Why Manitowoc County, WI?

It is presumed the family left Buffalo and came directly to Wisconsin, settling in Two Rivers, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. They likely traveled by steamship through the Great Lakes. Ships would fill themselves with cargo and travel east to sell their goods in the ports along the lakes. Instead of returning empty, these ships would fill their cargo holds with immigrants wanting to go west. For stories on the travel through the Great Lakes see my Great Lakes Maritime History website.

At this point in time, we do not know why August and Sophia traveled to Wisconsin and settled in Two Rivers. It could be other Jonas or Schroeder family members settled in this area first and encouraged the couple to join them. It could be they saw an advertisement promising work perhaps in one of the local tanneries.

Manitowoc County

Many immigrants made their journey west to Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. The county line lies at 44 degrees, 36 minutes north latitude and is comprised of an area 644 square miles. It is divided into 18 townships. The primary focus of this document are the people that settled in the areas of Two Creeks, Two Rivers, Mishicot, and Gibson Townships.

When the first settlers came to the county they found it covered with a thick dense forest of mainly pine. Hemlock was also growing in great quantities, primarily near the area of Two Rivers. Tamarack filled the area of the swamps in the western section of the county. Along the banks of the streams and rivers you could find wild crabapple, willow and sumac, as well as hardwoods such as beech, elm, maple nearby.

In 1838, Manitowoc County was separated from Brown County and became its own entity. But it was not until 9 February 1850 that land known now as the town of Two Creeks became part of Manitowoc County. The land was first attached to the township of Two Rivers. Two Creeks township, where the Jonases settled, is the smallest in Manitowoc County. It is the 18th and final township to be established in Manitowoc County although, Two Creeks was the first place in Manitowoc County to be visited and settled by white men. Jacques Vieau, of the Northwest Fur Company landed on the shore in 1795. Vieau settled only temporarily in Two Creeks. Later Vieau built trading posts at Jambo Creek and later one in Manitowoc Rapids.

David Butterfield was the first white man to permanently settle in the town of Two Creeks (then still part of Brown County) On 21 June 1836, Butterfield settled in section 12, Township 21(T21) Range 24 (R24). This property together with land in section 1, no longer exists long since having been washed away into Lake Michigan.

Peter Rowley built the first house in section 24 in 1842. In 1847, Neal McMillian built a home on lot 1, section 25, T21, R24 (three miles south of P. Rowley). In 1851 several members of the Allen family launched the Milwaukee based Wisconsin Leather Company. They established a tannery in section 25, town Two Rivers. It was 315×50 feet long, consumed 7,000 tons of bark and tanned 60,000 hides annually. The tannery in Two Rivers township utilizing raw materials from the thousand or so acres of hemlock land supplied the Milwaukee retail outlet with leather.

August Jonas, our ancestor, arrived in the Two Rivers/Two Creeks area in 1852 and eventually engaged in farming. H. Johnson arrived in 1853. Johnson engaged for many years in the fish trade. He was followed by George and William Taylor in 1854. The well known hotel keeper, I.A. Immler, came in 1866.

Next: The family of August Jonas 

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