Chief Oshkosh

Biography of Chief Oshkosh

Mural of Oshkosh Trial
The mural on the right wall of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Hearing Room shows the trial of Chief Oshkosh of the Menominees for the slaying of a member of another tribe who had killed a Menominee in a hunting accident. It was shown that under Menominee custom, relatives of a slain member could kill his slayer. Judge James Duane Doty held that in this case territorial law did not apply. Judge Doty acquitted Chief Oshkosh of the charge and they became friends.

“The old king” died in 1821, while on a visit to Prairie du Chien with some of his relatives. He was then 100 years old and nearly blind. He was a man of good sense, but no public speaker, and was highly esteemed by his nation. His certificate as grand chief, given by Governor Haldimond of Canada, in 1778, is in the rooms of the Historical society at Madison.

In 1728 when the French and Indian army came against the Wisconsin Indians, they attacked a Menomonee village on the west shore of Green Bay. At the same time the Sacs were located on the present site of Green Bay. “Old King’s village” was half a mile up river from the old French fort at the bay, until the Menomonee were removed to Poygan in 1836, and must have been located about 1740. It was there in 1763 and hence was about a century old. His grandsons, Oshkosh and “young man,” led their tribe to Poygan in 1836. and Oshkosh resisted many attempts of the government to induce them to remove west of the Mississippi river, and in 1856, led their tribe up the Wolf river to their present reservation located within a few miles of their ancient home on the banks of the bay.

Old Carron or Vieux Carron, said to be the son of a French trader, was born about 1700 and died in “the old king’s village” in 1780 He was a fierce old warrior, having served in all the French wars and with Montcalm on the heights of Abraham. He assisted Lieutenant Gorrill, with the English garrison, to escape from the Green Bay post in 1763, when the Pontiac Beaver war was on. Sir William Johnson sent a certificate to Ogemaunee for this service which must have been his Indian name. He was for many years head orator. His children were Glade, Tomah, Shequanene, Iometah and three daughters.

Glade, or Glode, or Con-note, the son of old Carron, was born in 1739. He was the orator of the tribe, and a fine speaker, who made sensible remarks and to the point. He was a very successful hunter and trapper and great warrior, going on the war path for the French, and fought on the plains of Abraham and he took an active part with the English in the American Revolution. In the fall of 1803 he was on a hunt with his two wives and five children and all contracting some malady, they all died, except two children. His only surviving son was Carron, made chief at Little Buttes des Morts the same day with Oshkosh. Glade was a tall and well proportioned man of great personal prowess. At ball play when two or three would pitch on him to keep him back he would dash ahead not seeming in the least to mind them. He was a splendid athlete.

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Tomah, the most noted of the sons of old Carron, was born in 1752 at the “old king’s village” opposite Green Bay, and died in the summer of 18 17 at Mackinaw at sixty-five years of age. He was six feet tall, spare, had dark eyes and handsome features, was very prepossessing, with lordly bearing. He looked every inch a king-Grignon said he was the finest looking chief he had ever seen. His speeches were not long, but pointed and expressive. He was firm, prudent, peaceable and conciliatory, was sincerely beloved alike by white and red men. He was the best deer hunter in the tribe. One city is named for him. He was often called Carron. Was for many years head speaker. Three of Tomah’s sons were chiefs. One was Mau Kau tau Pee, who was with McKay at the capture of Prairie du Chien in 1814 and died in 1820 Another son of Tomah was Chief Josette Carson who succeeded him as head speaker and died in 1831, and another son of Tomah was Chief Glade, named for his uncle. He spoke French well, had no lore for public affairs and died in 1848.

The above Josette Carson had two sons, chiefs in r857. One was Keshenah, born in 2829 and for whom the present reservation town is named. Another was Shawneon (Shononee) or the “Silver” born in 1827. The city and county of Shawano are named for him.

Iometah, head war chief, brother of Tomah and son of old Carson, born in 1772, was in 1859 at eighty-seven years of age the only surviving son of old Carson and then he was strong enough to walk 200 miles to Milwaukee. Was on the war path in the war of 1812. Was a great hunter. He was noted for paying his debts, a rare trait of character. Said to have been an honorable man and worthy representative of the Indian in heroic days. His picture by Brooks hangs in the Historical society’s rooms.

There was a Carron made chief with Oshkosh in 1827 who was a son of Glade and grandson of old Carron. He was born in 1803 and alive in 1858.

It is not true that Colonel Stambough gave his name to the chief as his father bore it before him, who, though not a born chief, exerted great influence over the tribe and was regarded as such. His son Kaush Kau No Naive or the “Grizzy Bear” served under Tomah in the war of 1812 and after the death of Tomah in 1817 was with Josette Carron chosen orator of the nation. He served under Colonel Stambough against the Foxes and Sacs in 1832 and died in 1834, aged fifty-two years. About 1830 he was with Colonel Stambough when he went with the Menomonee to Washington to make a better treaty for lands and annuities. While there it is reported of him that viewing the historic paintings in the rotunda of the capitol, he pointed to the illustration of the landing of the Pilgrims and said: “There Injun give white man corn,” then to the Penn treaty, “There Injuns give um land,” then to Pocahontas saving the life of Captain Smith, “There Injun give um life,” then to a picture of Daniel Boone with his foot on the neck of a savage and plunging his knife into another, and said, “There white man kill Injun.” He was a savage of great personal dignity. His other name was “The Great Packer.” After his death he was succeeded by his son, Wau Pa Men or “the Corn,” who was succeeded by his brother, another son of “Grizzly Bear,” Ok ke ne bo way or “The Standing Land,” who was born in 1820.

Lawson, Publius V. Story of Oshkosh, his tribe and fellow chiefs. Self Published.

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