City of Appleton Timeline
Jean Nicolet and his party of explorers become the first Europeans to pass through what is now Appleton.
Dominque Ducharme becomes the first person of European descent to live in the Appleton area when he built a home and trading post where the city of Kaukauna is today.
Eleazar Williams led a group of New York Indians to their new reservation west of Green Bay.
At a site on Little Lake Butte des Morts, Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass negotiated a treaty with the Indian leaders that gave the United States government control over almost all of the Fox River Valley.
The United States government made the first survey of the Fox River Valley, beginning with the area south of the river.
Hippolyte "Paul" Grignon built his home and trading post, White Heron, near what is now Appleton's Lutz Park. Grignon, along with his wife Lisette and their children Elinor and Simon, became the first settlers to live in what would one day be the city of Appleton.
Walter L. Newberry and Joshua Hathaway, Jr., land speculators from Chicago and Milwaukee, became the first to buy land that would one day be a part of Appleton.
On September 3, Wisconsin Territorial Governor Henry Dodge, representing the U.S. government, purchased about four million acres of Northeastern Wisconsin from the native Indians. On February 15, 1837, the treaty became official and the Indians began moving from their homeland to a new location beyond the Wolf River.
The U.S. government began surveying the land north of the Fox River.
Eleazar Williams made a loan agreement with Amos A. Lawrence, using his wife's land on the Fox River for collateral. Williams later defaulted on the loan, and Mr. Lawrence took possession of the property.
Paul Grignon bought the land on which he had lived for the past ten years, becoming the first to purchase land north of the Fox River that would one day be a part of Appleton.
The Reverend Reeder Smith met with Amos A. Lawrence to discuss establishing a college on the Eleazar Williams property in Wisconsin.
Bela Murch became the first farmer to settle in what is now Appleton on November 6.
Reeder Smith purchased land on behalf of Amos A. Lawrence as a site for the Lawrence Institute.
The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature granted a charter to the Lawrence Institute on January 17.
Wisconsin Methodist Church leaders raised the $10,000 necessary to match Amos A. Lawrence's gift of $10,000 to endow the Lawrence Institute.
Wisconsin entered the union as the 30th state on May 29.
On August 4, the Reverend Reeder Smith, the Reverend William H. Sampson, Joel S. Wright, a surveyor, and Henry Blood, a Methodist volunteer, moved onto the Lawrence Institute land and began laying out the plots for the school and for a village.
On October 7, land was cleared for the first Lawrence Institute building.
The name "Appleton" was first used for the tiny village that was growing around the Lawrence Institute. The village was named to honor Sarah Appleton, the wife of Amos Lawrence, and Samuel Appleton, her father's cousin, who donated money to the Lawrence Institute.
Elder Sampson, Reeder Smith, Hoil S. Wright and Henry Blood laid out the Appleton Village plat.
The first meeting of the Township of Grand Chute was held in the village of Appleton on April 3.
On July 3, construction began on the first Lawrence Institute building.
The three villages of Appleton, Lawesburg, and Martin (later called Grand Chute) were established.
The name of the Lawrence Institute was changed to Lawrence University and on November 12, the first classes began with 35 students.
W.S. Warner set up the first dry-goods store.
Between September 2 and 10, the first United States census was taken in the area, showing a population of 619 people in the Grand Chute Township.
The first school opened in Appleton. Daniel Huntley had the first free public school.
On February 17, Outagamie County was created by the State Legislature, with Grand Chute as the county seat.
In April, the first county elections were held.
The first meeting of the Outagamie County Board was held in Appleton on April 18.
The Appleton Water Power Company was incorporated to construct dams and reservoirs on the Fox River.
Elihu Spencer settled on land fronting Spencer Street.
Old Brown church was built on Oneida Street.
The cornerstone for Lawrence University's Main Hall was laid.
The village of Appleton was incorporated, encompassing the former villages of Lawesburg, Appleton, and Grand Chute.
On April 14, the first meeting of the Appleton Village Board was held. John F. Johnston was elected village president.
Samuel Appleton died at his home in Boston on July 12.
Richmond Paper Mill was established; it was the first one in the Fox River Valley. Products were made out of straw, rags and manilla paper.
Appleton Crescent (a weekly) started publication. The paper was founded by Samuel Ryan, Jr. and brothers.
The construction of a plank road from Appleton to Stevens Point is announced May 6, 1854. An extension is approved from Appleton to Green Bay.
