Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Little Butte des Morts and the Neenah River

Illustration found in Chapter 4, Ancient Works in the Basin of the Neenah, or Fox River of Green Bay, in a book titled:

This treatise was commissioned by the Smithsonian in 1855.  Mr. Lapham described in great detail the many Indian mounds he found in the area, as well as a short history of Doty Island.  Menasha at that time, was a village; cityhood was 23 years in the future.  Of interest is that the Fox River was also known as the Neenah River and the two names are used quite interchangably throughout this work.  When this stopped exactly, I don't know.

But the confusion is somewhat described in the December 1921 issue of The Wisconsin Magazine of History.  A reader asked about Neenah's origins as a name and wondered if the name came from that of an Indian girl. 

Their answer: "The word Neenah is the Winnebago word for water. The story is told that Governor Doty was once traveling with a Winnebago guide, and pointing to the Fox River, asked its native name. The Indian, thinking the governor meant the word for water, replied 'Neenah.' Doty supposed it was the native word for that river, and always spoke of the Fox as the Neenah River. Afterward, liking the name, he used it for the town. Other authorities apply the story to an engineer who was surveying for the government in the early days, and who in his report gave the name Neenah to the Fox River to distinguish it from the Fox River in Northern Illinois. But so far as we are aware, no tradition associates the name with an Indian Girl."

An 1840 map of the Neenah, or Fox River near Grand Chute

No comments:

Post a Comment