NEW DIGGINGS ON THE FEVER 1824-1864
The book can still be purchased from:
Southwest Graphics, Box 96, Darlington, WI 53530
The Territory and the First Census
Pages 48 - 52
But meanwhile, another momentous event had been building up in the territory. That part of Michigan Territory lying west of the lakes was about to become Wisconsin Territory. In May of 1835, delegates at a meeting in Mineral point had chosen George W. Jones of Sinsinawa Mound to become their first candidate for delegate to Congress from Michigan Territory. There were two other candidates, Judge James Doty and Morga Martin, both living in the Green Bay area. The election was an important one. The chosen delegate, although he would have no vote, might exert a powerful influence in securing desirable appointments and favorable legislation for his section of the country. If he were in harmony with the administration, he might bring his influence to bear in regard to such things as the franchise, appropriations, and the location of the capitol when the land west of the lakes was separated from Michigan Territory.
All three candidates for delegate were backed by newspaper the Green Bay Intelligencer backing Doty, the Green Bay Wisconsin Free Press favoring Martin, and the Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser standing staunchly behind the miner's man, George W. Jones. Doty conducted a whirlwind campaign in the mining region, circulating handbills, making stump speeches, issuing charges; but he was not popular among the miners. His conflicts with Jones and with Henry Dodge had done nothing to increase his popularity. The result was that, the eastern vote being split between Doty and Martin, Jones was victorious. the miners voted solidly for the latter and rejoiced when he was seated in December as delegate in Congress from Michigan territory.
On the seventh of January, Jones presented a resolution to Congress praying for the establishment of the new territory. Two weeks later, the matter was introduced in the Senate. Since the question of Michigan's statehood must be settled before Wisconsin could become a territory, the matter of boundary lines came up again. After some debate, the line between Michigan and Wisconsin Territory was fixed and the bill establishing Wisconsin Territory was passed, effective July third, 1836. It provided that a council of 13 and an assembly of 26 members, elected directly by the voters within the territory,
would meet annually in a capital city, location of which would be determined by the will of the people. The Governor and Secretary were to be appointed by the President. The three territorial supreme court members, also appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, with a marshal and an attorney, would constitute the remaining officers. Each biennium, a delegate would be elected to represent the Territory in Congress.1
When President Jackson chose Henry Dodge to govern the new territory, Dodge chose Belmont as a temporary capitol. The miners were delighted. At a huge Fourth of July rally in Mineral Point, Dodge took his oath of office, and "the center of political gravity shifted from historic Green Bay to the lead region." Doty, who had hoped for the appointment as a reward for his promotional ativities, turned to promotion schemes for improving transportation facilities in the territory and to land speculation in the Green Bay area as census taking got under way. While Dodge apportioned council members and representatives from the various parts of the Territory in preparation for the meeting of the first territorial legislature at Belmont in November, his friend John Atchison of Galena platted Belmont village, arranged for the sale of lots in what he hoped would become a thriving metropolis, and put up buildings to house the legislators.
Names of the various New Diggings settlers already mentioned appear in the census taken during the summer of 1836, these names often being misspelled. One assumes, for instance that A. Loonea is the Abraham Looney we have mentioned; that P. Shafer was Peter Sheffer, etc. For some reason or other, William Field's name was not included in the Iowa County Census. However, the many entries in his journal for that year supply plenty of evidence taht he was among the busiest of the busy men in the county. The name Robert A. Drummond (spelled Drummon in the census) appears with the added information that there were eleven other members of his household. This is of interest because it was either during or prior to this year that he is said to have invented the furnace for smelting lead ore that was to bear his name and that was even then superseding the inadequate and wasteful log furnace in the lead region economy. On July 9, 1836, Drummond inserted and advertisement in the Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser which read:
Real Estate for Sale
Subscriber having determined to wander some for the next year or
18 mos on acct of ill health of his family, offers for sale south 1/2 section
30 T1NR2E Wisconsin teeritory. The above property situated in the edge
of the territory at a point between the White Oak Springs and New Diggings
and well calculated for either farming or mining. Position and formation
of the country are such as to convince those acquainted with the mineral
region that it is beyound doubt as rich in minerals as almost any in the
mining country. The improvements on the place are not extensive but
convenient for any person that may wish to divide his time between mining
and farming. The above trats of land can be had on liberal terms for cash,
altho their value is incalculable.
