Search billions of records on

 The  Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
Collected and posted by RITA
This site is exclusively for the FREE access of individual researchers.
* No profit may be made by any person, business or organization through publication, reproduction, presentation or links to this site.

New Brunswick to Oconto County, Wisconsin


Please click on the map for a larger view
Green Line =  US Boundary Claim 1783
Blue Line = US Boundary Claim 1838
Orange Line = Great Britain Boundary Claim 1842

Information source used to make this original drawing was the map entitled "Maine Boundary Controversy, 1782-1842", and was published in The American Nation: a History from Original Sources, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906), vol. 17. 

New Brunswick, today, is in yellow.

Early History of New Brunswick

The rivers and coastlines of today's New Brunswick were inhabited by the Native American Maliseet and Mi'kmaq people for centuries. Their first known contact with Europeans began in the 1600's with the explorers of Samuel de Champlain.  Following, came French settlers to this new land called Acadia.

The British and French empires struggled over today's New Brunswick through the late 1600's until 1710 when the area became a British possession. Once Britain completed the defeat of France in 1755, thousands of French descendant Acadian residents were forced from their lands to distant places.

This boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick actually began in 1772 and lasted until 1842 when the Netherlands negotiated what is now the Canadian and State of Maine border. During this time Britain sent in rugged loggers and Maine sent in farming settlers. Clashes were common.

Loyalists to the English Government, living in the newly declared Untied States from Georgia to Massachusetts, moved into New Brunswick once independence was declared in 1776. The flow greatly increased starting in 1783, joining primarily British colonists living there. These refugees of persecution included people of British, German, Dutch origin, free Black former slaves and Loyalist who owned slaves.

The Province of New Brunswick was established in 1784 north of the Bay of Fundy,  with the City of St. John becoming the first incorporated city in Canada in 1785. The capital Frederiction was established farther up the St. John River.  Scottish and Irish immigrants began arriving in the 1840's during the devastating Potato Famine. They were joined by Danes in the 1870's.

1800's to Wisconsin

Significant numbers among the first settlers to Northeast Wisconsin Territory were from New Brunswick. Until 1867, when it joined the Canadian Confederation along with Quebec and Nova Scotia, considered itself an independent province. Woodsmen and loggers migrated in larger numbers once the lumber industry began to develop in the early 1820's. Bringing their Eastern skills, dams were built on rivers to power newly constructed sawmills and pine logs were harvested to float downstream in Spring for milling. There were no roads in this wilderness. Sailing ships brought the milled limber to market ports along the Great Lakes.  That set the stage for settlement in what became Wisconsin (1848) and Oconto County (1851) as well as explains why census information on early residents claim origin of birth as "New Brunswick" and not "Canada".

Scottish, Irish and Danes, who first immigrated through New Brunswick, Canada, came to Oconto County in the mid to late 1800's. Farming began to join lumbering as lands were cleared of forests. The result provided jobs in road building, railroad work and small industries such as cheese making, furniture production, grain milling and shipping, blacksmithing and other services needed by a growing population.

US and Great Britain Border Disputes

However, at the time of the first logging migration to Wisconsin in the early 1800's, the boundary between the US and New Brunswick/Great Britain had not been established.

Sixty Years of Disputes

During the fighting of the American Revolutionary War with Britain, which went on until 1783, the new US Government made boundary claims that included land Britain felt was their own. As always in history, residents were caught in the middle of this struggle between governments. In 1842 the border was settled after 60 years of dispute and residents in the disputed areas went to bed knowing what country they lived in.

The north-western border between Maine and New Brunswick had not been clearly defined by the attempt with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, that had ended the Revolutionary War. The treaty of 1783  had described the northeastern boundary of the United States as running due north from the source of the St. Croix River to the highlands dividing the St. Lawrence River tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean, and along those highlands to the northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River. Disputes over that definition lasted almost 60 years. The identity of the St. Croix was decided (1798) by a commission created by Jay's Treaty (1794). However, as no mountain range existed between the Atlantic and St. Lawrence systems, the question was submitted to arbitration, in accordance with the Treaty of Ghent (1814).

