From the Sheboygan shore to the Wausau woods, find your ancestors in the Badger State.
Where can you get great cheese and beer, be a subject of a progressive state government and seriously up your chances of meeting a German-American? Wisconsin, of course. The area's first Europeans actually were French fur traders who trapped the Green Bay area in the 1700s. Lead miners from the South came in the 1820s, followed by settlers from northeastern states in the 1830s. It wasn't until the 1840s and '50s that hundreds of thousands of immigrants poured in from Europe, mainly Germany. Catholics from southern Germany dominated until 1847, when eastern German Protestants surpassed them. Before World War I, Rhinelanders made up most of the state's population, though others hailed from the British Isles, Norway and Eastern Europe. In the 2000 US census, 42 percent of Wisconsin's residents reported German ancestry; only North Dakota has a higher concentration.
Wherever your Wisconsin ancestors started out, a plethora of resources will help you find them. Start with the introduction to Wisconsin in The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Family Tree Books, $29.99). Browse the Cyndi's List Wisconsin page <www.cyndislist.com/wi.htm> for links to research guides, indexes and digitized records. Then read over FamilySearch's <www.familysearch.org> Wisconsin Research Outline (see resources) for a handy rundown of the most useful records, especially those you can borrow on microfilm through Family History Centers (FHCs). FHCs are branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library (FHL) — go to FamilySearch and click on “Find a family history center near you.”