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From Mineral Point to Ste Genevieve and Back – 2010

Peter and me (Nancy) in front of our office on High Street, the "US Hotel", built in 1853 by Cornishman Hugh Phillips.

 Mineral Point, Wisconsin, is known as a Cornish town, and the Cornish did leave their mark — we love our Cornish-built stone buildings and our pasty — but the Cornish weren’t the first ones here.  The first non-Native Americans in the Lead Region, the founders of the town, were Yankees from the east coast, Southerners from Kentucky and Tennessee, “suckers” from Illinois, and lead miners from Missouri.

Mineral Point, when it began, was a wild and wooly frontier town, attracting dirt-poor hard scrabble diggers, educated second sons, land speculators, lawyers, and lawless desperadoes.  All of them had one thing in common — they were looking to get rich, quick.  Or, failing that, at least hoping to find adventure. 

Henry Dodge becomes the first Governor of the new Wisconsin Territory, July 4, 1836.

A few of them got rich, a lot of them died trying, many of them eventually moved on to the gold fields of California.  But some of them stayed, settled in, and formed a community, and then a state – Wisconsin.

One of those who stayed and influenced the course of our history was Henry Dodge. He was a hero of the Red Bird Uprising (Winnebago War) in 1827 and the Blackhawk War in 1832.  He was sworn in as the first Governor of the newly formed Wisconsin Territory on July 4, 1836, on what was then the courthouse square (now Library Park) in Mineral Point.

Most of us know that the city of Dodgeville and Governor Dodge State Park, both in Iowa County, are named for him, and that’s generally about all we know about him.

But he was a real person.  He was 45 years old when he came up the Mississippi with his wife, Christiana, their nine children, their slaves (yes, slaves) and who knows how many miners, friends, and shirt-tail relatives.  Like his father, Israel, he was a prominent person in the Ste Genevieve, Missouri, area for many years and had already had enough adventures to last a lifetime.  Yet, he pulled up stakes and moved up the River to a new life in a new Territory.  Why?

In September, 2010, my husband, Peter, and I travelled to Missouri to see if we could find some clues about  Henry and his relatives and their life before they moved north.  This is a loose collection of some of the research we did before we left, the photos we took and some of the things we found when we were there.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Mineral Point’s history, look at the website of the Mineral Point Historical Society, especially the History page.


6 Responses to Front Page

  1. Jeanne Schultz Afuvai says:

    This blog looks so professional! Good work, Nancy and Peter. You have a very interesting avocation.

  2. Penny Schultz says:

    What a fun way to take a trip with you, learn all kinds of interesting things, and see the sights! You certainly put alot of work into this and it shows. I don’t think I’ve found many sites as user friendly as yours. thanks for sharing

  3. Millie says:

    Nancy,I am just getting started reading your blog,and can see you put alot of time and effort into writting it……… a good history read………maybe you should send it to the history teachers in your school–I’m sure it is in their books,but to read an up to date report like yours would be special………

  4. Really interesting reading, Nancy!! It will take me some time to “visit” all the places and buildings you’ve listed, but I plan to get to them. So far I’ve learned a lot from your text, and have enjoyed the pictures, too. Good job.

  5. Brenda Dodge says:

    This is an interesting site….my husband is a Hispanic Dodge that is related to Henry Lafayette Dodge (DNA tested). It took us several attempts to find the truth but we finally managed to do so. Are you related to the Dodges? We have website at if you are interested. The trail leads west….before Henry L died at the hands of the Apaches he had 2 children with Juana Sandoval. It was often speculated that he had a a Navajo wife. Turned out to be Spanish.

    • nspwis says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the site. I’m not related to the Dodges, just very interested in the family because of the role they played in the settlement of the town/ region in SW Wis, where I now live. I came across your site about the Hispanic Dodges when I was trying to find more about Henry Lafayette — good site with lots of information. I, too, previously saw all the speculation about his Navajo wife. Henry L left another wife and children in Wisconsin when he went west — that wife was a sister of Pascal Bequette. The Bequette family were also early pioneers of the Lead Region who moved up the Mississippi River from Ste Genevieve, MO. Thanks for commenting on my site — nice to know it is being found occasionally.

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