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Bean, E. F.; b. 1882 ; (Earnest F.) / Lake Mendota : origin and history
(1936)

Brown, Charles E.
History of the Lake Mendota region,   pp. 13-16


Page 13


LAKE MENDOTA --- Origin and History
          History oF the Lake Mendota Region
                 by CHARLES E. BROWN, Director
                      State Historical Museum
    HE Winnebago Indian name for Lake Mendota or Fourth Lake
    is Wonk-shek-ho-mik-la, meaning "where the man lies". The name
    Mendota, given to this lake in 1849 by Frank Hudson, a Madison
surveyor, is a Sioux Indian name meaning "the mouth of the river".
The Prairie Potawatomi called the lake Mant6-ka, "snake maker",
re-
ferring perhaps to the early abundance of rattlesnakes at different places
along its shores.
    The Four Lakes region, was known to the Winnebago Indians as
Tay-cho-pe-ra. The other three lakes are Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa.
Lake Wingra, a smaller lake, is connected with Lake Monona by a creek.
The length of Lake Mendota is 6 miles and its greatest breadth 4 2miles.
Its area is 15.2 square miles. The walking distance around the lake is
24 miles. The greatest depth of the lake is 84 feet and the average depth
3712 feet. The Yahara or Catfish river (Mydn-mek) flows into Lake
Mendota on its north shore. This stream connects the four lakes with
each other.
    The earliest American travelers to visit the Four Lakes were James
D. Doty (afterwards territorial governor of Wisconsin). Morgan L.
Martin of Green Bay, and Lieut. Jefferson Davis (afterwards president
of the Southern Confederacy), then stationed at Fort Winnebago, at
Portage. John Catlin and Moses Strong staked out the center of the plat
of Madison in February, 1837. Mr. and Mrs. Eben D. Peck, the first white
settlers, came to the site of Madison from Blue Mounds, April 15, 1837.
    They erected a log cabin near present King street, overlooking Lake
Monona. Here the men who came to erect the first Madison state capitol
building were boarded. Oliver Armel, a Frenchman, then had an Indian
trading cabin between the capitol site and the Lake Mendota shore. At
west point, on the northeast shore of the same lake, Wallace Rowan,
another Indian trader, had a cabin in 1832. In 1833 he disposed of this
post to Michel St. Cyr, a French Canadian. He traded with the Winne-
bago Indians until after the building of Madison. The Sauk chief Black
Hawk with his warriors and women retreated over the site of Madison on
his way to the Wisconsin river in July, 1832. A monument on the Upper
University campus marks the line of his pursuit by U. S. troops.
    Winnebago Indian villages and camps were located at a number of
places on the shores of Lake Mendota before and after white men came
to this region. Their dome-shaped wigwams consisted of a framework of
bent saplings covered with strips of bark or rush matting. They grew
corn at all of their villages. In 1837 one of their large villages was located
on the shores of a large marshy area, now Tenney Park, on the east shore
of the lake and the adjoining lake shores. It had several hundred in-
habitants. Its name is given as Chee-nunk, "village".
13


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