February 2006 Odd Wisconsin
That was a maxim of Milwaukee socialist Victor Berger, who was born on this day in 1860. He came to Milwaukee about 1881, taught school, and broke with Marxist orthodoxy by insisting that socialism could come gradually through the ballot box, rather than only through violent revolution. Through his journalism and personal charisma, Berger shaped the Milwaukee socialist movement into...
Posted in Odd Lives on February 27, 2006
The sounds of curlers have been in the air in Wisconsin since the Territorial Era. This month Portage native Maureen Brunt competed with the USA womens curling team, but both of her parents were also curlers, and so was her grandmother, according to NBC News. As Brunt's heritage reveals, curlers have been growing up here for generations. The Milwaukee Curling...
Posted in Curiosities on February 25, 2006
Dozens of people have been killed in the last three weeks as demonstrators on four continents continued to protest the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad by Danish cartoonists. Buildings have been burned, workers evacuated, and at least one death threat made against an artist. This brutality is carried out by extremists whose faith appears to be stronger than their reason,...
Posted in Bizarre Events on February 21, 2006
Our brand new index to Wisconsin birth records was built in order to help you find your ancestors. But it also has less serious uses. For example, before 1907 more than 100 Wisconsin babies were dubbed "John Smith," and 109 babies were born in Wisconsin 100 years ago today. Some of the uncommon names given to children back then were:...
Posted in Curiosities on February 15, 2006
Many people realize that Wisconsin was a pioneer in electrical invention, offering the first electric power for sale anywhere in the world and pioneering the manufacture of electrical appliances. But few know that Wisconsin residents played key roles in introducing the telephone, too, thanks largely to Richard Valentine of Janesville. In 1874 Valentine, a telegraph operator in Janesville, went to...
Posted in Curiosities on February 12, 2006
Sunday's matchup was uninspiring, don't you think? We've got much more remarkable bowls in Wisconsin history. The oldest is undoubtedly a feature in the Dells known as the Sugar Bowl, but human bowls reach back hundreds of years to this Late Woodland bowl from Aztalan and this slightly later Oneota one from La Crosse. Milwaukee potter Susan Frackleton made some...
Posted in Curiosities on February 7, 2006
Oddly enough, Saturday's burning of European embassies in Damascus connects to Sunday's Super Bowl in Detroit along a thread that runs through Wisconsin. Thousands of fundamentalist Muslims, their consciences outraged at demeaning portrayals of the Prophet in recent European political cartoons, surrounded the embassies of Denmark and Norway in Syria and set them afire. "Aggrieved believers called for executions, storming...
Posted in Curiosities on February 4, 2006
A week ago today, on Friday Jan. 27, 2006, Western Union sent the last telegram over its wires and shut down the service forever. Information formatted as dots and dashes, hand-clicked by skilled operators, had traveled over copper wires for a century and a half. When first introduced, the ability to send messages instantly over immense distances amazed contemporaries, who...
Posted in Curiosities on February 3, 2006
As we wonder whether bird flu will reach our shores and whether it will infect humans, it's helpful to look back on previous epidemics to see how people responded. The article above details how Wisconsin coped with 100,000 cases of Spanish influenza in late 1918, but that was by no means the only epidemic in our history. Smallpox was probably...
Posted in on February 1, 2006