August 2009 Odd Wisconsin
When one considers Wisconsin's important contributions to big industries, products like cheese, beer, and even ginseng come to mind. Unfortunately, for fashionistas across the state, Wisconsin designers have usually been marginalized while metropolitan centers like New York and Paris typically dictated what was "in." But in 1966, a Wisconsin paper company proved that the state was hip enough to instigate...
Posted in Curiosities on August 27, 2009
August 21st marks an important Wisconsin anniversary. Our last execution took place on this date more than 150 years ago, when John McCaffary was hung in Kenosha for drowning his wife. The restraints that bound his arms and legs that day ultimately came to the Society's Museum collection as documentation of the last public execution in Wisconsin. It was a...
Posted in Strange Deaths on August 20, 2009
"Yes, I am fond of history," comments the hero's sister in Jane Austen's 1803 novel, Northanger Abbey. "I wish I were too," replies heroine Catherine Morland. "I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page;...
Posted in Curiosities on August 12, 2009
In the fall of 1935, Wisconsin State Journal cartoonist David Seltz produced a panel every day showing strange episodes from our state's past. He called them "Badger Curiosities" appropriately enough, though today we might call them urban legends (or not-so-urban, given that this is the dairy state). Some of the stories he depicted are well-known, some are forgotten trifles; few...
Posted in Curiosities on August 5, 2009
Last week two newly arrived residents of Madison requested a tour of Aztalan, our state's best known and largest archaeological site. This opened the door to an explanation on the strange origin of the name "Aztalan." The first white settler to lay eyes on it is said to have been Watertown pioneer Timothy Johnson, in 1836, who refered to it...
Posted in Curiosities on August 2, 2009