MIlwaukee and the Men that Made Her

1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While traveling through Milwaukee’s Downtown, you may see street signs for Kilbourn Avenue, […]
January 31, 2016

1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

While traveling through Milwaukee’s Downtown, you may see street signs for Kilbourn Avenue, Juneau Avenue or Walker Street. These city streets are named after some of Milwaukee’s early entrepreneurs. However, before Milwaukee was founded, it was struck with years of tension that escalated into violence. The result of this tension was the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. The area we now know as Milwaukee was made up of three different “towns” that were later unified.

East of the Milwaukee River existed Juneautown, named after land owner and entrepreneur Solomon Juneau. Shortly after, Byron Kilbourn purchased large tracks of land west of the river. Kilbourn developed his land separate from the east, named Kilbourntown, which created fierce competition between the two areas—so much so that the roads were often constructed intentionally not to match the roads built on the east side, to discourage the building of bridges. The third town, much less developed, was founded by George Walker. This area, Walker’s Point, struggled to compete with the other two cities due to Walker’s personal financial troubles.

The three cities existed separately, but over the years the competition and rivalry intensified. Eventually, the Wisconsin Legislature required a drawbridge to be constructed between the eastern and western town. This was upsetting to both towns, as each one wanted to remain independent. Finally, tensions mounted to the point of violence in 1845, when the west end of the drawbridge was dropped into the river to deny access from those on the east. In retaliation, the east side destroyed two smaller bridges to deny access to those on the west side. After two weeks, the pressure exploded into violence between members of the east and the west. The Bridge War ended quickly, with minor injuries and no fatalities. After the dust settled, residents of both towns realized that a united town was the only resolution.

A year later, a committee was formed to join the three cities together. In January of 1846, a charter was approved and the city of Milwaukee was founded. The three cities of Kilbourntown, Juneautown and Walker’s Point were combined; Solomon Juneau served as the first mayor. Kilbourn and Walker would also serve terms as mayors of Milwaukee, providing all three a chance to lead the unified city. As you stroll the streets of Milwaukee today, notice the signs and markers signifying this early formation of our city—and remember how the three towns became one Milwaukee.

Byron Kilbourn
Byron Kilbourn (September 8, 1801 – December 16, 1870 (aged 69)) was an American surveyor, railroad executive, and politician.

Kilbourn was born in Granby, Connecticut. In 1803, he moved with his family to Worthington, Ohio, which his father had helped found that year. Kilbourn’s father was James Kilbourne, a colonel during the War of 1812 and a U.S. Representative from Ohio from 1813 to 1817.worked in Ohio as a surveyor and as a state engineer. He first visited Wisconsin in 1834, landing at Green Bay, and worked as a government surveyor in the area. He later deemed the area near the Milwaukee River to be a promising location for commerce, and he purchased land there. In 1837 Kilbourn founded Kilbourntown (present day Westown).

When working as a highway commissioner for the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, Kilbourn founded what was to become the City of West Bend in 1845, and Kilbourn City, now known as the city of Wisconsin Dells in 1857. Kilbourn became involved in the railroad industry, serving as president of the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad for about three years from around 1849 until 1852. He was fired by the railroad’s board of directors following allegations of mismanagement and fraud. He then started a new railroad from Milwaukee to La Crosse as a competitor with his former railroad. The La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad was chartered in 1852 and became the second railroad to connect Milwaukee to the Mississippi River. Kilbourn’s public career was ruined following a scandal alleging the use of railroad bonds to bribe state officials for land grants necessary to start the railroad. The La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad failed in the aftermath of the scandal and subsequent investigations. In 1868, a decade after the railroad scandals, Kilbourn moved to Jacksonville, Florida to relieve arthritis symptoms. He died there December 16, 1870, age 69, and was buried in Jacksonville.

George Walker
George H. Walker (October 22, 1811 – September 20, 1866) was an American trader and politician.

Walker was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and moved with his family to Illinois in 1825. He first arrived in Milwaukee on March 20, 1834. In June 1835, he founded the settlement of Walker’s Point on the south side of the Milwaukee River and established a fur trading post.

