sleeps here among his red brothers, on the bank of the beautiful Menominee River.”  (4) (6) (11) (13) (17) (19)

William Farnsworth (1796-1860)

William Farnsworth
Fur trader William Farnsworth was born in Vermont in 1796.  After establishing a trading post and founding the city of Sheboygan, he arrived at the Menominee River in 1822.  E.S. Ingalls (1876, p. 14) describes Farnsworth and his Detroit-based partner Charles Brush as “stirring, wide-awake business men, but without so nice a sense of meum and teum as would stand particularly in the way of their carrying out any enterprise that they might undertake.”  Farnsworth’s first step was to force Chappee to relinquish his trading post.  Chappee had had a dispute with local Indians in which he lost his thumb, and he had three Indians imprisoned in Green Bay.  Farnsworth intervened and obtained the Indians’ release, whereupon they granted him five miles of land along the Menominee River, including the site of Chappee’s trading post.  Farnsworth took over the post on a day when Chappee was absent and removed all the latter’s possessions.  Chappee transported his goods upriver by canoes and built a new stockade at the foot of the rapids which came to bear his name, Chappee’s Rapids.  Farnsworth and his common law wife, Queen Marinette, ran the trading post for several years until Marinette took it over herself.  Farnsworth and Brush were the first entrepreneurs to pack whitefish from the Menominee River in barrels for the commercial market.  Then, responding to the decline of the fur trade, the two built the Menominee River’s first sawmill in 1832.  The water-powered mill cut 6,000-8,000 feet of timber daily, and its initial yield was used to build the first frame house on the Marinette side of the river for Queen Marinette.  Farnsworth and Brush operated their mill for several years, but their business failed and was sold at a Sheriff’s auction for eighteen barrels of white fish.  Farnsworth also owned two Lake Michigan sailing vessels.  He died in a steamer collision on Lake Michigan between Waukegan and Chicago in 1860.  (2) (3) (7) (9) (15) (18) (19)

John G. Kittson
John Kittson was the fourth man of European ancestry to locate on the Menominee River.  Kittson was born in 1812 in Sorel, Quebec, Canada, the son of a British Army officer and his wife who had been stationed near Montreal.  Kittson came to the Menominee area in 1826 as a "courier du bois" and a representative of the American Fur Company.  He located his trading post on the Menominee River at the Wausaukee Bend, about thirty miles northwest of Menominee.  The site was at a natural ford which provided a cross for the Indian Trail to central Wisconsin and which led northward to the ancient copper mines in the Lake Superior country.  Kittson helped members of the Menominee tribe in their communications with the U.S government which led them to refer affectionately to him as “The Writer”.  Kittson established the first farms in Menominee County, one at Wausaukee Bend and a second just above Chappee’s trading post.  He taught the Menominees improved methods of farming.  Kittson established an Indian cemetery on his farm, and his friend, Louis Chappee, was buried there.  He built a huge log barn at a second farm at the Ox-Bow bend of the river, housing horses at one end and cows at the other.   He also built a pelt storage house about a quarter of a mile down the river, preserving pelts there until they could be taken to the Green Bay office in the spring.  Kittson and his two wives had approximately eleven children, one of whom was killed in the Civil War in Sherman’s march to the sea.   Kittson himself died in Marinette in 1872 from exposure and suffering resulting from fighting the Peshtigo fire of 1871.  In 1881 his wife Margaret and son Robert sold the Ox-Bow farm.   Judge Ingalls said of Kittson: "He was a very intelligent and stirring man... He had great influence over the Indians, and was at all times a friend to their interests."  (4) (5) (7) (16) (13)

Charles McLeod
Charles McLeod was born in Ogdensburg, New York, in 1812.  A fur trader, hunter, and trapper, he arrived in Menominee in 1832.  He built the first frame house in Menominee County outside of the current city limits.  In 1841 McLeod built the Menominee River’s second lumber mill on Twin Island.  Because iron was scarce, all the cogs for the machinery were made of wood.  Unfortunately, McLeod’s business was not profitable, and he abandoned it after five years.  McLeod married Elizabeth Jacobs, daughter of Queen Marinette and her first husband John B. Jacobs.  The McLeod’s had three sons, John, Charles, and Alexander, and three daughters who died in early childhood, Mary, Elizabeth, and Annie.  For the benefit of their own and neighbors’ children, McLeod built the first schoolhouse on the Menominee River.  He was a member of the first county board of canvassers, and he played a prominent role in the development of Menominee County.  He owned much of the land on the Menominee side of the river, including extensive real estate on the riverfront and near the head of Ogden Avenue and what came to be known as Frenchtown. McLeod died in Menominee in 1893.  (2) (7) (1)

Andrus Eveland (1814-1901)

