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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: Keyword: 'potosi'

Term: Potosi [origin of place name]


Explanation 1: Named after the Spanish word for lead, which was mined just previous to the Black Hawk War, during which time shanties and log houses were built. Explanation 2: Believed to be a corruption of the Native American name "Potosa," which is believed to have been the name of Julien Dubuque's wife. Explanation 3:  named in 1839, probably by miners from Potosi, Mo. since during the 1830s, many Missouri and Southern Illinois miners moved into Wisconsin's lead region; the original name, Potosí, was attached to a mountain in Bolivia and the word itself is said to mean "great thunderous noise," from potocsí, a word in the Quechuan or Aymarán language.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: 1: Capital Times, 10 Oct. 1941. 2: "What's in a Name?" Article in the place name file, from an unknown publisher. 3: (1) Wisconsin Magazine of History, 23 (1939-40): 44-57; (2) Hanke, Lewis. The Imperial City of Potosí (The Hague, 1956).]

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