The Old Indian Trail


Somers Original Plat

The original survey from the late 1800’s showing the Indian Trail heading north crossing back and forth over the Pike River

The Old Indian Trail, or the Jambeau Trail, at Hawthorn Hollow traverses just to the east of where the historical buildings are now located and has been in use for much longer than the United States has even been a country. It is an ancient path in an area formed by the receding glaciers of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago. It has been used by the Native Americans, most recently by the Potawatomi tribe, followed by the settlers. The path became a set route for travel by horseback and foot alike from Chicago to Green Bay. It had been named for the French settler, Jaques Viera, who established a trading post at Skunk Grove, which is now Franksville. Stories say that the Potawatomi had difficulty pronouncing the French name Jaques Vieau, so the trail to his Skunk Grove trading post became known as the Jambeau Trail.

The Potawatomi tribe is part of the greater Algonquian nation. Algonquians consists of many tribes that had similar language and culture. The Potawatomi lived in what is now Wisconsin for hundreds of years. They are believed to be the first people to live in what we now call Kenosha. The word Kenosha is actually a variation of the name Kenozia, meaning pike, given by the Potawatomi.

Wigwam in Original Prairie

Hawthorn Hollow’s wigwam on the Old Indian Trail

The Old Indian Trail is also home to Hawthorn Hollow’s replica wigwam. The wigwam was the most common form of shelter for the Potawatomi. It was used both in winter while traveling during hunts, and in villages during the summer along with another shelter, the longhouse. The wigwam was popular both because of its effectiveness in keeping warmth in and wind, rain, and snow out, and because it was easy to assemble, take down, and reuse the materials for the wigwam at the next camp. The Wigwam on display here at Hawthorn Hollow is a near replica of the ones used by the Potawatomi. The Frame is identical and they did use cattail as well, although in the form of weaved mats so they could roll them up and reuse them on the next wigwam. The Wigwam is Located on the Old Indian Trail on the north end of the original prairie.




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