Tag Archives: Blackhawk War

Black Hawk Grove


This historical marker highlights the second stop on Black Hawks journey through Wisconsin during the event that has come to be known as the Black Hawk War. 

In April of 1832 Black Hawk, angry about having his tribes home stolen from them, moved up the Rock River into Wisconsin with a small group of warriors, women, children and elders. They entered our state through Rock County. Their first stop was near Beloit at Turtle Village, an established Ho – Chunk community where the Turtle Creek meets the Rock River. Black Hawk and his people were offered some amount of help but the Ho-Chunk were not in any hurry to have the Government come down on them. They had enough problems of their own and didn’t need this on top of it. Accepting whatever supplies may have been offered, Black Hawk and his people spent the night then continued north and made camp along the bank of Spring Brook Creek in what is now Black Hawk Golf Course.  

With a water source right there and the bluff for protection from behind, this must have made a nice spot to stay and rest. It is thought that the band stayed for a couple of weeks, resting and hunting for food and needed supplies but these were in short supply. With Atkinson on their trail they moved north to Lake Koshkonong where they spent a good amount of time. As the white population grew in this area after the war there were stories that Tipi poles and camp fire pits could still be seen in the grove. 



Storrs Lake

marker (1)

This Historical Marker, and the lake it talks about is one that I wrote about last year in a post about County Parks. The marker is mounted on the side of the barn at the Milton House. Storrs Lake is a mile east beyond the Milton House, and is a lovely natural space with nice hiking trails and fishing. This lake is a part of the Historical Marker system because General Atkinson spent the night by the lake while in pursuit of Blackhawk during the Blackhawk War/Massacre.

The post about Storrs Lake and Blackhawk can be read by following the links the links.


Storrs Lake Wildlife Area


This is technically not a county park but this is one of my favorite places in Rock County. I spend a good deal of time out there and this is my blog 🙂 so this post is going in that category! You will find Storrs Lake just east of Milton, immediately north of the Milton House Museum on Storrs lake Road (This heads out of town toward what is now an industrial area). If you follow that road out you will come to a left turn; Keep going and you’ll find the parking lot and trail head!  Once you get past the new Hwy 26 bridge it’s a pretty little drive into the parking area.


Storrs Lake has a bit of history to it. During the Blackhawk War/Massacre, Brigadier General Henry Atkinson spent a night by the lake while in pursuit of Blackhawk and the small group of warriors, women and children that he had with him. They needed water and the lake was the only source to be had so unfortunately many of his men became ill from drinking the water. What a shame.

path to the little lake

This lake gets it’s name from one of the first settlers to the area that would later become Milton, Wisconsin. Nathan C. Storrs and his wife came to the area in the mid 1830’s and took out a claim across two sections of the county and Storrs Lake was a part of that claim. When Joseph Goodrich came to the area in 1838, he purchased this claim from him.

Ice Age Trail map courtesy of Portage County Website.

The Storrs Lake wildlife area is a part of the Ice Age Trail that winds its way through the state. The area covers 753 acres total. Of this, much is wetlands and also includes parts of Bowers Lake and another small body of water called Round Lake. The state DNR is working to manage the area in order to protect the wetland, grassland, and forested areas and preserve the habitats for the wildlife.


This is not a developed area. There are no amenities available like bathrooms, drinking water, grills or even trash containers. So if you visit take your garbage with you! (I always take a bag with me and pick up trash as I go)  There is, though, a single picnic table 🙂 There is also a small public boat launch down a hill from the parking area with a little dock. Quite a few people fish Storrs Lake. I’m told that there are pan fish, large mouth Bass, and Northern Pike. The parking area has very few spaces available but the limited amount is generally not an issue. The spaces are wider and longer than normal to accommodate boat trailers.


From the parking area there are two trails that go into the woods. Once in, they split off and you have choices as to where you want to go. One trail starts off paved but after a bit turns to a dirt trail like the rest. If you follow it all the way out you come to the spring, or rather what was the spring. It’s grassland now, but when I was young it was open water and you could watch the water bubble up from underground. If you are not familiar with the trails, it’s a good idea keep how you got to where you are in mind because, to the best of my knowledge, there are no maps of the trails that exist; except in the minds of people that are familiar with the area. That makes it a real adventure for rookies to the area! 🙂


It’s not uncommon to see a variety of different wildlife while hiking. I saw the most interesting bird today. It was small and dark with orange strips on the wings and down its body and tail. It was just beautiful. I have also seen yellow, blue and green finches while on adventures at Storrs Lake, they are pretty cool.


