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Historical Essay

Grant County

Origin of Grant County, Wisconsin

Grant County, Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

Grant County was named for a river of that name flowing into the Mississippi. The origin of the name of the stream is traditionary, being ascribed to "a trapper who had his cabin on its banks" -Wis. Hist. Colls., i, p. 112. The name was probably assigned during the English regime in Wisconsin (1763-96), when a number of Scotch and English traders made headquarters at Prairie du Chien, or at Cahokia, Illinois, and traded up and down the river. Among these was one James Grant (see Wis. Hist. Colls.., x, p. 503), a prominent Montreal merchant; see Id., xii, p. 65. The Indian appellation for the stream appears to have been "Shequak" see map in William H. Keating, Long's Expedition up the Mississippi (Philadelphia, 1824).

Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer: "GRANT, County, is bounded on the northwest and north by the Wisconsin river, which separates it from Crawford and Richland, on the east by Iowa and Lafayette, on the south by the northern line of the State of Illinois, and on the southwest by the State of Iowa, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river. ¿ The eastern boundary extends north, on the 4th principal meridian, about 50 miles. The southern boundary on Illinois river is only about 10 miles, and its river coast is about 100 miles in length. The seat of justice is at Lancaster, near the centre of the county. Its principal streams are Grant, Big and Little Platte, Greene and Blue rivers. The surface of the country consists of a series of ridges, high rolling prairie and timbered lands. The ridges are filled with fissures, which are abundantly supplied with ores of zinc, lead, and occasionally copper. It is one of the best mineral counties in the State, and there is no other in which the soil is better adapted to the raising of wheat and corn. The county is well supplied with timber, and has many fine streams abounding in springs of pure water. It is said that there is neither lake, swamp, nor stagnant pool of water in the county. ... The population in 1838 was 2,763; 1840, 3,926; 1842, 5,937; 1846, 12,034; 1847, 14,016; 1850, 16,169; 2,861 dwellings, 707 farms, 78 manufactories."

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[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]