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November 2009 Odd Wisconsin

Nation's First Quints Born in Wisconsin

Long before IVF and fertility drugs, a Watertown woman gave birth to a naturally-conceived set of quintuplets. They are believed to be the first set of quintuplets born in the U.S. Edna Kanouse, described as obese by one newspaper, reportedly had no idea she was pregnant with five babies. When she went into labor on February 13, 1875, her husband...
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Posted in Curiosities on November 30, 2009

Madison's First Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving in Madison took place in 1838 at the log cabin of Eben and Rosaline Peck. They had located their home overlooking Lake Monona in the spring of 1837 and used it as a boarding house for construction workers erecting the Capitol. That took more than a year, but legislators were on hand in the fall of 1838...
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Posted in Curiosities on November 25, 2009

A Capitol Fish Story

Considered ugly by some and revered by others, sturgeon boast a rich history in Wisconsin. After having survived whatever killed the dinosaurs, they evolved into a robust fish that can enjoy a lifespan of more than a century. In 1932, one sturgeon proved its lasting power in a particularly fragrant way. For years, state law required that confiscated fish and...
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Posted in Animals on November 12, 2009


The New York Times reported this week on a Stoddard, Wis., couple who build homes not from dead lumber but from living trees. Apparently their methods have many advantages, including not only beauty but also unexpected structural strength and minimized ecological impacts. Their story reminded us of John Krusback, president of the Embarass State Bank, who had a similar idea...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on November 5, 2009

Madison's First Presidential Visit

Today's visit by President Obama to Wright Middle School in Madison swamped our Library with calls about previous visits by incumbent chief executives. The first of those occurred on Sept. 10, 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes spent the day in our capital city. Unlike Obama, Hayes was not an especially noteworthy president. In 1876 he had actually lost the popular...
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Posted in on November 3, 2009

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