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July 2007 Odd Wisconsin

The Peculiar Birth of Paul Bunyan

No, this is not one of the famous tall tales. It's the story of a young Wisconsin woman who rescued those tales from oblivion 100 years ago. In 1901, when William Laughead (1882-1958) was staying with three brothers in a logging camp in the Pacific Northwest, they entertained him with tales about a giant lumberjack named Paul Bunyan. They had...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 29, 2007

Harry Potter and the Dusty Hollow

There once was a real Harry Potter in Wisconsin. He was the Capital correspondent for the Milwaukee Journal, and afterwards the city editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, in the 1880s and 1890s. Thirty years later he told historian Fred Holmes about the remarkable method lawmakers had to limit debate. When the third Capitol was completed in 1869, its...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on July 22, 2007

(Un)Lucky Break

On this day in 1832, two express riders inadvertently changed the course of the Black Hawk War. Because of this, after months of ineptitude and frustration, U.S. troops began the final pursuit of their enemy. Sauk war chief Black Hawk, his warriors, and the hundreds of non-combatants whom they were protecting began a tragic slide toward their doom. In...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 17, 2007

Odd Wisconsin Turns 500

This is the 500th slice of nonsense to be published since Odd Wisconsin emerged from the fertile brain of the Society's former Webmaster, James Ellis, more than three years ago. Here at, 419 anecdotes have appeared since Jan. 12, 2004, when "Spurned Inventor Creates Suicide Machine" launched the blog. Another 81 have been printed in the Wisconsin State Journal,...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 10, 2007

The (Non-)Politics of Pail & Shovel

For at least a century, Madison has been identified in the public mind with leftist politics. The nation's Progressive movement first stretched its muscles here in the opening decades of the 20th century. When the Depression paralyzed the nation in the 1930s, many of the country's remedies, including Social Security, were crafted by Madison-trained policy makers. After World War Two,...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on July 8, 2007

Eagle Symbolism in Wisconsin

In honor of July 4th, we offer another glimpse into the bald eagle, this time in its role as a cultural symbol in Wisconsin history. Long before white people came to Wisconsin, Native Americans used eagles' tail feathers to express power and bravery. Warriors in most tribes from the Great Plains to the Northeast were only permitted to wear eagle...
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Posted in Animals on July 3, 2007

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