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Odd Wisconsin Archive

The Deep Freeze of 1838


You think the last few days have been cold? Read this short memoir by Ebenezer Childs. He recalls traveling from Prairie du Chien to Madison early in the year 1838, when the temperature was 32 degrees below zero and the fledgling capital's handful of residents huddled together in a rude shanty to keep warm. He then headed to Portage in weather so cold that he and his companions nearly froze to death. He came to Wisconsin in 1820, held a variety of minor offices, and surveyed much of the northeastern part of our state.

Child's memoir was originally published in the first history of Madison, where you'll find many other first-person accounts. His portrait is in Wisconsin Historical Images, our online picture collection. Even more stories of early life in the state capital are told in the Madison entries of Odd Wisconsin.
:: Posted in Curiosities on January 24, 2009

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