The Steamboat – The Manchester
Another important improvement that meant much to the Brothertown people was the coming of the steamboat in 1843. During the summer of 1842 the steamboat Black Hawk, Capt Peter Hotaling, Master ascended the Fox River to the rapids at Kaukauna, being the first steamboat to accomplish the feat. There the boat was dismantled, after which the hull was drawn up the Fox and into Lake Winnebago, thence to Brothertown and run ashore at Samnice Jimmie Creek or Elmwood Beach as it is now known. The amount of work entailed in this project must have been enormous when we consider that the boat must be dragged three quarters of a mile through the rapids at Kaukauna, then over the twelve foot falls at Appleton and again over the rapids at the outlet of the lake at Neenah. We have often wondered what methods they used to get the hull from Neenah to Brothertown over open water, whether by sail or by towing with rowboats.
That winter after the roads were frozen the engine and boiler were brought overland over the road the Stockbridge Indians had cut from Kaukauna to Stockbridge, thence over the Military road to Brothertown where the boat was rebuilt and repaired by the Brothertown Indians that winter under the supervision of Peter Hotaling and George W. Featherstonhaugh who had become part owner.
It was launched in the spring of 1843 and taken to Taycheedah for a further overhaul of the machinery but even then the machinery broke down on it first trip and was compelled to return to Taycheedah for repairs. The machinery was a well worn locomotive and caused continual trouble. The boat was small and very slow. On one of her towing trips it took her eleven days with a raft of logs to make the trip from Oshkosh to Fond du Lac and often in rough weather with only a small amount of freight aboard, it required two days for the same trip.
They renamed her the Manchester, we suppose in honor of Jeremiah Manchester, who made the first survey of the reservation in 1834. During the first few years she was used mostly for towing log rafts down the Wolf River to Fond du Lac, Neenah, and Oshkosh and transporting supplies. She was the first steamboat to ascend the Wolf River as far as Shawano. They were compelled to clear the river of obstructions as they proceeded, and when they arrived at Shawano, they had the misfortune of breaking the crank shaft of the engine and two men, Charles Westcott and Aaron Ninham, a Stockbridge Indian, took the broken piece to Green Bay where a new crank shaft was made. Though the piece weighted 151 lbs., they carried it through the wilderness and across unbridged streams to Green Bay and back to Shawano, a distance of 80 miles.
In 1847, she was completely overhauled so as to handle passengers as well as freight and a regular schedule of trips was planned. Following is the advertisement and notice which appeared in the issue of the "Fond du Lac Whig" of May 13, 1847;
"We take pleasure in inviting the public to the steamboat advertisement which appears in today's paper. The Manchester is a beautiful and commodious boat, commanded by Capt Hotaling, and fitted up for convenience or pleasure, and flies between Fond du Lac and the Rapids, three times a week, and returns on alternate days. From the gentlemanly bearing and enterprise of the captain the accommodations offered by the crew, the convenience of the boat and the cheapness of the fare and freight, we hesitate not to recommend this as the best route to the rapids or any landing on the lake shore."
The advertisement referred to in the above notice follows:
"1847. Lake Winnebago Steamboat Arrangement. The Manchester, Hotaling, Master will run during the season between Fond du Lac and Neenah as follows; Departures, Leaves Taycheedah, Monday 7:00 AM. Leaves Fond du Lac Monday 8:00 AM. For Oshkosh touching at Brothertown. Leaves Oshkosh Tuesday 8:00 AM for Taycheedah and Fond du Lac touching at Brothertown. Leaves Taycheedah Wednesday at 7:00 AM. Leaves Fond du Lac, 8:00 AM for Neenah "foot of the lake" touching at Brothertown and Oshkosh. Leaves Neenah, Thursday, 7:00 AM for Taycheedah and Fond du Lac touching at Oshkosh and Brothertown. Leaves Taycheedah, Friday 7:00AM. Leaves Fond du Lac 8:00 AM for Oshkosh touching at Brothertown. Leaves Oshkosh Saturday at 8:00 AM for Taycheedah and Fond du Lac touching at Brothertown. Fare: From Taycheedah to Brothertown, 25 cents. From Taycheedah to Oshkosh, 50 cents. From Taycheedah to Neenah, 75 cents. From Fond du Lac to Brothertown 25 cents. From Neenah to Oshkosh 50 cents. From Neenah to Taycheedah, 75 cents. From Neenah to Fond du Lac, 75 cents. Meals extra. Freight: Whiskey, per barrel, 25 cents. Flour12 cents, pork 25 cents: grain per bushel, 6 cents: household furniture, per barrel, bulk, 12 ½ cents. The above charges for freight are from any of the above ports to any other port.
The Manchester in latter years was enlarged and placed in service on the Mississippi River. The first steamboat to navigate the Fox River after the completion of the dams in 1856 was the steamboat Aquilia. She sailed down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to the junction of the Mississippi, then up the Mississippi and the Wisconsin River to Portage where it entered the Fox through the first lock, thence to Oshkosh and across Lake Winnebago to Neenah where she once more entered the Fox and thus to Green Bay.