Friday, March 30, 2012

Beautiful 1816 Document from Prairie du Chien

By permission of the Wisconsin Historical Society

The above document was composed at Prairie du Chien in 1816 and was donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society  in 2010 by the descendants of one of the  petitioners to Congress named in writing.  It is supposed to be in the hand of John W. Johnson, fur trader, one of the few persons at Prairie du Chien who could write well in the English language in that year.  The rest were French speakers.  54 individuals, mostly making their marks, asked Congress to award them legal title to their lands and homes, as their fathers or grandfathers had been settlers since 1755.  In addition to its historic significance, the document should be helpful to genealogists, as it attests to certain parties being residents as early as 1816, at least. The rest of the pages of the petition, in remarkably fine condition for its age, a transcription and more information in the form of a description can be seen on the society's  website at


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Alexander Robinson and the Occult

Alexander Robinson was the Anglo name of Chee-chee-pin-quay, chief of the Pottawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa Nation of Indians.   He was instrumental in negotiating the 1812 Treaty of St. Louis and the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien.  One can read more about Robinson here:

For services to the US government, Alexander, the son of a white man and a Native American woman, was given a large tract of land in Illinois, now called Robinson Woods, which in more modern times has  been associated with some strange doings, including paranormal activity:

 Here's a photograph of Alexander Robinson, whose Indian names means "the Squinter":

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Curing the Ague

During the 19th Century, the ague meant a fever, usually recurring, accompanied by chills.  Mainly it signified malaria and sometimes conditions difficult to diagnose in those days.  Dr. C. V. Porter, physician and historian living at Viroqua in Wisconsin, wrote these interesting observations sometime in the earlier part of the 20th Century when, apparently, such fevers were no longer common along the great river.

"Little does this generation know of the terrible chills and high fever, 105. or 6 degrees and the profuse sweating that made up a single day of the ague. 'Nothing but the ague' and to have it for months was terrible, and what fools we were not to adopt the cold water treatment.  Emmet Sterling, raftsman on the river, contracted ague.  He got dope from half the towns on the Mississippi and still he shook.  In desperation, at the height of his fever, when the skin was hot and dry, he got in between two logs of his raft and hung in the water. an hour or more and his ague left him forever. 

I was called one October night 40 years ago to Johnstown to see a worthless fellow delerious from malarial fever.  When I got there I found that Uncle Henry Lester had brought from the spring a pail of cold water, wrung out a sheet and wrapped the fellow up in it and had kept the sheet wet for an hour or more.  I found his [the patient] temperature normal and he was asleep.  He had no more fever for a week and then had dumb ague [lacking the characteristic chills].  To prevent this later, I took 2 grains of strychnine, two grains of arsenic, 40 grains of quinine and 30 grains of sulphate of iron, mixed them and made the mass into 80 pills and gave two pills after each meal.  I had ten cases of remittent fever that fall on the ridges [river bluffs?] and promptly cured them that way.  I gave the pills, six each day, on the 5th. 6th and 7th days after the last chill; on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th and 27th days and the malaria was done for."

The Courier of Prairie du Chien ran an ad in 1857 that exhorted:
Cure the Fever & Ague
Use Brower & Van Duzer's
Ague Mixture, 50 cents

One wonders what that potion contained.