Capt. Thomas Anderson

A failed Christmas feast

Milwaukee in winter. Rachel Swanson photograph

Photo by Rachel Swanson

In 1803, when Milwaukee was only a trading post in the wilderness, 23-year-old Thomas Anderson arrived with dreams of becoming a fur trader. He was given a warm welcome by French traders in the area and Anderson decided to show his appreciation by treating his new friends to a grand Christmas Day feast. His written account of that long ago Christmas is preserved in the Wisconsin Historical Collection: