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about a century ago, a folio of 092 pages, in a map opposite
l)age 404, I find at the mouth of the Wisconsin the words
" Fort St. Nicolas." Thure is never much smoke without
fire, and it is hard to hold the witness of so many a map
to be all lies made out of whole cloth.

The considerations which have now been presented may
be strongly reenforcad by local traditions and ruins, but they
seem to need no confirmation. If they do not enable us to
liold fast our faith in any French fort whatever near Piairie
du Chieu, we must, if consistent, become as skeptical regard-
ing most of our early history as agnostics are regarding re-
hgion. I say, then— ''Hold the fort! AVhy not hold the
fort y

'Ms. letter of Judge C. C. Baldwin, of the Weste-n Res.rve Ilistoiical

'Thus goxl historical authorities point out the establishment of Perrofs
Fort St. Nicliolas, in 16Su. just above the mouth of the Wisconsin, accord-
iug to Fi-au(]ut]in and D'Arville, or just below, according to La I'otlierie.
It had, very likely, but a brief existence. Anotlier fort was established
iul7o5, at what is called the Lower Town of Prairie du Chieu. the par-
ticular locality of which is designated in volume ninth of the Wis. IFi^t .
CoUa., pp. 28C 91. It may be added, lliat Dr. Neill, one of the very ablest
historical investigators in theNorth-West, locates Perrot's establisliment of
1(^5, "at Prairie du Chien" - }] ^finncsota, fourth revised edition. 1SS2,
p. 70!). I^- <-'• D.


By Prof. James D. BUTLER, L. L. D.

The first mention of the name Tay-cho-pe-rah in print
which I have been able to discover, dates from ISO/. In
May of that year, the English traveler, Featherstonhaugh,
was shown in Mineral Point, a plan of seven paper cities
situated, in his own words, " near Ty-cho-be-rah " [he omits
the letter a before ij.] " or the Four Lakes." The conjunc-
tion or is ambiguous. It may imply either that Four Lakes
is a translation of the word Tay-cho-pe-rah, or that is an-
other name of a different signification. It happens to be in
my power to remove this ambiguity.

I was iiiformcd both that Ta3 - cho-pe-ra]i was the collec-
tive Indian name for the Four Lakes, and that the name
itself also signifies Four Lakes, by Gov. Doty in i)erson, and
he was on their shores earlier than any other pioneer of our
race save one or two.

But was not Gov. Doty mistaken? Several of our oldest
settlers and explorers, notably Messrs. :\Ioses M. Strong,
Darwin Clark, and G. P. Delaplaine, as well as Jefferso'ii
Davis, never heard the name Tay-cho-pe-rah; and when a
witness testified that he saw an Irishman steal a pig, Paddy
thought it a good defence to produce two witnesses ready to
testify that they did not see him steal the pig.

The statement of Governor Dot}', however, tallies with
the independent testimony of William Deviese, and of :\Ior-
gan L. ]\Iartin in a recent letter, in which it is also added
that the name Tay-cho-pe-rah is a Winnebago v/ord. It is
also in keeping with the memory of Simeon Mills, that at
the time of his arrival in :\ladison the region was called by
natives Tay-shope. No further witness was needed, and
yet I was eager for more — at least, for ascertaining what

TAY-Co-rE-PtAH — The; Four Lake Country. (J5

part of the word Tay-cho-pe-rah signifies 1a1:c, and what part
four. With tliis view I wrote half a dozen letters, and looked
tln-oiigh more volumes in vain; but have at last found what
I sought in Gallatin's Synopsis of the Indian Tribes. In
that work, the "Winnebago stands number thirty-three in a
synoptical table of leading words in some three score abori-
ginal tongues; and the Winnebago name for lake is tah-
hah,' and the name for four is tshopiwi. These elements
readily combine in Tay-cho-pe-rah.

