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What do the city names, Eau Galle and Eau Claire, mean?

 
 
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 03:27 pm
What do the city names, Eau Galle and Eau Claire, mean?

In Wisconsin, there are two towns only about 40 miles apart. One is named Eau Galle, the other Eau Claire.

Both are situated on lakes. Since "eau" means water in French, I thought maybe the towns were named for water, but I don't know the meanings of "Galle" and "Claire."

Your help is appreciated.

General Tsao
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 18,500 • Replies: 31
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 03:42 pm
General - Clair means light or clear in French. So "clear water" or "light water".

I'm not sure about Galle. It could be named for someone.

We have lots of folks here with more French than me; I'm sure you'll get more answers.
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bigdice67
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 04:09 pm
Funny, there is an Eau Galle Causeway or somesuch in Melbourne, Florida...
Francis
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 04:20 pm
Galle is the name french brittons gave to the french. So, but it's only my opinion, Eau Galle, must mean 'French Water".
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timberlandko
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 04:38 pm
Both Eau Claire and Eau Galle were named by the "Voyageurs", fur traders, mostly French-Canadians, who were the first white men in the area. Eau Claire does mean "Clear Water", a resource of which the Chippewa Valley area is justly proud to this day. Eau Galle is a little trickier to pin down; "Galle" could be either a proper name, German or French, but it also is an archaic French word referencing "Wales" or "Welshman". Though mostly French-Canadian, the Voyageurs were employees of The Northwest Company, an outfit which included all sorts of Britanic types, too - along with a few Teutons, Nordic/Scandinavians, and Slavs. In any event, there is an Eau Galle River and an Eau Galle Lake so the derivation apparently is something to do with water and either someone's name or ethnicity.
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GeneralTsao
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 05:13 pm
Great info so far!

I should add that the locals in Eau Galle say that it means "muddy water," as opposed to Eau Claire's "clear water."

But in a town of merely 200 persons, most of whom have ancestors there, "Muddy Water" could simply be urban--er--rural legend.

If it helps, the local people are historically largely Catholic, but still a lot of protestants, probably Methodists (there are only two churches I know of--a Catholic and a Methodist).

Many people of German and English descent, though I'm sure the area has many Vikings, too (the famed Norske Nook in Osseo is just 30+ miles away).

I don't know of any French people there, but perhaps there are.
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Radical Edward
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 05:33 pm
Have you considered the fact that maybe the name has changed? Question
I'm thinking about "Eau Galle". Maybe the name has been transformed through the centuries?
In french, "Galle" is a disease (don't ask me which one: I simply don't know the English word for it! Razz )
And "Pays de Galle" is the French term for "Wales".
"Eau Galle" in itself doesn't mean anything.
That's why I thought of a possible transformation of the name of your city!
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coluber2001
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 05:36 pm
I'm glad Eau Galle doesn't mean chicken water, though it looks like it.

What about two other Wisconsin towns I've wondered about: Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac. Like milk?
timberlandko
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 05:45 pm
Norske Nook is a regional restaurant chain - there are a bunch of 'em in the area.

As to the ancestry and religions of the original European settlers, descendants, there are plenty of Nordic/Scandinavian types, lotsa Welsh, Cornish, Scots, and Irish, a whole buncha Germans and French, and quite a few Italians to be had.

There are some Methodists of relatively ancient ancestry, but Lutherans and Catholics have long dominated. There are some Amish, Mennonites, and Calvinists with deep, deep roots around here as well.

First of course, were the Voyageurs, but then came the timbermen, followed closely on by farmers, and not long thereafter by the railroads, which brought about a veritable explosion of farmers. The original lumber entrepreneurs and their workers tended Britanic and Germanic, the local pioneer farmers were largely Nordic/Scandinavian, and the railroadmen were heavilly Irish, Welsh, and Cornish, and the Italians chiefly were involved with support industries - food service, tailoring and cobblering, building trades, and doctoring, among other things.

I live in the heart of this area - about 100 miles from Eau Claire, a bit less than that from Eau Galle. Local history is kinda fascinatin' to me. My house, though extensively expanded, remodelled and modernized, dates to a cabin site marked on old maps dating to the 1870s, and has been a dwelling in continuous use since then. A couple nearby farms date to well over 150 years, several are well over 125 years old, and there are tombstones in the little Lutheran cemetary just down the road from me that date to the immediate pre-Civil War era. Most of the "Original" settlers in the Timberland are (yes, there is such a place - once it even had a post office, a school, and a store) are of Nordic/Scandinavian heritage. "Lena and Ole" jokes are real big locally.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 05:57 pm
bigdice67 wrote:
Funny, there is an Eau Galle Causeway or somesuch in Melbourne, Florida...


