By Correne Martin
Local author Marilyn Leys felt it was a peculiar story that must be told. The life of Jane Fisher Rolette Dousman, the first woman in Wisconsin Territory to file for a divorce, intrigued Leys initially almost three decades ago—many years before she herself would move to Jane’s hometown of Prairie du Chien. Finally, in December of 2013, Leys’ novel, “Madame Jane,” was published.
Just after the War of 1812, 14-year-old Jane married Joseph Rolette, the most powerful, ruthless fur trader in Prairie du Chien, the western outpost of the American Fur Company. After she was separated and widowed by Rolette, Jane married a second wealthy fur trader, Hercules Louis Dousman, who built a mansion that preceded the Villa Louis.