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Move of John and Catherine Fitzpatrick McGough from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, to Eau Claire, Wisconsin
My great-grandparents, John McGough and Catherine Fitzpatrick McGough, moved from the area of Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, to Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1855 or 1856. This page examines the routes and modes of travel that were available to them.
There was no railroad connection directly to Eau Claire until 1870. The last part of the trip, therefore, was made either by steamboat up the Mississippi River and then up the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, or overland by stagecoach, ox cart and covered wagon, or on foot.
My hypothesis, based on no hard evidence, is that John and Catherine McGough originally set out from Pennsylvania for the lead mining region of the upper Mississippi valley, centered around Galena, Jo Daviess county, Illinois. There were McGough families from county Monaghan, Ireland, in Jo Daviess and Winnebago county, Illinois, at the time. Winnebago county is the second county east from Jo Daviess county. Both Jo Daviess and Winnebago counties lie on the northern border of Illinois with Wisconsin. I assume that these Illinois McGoughs were the main attraction of my great-grandparents to the area and that, after they arrived, they heard of the opportunities in the new frontier town of Eau Claire, and traveled up the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers to get there.
In the last half of the 19th century, many other McGoughs and Fitzpatricks followed John McGough and Catherine Fitzpatrick from Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, to Eau Claire. Others came from Lindsay, Ontario, including the McGoughs who were in Winnebago county in 1855. Before 1870, the final part of the trip to Eau Claire was probably by steamboat and stagecoach. After 1870, most of the travel by the McGoughs to Eau Claire was probably by rail.
John McGough and Catherine Fitzpatrick were married in or near Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on May 20, 1855. They moved west, ultimately to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and arrived there no later than the end of 1856. The most likely year they left Pennsylvania was 1855. I have found no sign of them in tax or other records in Pennsylvania after their marriage. Their first son, James H. McGough, was born in Eau Claire in the latter part of 1856 or in the first part of 1857. John McGough was naturalized in Eau Claire on December 23, 1857. This required him to have been a resident of Wisconsin for at least one year. See McGoughs and McGues in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the 1800s and McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 18561906.
In 1855, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was not a natural destination of a settler heading west from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. The town of Eau Claire was little more than a gleam in its founders' eyes in 1855. There was little economic development. As far as I can tell, the town, which was not formed until 1856, was not advertised or well-known in the east. Eau Claire is not even mentioned in the Hand Book of Wisconsin by Silas Chapman, which was published in Milwaukee in 1855. The highlights of the write up on Chippewa County, which begins on page 20 of the pamphlet, are the twelve sawmills operating on the Chippewa River were employing about 600 men and that most of the land in the county was still subject to entry. The article points out that its description applies mostly "to the surveyed or Southern part of the County, which will undoubtedly soon be subdivided into several Smaller Counties." Eau Claire county was formed out of the southern part of Chippewa county on October 6, 1856.
The handbook contains these notes on Chippewa county:
"The mot of the land in theis county is till subject to entry. It affords inducements to the immigrant both agricultural and mechanical, as the resources of the county are such as to give permanency to business, and a sure market is always to be found for the products of the forest.
"The route of travel to this country from Lake Michigan, at presnet, is by Rail Road from Chicago to Galena (nearly completedP and up the Mississippi and St. Croix by boar; or from Milwaukee to Madison by Rail Road, thence by stage to the River, and up the River by boat." (pages 21–22)
For a little information on the early history of Eau Claire, see McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 18561906. I have found no McGoughs, or other Irishmen from county Monaghan, who preceded my great-grandparents in Eau Claire.
When judged by modern standards, travel to Eau Claire in 1855 was not easy. There was no railroad connection to Eau Claire until 1870. The town of Chippewa Falls, 10 miles to the north, was not connected to a railroad until 1873. One article says that, in 1856:
"The only way of getting in or out of the place [Eau Claire] was by small steamboats, to and from the Mississippi in summer time, and in winter by sleighs, over a hundred miles of rough road to Portage City." History of Lumbering and Lumber Mills, Eau Claire Co., WI, 1890.
Galena, Illinois, by way of contrast, was a lead-mining boom town in 1855. Twenty-five years of prosperity was about to diminish as the large lead deposits became less accessible, but Galena in the 1840s had been the largest and most prosperous city in Illinois or Wisconsin— bigger than Chicago.
"By the 1850's, Galena was the busiest port on the Mississippi between St. Paul and St. Louis. Its population was now 14,000. In the decade of the 1850's, Galena saw many changes. New churches and banks were established, Marine Hospital was built, DeSoto House was completed and would soon become a center of social activity, Galena shipped its record amount of lead in 1845 (54,494,850 pounds), the Galena branch of the Illinois Central Railroad was built from Freeport to the city, gas street lights were installed, and a freight depot was constructed. During this period, Abraham Lincoln spoke from the balcony of the DeSoto House, followed soon afterwards by Stephen A. Douglas." Village ProfileGalena, Illinois.
"Spawned by Wisconsin's mid-19th-century lead mining rush, Galena (pop. 3,647) became the social and cultural capital of the Upper Mississippi basin. In the 1840s, while Chicago* was still a mean collection of tents in a swamp around Fort Dearborn, and the Twin Cities were but a trading post in the woods around Fort Snelling, Galena was producing upwards of 75% of the world's lead, and the town was filled with bankers, merchants, and speculators who built mansions, hotels, and emporiums stuffed with fine goods and furnishings from around the world. This part of the Driftless Region saw some of the greatest wealth and commerce of the upper Mississippi, with Galena alone higher in populationsome 15,000 lived here during the Civil Warthan the entire Minnesota Territory." Road Trip USAAcross Illinois.
*The population of Chicago had grown to 29,963 by 1850, when the population of Galena had reached its zenith at 14,000. By 1860, the population of Chicago had grown to 109,260, and by 1890 was over a million. Chicago Growth 1850-1990: Maps by Dennis McClendon.
