Madison, Dane County and Surrounding Towns, Wisconsin
In presenting to our readers the history of Madison, Dane County and Surrounding Towns, we do it with some degree of gratification; — not because we have the presumption to conceive that we have issued a complete work, or that it is free from errors; but simply because we have had so many kind helps rendered us in bringing the work up to its present condition, and without flattering ourselves that we have composed some grand strain, or even been in full harmony with all our parts, we have, at least, struck the key-note from which we have built up good, if not square work.
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Soon after Pere Marquette made his way to the Mississippi from the Lakes, this Western country was overrun by Canadian French voyageurs whose country, language and religion, were considerable aids to trade among the tribes of Indians, recently gathered into the fold of the Catholic church. There is no positive evidence that they were on this identical spot, but a probability, all but overwhelming, suggests their presence in the Lake country, because the Indians were here, and moreover, because the conformation of the country, the large and beautiful lakes, and other well known features, specially adapted this particular locality for the supply of peltry. There was a mission house at or near Green Bay before Marquette's world-famous canoe voyage by the Fox and Wisconsin rivers; but there is no mention by which our topography is identified until more than a century later, in the records of Capt. Carver, as published after 1768. His "Travels through the interior parts of North America" mate unmistakable references to the Blue Mounds, which he Knew, probably from the Indians, were supposed to be rich in lead. The captain shrewdly suspected the trappers of having purposely misrepresented the territory for their better security as to ulterior designs of their own. The Jesuit maps of the Lake Superior country, prepared a century earlier in Paris, were very good, considering the limited facilities of the priests by whom the information was supplied, but the operations of the Canadian voyageurs, jealously defending their trading privileges after their old home had passed under the rule of strangers, would be subject to very different rules.