BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE COUNTY
Native Americans occupied what is now Manitowoc County since very early times.
The French laid claim to this land, however, in the seventeenth century.
They then passed it to Great Britain in 1763 as a result of the Seven Years' War.
In 1789, it was made a part of the Northwest Territory; in 1809, of Illinois Territory;
and in 1818 it was attached to Michigan Territory. On April 20, 1836, it was included
in Wisconsin Territory.
Manitowoc County was a part of Brown County until the
organization of a separate County Government for Manitowoc County was authorized by an
act of the Territorial Legislature in 1838. Under the act, the date for the first
election was fixed for the first Monday in March, 1839, and the Commissioners of Brown
County were authorized to canvass the vote and issue certificates of election.
The election was held March 4, 1839, at the home of P. P. Pierce in the village of
Manitowoc Rapids. Horace Conroe and O. C. Hubbard were Judges of Election, and Peter
Johnson and J. H. Este, Clerks. Thirty-five votes were cast and the following officers
were elected: County Commissioners, Horace Conroe, John Rigney and J. G. Conroe;
Assessor, O. C. Hubbard; Register of Deeds, J. W. Conroe; Collector, Peter Johnson.
Having received properly authenticated certificates of election, the County
Commissioners met and organized March 15, 1839. Meetings of the County Commissioners
were recorded in the Journal of the County Commissioners, which is the first or
earliest volume of the publication now known as the Proceedings of the County Board.
The next recorded meeting of the Board of Commissioners was held at Manitowoc Rapids,
May 27, 1839, and it appears the purpose of this meeting was to elect and appoint
Judges of Election for Manitowoc County. Though the record states that Manitowoc
County at that time was divided into two precincts, namely the Precinct of Conroe
and the Precinct of Two Rivers, it does not describe just what territory comprised
each precinct. It is assumed, however, that no definite political lines were drawn,
but that the electors of the County cast their votes in the polling place most
convenient to reach at that time of few and poor roads and limited means of travel.
The County seat was located at Manitowoc Rapids.