In 1855, several McGough families lived in the area of the upper-Mississippi lead mines surrounding Galena, Illinois. The mines were also referred to as the Fever River or Galena River mines. The area included two counties in the northwestern corner of Illinois (Jo Daviess and Stephenson), three counties in the northeastern corner of Iowa (Dubuque, Clayton and Allamakee), and three counties in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin (Grant, Iowa and Lafayette). See A History of the Upper Mississippi Valley Lead Zinc District by Patty Verzal.
In 1852 Bernard McGough, born in Ireland in 18059, and his brother, Francis McGough, born in Ireland in 1825, moved their families from Lindsay, Ontario, to Winnebago county, Illinois. In 1852/3 and 1856, respectively, they moved their families across and up the Mississippi River to Allamakee county, Iowa, still part of the lead mining district. See Bernard McGough and Catherine Kernaghan of Lindsay, Ontario, and Allamakee County, Iowa.
The 1850 census of Jo Daviess county, Illinois, shows an Edward McGough, born in Ireland in 1811, living with his wife, Ellen, born in Ireland in 1818. Living with them was Patrick Donahoe (or Patrick Donahue) who, in 1852, married a daughter of Bernard McGough in Freeport, Illinois. Freeport is in Stephenson county, which lies between Winnebago county and Jo Daviess county.
Also living in Jo Daviess county in 1850 were John McGough, born in Ireland in 1808, according to his gravestone, or in 1810 or 1811 according to the 1850 census; and his brother, Peter McGough, born in Ireland in 1801 or 1802. See John and Peter McGoughTwo Brothers in Jo Daviess County, Illinois.
On February 20, 1852, the Michigan Southern Railroad "Old Road" reached Chicago. The "Old Road" was the line of the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad that operated as part of the Michigan Southern Railroad.
"From 1852 to 1857 the line, then part of the Michigan Southern Railroad, was the only unbroken link from the East Coast to Chicago." Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad.
"In financial trouble from the beginning, the Erie & Kalamazoo became part of the Michigan Southern Railroad in 1849. The Michigan Southern then built a connecting railroad from the Michigan line to Chicago, and on May 22, 1852, the first train ran from Toledo to Chicago over what became the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad." Chapter Four. The Canals & Railroads 1837–1865 (page 36), from Toledo ProfileA Sesquicentennial History by Tana Mosier Porter (Toledo Sesquicentennial Commission, Toledo, Ohio, 1987).
On May 21, 1852, the Michigan Central Railroad reached Chicago. On May 22, 1852, the Michigan Southern Railroad reached Chicago. Railroad History Time Line 1852. The National Railroad Museum, in its section on Years of Growth: 1835–1860, says that it was in 1853 that the first all-rail route was opened between Chicago and the East Coast.
By the end of 1856, there were several railroad connections from the east to Chicago, including the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad, which opened in 1856. The Railroad Maps Collection, in the American Memory Collection in the Library of Congress, contains innumerable railroad maps from 1826 to 1900. The maps have a great zoom-in/out feature. On the website, the maps are indexed under the name of the railroad and the name of the creator of the map.
"In 1848, the same year that the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was opened, another achievement took place which helped Chicago to displace the river cities. The Illinois & Michigan Canal was completed, connecting Chicago to the Mississippi River, so that trade that had previously gone through St. Louis went instead to Chicago. ...
"By 1852, Chicago's single railroad had increased to five, and by 1856, Chicago had ten railroads, totaling over 3000 miles of track. ...
"Railroad 'warfare' caused competing railroad companies to construct rail lines rapidly. Two eastern railroads, the Michigan Central and the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana, competed to be the first eastern railroad in Chicago. The Michigan Southern succeeded in 1852 because of a deal with another railroad company, the Chicago & Rock Island. Thus, Chicago had five railroads in 1852: Galena & Chicago Union and the Chicago & Rock Island to the West, the Illinois Central to the South, and the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana and the Michigan Central to the East. There was another railroad, the Aurora Branch, built in 1850, which began as a branch of the Galena. The Aurora Branch went westward to its namesake, and eventually became the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad. ...
"By 1857, seven railroads had reached the Mississippi. The result of this was the decline of the steamboat and the predominance of the railroad, and consequently of Chicago, as a railroad town."
The City Transformed Railroads and Their Influence on the Growth of Chicago in the 1850s. (Copyright 1995, Benjamin W Dreyfus).
The McGoughs could have boarded the Pennsylvania Central Railroad in Philadelphia and headed west through Harrisburg and Chicago. See the Map of Chicago & Rock Island, Peoria and Bureau Valley, and Mississippi & Missouri railroads; with their connections to New York [1852?], by George E. Leefe, in the Railroad Maps Collection of the American Memory Collection in the Library of Congress. This map bears a handwritten date of 1852. At the beginning of the journey Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad stopped in St. Clair and Pottsville in 1838. See the Topographical plan & profile of the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road [1838?] by R. B. (Richard Boyce) Osborne, in the Railroad Maps Collection; and also the Sketch map of the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and its branches, May, 1873, by T. V. Fay. (On the website, the maps are indexed under the name of the railroad and the name of the creator.)
The Pittsburgh to Cleveland to Toledo to Chicago part of the trip could have been completed on the Michigan Southern Railway.
A good map to identify the railroad lines from Chicago to Rockford, Freeport, and Galena, and the counties involved, is: Map showing the location of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad with its branches & connections in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. G. W.& C. B. Colton & Co. New York, 1862. (Caution: the zoom feature of this map can be addictive.) The map is in the Railroad Maps Collection, in the American Memory Collection in the Library of Congress.
"The first railroad constructed out of Chicago, the Galena and Chicago Union, was chartered January 16, 1836, to connect Chicago with the lead mines at Galena. 'The Pioneer,' the first locomotive on the road, arrived at Chicago on October 10, 1848, nearly thirteen years after the charter was granted. In 1850 the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was completed as far as Elgin." Galena And Chicago Union Railroad.
