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March 2007 Odd Wisconsin

In the Strangest of Places

Wisconsin is full of weird and wild natural places such as Stand Rock and Witch's Gulch, but the places that early settlers found most remarkable were made by man, not nature. Spread all across our state, often on bluffs and highlands overlooking water, are thousands of carefully crafted mounds in the shapes of bear or deer, lizards or turtles, magnificent...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 29, 2007

Once in a While You Get Shown the Light

One of the most profound differences between our own lives and those of earlier people is that we spend many hours awake after the sun sets. For nearly all of the 12,000 years that humans have lived in Wisconsin, sunset marked the end of each day's useful activity. To work after dark required people to create light. Available fuels,...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 24, 2007

The Fish Were Really Biting

Here at the Historical Society headquarters we are busy mounting all the back issues of our quarterly Magazine of Historyonline. Besides printing scholarly and popular articles, the Magazine also gave occasional glimpses into the activities of the staff. One Sunday in 1955, director Clifford Lord and associate director Don McNeil drove down to Milton, in Rock Co., to support innovative...
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Posted in Animals on March 18, 2007

Knight of the Pitcher

This was the nickname given to attorney Moses M. Strong (1810-1894) in 1843 after his "spirited" defense of James Vineyard (1804-1863), the gun-wielding legislator who had killed his colleague Charles Arndt on February 11, 1842. The shooting of one lawmaker by another under the Capitol dome ranks high among odd Wisconsin events. The story is well-known, and has been featured...
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Posted in Odd Lives on March 15, 2007

The Ides of Marsh

Driving from Madison into Dodge Co. yesterday, we saw open water for the first time in months, as well as a foolish turkey walking in Hwy 73 and three majestic sandhill cranes overhead. That part of the state is known for its wildlife, thanks in large part to the preservation of Horicon Marsh . On March 14, 1903, President Theodore...
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Posted in Animals on March 15, 2007

Reform of Military Hospitals

The current scandal over conditions at Walter Reed Hospital prompts reflections on Wisconsin's great reformer of military hospitals, Cordelia Harvey (1824-1895). In the fall of 1861 her husband, Louis P. Harvey (1820-1862), was elected governor of Wisconsin. The following April three Wisconsin regiments fought in the first major battle of the Civil War, at Pittsburgh Landing (Shiloh), Tenn. In 48...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 7, 2007

Sins of the Fathers

The media has been buzzing over the last week with stories about the slave-owning ancestors of prominent politicians. First, former presidential candidate Al Sharpton revealed that genealogists had discovered that some of his ancestors had been owned by ancestors of notorious segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Then the Baltimore Sun reported that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s white...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 3, 2007

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