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Wisconsin (USA)

Oconto County

Outline related to Belgian Immigrants
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This section of the site will be used to develop information only on Belgium settlers in Oconto County.
For general information regarding the county we will refer you to and coordinate with the Oconto County Genealogy web site
This is being done to avoid duplication of information already available on a web site
and allow time to develop information that pertains only to this site.
Wisconsin (USA) section

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The first formal organizational meeting of this county was held on 4 Nov. 1851 to form a county out of Brown County. The purpose of the meeting was to decide on proposed boundaries, a name and county seat. The people living in the area where considered wilderness dwellers when the 1850 Brown County United States census was taken. This was a large area of virgin timber inhabited mainly by the Menomonee Indians. The county was formed on February 6, 1851.

The approved boundaries were the west shore of Green Bay, Michigan State border to the north, Marathon County to the west and Brown County to the south. The county is located approximately 130 miles north west of the City of Milwaukee. In June 1852 the first election was held to elect the first county officers. The polls were closed at sundown and 83 people had voted. Another election was held in July 1852 because some of those elected were not qualified to hold office. The first census was taken in December of 1852 and showed 415 residence living in the vast area.

This was an area of virgin land settled mainly by French, French Canadians and people from the eastern states who had migrated to the area. The French and French Canadians were mainly interested in trapping, the eastern settlers in lumber, and there were the people who developed business who supported these trades. As the land was cleared of timber it was generally sold cheap. The people starting farming and this became the largest occupation in the area. This is the area the Belgium immigrants started coming into in the 1850's.

From this beginning it has developed into a county of almost 32,000 people by the latest census. The size of the county has been decreased by the separation of Marinette, Shawno and Menomonee Counties. The county according to official records currently contains 1,006 square miles of area. The county is still quite rural in atmosphere and contains a lot of timber area none of it virgin. It does have the Nicholet National Forrest, which covers considerable area. The southern eastern part of the county is becoming an area of suburban homes for people working in Green Bay, Brown County.

There is very little indication of the first industries of this county trapping, lumbering and fishing but there are still many family run farms in the county. They have a paper mill, cheese factory, and cruiser builder to mention a few of the current business in the county. It is also a tourist area for fishing, hunting and winter sports.

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Territorial Subdivisions

Oconto County is divided into 23 townships, also referred to as towns; 3 cities, 2 villages and some unincorporated areas. Click here, if you want to know more about the functions of these different governmental divisions.

The three cities are Oconto, Oconto Falls and Gillett. The villages are Lena and Suring.

There is some duplication of names for units of government. There is in Oconto County a township of Oconto, which surrounds the city of Oconto. There is also a township of Oconto Falls as well as the city and last an unincorporated area referred to as Pensaukee as well as a township of Pensaukee.

You can look for maps & a list of all townships at

Too see histories and descriptions of individual towns, villages, cities and unincorporated areas check out

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Short History with Bibliography

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The biggest repository for information on the immigrants from Belgium is the Cofrin Library located at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. This library has the largest amount of information, at one location, on all the settlers in northeastern Wisconsin.

On the web please refer to

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Please go to

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Migration / Emigration / Immigration

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Families and Family Histories

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Help with this topic can be obtained from the Support Team Member Gloria Olson
The information on this page was submitted until 09 May 2001 by Gloria Olson, , , ,
Proofreading English on this page was been done not yet by Gloria Olson
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This Global file was last updated 18/01/2007 23:47:37 CET and uploaded Thursday, 18-Jan-2007 16:16:53 MST
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