The village of Appleton was divided into two fire districts, east and west of Appleton Street, and a fire warden was appointed for each district.
The system of Fox River Locks and canals began operating. A boat from the Mississippi River met a boat from the Great Lakes for the first time at Appleton. The steamboat, Aquila, passed Appleton on its first complete trip from Milwaukee to Green Bay.
Appleton's liquor ordinance was repealed, legalizing the sale and possession of alcohol.
Appleton was incorporated as a city on May 2. The city consisted of Lawesburg on the east, the Village of Appleton in the center and Grand Chute on the west.
Amos A. Lawrence visited Appleton for the first time and inspected the school named for him in May.
Three women became the first female graduates of Lawrence University.
Genessee Flour Mill began operation.
Appleton Motor was founded.
The Chicago-Northwestern Railroad was extended to Appleton from Neenah and Menasha. Trains started serving Appleton for the first time on February 27.
The Lawrence Engine Company was formed with Appleton's first fire engine.
The Appleton City Gas Light Company was incorporated.
The Appleton City Railway Company was incorporated to provide streetcar service to the city of Appleton. Horses provided power for the streetcars.
A movement began to urge the public to plant shade trees in the city.
Appleton Motor was sold and renamed Appleton Post.
The United States Supreme Court ruled for Lawrence University and against the claims of Edward Meade, resolving a long dispute over ownership of Appleton's downtown property.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early leader of the women's rights movement, visited Appleton.
Riverside Cemetery was established, with the remains of pioneers moved from Appleton's first cemetery at the present site of The Post-Crescent newspaper offices.
The United States government bought the Fox Locks for $145,000.
Victoria Woodhall, a prominent figure in the women's rights movement, delivered a lecture in Appleton entitled, "Tried as by Fire, or the True and False Society."
Rabbi Weiss started the first Jewish congregation in Appleton.
First gas for illumination and cooking use was brought into Appleton by George MacMillan.
The first telephone connection was established by banker Alfred Galpin, between his office and his home.
Famous speaker Henry Ward Beecher spoke in Appleton on "Wastes and Burdens of Society."
Atlas Mill began operation, producing ground wood pulp for a new paper process.
The Appleton Telephone Company was organized with 23 patrons.
All of Appleton was united into one school district.
On Saturday night, September 30, the Appleton Paper and Pulp company, the Vulcan Paper Company and the Hearthstone ( the home of H.J. Rogers), became the first buildings in the world lighted by the Edison system generating electricity by water power.
The Appleton Gas Light Company received permission to string wires for electric lights in the city.
Fox River Paper Corporation was established.
The Appleton Edison Light Company was organized.
On August 16, the Appleton Electric Street Railway Company began operation with a track running for four miles, from the intersection of State and Prospect Streets in the west, to the Pacific Street entrance to Riverside Cemetery in the east. Judge J. E. Harriman was president of the Street Railway Company.
Amos A. Lawrence died of heart disease in Boston on August 22.
The Thompson and Houston Electric Light Company of Boston received the franchise to provide electric lights for the city.
A Board of Public Works was established and plans were made for a sewer system in the city of Appleton.
Reeder Smith died at his home in Appleton on January 24.
John F. Johnston, considered Appleton's first resident, died at his Appleton home.
Appleton was connected by streetcar to Neenah and Menasha.
Appleton participated in the Spanish American War with Company G of the 125th Wisconsin Infantry Company.
St. Elizabeth Hospital was established.
On March 28, Appleton's new City Hall and Library building was dedicated. It was the first building constructed specifically for those purposes.
The Kaukauna extension to the interurban was inaugurated.
St. Elizabeth Hospital was dedicated.
Ryan High School was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt as Union High School. Later known as the Morgan building, it is now Appleton Central High .
Union High school was completed at the cost of $92,000. There were 29 pupils in the first graduating class.
The first municipal court was established. Thomas Ryan was the first judge.
Lawrence University changes its name to Lawrence College.
A commission form of government was voted in.
The Soldiers' Square monument was dedicated.
On October 26, President William Howard Taft spoke at Lawrence University.
For the next seven years, Appleton was governed by a commission form of government.
An ice jam on the Fox River caused flooding at the electric power plant on January 10. The city was without electricity as 100 men worked to unblock the ice jam in a temperature of 22 degrees below zero.
Appleton's two newspapers, The Appleton Post and the Appleton Crescent, merged their operations and became the Appleton Post-Crescent.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Drive Bridge was completed.
