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Curators' Favorites: Frontier Wisconsin

Mayville Iron Parlor Stove

Gothic revival parlor stove made of iron ore from Mayville, Wisconsin, 1846. [Museum object #1999.141.1] Objects that document a single moment of transition from "frontier" to "civilization" are rare. The Mayville stove is one such object. Cast in 1846, it...
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Posted November 27, 2008



Native American Twilled Basket

Cherokee twilled basket, probably traded to Wisconsin, mid 19th century. (Museum object #1955.1021) Basketry is found across the world in different cultures and throughout much of human history. Pre-dating ceramics, it is one of the oldest known crafts, with its...
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Posted July 31, 2008



War of 1812 Cannonball

Fragment of six-pound cannonball fired in battle between American and British forces on July 1814 at Prairie du Chien, Illinois Territory (now Wisconsin). (Museum object #H162) Few people may be aware that the War of 1812 was partially waged in...
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Posted June 19, 2008



Surveyor's Tree Blaze

Surveyor's tree blaze from the 1841 expedition to lay out the boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan, found at Trout Lake, Vilas County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #1977.97) Surveying is the means by which European settlers turned the North American landscape into...
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Posted June 5, 2008



De Langlade Fur Trade Pouch

Quilled buckskin pouch used by Charles de Langlade to carry his fur trade papers in northern Wisconsin, mid to late 1700s. (Museum object #1955.186) This pouch, presented to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1888 by Charles de Langlade Grignon, represents...
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Posted April 10, 2008



Shot Tower Lead-Melting Bowl

Lead-melting bowl used at the Wisconsin Shot Company Shot Tower, Helena, Wisconsin, c. 1833. (Museum object #1992.12) Prior to the nineteenth century, producing lead shot for muskets was not only a time-consuming process, the final product was often pock-marked or...
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Posted March 27, 2008



Beaver Top Hat

Top hat made from beaver felt and worn by Green Bay resident Morgan L. Martin, c. 1825. (Museum object #1968.644) In 1826, Morgan L. Martin, a lawyer by training, left his home in Martinsburg, New York for Detroit, Michigan, which,...
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Posted March 13, 2008



Wisconsin's Spanish Currency

Spanish Reale coin from the Alden's Corners Post Office Site in Dane County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #2002.211.8) In 2002, archaeologists from the Museum Archaeology Program of the Wisconsin Historical Society excavated two cellars and a privy at the location of...
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Posted October 11, 2007



1850s Personal Appointment Calendar

Weekly appointment book made of ivory and used by Wisconsin politician and businessman Cassius Fairchild of Madison, Wisconsin during the 1850s. Maker unknown. (Museum object #1971.19) Today, most people consider daily life to be busier than in generations past, with...
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Posted August 23, 2007



Burt's Solar Compass

Solar Compass used to survey lands in Wisconsin and surrounding areas during the 1840s and 1850s. (Museum object #1962.60.2,A) In 1834, while surveying and subdividing the layout of thirteen townships in land that would one day become northern Wisconsin, government...
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Posted March 8, 2007



Stage Coach Sleigh Bells

Sleigh bells used for stage runs and recreational trips in Sauk County, Wisconsin during the 1870s. (Museum object #1967.341.1) It has been over 150 years since the famous winter-time song Jingle Bells was first penned, and horse-drawn sleighs have all...
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Posted January 11, 2007



Lice Comb from Fort Crawford

Bone lice comb from site of first Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, 1816-1829. (Museum object #1997.62.11941) Everyday life at a frontier fort in the early nineteenth century was no easy affair. When the United States Army decided to...
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Posted November 9, 2006



Frontier Clay Pipe Fragment

Clay pipe bowl found at Sheard Road site, Racine County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #1998.236.249) Archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society's Museum Archaeology Program (MAP) excavated this pipe fragment during preliminary test excavations at the Sheard Road site (47-Ra-262) in Racine...
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Posted July 13, 2006



Rosaline Peck's Violin

Violin and bow played by Madison, Wisconsin pioneer Rosaline Peck, 1830s. (Museum object #1969.304.2,A) Rosaline Peck, the first white woman settler of Madison, played this violin at gatherings inside her public house cabin located near Capitol Square. As she played,...
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Posted April 6, 2006



Early Madison Hand-Carved Table

Early hand-carved table made by Levi Havemann, a German immigrant to Madison, c. 1860. (Museum object #1998.21.1) German-born Levi Havemann came to Madison, Wisconsin in 1854 as a skilled wood carver and cabinet maker. He lived at several locations around...
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Posted March 30, 2006



George Washington Portrait by Thomas Sully

Copy of Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington painted by Thomas Sully, 1854. (Museum object #1942.506) From the ubiquitous portrait on the classroom wall to the dollar bills in our pockets, images of President George Washington are some of the...
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Posted February 16, 2006



Murderer's Execution Restraints

Arm and leg restraints that bound John McCaffary, the last man executed in Wisconsin, 1851. (Museum object #1976.249.1–.2) It cost Kenosha County just 75 cents to purchase these cotton and leather restraints that would later bind John McCaffary’s arms and...
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Posted August 11, 2005



Black Hawk War Powder Horn

Powder horn used by a member of Colonel Dodge's militia during the Black Hawk War, 1832. (Museum object #1947.851) An unknown member of Colonel Henry Dodge's militia carried this powder horn during the Black Hawk War during the spring and...
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Posted July 28, 2005



Oldest Toast in Wisconsin?

Charred bread slices recovered from the Alden's Corners archaeological site in Dane County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #2002.211.1,3,5) In 2002, archaeologists from the Museum Archaeology Program of the Wisconsin Historical Society were surprised to find what may be the oldest pieces...
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Posted April 28, 2005



Birchbark Maple Sugar Container

Maple sugar container made by missionary Rosalie Dousman, mid-1800s. (Museum object #1969.419) This object celebrates the traditional Menominee springtime activity of making maple sugar. Made from birchbark and decorated with porcupine quills, this birchbark box, constructed to house sugar, was...
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Posted March 10, 2005



Ojibwe Presentation Pipe

Ojibwe pipe presented to Wisconsin territorial governor James Duane Doty, 1844. (Museum object #1955.399,A) Tay-che-gwi-au-nee, a member of an Ojibwe band from the south shore of Lake Superior, presented this pipe to Wisconsin's territorial governor James Duane Doty on behalf...
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Posted February 11, 2005



Arndt Vest

Vest worn by Charles C.P. Arndt when he was shot on the floor of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, 1842. (Museum object #1963.300) On February 11, 1842 the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature met in Madison only to be interrupted by the shooting...
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Posted February 4, 2005



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