Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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City Of Oconto - 1871
 
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Many of the features on this water stained 1871 drawing of the City of Oconto are, amazingly, still there today.
City Of Oconto - 1969
Published in the Oconto County Reporter
 
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The north side of the river was mostly Tamarack marsh dotted with higher knolls and wooded hills. This was the hunting and fishing grounds for the original Indian residents.  The meat was smoked and dried.  Wild rice grew and was harvested at the mouth of the Oconto River each fall. Maple sugar was prepared in large amounts over fires in early spring and molded into cakes that were carved with designs, or pressed into birch bark mococks. Nuts and berries were gathered and dried. Herbs for spices and important medicines were also dried and prepared. Art pieces and musical instruments, clothing  and pottery were traded. Birch bark and woven containers stored these goods for winter and for the extensive trade along centuries old routes.  Even after the beginning of white settlement, the industrious Menominee continued their orderly lives, maintaining their social customs and tribal law. Literally hundreds of birch bark canoes were kept along the river, since native life included much family traveling.

The village of Oconto in the center of the maps was the site of the original Menominee Native American Village, from which both the River and the city got it's name.
The large Menominee village was on both sides of  the river south of Main Street (Y), stretching between Superior (Bay Shore Road) and Millidge Avenues ( area west end of end of Lamkey Street and north of the end of Maple Avenue). At the top of Sandy Hill was the village burial grounds.

Upper Main Street running through Oconto city
had previously been named Mill Street and parts were known as Indian Trail before 1871. The south side of the river was higher, level sandy ground and the old Indian footpath that followed the river on that side is McDonald street and First Street on these maps. The original winding Indian footpath lead to what is now Oconto Falls and Shawano.

French Town is the old settlement in the bend of the Oconto River on the lower left side. The original old Main Street was there in 1871.  Frenchtown's State Street was later changed to Brazeau Street after the early family surname.  Section Street on this map was later changed to Park Street.  On the 1871 map  are seen channeled the floating logs down the center of the river.  To get them to the proper mills for lumbering, each log was branded on one end with a hot iron, after cutting,  to designate which company mill had purchased it for sawing. The logs waiting to be sawed can be seen floating at each mill in this drawing. "River Rats" were the men who separated and pulled a mill's logs into the mill booms. 

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