Davis Contracts Pneumonia

After graduating from West Point in 1828, Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy, was assigned to the 1st Infantry and stationed at Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien.

His first assignment, in 1829, was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red Cedar River, a tributary of the Chippewa River in northwestern Wisconsin, for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago, at Portage. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill on another Chippewa River tributary, the Yellow River, in 1831, he contracted pneumonia and returned to Fort Crawford.

The gardens and the sawmill on the Yellow River were viewed by Keokuk as a breech of the 1825 treaty, and he voiced his displeasure in 1829 to Major Kearney, Commander of Fort Crawford. In spite of Keokuk's opposition the sawmill, located three and one miles from the mouth of the Yellow River became operational in October of 1829. The sawmill was located on the first riffle of the Yellow River, where a dam was built to create the necessary headwater to power the saws. In the summer of 1831, Lt. Jefferson Davis oversaw work at the sawmill, although during most of the time stationed on the Yellow River, Davis was ill. The sawmill location is found today in the Heritage Addition of Effigy Mounds National Monument. Some tangible evidence of the site was documented by rangers Bob Palmer and Dennis Lenzendorf in the fall of 2003, when low water exposed a few timbers and an old cabin site was located just to the west of the sawmill.