Here Are The 10 Oldest Towns In Wisconsin... And They're Loaded With History
Wisconsin may not have the old buildings that parts of Europe has, but how old some of these towns are really may surprise you. Here are the 10 oldest towns in Wisconsin and a little bit about their significance.
1. Green Bay
Green Bay claims to be one of the oldest European settlements in the U.S. It was discovered by the French in the early 1600s, and Nicolet founded a trading post. It was originally called "La Baie des Puants" or "the stinking bay."
Aztalan is an ancient Mississippian culture that resided here in the early 1000s. You can visit Aztalan and get a preview of how they lived. One of the most notable features are the mounds they made in the earth, which served religious and political purposes.
3. Prairie du Chien
Prairie du Chien claims to be Wisconsin's second-oldest city. It was settled by French explorers in the late 17th century. French explorer Nicolas Perrot established a very lucrative fur trading post here. It gets its name from the Tribe who once occupied the area: their name translated to "dog" and the French for dog is "chien."
This area was populated by Irish miners in the early 1800s. The town is named for Jesse Shull, a miner. Legend is that Shull observed a badger digging in a hill and discovered minerals. It is more likely that Native Americans let him in on the secret, but the story is fun.
This town was first settled in the 1830s. Its fertile, well-watered land soon brought more citizens to farm. It became the site of Holy Hill in 1863.
Pepin was discovered in the mid-17th century by French explorers. Laura Ingalls Wilder, of "Little House on the Prairie" fame, was born in the area. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is located in Pepin.
Milton was originally settled in 1838 by Joseph Goodrich. He built an inn called the Milton House, and named it after poet John Milton. The Milton House actually served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, as Goodrich was a noted abolitionist.
8. Mineral Point
Originally settled in 1827, Mineral Point was on the map for, you guessed it, minerals. It was huge for lead and zinc mining. It is the third oldest town in Wisconsin. You'll love visiting here because the town has retained its historical character.
This town was first settled in 1827. It gets its name from Lewis Cass, who was then the governor of the Michigan Territory. But Cassville is much older than that. It is home to an ancient Native American burial mound that is from around 1000 AD.
10. De Pere
De Pere's history actually dates back to 1671. This is when Jesuit Father Clause Allouez visited. The name derives from the French: "les rapides des peres" or "rapids of the fathers."
Are you from any of these towns? Have you visited any of them?
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