April 2010 Odd Wisconsin
On April 30, 1864, Joseph Bailey (1827-1867) of Wisconsin Dells commenced a fantastic attempt to save the Union Navy. Earlier that spring, 30,000 Union troops had invaded Louisiana to stomp out Confederate resistance in the West and seize valuable supplies. They ascended the Red River on 60 transport ships accompanied by ironclad gunboats. But half the fleet ran aground in...
Posted in Curiosities on April 29, 2010
Ah, cheese. Staple of the state economy, major food group member, and favorite of fondue lovers everywhere. Where would we be without it? In pioneer Wisconsin, we nearly found out. When the Swiss farmers in Green County first realized that dairy could be more lucrative than their failing wheat farms, they jumped on the cheese-making wagon. But not all the...
Posted in Bizarre Events on April 22, 2010
The appearance of a large meteor over the upper Midwest on Wednesday night spawned many news reports and this YouTube video. It crashed into the woods near Avoca, Wis., on the lower Wisconsin River, igniting not only the trees but also the imaginations of all who witnessed it. This prompted us to investigate early meteor sightings in our state. Perhaps...
Posted in Curiosities on April 15, 2010
Although the French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) condemned his enemies' ideas, he reportedly said he would defend to the death their right to express them. This absolutist view of free speech was built into the U.S. Constitution. It's the reason why American Nazis were allowed to demonstrate in downtown Milwaukee in the mid-1970s. Between 1974 and 1977, local fascists and their...
Posted in Curiosities on April 8, 2010
On June 10, 1923, the Milwaukee Journal reported on the ambition of a retired Beloit couple, Charles and Capitola Kidder. Married for five decades, the Kidders had often told friends that, "Someday, we will follow the trail out into the golden West. We will see the things we have wanted to see, do the things we have wanted to do,...
Posted in Curiosities on April 1, 2010