With a population of 1,442, Mishicot may be small, but it offers the visitor the friendly, small-town atmosphere for which Midwestern communities are famous. Set in the beautiful landscape of Manitowoc County, in East Central Wisconsin, it offers that and much more. Mishicot and its residents take great pride in creating an atmosphere that is both relaxing and friendly, welcoming not only visitors here for a day but also inviting them to stay for a lifetime.
Although the village of Mishicot was not legally incorporated until 1950, its history goes back much farther. A sawmill was erected in 1844 by Daniel Smith, who had moved to Wisconsin from New York, and thus began the saga of Mishicot, Wisconsin. By the time of the village's official founding in 1847, Mishicot was on its way to becoming quite prosperous. By the turn of the century, Mishicot would boast six hotels, three general stores, assorted other retailers, a movie theater, a grist mill, and even a brewery.
However, the earliest European presence in the area pre-dates Smith's sawmill by nearly half a century. In 1795, French-Canadian Jacques Vieux established a fur trading post northwest of present day Mishicot, becoming the first European to settle in the area.
Daniel Smith named the village after his friend, Chief Mishicott (now spelled Meshigaud by his descendants), as a sign of his respect for the leader of the area Potawatomi community. Local legend has always said that Mishicott's name translated to "hairy legs." However, Gard and Sorden, in their book, The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names, note that while Mishicot is a Native American term, it has been given such meanings as "covered by clouds" and "turtle," among others. They do concede, though, that "hairy legs" is the most "reliable" translation of the Chief's name. The original spelling was Mishicott, with two T’s at the end. It is believed the second T was officially dropped around the time the village was incorporated. Incidentally, in May of 1852, the township and unincorporated village was renamed Saxonburg, but the name was reverted back by November of 1853. While the village no longer bears that name, it does live on just east of the village, where both a hill and a country road carry that name.
The early settlers of Mishicot came from many countries, including Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland and Canada. In the village's earlier days these settlers and residents of Mishicot founded three churches, all of which remain today, under the Catholic (1861), Lutheran (1866), and Methodist (1903) faiths.
Mishicot's first public school was organized in 1849, and the first public school building was constructed the same year. The second school building, constructed in 1873, now serves as the home of the Mishicot Historical Museum. In addition to the public school, the village also has a parochial pre-school associated with the Lutheran church.
The major component of the local economy was, and still is, agriculture. While many dairy farms have, and still do, dot the countryside surrounding the village, the area's farmers produce much more, including grains, vegetables, meats, and wool. Also of note is that many of the farms in the Mishicot area have been run by the same families for more than a century.
While Daniel Smith's sawmill, and many of the other businesses of days gone by, have since passed into the mists of time, Mishicot is still a prosperous little village. Today, the town boasts a wood products manufacturer, a world-class vacation resort, a nationally acclaimed art gallery, and many other retail and entertainment-related businesses. Alfred Smith and Ira Clark, no doubt, would be proud of what has become of the little village they founded more than a century and a half ago.