"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


   During the period of 431 years that has elapsed since the discovery of America by Columbus the territory now constituting the state of Wisconsin has passed under various jurisdictions. In the year following that discovery it was confirmed to Spain by a papal grant, but that country never took actual possession of that part of her domains. England also claimed it, basing her claims upon the explorations made by her subjects, and others in her employ, and granted charters to individuals and companies to vast tracts of land extending indefinitely westward, some of which conflicted geographically with each other.
 :  Practically, however, the upper Mississippi valley may be considered as having been in the first place Canadian soil, for it was Frenchmen from Canada who first visited it and traded with the natives. The names of Canada and New France were used interchangeably to supply to the vast French possessions of the American continent. The name Louisiana was invented by La Salle in honor of the French King, and applied by him to the entire Mississippi valley; but generally speaking, the Canada, or New France of the eighteenth century took in the upper Mississippi valley, while the name Louisiana was used only for the lower valley.
   By the Treaty of Paris, signed Feb. 10, 1763, at the close of the French and Indian War, Wisconsin became British territory and so remained for 20 years. Then the American Revolution, ended by the Treaty of Paris of Sept. 3, 1783, made it a part of the United States. The conflicting claims of the coast states, based upon colonial and royal charters, were ceded to the Federal government and the Northwest Territory was created, the "Norwest Ordinance" being passed by the Congress of the Confederation July 13, 1787, some two months or more before the Constitution of the United States was adopted (Sept. 17, 1787). Subsequently there were formed from the Northwest Territory, in addition to Ohio, the territories of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, the last on April 29, 1836. Wisconsin was a part of the Nortwest Territory from July 13, 1787 to May 11, 1800; of Indiana Territory from May, 1800 to Feb. 3, 1809; of Illinois Territory from Feb. 3, 1809 to April 18, 1818, and of Michigan Territory from April 18, 1818 to April 29, 1836, when it became the Territory of Wisconsin. It became a state in 1848 after several conventions had been held over a series of years to settle vexed questions in regard to boundaries. An account of the boundary disputes between this and neighboring states or territories cannot be here given, but the subject may be found ably treated in other works. For a good short account see Chapter XX in "The Making of Wisconsin", by Carrie J. Smith.


&nbs;  Section 9 of the Act Creating the Territory of Wisconsin, approved by Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, April 20, 1836, vested the judicial powers in a supreme court, district courts, probate courts, and justices of the peace. The supreme court consisted of a chief justice and two associate justices, and met annually to act as a court of appeals. The number of justices comprising the supreme court was later increased from three to five, and finally to seven. To each district court there was assigned a certain territory over which it had jurisdiction, and at times prescribed by law court was held in each district and was presided over by one of the justices of the supreme court. It was a common law trial court and court of appeals from inferior courts, with practically the same jurisdiction as that exercised today by its successor, the circuit court, appeals from its decisions going directly to the supreme court. When the territory became a state in 1848 the district courts were replaced by circuit courts, the change, however, being one in name only. The probate courts were the predecessors of the present day county courts and had in general the same functions, those of probate and record. In 1849, one year after the assumption of statehood, the probate courts were abolished and replaced by the county court system. The early justices of the peace had practically the same jurisdiction as those of today, extending over light misdemeanors and matters not involving land boundaries or debts of over $50. The limit of the amount of debt has been changed to $200, which is the only change of any importance that has been made in the jurisdiction.
   The territory was at first divided into three judical districts, in each of which a district court had jurisdiction. The First District comprised Crawford and Iowa counties; the Second, Dubuque and Des Moines; the Third, Brown and Milwaukee. When Portage County, including the present territory of Lincoln County and most of that of Oneida and Vilas, was fully organized for judicial puposes by an act approved Jan. 31, 1844, it was attached to the Second District. In 1848, when the state was formed, five circuits took the place of the three districts, and Portage County became part of the Third Circuit. New circuits were created as the necessity arose. The territory covered by this volume later became a part of the Seventh Circuit, comprising Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas counties, (the later then being part of Oneida county), was created under Chapter 41, Laws of 1891. This arrangement is still in force.
   In the matter of federal courts, the whole of Wisconsin, with Illinois and Indiana, is in the Seventh Circuit of the United States District Court of Appeals, and Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas counties are in the Western District of the united States District Court for Wisconsin, with the exception of the portions lying east of the line between Ranges 10 and 11 East, which portions are included in the Eastern District. Three judges, Charles V. Bardeen, Willis C. Silverthorne and Alexander H. Reid, have served the states' Sixteenth Circuit, Judge Bardeen from Jan. 1, 1892 to February, 1898; Judge Silverthorne from 1898 to 1908, and Judge Reid from 1908 to the present time.

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