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About Little Chute

Little Chute, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

Little Chute is a village in Outagamie CountyWisconsinUnited States. The population was 10,449 at the2010 census.

 

 

 

 

Downtown Little Chute 

Downtown Little Chute

 

 

 

 

Geography 

 

 

 


Little Chute is located at 44°17′03″N 88°18′49″W (44.284087, -88.313629).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 5.52 square miles (14.30 km2), of which, 5.16 square miles (13.36 km2) of it is land and 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2) is water.

Little Chute is the largest village in Outagamie County

 

 

 

 

History 

 

 

 


While sharing in the history of northeast Wisconsin, Little Chute has been influenced by two unique factors: the rapids and portages along the Fox River and the coming of Dutch-Catholic settlers in 1848. Prior to and during the early European settlement, the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway to the Mississippi River system was one of the most heavily traveled routes between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Afterward canals and locks were built to circumvent these rapids. The actual construction of these features provided employment to settlers, the Dutch among them, although the canal system never proved to be a great success.

 

 

 

Native Americans 

 

 

 


There is little evidence today of the earliest Native American communities in the area. Prior to the European exploration it is likely the Mississippian culture tribe, theOneota, lived in the area. The Oneota are believed to be the ancestors of the Winnebago or Ho-chunk tribe; this has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. Regardless, the Ho-Chuck dominated the area just as the French were first appearing in the St Lawrence area far to the east. The Illinois tribe was generally far to the south; the Menominee tribe was just to the north. The Ho-Chuck maintained reasonably good relations with both tribes, although there were several battles with the Illinois. While the French had yet to settle in the area, their presence to the east started a chain reaction of tribal migration. The Huron, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and other eastern tribes all had encounters with the Ho-Chunk. The Sauk and Fox tribes, originally in the St Lawrence Valley, migrated first to southeastern Michigan. The Fox (Renard in French) also called themselves the Meshkwahkihaki and were also known as the Outigamie by the French. The Sac and Fox were uprooted again by eastern tribes and began to arrive in the Fox River Valley in the late 17th century. The Sac and Fox eventually drove most of the Ho-Chunk from the area. When the first French settlers appeared, they named the river after the Fox. The county which today includes Little Chute was to be named Outagamie.

 

 

 

 

 

Painting of the Little Chute Lock and Dam in 1856 commissioned by Morgan L. Martin. Drawn by Samuel M. Brookes and Thomas H. Stevenson, it was part of a group of paintings of river town sites and locks for the Fox-Wisconsin River Improvement Co. The view is approximately from the present day Doyle Park. The first St. John Nepomucene Church and School is on the extreme right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The series of rapids along the Fox River near Little Chute necessitated canoe portages. By the time the French settlement started in the early 18th century, the Sac had essentially set up toll stations along the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway, including the rapids at Little Chute. The French, outraged at the impact on trade, launched a series of attacks on the Sac, culminating in the Fox Wars, which drove them out of the area by 1742. The power vacuum created by the departure of most of the Ho-Chunk, the Sac and the Fox allowed the Menominee to briefly dominate the area. The Menominee set up a village, Ookicitiming (“causeway” in Menominee) near present-day Little Chute.

 

 

 

 

 

First European settlement 

 

 

 


The first Europeans to the area were the French. Jean Nicolet reached the Fox River at Green Bay in 1634 and set up a trading post. Explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet passed through the area in 1673, following the canoe route to the Mississippi. As early as 1760, the families of Augustin and Charles Grignon, French CanadianMétis, established a fur trade post along the rapids. While French influence waned, it can still be seen in local place names, particularly waterways. Locally the three major rapids on the Fox were named “La Grand Kauklin” (near Grignon’s trading post at present day Kaukauna), “La Petite Chute” (present day Little Chute) and “La Grand Chute” (still the name of the adjoining township).

