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Bill Thayer

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Notes on the Wisconsin Territory
particularly with reference to the
Iowa District
Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class. Albert Miller Lea

Author's Preface

Letter to the Author from the Congressional Delegate of the Territory of Wisconsin


General Description


Water Courses and Local Divisions


Remarks upon Towns, Landings, and Roads


An Act For establishing the Territorial Government of Wisconsin

[decorative delimiter]

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here was the reprint published at Iowa City, Iowa in 1935 by the State Historical Society of Iowa, titled "The Book That Gave Iowa Its Name" and preceded by the following "Explanation":

The reprint of the little book that gave to Iowa its name is published by the State Historical Society of Iowa in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the travels and explorations of Albert M. Lea in the Iowa country in 1835 while serving as Lieutenant in the First United States Dragoons.

The book, privately published by the author, was printed in Philadelphia by Henry S. Tanner in 1836. It was designed by its author "to place within the reach of the public, correct information in regard to a very interesting portion of the Western country, especially of that part of it known as the 'Iowa District'." The information which it contains was largely gathered by Lieutenant Lea during his travels through the Iowa country with the Dragoons in 1835. (See The Palimpsest for March, 1935.)

While the information which it records on the Iowa country in 1835 is invaluable to students of Iowa history, the supreme historical significance of Lieutenant Lea's book is the fact that it fixed the name Iowa upon the country that was to become the Territory of Iowa in 1838 and the State of Iowa in 1846. (Read the second paragraph of Ch. I of this reprint, p7, and The Naming of Iowa, by Benj. F. Shambaugh in The Palimpsest for March, 1935.)

Bound in bluish green paper covers, the original copies of the book contain fifty-three printed pages. On the front cover the title reads: "Notes on the Wisconsin Territory; particularly with reference to the Iowa District, or Black Hawk Purchase." The inside title is briefly: "Notes on Wisconsin Territory, with a map." In size the original book measures approximately five and three-fourths by three and one-half inches.

Concerning the original edition, Lieutenant Lea says: "One thousand copies with the map were put up by my friend H. S. Tanner, to whom I paid thirty-seven and a half cents per copy, and put them on sale at a dollar. Being quite ignorant of the book trade, I assumed the sales myself, sent a few copies by mail, and five hundred in a trunk as freight to Arthur Bridgman, of Burlington, an accomplished merchant. The last I heard of them was on a little steamboat stranded on a sand bank in the Ohio."

The reprint which is here published by the State Historical Society of Iowa follows the original, page for page, line for line, and in type as nearly as possible like the original in size and style.

Benj. F. Shambaugh

Office of the Superintendent and Editor

The State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa City Iowa

Although the text of that reprint did not use the original plates but was reset from scratch, we are assured that it "follows the original, page for page, line for line, and in type as nearly as possible like the original in size and style." The text is thus that of 1836 and is in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The edition I followed was very well proofread; the inevitable few errors I found, I corrected, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A small number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: A handwritten signature, in an elegant flowing script of the 19c; it reads 'Albert Lea • 2d Lt']

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is Lea's signature as it appears on his map — a map, by the way, that not only illustrates his geographical account of the Territory, but also gains interest by tra­cing his own route thru it. The signature is colorized to the colors of the (later) State flag of Iowa.

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Site updated: 7 Mar 12