Walker served in the Wisconsin Territorial House of Representatives from 1842-1845 and in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1851. Walker also served as the city’s supervisor, register of the land office, alderman, and as mayor in 1851 and 1853. He was one of the builders of the city’s first street car line in 1859. He died on September 20, 1866 and is buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Solomon Juneau
Solomon Laurent Juneau, or Laurent-Salomon Juneau, (August 9, 1793 – November 14, 1856) was a fur trader, land speculator, and politician. He was born in Repentigny, Quebec, Canada to François and (Marie-)Thérèse Galarneau Juneau. His cousin was Joseph Juneau, who founded the city of Juneau, Alaska.

After landing at Fort Michilimackinac in 1816, Juneau worked as a clerk in the fur trade before becoming an agent for the American Fur Company. Juneau settled an area east of the Milwaukee River called Juneautown (present day East Town) in 1818.

In 1831, Juneau began learning English and set in motion the naturalization and citizenship process. By 1835, he was selling plots of land in Juneautown. He built Milwaukee’s first store, first inn, and was recognized for his leadership among newcomers to Milwaukee. In 1837 he started the Milwaukee Sentinel, which would become the oldest continuously operating business in Wisconsin. He was the first mayor of Milwaukee from 1846 until 1847 and its first Postmaster.

In 1820, Juneau married Josette, the Metis daughter of Jacques Vieau, a fur trader who had built a trading post overlooking the Menomonee Valley years before. Josette was the oldest of 12 children, and was Menominee and French by ancestry.Through her alliances to the tribe, and the relationships fostered through Juneau’s business in fur trading, it is reported that he was popular with the Menominee. After the treaty of 1848 between the United States and the Menominee, Juneau registered his wife and children as half-breeds of the Menominee Nation.

In 1854, Juneau and family relocated to Dodge County, Wisconsin, where they founded the village of Therese, named after Juneau’s French-Canadian mother. Josette died there in 1855; Solomon died one year later in Keshena, Wisconsin, on a visit to the Menominee tribe. He died in the arms of Benjamin Hunkins, his “faithful friend and constant nurse.” Six Menominee chiefs served as pallbearers at his funeral. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Juneau’s grandson Paul O. Husting would become a member of the United States Senate. The property that is believed to have once been the site of Juneau’s residence is now the site of the Mitchell Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Milwaukee name
The first recorded inhabitants of the Milwaukee area are the Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe (all Algic/Algonquian peoples) and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) (a Siouan people) Native American tribes. Many of these people had lived around Green Bay before migrating to the Milwaukee area around the time of European contact.

The name “Milwaukee” comes from an Algonquian word Millioke, meaning “Good”, “Beautiful” and “Pleasant Land” (c.f. Potawatomi language minwaking, Ojibwe language ominowakiing) or “Gathering place [by the water]” (c.f. Potawatomi language manwaking, Ojibwe language omaniwakiing).

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Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

DEBLANC, JEFFERSON JOSEPH
Rank and Organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Marine Fighting Squadron 112. Place and date: Off Kolombangara Island in the Solomons group, 31 January 1943. Entered service at: Louisiana. Born: 15 February 1921, Lockport, La. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a section of 6 fighter planes in Marine Fighting Squadron 112, during aerial operations against enemy Japanese forces off Kolombangara Island in the Solomons group, 31 January 1943. Taking off with his section as escort for a strike force of dive bombers and torpedo planes ordered to attack Japanese surface vessels, 1st Lt. DeBlanc led his flight directly to the target area where, at 14,000 feet, our strike force encountered a large number of Japanese Zeros protecting the enemy’s surface craft. In company with the other fighters, 1st Lt. DeBlanc instantly engaged the hostile planes and aggressively countered their repeated attempts to drive off our bombers, persevering in his efforts to protect the diving planes and waging fierce combat until, picking up a call for assistance from the dive bombers, under attack by enemy float planes at 1,000 feet, he broke off his engagement with the Zeros, plunged into the formation of float planes and disrupted the savage attack, enabling our dive bombers and torpedo planes to complete their runs on the Japanese surface disposition and withdraw without further incident. Although his escort mission was fulfilled upon the safe retirement of the bombers, 1st Lt. DeBlanc courageously remained on the scene despite a rapidly diminishing fuel supply and, boldly challenging the enemy’s superior number of float planes, fought a valiant battle against terrific odds, seizing the tactical advantage and striking repeatedly to destroy 3 of the hostile aircraft and to disperse the remainder. Prepared to maneuver his damaged plane back to base, he had climbed aloft and set his course when he discovered 2 Zeros closing in behind. Undaunted, he opened fire and blasted both Zeros from the sky in a short, bitterly fought action which resulted in such hopeless damage to his own plane that he was forced to bail out at a perilously low altitude atop the trees on enemy-held Kolombangara. A gallant officer, a superb airman, and an indomitable fighter, 1st Lt. DeBlanc had rendered decisive assistance during a critical stage of operations, and his unwavering fortitude in the face of overwhelming opposition reflects the highest credit upon himself and adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

