John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
I often wonder what it was like to travel in the old pioneer days when there were no highways to travel on. The Indian trails were often the only way to get here. Waterways like Lake Michigan and the Eire Canal and the rest of the Great Lake provided the safest paths to travel by. The natural port was in Bay View near Jones Island, where Horace Chase and Clyborn had their warehouse after 1834. When you traveled by horse, you also had to cross streams of water, climb steep hills and ride on rocky surfaces in some areas. You had to get your food off the land as you traveled. Wild animals were then in abundance. Most of the Indians were friendly toward the pioneers, but you had to be careful not to give them any hard liquor, because they had no tolerance for it. Respect for the Indians often brought the travelers extra food and shelter on bad days. You had to be a hardy soul to travel in those days. Fort Dearborn (Chicago), Illinois was the starting point for many settlers coming here. Green Bay, Wisconsin was one of the largest cities here. It was also where you had to file a claim for any land that you wanted for yourself. Fort Dearborn and early Milwaukee had lots of marsh land in the main areas. It took a while for some of this land to be filled in by new settlers. The more skills a person had, the more money and land that he could obtain. Doctor Enoch Chase, the brother of Horace Chase (later the Mayor of Milwaukee), was one of the first doctors here. He settled in Bay View. He was one of the people who made use of Cream City bricks and later established glass works in Bay View. He delivered the first two white children born in Milwaukee. (Milwaukee Sivyer and Milwaukee Smith--one boy and one girl). He later pursued industrial interests instead of doing medical work. Imagine walking on a path that led you through the pristine woods, over various streams, over prairie grass and flowers into an area near three rivers and a large lake. Picture the beauty of the pathways. If you were injured, you had to go an Indian Medicine Man or to a Medicine Woman for help. There was no army or police to protect you. You were strictly on your own. Your determination to be free and to obtain virgin land to settle on, kept you on your way here. The land was great to farm on and plenty of wood was there to build your house with. Bartering with your neighbors was the means of getting things done then. Money had no value, but exchanging skills and labor were perfect for the times. Houses had to be built. Roads to travel on had to be developed. Government activity was not as strong as today, as there were little means to enforce some of the state laws. In fact, the State of Wisconsin did not exist until 1848. Wisconsin Territory was taken out of Michigan Territory in about 1836 and included most of Iowa and Minnesota. Upper Michigan became part of the State of Michigan because a compromise was needed to keep Toledo, Ohio out of the State of Michigan. If Toledo had gone to Michigan, then Chicago, Illinois could have been made part of Wisconsin. It is strange how things have turned out in our history.
If want to read more on this topic, go to your local library and read up on our pioneers, and the battle to make Toledo, Ohio part of the State of Michigan. You will be surprised to read up on how Chicago almost became part of Wisconsin. Take the time in the library to research this area of our history. Please support the Bay View community.