Old Third Ward History

The Settlers
From here you get a front view of the whole scene — the Grand Chute, about a mile away, pouring its water over a rocky ledge. As it strikes the inclined ledge below it is beaten into a sea of foam, which like flakes of snow is carried down the stream at railroad speed. The banks around the bay are high, bold, abrupt, reaching to the water's edge, covered as usual with a heavy and thrifty growth of timber. From this camping ground a trail leads to another above the Chute, over which portages were made by the earlier navigators; it leads over the hills to the right, a long and tedious walk, but there is no other path, for the bluffs along the river shore bar the way.
-- John Wallace Arndt’s imaginary trip on the Fox River in 1830 from Chapters in Fox River Valley History

The area that is now the Old Third Ward of Appleton first belonged to the natives, was claimed by the French, passed to the British, and finally came into the possession of the United States. Initially as part of the United States it was the Northwest Territory, then Indiana Territory. Later it was part of the Illinois Territory until it became Michigan Territory. On April 20, 1836, it was included in the Territory of Wisconsin.

The early 1830's saw the native tribes ceding their lands to the U. S. government in large numbers. Traders staked out plots of land and other permanent settlers arrived. Ryans' History of Outagamie County mentions James Andrew Jackson ("colored, 1830") supposedly from around Nashville, Tennessee as one of the earliest settlers. Part 18 states" "Town of Freedom. -- The first clearing in the town of Freedom was made by a negro named Jackson ... He had an Indian wife and one child, and had a clearing of nine acres. The negro lived for a while on the Oneida reservation, leasing from the Indians ... After removing to Appleton Jackson acquired the title "General." He claimed his settlement was made in May, 1830. He died in September, 1879." In the 1840 Federal Census his family consisted of the following "Free Colored Persons": One male 36-55 years of age, one female 24 36 years of age and one female under 10. From Land of the Fox, Saga of Outagamie County: "Up near the Oneida Indian settlement a negro named James Jackson and his Stockbridge wife had their cabin in the early thirties."

One of the first permanent settlers in the Old Third Ward was Jean Baptiste Benoit (or Benois.)
According to a thread on ancestry.com Jean Baptiste Benoit was born around 1814 and was married in Little Chute in 1839. A biographical sketch appears in The Wisconsin Creoles. By the mid-1830's he had staked out about three and a half acres north of the Fox River just above the Grand Chute between what is now the north end of the Memorial Bridge east to S. Elm St. These maps from Theodore Conkey's 1843 fields notes show the original sketch and the current location.
After the land was surveyed beginning in 1843 he purchased his stake in 1845, sold it a month later to land speculators Augustin Grignon, brother of Hippolyte "Paul" Grignon and Green Bay businessman Daniel Whitney, then promptly disappeared. Descendents of Benoit state on ancestry.com that family oral history indicates the surname was changed to Londrosh or Londroche between 1839 and 1850.

Hippolyte Grignon and Jean Baptiste Benoit were the only original land owners who actually lived on their land. The rest of the land was sold to land speculators.

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Sources consulted:


Appleton Public Library. Appleton History - Land Sales.

Arndt, John Wallace and Lyman Copeland Draper. Chapters in Fox River Valley History...
     Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society, 1913.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records: Original Field
     Notes and Plat Maps. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/SurveyNotes/SurveyNotesHome.html.

Mackesy, Lillian and Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee. Land of the Fox, Saga of Outagamie County, [1949]. "Earliest settlers," pp. 32-42.

Raney, William Francis. "Appleton." Wisconsin Magazine of History. Vol. 33, No. 2 (1949-1950)

Rentmeester, Les and Jeanne Rentmeester. The Wisconsin Creoles. Florida: L. and J. Rentmeester, c1987.

Ryan, Thomas Henry. History of Outagamie County..., Parts 1 and 2. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association
     Publishers, [1911?]. http://www.foxvalleymemory.org/Ryans/indextext.html