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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Don't Mess with the Cook


During the summer of 1930, papers in northeast Wisconsin ran several memoirs by a writer named B.A. Claflin.

Two of these concerned a woman named Mary Ann who ran a boarding house in Peshtigo and worked in logging camps upriver. A big woman, standing six feet tall and weighing near 200 pounds, she was especially imposing when angry.

In one camp where she cooked, Mary Ann kept several chickens whose eggs were used to help supply the commissary and feed the men. On one occasion a lumberjack got in an argument with her about a hen that was trying to set, insisting that the chicken be dunked in a pail of water several times to calm it down. She dismissed the notion, and when he persisted, Mary Ann ended the conversation "by slapping her adviser soundly in the face."

For a woman to do this, of course, was unheard of in a logging camp. So when Mary Ann was gone, the lumberjack took a clothesline, tied it around a leg of the hen, and proceeded to prove his point by repeatedly throwing the bird in the river and pulling it out. Unfortunately he dunked the hen one too many times, and on the final cast it was reeled in dead.

Mary Ann, "enraged beyond control," seized the offender, "lifted him bodily from the ground and walked with him into the river up to her armpits." She then proceeded to enact her vengeance, dunking the lumberjack a dozen times until he spluttered and begged for mercy.

[Source: "Early Logging Day Tales – The Doings of 'Mary Ann." Marinette Eagle-Star May 29, 1930
:: Posted in Bizarre Events on September 22, 2010

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