Edna Ferber, the author who spent her teen years in Appleton, won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel So Big.
Street addresses in the city of Appleton were changed to provide greater organization and consistency.
Erich Weiss, better known as the magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, died on Halloween night in Detroit, Michigan. Houdini spent his childhood in Appleton where his father, Mayer Samuel Weiss, served as a rabbi.
The Institute of Paper Chemistry was organized in Appleton.
A record low temperature of thirty-two degrees below zero was recorded in Appleton.
The last electric streetcar ran on April 6.
The Irving Zuelke Office Building opened in downtown Appleton. This 168-foot building was the tallest in Appleton until 1952, when AAL built their 183-foot downtown office building.
On July 13, a temperature of 107 was reached, the highest temperature ever recorded in Appleton.
Appleton West High School was built on Badger Avenue.
Appleton's Memorial Hospital (see 1985) was chartered by the state.
Fox Valley Lutheran High School opened. (see 2000)
On April 27, the Lawe Street Bridge opened over the Fox River.
United States Senator Joseph McCarthy, a resident of Appleton who gained world-wide fame for his work against communism and who was condemned by the Senate for his methods, died in Washington D.C., and was buried in Appleton's St. Mary's Cemetery.
The Appleton Foxes baseball team was established in affiliation with the Washington Senators. Since 1987 the Foxes have been affiliated with the Kansas City Royals. (see 1995)
Xavier Catholic High School opened.
On December 19, the College Avenue Bridge opened over the Fox River. It replaced the John Street Bridge. (see 2009)
The John Street Bridge was torn down on February 2.
Appleton native Rocky Bleier graduated from Appleton's Xavier High School and entered Notre Dame University on a football scholarship. Bleier, despite severe injuries suffered while serving in the Vietnam War, went on to a championship career in professional football.
Lawrence College merged with Downer College and became Lawrence University.
Carrie E. Morgan, for 30 years the superintendent of Appleton public schools, died in her home on October 14. She was 100 years old.
On July 1, the Fox Valley Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education District was created.
College Avenue, Appleton's main street, was reconstructed. The rebuilt street opened October 1.
Appleton East High School opened.
Passenger railroad service from Appleton ended on May 7.
The Fox Valley Technical Institute opened in the town of Grand Chute. In 1987 the name was changed to the Fox Valley Technical College.
The new Lawe Street Bridge was dedicated on October 24.
The new Oneida Skyline Bridge opened over the Fox River on October 31.
On June 1, the Appleton Public Library opened its new Oneida Street building on the site of the old City Hall.
The Fox River Mall opened in the Town of Grand Chute on July 18.
The Outagamie Museum was established in the former Masonic Temple building on College Avenue.
Houdini Plaza, located near the site of Harry Houdini's boyhood home, was dedicated on May 25. The plaza's sculpture, Metamorphosis, by Richard C. Wolter, was also unveiled that day.
Appleton's Memorial Hospital was renamed Appleton Medical Center or AMC.
The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region Inc. started with a $5,000 gift from retired AAL President Walter L. Rugland. The Foundation manages endowments and distributes funds to area charities and organizations. (Post-Crescent 5-22-2001, A-1)
Appleton was profiled in the August 11 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.
In August two new elementary schools, Horizon School and Houdini School, were opened.
Willem Dafoe (a.k.a. William Dafoe), who was born and raised in Appleton, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 1986 film Platoon.
The Avenue, Appleton's downtown mall, opened on March 12.
On June 12, Fox River Oracle, a sculpture by Dimitri Hadzi, was dedicated at a site just off the Oneida Street Bridge.
Appleton Christian School was opened on August 17.
For the first time in its 116 year history, all 17 locks in the Fox River Locks System were closed. From this year on, only three of the locks would be re-opened, those in De Pere, Menasha, and Kaukauna.
Appleton Aurora, a 60-foot-by-10-foot solar sculpture by Dale Eldred, was installed atop the Appleton Center in Houdini Plaza.
The John Birch Society moved its headquarters to Appleton.
On August 1, Appleton's first woman firefighter began work.
The Appleton Library Foundation was established to create an endowment fund for the Appleton Public Library. As part of the fund-raising efforts, the entertainer Bob Hope spent 4 days in Appleton and Neenah, from August 23 to the 27.
On April 1, the Houdini Historical Center opened in the Outagamie Museum. (see 2007)
The Institute of Paper Chemistry, along with the Dard Hunter Museum, relocated to Georgia and became the Institute of Paper Science and Technology.