The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, which never reached Galena, was opened in 1848, and was Chicago's first railroad connection to the west.
"Bought second hand from an Eastern line, the 10-ton, wood burning engine made the first run out of Chicago on October 25, 1848 on the tracks of the Galena & Chicago Union railroad, forerunner of the North Western. The maiden journey was for five miles to what is now Oak Park, Illinois. Frequent stops were made along the route to allow crowds to get a better look at the mechanical marvel and to give the railroad's first president, William Butler Ogden, a chance to proclaim the significance of the new line. ...
"The Pioneer was shipped to Chicago on the brig 'Buffalo' in the care of John Ebbert, who had been its engineer on the Eastern railroad. He remained as engineer on the Galena road and became famous as the man who drove the first train west from Chicago." See: The Pioneer.
The engine had been purchased from the State of Michigan and was shipped from New Buffalo, Michigan. It previously had been used on the Michigan Central Railroad. It arrived at the Clark Street dock on the Chicago River October 22nd, 1848. New Buffalo is located in the southwestern corner of Michigan, and the southeast corner of Lake Michigan, just north of the Indiana border.
Rockford was originally called Midway because it is about half way between Chicago and Galena. The city straddles the Rock River, about 90 miles west of Chicago. The first train of the Galena and Chicago Union Railway arrived in Rockford on August 2, 1852. It was pulled by The Pioneer engine. Chronological History Rockford (1818-1900).
"The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad organized in 1848, but progress on laying tracks was slowed by lack of funds. The railroad finally arrived in Rockford in August of 1852. That same year, Rockford was officially incorporated as a city." Village Profile Rockford
The route of the Chicago and Galena Railroad in January, 1855, to Freeport, west of Rockford, with a connection to Galena is shown by D. B. Cooke & Co.'s railway guide for Illinois showing all the stations with their respective distances connecting with Chicago
A map that shows railroad development in Illinois between 1850 and 1860, and will help in the understanding of the following sections, will be found at Illinois Railroads, 18501860.
Freeport is the county seat of Stephenson county. On today's Route 20, Freeport is located about 25 miles west of Rockford, 90 miles west of Chicago, and 65 miles east of Dubuque, Iowa. The Chicago and Galena Railroad completed its line from Chicago to Freeport in 1853, but ceded its right of way from Freeport to Galena to the Illinois Central Railway.
"On August 23, 1853, the first construction train crossed the Pecatonica River and the passenger and freight service was established on September 1. The Illinois Central entered Freeport a few weeks later, having purchased the right of way from the Chicago and Galena Union. The formal opening of the line was on July 18, 1855. Stephen A. Douglas was the orator of the day." Stephenson County History
"The next in order of time, is the road known as the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. This improvement lingered for many years, but it worked its way at last into existence. It is extended one hundred and twenty-one miles from Chicago to Freeport, and there intersects the Illinois Central Railroad. The Illinois Central Railroad extending from Cairo-one branch to Dubuque, in Iowa, and the other to Chicago-is the most splendid and magnificent road in America. It is upward of seven hundred miles long, and not only connects the North and South together, but extends through the middle of the most fertile and prolific soil on the globe. This road received from the United States a great quantity of land for its construction, and was made on the most substantial and approved system. It would require a volume to record the history of this road; suffice it to say here, that this road is grand and magnificent, and is in perfect keeping with the age and State where it was built. CVII. The First Railroad Constructed West of the Mountains Other Railroads in Illinois from Excerpts from Reynold's History of Illinois: My Own Times in The IBEX Archive:ESLARP's Social History Project.
Although a major shipping port on the upper part of the Mississippi River in the 1840s and 1850s, Galena, Illinois, is actually about four miles east of the Mississippi River, up the Galena River.
Before the end of 1854, the trip by Freeport to Galena was usually accomplished by stagecoach.
"The stage coach route was the main route from Chicago to Galena, a distance of 160 miles and requiring 5 days for the trip and at a cost of $12.50. The coach stopped at Millville to leave off mail and passengers as it was a main stop between Freeport and Galena. Quoting from the Chicago-American newspaper dated June 15, 1839 it read Frink Walker stage lines leave from State Street office and barn at 123 Lake St., Tuesday and Saturdays at 6 a.m. via Apple River. Arriving every Wednesday and Friday at 6 p.m. carrying mail and four to seven passengers, one riding with the driver. Scheduled stops: Dixon Ferry, Freeport, Lena, Millville, Scales Mound, and Galena. It is necessary to arrange for a seat one to five days in advance.'"
"Millville flourished until 1874 when the 'lead rush' was over after 20 years of activity. The Illinois Central railroad built its line from Freeport to Galena just six miles north of the town in 1854. Soon the Stagecoach line started to lose business to the railroad and settlers were starting to move out." See: A History Of Millville.
The year that Chicago has its first railroad connection with the Mississippi River, at Galena, Illinois, is usually reported as 1854, although the last part of the line by the Illinois Central was not formally opened until 1855. A Chronology of Lakes Navigation.
Here is part of the introduction to the 1854 Galena City Directory:
"The City of Galena is situated in 42 1/2 degrees North Latitude, on a line with the City of Boston, Mass., and has one of the most varied and healthy locations in the United States. It lies on Galena River, which is little else here than an arm or bay of the Mississippi and has one of the finest harbors for Steamboats on the latter river. It contained in the month of June last, 9,629 inhabitants — the regular residents only being counted — no allowance being made for visitors and transient population, of which there are always a large num ber. It is fully within bounds to say, that Galena contains this day, over ten thousand inhabitants. For two years past, the advance of Galena in population and wealth has been remarkably rapid, and the future promises a still more rapid increase.
"It is the commercial centre of the Great Lead Mining region of the Northwest; it has free access by Steamboats to all the natigable waters of the Valley of the Missiseippi, above and below, and constant daily comnnmication during the season of navigation. In a few months, railroad communication will be opened with the East by means of the Illinois Central and the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, The Chicago, St. Charles and Mississippi Air-Line Railroad, now in course of construction, terminates here; and the Great Northwestern Railroad from Galena up the Valley of the Tete des Morts to the Minnesota River and to St. Paul, is also projected, and recent events give promise of its speedy construction."