I believe that one, spelled a little differently, refers to murky or dirty water -- and it's an appropriate name for that area. :wink:
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bigdice67
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 06:13 pm
Ahem, yes, freeduck, yer right... Eau Gallie is the way that it's spelled in Florida, my bad.
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 06:25 pm
bigdice67 wrote:
Ahem, yes, freeduck, yer right... Eau Gallie is the way that it's spelled in Florida, my bad.


Oh, I didn't mean it like that, bd. Hell, I couldn't remember the correct spelling, and I grew up just south of there. Someone I knew who lived in Eau Gallie told me it meant dirty water -- but that could've been completely made up.
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bigdice67
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 06:36 pm
I was there in April, fer chrissakes, and couldn't remember it, my bad, really ;-) Beautiful part of Florida though, the snowbirds were gone, and almost no tourists, I loved it!
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 07:19 pm
My family went to Eau Galle regularly when I was growing up -- if I remember right (I could hear then, I just forget), it was pronounced "Oh Gally" even though it wasn't spelled with an "i". There are a whole lot of French names in the area that are pronounced in completely Americanized ways.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 07:56 pm
I don't really go to Eau Galle much at all ... I think once for a wedding and another time for a highschool graduation party/weekend campout a couple years ago on the place of a freind of Mrs Timber's near there, though I do go to "The Big Town" in that area, Hudson (pop. about 9K, give or take), once in a while. Yeah, seems to me the local pronunciation is sorta like "Oh Gal - eh", with a fairly flat "A" and more of an "eh" or an "uh" than an "ee" at the end. You think thats bad - what used to be "Lac du Flambeau" has pretty much been supplanted by "Lake of the Torches"
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 08:19 pm
I think the point -- as timber has already mentioned -- is that the first exploration of the area was done by the French, hence the French names. It has nothing to do with the current population of the area; they are descendants of a much later influx of Europeans. Most of the American Midwest was part of the Louisiana Purchase during the Thomas Jefferson administration. That is why there's such a preponderance of French names there. Places had already been named, although the original namers, being voyageurs, had moved on. Wherever you find a city or town in the USA, for example, that has a saint's name (St. Louis, St. Paul, San Francisco) the place was originally named by either the French or the Spanish, not the late-coming Anglos or the even later Scandinavians. Eau Claire, obviously, is just Clearwater. The derivation of Eau Galle is more problematic. I would guess it's a way of saying Welsh Water. That's just a guess, based on the linguistic evidence.

Whenever I teach my students about the French influence in the history of North America, I always take pains to point out the numerous French names of towns and cities (St. Louis, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Eau Calir, etc. etc.), most of them found either in the Midwest or the Southern states of Arkansas and Louisiana.

Prairie du Chien just means Prairie of the Dog. The word 'prairie' itself, in common use in American English today, is of French derication.

Trivia: does anyone on this thread know where the name Buffalo, NY, comes from? There were never any bison roaming in New York State. (Hint: it's French.)
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timberlandko
 
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Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 08:37 pm
I know! I know! I won't give it away though. The Hudson River there is a lot prettier than the river that flows past Hudson, Wisconsin, btw :wink:
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 08:40 pm
Judging from that comment, timber, you obviously do know.
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GeneralTsao
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 08:46 pm
sozobe wrote:
My family went to Eau Galle regularly when I was growing up -- if I remember right (I could hear then, I just forget), it was pronounced "Oh Gally" even though it wasn't spelled with an "i". There are a whole lot of French names in the area that are pronounced in completely Americanized ways.


I'm just curious, why would they go to Eau Galle on a regular basis? How far a trip was it for them?

I have many relatives in Eau Galle, and all of them call it as you stated, "Oh Galley." (rhymes with valley)

In all my 30+ years, the town has always been about 200 persons, I'd guess. Back in the 70s, they had three taverns, two grocery stores, a gas station, cheese factory, feed mill, and post office (but no home delivery).

These days, they have one market (Dis-n-dat), a tavern (maybe two?), and that's about it. The feed mill burned down circa 1976.

Oh, they added a generator to the dam again about ten years ago.

Just remembered--there used to be a little resort up there (prior to 1964 I think) called Welch's Point. People could rent cabins, buy groceries and beer at the little store, play on the beach, bring or rent a boat, etc.

It's now a county park, but the old people still call it "The Point."

Trivia: Caddie Woodlawn's home is a few miles from Eau Galle. Also, my Grandma told me that Laura Ingalls Wilder's (?) family had some doings around the area.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Nov, 2004 09:07 pm
We were weird, I guess. :-)

There was a particular trail we liked to walk on, and a particular beach that allowed dogs. And our favorite cheese factory was near there -- nothing like FRESH cheese curds. It was maybe 45-minute drive from our home in Minneapolis -- depending on the season we'd go say every weekend or once every few months.

Here, I think I found where we'd go:

http://www.recreation.gov/detail.cfm?ID=162

(The "day use area".)

We never went to the town per se.
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