Andrus Eveland
Andrus Eveland was the first pioneer to settle on the Green Bay shore in Menominee.  Born in Yarmouth, Ontario, in 1814, Eveland became a Lake Erie sailor at age 17, travelling between Canada, Buffalo, Cleveland, and other ports.  In 1836 he moved to Chicago where he worked as a wheelsman and mate on the steamer Michigan, a freight and passenger boat that ran between Chicago and St. Joseph, Michigan.  After a stint building harbor piers in Racine, Eveland came with a crew of men to the Menominee River area in 1841 and built a fish shanty and cabin a half mile north of the river’s mouth.  When he left for the winter, a sawmill company burnt down his structures.  A chief of the Menominee tribe met him when he returned and handed him a blanket with the nails from his burnt shanties.  Eveland rebuilt in 1842 and became a permanent resident.  For many years he fished in the summer and fall and made shingles in the winter.  He owned much of the land which was to become the city, and, along with John Quimby, laid out the design for the village of Menominee.  He and his wife, the former Miss Lavina Moore, had nine children: Charles, Melissa, Henrietta, Mary, Almira, Joseph, Susan Emily, and Nellie.  In 1853 Eveland built the first frame house in the village, located at 1st St. and 14th Ave.  One early biographical statement recounts how, at age 84, Eveland had set out on his annual 3-mile hike to a campground at the start of the hunting season, carrying an 80-pound pack on his back.  Eveland died at Menominee on March 2, 1901.  (1) (8) (14) (19)

Riverside Cemetery Gravestone, John E. Quimby (1809-1874)

John E. Quimby
John Quimby settled in what was then known as the Village in 1845, and he was to become a central figure in its development.  At first Quimby was in charge of the fisheries and ran a boarding house on the river.  He subsequently built a tavern on what eventually became the site of the Kirby House at the intersection of 1st St. and 6th Ave.   As mentioned earlier, he and Andrus Eveland played major roles in laying out the village of Menominee.  Quimby platted the original village as "Quimby's Lots", and Eveland platted an addition.  At the time Quimby owned much of the land on which the city of Menominee now stands, but he never imagined that the settlement would ever amount to much.  For example, in the plans that he laid out Main Street was only thirty feet wide.  His peers at the time recalled Quimby saying that he did not want to live longer than to see a railroad pass through the woods.  At the time there were not only no railroads, but no wagon roads or other means of transportation except for boats on the river and the bay.  The surrounding country was unbroken forest which sold for $1.25 per acre.  Menominee County’s first election for county officers was held in May 1863, and Quimby was elected sheriff and a member of the Board of County Canvassers.  One biographer (1883) described Quimby as “a man of marked characteristics, and either a warm friend or a good hater.”  He was known as a powerful fighter and a skilled hunter.  Quimby died on Jan. 13, 1874, at the age of 65.  His wife, Almira, outlived him by six years and was the proprietor of the Quimby Hotel.  She was known for nursing the sick and for her kindness to all.  Quimby Ave. (now 6th Ave.) and Almyra St. (now  4th St.) were named after Quimby and his daughter.  (7) (10) (19) (13)

Our family moved from town to the Menominee River shore exactly 150 years after Louis Chappee first settled there.  It’s hard to imagine what people’s lives were like in those harsh, challenging times.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who created the communities from which many tens of thousands of Menominee and Marinette residents have subsequently benefitted.

SOURCES:  (1) The Menominee Evening Leader, Oct. 25, 1900, p. 8 (available from Spies Public Library, Menominee); (2) www.books.google.com, “Deep Woods Frontier, by Theodore J. Karamanski, Wayne State U. Press, 1989, p. 28; (3) www.books.google.com, Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, “Pioneer Collections”, Vol. 1 (1877), p. 265; (4) www.dcl-lib.org, “Menominee Range Memories” by William J. Cummings; (5) www.findagrave.com, “John George ‘The Writer’ Kittson”; (6) www.findagrave.com, “Stanislaus ‘Louis Chappee’ Chaput”; (7) www.genealogytrails.com, ‘Menominee County,’ pp. 473-499 in Western Historical Company, “History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” (1883); (8) www.genealtreemaker.genealogy.com, “Re” Who’s Your Moore”; (9) www.kenanderson.net, “Menominee County”; (10) www.menomineehistoricalsociet6y.org, “Nov. 2010 newsletter”; (11) www.michmarkers.com, “Chapee Rapids”; (12) www.onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu, “Charles Moore, “The History of Michigan.”  Chicago, 1915; (13) www.quod.lib.umich.edu, A. L. Sawyer, “A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People,” 1911; (14) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, “Glines/Dean/Warnken/Anderegg/Eveland/Stufflebeam/Related and Very Unrelated Families”; (15) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, “Marinette County, Wisconsin: Genealogy and Local History”; (16) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, “Norman Wolfred Kittson”; (17) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, “Oconto County Families and Biographies: Chappue”; (18) www.teamvanrens.com, "William Farnsworth - married Queen Marinette"; (19) www.us-data.org, “Centennial History of Menominee County” by E. S. Ingalls (1876); (20) www.wikipedia.org, “Menominee”


  1. Thanks for this. Andrus Eveland was my great-great grandfather.

  2. Thanks for letting me know. A lot of Menominee history in your family.