British


The territory that became Milwaukee fell under British imperial rule in 1763 when Great Britain defeated France in the French and Indian Wars. It became a territory of the United States after American independence.[1] Neither the British nor Americans settled the area at the time. The small fur-trading community remained predominantly French and Indian until pioneers from New England, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic states began settling the area in the 1830s and 1840s. A small British migration then came to merge with what came to be called the “Yankee-Yorker” identity in Milwaukee, defined both as British immigrants–people from England, Scotland, and Wales–and these Northeastern Protestant migrants.[2] Yankee-Yorkers inundated Milwaukee and other Midwestern frontier towns in search of land to farm and assorted business opportunities following completion of the Erie Canal’s western terminus.[3]

Many Yankee-Yorker residents of British ancestry contributed to Milwaukee’s social, political, and economic development from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries, though by the time of their arrival in Wisconsin, for most, the British roots were several generations in the past. Exceptions included Scottish immigrant and financier Alexander Mitchell[4] and city treasurer and son of English immigrants Charles Whitnall, who applied a British cultural sensibility to his designs for Milwaukee County’s decentralized parks system and served the city and county for almost forty years as an urban planner. [5] New British immigrants played a relatively minor role in the city’s overall advancement due to their small population.[6] While some nineteenth century associations supported British migration to Wisconsin, including the Potters’ Joint-Stock Emigration Society & Savings Fund and the British Temperance Emigration Society, these organizations limited their settlements to Marquette and Columbia counties.[7]

EPISCOPAL church congregations, branches of the Anglican church, have been prominent in the city since its founding. The Episcopal church has published a serialized magazine in Milwaukee since 1899, The Living Church, which advocates Anglo-Catholic ideas and traditions pioneered in Wisconsin.[8] The Episcopal Church’s first missionary bishop, David Jackson Kemper, established WAUKESHA COUNTY’s NASHOTAH House as a missionary school in 1842 while overseeing the church’s Midwestern development.[9] In addition, Bishops William Armitage and Edward Welles helped establish one of the nation’s first Episcopal cathedrals in Yankee Hill, the Cathedral Church of All Saints, in the late 1800s.[10] St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, completed in 1884, houses Milwaukee’s oldest Episcopal parish (est. 1838).[11]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ “Wisconsin Stories Interactive Timeline,” Wisconsin Historical Society, accessed November 4, 2013, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/spotlight/timeline.asp.
  2. ^ Bayrd Still, Milwaukee: The History of a City (Madison, WI: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948), 70-72.
  3. ^ John Gurda, The Making of Milwaukee, 3rd edition (Milwaukee: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 2008), 25.
  4. ^ Still, Milwaukee, 70-72.
  5. ^ Katherine Nicole Kaliszewski, “Socialism and City Planning: The Work of Charles Whitnall in Early Twentieth Century Milwaukee, Wisconsin” (Master’s thesis, Cornell University, 2013), 27.
  6. ^ Gurda, The Making of Milwaukee, 103.
  7. ^ William E. Van Vugt, “British and British Americans (English, Scots, Scots Irish, and Welsh), to 1870,” in Immigrants in American History: Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration, vol. 1, ed. Elliott Robert Barkan (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2013), 28; Wisconsin Historical Society, “Term: English Immigrants in Wisconsin,” Dictionary of Wisconsin History, accessed October 26, 2013, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=11081&term_type_id=1&term_type_text=people&letter=E.
  8. ^ Thomas C. Reeves, “The Anglo-Catholic Movement in Wisconsin,” The Wisconsin Historical Review 68, no. 3 (Spring 1985): 188-198, 188.
  9. ^ Reeves, “The Anglo-Catholic Movement in Wisconsin,” 191-193.
  10. ^ Reeves, “The Anglo-Catholic Movement in Wisconsin,” 195.
  11. ^ Bobby Tanzilo, “A Guide to Milwaukee’s Architectural Landmarks,” OnMilwaukee.com, accessed November 4, 2013.

For Further Reading

Bruce, William George. “Old Milwaukee’s Yankee Hill.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 30, no. 3 (March 1947): 289-291.

Gurda, John. The Making of Milwaukee. 3rd edition. Milwaukee: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 2008.

Kaliszewski, Katherine Nicole. “Socialism and City Planning: The Work of Charles Whitnall in Early Twentieth Century Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” Master’s thesis, Cornell University, 2013.

Reeves, Thomas C. “The Anglo-Catholic Movement in Wisconsin.” The Wisconsin Historical Review 68, no. 3 (Spring, 1985): 188-198.

Simon, Roger D. The City-Building Process: Housing and Services in New Milwaukee Neighborhoods, 1880-1910. Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society, 1996.

Still, Bayrd. Milwaukee: The History of a City. Madison, WI: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948.

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