European settlers arrived heavily in Wisconsin between 1840 and 1920. There were many reasons why immigrants chose Wisconsin such as available land, economic opportunity, religious freedom or political liberty. Wisconsin was unique to many states because it gave male residents the right to vote after only one year of residency without requiring English competency. Prospects of available farmland in Wisconsin was the major draw to immigrants between 1850 and 1860. This land was government owned and sold for about $1.25 an acre. By 1900, 71.1% of Wisconsin residents were born abroad or had parents who were born abroad (Ostergren, R. and Vale, T., Wisconsin Land and Life 1997). There were three distinct waves of immigration to Wisconsin as described below.
The first wave of settlement in Wisconsin consisted of large numbers of European immigrants
Areas of settlement were located near the La Crosse, Eau Claire, Hudson and Portage rivers
It occurred between 1850 and 1860
The second wave of settlement in Wisconsin increased European immigration
Areas of settlement were located between mid-state rivers
The Door Peninsula, Shawano, Wausau and Eau Claire were settled in this era
It occurred between 1860 and 1880
Scandinavians made up the third wave of settlement in Wisconsin
Counties settled in this period include Burnett, Polk, Barron, Chippewa, Clark, Wood,
Marathon, Lincoln, Langlade, Oconto and Marinette
It occurred between 1880 and 1920.