Valley Transit's transfer center opened in downtown Appleton on March 1.
In August, two new elementary schools opened in Appleton, Edna Ferber and Janet Berry Schools.
The Viking Theater in Appleton closed on March 22.
On April 15, Appleton began enforcing a nightly curfew for those under the age of 18.
The Fox Cities Children's Museum opened in the Avenue Mall on November 2.
On September 24, the Tri County Expressway or 441 bypass, opened to the public.
On May 16, the Fox Valley Veterans Clinic opened.
On September 16, a grand opening was held for Appleton City Hall at its new location in the City Center Building, 100 N. Appleton St, formerly Pettibone & Peabody and Prange’s.
On April 20, Fox Cities Stadium, the new home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers minor league baseball team, had its grand opening.
Appleton Public Library became the first library in the state of Wisconsin to have its own Home Page on the World Wide Web.
Appleton's North High School opened on August 27.
Tim Hanna was named Mayor of Appleton after a recount of votes from the March 16 election and a series of court decisions.
On August 2, the Ring Dance sculpture by Dallas Anderson was unveiled at Appleton's City Park.
Lawrence University celebrated its 150th anniversary.
The former City Hall at 200 N. Appleton St. was razed on October 16.
The Appleton Public Library celebrated 100 years of service.
On December 13, Appleton's new Emergency Shelter on Division St. was opened.
Vice President Al Gore visited Appleton Central High School on September 22.
On August 25, Fox Valley Lutheran High School relocated to its new campus on North Meade Street.
On June 27, the Aid Association for Lutherans, a fraternal benefits society and one of the Appleton’s largest employers, announced its merger with Lutheran Brotherhood. The combined company, later renamed Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, established its headquarters in Minneapolis while retaining operations in Appleton.
College Avenue was re-constructed with areas of colored pavement, new trees and streetlights, and sidewalk “bump-outs” at the corners. The street re-opened for traffic on August 1.
In August, the downtown Avenue Mall was renamed City Center Plaza.
The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center opened in downtown Appleton on November 24.
President George W. Bush visited Appleton twice. On March 30, he spoke to representatives of local business at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. On July 14, he passed through the city on a re-election campaign bus tour.
In September, work began to clean sediments contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the Fox River.
On September 16, the federal government turned over ownership of the Fox River locks to the state of Wisconsin. A fundraising plan to restore and operate the locks was launched.
On February 26, the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame and its interactive museum, the Paper Discovery Center, opened in the former Atlas Mill at 425 W. Water St., along the banks of the Fox River. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1993, with its first induction ceremony in 1995. The 1878 Atlas Mill was donated to the Hall of Fame by the Kimberly Clark Corporation in 1999. (Post-Crescent, 2-27-2005, C-1)
The Big Picture Theater of Adventure & Discovery, the area’s first large-screen film theater, opened in downtown Appleton in March. Due to low attendance, the theater closed in the fall of 2006. (Post-Crescent, 10-7-2006, A-1)
On June 30, the expanded and remodeled Fox Cities Children’s Museum opened with a new name: The Building for Kids—Fox Cities Children’s Museum. (Post-Crescent, June 30, 2006)
On July 1, a workplace smoking ban took effect in the city of Appleton. The ban, approved by voters in an April referendum, made Appleton the second city in Wisconsin (after Madison) to prohibit smoking in taverns. (Post-Crescent, 7-1-2005, A-1)
On September 14, Lawrence University’s radio station, WLFM-FM 91.1, broadcast for the last time as the station converted to an Internet webcasting format. The station had begun in 1956 as the Fox Valley’s first FM station. (Post-Crescent, 9-15-2005, C-1)
In April, work began on the two million dollar restoration of the four Appleton locks on the Fox River. This was the first of three phases planned to restore the 14 locks that had been closed since the mid-1980s. The estimated cost of the complete restoration was $150 million. (Post-Crescent, 9-16-2006, B-1)
Neenah Paper Company, based in Alphretta, Georgia, announced plans to acquire the Fox River Paper Company of Appleton. (Post-Crescent, 2-7-2007, A-1)
Starting March 5, 50 fiberglass lions and 21 fiberglass lion cubs were placed on display throughout Appleton and the Fox Cities. The lions and cubs were decorated by 65 local artists, who were sponsored by area businesses and organizations. Their placement was to promote performances of the Disney musical “The Lion King” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in May and June and the celebration of the City of Appleton’s sesquicentennial during 2007. (Post-Crescent, 3-5-2007, A-1)
