What can Two Barrels of Rum Buy you in 1793?

WI small town

Did you know?

The first land deed recorded in Wisconsin was in Brown County.

Dominique Ducharme is the first known white settler at Kaukauna. In Wisconsin’s first recorded Deed For Land in 1793, he obtained 1,281 acres of land from several Indian tribes for 2 barrels of rum and other gifts. The land is now the City of Kaukauna. Today this original deed is on record in Brown County—Volume B of Deeds, Page 110. Recorded Dec. 18, 1828.

The Grinon family later purchased the property from Ducharme and ran a fur trade post in the Kaukauna area. Charles A. Grignon built a home on this land in 1837 as a wedding gift for his Bride, Mary Elizabeth Meade. This home is still standing and is a historical site known as the Grignon Mansion.

Interesting Facts About the Deed

  • The land was in Outagamie County, but the Outagamie County Recorders office was not yet chartered, so the Deed was recorded in Brown County.
  • The entire deed was drafted in French.
  • The Grantor of the Deed, Wabisipine, and Tabac Noir signed on behalf of the Native American Tribes, and their signatures were a drawing of either an Eagle or a Beaver.

What was significant about this area at that time?

Kaukauna, at that time, consisted of 3 waterfalls that made boat travel difficult.  Native American Tribes, Fur Traders, and other Travelers going up and down the Fox River needed to carry their boats and cargo off the river from 1 end of the falls to the other.  The Grignon family ran the Fur Trade, and  Kaukauna became a frequent meeting place.  

The land continued to develop around the area, and the mapping system followed the French style called Private Claims. Private claims were long lots that ran perpendicular to the river. Currently, they are found in three areas of the State of Wisconsin: the City of Kaukauna, the City of Green Bay, and Prairie Du Chein.

See a copy of the Deed below

First Land Deed in WI