*KELLEY, JONAH E.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 311th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division. Place and date: Kesternich, Germany, 30-31 January 1945. Entered service at: Keyser, W. Va. Birth: Roda, W. Va. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: In charge of the leading squad of Company E, he heroically spearheaded the attack in furious house-to-house fighting. Early on 30 January, he led his men through intense mortar and small arms fire in repeated assaults on barricaded houses. Although twice wounded, once when struck in the back, the second time when a mortar shell fragment passed through his left hand and rendered it practically useless, he refused to withdraw and continued to lead his squad after hasty dressings had been applied. His serious wounds forced him to fire his rifle with 1 hand, resting it on rubble or over his left forearm. To blast his way forward with hand grenades, he set aside his rifle to pull the pins with his teeth while grasping the missiles with his good hand. Despite these handicaps, he created tremendous havoc in the enemy ranks. He rushed l house, killing 3 of the enemy and clearing the way for his squad to advance. On approaching the next house, he was fired upon from an upstairs window. He killed the sniper with a single shot and similarly accounted for another enemy soldier who ran from the cellar of the house. As darkness came, he assigned his men to defensive positions, never leaving them to seek medical attention. At dawn the next day, the squad resumed the attack, advancing to a point where heavy automatic and small arms fire stalled them. Despite his wounds, S/Sgt. Kelley moved out alone, located an enemy gunner dug in under a haystack and killed him with rifle fire. He returned to his men and found that a German machinegun, from a well-protected position in a neighboring house, still held up the advance. Ordering the squad to remain in comparatively safe positions, he valiantly dashed into the open and attacked the position single-handedly through a hail of bullets. He was hit several times and fell to his knees when within 25 yards of his objective; but he summoned his waning strength and emptied his rifle into the machinegun nest, silencing the weapon before he died. The superb courage, aggressiveness, and utter disregard for his own safety displayed by S/Sgt. Kelley inspired the men he led and enabled them to penetrate the last line of defense held by the enemy in the village of Kesternich .

*OLSON, TRUMAN O.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, 30-31 January 1944. Entered service at: Cambridge, Wis. Birth: Christiana, Wis. G.O. No.: 6, 24 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Olson, a light machine gunner, elected to sacrifice his life to save his company from annihilation. On the night of 30 January 1944, after a 16-hour assault on entrenched enemy positions in the course of which over one-third of Company B became casualties, the survivors dug in behind a horseshoe elevation, placing Sgt. Olson and his crew, with the 1 available machinegun, forward of their lines and in an exposed position to bear the brunt of the expected German counterattack. Although he had been fighting without respite, Sgt. Olson stuck grimly to his post all night while his guncrew was cut down, 1 by 1, by accurate and overwhelming enemy fire. Weary from over 24 hours of continuous battle and suffering from an arm wound, received during the night engagement, Sgt. Olson manned his gun alone, meeting the full force of an all-out enemy assault by approximately 200 men supported by mortar and machinegun fire which the Germans launched at daybreak on the morning of 31 January. After 30 minutes of fighting, Sgt. Olson was mortally wounded, yet, knowing that only his weapons stood between his company and complete destruction, he refused evacuation. For an hour and a half after receiving his second and fatal wound he continued to fire his machinegun, killing at least 20 of the enemy, wounding many more, and forcing the assaulting German elements to withdraw.