An early trip from Chicago to Galena, and up the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers to Eau Claire, is described in Early Lumbering on the Chippewa by Bruno Vinette, from the Wisconsin Magazine of History (1925), published on the Wisconsin Electronic Reader A cooperative digital imaging project of the University of WisconsinMadisonGeneral Library System, and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
"It was in 1853, just seventy years ago, that as a young man I left my old home in Canada for the West. After spending two years in Kankakee, Illinois, through a man who had just returned from the 'pineries' of the Chippewa valley in northern Wisconsin I became interested in that region. In the late summer of 1855, with a man by the name of Ben Dement, I started out. We went by train to Chicago and by train and mule team from there to Galena. At that point we took a steamboat to Reads Landing,* at the mouth of the Chippewa. This was several years before steamboats began running on the Chippewa, but we found two raft crews about ready to start up river with a keel boat full of supplies. An average keel boat was perhaps sixty feet long, ten feet wide, and four feet deep. A 'running board' about two feet wide extended full length of the boat on each side. The boats were propelled by poles. These poles were about sixteen feet long, light and strong, with a steel point on the lower end and a knob or button on the upper end. From twelve to twenty men were required to propel the boat. An ordinary Chippewa raft crew consisted of eight oarsmen and a pilot. It was a very common arrangement for two raft crews to pole a loaded keel boat up river and tow the boat down again with the next raft. On the keel boat one man acted as pilot and the others were equally divided on the two sides of the boat. ...
"A big half-breed by the name of La Batte was pilot of the keel boat about to leave Reads Landing, and my partners and I made arrangements with him to work our passage up river. It was new work to both of us but we stood it all right; in fact, we made several more such trips that same season, and occasionally for several seasons more.
"The supplies in the keel boat were for H. S. Allen at Chippewa Falls, about seventy miles up from Reads Landing. On the north side of the river, where the principal part of the city now stands, there was only a small sawmill with a few scattering dwelling houses. On the south side there was quite a settlement, called French Town. Our pilot, La Batte, lived there, and it was there that I made my home for many years. ... "
*Reads Landing is the correct spelling, although Reed's Landing is often seen. The settlement is immediately across the Mississippi River from the mouth of the Chippewa River, just north of what has become the larger town of Wabasha, in Wabasha county, Minnesota. "Reads Landing flourished for a good many years after its incorporation in 1868, but it was eventually replaced by ... Wabasha as a center of commerce and transportation. Today it is home to only 200 residents, but is visited by many American bald eagle observers, fishermen, and museum-goers." From The Great River Road (chapter 7, Mississippi Bluffs Demonstration Area.) See: Wabasha County Historical Society.
The Vinette article offers a glimpse of history, with tales of logging camps, shingle mills, rafting logs down the Mississippi, and running the rapids known as Chippewa Falls in a birch-bark canoewith his part-Chippewa French wife and twelve bushels of cranberries. There are many good old photographs.
Another possible route taken by my great grand parents from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin was by rail to Rock Island, Illinois, and up the Mississippi River by steamboat.
What is often described as the first railroad* from the east to the Mississippi valley, the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, reached the Mississippi River in 1854 at Rock Island, Illinois, 160 miles west of Chicagoat the junction of the Rock and the Mississippi Rivers, on the east side of the Mississippi across from Davenport, Iowa. (A railroad bridge was completed across the Mississippi River at Rock Island in 1856. The bridge was an obstacle to steamboat navigation on the river. Abraham Lincoln successfully defended the railroad in a suit by a company whose steamboat, theEffie Afton, on May 6, 1856, was one of many that collided with the bridge. Both the bridge and the steamboat burned, but the bridge was reopened within a few weeks. See: Bridging the Mississippi: The Railroads and Steamboats Clash at the Rock Island Bridge by David A. Pfeiffer.)
See A Brief Historical Overview of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad.
*The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, however, had its line running from East St. Louis, on the Mississippi River, to Chicago in 1853. The New Era of Transportation.
"This railroad was known by many other names before it was the Chicago & Alton Railroad. The line was the quickest way to get to Springfield and Saint Louis. The 'Alton' railroad also had the distinction of being the first direct connection between Chicago and the Mississippi river at Alton, Illinois." Railroad Advertisements: The St. Louis, Alton & Chicago Railroad. (1860).
From Rock Island/Davenport, regular steamboat transportation up the Mississippi River was available after the early 1820s. By 1854, Rock Island averaged 154 boats a month. See Steam Comes of Age by Evan Harris. In 1858, the year Minnesota became a state, 1068 steamboats arrived in St. Paul, bringing hordes of immigrants. See: Lambert Landing: Early Immigrant Arrival Place. My great-grandparent's journey by steamboat from Rock Island to the Chippewa River would have covered almost exactly the area that is now the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the longest wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states, which extends 261 miles along the Mississippi River south from the Chippewa River in Wisconsin to the locks and dam just below Le Clair, Iowa. Le Clair is at the upper end of the 14 mile long Moline Rapids to Rock Island, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa.
On a journey up the Mississippi to Eau Claire, the traveler would have debarked at Reads Landing, Minnesota, just north of the present town of Wabasha, Minnesota. Part of A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor by George William Featherstonhaugh (1835), is published on the Wisconsin Electronic Reader. In chapter 23, at pages 2479, Featherstonaugh describes a visit to Reads Landing in 1835:
"September 9 .We got the canoe under way at the dawn, and plying our paddles, reached Wajhustachay's, or Roque's, at 7 A. M. The house of this trader was well situated at the south-eastern end of Lake Pepin , upon the edge of a high prairie fifty feet from the water, on the right bank of the Mississippi. It will make an excellent site for a town, there being a little stream emptying into the Mississippi, wide enough for boats to go up into the prairie some distance. On the opposite side of the Mississippi is Chippeway River, one of its most important tributaries in this part of the country, the sources of which are at a great distance to the north-east, not far from Lake Superior.
