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Village of Allouez marks 150 years

“The Spirit of the Northwest,” designed by Sydney Bedore, was dedicated by Governor Phillip Lafollette in June 1931. The statue depicts Allouez; along with French explorer, Nicholas Perrot; and an indigenous man representing the various tribes that had lived in the area when European settlers arrived. The representation was placed at the intersection of East Walnut Street and South Jefferson Street, near the Brown County Courthouse. Wisconsin State Historical Society photo

By Kris Leonhardt


ALLOUEZ – Upon the arrival of European settlers, the greater Green Bay area was home to multiple indigenous tribes speaking three major language stocks — Algonquian, Iroquois (Oneida) and Sioux (Winnebago).

Father Claude-Jean Allouez, an ordained Catholic priest, traveled to New France (now Quebec), where he studied the Iroquoian language with the Wyandot tribe and Algonquian with the Anishinaabe to enable him to begin missionary work along the St. Lawrence River region and Lake Superior area.

He continued the work of growing Christianity from Ashland on the shores of Lake Superior to Oconto near the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

Allouez’s arrival in the Green Bay area is chronicled in his writings, published in Father Allouez’s Journey into Wisconsin, 1669-1970.

“The village of Ousaki is the first where I began to give instruction. As soon as we were provided with a cabin there, I assembled all the elders, to whom, after relating the news of the peace with the Iroquois, I expatiated on the purpose of my journey, which was naught else than their instruction. I explained to them the principal articles of our belief, which they heard with approval, appearing to me very well disposed toward Christianity,” he stated.

This monument was created by De Pere residents and unveiled by the state historical society in September 1899 to mark the site of the St. Francis Xavier mission which was established during the winter of 1671-72. Wisconsin State Historical Society photo

“On the 17th of February, I repaired to the village of the Potawatomi (thought to be the east shore of Green Bay), which is eight leagues from this place, on the other side of the lake. After walking all day without halting, we arrived there at sunset, sustained by some small bit of frozen meat that hunger made us eat. On the day after my arrival, they made us a present of all the fat of a bear, with many manifestations of affection.

“On the 19th, I assembled the council, and, after relating the news, informed them of the purpose that had brought me to their country, reserving for the following day a fuller discourse of our religion.”

Allouez wrote that he found four nations and 600 souls, with fields of corn, gourds, beans and tobacco.

During the winter of 1671-72, Allouez and Father Louis Andre established the St. Francis Xavier mission along the Fox River – then called the River Saint Francois.

The mission became a post for fur traders and travelers and the center of Jesuit missionary activities in the Wisconsin area.

The area around the mission became “les rapides des peres” (rapids of the fathers) which was later shortened to De Pere.

In 1856, the town of Bellevue was established between the city of Green Bay and what was then the village of De Pere.

The town covered all of the area east of the Fox River.

With continued growth, area leaders began working together in 1873 toward continued change.

The following year, Bellevue was divided in two through a legislative act, with the area of the town “bounded north by the city of Green Bay, east by [the] East River, south by the village of De Pere and private claim No. 29 on the east side of [the] Fox River, and west by the Fox River, shall on and after the first Tuesday of April next constitute a separate town.”

The name of that town — Allouez.

Next week: Growing the village

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