 One thing to keep in mind when hiking is that during the game seasons like Deer, Turkey and various waterfowl, there are hunters in the woods. I’ve been out and narrowly missed being hit by a stray shot. It’s always a good idea to know where the hunters are and make sure they know where you are. Better yet, just not be there when the danger of being shot is high.


This s one of my favorite places. Many of the pictures I use for both my blogs are taken there. It is so peaceful, and the energy is wonderful. If you’ve never been to the Storrs Lake Wildlife Area, I recommend you go. I am sure you’ll love it!

For more information about the area check the DNR website here.



Chapter One

The Beginning

The story of a community is not in its buildings, though buildings do have stories to tell. The story of a community is in its people. The brave men and women with a dream that work together to build that dream into a future for themselves and their children for generations to come. The story of Milton begins with a group of men with a dream but in order to tell their story I must first tell another.

That would be the story of a war.

Chief_Black_Hawk3Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Black Hawk war is also the story of a community with a dream for its future. This communities dream came to a halt initially with the Treaty of St. Louis of 1804. The validity of this document and it’s ramifications carried on for 28 years before action was finally taken between Black Hawk and the Americans. There were parties on both sides of this treaty that questioned whether it was valid but nothing was ever done to correct the wrong done to the Sauk and Fox Nations.

This treaty is actually a series of 14 treaties signed between 1804 and 1824. But, it is the original treaty of 1804 that set the groundwork for the Black Hawk War.

Black Hawk tells the story of the incident in his Autobiography written in 1833. A Sauk warrior had killed a white man and was in prison in St. Louis. Four representatives were sent from Saukenuk, their village, to St. Louis to negotiate his release. The representatives were Quashquame, Pohespaho, Ouchequaka and Hashequarhiqua. When this party returned from St. Louis without their friend this is what they said:

“On our arrival at St. Louis we met our American father [William Henry Harrison] and explained to him our business, urging the release of our friend. The American chief told us he wanted land. We agreed to give him some on the west side of the Mississippi, likewise more on the Illinois side opposite Jefferson. When the business was all arranged we expected to have our friend released to come home with us. About the time we were ready to start our brother was let out of the prison. He started and ran a short distance when he was SHOT DEAD!”

Harrison of course had a slightly different story. In his account he says that the party came to St. Louis to bring the warrior and turn him over to authorities for the murder of the white man, not knowing that President Jefferson had already cleared him because it was an obvious case of self-defense. Harrison said that the prisoner was shot “While trying to escape.”

There were a few issues with the treaty that the Sauk and Fox Nations objected to. The first is that it happened at all. The four Sauk representatives that went to St. Louis were there to negotiate the release of a friend not a treaty. None of these men was authorized to negotiate or sign a treaty. Such a treaty should have had the proper representation of tribal elders and warriors from both the Sauk and Fox  present.

The second issue was that the treaty was specific about taking possession of Villages along the Mississippi and Rock Rivers, which included the ancestral village of the Sauk at Rock Island. The village of Saukenuk was a well established village like any white village with permanent homes, streets and other structures. The residents farmed and fished. There was always plenty for everyone.

The third issue was the amount of land involved. The team sent to negotiate the release of their friend agreed only to a small amount of land on the west and east sides of the Mississippi. The finished treaty took everything from the Fox River in Illinois west to the Mississippi, up into Wisconsin and west from Illinois into Missouri.


 Map courtesy of Wikipedia

The fourth issue was that the treaty allowed the Sauk and Fox tribes to remain on their land until it was sectioned off and sold to white settlers. It would be at that time that they would have to vacate their homes. Prior to the war there were squatters on the land but none had been sectioned or sold to settlers. Black Hawk rejected the treaties authority and was determined to keep his people’s land.

President Jefferson’s Removal act of 1830 only complicated matters further and in the spring of 1832 after returning from the winter hunting grounds and discovering that squatters had taken over Saukenuk. Enough was pretty much enough. Black Hawk did his best to abide by the rules and worked to get the squatters out of his village but after doors kept being closed and being told to get out or else. The or else finally happened.

The war only lasted seven weeks. The native Americans didn’t have a chance as they were vastly outnumbered. The American side had 6000+ militia, 630 actual Army soldiers and 700+ members of Native American tribes not allied with the Sauk and Fox. On Black Hawk’s side there were 1100 people, 600 of which were women, children and men too old to fight.

It wasn’t a war. It was a massacre. But history is written by the victors.