DODD, CARL H.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant (then 2d Lt.), U.S. Army, Company E, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Subuk, Korea, 30 and 31 January 1951. Entered service at: Kenvir, Ky. Born: 21 April 1925, Evarts, Ky. G.O. No.: 37, 4 June 1951. Citation: 1st Lt. Dodd, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. First Lt. Dodd, given the responsibility of spearheading an attack to capture Hill 256, a key terrain feature defended by a well-armed, crafty foe who had withstood several previous assaults, led his platoon forward over hazardous terrain under hostile small-arms, mortar, and artillery fire from well-camouflaged enemy emplacements which reached such intensity that his men faltered. With utter disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Dodd moved among his men, reorganized and encouraged them, and then single-handedly charged the first hostile machine gun nest, killing or wounding all its occupants. Inspired by his incredible courage, his platoon responded magnificently and, fixing bayonets and throwing grenades, closed on the enemy and wiped out every hostile position as it moved relentlessly onward to its initial objective. Securing the first series of enemy positions, 1st Lt. Dodd again reorganized his platoon and led them across a narrow ridge and onto Hill 256. Firing his rifle and throwing grenades, he advanced at the head of his platoon despite the intense concentrated hostile fire which was brought to bear on their narrow avenue of approach. When his platoon was still 200 yards from the objective he moved ahead and with his last grenade destroyed an enemy mortar killing the crew. Darkness then halted the advance but at daybreak 1st Lt. Dodd, again boldly advancing ahead of his unit, led the platoon through a dense fog against the remaining hostile positions. With bayonet and grenades he continued to set pace without regard for the danger to his life, until he and his troops had eliminated the last of the defenders and had secured the final objective. First Lt. Dodd’s superb leadership and extraordinary heroism inspired his men to overcome this strong enemy defense reflecting the highest credit upon himself and upholding the esteemed traditions of the military service.

CLAUSEN, RAYMOND M.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, Marine Aircraft Croup 16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1970. Entered service at: New Orleans, La. Born: 14 October 1947, New Orleans, La. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 during operations against enemy forces. Participating in a helicopter rescue mission to extract elements of a platoon which had inadvertently entered a minefield while attacking enemy positions, Pfc. Clausen skillfully guided the helicopter pilot to a landing in an area cleared by 1 of several mine explosions. With 11 marines wounded, 1 dead, and the remaining 8 marines holding their positions for fear of detonating other mines, Pfc. Clausen quickly leaped from the helicopter and, in the face of enemy fire, moved across the extremely hazardous mine laden area to assist in carrying casualties to the waiting helicopter and in placing them aboard. Despite the ever-present threat of further mine explosions, he continued his valiant efforts, leaving the comparatively safe area of the helicopter on 6 separate occasions to carry out his rescue efforts. On 1 occasion while he was carrying 1 of the wounded, another mine detonated, killing a corpsman and wounding 3 other men. Only when he was certain that all marines were safely aboard did he signal the pilot to lift the helicopter. By the courageous, determined and inspiring efforts in the face of the utmost danger, Pfc. Clausen upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service.

DIX, DREW DENNIS
Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, U.S. Senior Advisor Group, IV Corps, Military Assistance Command. Place and date: Chau Doc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January and 1 February 1968. Entered service at: Denver, Colo. Born: 14 December 1944, West Point, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Dix distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving as a unit adviser. Two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the Province capital city of Chau Phu resulting in the complete breakdown and fragmentation of the defenses of the city. S/Sgt. Dix, with a patrol of Vietnamese soldiers, was recalled to assist in the defense of Chau Phu. Learning that a nurse was trapped in a house near the center of the city, S/Sgt. Dix organized a relief force, successfully rescued the nurse, and returned her to the safety of the Tactical Operations Center. Being informed of other trapped civilians within the city, S/Sgt. Dix voluntarily led another force to rescue 8 civilian employees located in a building which was under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. S/Sgt. Dix then returned to the center of the city. Upon approaching a building, he was subjected to intense automatic rifle and machine gun fire from an unknown number of Viet Cong. He personally assaulted the building, killing 6 Viet Cong, and rescuing 2 Filipinos. The following day S/Sgt. Dix, still on his own volition, assembled a 20-man force and though under intense enemy fire cleared the Viet Cong out of the hotel, theater, and other adjacent buildings within the city. During this portion of the attack, Army Republic of Vietnam soldiers inspired by the heroism and success of S/Sgt. Dix, rallied and commenced firing upon the Viet Cong. S/Sgt. Dix captured 20 prisoners, including a high ranking Viet Cong official. He then attacked enemy troops who had entered the residence of the Deputy Province Chief and was successful in rescuing the official’s wife and children. S/Sgt. Dix’s personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of the 14 United States and free world civilians. The heroism of S/Sgt. Dix was in the highest tradition and reflects great credit upon the U.S. Army.

