Wisconsin Genealogy & History Resources
County Seat: Superior
Parent: Unorganized Territory
* Records before the establishment of the county may be in the parent records.
From: Handbook of Wisconsin by S. Silas, 1855
This County was formed from La Point (sic) in 1854. A few surveys have been made along the shore of Lake Superior, and settlers are rapidly directing their course to that point. Though the most Northern county of the State, the winters are represented to be mild and pleasant. The present communication with the outer world is through Lake Superior or down the St. Croix River. A road is now building from Superior, near the mouth of the St. Louis to a point on the St. Croix River. The Bay of Superior, at the head of the Lake, is said to be the best harbor on the Lake. Superior is a rapidly growing place. The first settlement being made in 1853, and in the fall of 1855 numbered about 700. A newspaper is now published there. Prospectively this occupies an important point. It is the head of the chain of inland Lakes on the north-west. It is the north-western terminus of the Wisconsin system of Rail Roads. It is the point, and the main point, from which the Pacific Rail Road is to leave the Lake Navigation, and from this point the road is to be built.
A road is opening from Superior striking the St. Croix, and following down the Minnesota side which will be ready for use the coming winter. The land along this road is reported good, timbered with maple, lynn, elm, ash and white oak, interspersed with pine. The head of Lake Superior is about twelve miles wide, and forms two semi-circular points. The Southern, or Wisconsin point, is four miles long, and the northern, or Minnesota point, is eight miles long. The St. Louis and Left Hand Rivers meet and discharge their waters into the Lake between these points. Inside of the points the river forms a bay eight miles long, and from one to two miles wide, with from six to twenty-four feet of water. The points are from twenty to sixty rods wide, sandy grounds, covered with yellow pine and an undergrowth of whortleberry. These are the great summer camping grounds of the Chippewa Indians, and here large quantities of the Siskawit, Trout and Whitefish are caught in the Lake and around the entry to the Bay. The St. Louis River is navigable for Lake steamers for eighteen miles to the American Fur Company's post, sometimes called Fond du Lac, and is a succession of bays, islands covered with blue joint grass, bayous, and channels, among which a stranger would easily be lost in the at-attempt (sic) to navigate it without a guide. The Left Hand river is a narrow, deep stream, and can be navigated with keel boats for a distance of ten miles. These rivers abound in the Muskelonge, Pickerel, Pike, Bass, and other river fish.
The entry to the bay is sixty rods wide, with nine feet of water on the bar--is a hard gravel bottom, and does not shift.
The country to the north and south, and nearly parallel with the Lake, rises into lofty ranges of primitive and trappean rocks. That to the south lies about six miles from the lake or bay. Native Copper in regular and well defined veins--some of them ten feet wide, with distinct walls of clay and traceable to any distance--have been discovered on this range, and will be opened and worked the coming summer. The conglomerate and sand-stone have the same relative position to the trap that they have on other parts of Lake Superior. There is another range ten miles south from this, and running parallel with it, forming a beautiful valley between, and meandered by the American river, along the banks of which are meadows of blue joint grass, and well timbered with pine, spruce, maple, birch, red oak and cedar. The country on the north side of the Lake is bold, rugged and mountainous; and the coast from the mouth of the river to the Canada line, and beyond is what a sailor would call iron bound--precipices several hundred feet high, extending along the shore. The water is very deep and but few places where a vessel could anchor. There are three good harbors on this shore, in Minnesota--"Camp Harbor" forty-five miles from the head of the Lake, forming a bay about one mile wide, with an island in front, "Grand Marias" fifty-five miles farther down, is a circular inland bay, three-fourths of a mile in diameter, with a good entrance from the westward--and "Grand Portage Bay" and Island, near the mouth of Pigeon River, and between that river and Fort Williams, in Canada, are several fine bays completely land-locked, with good entrances, deep and spacious inside, and full of siskawit, trout, and sturgeon.
Isle Royal is visible here, about twenty miles to the south. Pie Island and Thunder Cape rise about one thousand feet above the water, and stand facing each other like the Russians and Allies, now and then throwing several hundred tons of rock from off their bald pates down to the bottom of Lake Superior. All of the streams except Pigeon river, and the river at Fort Williams are small, and fall rapidly from the mountains several hundred feet, in beautiful cascades, some of which are over a hundred feet deep. These streams contain speckled trout of a large size, and weighing sometimes over ten pounds. Numerous small lakes lie inland, around which on beaten trails roam herds of Red Deer, together with rabbits and partridges.
The ranges of mountains are of various kinds of rock, coarse granite of different colors, and stone, grey and red trap, amigdaloyd (sic), greenstone, and slate--the latter sticking up edgewise--with spar veins of the sulphuret of copper and iron from ten to twenty feet wide, some crossing the regular formation of rock, and others running with it. Native copper, also, in smaller veins is found.
This section contains links to websites that have multiple databases or webpages with genealogical information.
Birth, Death, & Marriage Records:
Earliest Registration Dates*:
Douglas County Register-deeds:
1313 Belknap St
P.O. Box 847
Superior, WI 54880-2794
Telephone: (715) 395-1359
Censuses contain valuable information about families. This section contains links to transcribed censuses, census indexes or census images for the county.
This section contains links to family tree websites, biographies and information about individuals that lived in the county.
This section contains links of published histories and historical information about the county, its villages, cities or towns. Sometimes within these histories is information about founders, or other people that settled in the area. It may also include ethnic or religious histories of the communities.