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March 2012 Odd Wisconsin

Mind Control, Wisconsin-Style

On the evening of March 31, 1918, Prof. E.A. Schimler of Northland College was kidnapped by a mob of masked men. They took him to a lonely spot outside Ashland, stripped him naked, beat him, covered him in tar and feathers, and left him in the woods. Schimler limped back to his boarding house, where friends helped him clean himself...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 26, 2012

Madison's First Drunkard

We grow up with the idea that all our pioneer ancestors were church-going pillars of the community. That's because those were the people who wrote the histories. But they actually shared the world with disreputable bullies, gamblers, thieves, and drunks, just like we do. Like every frontier town, Madison attracted disreputable characters fleeing from civilized society back East. One of...
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Posted in Odd Lives on March 21, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans

In his memoir Old Times on the Upper Mississippi, steamboat pilot George Merrick recalled some St. Patrick's Day hijinks in the river town of Prescott, Wis. They took place during the late 1850s, when hundreds of side-wheelers fueled commerce in the heart of the continent. Assistant Engineer Billy Hamilton of the 'Fanny Harris' Merrick described Billy Hamilton, the assistant engineer...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 15, 2012

Lives of the Obscure

March is Women's History Month, and this year we're focusing on the lives of women who didn't make headlines — the silent majority of women who worked on farms, in shops, on assembly lines, at telephone switchboards, or at home. Their voices are preserved in candid interviews, dull government hearings, hand-written diaries, minutes of community meetings, yellowed newspaper clippings, and...
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Posted in on March 7, 2012

Women's History Month

During March the mainstream media usually pays lip service to the role of women in American history. This is the month when we hear about famous crusaders like Belle La Follette or selfless martyrs such as Cordelia Harvey. But what about obscure women? What challenges did they face, and what choices did they have to make? This month we'll tell...
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Posted in Curiosities on March 1, 2012

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