Gallatin's book was written half a century ago, and his
authority was a Winnebago vocabulary in the AYashington
War Office, which had been sent thither by an Indian agent
named Nicholas Boilvin.'^ We must secure a complete copy
of that vocabulai-y, if extant, which has never been pub-
lished. Printed in our Historical Collections, it will
prove a monument more lasting than brass or marble, of the
race who here preceded us. It will also be more significant.
Language, a bond lighter than air, is yet stronger than iron
to draw the earliest ages into acquaintance and communion
with the latest.

Next to indifference to aboriginal language, I now regret
my neglect of their legends, but have saved one of them.
It is an odd Winnebago myth, told l)y one of the tribe in
1885, which had its local habitation on Fourtli Lake. ]\[any
centuries ago two Winnebagoes, near the ford of the Catfish,
noticed the track of a coon which they followed. It led
Ihem to the cliff, for many yeais called McBride's Point,
and now known as Maple \Muil. It led them to a hollow
tree on that promontory. In the tree they discovered a cat-
fish which they had caught. One of the Indians, moved by
some superstitious scruple, refused to eat the fish; but the

•Builviu became IikHhu agent at Prairie du Chien before 1814, aud contia-
ikU so until liis death in ISM. Hist. Coll. K., 122; III., 27;'.; IX., 2S6. We
<'^vt. his list o/ Winnebago words to Iliunholtit, wlio urged the importance
•^'f sueh collections in a K tter to Gallatin. Gallatin induced the Secretary
^' ^\ ar to order Indian agents to send such vocabularies to Washington.
-I 'l^ifies at Washington thus far fail to discover this precious vocabulary

) ' ""' '''1, .'-i i: (.

,' •■/ A


,,;] :■

€6 AViscoNSiN State Historical Society.

otlier, being very hungry, made a hearty meal on his cap-
tures—indeed, devoured it altogether. But his appetite was
no sooner satisfied than he became fearfully thirsty. He
betook himself to the springs; but the more he drank the
more thirsty he grew. His agony became so intense that
in desperation he waded into Fourth Lake. Then behold a
new wonderl As soon as tlie water rose above his middle
his thirst ceased, but returned the moment he ventured
where the lake was more shallow. The truth was he had
become a fishified man,— and was never known to draw
near the sliore again. Strange noises, however, heard on
the bluff, were for ages regarded by the Red Men as made
by their fishified brother — at mid-niglit beating his war
drum in the deep water off :Maple Bluff. The last of these
nocturnal manifestations was coincident with the first settle-
ment of whites in the ]Maple Grove.

How early the aboriginal name had been translated into
Four Lakes by our pioneers, I can not ascertain. In ISIT,
the name " Four Lakes" was already in use. In that year,
T^Iaj. S. H. Long, in the midst of a voyage up the Mississippi,
in a six-oared skiff, to the Falls of St. Anthony, writes, in a
volume first published in ISGO: " Rock river in high water
is navigable al)out three hundred miles to what are called
the Four Lakes.'' The name must then be older than 1S17.
albeit it is not set down on :\Iolish's large map, five feet by
three, of the year before. It is not unlikely that the word
Four Lakes will turn out to be a translation of the old
French name. Rock River certainly is, appearing on our
old maps (Ur.O) as FJvieve de la Jiovhe. Rock river was
called by the Algonquins Sin-sepe, and by the Winnebagoes
We-ro-sha-na-gra. Both these Indian terms have the same
meaning with the P^nglish name. As the whites adopted
an aboriginal name for the river, it is not unlikely that they
obtained fi-om the same source their collective name for the
group of lak(>s on its head waters.

Althou.Lvh tlie name Four Lakes was mentioned by Long
in 1817, it may not have been much used. In the minute
account of his march in isj:], in a direct line from Chicago
to Prairie du Chien, striking Rock River at the mouth of


Tay-Cho-Pe-Raii — The Fouk Lake Country. CT

the Cottonwood or Xisliwaukee, Long says nothing about
the Four Lakes.' Nor is the name mentioned by ]\rorFe.
father of the telegraphic inventor, who in IS'^O was at Prai-
rie du Chien, and there heard from Law, an Indian trader,
that the Rock River country abounded in small lakes, one
of them called Koshkonong.

