By Bill Wangemann Sheboygan deserves its reputation as a conservative city, quiet and law abiding. But here are some stories from the past that have been swept under the rug or lost overboard. Venture into the mists of the Lake Michigan Triangle that have swallowed boats, planes and entire tribes. Investigate speakeasy shootings, safes burgled by a flyswatter, poisoned Christmas candy and the hoax that had militiamen firing on their own cattle. Or just sit down with some bizarre anecdotes about a hometown you though you knew, from the town’s first baseball game to the man freed from jail by a jug of whiskey to the deputy sheriff who had to enforce Nicholas Hoffman’s first bath in fifty years.
Sheboygan County has a rich and varied Native America past. When the first Europeans arrived, there were probably only about a thousand Indians permanently residing in Sheboygan County, perhaps another thousand during the fishing season on Lake Michigan.
These Indians had relinquished their title to the land by various treaties made with the United States, from 1831 to 1833, but remained here for a number of years until they gradually moved to other locales, as their former hunting and fishing territories disappeared.
What is known of the Indians of Sheboygan County comes mostly from the perspective of white settlers. The Native Americans neither kept nor left any written records; they had no written language forms. What is known of their manner of life, their history and traditions, has come down to us in their myths and legends, through archeological remains, and in the accounts of explorers, missionaries, traders and early settlers. The records of even their white observers are scattered and scanty. They are mainly recitals of their own activities, their references to the Indians usually being only incidental. Much valuable information concerning the life and characteristics of the Indians has been obliterated, although some remains.
This book will share a sampling of the written information gleaned from the archives of the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.