Fredrick S. Perkins
Fredrick S. Perkins was born in December 1832 in Trenton Falls, New York. Four years later, in 1836, his father Origen Perkins moved the family to Burlington, Wisconsin, where they established the first residential home in township, as well as a log tavern and general store. At the age of twenty, Fredrick went to New York City and enrolled in the American Academy of Design, where he honed his skills as a talented artist. Returning to Burlington in 1864, he married Emily Wainwright and settled down on the family farm. He soon developed a great interest for prehistoric artifacts and began amassing a collection primarily comprised of stone tools. In 1871 at the age of 39 he found his first copper spear point three miles north of Burlington. This find intensified his collecting obsession and he began to focus on gathering copper implements (Anonymous 1968:127-28).
Over the next several years F.S. Perkins traveled throughout southern Wisconsin interviewing people in numerous townships about known locations of copper items. Many times he would leave his card with a sketch of the desired artifact in case any would turn up. By the mid 1870s, he had spent a small fortune on his collection and garnered a reputation as holding one of the most comprehensive collections of midwestern archaeological material ever amassed. He soon became an acknowledged authority on Old Copper artifacts to the degree that he is commemorated in the Wisconsin Archaeologist journal in 1903. "Mr. Perkins was an acknowledged authority upon the rare and interesting copper implements of Wisconsin and adjacent states. Probably more specimens of these were in his possession at different times than are to be found in any public museum or private collection in the world" (West 1903:12).
In the year 1885, Perkins contributed over 20,000 archaeological artifacts, primarily collected throughout the state of Wisconsin, to the then brand new Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. The entire collection was purchased for the reasonable sum of $2,000. Included in this transaction were 153 rare examples of Wisconsin Old Copper artifacts. From the report of the committee on the Perkins Collection, it is clear how important these little understood artifacts were:
"With respect to the copper implements in the collection of Mr. Perkins…they present many unsolved problems and uncertainties as to their origin and their mode of manufacture, thus making them objects of great interest to the students of American Ethnology… and yet the preservation of those already in possession, and the careful collections of others, remains as a religious duty on the part of those charged with the keeping of the treasures of human history" (G.H. Paul, G.W. Peckham, C.L. Mann, June 1885).
H.H. Hayssen of New Holstein, Wisconsin was known to have been an avid collector and amateur archaeologist. In 1877 he excavated an early historic burial (47-CT-38), which he then sold to the MPM twenty years later in 1897. The Milwaukee Public Museum purchased the H.H Hayssen collection of Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology for the sum of $1,855. Included in this collection were at least 125 Old Copper artifacts found within Wisconsin. These copper artifacts represent fine examples, however many do not have specific provenience information.