August 2007 Odd Wisconsin
This brief note dated June 2, 1904, from the New North, Rhinelander's newspaper, speaks for itself: "During the warehouse fire last Friday, all classes took advantage of the fact that beer in kegs and bottles was within easy reach of all. The fierce wind fanned the blaze down from the warehouses to the Schlitz Beer Depot and the danger of...
Posted in Curiosities on August 29, 2007
When Rev. Alfred Brunson (1793-1882) retired in 1873, his colleagues celebrated his career at their annual conference in Eau Claire. Brunson was a pioneer missionary who had spent several decades serving his faith. In 1837 he travelled 1,500 miles through the upper Mississippi Valley trying to prevent war between the Ojibwe and the Sioux. His account of the trip, including...
Posted in Bizarre Events on August 27, 2007
Once in a while a real jewel sparkles out from the great ash heap of musty historical documents. Here's editor Frank Flower (1854-1910), writing in the introduction to the Second Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, 1885-1886. He was chafing at instructions to print quantitative data for Washington officials: "To the people of Wisconsin I hope...
Posted in Curiosities on August 23, 2007
Yesterday's New York Times ran a story about the difference online resources have made to genealogists. Called "Latest Genealogy Tools Create a Need to Know," it contains several first-hand reports of how people investigate their pasts using Ancestry.com and other Web sources. It's interesting, therefore, to look at how family history research used to be done. "In a modest...
Posted in Odd Lives on August 19, 2007
For vacation reading last week, we brought up north some memoirs by Wisconsin loggers. Among the most memorable was this account by James Holden, who started his career in the Chippewa Valley in the winter of 1862. His description brought to mind the famous Monty Python lumberjack song.* "I hired out to Blain on Friday," Holden recalled in 1916, "and...
Posted in Curiosities on August 12, 2007
We're away this week, beyond the reach of the Web, email, and even cell phones. If you're having a craving for the weird and wonderful, duck into your local bookstore and grab the book version. Copies have been shipping from our warehouse for several days, but if you can't find one locally, you can always order it here....
Posted in Curiosities on August 9, 2007
At the battle of Wisconsin Heights on July 21, 1832, Orderly Sgt. John McNair took a bullet in a tender spot. Although it was just a flesh wound, McNair complained incessantly about it in the hours after the battle, and insisted that he could no longer ride his horse. His comrades made so much fun of him that he asked...
Posted in Animals on August 2, 2007