Grignon Trading Post

First Permanent Post in Winnebago County founded 1818 by Augustin Grignon & Jas. (Jacques Francois Xavier {James} ) Porlier.

Grignon Trading Post
Just a few miles west of Oshkosh, lies the quaint village of Butte des Morts. (Translated to English, “Hill of the Dead”) It derives its name from a large hill used as a burial site by Woodland Indians and, in modern times, by the Fox (Meskwaki) Indians following two massacres by the French in the 1700’s.

In the nineteenth century, Butte des Morts and the surrounding area was lush with woodlands, bogs, marshlands and waterways, making it a paradise for trappers and local Indian tribes. This area was also within the route known today as the Fox -Wisconsin Heritage Parkway, a well traveled route for pioneers, fur traders and travelers between Green Bay and Prairie du Chien.

Augustine GrignonIt’s promise was such that it lured a young Augustin Grignon to turn his business over to his son Charles and leave his home in Kaukauna to establish what would be known as the first permanent trading post in Winnebago County. In the summer of 1818, thirty-eight year old Grignon and business partner Jacques Porlier built a business around fur trading and the selling of goods to travelers and local native American tribes.
“Their cabin was of logs, the shelves heavy with rolls of cloth, knives, glittering beads and whiskey. Oshkosh, chief of the Menominee’s, made this his principal stopping place. Here, Gen. Cass, Jefferson Davis, Col. Zachary Taylor, and other noted travelers paused on the trail from Fort Howard to Fort Winnebago, stopping long enough for a friendly visit with the proprietors. Augustin Grignon was noted for his princely hospitality. No man, woman or child was ever met with a frown at his door or turned away hungry. His house was often crowded at night to the great inconvenience of himself and family.” (Source: 1936 Wright’s Oshkosh City Directory)

Today, the trading post no longer exists. The site of this historic place is marked by a stately granite boulder with a bronze tablet attached. The marker is located at the edge of the road on County Trunk S, about a mile east of Butte des Morts. It rests at the edge of the driveway to the Overton Farm. The actual site, as indicated on the tablet, is not visible from the road and today is the center of farmed land. The Overton family has owned this land since acquiring it in a sale to settle the estate of Grignon when he died in 1860.

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