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April 2011 Odd Wisconsin

Lincoln's Little Kindness

Many Wisconsin residents initially opposed the Civil War. Some even sypathized openly with the South, so a group of loyal Republicans sent a delegation to Washington to inform President Abraham Lincoln about possible danger from the enemy within. They chose Professor Damon Kilgore, head of Evansville Seminary and a vocal abolitionist, to travel to Washington and convey their concern. Professor...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 25, 2011

Environmental Victorian

In honor of Earth Day, here's a story about an early Wisconsin tree-hugger and dirt-worshipper. By the 1850s, Wisconsin's lumber industry had begun to penetrate into the Chippewa and Wisconsin River watersheds. The forests seemed inexhaustible to most people, but Milwaukee scientist Increase Lapham (1811-1875) could see that unrestrained harvesting would cause irreparable damage to the environment. In 1854...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 21, 2011

Soldiers and Slaves

As a boy, Peter Custis of Sturgeon Bay was a slave herding livestock on a plantation in Virginia. If he tried to learn to read or write, he was whipped. On every New Years Day, he and his family risked being split up and sold separately to new owners. The Civil War broke out when Custis was a teenager, and...
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Posted in Odd Lives on April 14, 2011

Close Vote & Mysterious Ballots in 1855

This week's close election for Supreme Court recalls another bitter contest 150 years ago. That election was so close that both candidates claimed victory and Wisconsin briefly had two governors -- until one was exposed for tampering with ballots. Here's how it happened. Democrats had controlled the state for years, so when incumbent governor William Barstow ran for re-election in...
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Posted in Curiosities on April 7, 2011

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