An effort to resolve the situation had been made in 1831 when the Netherlands sponsored negotiations. The King of the Netherlands, as arbitrator, designated the St. John River as the boundary, but this decision was not accepted by the United States. By the late 1830s, population growth and competing lumber interests in the area created the need for a definite boundary. Interest became widely known with reports of the "Caroline affair", which involved the seizure in 1837 of an American-owned small streamer by that name on the Niagara River. In the winter of 1838-39, the situation quickly deteriorated, with both Maine and New Brunswick calling out their respective militias. Maine farmers were interested in the valley's farmlands, and when New Brunswick sent Canadian lumbermen to do logging there, Maine authorities raised a force to eject them. New Brunswick asked for British regular military troops to protect their interests. Fighting seemed imminent. Gen. Winfield Scott was sent to the area with a small U.S. force, and managed to reach a temporary agreement in March of 1839, that prevented trouble.

As ambassador to the United States, Lord Ashburton negotiated with U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster concerning the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick. A permanent settlement was negotiated in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. The borderlines were set almost identically to those proposed by the King of Netherlands.

Born In New Brunswick
1860 Oconto County, Wisconsin
(part of Oconto County until 1879)

Stevenson, Robert: male, age 24, Lumberman
Stephenson, Issac: male, age 31, Manufacturer of Pine Lumber
    Stephenson,  Margaret: Female, age 30, Manager Lumber Co. Boarding House
Porterfield, John: male, age 18, laborer Lumber Mill
Brea, Alexander: male, age 20, laborer Lumber Mill
Cook, Samie: male, age 26, laborer Lumber Mill
Curry, Daniel: male, age 32, Lumberman
    Curry, Mary Ann: female, age 21
    Curry, Michael: male, age 23, Lumberman
    Curry, Elizabeth: female, age 18 
Curry, John: male, age 32, Laborer of Lumbering
    Curry, Hannah: female, age 27
    Curry, Michael: male, age 4
    Curry, John; male, age 3
    Samers, Melissa; female, age 10
    Curry, Eliza; age 32, Seamstress
Elwood, Michael; male, age 33, Laborer in Lumbering
Elwood, James; male, age 33, Laborer in Lumbering
Devine, Catherine; female, age 12, Servant
Bern, Cathern; female, age 33, living with Jacob Bern of France
Folin, William; male, age 17, Lumberman
Corcoran, Edward; male, age 30, Ship Carpenter
    Corcoran, James; male, age 6
    Corcoran, Mary; female, age 4

Town Of Oconto

Armstrong, Peter; male, age 42, Fisherman

Village of Oconto
East Ward

Millidge, Thomas; male, age 32, Merchant
Luber, William; male, age 28, Laborer
Connors, John; male, age 27, Laborer
Flagherty, William; male, age 50, Laborer
Cook, James; male, age 26, Laborer
Sergeant, Henry; male, age 22, Laborer
Ellis, Samuel; male, age 26, Laborer

Village of Oconto
East Ward

Millidge, Thomas; male, age 32, Merchant
Luber, William; male, age 28, Laborer
Connors, John; male, age 27, Laborer
Flagherty, William; male, age 50, Laborer
Cook, James; male, age 26, Laborer
Sergeant, Henry; male, age 22, Laborer
Ellis, Samuel; male, age 26, Laborer

Town of Stiles

Cool, James; male, age 28, Lumberman
Slaughter, John; male, age 24, Laborer
Sergeant, Henry; male, age 22, Laborer
McCurdy, William; male, age 30, Mil Worker
Anderson, James; male. age 34, Farmer
Farish, Dorcas; female, age 65, Seamstress
Baooey, Levi; male, age 35, Laborer
Cook, James; male, age 23, Laborer
McGovern, Peter; male, age 21, Laborer


White, Rueben; male age 21, Laborer

Immigrations Main Page

Back to the Oconto County Home Page