Milwaukee Reverberations

15 Claims, Surveys, & Lot Sales

From James S. Buck's Pioneer History of Milwaukee (1876-1886)

These paragraphs provide insight into how early white settlers began to develop the city via real estate trading & speculation, as well as how they begin physically removing the material-cultural history of the Indigenous homeland.


The number of claims entered in the towns of Lake, Greenfield Wauwatosa and Milwaukee, as appears from the old claim record of Prof. I. A. Lapham, up to January, 1838, were as follows:

Lake, 119; Greenfield, 148; Wauwatosa, 154; and Milwaukee 8. This fact, taken in connection with the number of settlers that were actually here, may seem incredible. But the explanation is this: Many of these parties had made from one to four claims, selling out to others, and making new ones; many had gone away and never returned; many were young men, living in town. Some appear in the list for Lake, Greenfield and Wauwatosa; others, who were married, were away after their families, with which they did not return until ’37, ’8 and ’9. This made the number of actual residents much less than the record of entries, while the fact that so few claims were in the town of Milwaukee, was in consequence of the land having all been purchased (or nearly all) at the Green Bay land sale in 1835, or entered after the sale, leaving none upon which claims could be made.


The first survey and plat of the south side, was upon Walker’s Point addition, signed D. Wells, Jr., district deputy surveyor. This plat was received for record, August 18th, 1836, at 6 P. M., and recorded March 7th, 1854, at 9 A. M., making an interval of seventeen years, seven months, nineteen days, and fifteen hours, between its reception and recording. Fast work, that.

The first lot sold upon the south side, was lot 7, block 22, Walker’s Point addition, by Geo. H. Walker to Mark Noble, Jr., June 6th, 1836. These sales are the first entries upon the record, if there were any earlier, there is no record of them.

Photocopy of map of the early township boundaries with notes added in 1835, 1848, and 1904; sheet 002 is a partial copy of the map without notes;
Township No 7 North Range No 22 East 4th Mer N.W.T. / Surveyor General’s Office, Cincinnati, July 21st 1835 ; Updated Department of the Interior General Land Office, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1904. (From the American Geographical Society Library Digital Map Collection at UWM Libraries.)

The first cemetery on the south side was on that block lying between Grove, Florida, Virginia and First avenue. Quite a number were buried there, and afterwards all removed. This block has been cut over its entire surface, an average of twenty-two feet, including the west one-half of the adjoining block on the east. The second was where George Burnham’s brick yard now stands. These bodies have all been removed to Forest Home. I have assisted at a great number of burials in these early cemeteries. There was also an old Indian cemetery at the extreme end of the old Point, which was graded off in 1838, I doing the work for D. S. Hollister, to make room for a warehouse. A large quantity of relics were taken from the graves, consisting of beads, silver ornaments, brass and copper utensils, coins, etc.

*Seaman and Kitchel, abstractors

James S. Buck, “Claims,” and “First Surveys and Sale of Lots.” Pioneer History of Milwaukee, volume 1 ((Milwaukee News Co., 1876-1886): pp. 39-41. Original Source: New York Public Library.