FERGUSON, FREDERICK EDGAR
Rank and organization: Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army, Company C, 227th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and date: Hue, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1968. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Born: 18 August 1939, Pilot Point, Tex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. CWO Ferguson, U.S. Army distinguished himself while serving with Company C. CWO Ferguson, commander of a resupply helicopter monitoring an emergency call from wounded passengers and crewmen of a downed helicopter under heavy attack within the enemy controlled city of Hue, unhesitatingly volunteered to attempt evacuation. Despite warnings from all aircraft to stay clear of the area due to heavy antiaircraft fire, CWO Ferguson began a low-level night at maximum airspeed along the Perfume River toward the tiny, isolated South Vietnamese Army compound in which the crash survivors had taken refuge. Coolly and skillfully maintaining his course in the face of intense, short range fire from enemy occupied buildings and boats, he displayed superior flying skill and tenacity of purpose by landing his aircraft in an extremely confined area in a blinding dust cloud under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. Although the helicopter was severely damaged by mortar fragments during the loading of the wounded, CWO Ferguson disregarded the damage and, taking off through the continuing hail of mortar fire, he flew his crippled aircraft on the return route through the rain of fire that he had experienced earlier and safely returned his wounded passengers to friendly control. CWO Ferguson’s extraordinary determination saved the lives of 5 of his comrades. His actions are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself and the U.S. Army .

PENRY, RICHARD A.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Infantry Brigade. Place and date: Binh Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1970. Entered service at: Oakland, Calif. Born: 18 November 1948, Petaluma. Calif. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Penry, Company C, distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman during a night ambush mission. As the platoon was preparing the ambush position, it suddenly came under an intense enemy attack from mortar, rocket, and automatic weapons fire which seriously wounded the company commander and most of the platoon members, leaving small isolated groups of wounded men throughout the area. Sgt. Penry, seeing the extreme seriousness of the situation, worked his way through the deadly enemy fire to the company command post where he administered first aid to the wounded company commander and other personnel. He then moved the command post to a position which provided greater protection and visual communication and control of other platoon elements. Realizing the company radio was damaged and recognizing the urgent necessity to reestablish communications with the battalion headquarters, he ran outside the defensive perimeter through a fusillade of hostile fire to retrieve a radio. Finding it inoperable, Sgt. Penry returned through heavy fire to retrieve 2 more radios. Turning his attention to the defense of the area, he crawled to the edge of the perimeter, retrieved needed ammunition and weapons and resupplied the wounded men. During a determined assault by over 30 enemy soldiers, Sgt. Penry occupied the most vulnerable forward position placing heavy, accurate fire on the attacking enemy and exposing himself several times to throw hand grenades into the advancing enemy troops. He succeeded virtually single-handedly in stopping the attack. Learning that none of the radios were operable, Sgt. Penry again crawled outside the defensive perimeter, retrieved a fourth radio and established communications with higher headquarters. Sgt. Penry then continued to administer first aid to the wounded and repositioned them to better repel further enemy attacks. Despite continuous and deadly sniper fire, he again left the defensive perimeter, moved to within a few feet of enemy positions, located 5 isolated wounded soldiers, and led them to safety. When evacuation helicopters approached, Sgt. Penry voluntarily left the perimeter, set up a guiding beacon, established the priorities for evacuation and successively carried 18 wounded men to the extraction site. After all wounded personnel had been evacuated, Sgt. Penry joined another platoon and assisted in the pursuit of the enemy. Sgt. Penry’s extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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Kenny

Christian. American. Father. Husband. Friend. Brother. Son. Grandson. Uncle. Cubs Fan. Digital.

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