No one of the names by which we now designate the
Four Lakes can be traced back any further than 1840. In
that year Frank Hudson, a surveyor, suggested the names
}iIendota and Monona, the former being said to signify
{/rcat, and the latter heautiful. These names appeared so
proper that they soon came into common use. About six
years later, "NVaubesa meaning 6-^r«>z, and Kegonsa meaning
fisli, were proposed by Lyman C. Draper. In ]8o5, on Feb-
ruary 14th, a bill passed the Legislature, legalizing all these
Four Lake names.

It is pleasant to know that the meanings assigned to the
present names of the Four Lakes, rest, in part at least, on
good authority. ]\[cndota realb^ signifies Great Lake in Da-
kota, a tongue of tlie same family with Winnebago. In the
excellent Dakota dictionary by the Missionary Riggs, mde is
the word for lake, and ota for great. The primitive mean-
ing of mde is probably water, for the two elements when
combined often mean a confluence. Thus the meeting of
tliC St. Peter's river with tlie ^Mississippi, was called ]\ren •
(lota by the Dakotas.

The word Monona I have sought in a good many Indian
vocabularies without success, yet I still trust Mr. Hudson
had reason to say that its import is heautiful. No word
^vhateve^ for beautiful was set down in the list of words
"^^hich the Government agent among the Winnebagoes drew
^il> by order of the AVar De]iartment.-

In C}iii)povva, AVabeseor Waubesie is the name of a swan,
•'^ud Kigons^jo, for lish in general. Dr. Draper's authority is

'l^iug's Travels, i, p. 184.
The best Wiiiiiubaj^o ^t•lll>l;u• known to me, s;iys i]\:ii Montnia in that
i'Hguo means lost, and tlien as tilings are so ciften lost tlirougli stealing-, its
*lnef meaniu;r was stolen.

68 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

the Miscellanies of Col. De Peystcr,' who was the British
officer in command at Mackinaw in 1774 and five years after.
This work was publislied anonymously, but the author wrote
his name in a copy which he presented to Lady Dungannon,
and which has been for more than thirty years treasured by
Dr. Draper. One other copy of this work is known to be ex-
tant in America, and one abroad.

The United States survey of the Four Lakes was not exe-
cuted till 1830. The officer who performed this work, Cap-
tain Cram, of the Engineers, speaks of them as then well
knov/n by the numbers of one, two, three and four. The
official figures respecting Fourth Lake, are: Length, six
miles, breadth four, area fifteen and sixty-five one-hun-
dredtlis miles, circumference nineteen miles and one-fourth.
Five years before this date, the Government land survey
took place, and the surveyor marked the lakes on his plot,
"First, Second, Third and Fourth," as if their names were
then, in 1834, as well established as that of Rock river itself.
On Chandler's map, however, which was made in Galena,
only five years earlier, in 1820, th? lakes have no numbers,
although there are sevei-al inscriptions about them, as "Fine
farming land around these lakes," " Canoe portage two hun-
dred yards," "Winnebago village," etc.

No rccoT'd has met my eye as to why the numeration of
the Four T^akes began from the south rather than from the
north. Seeking for the reason may be thought as vain a
search as that for the dilference between tweedledum and
tweedledee. Yet that reason seems to me clear. Explora-
tion has usually been made by ascending rivers from their
mouths and their peculiarities, if recurring in a series, are
natui-ally classed in the order of discovery. Thus, on the
Nile, the cataracts, as you go up that river, are numbered
before you reach Khartoum from first to sixth. Accord-
ingly, T am inclined to think the first English-speaking pio-
neers who can-ic upon the Foui- Lakes, were acquainted with
tlio custom of numbering up stream, and followed it, no
matter from what quarter they had, in fact, approached

'Vol. 1, p. 274.

