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Jenny, Quanicassee’s Beer Drinking Bear

Mike Hardy

Author of a fun loving and event blog covering topics of the Upper Thumb of Michigan , the wind energy capital of the Great Lakes. Offering great trove of information on Wind Energy, Cheeseburger in Caseville, Saginaw Bay, Sailing.

4 Responses

  1. lizMc says:

    I love these kind of local stories, too! Too often the backstory of local lore is lost—thanks for keeping this one in circulation.

  2. Mary Jane Schofield says:

    I am interested in early 1880’s hostory about a camp and crew who “drained the swamps of Quanicasee”…I have a story told to my mother, and related to me of such an event. any information would be appreciated. Seems my great grandfather was a camp boss of such a happening,,????

    • ThumbWind says:

      It seems quite possible. The entire area south of Sand Point to Bay City was swampy. The Ora Labora colony drained hundreds of acres which became some of the finest farmland to this day. Check out a story I have on another site about Ora Labora to tell about conditions of early homesteaders in the 1860s. Its highly possible that your g-g-grandfather knew of the Colony or helped them out later. https://owlcation.com/humanities/A-Lost-Colony-In-Michigans-North . If you have other stories or information I would love to hear about it.

  3. Mark Putnam says:

    I just wanted to make a workable and knowledgeable comment to the meaning of the place name Quanicassee: With much thought, I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence that it means “Long Tree” as reported on Wikipedia. There is no real source or reference information given for that meaning elsewhere or at Wikipedia. There were three streams between the Saginaw River and the Wiscoggin Creek with the later emptying into the Saginaw Bay at today’s town of Unionville, MI. I understand those three streams to have been the “The Bear River and the Two Ladys’ or Squaws’ Creeks”. On the 1855 Farmer Map of MI, the west branch of today’s Quanicassee River was originally called Maqua-ne-kesee[be]. To give what I feel is its source or root, “Makwa” means bear while “seebe” means river hence the meaning essentially of Bear River or as some have referred to it as “Stump-tailed Bear River”. This wetland area early on was by the Ojibwa and Ottawa used as a rice gathering area or Boygoning . . . The Great Rice Gathering marsh as a bit closer to Saginaw and called Cheboygoning. On the Farmer Map, two streams ran into the Boygoning marsh just northeast of Maqua-ne-ke-see [called now Quanicassee]. Boygoning means simply the thrashing or gathering [of rice] place. The two squaw creeks were both called Quan-a-kus-see. It seems the name Quanakussee or the name Quanicassee may have been interchanged in location to the western river later or the name Maquanekesse was shortened or corrupted. The two Quanakussee creeks were later both partly or fully called by American’s Squaw Creek. In Ojibwa, “Ikkwe-sibi” means Squaw Creek. The real root of Quanicassee perhaps is the Squaw Creek or where the ladies in the marsh worked and gathered. The Objiwa phrase “Ikkwe-nijos-sibii” means squaw two Creeks. You may also note on the 1855 Farmer Map, too, that today’s Wiscoggin Creek was called Sebewaing. The Cass River has been referred to as the Onottoway-Sebewaing. The ending “waing” of both the later two stream names I feel meaning “in the fur place”. In Ojibwa at the end of the word “waain” means fur. The thumb of Michigan was called Le Pays Peles on a 1700’s map likely meaning the Country of Pelts or Fur. Today’s Sebewaing River that empties into Saginaw Bay at today’s town of Sebewaing was called on Farmer’s Map . . . Rio De Fil, which is in English the Thread River. I note that many place names in our “Country of Fur” used the ending “waning”. That ending seems to set places in this region apart from other nearby areas that were denoted with the ending “waing” or “waning”. I have always thought that the public showing of Jenny the Bear at the town of Quanicassee was a reminiscence of the original meaning of the name of the town of the Quanicassee and Quanicassee River, which was originally Maqua-ne-kessee or the [Stump-tailed] Bear River!

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