Appleton, as is now famously known, was a home to the Menominee Indians before the coming of the Europeans who settled in the area. The Menominee Indians, also known as the Fox were neighbors to the Winnebago. The earliest breed of French explorers came to Appleton through the Fox River and settled in the lands that were occupied by the Indians. In the following years, around the mid-1600s, a few French traders traveled through the Fox River in their search for beaver pelts and furs. Soon after, Louis Joliet, and Pere Marquette who were Catholic missionaries followed. For them, their search was on the Mississippi River. It didnâ€™t take too long before soldiers followed in a bid to get to the three forts around the Wisconsin river.
In 1835, European settlers followed and started establishing trading posts, hotels, hospitals, and churches. History has it that the Hyppolyte Grignon family were the first settlers in the Appleton region before they were joined by the Johnson family. Once a canal was built around the Fox river, boats with settlers from different European nations became a common sight. The first immigrants to visit Appleton were the Dutch, Poles, and Germans. Wheat farms cropped up paving the way for dairy farming, which is one of the things that is well associated with Appleton.
Establishment of Education
The Appleton area was initially comprised of three villages that were clustered together. Appleton was first selected as a construction site for a university by the Boston Methodist, Amos Lawrence, after he donated money for its construction. This he did so to honor the family of his wife who had originated from Appleton. And in 1847, the Lawrence Institute was commissioned with full funding from Amos Lawrence himself. The name was later changed to Lawrence University as is famously known today. The year 1850 in Appleton saw the first establishment of a free public school and later on, in 1864 the first Catholic School was opened by the St. Mary Catholic Church.
After the founding of the Outgamie County in 1851, Grand Chute became the county seat. As more and more settlers settled in the region, the name Appleton was settled on in the year 1853 and was later incorporated into a city on the 2nd of May 1857. This settlement organization leads to the establishment of two sawmills, a newspaper printing corporation, two sawmills and a paper mill. In 1882, the Fox River became the first river to be used in the generation of hydroelectric plant. The development of paper mills along the Fox River gave a major boost to the economy of the Appleton area and is present till date. The foundation of Appleton is largely based on education and the maintenance of a close-knit town. Some of the most famous Appleton residents include magician Harry Houdini, actor Willem Defoe, the US serving Senator from 1908 to 1957, Senator Joseph McCarthy and Edna Ferber.