"At this place I found Wabeshaw, the chief of the band I had visited the preceding day, with some other chiefs. He was dressed in a red-coloured garment, and acted and spoke like a person still conscious of possessing some authority. Roque was from home, but we found his wife, an active bustling Indian woman, who seemed to be a very good housekeeper, and from her I procured a supply of potatos and a bottle of fresh milk. She had two daughters by this Frenchman, one of whom I saw, a rather pretty half-breed girl, about eighteen; the other was married to a Frenchman, and lived with him in a small hut close by. I suppose M. Roque, like [page 248] many others of his countrymen, had shaken hands with civilized society, for everything about his house was perfectly Indian.
"Wabeshaw was grave, and not communicative. I understood afterwards that he was dissatisfied with the proceedings of the agents of the United States, and looked with great anxiety to that much-feared moment, when he, too, would be called to a treaty of cession of his lands, and be compelled to move to some distant country. He therefore dreaded the appearance of white men. I had, however, some conversation with him of a general nature. He told me that they had no name for the Mississippi, but Wamacrhpadah Tanka , or 'Great River;'and none for Lake Pepin, but Minday Tanka , or 'Great Lake.' Indeed, when we consider that this immense continent was occupied by various races of savage people, speaking different languages, and each of them before the arrival of Europeans in America inhabiting and hunting in particular districts, without issuing from them except when upon warlike excursions, we see the impossibility of the word 'Mississippi,' or any other word, having at any time been a general name for this stream amongst the Indians of North America. In many of the dialects of the Lenape, and of the aborigines settled upon the Atlantic coast, the word seepee meant river; and in the Ojibway, and even Knistenaux, which are northern branches of the same family, it means the same thing. The early French adventurers, as they advanced westward, appear to have carried this word with them, and adding the word 'Missi'--not in any Indian tongue that I have any knowledge of--to it, we have thus obtained the word 'Mississippi,'which some writers, without authority, have stated to [page 249] mean the 'Father of Rivers,'a rather nonsensical interpretation, since, being a flood resulting from the confluence of many streams, it might with greater propriety have been called the 'Son of Rivers.'"
Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi has been published online by World Wide School. In chapter 58, On the Upper River, Twain describes his passage in 1874 through Rock Island, heading up river toward St. Paul. In chapter 59, Legends and Scenery, he describes his passage though La Crosse, Wisconsin, and, without specifically naming them, Reads Landing and Pepin:
"'Next we have the Lion's Head and the Lioness's Head, carved by nature's hand, to adorn and dominate the beauteous stream; and then anon the river widens, and a most charming and magnificent view of the valley before us suddenly bursts upon our vision; rugged hills, clad with verdant forests from summit to base, level prairie lands, holding in their lap the beautiful Wabasha, City of the Healing Waters, puissant foe of Bright's disease, and that grandest conception of nature's works, incomparable Lake Pepin these constitute a picture whereon the tourist's eye may gaze uncounted hours, with rapture unappeased and unappeasable."
This is where the McGoughs would have left a steamboat to go up the Chippewa River to Eau Claire, probably by stage coach, but possibly by a small shallow bottom steamboat.
Hiram P. Graham, who arrived in Eau Claire in 1856, walked from Reads Landing, Minnesota, to Eau Claire "to build mills for the Eau Claire Lumber company." Recollections of Early Eau Claire, by F. H. Graham (Hiram's son) in The Eau Claire Leader of January 24, 1932, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of its Digital Collections — under Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles.
"Rumsey's Landing, located in Dunn County east of the Red Cedar junction with the Chippewa River, is no longer in existence. It was a major stopping place for steamboats coming up the Chippewa River with supplies for early settlers and lumbering interests. For many years farmers from the Rusk area in Dunn County hauled wheat to the landing for shipment to market. After coming of the railway in the early 1870's, the importance of Rumsey's Landing decreased and it was abandoned."
"Rigs were lined more than a mile and a half during harvest season near Rumsey's Landing in Dunn County. For more than 20 years it served as the landing for steamboats carrying wheat to outside markets. Its importance ended with coming of railroads in 1871. ...
"In 1849 (the text says 1959), most of the state's wheat was produced in the east and south regions. Other significant amounts came from Chippewa Falls and Hudson. Some wheat was transported eastward, but much of it was used in the lead-mining region or shipped to military forts on the rivers, Indian reservations or sold to traders.
"Steamboats on the St. Croix and Chippewa to Rumsey's Landing and on to Eau Claire were the main methods of exporting wheat prior to 1870.
"Records show the steamboat 'Chippewa Valley' carried 4,000 bushels of wheat from Huysson's warehouse in 1861. The same year the 'Chippewa Falls' steamer left with 3,600 bushels.
"Wheat was one item Randall noted that the area could export. He wrote, 'But with the exception of the single item of wheat, all other productions of farms, naturally seeking a market at this point, find a steady sale at the hands of lumbermen.'
"Newspapers from the early 1860s report streets of Eau Claire constantly filled with teams and wagons of farmers taking their wheat to already over-filled warehouses.
Wheat once 'king' of regions crops on the Eau Claire County Local History Network. Check the Index of VolumesSelected Articles from Our Story 'The Chippewa Valley and Beyond' (published by the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, 1976.)
"It is supposed that the first steamboat up the Chippewa was the "Dr. Franklin," of Galena. This was in the early Spring of 1848, and the boat was bound for the upper Mississippi, which, above the mouth of the Chippewa, was blocked with ice. Mr. Knapp was on board with a crew of workmen, and considerable freight. He chartered the boat to take him up the Chippewa, acting as pilot himself. He brought the boat safely to the mouth of the Red Cedar. This settled the question of navigating the river, to this point, at least. H. S. Allen, from the Falls, soon followed with his boat, and navigation on the river, as far as Eau Claire, has been continued with more or less regularity ever since." Dunn County History
See The Steamboat Era in Illinois.
