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Wisconsin Genealogy Resources

Wisconsin Genealogy

The purpose of this site is to guide you in locating and using Wisconsin genealogical tools.

Wisconsin was first explored by Europeans in 1634 when Jean Nicolet, sent by New France administration in Canada, arrived at Red Banks on the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. In 1673, Louis Joliet, a cartographer and explorer, Father Jacques Marquette, and five others made a journey that greatly expanded the French knowledge of the area.

In 1668, the Powtawatomi invited Nicolas Perrot and Toussaint Baudry, partners in a New France trading company, to a visit the area.

The Jesuit Father Claude Allouez opened a mission in what is now Brown County in 1669. The mission became a major point in the French fur-trading empire until it was closed in 1728.

In 1763, the British established their presence in the area by rebuilding Fort Francis as Fort Edward Augustus. It had been built by the French in 1717 and was located on the Fox River.

Charles de Langlade and his family arrived at Green Bay in 1765, establishing the first permanent white settlement in Wisconsin.

The Treaty of Paris in 1783 theoretically put Wisconsin under U.S. control, but in reality the British were in command of the area. Four years later, Wisconsin was included in the newly organized Northwest Territory and in 1800 was included in the Indiana Territory. When the Michigan Territory was created in 1805, Wisconsin remained in Indiana Territory. On 3 February 1809, Wisconsin, except for the Door County Peninsula, became part of the Illinois Territory. Nine years later, Illinois became a state, and Wisconsin was made part of the Michigan Territory. Wisconsin became a territory in 1836, and a state in 1848.

By 1850, Wisconsin had a population of just over 300,000. The ratio of American-born to foreign-born was two to one, with immigrants' birthplaces being Canada, England, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, and Norway. Approximately 20% of the American-born were Wisconsin-born, and most of these were children. The migrants came from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New England, New York, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South. Out of the population of 300,000, 68,600 were from New York.

Many of the immigrants traveled directly from their home state or their port of debarkation. Some Germans and Dutch temporarily stayed in the east for financial reasons. The Irish immigrants often took years to work their way west from the east coast or Canada. Those from New York, Pennsylvania, and New England traditionally made their journey in stages from the Northeast through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.