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January 2012 Odd Wisconsin

Sarah Hardwick, Hermit

In 1906, Sarah Hardwick inherited five acres of remote woods alongside the Mississippi. No road led to the top of the bluff where she set up housekeeping. She came and went from the river to her crude shanty along a footpath worn through the brush. Caught Rattlesnakes Hardwick went into seclusion there, growing vegetables in clearings amidst the trees. She...
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Posted in Odd Lives on January 26, 2012

It Was So Cold That...

This weekend's arctic blast and snowstorm sent us searching the historical record for similar outbreaks of frigid weather. We found this account by Ebenezer Childs (1797-1864), describing a trip from Madison to Green Bay in the winter of 1836-37: "There were then but three other families in Madison. The doctor from Fort Winnebago [at modern Portage, who had been tending...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on January 19, 2012

Archaeological Blunder

When white settlers arrived in Wisconsin, they were intrigued by the ancient mounds that dotted the landscape. This sparked excitement about archaeology generally, and during the late 19th century the discovery of new "antiquities" fueled speculation about the state's ancient past. It also led to one memorable blunder in 1878 concerning a find at Hartford, in Washington Co. A resident...
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Posted in Curiosities on January 12, 2012

Risky Investment in Milwaukee Tobacco

Today marks the anniversary of the Union victory at Stone's River, Tenn., where 41,000 Union soldiers faced off against 38,000 Confederates for three days in driving rain, sleet, and fog. Thomas Ford of Milwaukee was a sergeant in the 24th Wisconsin Infantry, which lost nearly 40 percent of its men and almost all its officers at Stone's River. Years later...
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Posted in on January 5, 2012

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