Wisconsin Territory, 1836— ready for its 1st census.
The vast Wisconsin Territory originally included all the current states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, and that part of the Dakotas east of the Missouri River. The Wisconsin Territory officially existed from July 3, 1836 until the current—and smaller—State of Wisconsin was established on May 29, 1848. The history of the territory prior to statehood, and especially before mid-1836, is complicated. For more information you might begin with this overview. Here’s an outline map of the territory:
Section 4 of the April 20, 1836 act of Congress that created the Wisconsin Territory, required that
Previously to the first election, the governor of the Territory shall cause the census or enumeration of the inhabitants of the several counties in the territory to be taken or made by the sheriffs of said counties, respectively, and returns thereof made by the said sheriffs, to the governor.Act of Congress, April 20, 1836, quoted in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 13:247.
With such a large expanse of land, and relatively small number of white inhabitants, the Wisconsin Territory of 1836 was divided into only a few counties. Two of these, Dubuque and Des Moines counties, lay to the west of the Mississippi river and comprised the Iowa District of the Wisconsin Territory. (Both were enumerated in the 1836 territorial census, but I’ll let Iowa history fans follow up on those counties.) Here a map of the 1836 Wisconsin Territory counties lying east of the Mississippi River:Continue reading