History Prehistory

Prehistory of the Wild Rose Area

As every Wisconsin school child knows by the end of the 4th grade, Indians once hunted, fished and cared for these lands we now call home. Bringing this history up close and personal develops a deeper meaning when reading through this first person account written in 1903 of Indian gardens, trails and settlements in the Wild Rose area.

From the Local Collection of the Patterson Memorial Library

"Indian Remains in Waushara County", by George A. Fox and C. Tagatz, published by the Wisconsin Archaeological Society, Milwaukee, WI. Incorporated March 23, 1903 for the purpose of advancing the study and preservation of Wisconsin antiquities. Volume 15, No. 3., published October 1916 in Madison, WI.

This article was written as a result of a state survey of possible Indian habitation and historical sites throughout the state at the turn of the previous century. They conducted a physical tour of any likely site and those mentioned by prime sources. Their survey came a scant 50 years after the ceding of land in Wisconsin by Chief Oshkosh. Over the next two years, Indians living on those lands moved either north or west to lands reserved by the federal government for resettlement.

Conducting the survey were Dr. S. A. Barrett, Dr. Louis Falge, H. L. Skavlem, L. R. Whitnet, G. R. Fox, and C. E. Brown. George Fox, who was also co-author of this report was at one time Director of the Nebraska Historical Society, Director of the Warren Foundation, and had connection and worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society on many occasions. The Warren Foundation was responsible for preserving a large stretch of forests and sand dunes which later _____________________________________________.

The Wisconsin Archeological Society made the first gift of Indian antiquities and implements to the Wisconsin Historical Society and marked many Indian sites in the state. The group was instrumental in noting and marking many Indian sites around the Madison area and along the Mississippi River and in the Sauk County area.

p. 113

"Physical— This county appears to consist of two great plains separated by a mountain chain. The whole area is sculpted by the ice ages which deposited over it great quantities of sand. In the east are level lands now filled in with silt and muck, which lie about the western end of Lake Poygan.

In the west is a great level, open prairie land, once the favorite hunting grounds of Indians, now the greatest potato producing region in the state. Here, too are found, farms rivaling the size of those in the West, stretching away into the distance almost as far as the eye can search, and covered with waving rye or the dark green of the low growing tuber.

Separating these level spaces is a broad chain of morainic sand hill and dunes, some rising to quite respectable heights. These extend in a southwesterly and northeasterly direction, lying at the northern side of the county close to the town of Bloomfield and on the southern line extending into the town of Coloma. This range of dunes comprises about one half of the area and it is among these hills that the poorer farming sections of the county are located.

The rougher portions of the county are in the northern area, the hills to the south breaking up into gentle slopes and open valleys. It is in this northern section that great numbers of kettle or pot holes are encounters, being especially numerous in the neighborhood of Gilbert Lake. Many of these potholes reach a depth of more than one hundred feet and while most of them are dry some have small ponds at their bottoms. Their slopes are so steep as almost to preclude the possibility of cultivation, yet many farmers are grading them down, assisted by nature, with the foliage and vegetation stripped from the soil, great quantities of sand and silt are washed into the depressions.

Occasionally, among these glacial droppings are found level plains and valleys, those about Silver Lake and near Mt. Morris being the more notable of the smaller ones. In the north, the largest of these valleys lying almost entirely within the oasis Township. This was once a large interglacial lake with its opening to the southwest. All of its waters having long ago poured away, the only reminder of the great sheet of past ages being the beautiful gem, Lake Huron. This area is the "Great" or "Big Prairie" of the early settlers and Indians, who, within its boundaries had located some of the largest and most important village sites."

Indian Mounds, Encampments, Villages

P. 119

Protheroe Group

"Hill’s Lake is about a mile in length from east to west. Its shores are well wooded and it is famed for the fishing which it affords. At about the middle of the north side on the NW 1/4 of section 2 of Mt. Morris Township, is an extensive village site, and a group of mounds.

Mr. Thos. Protheroe, Sr., an old settler on whose place these remains are located, states, that this shore of the lake was a great Indian camping ground in the days when

the whites first settled in this region. He has seen hundreds of Indians come and camp here for a short time. The usual evidence of former Indian camp life occur here in great numbers.

The mounds are constructed of sand and the elements are gradually leveling them. The highest in the group does not exceed two feet. With the exception of two conicals all are linears or ovals. On nearly all of them large trees are now or were at one time growing.

At present there are thirteen uninjured or partially remaining mounds. Mound No. 2 is the only mound of peculiar shape in the group, This has a slight knob-like projection at one extremity. As all of the mounds are built of sand this might be due to an old slide of material. No. 1 is cut at the east by a garden fence. Nos. 11, 12, and 13 lie partly in a grove and partly in a hay field. Of Nos. 11 and 13 but small portions remain. Of Nos. 12 and 1 a sufficient portion remains to give a good idea of their size and shape.

Nos. 4 and 10 are conical mounds. No. 4 has been excavated and only its circumference remains. Nothing was found in it. The sizes of the mounds are:

(Note: For the purpose of this report a "linear" is defined as a mound whose length is to its breadth greater than 3 to 1. An "oval" is a mound whose proportions are as 3 to 1 or less.)

No. 4 Conical 23 feet in diameter.
No. 10 Conical 24 feet in diameter, height 1 ½ feet.
No. 8 Linear 106 feet long. Width 18 feet at west end, 15 at east.
No. 1 Oval 40 feet by 20 feet wide.
No. 2 Linear 42 feet in diameter, 12 feet wide.
No. 3 Oval 35 feet long, 12 feet wide.
No. 5 Oval 30 feet long, 17 feet wide.
No. 9. Oval 36 feet long, 12 at east end, 18 at west end.
No. 12 Oval 27 feet long, 20 feet wide at fence.

Other mounds were formerly located in the cultivated fields to the west of those now remaining. Of these hardly a trace can be seen. Here too, stood a "fort" described as consisting of four long connected walls. From the number of similar structures encountered on other sites, it seems probable that this was simply another enclosure.

Round Lake Camp Site

A short distance north of Hill’s lake is a group of three lakes. They are situated in the Springwater Township. Of these Round Lake, lying wholly in section 35, is by far the most attractive. Its north shore is very high..."

For more information on Indian Mounds and to see first-hand a copy of this book, visit the Patterson Memorial Library.