A trip in 1856 up the Mississippi River from a point near Davenport, Iowa, to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is described in Early Days In The Chippewa Valley18311928 by Charles Smith Bundy of Menomonie, Wisconsin (Flint-Douglas printing co., 1916). The full text is available on Family Tree Legends. The text describes a voyage in September of 1856 from Toronto, in Clinton county, Iowa, to Eau Claire by a New York lawyer looking for a good place to hang his shingle. He had traveled from his home in Oxford, New York, to visit two of his paternal aunts near Toronto, Iowa:
"I had just been admitted to the bar in New York and was looking for an eligible site for a law office in the West, where I could 'grow up with the country,' as the saying was. ... [We embarked] upon a trip by boat up the Mississippi river, with no very definite destination that I now remember.
"Our first stopping place proved to be Clinton, Iowa. ... Mr. Joseph G. Thorp [a local merchant and banker] ... asked us where we were going, and since neither of us knew much about that, he said, 'Well boys, let me give you some good advice. ... I have been buying some mill property on the Chippewa river in Wisconsin and a new town has just been laid out. There is an opening for you; go up and see for yourselves.' Here was an 'opening' seemingly large enough for us both, (a consideration seldom lost sight of by young men planning a career), and we jumped at it.
"Resuming our journey on the river we reached Reed's Landing soon after sundown on the 17th of September. We were to ferry across the river to the Wisconsin side and there take the stage from Pepin to Eau Claire. There had been a severe storm that day, and the steamboat Alhambra lay just in sight on the shore of Lake Pepin a wreck; and the river at Reed's Landing was so rough that we found it difficult to induce the ferryman to undertake to cross us that night, and this was necessary to enable us to catch the next morning's stage up the Chippewa. However, by adding a dollar to the usual fare we prevailed on him to make the venture. We crossed in safety but reached shore nearly a mile below the usual landing; that, however, was a small matter to us who were hot on the trail for that 'opening' in Eau Claire.
"We found hospitable lodging somewhere on the beach and were on time at the stage office in Pepin the next morning. That evening we alighted at Eau Claire, having made forty miles. We passed less than twenty houses on the road. Durand had not then been dreamed of, and H. Clay Williams (afterwards a distinguished lawyer in Eau Claire), was keeping a little store at Bear Creek (I think near the site of the Durand of this day), and that was the only settlement so far as I can remember on that side of the river. On the way we stopped at and passed through Waubeek, consisting of a single dwelling house from which on a clear day two farm houses could be seen up the road towards Dunnville. ...
"At Eau Claire we put up at the only hotel in the place, a two-story frame building, not yet plastered or ceiled, but as mine host tried to make up in cordiality what he lacked in shelter for his guests, our first night in Eau Claire did not bring on chills. The following morning we sallied out early and eager to see the town. The first man we met was a Mr. Seely on his way to the real estate office of Mr. Wm. H. Gleason; from him we received a picturesque description of the town as it was, and was to be, from the purchase of a section of school land by Gleason and "Dick" Wilson, to its then state of completeness, and the great things in store for it to be realized in the near future, including a trunk railroad from Madison to St. Paul and the improvement of the water power at the Dells.
" Eau Claire at that moment could hardly be called a metropolis. It consisted of the hotel and real estate office already mentioned, Gage & Reed's saw mill, and the ferry boat, all enveloped in a halo of great expectations. I believe that Mr. Adin Randall had started some building operations a little below and on the west side of the Chippewa, but he was thought to be too far from the center of the city to sell any lots. It was only a matter of a few days before we were introduced to Mr. Wm. H. Gleason, Mr. Richard Wilson, Mr. Charlie Davis, and Captain Victor Whipple, all important men and pioneers whom we were to meet many times thereafter.
"Probably no more fitting opportunity will offer than this to pay a passing tribute to one of the most remarkable men I have ever known. Wm. H. Gleason came to Eau Claire in 1855 or 1856, after being two years sergeant-at-arms on the house side of the Wisconsin legislature. There he conceived the project of laying out a town at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers, and to that end obtained title to a section of school land, (Mr. Wilson was interested with him). The peculiar trait which differentiated Gleason from most men of remarkable mental activity was that he no sooner saw a conception of his own under way than he seemed to lose interest in it and flit to a new one. In his imagination he saw Eau Claire then as we see it today, but he had no time to wait for others to see it, so instead of sitting down to watch the new city grow he turned his attention to banking. ...
"The district was thought to be Democratic and a nomination equivalent to an election. Mr. McNalley, a lawyer at Chippewa Falls, and a Democrat, was thought to have a sure thing for the nomination, and consequently an easy walk over to the office, but there proved to be a cloud on his horizon that he had failed to notice.
"The senatorial district consisted of Pierce, St. Croix, Polk, Dunn, Clark, Eau Claire, and Chippewa counties; and all the territory to the northwest to Lake Superior . ... The project of a railroad across the Chippewa Valley towards the northwest had just begun to interest the settlers along the route, and live men everywhere were beginning to take notice. It was, of course understood that McNalley would naturally favor the Chippewa Falls route, and the Eau Claire men were unanimously for the Eau Claire route."
Bundy's article goes on to describe how the Eau Claire men help nominate and elect Captain William Wilson of Dunn county to the office of state senator for the Twenty-eighth district of Wisconsin. Wilson's company, of which he was a principal owner, Knapp, Stout and Company, built a law office for Bundy, and gave him all the time he required to pay for it, in Dunnville. Knapp, Stout and Company planned on building a large saw mill in Dunnville. which was the county seat of Dunn county, a little over 20 miles downstream from Eau Claire on the Chippewa River.For most of the last half of he nineteenth century, Knapp, Stout and Company controlled logging on the Chippewa River. Captain William Wilson was one of its four founders. Wilson had originally come from Pennsylvania to Illinois as a railroad contractor. See the essay: Knapp-Stout Co--perfect combination in Selected Articles from Our Story 'The Chippewa Valley and Beyond' published by the Eau Claire Leader Telegram in 1976. Dunn county had been carved out of Chippewa county on February 3, 1854. Bundy opened his law office in Dunnville, which was on the Red Cedar River a few miles upstream from where it joined the Chippewa River, rather than in Eau Claire as he had originally planned. Later he moved twelve miles north to Menomonie when the county seat moved there on January 1, 1861, and Knapp Stout and Company built a new mill there. For Bundy's reminiscences of 60 years later, see First Publisher of This Newspaper, 91 Years Old, Recalls Early Days, an article in The Dunn County News of August 11, 1921, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of its Digital Collections.
