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Origin Of The Terms "sucker," And "badger."

Origin Of The Terms "sucker," And "badger." image
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The Madison .Journal prints an interesting account of ihe origin of ihe greatseal ol' the State of WisooDsin, and, in so doing, thrówa considerable light upon the causes that led totheadoption of the terra "Smkcrs ' for the pcople of Illinois, and that of " Badgers" for the inlmbitaiits of Wisoonsin. In 1$35, beforo the present State f Wisoonsin wus organized as aTerritory, the principal part of the population was confined to the military forte, tnissinnary nnd trading stations, and the lead mines in the southwest portion of the Territory. The chiiracteristio term ''Badger" and "Suoker " arose in the lead región, aeeording to the historian in the Journal. The minors were of two grades - those who stayed the yi-ur rouod at the " " and tbose who eame up froin Illinois only to opérate during tho slimmer seasoD. The permanent renidents, havingbut little time or material to construct regular liuts, were accustomed to burrow into tho hillsides Bomi-subterra nean cells large eQoqgh for bunking and cnoking purposes. This peculiar mode of lili', bemg similar to that of the badger- an aniiiKil tluMi iilfiitiful in the lead regions- suggestod the term of " hadger holes," as applied both to the cave-like homes and the Bunken shafts of the resident miners, while the latter theruselves were termed " Badgers." On the other hand, the nomadic gentlemen who came up in the spring and returned in the fall, from the great prairie 3tate, were called " Suckers," as their habits of' coming and gning were similar to thope of that fish. Being in the diggings but a short season, they did not sink regular shiif'ts and burrow under the earth along i be mineral veins like the badger, but opened large ijuarry pits, ,=ecking for float ore and such asoould beobtained along the surface. Tbu " itiBcrants were called ' Suckers ' because of the similarity of their uuigratory habits tn those of the catcutomu, and to distingnihli them froiu the resident 'Badgera,'; wliile the open pit.-s, scooped f ut )iy tho foriuer, were designated 'Suokor holes.' The lcad-mine región in southa Wisconsin is slill pleutifully bcnprinklcd with these 'Sucker holes,' exhausted and abandoned by tfao early visitors froni over the Illinois border. The distinpuisliing appellations, ' Badger,' and 1 Sucker,' bieaine, as an obvious sequcnce, characterutio term applied to the cntirc people of the States of Wiconsin and Illinois respectirely, and to the States themhelve.s." I'erhaps some old resident of Illinois uiay be able to throw additional light upon a subject that is fast passing into tho rdgioa of tradition. Hon. Mnees M. Strong one of tlieoldest settlersof Wiboonsin, givea a .similar histor; of tlie two terms that have become characteristic of the two State.". While prospect np, the miner mnde a cavo in the hillsidc, in which he slept . nd worktd. If lic did not sucoeed in finditig good " diggings " near the siu; tlius Bêleoted, it was aBandoned. But in many instanoea the "prospect" proved to be a 'Mead," and the " bole" was occupied as a resideocc for a long linie, and often replaced by a oomfbrtable house. The term" Badger," Mr. Strong says, was first applied to the occupantsof these temporary subterranean rcMdences in deiision, as the term " Sucker " was applied to the migratury inh.ibitants of southern Illinois, wlio, like the carp fauiily, carne to tho mines in the spring and retuinod to the winter.