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April 2005 Odd Wisconsin

Earth Day's Inspiration in Wisconsin

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of our place in nature that owes its origin in large part to Wisconsin thinkers. Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was the prime mover behind legislation recognizing Earth Day, and in the previous decade had created a number of innovative environmental programs as governor of Wisconsin. A generation earlier, UW professor Aldo Leopold had provided...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 22, 2005

Badger Inventor Dumped on Floor

Today is the birthday of John Muir (1838-1914), the Wisconsin-raised environmentalist whose work saved California redwoods, led to the national park system, and created the Sierra Club. We celebrate Earth Day this week in large part because Muir, with fellow Wisconsin activists Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, inspired appreciation of the natural world in millions of urban and suburban hearts....
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 21, 2005

Mystic Vision of the Virgin near Green Bay

This morning's news brings a report that on a section of the Kennedy Expressway on Chicago's northwest side, a yellow and white image has appeared on the concrete wall of an underpass, with some observers believing it to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Candles, flowers and a painting of the Virgin Mary embracing John Paul II are among...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 20, 2005

Revisionist History in Wisconsin

This week tens of thousands of protesters occupied streets in four Chinese cities, denouncing attempts by Japanese textbook authors to whitewash atrocities committed during the Japanese occupation of China 60 years ago. Such attempts to rewrite history are nothing new. Revising or selecting facts so history aligns with one's political or ideological prejudices is a time-honored tradition, one which democratic...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 16, 2005

Call of the Open Road

Although William Rand and Andrew McNally opened a print shop 1856, it was not until 1916 that they started publishing maps. They issued their first road atlas in April of 1924 and have sold 150 million copies since. Their company's name has become synonymous with finding one's way by car . So how did driver's find their way around before...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 15, 2005

Lee Harvey Oswald of April 1865

When Abraham Lincoln was gunned down on the night of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth was seen fleeing Ford's Theater by W.D. Kenzie who heard gunshots and saw the actor-assassin leap from the balcony and get away. Another Wisconsin man, W.H. De Groff, was outside the theater and saw Booth escape on horseback. Kenzie was acquainted with Booth and...
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Posted in Strange Deaths on April 14, 2005

Fearless Sifting and Winnowing

More than 100 years ago, UW professor Richard Ely had the audacity to teach controversial and unwelcome ideas in his classroom -- and he nearly lost his job for it. In 1894 Ely was teaching economics at Madison, including the various socialist and communist economic theories gaining popularity at the time. When this was discovered by Oliver E. Wells, State...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 13, 2005

The Start of the Civil War

Yesterday we gave you stories of how Wisconsin residents greeted the end of the Civil War in 1865. This morning we leap back four years to show you how they greeted its arrival, when Southern troops attacked Fort Sumter on this day in 1861. Following the outbreak of the war, a mass meeting was held in Madison and spontaneous demonstrations...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 12, 2005

The End of the Civil War

On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse and the Civil War came to an end. On that day a Wisconsin soldier, James Angevine, in a unit ready to attack its Confederate adversaries, halted with bayonets fixed on hearing the news. Another soldier, M. H. Cram, told the Racine Journal what the final days of the war...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 11, 2005

No Email from the Front in 1862

What was it like to be a Wisconsin teenager caught up in the Battle of Shiloh? In early April of 1862, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was moving through western Tennessee hoping to defeat a Confederate army of 35,000. With Grant were the Wisconsin 14th, 16th, and 18th Infantry regiments mostly untested young men from Fond du Lac, Milwaukee,...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 7, 2005

Who was Black Hawk?

In the first week of April, 1832, the Sauk chief Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk, crossed the Mississippi into Illinois with more than 1,000 supporters hoping to reclaim their traditional homeland on the Rock River. Their crossing touched off the tragic events culminating four months later in the Bad Ax Massacre near LaCrosse. The Black Hawk War was the last major...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 6, 2005

Play Ball!

Major league baseball opens its 2005 season this week, which makes it a good time to look back on the sport's early years. This article describes Baraboo's baseball club in 1867, one of many early amateur groups in small towns around the state after the Civil War. There were even Indian teams in Wisconsin, one of whose members invented the...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 5, 2005

Truly Radical Feminist

To many Wisconsin residents, Mathilde Anneke, who was born on April 3, 1817, symbolized the Forty-eighters who moved here from Germany in the mid-19th century. Forced to support her family after the end of an early and unhappy marriage, Anneke learned about poverty and the oppression of women first-hand. Her second marriage, in 1847, was to Fritz Anneke, a young...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 4, 2005

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