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La Baye Fur Trade (1770-1830)

Its strategic location between the Mississippi and the Saint Lawrence Rivers made “La Baye” a logical place for a trader to settle. By the 1720s, bands of voyageur canoes set out each spring from Quebec, the capital of New France, bound for the Northwest with a cargo of French trade goods. Iron pots, axe heads, knives, needles, mirrors, and other metal goods were popular with the woodland tribes who had only used wooden and bone implements. Flintlock muskets, gunpowder, and shot helped to hunt animals for food, while American Indians snared the fur-bearing animals whose pelts made fine felt hats back in France. A trader at La Baye could exchange last year’s cargo of metal, guns, cloth fabric, and blankets for a boatload of fine furs which he would take to the “rendezvous” at Mackinac. There in early summer traders from the Great Lakes would meet the Montreal brigades who would take their furs back to Quebec in exchange for another winter’s worth of trade goods. The French fur traders were reliant on the native peoples for food, a trade route, hunting grounds, pelts, and companionship. Out of this companionship grew the Métis culture, a mingling of French fur traders and the American Indian culture.

Fur Trade Cabin

Built circa 1800 and relocated to Heritage Hill in 1975 from 739 Adams Street in Green Bay. The construction style is piece-on-piece in slide (piece’ sur piece’ en coulisse).

This building represents one of the earliest industries in the area – fur trapping and trading. It is constructed in the French style of piece-on-piece, meaning one log upon the other. Grooved upright logs are set in the ground at the corners, doors, and windows, while horizontal logs are cut to fit and placed on top of each other in the grooves. Cracks in between logs are chinked to keep out the harsh Wisconsin elements. The Fur Trade Cabin at Heritage Hill was originally found inside a house set to be demolished for construction of the Tilleman Bridge in downtown Green Bay.

Bark Chapel

Built in 1982 at Heritage Hill. The construction style is a sapling framework with bark covering.

Bark chapels were often used until a more permanent religious structure could be built. Traveling Jesuit priests would use these simple bark huts as a place of worship as well as for their dwelling. Original bark chapels were constructed of sapling framework with elm bark. Our replica bark chapel is covered with cedar bark and houses a consecrated altar.

Maple Sugaring Cabin

Built in 1981 at Heritage Hill. The construction style is that of a traditional 18th century lean-to shelter.

This structure is a replica of one early settlers would have used for making maple syrup. The sweet distilled sap of maple trees was historically used to sweeten foods because sugar was an expensive, hard to obtain, luxury.

Wisconsin’s First Courthouse

Relocated to Heritage Hill in 1976 from Door County. The construction style is full log with dovetail joints.

This log building was originally used as a granary in Door County, but when set for demolition, it was instead moved to Heritage Hill to become a representation of the First Courthouse in Wisconsin. Not much is known about the original structure (including its construction date), but the inside furnishings were carefully reconstructed from an 1824 Work Order to match original details of the courthouse’s furnishings. While the building is not the original courthouse, the site is believed to be the true original location, proved by the Wisconsin Historical Society’s informal archaeological dig in 1973. During their excavation, they found a piece of the original courthouse corner stone almost directly under where this building sits now. Many famous early trials took place here, including The Trial of Chief Oshkosh.