Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Village of Fremont

The Village of Fremont is located on both sides of the Wolf River. Its population is about 300. There is no good crossing of the river for miles above and below Fremont, and this fact, together with the excellent bridge at the village, makes considerable travel to and through the town.

The village was organized in May, 1888, when an assessor and other village officers were elected.

The first officers, 1888

President, E. L. Damon
Clerk, William Sherburne
Assessor, Fred Gabel
Treasurer, I. N. Kinsman
Police Justice, William Sherburne
Village Justice, E. L. Damon
Supervisor, H. Randle
Trustees, Charles Hildebrand, August Lucht, Adam Walter, W. E. N. Roy, Fred Gabel, C. Kinsman

Officers for 1889

President, Dr. C. D. Eddy
Clerk, William Sherburne
Treasurer, I. N. Kinsman
Village Justice, E. L. Damon
Assessor, Adam Walter
Supervisor, H. Randle
Trustees, C. Kinsman, August Lucht, W. E. N. Roy, Herman Arndt, George Bergstresser, Albert Steiger

Fremont has one saw mill, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 wagon shop, 1 shoe shop, 1 agricultural implement warehouse, 3 churches, 1 high school, 4 stores, 1 hotel, 2 saloons, and 2 physicians.

Death of Wau-Ke-John

This noted Indian was a war chief of the Menominees.

Honored by his tribe, his noble qualities had won the respect of the whites, whose friend he was. His tragic fate was lamented by both whites and Indians. We shall give the particulars of the affair as they were given us by W. A. Springer, who was in the neighborhood when the chief was killed, and who saw him a few hours afterwards, and was present at the funeral:

During the summer of 1852, a band of about 300 Menominee Indians were going down the river in their canoes, bound for Winneconne to procure ammunition. Landing on the marsh, on the east side of the river, a little above Fremont, they met a Chippewa, who was on his way up the river. This Chippewa and Wau-ke-john were not on very good terms, having had some previous difficulty.

The Chippewa asked Wau-ke-john for a drink of whisky; and, upon being refused, shot the chief through the heart. A nephew of Wau-ke-john then sprang forward and buried his hatchet in the murderer's brain.

According to Indian law, it was his privilege, as the near relative of the murdered brave, to thus avenge his murder.

The murderer laid where he fell a day or two, when some of his tribe came and buried him near where he met his punishment. It was reported that the friends of Wau-ke-john cut out the murderer's heart.

Immediately after the murder, the band took the body of their murdered chief into a canoe, and carried it down to where the Village of Fremont is located. Landing on the flat near where the Presbyterian Church now stands, just below the outlet of Partridge Lake, they pitched their tents.

Soon after they landed, our informant, in company with another man, paid a visit to their camp. They were met by the dead brave's wife and daughter, who appeared in great distress, and who, with sobs, exclaimed, ''Wau-ke-john nepo! Wau-ke-john nepo!" (Wau-ke-john killed!) They were fine looking, intelligent women. Receiving an invitation, the whites followed the women into the tent, where they found six or eight Indians sitting around a small fire smoking very long pipes, and uttering a sort of mournful chant all the time.

The wife and daughter led them to where lay the dead chieftain, and showed them where the bullet entered the body, directly over his heart. The chief was dressed well for an Indian. He had on a fine, black frock coat, and was a splendid specimen of savage life. He appeared about forty-five years old. The chief's son, a bright looking boy, was with the party. Everything was perfectly quiet and orderly throughout the camp.

The next morning they got William G. Sherburne, a son of Alvah Sherburne, to make a nice coffin; and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon preparations for the funeral commenced. The Indians formed a sort of hollow square on the river bank, with the coffin and the chief's relatives in the center. Then the "avenger" and two others stepped into the circle. It was an impressive scene.

The avenger was silent, but the others spoke, in the Indian tongue, one after the other. Each speaker held in his hand, while speaking, a stick about three feet long, with which he made gestures while addressing the other Indians. The language, of course, was unintelligible to our informant, but the gestures were graceful and natural, equalled by few of our modern orators who have been spoiled by education. They were both old, gray headed men. The last orator frequently spoke of the "Schmo-ke-men." It has since been learned that, while extolling the deceased and enumerating his many virtues, he spoke of the respect entertained for him by the "Schmo-ke-men," (whites) his friendship for them, etc.

They divided his personal effects among his children, and then put into the coffin with the body the following articles: A loaf of bread under one arm, and a cake of sugar under the other. On his breast were placed his '' medicine bag," containing his flint, steel and punk, his war paints, and also a large silver medal, having on one side the likeness of President Polk, and on the reverse a white man's hand clasping that of an Indian, with the legend, ''Peace and Friendship."

The medal was given to the chief by President Polk.

They then closed the coffin. On its lid they placed the dead chieftain's war club, and his rifle. The club was of hickory, about three and a half feet long, and two inches in diameter at the larger end. The bark, which had not been removed, had the appearance of age. The club was carved at one end to fit the hand.

They put the coffin, with the rifle and war club, into a canoe and started up the river, accompanied by two or three Indians. The rest of them went on down the river towards Winneconne.

The body was buried at the ''bark lodge," near the ''Cutoff," two miles above Gills Landing. Messrs. Springer, Sumner, and Sherburne, with their families, and perhaps a few other whites, were present at the funeral.

Since writing the above, Hon. H. C. Mumbrue, of Waupaca, tells us that he thinks our informant is mistaken in one or two particulars, that Wauke-john was shot by mistake, by an Indian who intended to kill another with whom he was having a quarrel.

Waupaca County | Wisconsin AHGP


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