Tay-Cho-Pe-Rah— The Four Lakp: CouxTKY. • C9

those watei-s. In 1S29, a treaty was concluded with the AVin-
nebagoes, in whicli tlie water now known as Fourth Lake is
mentioned. It is called, however, " the most northern of the
four lakes/' as if it was not yet known by its number. >

It is a pity that our pioneers designated the Four Lakes
by numbers. If they had not, we should now know their
original Indian names, and the meaning of those names.
Dead Lake was not numbered, and so J. A. Noonan, a land-
hunter here in 1837, heard its name as Wingra, and ascer-
tained tliat Wingra means duck.' We may fairly conclude
that but for usurping numbers IVIr. Noonan would have
heard the aboriginal appellations of all ihe Four Lakes, and
would have transmitted them, as he did Wingi-a, to. the art
preservative of all arts.

The birth-year of Madison is commonly considered to have
been ]S3:; but fully five years earlier, there was at least one
house built here, and that by a French builder. In 1832, on
the 15th of October, two deserters from Fort Winnebago
were arrested near what we call Johnson street, at the trad-
ing-house of a Frenchman, Oliver Anjiel.

Armel's cliristian nameis printed *' Louis" in the books;
but I Avrite it Oliver on the authority of Simeon IMilis. His
testimony is more credible than any book, for he was the
justice to whom Armel afterwards came for marriage, and
be heard him called Oliver for years.'

Armel was in the Four Lake country at least as early as
1S2I>. In August of that year, in passing Third Lake, he

'ir/s. Ilist CoUs., vii, p. 410.

'In Dr. Chapman's sketcl), 11 7,>;. //i67. Colls., iv. C47, tho name Louis
-Aimol IS given, followed by Durrie'a, and Park's, Histories of Madison.
In the treaty at Prairie du Cliien, iu 1829, thirty years before Dr. Cliapniau
^vroto, we find the orthography "Oliver .\rmoll." whose two cliildrcn,
<-'atliariiie and Oliver, each received a section of land from the AVinneba-
«oes — evidently l)ecause tiieir mother was of tliat tribe. At the treaty
^^Uh the Pottawotamios ;it Uliicago, in Se]>(. 1?33, a claim of $300 was
•dluwed to "Oliver Emnu-11." De La Ponde, Wis. Hist. Colls., Vlll, 'MO,
^vntfs "Oliver Arimell;" and Noonau, iu same volume, 410, lias it "Ar-
'^'^■1'." Tiic lUnstralcd Klstonj of Dane County, gives the name as " Oli-
^fr Kiuelj," pp. 3C7, 3G'J, 40?.

I ;j I

;(;;: ,:;:; . - ■ ".Ii •/" • ■ '

70 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

saw a horse that had been stolen by Indians two weeks be-
fore, from :\lajor Deviese at his Diggings in Exeter. On Iris
way to the place where he then lived, which was near Beloit,
he gave the Major such information as enabled him to re-
cover his horse. lie had come from Fort Winnebago to in-
form the Indians of a council to be held at that Fort on the
twelfth of August.

In 1830 Armel was still a resident on the site of ]\Iadison,
and joined John De La Uonde who had come from Portage
to buy deer skins, and seven other Frenchmen in celebrating
the Fourth of July.' Independence Day, then, v>'as here first
commemorated by eight foreigners. The next year Armel
was living on the east shore of J^'irst Lake.

The written story of Armel as established within the lim-
its of Madison, we owe to Dr. Chapman.^ He seems to have
derived it from James Halpin, one of the soldiers who ar-
rested the deserters, and who was years afterwards an
employe in the Capitol.

The soldiers had ran away from the Fort in order to buy
rum, and, as their post was forty miles distant, could hardly
have known about Armel's saloon, had it not been an estab-
lishment of soniL^ permanence. Another fact points the
same way. Five hundred Indians had resorted to the same
point VvMth the thirsty soldiers, and that for the same pur-

In some cities tlic first thing built has been a temple, or
altar, or palace, or hospital, or foi-t; but our hrst building
was a grog-sliop — a humiliating confession — albeit a thou-
sand places must make the same. One is reminded of Dar -
winians tracing man up, or down, to the monkey.

