Published on March 9, 2011 by Alice
Tomah, Menominee leader, ca. 1752 – 1818
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son of Vieux Caron and brother of Glode, whom he succeeded as war chief, 1804-1818; sympathetic to traders and settlers, Tomah refused to join uprisings against them in the American Revolution and under Tecumseh in 1811; he sided with the British during the War of 1812; his name was often anglicized as Thomas Caron. The city of Tomah was later named in his honor.
He is described by Augustin Grignon in “Seventy-two years’ recollections of Wisconsin.” (Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. 3, pages 267-272, 282-285) and by Nicolas Biddle in “Recollections of Green Bay in 1816-17″ (Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 1, pages 53-58).
In March 1806, Maj. Zebulon Pike visited Tomah several times and left a record in his Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi… (Philadelphia, 1810), pages 76-86. Pike usually refers to him as “Thomas, the Fols Avoins chief.” On page 79 Pike reprints Tomah’s explanation of why he would not take sides during the American Revolution, and he gives another short speech by the Menominee chief on page 86.
Other white authors who left accounts of Tomah are Samuel A. Storrow, whom Tomah guided from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago in 1817 (Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VI: pages 169-172), and John Shaw, with whom Tomah canoed from Prairie du Chien to St. Louis the same year (Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. X: page 216).