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Odd Wisconsin Archive

What's in a Name?


Dateline: June 15, 1673. On or about this date, Marquette and Joliet "left the waters flowing to Quebeq... to float on those that would thenceforward take us through strange lands." Having crossed the famous portage, Marquette noted that "The river on which we embarked is called Meskousing." Come again? We thought it was the "Wisconsin." But the name of our state appears in many forms, including LaSalle's 1682 spelling "Ouisconsin" (in use as late as 1768 by English traveler Jonathan Carver, in 1796 by French spy Georges-Henri Collot, and even in Thomas Jefferson's instructions to Lewis and Clark in 1803). It later shows up as "Wiskonsan" before settling down in the form we know today. Scholars have long disagreed on its origins and meaning; for one explanation of its etymology, see our collection of Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles - - or should that be Meskousing Local History & Biography Articles?
:: Posted in Curiosities on June 14, 2004
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