The French maintained a presence in the area until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. The area switched to British control until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781. The Americans nominally controlled the area although the British continued to maintain a presence until the end of the War of 1812 in 1814. In 1787, the area became part of the American Northwest Territory. In succession the area became part of IndianaIllinoisMichigan, and finally, in 1836, Wisconsin Territories. Statehood was reached in 1848.

 

 

 

 

Father Van den Broek and the first Dutch Settlers 

 

 

 

 


Father Theodore Van den Broek, before 1848

Saint John Catholic Church

The singular person in the establishment of Little Chute as a Catholic Dutch-American community was a Dominican missionary: Father Theodore J. Van den Broek. Born to wealthy parents in Amsterdam, Netherlands in June 1784, he had relatives in Uden,Noord BrabantNetherlands and apparently spent time there as a youth. He was highly educated and fluent in six languages. He was ordained a priest in 1808 and joined the Dominican Order in 1817. After a period as a pastor in the Netherlands, he left in 1832 at the age of 49 to join other missionary priests at CincinnatiOhio. In 1834 he was ordered to Green Bay to an established Dominican mission. In Green Bay he met the Grignon family, and probably through this contact he went to La Petite Chute in 1836. There he built the first church for the Menominee Indians, St. John Nepomucene, one of several he would establish in the area. Father Van den Broek also met Morgan Lewis Martin, who was in charge of the local canal project. Father Van den Broek purchased land in the area which he later hoped to sell. In that same year, 1836, the Menominees signed the “Treaty of the Cedars” which required them to give up title to the local land and move beyond the Wolf River to the west.

Father Van den Broek began to write letters about the area to groups in the Netherlands. The letters appeared in the Roman Catholic paper, De Tijd (The Times) beginning in 1843. In the summer of 1847 Father Van den Broek went back to the Netherlands to settle his parents’ estate. The settlement was not very beneficial and he found himself nearly destitute. As St. John Nepomucene parishioners were significantly reduced after the Treaty of the Cedars, he used the trip as an opportunity to again write in De Tijd, advertising the mission, the land at La Petite Chute and employment opportunities associated with the Fox River Canal, which included free passage to America for workers. The results were immediate and, by 1848, three wooden sailing vessels called "barks" or "barque" (small three-masted sailing ships), the Libra, the Maria Magdalena and theAmerica, had been booked for passage to the east coast of the United States. Approximate 918 Dutch Catholic immigrants were on the three boats. Most of the early emigrants were from villages near Uden, including Zeeland, Boekel, Mill, Oploo andGemert. The Dutch economy of the era was stagnant and much of the motivation to emigrate was economic. The emigrants were not poor, as the cost of passage, expenses and land purchase in Wisconsin would have been substantial. They were not, however, affluent and many would have been risking most of their wealth on the chance of economic improvement. There were also political pressures at the time that favored mass emigrations of Catholics.

Typical passage to La Petite Chute included crossing the Atlantic from Rotterdam to New York City, a train trip from there toAlbany, a train or Erie Canal-barge trip across New York state to Buffalosteamship travel through the Great Lakes and Green Bay to the head of the Fox River atGreen Bay and finally a 30-mile, ox-cart trip to the mission at La Petite Chute. The first group from Rotterdam arrived on May 22, 1848, led by a Franciscan missionary, Fr Adrianus D. Godthard. Father Van den Broek’s group, held up by an ice jam on Lake Michigan, arrived on June 10, 1848. The emigrants discovered not plowed fields and a village but forested land, being somewhat misled by wording of the De Tijd advertisements: the word “acres” was translated asakkers, meaning cultivated land. There was also not enough good land in Father Van den Broek’s holdings for all the emigrants. There was a resort to drawing straws, with the winners naturally picking the best lots.Many of the others - led by Cornelis van de Heij, a farmer from Zeeland, and Father Godthard - left to form the village of Holland (usually referred to locally as “Hollandtown”) rather than buying the remainder of Father Van den Broek’s land. There were other Europeans, mainly French and Irish emigrants, already established at La Petite Chute, now also known by its semi-anglicized name of “Little Chute.” A few Native Americans still lived in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

