Fort La Pointe
Fort La Pointe (1693-1698, 1718-1759, 1793-1815, 1815-1847) - A French Fur Trading Post and Fort established in 1693 near present-day La Pointe on Madeline Island, Ashland County, Wisconsin. Initially named Le Sueur's Fort after the builder. Le Sueur's Fort was abandoned in 1698. The French returned to the Island in 1718 and built Fort La Pointe but left again in 1762 as a result of the French defeat in the French & Indian War. The British North West Company (NWC) established their own trading post in 1793, built by Michel Cadotte. It was taken over by the American Fur Company (AFC) about 1816 as the British relinquished their trading posts in America. The AFC ceased trading in 1847.
Le Sueur's Fort was a fortified French Fur Trading Post established near present-day La Pointe on Madeline Island, Wisconsin. Pierre Le Sueur selected Madeline Island for the trading post and fort in 1693. The post was garrisoned with a company of traders and some 30 soldiers under the command of La Gardeur de St. Pierre.
Le Sueur's Fort was abandoned in 1698. The French returned to the Island in 1718 and built Fort La Pointe. Fort La Pointe became New France's principal fur-trading post on Lake Superior, but the French had to leave in 1759 as a result of the French defeat in the French & Indian War.
The French forts were established on the south end of Madeline Island near present-day Point Grant. Both of the French fort sites were positioned on the coast with access to the lake and both had a lagoon that provided a sheltered landing for native canoes. The first site was located on the west side and just north of the point. The second site was located further north on the west side of the island and had the added advantage of a sheltering bay entrance to the lagoon.
The British North West Company (NWC) established their trading post on the island in 1793, built by Michel Cadotte. It was taken over by the Michilimackinac Company in 1806 and the South West Company about 1811 as the British looked for ways to keep operating their trading posts in America. While the managing company name changed the local operators remained the same.
In 1811 American John Jacob Astor and some of the North West Company British partners formed the South West Company (SWC). The SWC was to operate the former NWC trading posts on the American side of Lake Superior giving them American and British ownership to avoid growing anti-British sentiment in the United States. The NWC post at Madeline Island was one of these posts. The War of 1812 negated this arrangement because the British came to control this area of the Great Lakes and Astor did not receive any profits from the continued operation of the affected trading posts during the war.
The South West Company (SWC) post was taken over by Astor's American Fur Company about 1815 when the U.S. Congress passed a law forbidding foreign ownership of trading posts on American soil. It was this last change in ownership that saw Michel Cadotte leave the post in 1816.
About 1834 the American Fur Company moved its operation to the nearby town of La Pointe because the lagoon at the old French Fort site was filling with sand. The new site became the headquarters for the Northern Outfit of the American Fur Company. The company declared bankruptcy in 1842 and ceased trading in 1847. The name and assets of the American Fur Company were purchased by Pierre Chouteau, Jr. & Company of St. Louis and use of the name continued into the 1860s.
The first two fort sites have archeological remains only and the locations are not confirmed. The final site was located in the town of La Pointe and part of that site is now the Madeline Island Museum which incorporates a small 1835 warehouse from the historic American Fur Company complex.