“The Maid of Prairie Du Chien”


The singer bids farewell, noting "There's nothing doth my footsteps detain But the beautiful maid of Prairie du Chien." He offers marriage; she rejects him. He hopes she will turn to him "when lovers get scarce." He wishes he were a soldier far away


Belden notes, correctly, that Prairie du Chien is in southwestern Wisconsin, where the Wisconsin River joins the Upper Mississippi. But he fails to note that it was the site of Fort Crawford, founded in 1816, which at the time was the northwesternmost point of functional United States control of the Midwest (to be superseded in 1819 by the founding of Camp New Hope, which eventually was moved to the site of Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers).

If Belden's informant was correct about when he learned it, the song must have dated back to at least 1850 or so. In that case, it seems quite likely that the singer was intended to be a soldier at Fort Crawford; the girl may have been a local Indian, though by 1850 there were a fair number of Europeans in the area. - RBW


  1. Belden, p. 201, "The Maid of Prairie Du Chien" (1 text)
  2. Roud #7947
  3. BI, Beld201


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1903 (Belden)
Keywords: love rejection
Found in: US(So)