Michel Brisbois (1759-1837)
Brisbois was a French-Canadian voyageur who was active in the upper Mississippi River valley as early as 1781. Originally a fur trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, he eventually settled in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where he became a baker. Still a trader at heart, Brisbois, noting the lack of stability in early government currency, encouraged the use of bread (from his bakery) as a unit of exchange. During the War of 1812, he furnished supplies to both the American and British forces but maintained a pro-British attitude. Arrested for treason at the close of the war, he was sent to St. Louis for trial but was acquitted. He was appointed associate justice for Crawford County by Governor Cass of Michigan Territory (1819), and thereafter held various local offices in the Prairie du Chien area. He died in Prairie du Chien in June, 1837. Brisbois House - Built in 1815, the Michel Brisbois House served as a trading post and warehouse of the American Fur Company. In the 1850s the house was demolished. By 1923, the Bernard Brisbois House was believed to be the Michel Brisbois House and was thought of being one of the oldest European-American buildings in the State of Wisconsin. However, after careful research by the Wisconsin Historical Society, it was determined that this structure was not the famed Michel Brisbois House but rather a home built by Joseph Rolette as part of a separation contract negotiated in 1836 for his estranged wife Jane Fisher Rolette, a relative of Michel Brisbois, who upon her second marriage transferred the title of the property to her cousin Bernard Walter Brisbois.