Later Dutch Immigration 

 

 

 

 


Typical Dutch homestead, circa 1855

Despite the hardships, including the death of Father Van den Broek in 1851, the village prospered. Waves of Catholic Dutch emigrants followed from all over the Netherlands, with whole families and neighborhoods moving to join family and friends already established in Little Chute, Hollandtown, and the outlying farming communities. It is estimated that, by 1927, as many as 40,000 Dutch Roman Catholics had immigrated to the United States — an average rate of 10 per week for 80 years. While many headed for cities or individual farms across the country, Little Chute and the surrounding area represented the largest concentration of Catholic immigrants.

From the start, St. John Nepomucene Church served as a focal point, although other churches would soon spring up in the other communities. The first settlers would have devoted all energies to clearing land, planting, building small homes and barns, fencing and raising livestock. The private Fox River Canal was a failure. The State “Fox and Wisconsin Improvement Company” took over operations in 1850 and finished the canal and adjoining dam by 1856.  Railways approached from the south and steamship lines were established on Lakes Michigan and Winnebago. The 16 feet of water head at La Petite Chute and other falls was used for mills, a practice that continues. Little Chute post office was established in 1849. In 1898 the fiftieth anniversary of the founding was commemorated and the surviving “48’ers” recognized. In 1898, residents of La Petite Chute petitioned the State of Wisconsin for incorporation as the Village of Little Chute, which was formally granted on March 8, 1899.

While there are several other Dutch American cities - Oostburg, WisconsinPella, IowaOrange City, Iowa; and Holland, Michigan - these were largely settled byProtestants. Little Chute and some surrounding area was largely settled by Catholics. By the early twentieth century it was the largest Catholic Dutch community in the United States. Little Chute remained a Dutch-speaking community - known locally as “speaking Hollander” - into the twentieth century. As late as 1898, church sermons and event announcements were in Dutch. Dutch newspapers continued in the area - mainly in De Pere by Catholic clergymen - were published up until World War I. Speaking Dutch as a first language was common in the area among second and third generation even as late as World War II. The Dutch festival of Sinterklaas was celebrated as “St Nick’s Day” (December 5). This practice continues in many households today. St. John Nepomucene was the primary educational institution with the local public high school not opening until 1966.

 

 

 

 

Present day 

 

 


One of four dams on the Fox River in Little Chute

Doyle and Island parks in Little Chute, as seen from the Fox River

Little Chute has celebrated the Dutch festival of Kermis annually since 1981 - after a long hiatus dating back to the early twentieth century - possibly the only such named event in the United States. St. John Nepomucene is a thriving parish with recent additions to the church and elementary school.

Recently because of a private gift of $300,000 from a long-time resident, the non-profit organization Little Chute Windmill, Inc. is nearing the completion of the fundraising stage on an ambitious project to build a full-scale working windmill to be known as theLittle Chute Windmill and Van Asten Visitor Center, serving as a museum and tourist attraction.

The Fox River Navigational System Authority is rehabilitating and operating the system of Lower Fox River locks between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay, including the Locks at Little Chute in Doyle Park. Repairs to the Little Chute guard lock, lock and combined locks are scheduled to be completed by 2009. Funding for the bridge at the Little Chute Lock and additional repairs on the Fox River Locks appear to be in question.

While some homes are decorated with windmills and other symbols of Dutch culture, the use of the Dutch language and day-to-day culture has all but discontinued.

The non-profit organization Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway is rehabilitating the Little Chute Lock Tender's House with volunteer labor and private donations. It will be restored to its 1930s character and will become a vacation rental. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

 

 

 

Education 

 

 

 


Village hall

Little Chute has both a public and private school systems: St. John's K-8, Public: K-12. The superintendent of the Little Chute School District is Dave Botz. Grades 5-12 of the public school are located in separate areas of the same building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Chute,_Wisconsin


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