The Family Trees of Tomah,
Monroe County, Wisconsin
Welcome to a website that commemorates many of the families that settled in and around Tomah, in Monroe County, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin was established as a state in 1848, when it was separated from the Michigan Territory. Then, Monroe County was established in March 1854, when the governor separated it from La Crosse County. The city of Tomah was formed shortly after that, with Robert E. Gillett erecting the first building--a log cabin--in May 1855, and the city was incorporated in 1858.
Plentiful farmland, numerous timber areas, new roads linked to other cities in Wisconsin, and the railroads coming to the area resulted in strong growth through the end of the 19th century and beyond.
There appear to have been four major origins of most of the early families coming to the Tomah area:
· Many of the Dutch families emigrated in the 1600's and 1700's to New York (then called New Amsterdam)--some settling in New York City, and others in the up-state area. As those areas became crowded and good farmland became scarce, some of the families relocated to Wisconsin, with many moving through the Oconomowoc area before settling in the Greenfield, Grant, Lincoln and LaGrange Townships in the late-1800's. Examples of these family names were Vandervort and Vroman.
· The last major group consisted of Mormon families that moved from Ohio and Indiana to Wisconsin because they were in search of timber to ship to new Mormon colonies that were being established in Illinois and Missouri. Many of the Mormons settled north and east of Tomah in Grant, Lincoln, Scott and Byron Townships. Eventually, most of the Mormon families moved further west, but some remained in the area. Family names in this group were McNutt, Root, Scott, Sutherland, and Wood.
For the most part, the above ethnic families remained isolated among themselves--attending their local churches, schools, and social functions; intermarrying; etc. It wasn't until the popular use of the automobile in the 1920's that there began to be a mixing of the various ethnic groups via marriage. The attendance at the centrally-located high school in Tomah was also a factor.
The reports in the surname letter links below contain the names of more than 400 individuals whose families were either part of the forming of Monroe County in its early years or were related to those families by marriage. Within the various reports are hundreds of additional family surnames that can now be found in Monroe County. The genealogy database from which the reports are developed contains more than 60,000 individuals, direct ancestors and their descendants and who settled and lived in the Tomah area at one time or another, or their marriage-related family members.
To search for a particular family, click on a surname link, open any of the following reports and go to the Surname List or Name Index. Keep in mind that a particular family name may occur in any number of surname links and family reports because of marriage and indirect ancestral connections. Click on the camera icons wherever you see one, to see pictures.
I hope that you enjoy your research of the Tomah area families. This information is by no means complete, so if you have information that you would like to correct or have added to any of the reports, please contact me at the e-mail address below.
Links to the Tomah-area family settlers' surnames:
The links below go to additional websites featuring: (1) Tomah-area families that are direct descendants of the Mayflower's Pilgrim families; (2) a database of nearly 7,000 burials in Tomah's Oak Grove Cemetery; (3) a website containing various reports of the earliest (1862-1889) baptisms, confirmations, weddings and burials of members as recorded in Book I of the Parish Register of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ridgeville; and (4) a website devoted to the known direct ancestors of the Griggs and Pergande families that settled in Monroe County.
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