Volume 1


Fourth Edition Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1920
Copyright 1917 by Clarence Ray Aurner

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, submitted April, 2013


Every stream we cross, and every one shown on the map of our State has some story which tells how it came to be named. It would not be hard to tell why some little brook was called Sugar Creek; for along many streams the hard maple or sugar trees were tapped by Indians and first settlers to make sugar. But the meaning of other names is not so easily discovered and the story of many which are familiar enough is now hidden away so far in the past that it has become somewhat fairy-like in the telling.

There is a pretty tale about the Wapsipinicon or Waubessapinicon as it was spelled at first. The name is Indian and means �white potatoes�. It was so named because of the large number of wild artichokes which grew along its banks. That must be the truth since men who knew all about the Indian language have said it was so and no one now would venture to contradict such men.

But a more interesting account of the name has also been given by other writers. It runs something like this: long ago, when the red man still roamed over all this woodland and prairie, and hunted and trapped and fished along the streams, a village on the bank of the great river, the Mississippi, was built by the bravest warriors of the Blackhawk tribe. About two days ride toward the setting sun there was another Indian village very much like the first one mentioned; and perhaps the white man would have seen no difference. But this was occupied by another people. And beyond the hills that bordered the Mississippi lay the smooth prairie for miles and miles.

Quasqueton was a little Sioux village which seemed to have dropped from the clouds, because there was no other for miles around. The nearest of the red men were to be found in the village of the Blackhawk people. Although there were beautiful hills and valleys and flowered prairies, sparkling streams, and many kinds of game to satisfy the Indian heart, the old warriors did not forget their old hatred of other tribes. The Indian women, however, seemed to understand the voices of the woods and hills and to answer them in kindness to those near by.

Among the village maidens was Wapsie, the favorite child of the Blackhawk chief Good Heart. Her mother had long ago been called away by the Great Spirit, but little Wapsie had scarcely known her loss because chief Good Heart, although he might be a stern warrior, was very gentle with his little daughter. She was trained in all the Indian woodcraft, to row, to swim, to run with the swiftest Indian. She owned the lightest canoe, the daintiest bow and arrows; she wore the softest moccasins and brightest beads. But with all these favors and the gentle care of her warrior father she did not forget to be loving and generous. Such a gentle maiden would, of course, have lovers by the score, all brave young fellows who would dare to do anything to please her.

All had gone well in the Blackhawk tribe, for the tomahawk had long been buried and peace had not been broken. One day, how ever, a warrior was missing; and search being made for his body, it was found pierced with arrows which were soon recognized as belonging to the tribe of the Crows. At once, the Blackhawk tribe summoned the Sioux to help them punish the Crows.

Among the Sioux braves was Pinicon, the son of chief Black Feather, who met the daughter of Good Heart, the beautiful Wapsie. There were many jealous braves among those of the two tribes, but since Wapsie preferred the favors of Pinicon, only one, Fleet Foot, refused to leave them in peace. He wickedly determined to follow Pinicon and kill him. On the evening of the wedding day the two lovers were rowing upon the river. Fleet Foot knew of this pleasure trip and, hidden from view, followed along the stream. Perhaps it was well that the two happy occupants of the canoe who were rowing slowly up the stream, did not know of their danger. They did not come to shore but conversed while paddling their frail craft. Suddenly at some word of Pinicon the maiden, Wapsie, put her hands to his lips. This caress the watchful and jealous Fleet Foot who shot an arrow into the heart of Pinicon. Wapsie sprang to aid him and in doing so overturned the canoe. They sank together � Wapsie-Pinicon. And since then all who stop to think about this stream can hear in its ripples the voices of these two.

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