In April, repairs on the four locks on the Appleton portion of the Fox River were completed. Another year of work is required on bridges before boat traffic is allowed through the locks. (Post-Crescent, April 11, 2007, A-1)
In April, the Outagamie Museum announced its new name, The History Museum at the Castle. (Post-Crescent, 4-27-2007)
On August 11, the College Avenue Bridge, which opened in 1959, was closed and demolition work begun. (Post-Cresent, 8-11-2008, A-1)
In April, dredging work began for the removal of sediment contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the lower Fox River and moved to a landfill in Calumet County. The process is expected to take nine years. (Post-Crescent, 4-27-2009, A-1)
After 112 years in business, Conkey’s Bookstore, a downtown landmark, closed in August. (Post-Crescent, 8-14-2009, A-1)
The new College Avenue Bridge, constructed at a cost of 17.85 million dollars, opened on October 30. (Post-Crescent, 10-31-2009, A-1)
The members of the Riverview Country Club voted on June 30 to sell their 77-acre property on a south bluff of the Fox River in Appleton, effective in October. The Riverview Country Club was founded in 1898 and claimed to be Wisconsin’s oldest country club. On December 22, the property was purchased for $2.6 million by Community Outreach Temporary Services (COTS) and a coalition of other non-profit groups. They intend to develop a community-based garden and public green space on the site to be called Riverview Gardens. (Post-Crescent, , 7-9-2011, A-1 & 12-22-2011, A-1 & 12-23-2011, A-1)
A line of powerful storms with winds of 75 mph moved through Appleton on the morning of September 2, causing extensive damage from downed trees and power lines, particularly in the central and northern parts of the city. Many streets were blocked and over 20,000 Appleton customers were without electricity. According to the National Weather Service, the storm caused $5.3 million in damage. (Post-Crescent, 9-3-2011, A-1 & 12-17-2011, A-1)
First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Lawrence University’s Alexander Gymnasium on September 28 as part of a rally for the Obama re-election campaign. (Post-Crescent, 9-29-12, A-1)
In January, the ACES Xavier Educational System became the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System. Xavier High School became St. Francis Xavier High School, St. Joseph Middle School became St. Francis Xavier Middle School, and the system’s four elementary schools (Catholic Central, St. Bernadette, St. Pius X, St. Thomas More) became campuses of the St. Francis Xavier Elementary School. In February, it was announced that Catholic Central and St. Bernadette schools will close permanently at the end of the 2013-14 school year. (Post-Crescent, 12-6-2012, A-1; 2-2-2013, A-1)
An ice storm in the early morning hours of April 10 caused extensive damage throughout the area, forcing schools to close and knocking out electric power to thousands. The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at Appleton North High School. (Post-Crescent, 4-11-13, A-1)
In April, demolition began on the Washington Place Building, a low-income senior housing facility in downtown Appleton, which had formerly served as the Conway Hotel. After demolition, the site became green space pending a development plan. (Post-Crescent, 4-28-2013, A-3)
In June, the Fox Cities Building for the Arts, 111 West College Avenue, was established to provide space for community arts groups. The new organization assumed operation of the Trout Museum of Art at the same location. (Post-Crescent, 6-11-13, A-1)
Houdini Plaza, remodeled at a cost of $1.5 million, was rededicated July 10. (Post-Crescent, July 11, 2013, A-1)
Damaging storms hit the area in the early morning hours of August 7, causing extensive damage throughout Appleton. Power was knocked out to thousands of customers, some of whom did not have their power restored until August 10. Five tornadoes were confirmed in Outagamie County, but despite initial reports, none struck the city of Appleton. (Post-Crescent, August 8, 2013, A-1; August 9, 2013, A-1; August 11, 2013, A-2; August 13,2013, A-1, A-4.)
The first Mile of Music festival was held in Appleton, August 8-11. More than 100 performers were featured in over 40 downtown venues, with between 10,000 and 15,000 people believed to have participated. The Mile of Music was organized by Dave Williams of Williams Marketing and local singer-songwriter Cory Chisel. (Post-Crescent, August 9, 2013, A-1; August 13, 2013, A-4.)
Appleton resident Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s first poet laureate, died at age 79 on April 21, 2015. (Post-Crescent, 4-22-2015, A-1.)
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