After the American Revolution, fur traders began to settle around Lake Michigan. Milwaukee was in the center of it all, as a fur trading post for the French Canadians, Americans, and Native Americans in the area. Three men emerged to create the city we know as Milwaukee; the first is a French-Canadian named Solomon Juneau.

Image of Solomon Juneau, taken from UW-Green Bay.

Image of Solomon Juneau, taken from UW-Green Bay.

Juneau decided to name the area of land between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, “Juneau Town”. Land in this area was available to claim, and I imagine he got it for a relatively good price.

According to Juneau’s biography he was “heroic in size and character, generous by nature, just in all dealings.” He stood at a staggering six foot four – incredibly large for a man of his time. He spoke fluent French, English and various Native American languages. All of these characteristics made him an excellent nineteenth century fur trader and future leader.

Map of where Juneau's neighborhood is today

Map of where Juneau’s neighborhood is today

According to Google Maps, this is where Solomon Juneau settled. Today known more commonly as East Town and Yankee Hill, this area includes the Art Museum, the Pabst Theater, and Discovery World. Thanks Solomon Juneau, for claiming the marsh that would one day become the beautiful lakefront park we have today.

After 1818, Solomon Juneau became a predominant figure in the area highlighted above. He acted as postmaster and mayor, built the first courthouse and cathedral, established trading posts, worked with locals, and attracted people to move into the area.

By the 1830s, most of the animals in the Milwaukee area became over-hunted, likely in-part to the birth of thirteen fur-trading Juneau children. With fur business diminishing, Solomon Juneau turned his sights to expanding the area. He bought and sold land continuously to white settlers. At the same time, Native tribes were forcibly removed and were dying from diseases contracted from the white settlers; this ultimately opened the door for more European and American settlers to move into Milwaukee.

However, Solomon Juneau had competition for the Milwaukee area with two other men: Byron Kilbourn and George Walker. Can you figure out where these men settled in the Milwaukee Area? Come back soon to find out!

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