July 2008 Odd Wisconsin
As you've surely noticed, this summer's floods spawned a record crop of mosquitoes. Few of God's creatures are quite as annoying, or in quite the same way. Beseiged by them while exploring the northwoods in 1820, Henry Schoolcraft reflected that, "It certainly requires a different species of philosophy to withstand, undisturbed, the attacks of this ravenous insect, from that which...
Posted in Animals on July 25, 2008
Civil War soldier Joseph Bailey (1826 - 1867) of Columbia Co. is best-known for having saved the Union fleet on the Red River in the summer of 1864. Two years earlier, however, he supervised a wild-eyed failure when Union generals tried to divert the Mississippi River. Northern troops had conquered New Orleans from the sea in the spring of 1862...
Posted in Curiosities on July 24, 2008
Henry Thoreau claimed that "In wildness is the preservation of the world".* It's also true, though, that in wildness lies the destruction of civilization. This reflection struck young James Doty after he'd canoed and hiked from Detroit to Minnesota in the summer of 1820. Doty was stopping at a remote fur trading post on Sandy Lake when he noted in...
Posted in Curiosities on July 15, 2008
If you ask most people about African-American history in Wisconsin, they're likely to think of Milwaukee's civil rights struggles in the 1960s. In fact, black settlers had been living here for nearly two centuries by then, and perhaps the best-known early African-Americans in the state were two generations of fur-traders in the Lake Superior region. Jean and Jeanne Bonga are...
Posted in Odd Lives on July 8, 2008