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A Brief History of Menekaunee

An 1830 map showed a Menominee Indian village at the mouth of the Menominee River, spelled "Minikani," but local historians say it was the site of an Indian village long before that. According to The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names, Menekaunee translated literally means "where the lodges are," or "the village."

The settlement on the low lying bay shore was at one time an incorporated village, but was later annexed to the City of Marinette as the swampy areas along the river were filed in with sawmill wastes and built up. The area is sometimes referred to as "East Marinette."

The old town was settled by French Canadians, Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans who were employed primarily in fishing and associated trades established at the mouth of the river.

Some outsiders have spoken of Menekaunee as a "tough" place with too many taverns, and called it "fishtown." Once upon a time, perhaps the strongest insult a man could bestow upon a woman from the Marinette area was to call her a "Menekaunee fish wife." The people who lived there were also sometimes disparagingly referred to as "squatters."

Regardless of what those from the West side of town may have thought of them, the people of Menekaunee formed a true community with a heritage of bonding to be envied by many other towns. A list of nicknames posted at a recent "Old Timers" reunion is some evidence of the close-knit relationships formed by this multi-ethnic group: Coal Pile Annie, Pembine Jack, Frog Eye, Necktie Dick, One Eye Mollie, and Jellybean Olson.

See the section on Fishing from the Marinette County Centennial History for additional references to Menekaunee.

Sources
Gard, Robert, and L.G. Soren. The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names. Minocqua, Wis.: 1988.
"Menekaunee Old Timers Picnic A Grand Reunion," The Peshtigo Times, Wednesday, August 2, 2000. Page A-13.

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2001 Deana C. Hipke