An American cent of 1798, and several Spanish silver
coins, picked up in 1880 in Sorenson's garden, may have been
lost by thD intoxicated soldiers, and possibly mark the very
spot where Armel had fixed his market with the abori-

' Wis. jrist. CoUs. ,\u., ;jco,

'Ibid, iv., p. 317.

"Madison Slate Journal, April 2(i, 18S0.

, /

Tay-Cho-Pe-Rah — The Four Lake Couxtrv. n

It is noteworthy that our earliest knowledge of the Madi-
sonian locality is connected with a military establishment.
Capt. Low and the privates who there seized the run-aways,
came from a United States post.

The relation of the army to the progress of settlement has
not been appreciated. In 1883^ when the Northern Pacific
was opened, army officers in the wide West bitterly com-
plained to me that everybody was extolled to the skies ex-
cept the military.

" Yet," said Gen. Morrow, chief marshal at Portland, "the
army downward from Capts. Lewis and Clark, in ]804, ex-
plored and conquered the whole country from the Alleglian-
ies to the Pacific. The arm^^ has surveyed routes, constructed
military roads, protected railroad engineers and workmen,
given them medicines, surgeons, refuge in forts; in every
way it has been an entering wedge, — sword and shield to
civilians. Its emblem is St. Geoi-ge slaying the dragon."

A similar boast might be made by military men regarding
the founding of "Wisconsin. Government forts heralded its
birth, and cradled its infancy. In ] 81G, forts were establish-
ed at Chicago and Prairie du Chien, the next year at Green
l-ay, in 1810 at Rock Island, in lS:-':.Mier.r St. Paul, and, in
lS-.>8, at the portage between the Pox and Wisconsin Rivers.
Thus strong-holds and soldiers, ]iorth, south, east and west,
were pillars of cloud by day and of fire by night, to guide,
cheer, and save pioneers into the terra incoyniia of AVis-

The frontier services of the army have been undervalued;
but the fault may lie with frontier ofiicers. Had half those
gentlemen been as careful to write out their experiences as
I-ewis and Clark were, even when drenchetl with rain, or
^vhen ink was freezing, the world would have known by
boa it the merits of the military. The pen is mightier than
tljo sword.

Armel was a fur-trader. What but furs could the Indians
bring him which he could send to the whisky maiket, and
obtain the supplies he most needed for sale? But the furs
^^'Inch Armel sought must alwa3\s have abounded in ]\[adi-
^ouian regions; and one Prenchma]i, John Xicolet, had pene-


72 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

trated to Wisconsin in quest of furs as early as 1C3L There
is then nothing incredible— perhaps nothing improb-
able—in the assertion, that some Frenchmen must have
reached :\Iadison and buill fur-factories there a century ago,
or a century before Armel arrived there. That point must
have been tlie more attractive, thanks to fish from the
lakes, sugar-trees on their shores, and a short portage by
way of Pheasant Creek or Branch to the Wisconsin river.
Canoes often needed no portage between those waters, as
Gov. Dodge was informed.

Eegarding the attractiveness of the Four Lake country to
Frenclnnen long ago, I have met with an unexpected fact
which countenances my theory, tliat Frenchmen made their
way to this nook of paradise at a very early date. Since
commencing this paper, I have fallen in with the name of
one Frenchman who was no doubt on the Four Lakes before
Armel was born, and possibly made his home here. Tliis
man's name was Le Sellier, the French for Saddler, an old
French cnaagc, who was enlisted by Maj. Long as a guide
in lS-2d from Chicago to Prairie du Chien, "because he had
lived over thirty years with the Indians, had taken a Win-
nebago wife, and settled on the head- waters of Rock river."
Le Selliei-'s dwelling is as likely to have been on Mendota as
on Koshkonong '— and that one hundred years ago. It is
more than sixty years since he served as Long's guide, and
he had already been in this country more than thirty years.
In the lowest deep I hope for a lower deep.