R. A. Drummond, living on the premises.
Galena, July 9, 1836
According to the Dubuque Visitor of November 9, 1836, there were five Drummond furnaces in operation near Dubuque, one of which had smelted 100,000 pounds of pig lead per week, at that time. Apparently Drummond himself was operating such a furnace "with his base of operations on the road to New Diggings" in the 1830's. But for some reason he did not patent his invention. In august, 1837, N. A. Drummond and G. W. Fuller of Galena took out letters patten on the furnace and were credited in the Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser with the invention. In the History of Jo Davies County, Illinois, the same two men are mentioned as having patented the invention with no mention made of the inventor.
These facts led to some interesting speculation. Was the furnace invented in Illinois or in Wisconsin? When the furnace is mentioned by writers, it is credited to Robert A. Drummond "of Galena", but Drummond's relationship to William Field over a period of years as revealed in Field's journal suggests that the initial investment and possibly the materials for the invention may have come from Field.
By 1839, Drummond was indebted to Field to the extent of $228.50 "an twent too Dollars and ten cents worth of mineral." By 1840, the amount had increased to $733. Meanwhile, Field had taken over the administration of the "Drummon place" under the direction of, or with the consent ot the Corwith brothers of Galena to whom Drummond also had become indebted. In 1845,
William Hempstead wrote Field in behalf of the Corwiths that there was 'no prospect of Mr. Drummond being able to save any part" of his property. The half section was transferred to Corwith and Hempstead in 1847, Field's share having been paid.
Just why Drummond became indebted to Field is not clear.
But since Field was operating a blacksmith shop in 1839 when Drummond's indebtedness first appears on his books, and since the bill appears with the shop accounts, it is possible to speculate, at least, that he may have provided the fund or material for the invention, and that the furnace may have originated in " the diggins" of Wisconsin, rather than in Jo Davies County, Illinois.
The year 1836 which brought Wisconsin Territory into existence marked the beginning of the end of Gratiots Grove. Henry Gratiot died while on a trip East. His brother, John Pierre Bugnion Gratiot, who had been his partner in the smelting and mining business moved to Galena and later to Missouri. Although members of the family remained in the Grove for a time, the buildings gradually disappeared. Now only the Henry Gratiot homestead, rebuilt after a disastrous fire in the fifties, remains on the site of the once thriving village. 2
In the fall of 1836, the first meeting of the Territorial Legislature was held in Belmont. By the time that the session had ended, Madison had been chosen as the future capitol, thanks to the efforts of the untiring doty, who appeared at the sessions with a plat of the future city in his pocket and a promise of choice lots within its borders for legislatores. But the three principal offices of the new territory had been awarded to three men who had come into the mines from the southwest, --Henry Dodge, George W. Jones, and Charles Dunn, who were named respectively, governor, delegate to Congress and chief justice of the Supreme court of the Territory.
Small wonder then that William Field, another Southwesterner and now an established landholder and citizen of the new territory, embellished with scrolls, dots and dashes and entry in his journal dated 1836, which read:
1836 Mineral Pint
$3.00 in Ioway orders
worth 75 cents on the dollar
won a $5.00 dollar
par of boots on the State of Illinis
Giving the State to Cass
" " "
of A.A. Townsend
"...Full of Money and Becoming Wealthy" Pages 53 - 59
"New Diggings on the Fever 1824 - 1864" Lafayette County Homepage
County Coordinator Dori Leekley
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