Another possible mode of travel by the McGoughs to Eau Claire in 1856 was by ox-drawn covered wagons overland from Lake Michigan, or from Rockford, Illinois.
B. N. Castle traveled to Eau Claire in 1857 by ox-team, and reminisced, 64 years later, that after he arrived, some settlers continued to arrive in covered wagons hauled by ox teams. See Pioneer Says Eau Claire Had Yeggs As Far Back As '57, an article in the Eau Claire Leader of July 31, 1921, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
In 1857, there was a stagecoach route to Eau Claire from Madison, Wisconsin, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
In The Eau Claire Times of May 23, 1857, there is a notice of lots for sale in Eau Claire on the west side of the Chippewa River in the Whipple and Bellinger addition. The ad says that the stage road from Madison to St. Paul runs through this addition. See Our Local History—Interesting Article by W. W. Bartlett That Mirrors Life in Eau Claire in the Early Days (page 2), an article from the Eau Claire Leader of April 28, 1907, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of its collection of Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles. [There are 49 articles on old Eau Claire in this collection.]
Before the rail connections from Chicago to the Mississippi River, a commonly used route to the Mississippi Valley from the east was through the Great Lakes. This route is described in The Mapping of the Great Lakes in the Seventeenth Century by Mark Steuer. (Reprinted from Voyageur Magazine, The Historical Review of Brown County and Northeast Wisconsin, Spring, 1984.)
"This is not the place to describe the ensuing voyages of Marquette and Jolliet. Briefly, Talon was adamant about finding a land route to the western ocean, in locating a southern passage to the West Indies, and in controlling Hudson Bay. Talon's priority was the exploration of the Mississippi River and he chose the experienced voyageur and cartographer Jolliet for this venture. Dablon assigned Marquette as the chaplain for this historic trip in 1673. The two reached the upper Mississippi by way of the Fox River, Lake Winnebago and the Wisconsin River. Marquette's manuscript map is the first to show accurately any part of the Mississippi River. Jolliet had lost all his maps and sketches in a canoe mishap. Therefore, Marquette became the chronicler for the expedition. Later Jolliet drew a map from memory, but it lacked many important details. He drew other maps of the region for the next decade or so. These maps are those of a trader's hand, not of a refined cartographer's. Cartographer Jean-Baptiste Louis Franquelin redrafted much of Jolliet's work."
This route involved reaching Illinois by means of Lake Michigan with embarkation at Green Bay. Milwaukee would have been another like source of debarkation and, of course, Chicago could be reached by Lake Michigan.
Numerous steamships were available from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago, in the 1840s and 1850s. The trip from the eastern seaboard to Chicago, including a rail component to Buffalo, took 5 days. The City of Buffalo - 1840 to 1850.
Another route would have been west on Lake Superior to Duluth, overland to the Mississippi River, and down the Mississippi through what is now St. Paul, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Chippewa River.
In the Railroad Maps Collection, in the American Memory Collection in the Library of Congress is an 1857 township map of Wisconsin, illustrating the Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road and its connections, by Jasper Vliet (map 6 of 10 Wisconsin Railroad Maps). The map shows a railroad line connecting with the main line at Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and running west through Eau Claire county along the north side of the Eau Claire River to St. Paul (shown on the map as St. Anthony). The year the map was published, 1857, was the year after my great-grandparents probably arrived in Eau Claire. The railroad track drawn on the map from Stevens Point to St. Paul was nothing more than a proposal when the map was drawn. No such connection with Eau Claire was actually established until 1870.
A website on Railroading in the Chippewa Valley (1869 - 1975) says:
"The first train arrived in Eau Claire on 1 August 1870 and it was a monumental occasion in the community. There were an estimated 10,000 people who gathered for the festivities, including Governor Lucius Fairchild and other state and local dignitaries. This first railroad line was the West Wisconsin, the successor of the Tomah and Saint Croix Railway Co., which surveyed the route in 1864-65. The line was to run from Warrens, near Tomah, to St. Paul. Its northwesterly route across Eau Claire county connected the communities of Fairchild, Augusta, Rodell, Fall Creek and Eau Claire. In 1870, Eau Claire was the westernmost terminal, but when the railroad bridge over the Chippewa River opened in October of that year, this opened up the western portion of Wisconsin to more railroad lines. In 1883 the new roundhouse and repair facilities were built in Altoona and the Eau Claire buildings were abandoned. The West Wisconsin line became part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway Co. The 'Omaha' was eventually absorbed by the Chicago and Northwestern."
More on the railroad history of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls will be found in Chippewa Falls and its Soo Line Heritage by Robert Barnier and Gregg Condon:
"Soo was first in Chippewa Falls
"The first railroad in the Chippewa Falls (C. F.) area was the Chicago & North Western through Eau Claire, ten miles south of C. F. This pioneer line was built in 1870 by the West Wisconsin Railway, a predecessor of the Omaha Road (Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha), which became C&NW. Chippewa Falls' first connection with the outside world of railroading was a railroad from C. F. to connect with the WWR at Eau Claire. That railroad was the Chippewa Falls & Western Railway Company Inc. (big title for a 10.25-mile railroad). Nobody knew it at the time, but this was to be the pioneer trackage of the Soo Line in the area. Constructed in 1873, the CF&W had one locomotive and one "beautifully appointed" coach, which an 1875 newspaper observed, "rides like a plank in a pond."
