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Mary Wīhą́gā (Second Daughter) Pelkey (abt. 1820)

Mary Wīhą́gā "Ho-wis-ka, Howį́xka" Pelkey formerly Second Daughter
Born about in Wisconsin, Michigan Territory, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Daughter of [father unknown] and
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 1835 (to 1857) in Four Lakes, Michigan Territory, United Statesmap
Died [date unknown] [location unknown]
Profile last modified | Created 28 Oct 2019
This page has been accessed 263 times.
Mary was Ho-Chunk.




The name "Mary" was selected as her Anglo name for legal purposes. (Marriage Record)

The name We-un-kah is for Wīhą́gā, a birth order name for the second born girl.

The name Ho-wis-ka is a more significant clan name. The word ho has two common meanings often found in names: "voice" and "fish." Phonetic transcriptions of Hocąk names are usually distorted. The concluding wis-ka might be for the feminine name ending wį-ga, although transcribers usually have no trouble with that sound, typically representing it as win-kaw. Howįga would mean "Fish Woman." The word wis means "narrow," and there are plenty of narrow fish, although no fish species called the "narrow fish" is known. There is another word, wįx, "to circle around." It occurs in the name of the important and well known catfish, the howį́x. The /x/ is a soft palatal /k/ which does not occur in English, and is usually heard as an /h/, but before a (velar) /k/ could well be mistaken for an /s/. So the name Howį́xka seems highly probable as Wihą́ka's clan name. As is common enough, this form of the name drops the feminine gender suffix -wį-; with it restored, the name would be Howį́ǧᵋwįga. Obviously, this would be a Fish Clan name, a rather small Lower Moiety clan associated with the Snake Clan. This would mean that Wihą́ka was the second daughter of a sister of Wild Goose (given the rule of cross-moiety marriage). The bond between a sister's children and her brothers is the strongest tie of affection found in Hocąk culture, and is probably why they mentioned that she was Wild Goose's niece.

Marriage and Children

An affidavit given in 1838 states, “Personally appeared John Pelky, a white man aged 26 years who being duly sworn according to Law, doth depose and say that he resides at the Four Lakes Wis. Ty — and has been in this Country about ten years. That about three years ago he was lawfully married to We-un-kah — an orphan, and full blood Winnebago woman, niece of Wild Goose who was a principle Chief. … That he has by his said wife one male child, named Louis, about 2 years old — That said boy is a fine active fellow, and that your deponent has a strong desire to educate him — that he your deponent speaks the Winnebago language, and has as he verily believes a strong influence with the Indians …” (Waggoner, 62a)

The original union of John and Howį́xka (Wihą́ka) was in 1835. It was common enough for the members of mixed marriages to formally remarry in order to insure that their children had legal standing (to inherit, etc.) in the white legal system, and in this very year of 1838, on June 4th, we find that John and Howį́xka were formally married. (Marriage Record)


She is missing from the 1857 census, and presumed to have died sometime between the birth of her last son John in 1855 and the census date of 1857.


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S  >  Second Daughter  |  P  >  Pelkey  >  Mary Wīhą́gā (Second Daughter) Pelkey

Categories: Ho-Chunk