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Home Collections The State of Wisconsin Collection Oshkosh, Omro, and Winnebago County, Wisconsin - Atlases and Histories

About the Collection

The Fox River led early French-Canadian explorers and later American settlers to the west shore of Lake Winnebago. In the 1840 census Winnebago County had 135 inhabitants; by 1850 about 10,000 had been added to that number. In addition to Yankees, there were communities of Swiss in Town of Black Wolf, Welsh in Towns of Nekimi and Utica, and Norwegians in the Towns of Winchester, Wolf River and Clayton. German settlers were scattered throughout the county.

As the lumber industry surged, Oshkosh became a magnet for immigrants from both the eastern states and Europe, reaching a population of 22,000 in 1880. Many of these immigrants later moved on to farm in counties further up the Wolf River.

Neenah and Menasha owed their prosperity to water power, as the Fox River drops on its way to Green Bay. Flour mills gave way to paper mills when wheat farming moved west. Omro and Winneconne served as social and commercial centers, supplemented by crossroads communities, often based on a general store and a cheese factory.

These digitized resources make up a comprehensive collection for research in 19th Century Oshkosh, Omro, and Winnebago County history. Two modern indexes, included here with the permission of indexer David A. Langkau, will also help the users find the information they need.

County-wide Histories

Pioneer life in the Fox River Valley by Annie McLenegan. This short study connects the history of the counties and communities on the lower Fox River: Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties.

Geographical and statistical history of the county of Winnebago ... to which is prefixed a general view of the state of Wisconsin, together with a census table from its first settlement to the present time by Martin Mitchel and Joseph H. Osborn, (1856). The first published history of Winnebago County, it includes an overview plus sections on each Civil Town.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest by R. J. Harney, (1880). Over 300 pages of history, both general and on the cities and Civil Towns within the county. There is a list of farmers by Civil Town, with section, number of acres and post office address, and business directories for each city and village. Index to History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest by David A. Langkau (1992) increases access by offering a list of names in all the varied forms and spellings used.

History, Winnebago County, Wisconsin: its cities, towns, resources, people by Publius V. Lawson, editor in chief. 1908. This history concentrates on urban areas and industries. Biographies of prominent businessmen are found in the last section of the book.

Biographical and Statistical History of the City of Oshkosh, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin: Its early history, progress, and present condition, prepared and published in the "Northwestern" (1867) provides more detail on the early history of Oshkosh, the county seat of Winnebago County and one of the fastest growing communities in the state.

Local Area Histories

Biographical and Statistical History of the City of Oshkosh, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin: Its early history, progress, and present condition, prepared and published in the "Northwestern" (1867) provides more detail on the early history of Oshkosh, the county seat of Winnebago County and one of the fastest growing communities in the state.

Westover, Ruth. Waukau, a history. Waukau centennial pageant. The Waukau Methodists, 1867-1986. These three items combine to give the history of Waukau, a once-prosperous village in the southwestern part of Winnebago County which has faded away. They are published here with the kind permission of Mrs. Westover’s daughters.

Turner, Mildred. Building for tomorrow -- Eureka United Methodist Church: centennial, 1868-1968. This item is published with the kind permission of the author.

Velte, Charles H. Historic Lake Poygan. This history covers the people and industries around Lake Poygan, primarily in the Towns of Poygan and Wolf River where the author grew up.

These three items record the history of the Welsh settlement which covered much of the Towns of Utica and Nekimi in Winnebago County and adjoining towns in Fond du Lac County.

Omro Histories

Smith, Miriam J. History of Omro. Loose leaf narrative written between 1970 and 1976. The rights to this material are held jointly by the Omro Public Library and the Omro Historical Society who have granted permission for the digitization and publication to the Internet.

Gadbaw, Clayton. Schools of Omro. 1943. A thesis written for Lawrence University.

Brooks, Warren. Early Omro. Based on stories told by Mr. Brooks’ father and grandfather.

Wright, P. M. History of Omro. Originally published in 1930 in the Omro Herald, which has granted permission for digitization and publication to the Internet.

Newbert, Millard. History of Steam Boats. Originally published in 1930 in the Omro Herald which has granted permission for digitization and publication to the Internet.

Early History of Omro; a memoir by an anonymous “Early Settler,” who has since been identified as Harry Wilber.

Gould, W. W. Map of the Village of Omro, Wis., with surveyor’s notes, 1890s.

Omro Photographs

75 images: photographs and post cards from the Omro Historical Society collection. Subjects include downtown, schools, churches, bridge, Fox River, and steamboats.

Atlases and Plat Maps

Geographic setting and land ownership information are supplied by Sectional Map of Winnebago County, Wisconsin. J.H. Osborn, 1855; Map of Winnebago County, drawn by G. A. Randall and C. Palmer, 1862; Map of Winnebago County, Wisconsin 1873, by E. M. Harney; Illustrated Atlas of Winnebago County by George A. Randall, 1889; Map of Winnebago Co. Wis., 1897; Standard Map of Winnebago County Wisconsin, 1902; Map and plat book of Winnebago County, Wisconsin: containing plats and diagrams of every city, town and village in the county ... Gorman and Saudea,1909. The rural maps show landowners, churches, cemeteries, schools, post offices and cheese factories. Because the landowners’ names are hand lettered on the plat maps, they are not fully searchable. For the 1862 map, use Index to Map of Winnebago County, 1862, by Julie Schmude. Use the third section of the Index to Illustrated Atlas of Winnebago County to find the Civil Town and section in which a person’s property was located in 1889. Follow this link to the 1900 and 1910 Winnebago County Directories on the Oshkosh Public Library‘s website for help in locating a person on the 1897, 1902 and 1909 plat maps: http://www.oshkoshpubliclibrary.org/. The 1873 map is searchable thanks to added indexing, prepared by volunteers Pam Grace and Kathy Gomoll of the Winnebagoland Genealogical Society.

The 1855 map was lent for this project by the Oshkosh Public Museum. The 1897 and 1902 maps were lent for this project by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

City of Oshkosh Maps

These City of Oshkosh maps show ward boundaries, subdivisions of blocks and lots, railroads, streetcar lines, schools, churches, governmental buildings, selected larger businesses and residences of some businessmen. The 1858 and 1868 maps were lent for this project by the Oshkosh Public Museum.

Biographical Information

Biographical information about early settlers and other prominent citizens can be found in History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest by R. J. Harney, (1880); History, Winnebago County, Wisconsin: its cities, towns, resources, people by Publius V. Lawson and Illustrated Atlas of Winnebago County by George A. Randall. This last provides a major source on residents of the rural areas, with over half of the 700 biographical sketches coming from the Civil Towns and villages rather than the industrial centers of Oshkosh, Neenah and Menasha. Index to Illustrated Atlas of Winnebago County by David A. Langkau (1988) gives access to names within these sketches, most commonly of family members and business associates.

Further sources on Winnebago County history

Funding

LSTA

Oshkosh, Omro, and Winnebago County, Wisconsin - Atlases and Histories is collaborative project completed by the UWDCC and the Oshkosh Public Library.

Oshkosh, Omro, and Winnebago County, Wisconsin - Atlases and Histories was funded, in part, through a 2005 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant. Additional materials have been added to the collection, funded by a 2007 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant. This grant provided financial support for public libraries to digitize and make available online, their local library resources. For more information about LSTA grants in Wisconsin, contact the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Division for Libraries and Technology or visit the LSTA grant Web site at http://pld.dpi.wi.gov/pld_lsta.