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Prairie du Chien: the Americanization of a French Settlement

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McEssey, Thomas R.; Goldstein, David A.; Zamora, Michelle F.; Myers, Carly N.
May 2009
Americanization; French Settlement; Prairie du Chien
The French had a significant influence on the settlement of the United States, impacting city planning, land divisions, architecture, religion and many other aspects of life. Coming to the United States in search of trade and land, they spread their culture and heritage via the establishment of trade routes, particularly through the economics of the Great Fur Trade and in rare instances fanning communities. In Wisconsin there too exists a French legacy. Many settlements throughout the state bear French names, specifically those scattered along or near the Mississippi River such as La Crosse, Trempealeau, Prairie du Chien, and Platteville. We focus our case study on the rise and fall of French influence in the settlement of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, located just north of the Mississippi and Wisconsin confluence. The purpose of this study is to understand the French settler's impacts, if any, on the cityscape and traditions of Prairie du Chien. Furthermore, we will assess how those impacts and traditions transcended time through architecture, land distribution, toponymy, and festivals.
Maps, Images, Some Color, Appendices.
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