"The CF&W didn't enter the main part of the city, which is on the north side of the river. Instead, the CF&W had a small yard on the south side of the river-just about at the south end of the current Bridge Street bridge. From this yard, the line swung southwest toward Eau Claire.
"Enter the Wisconsin Central
"After seven years of being the only railroad in town, the CF&W was joined in 1880 by the Wisconsin & Minnesota Railway (eventually Wisconsin Central, eventually Soo Line), pushing its way west from Abbotsford. The railroad didn't cross the river at first; it terminated in the CF&W yard on the south side of the river.
"Enter the Omaha
"Now here's a real oddity. In 1881, the Chippewa Falls & Northerna construction subsidiary of the Omaha Road-built a line north from Chippewa Falls to Bloomer, Wis. This line eventually was extended to Superior. This company constructed the first railroad bridge in Chippewa Fallsthe easternmost of four railroad bridges which eventually would be built in C. F. Union Pacific is the successor of the Omaha/C&NW and still uses the bridge on this site."
Map 1 of 10 of Wisconsin Railroad Maps, in the Railroad Maps Collection is the Railroad and post office map of Minnesota and Wisconsin of 1871, shows the West Wisconsin R. R. passing through Eau Claire. For an in-depth look at these later railroad connections to Eau Claire, see RailroadWisconsinMaps and the 1891 Grain Dealers and Shippers Gazetteer, especially the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Route Map 1891 (the North-West Line), which shows main-line connections from Chicago to Eau Claire. The chart also shows connections from these ports at the eastern end of Lake Superior: Duluth, Minnesota; Superior, Wisconsin; and Ashland, Bayfield and Washburn, Wisconsin.
With the railroads, there came to Wisconsin egregious political corruption.
"The coming of the railroads created a new prosperity for Wisconsin farms and towns, speeding goods to new markets and connecting the frontier with the rest of the nation. But for Wisconsin politics, it was a mixed blessing. A new entity, the railroad corporation, now held an unchecked, corrupting grip on political power. Wisconsin citizens felt a disturbing loss of control over their lives and their government. ...
"Railroads made major donations to the political parties. They provided free railroad passes for political operatives. ...
"To secure a federal land grant in 1858, Byron Kilbourn, President of the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, authorized the pay out in stocks and bonds of nearly a million dollars in bribes. The Wisconsin Legislature later investigated in detail the payoffs. A list from the railroads documented the trail of money. Assemblymen got 5,000, state senators 10,000, the governor 50,000, in addition to payments to newspaper editors and many others."
Previously published on Wisconsin Stories—Laboratory of Democracy.
The rail connection with Prairie du Chien was opened in 1857, the year following the probable time of the completion of the journey of my great-grandparents from Pottsville to Eau Claire, 1856.
The Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad Company, originally the Milwaukee & Waukesha Railroad Company, incorporated in 1847, began building a line west from Milwaukee in 1851, and in that year reached Waukesha, twenty miles from Milwaukee. The road was pushed forward in 1852 to Milton, in 1853 to Stoughton, in 1854 to Madison, and in 1857 to the Mississippi river, at Prairie du Chien. The first regular train reached Prairie du Chien, in April, 1857. See Chapter 18 - Railroads of History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin (Union Publishing Company, Springfield, Illinois, 1884). (A William McGeoghey is listed as the father of Nellie Marie McGeoghey, born in Prairie du Chien on April 29, 1899. What is probably the same surname is also in the Crawford county birth records as McGaughy and McGavghy. Crawford County, Wisconsin, Birth Records.)
In his article, Milwaukee to St. Paul in 1855, General Rufus King, editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel, describes a trip from Milwaukee by land to Prairie du Chien that "followed very closely the track marked out for the iron highway that is soon to connect the city of Milwaukee with the 'Father of Waters'," and then by steamboat up river to St. Paul. He describes the route and state of construction of the railroad.
The operations of the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad Company were taken over by the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railroad Company in about 1860. In 1867, the road, through a change of name, became the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad line. See Railroad travel got on track in state to tie Milwaukee to western frontier by Dennis McCann of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff. The line shows up in the Railroad Maps Collection as the Madison and Prairie du Chien Divisions on the 1881 Map of the railroads and extensions of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Company by G. W.& C. B. Colton & Co.
In October of 1858, the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad was completed. Thus people and goods could travel from the east to La Crosse and up the Mississippi and Chippewa Rivers without having to make a steamer connection from farther down river. As this railroad moved west, goods and people made the overland journey to Eau Claire, on coaches and wagons drawn by four-horse teams, from stations of the railroadfrom Portage in 1857, later on from New Lisbon, then from Sparta. See Early Lumbering Days in Eau Claire Recalled, an article in the Eau Claire Telegram of May 16, 1916, in the Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles of the Wisconsin Historical Society. See also a Brief History of La Crosse County, 1841-1905. This last site contains a link to an excerpt from The Emigrant's Handbook and Guide to Wisconsin, which was published in 1851, three years after Wisconsin became a state. The Hand Book of Wisconsin, second edition, by S. Chapman, was published in 1855. This second pamphlet, at page 10, emphasizes the inducement of cheap land:
"After the lands have been surveyed, they are proclaimed by the President for sale, and those entitled to preemption by having previously settled on the land and made improvements have the opportunity of securing their lands in preference to any other purchasers. Lands not thus pre-empted are open to whomsoever may choose to purchase at $1.25 per acre. Our own citizens, as well as those of other countries, have at all times and an opportunity of purchasing rich and desirable lands at Government prices.
"By a law passed in August 1854, lands which had been in market more than ten years, were made subject to entry at $1,00 per acre; over fifteen years at 75 cents; over twenty years at 50 cents; over twenty-five years at 25 cents; ever thirty years at 12 1-2 cents."
of John and Catherine Fitzpatrick McGough from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania,
to Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Updated May 21, 2013
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