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The first known inhabitants of the area were Mound Builders. The Baraboo River Valley was home to a Native American village called "Quad" or "O-o-yah", meaning 'four' in the Hoocąk language, later anglicized as Waukon. In 1852, when Sauk County was organized and its county seat designated by a vote of residents, Baraboo won out over other communities such as Reedsburg and Prairie du Sac (now Lake Delton). In 1853–1854, John Hirsch purchased land from Allen Francis for $1.50 an acre; he built his own sawmill on what is now Mill Street near First Street East in downtown Baraboo. He also bought much additional land from Francis during that time period—the total reaching about . This purchase eventually gave rise to one of the city's two nicknames: Little Vienna (the other nickname being Circus City).