ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin




Elizabeth and Mound Streets are a former Native American burial ground.  Early settlers knew this but built on it anyway.

There were several sites in town in the very early days, but they were plowed under.

This may have been a burial spot for Pottawatomies or their neighbors here, the Ho-Chunk.  – Bill Jannke note



               Early recollection of, James Rogan, in Watertown



AN ACT to suppress the sale of intoxicating liquors to Indians  



08 15       Hostile marauding Indians infest the whole line from Fort Kearny to South Pass, a distance of 500 miles, and daily commit new outrages, making forays on stock and burning trains.  A great number of travelers are now stopping at Fort Kearny for protection and waiting for arms.  The Indians, in bands from 10 to 100, move with celerity and, possessing a thorough knowledge of the country, elude pursuit.  The telegraph line is still in good order, notwithstanding these troubles.   WD


08 25       LETTER FROM THE PLAINS: Peter Rogan has had his share of difficulty and peril

The following letter, written by an individual who formerly resided here, will give some idea of the dangers and losses experienced by emigrants in crossing our vast western plains, now swarming with roving and plundering bands of hostile Indians.  It will be seen that Mr. Peter Rogan, one of the pioneers of this city, has had his share of difficulty and peril while on his toilsome journey with his family to his new Rocky Mountain home, which, it is to be hoped, he will finally reach in safety.


North Platte Bridge, Idaho Territory, August 2nd, 1864.


Dear Friend – You, no doubt, would be glad to hear from me again.  I am glad to say we are well and thus far have journeyed along without any serious misfortune or difficulty, while others have lost both their property and lives.  The Indians, just in this vicinity, are very hostile and many of the emigrants have suffered much.  Thirty five miles below here our little train of six wagons with some seven or eight men, were surprised by a band of some forty Indians on horseback, while camped at noon, and stampeded four of our horses – all belonging to Mr. Peter Rogan of Watertown, whom we happened to meet on the way. 


The circumstances are these:  A train twelve miles above us lost twenty five horses by the Indians and eleven of the party came back on horseback to look for them and stopped at our camp, while we were eating our dinner, and related the incident and put along.  In about fifteen minutes we saw down the road some thirty or forty Indians in hot pursuit of these men, whom they had come in contact with.  They were firing guns and shooting arrows as fast as possible.  One of the men road into our camp with seven arrows sticking in his body and limbs, and the blood running out of his shoes.  Two men were killed and one or two Indians in the fight.  The Indians then rode up where our stock was grazing, took Mr. Rogan’s horses, all the team he had.  His family is with us.  We are prepared for a battle with them.  They shot four of our cattle with arrows – one died – but as luck would have it, all of mine, out of twenty one, escaped.  But they took the horses and left, and we were thankful to get off with our lives.  We then hitched our wagons and overtook another train.  Our train is now so large that we feel comparatively safe, but we expect to have difficulty yet, as the Indians have declared war on the emigrants of this route.  We intend to fight them right up to the handle.  It is life or death now.  But I do not fear, so borrow no trouble, for I think we will get through safe.  I will write you again the first opportunity.  Please direct your letters to me at Banneck City, Idaho.


Yours, etc.,

Mark Boughton            WD



A Fort Kearney dispatch of the 23rd says:  Maj. Gen. Curtiss has arrived here to straighten up Indian affairs.  The Overland Stage Company has removed all their agents, stock, and coaches to this post for protection.  There is not a white inhabitant between here and Denver.  All have fled to the posts for protection.  The country around Denver is reported as swarming with hostile Indians.  The road between here and Denver is almost deserted by whites, except for two fortified posts, Columbus and fort Curtis.  Gen Curtis had a conference with the chiefs of the Pawnee tribe, who agreed to assist him in fighting the hostile Indians.   WD




On Wednesday evening, November 29th, an exhibition of a party of Decotah Indians of different Sioux bands will take place at Cole’s Hall in this city for the purpose of showing the manners, habits and customs of this singular race.


“Messrs. Fairbault & Co. are perfectly reliable men and there are no deceptions in their representations of Indian character.  There is nothing in their representations but what is actually correct, a literal representation of the manners and customs of his people.  Their war dances, incantations, mode of worship, death songs, teepee scenes, mode of life and habits, are simply a representation of what every frontier settler has witnessed many times in the camps of these people before the massacre of 1862.”    WD



05 11       For the past week or more a straggling band of Indians, the puny representatives for a tribe once strong and numerous, but now nearly extinct, have been strolling aimlessly about the city, seeking to gratify their own idle curiosities.  Possessed of stolid sense of that which is odd and fantastic, they go from store to store, peeping into the windows, and whenever they see any object peculiarly fascinating, they stop to admire it, doubtless wishing at the same time they had the wherewith to buy.  Harmless to a degree, these begrimed, unkempt, and squalid looking beings, sauntering doggedly along in almost utter wretchedness, they appear as unconcerned about the affairs of men as children.  Shambling up and down the streets in single file, with a retinue of boys usually following in the train, nothing seems to disturb them into anything like an excitement and no one knows how bright or dull is their life . . .   WD



12 25       One day last week the skeleton of a human being was unearthed in a sand pit at the Crangle farm in the Third ward by John Burns, a sand dealer.  It is supposed to be the remains of an Indian as no knowledge is at hand of a white person having been interred there.   WR


CROSS REFERENCE:  Three years later, in 1898, workmen unearthed the skeletons of two persons.  One was supposed to be the remains of an Indian and a portion of a gun was found near the bones.  The other remains appear to have been a child.  In 1941 thirty human skeletons were found when a sand pit was developed in the area [WDT].  



09 14       While excavating in Crangle's field south of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway track yesterday, the workmen unearthed the skeletons of two persons.  One is supposed to be the remains of an Indian and a portion of a gun was found near the bones.  The other remains appear to have been a child.  Indications point to the fact that at an early day the place was used as a burying ground, but since the city was first settled no records show that white people found a resting place there.   The place of the find is on the banks of Rock River, about eighty rods south of the railroad bridge.   WR



Cross References:


100 huts near Boughton's bridge


1861, A “Big Ingin” Scare

Indians, Winnebago

Petty thefts, whipping of


Indian Hill

1860s, Mention of

Indian John

1847, Old Menomonee, sad remnant of once numerous band

Indian War





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin