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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Butterfield, C. W.
III.--Pre-territorial annals of Wisconsin,   pp. 29-41 PDF (6.5 MB)

Page 30

Indians, was the first of civilized men to unlock the mystery of its situation
and people. French
authorities upton the St. Lawrence sent' him as an ambassador to the Winnebagoes,
of whom he
had heard strange stories, On his outward voya~ge he visited the Hurons-allies
of the French
-a tribe seated upon the eastern side of the lake which bears their name,
and Nicolet was
empowered to negotiate a peace with them. "When he approached the Winnebago
town, he sent
some of his Indian attendants to announce his coming, put on a robe of damask,
and advanced
to meet the expectant crowd with a pistol in each hand. The squaws and children
fled, scream-
ing that it was a manito, or spirit, armed with thunder and lightning; but
the chiefs and warriors
regaled him with so bountiful a hospitality, that a hundred and twenty beavers
were devoured at
a single feast." Such was the advent of the daring Frenchman into what
is now the State of
    "Upon the borders of Green bay," wrote the Jesuit, Paul le
Jeune, in 1640, " are the Meno-
monees; still farther on, the Winnebagoes, a sedentary people, and very numerous.
Frenchmen," he continues, "call them the ' Nation of the Stinkards,'
because the Algonquin
word Winipeg signifies 'stinking water.' Now they thus call the water of
the sea; therefore,
these people call themselves ' Winnebagoes,' because they came from the shores
of a sea of which
we have no knowledge; consequently we must not call them the ' Nation of-
Stinkards,' but the
' Nation of the Sea.' " From these Men of the Sea, Nicolet passed westward,
ascended Fox
river of Green Bay, until nigh the portage to the Wisconsin, down which stream
he could have
floated easily to the Mississippi, the "great water" of his guides,
which he mistook for the
sea. This adventurous Frenchman, when so near re-discovering the river which
has given
immortality to De Soto, turned his face to the eastward; retraced his steps
to Green bay, and
finally returned in safety to Quebec. This was the first exploration of what
is now Wisconsin-
only fourteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims upon the wild sh1ores
of New England.
     Wisconsin, for twenty-four years after its discovery, was left to its
savage inhabitants. At
length, in 1658, two daring fur traders penetrated to Lake Superior, and
wintered there. They
probably set foot upon what is now Wisconsin soil, as they made several trips
among the sur-
rounding tribes. They saw, among other things, at six days' journey beyond
the lake, toward
the southwest, Indians that the Iroquois had driven from their homes upon
the eastern shores of
Lake Huron. These Frenchmen heard of the ferocious Sioux, and of a great
river-not the sea,
as Nicolet had supposed-on wbich they dwelt. This was the Mississippi; and
to these traders
is the world indebted for a knowledge of its existence; as De Soto's discovery
was never used,
and soon became well-nigh, if not entirely, forgotten. From these upper countries,
in the Sum-
mer of 166o, the two returned to Quebec, with three hundred Indians in sixty
canoes, laden with
peltry. This was, indeed, the dawn-though exceedingly faint-of what is now
the commerce of
the great Northwest. Nineteen years after flashed a more brilliant light;
for, in 1679, the
"Griffin," laden with furs, left one of the islands at the mouth
of Green bay, on its return-
spreading her sails for Niagara, but never more-to be heard of.
     Following in the footsteps of the fur traders came the Jesuit missionaries
to Lake Superior;
one of them, Father Menard, as early as I66o, reaching its southern shore
as far to the westward,
probably, as Kewenaw, in the present State of Michigan. There is no positive
evidence, however,
that he or his French companions, visited any portion of what is now Wisconsin;
although the next
year, 1661, some of his associates probably passed down the Menomonee river
to Green bay.
Following Menard came Father Claude Allouez, arriving on the first day of
October, 1665, at
"Chagowamigong," or "Chegoimegon," now Chequamegon, or
Ashland Bay, "at the bottom of
which," wrote the missionary, " is situated the great villages
of the savages, who there plant their
fields of Indian corn, and lead a stationary life." Near by he erected
a small chapel of bark--the

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