History of Milwaukee, city and county, Wisconsin


More than forty years have elapsed since the story of the City and County of Milwaukee was presented in anything like a compact, comprehensive and accessible form. Since then the newspapers, the local governmental departments and various agencies have hourly and daily recorded the several activities of the community. These activities have grown in number, variety and importance, and have amplified themselves in so many diversified directions that only an assembling of certain leading farts will afford a true picture of the whole.

The current records have served their purpose and the needs of their period. These records, however, soon become obscured in the mass of things, and the important and more outstanding facts and events become imbedded in the mesh of routine and in matters of temporary concern only. Thus, the essential facts and data must periodically be rescued from their submerged state and brought to the light again, collected and arranged with order and sequence, and with a due regard for their meaning and import.

And since history is a continuous record of activities, tendencies and movements it demands not only their adequate treatment but successive presentation as well. The story which has been halted must be resumed and told to its finish, which means that it must be brought up to the present time, and left to the future to be resumed and told again.

With this thought in mind the History of Milwaukee, city and county, is approached, presenting in compact form not only the struggles and trials of a pioneer day and the story of humble beginnings but emphasizing the crowning achievements of a later period as well. In his treatment of the work as a whole the editor has aimed to deal more generously with the history of the past forty years and to reveal with reasonable clearness the forces and influences that have made for the growth and development of a great urban center of population. While the early pioneer and settlement period is by no means minimized it has been sought to accord the fullest measure of attention to the later period. It will here be recognized that the city secured in this period that economic, civic and social momentum which has reared it to its present splendor and importance as an American city.

A large part of the manuscript was prepared by J. Seymour Currey who wrote an acceptable history of Chicago several years ago and whose services as a writer on historic subjects have been recognized. The chapters on the Industrial Beginning and Achievements, the Commercial Rise and Expansion, the Milwaukee Harbor, the Auditorium and the Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Alt-Milwaukee to an American City were written by the editor in the belief thai his immediate identification with these interests and institutions qualified him to treat them more intimately and adequately. The entire history, however, has been written under the supervision of the editor who has spared no effort in verifying the facts presented.

In the treatment of these several subjects some of which are primary and basic in the city's growth and development, the authors have aimed to go beyond the mere recital of facts and events by bringing cause and effect into play and in drawing from them permissible and warrantable deductions and conclusions.


Table of Contents

Preface v
Introduction 17

I Discovery of the Great West 21
II Ordinance of 1787 37
III Discovery of the Great Lakes 43
IV Hail Carriers and Routes 53
V Indian Villages 61
VI Days of the Fur Trader 67
VII The Lead Mining Industry 77
VIII Solomon Juneau and His Family 83
IX Byron Kilbourn and George H. Walker 99
X Life and Labors of Andrew J. Vieau 107
XI Milwaukee in the Pioneer Period 113
XII The Lady Elgin Disaster 129
XIII The Great Milwaukee Fire 147
XIV Lincoln in Milwaukee 153
XV Immigration and Race Origin 171
XVI Beginnings, Dates, Events 189
XVII The Era of Internal Improvements 207
XVIII Industrial Beginnings and Achievement 219
XIX Commercial Rise and Expansion 257
XX Harbor and Marine Interests 569
XXI The Coming of the Railroads 319
XXII Banking and Finance 339
XXIII Life and Fire Insurance 369
XXIV The Chamber of Commerce 379
XXV Milwaukee Association of Commerce 383
XXVI The Milwaukee Post Office 415
XXVII The Milwaukee Auditorium 421
XXVIII The Municipal Government 435
XXIX Water Works Department 469
XXX The Health Department 477
XXXI City Planning and Zoning 481
XXXII Milwaukee County Government 557
XXXIII Woman's Suffrage in Wisconsin 565
XXXIV Participation in War 571
XXXV Roosevelt's Visit to Milwaukee 607
XXXVI Milwaukee Public Schools 629
XXXVII Higher Institutions of Learning 647
XXXVIII The Public Library and Museum 667
XXXIX Milwaukee's Musical History 675
XL The Progress of Art in Milwaukee 685
XLI Newspapers and Trade Publications 707
XLII Public and Private Charities 739
XLIII The Transition Period 755


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Edward P. Allis, for many years an outstanding figure in connection with the development of Milwaukee, became prominently known throughout the country as an iron manufacturer. The extent and importance of his business activities brought him to a place of leadership in this field of labor. He was resourceful, alert to every opportunity and possessed notable energy and determination, so that he ultimately arrived at his objective and the results achieved were of benefit to city and state at large as well as to his individual fortunes. He felt, too. that political questions are a matter of personal concern to every loyal American citizen and therefore he stood stanchly by the political organization with which he was allied. It is doubtful if he ever weighed an act of his life in the scale of policy, for his gauge was ever that of right and justice.