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History of Gordon, WI


The earliest evidence of human activity at what is now Gordon was a campsite found during construction of the new lane of the Highway 53 Expressway which dated to the Paleo-Indian period of between 5,000 – 8,000 B.C.   At the time of first recorded European writings of this region, the area that is now the Gordon Flowage comprised vast beds of manoomin (wild rice), giving the upper reaches of the St. Croix the name the Folle Avoine Country, “Folle Avoine” being the French term for wild rice.  At that time, a permanent Ojibwe village existed near the Gordon Dam, then known as Namai-Kowagon (meaning “Sturgeon Dam”) led by Chief Kabemappa of the Great Fish Clan.   Kabemappa was the Chief of the entire Upper St. Croix and thus was the signer of many important treaties, including the 1825 Treaty at Prairie du Chien, 1826 Treaty at Fond du Lac, 1837 Pine Tree Treaty, 1844 Isle Royal Agreement, 1846 Treaty at LaPointe, and 1847 Treaty of Fond du Lac.  Kabemappa’s village and the vicinity of Namai-Kowagon was a frequent stopping place and wintering post of fur traders, including the traders Joseph LaPrairie and Daniel Dingley, who respectively would become the grandfather and father of Sarah Gordon.   In 1832 Indian Agent Henry Schoolcraft made note of the gardens of pumpkins, squash, and corn growing at the village.  In 1847 Kabemappa was baptized and married at the St. Joseph Catholic Mission at La Pointe on Madeline Island, taking the Christian name of Joseph.  His wife’s name was Marie Pinessi.  Their marriage ceremony was likely the Christian blessing of an already existing relationship.  Joseph Kabemappa had two sons, Nodin (Wind) and Oshogay (Osprey), who also became noted leaders, and a daughter, Josephte Otchipewa, who married a St. Croix fur trader named Louis Babeux.  Josephte & Louis later relocated to Mackinac Island in Michigan.  Joseph Kabemappa eventually left the vicinity of Gordon to live at LaPointe on Madeline Island, dying there of small pox March 13, 1854.      click here to read more



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