Courthouse
Courthouse

On October 26, 1818, Brown County was created by proclamation of Lewis Cass, Governor of the Michigan Territory. Brown County was named for Gen. Jacob Brown who is recognized as a hero while serving in the War of 1812 where the British tried to take our territory.

On March 17, 1835, three townships were organized in Brown County. That of Green Bay comprised all the district of country north of private claim No. 2, and east of the Fox River and Green Bay; or all that land lying north of Main Street. The first township meeting was to be held at the schoolhouse in Navarino. The township of Mason (named after Stevens T. Mason, governor of Michigan at that date) included the area of land on the east side of the Fox River, south of private claim No. 2, and the first township assembly was to meet in the courthouse at Menomineeville. The township of Howard extended from the Grand Kakalin, the other limits indefinite, on the west side of the Fox River, and the initial meeting was to convene at the house of Jacques Porlier.

Mason township existed for only one year when the township of Green Bay absorbed Navarino, Astor and Shantytown on the east side of the river and Howard the villages on the west side. In 1836, the territory of Wisconsin was organized and a general law of village incorporation was passed.

In 1838, the territorial council established the “Town of Wilcox” (named after Randall Wilcox) which included what is now De Pere, on both sides of the river, but in March, 1839, the east side became part of the town of De Pere, and the west side was again included in the town of Howard.

Thirty years after Brown County was first created, the state of Wisconsin was admitted to the union thanks to the leadership of Morgan L. Martin who presided over the second constitutional convention in Madison.

Upon the admission of Wisconsin as a state in 1848, a new town was set off from Howard and named Lawrence in honor of Amos A. Lawrence, founder of the university at Appleton, and in 1852 the town of Pittsfield was organized. By legislative enactment, on February 27, 1854, Green Bay was incorporated as a city, and on April 4, 1854, a popular vote transferred the county seat from De Pere to Green Bay.1

Currently, Brown County has 2 cities, 9 villages and 13 towns, along with a number of other unincorporated communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 616 square miles, of which 530 square miles is land and 86 square miles is water. The present boundary was established in 1852. Brown County has an estimated population of 257,897.

1 Martin, Deborah Beaumont. History of Brown County, Wisconsin: Past and Present. Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913. Google books. Web. 20 Sept. 2008. https://books.google.com/books?id=hz8VAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=history+of+brown+county+wisconsin&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwuZb8iqPXAhUL6YMKHan3C3wQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20brown%20county%20wisconsin&f=false