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State of Wisconsin Genealogy

The State of Wisconsin was organized as territory on July 4, 1836 and entered the union as the 30th state on May 29, 1848. It has 72 Counties.

The State of Wisconsin is bordered by Minnesota (west), Michigan (east), Iowa (southwest), Illinois (south). It has a land area of 65,503 square miles making it the 23rd largest state. The 2010 population was 5,686,986. The capital is Madison and the official state website is

Wisconsin's largest cities (2010) are Milwaukee, 594,833; Madison (Capital), 233,209; Green Bay, 104,057; Kenosha, 99,218; Racine, 78,860; Appleton, 72,623; Waukesha, 70,718; Oshkosh, 66,083; Eau Claire, 65,883; Janesville, 63,575.

The State of Wisconsin is from an Indian word, but the origin is uncertain. It is perhaps an Algonquian Indian word that means "long river," a Chippewa/Ojibwa/Anishinabe word, "Ouisconsin," that means "grassy place," or "gathering of the waters." Wisconsin's state nickname is " The Badger State ". The State Motto is " Forward "

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Wisconsin History

Wisconsin was once referred to as the “fairest portion of the Great West.” Europeans first came to it in 1634, which New France sent Jean Nicolet to explore the area. He came to Green Bay's Red Banks on the shores of Lake Michigan that summer. Then he went back to Canada, having been unsuccessful in his mission to find the passage to China, which Samuel de Champlain had sent him to find. Louis Joliet, who was a map maker (cartographer) and an explorer, came to the area in 1673, along with 6 others. One of them was Father Jacques Marquette. Their exploration helped the French to learn more about the territory that later became the state of Wisconsin. They traveled down the Fox River, followed by the Wisconsin and the Mississippi. They were led by two guides from the Native American tribe known as the Miami. They eventually made it to an area close the the present-day border of Louisiana and Arkansas and stopped in a Quapaw village there.

In 1668, Toussaint Baudry and Nicolas Perrot, who was a Frenchman born around 1644, lived in New France, Canada. They were partners in a trading company. They were invited by the Potawatomi tribe to visit the Green Bay area in 1668. It was not the first or last time that Perrot visited with Native Americans. In fact, he was known for specializing in tribal diplomacy. His efforts led to many useful alliances with Wisconsin tribes throughout the last part of the 1600s.

In 1669, a mission was opened near present-day Brown County by Jesuit Father Claude Allouez. That mission was also a major fur trading post for the French until it ceased operating in 1728. In 1717, Fort Francis was constructed near the Fox River. It was later reconstructed by the British and given the new name of Fort Edward Augustus in 1763. Two years later, Green Bay was settled by Charles de Langlade and his family, making Green Bay the oldest of Wisconsin's permanent white settlements.

The United States gained control of Wisconsin when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. However, the British really controlled the area for quite a while after that. In 1787, Wisconsin became part of the new Northwest Territory. It stayed part of that territory until it became part of Indiana Territory, which was in 1800. Michigan Territory was formed in 1805, but Wisconsin remained part of Indiana Territory. However, all of Wisconsin became part of Illinois Territory on February 3, 1809, with the exception of Door County Peninsula. In 1818, Wisconsin became part of Michigan Territory, after Illinois gained its statehood. In 1836, it became its own territory. Then, in 1848, it finally became a U.S. State.

By 1850, two years after becoming a state, Wisconsin's population had grown to more than 300,000. Approximately two thirds of the population was born in America, while the other third were foreign-born. Those foreign-born immigrants came from many different countries, including Canada, England, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, The Netherlands and Norway.

Of those born in American who lived in Wisconsin at the time, about 20% of them were born in Wisconsin and the majority of them were children. Those who came from other parts of America were from all over, including the South, the mid-Atlantic region, and New England. People also came from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and New York. In fact, as of 1850, there were 68,600 people from New York living in Wisconsin.

One thing that researchers should be aware of about migrants or immigrants to Wisconsin is that most of them came there from their ports of debarkation or their home states. Although, some Dutch and German people did stay in other states before saving up enough money to more to the area. The same goes for the Irish, who came from both Canada and the east coast. It's also worth noting that those from New England, Pennsylvania, and New York typically made several stops along the way. Those stops can often be traced by looking at the birth records of their children. Those records can be found across the entire Northeast, as well as Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.


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