Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Peepeek Lake?

from P.V. Lawson's History, Winnebago County, Wisconsin: Its Cities, Towns, Resources, People (1908):

"Little Lake Butte des Morts was named by Father Crespel in 1728 as Little Fox Lake. Very early in French occupation it became generally known by its present name, and the high prehistoric mound builder hill on its west shore near the tomahawk trail was associated with a tradition of the massacre of the Fox Indians, an event placed at about 160 years ago. An attempt was made by a modern map in 1856 to change it to Peepeek Lake. Big Lake Butte des Morts is said to derive its name from the same tradition in connection with the second massacre of the Fox Indians at that place on their fleeing from the first assault. There was no hill of the dead on this lake and no reason has been given for assigning the name to this lake. The village and town of Butte des Morts also derive their name from the same tradtion; but whether the village takes its name from the lake or the lake its name from the village would be difficult to determine."

In his book, Mr. Lawson refers to Father Crespel in a nonchalant manner, as if we should know him as well as Father Marquette, for example.  Personally, I didn't, so I researched and learned that Father Emmanuel Crespel was a Flemish missionary assigned in Canada who, as a military chaplain, accompanied French Canadian forces to fight the Fox Indians in Wisconsin from June to September 1728.   In 1742, Father Crespel published a book of his letters, to include describing a harrowing winter spent in a remote section of Canada after being shipwrecked.  Despite his humility and adherence to his vows as a cleric, this book made Father Crespel famous throughout Canada and Europe and he lived out his days as the administrator of his religious order.  He died in 1775 in Quebec.

As far as where the Peepeek designation came from, my best guess is that it was yet another Native American word for the lake or mistakenly taken as such.  Also, that Lake Street shown on the map never came to fruition either. 

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