But, hovvever it may have been with ]*>encli adventurers,
no man with Anglo-Saxon blood has been discovered to
have planted himself in the Four Lake country so early
as the Frenchman Armel, and few are known to have trav-
eled it before his era.

The first of those few, so far as I know, was Ebenezer ;
Brigham, the earliest known Yankee inhabitant of Dane
county. The lead mine which he opened in 1S^^S, was near
its western boundary. In that same year he made, with two
companions, an expedition to Portage. The object of this ;

^Keating, i., p. 175.

.;;':• 'J

,i'i\. ^'A'

Tay-Ciio-Pe-Raii — The Fouii Lake Country. 73

journey was to ascertain whetlier lie could not export lead,
as well as procure the flour and other things he needed, to
better advantage in Portage than in Galena. His route
thither, that is to Fort AVinnebago, ran to tlie nortli-west of
Fourth Lake, and he obtained from the army sutler a modi-
cum of bread, pork and powder. His return course was
more southerly, so as to strike the Indian trail which ran
between Third and Fourth lakes, crossing both the Capitol
and the University hills. Mr. Brigham's visit to Portage
must have been late in 1^23, for the fort there was not estab-
lished till the 7th of October in that year. Possibly, how-
ever, his discovery of the Aladisonian site did not occur till
tlie year follovv'ing, 1820. His account-books show that his
mining begun on June 2ord, 1S2S.

He made the following statement as early as 1845, to H.
A. Tenney, who has furnished it to me in writing: " He
reached the hill on which Aladison is mainly located, on the
afternoon of tlie day he left the Fort, and set up his tent of
blankets within the limits of the present Capitol park, near,
as he pointed out to me, the eastern gate-way, as nearly as
he could recall the spot. The site was at the time an open
prairie, on which grew a few dwarf Ofiks, wliile tliickets
covered the lower grounds. Struck with tlie strange beauty
of the place, he predicted tliat a village or a city would in
time grow up tliere, and it might be tlie capital of a State.
Tliis, he informed me, was in ^laj, eight years before Wis-
consin became a Territoiy in 1830."

Pi is easy to see why the Four Lake countiy was not
'v-arlier visited by whites, although the ^^^isconsin river^
downward from the voyage of IMarquetie had been a thor-
♦^'ighfare. The truth is, that, at first, canoes w^re the only
conveyances known. It was some generations after ]\lar-
M'lette's mission, before the Indians of the Xorth- West ob-
inned ponies of tlie Spaniards. Wisconsin way-farers, who
lt:id no canoes, afterward walked near the old water-route:
'i'ld there, too, the first militaiy road from the Fort at Port-
^';;'e to Prairie du Chien was laid out.

-"^Ir. Biigliam died in Aladison, and lies buried in its Forest
6-11. s.

74 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

Hill cemetery. I love to tliink of him as closing his ej'es
on eai'th amid the loveb^ lakes he had been perhaps the
first of his race to discover, thirty-three years before, and as
buried on a hill which oveiiooks the church for buikling
which he gave the first thousand dollars, and the city that.
as a member of the Territorial Council, he did so
much to found. As he was a Puritan Pilgrim, his monu-
ment is with special fitness a massive and monolithic obe-
lisk of granite from his native Massachusetts. A gun
carried by one of his ancestors in King Philip's war, is
among the ]-elics in the "Wisconsin Historical Society.

After Brigham's turning aside to the Four Lakes in lS:?s,
I know of no other white visitors till ^lay in the following
year. At that time Judge Doty, who bad in each of the
four previous years passed from Green Pay to Prairie du
Chien b}' Avatcr, made the same journey on horse back.
His companion was Morgan L. Martin. They had wit!)
them a Menomonee Indian guide with a pack-horse, and a
young half-blood Menomonee. They were conducted on
their return between Second and Third Lakes, and then
betweenWingra and Third, and so west and north to Portage.'
They had heard of the Lake country, and desired to in-
spect it.-

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