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January 2013 Odd Wisconsin

Let There Be Light

One of the most profound differences between our own lives and those of earlier people is that we spend many hours awake after the sun sets. For nearly all of the 12,000 years that humans have lived in Wisconsin, sunset marked the end of each day. To work after dark required artificial light. Available fuels, usually wood or animal fats,...
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Posted in Curiosities on January 24, 2013

Tippecanoe and Tallmadge too?

It's inauguration time again, which called to mind the peculiar fate of Nathaniel Tallmadge (1795-1864). He was Wisconsin's third chief executive, but he could have been the tenth president of the United States instead. Tallmadge was admitted to the bar in 1818 and served in the New York legislature before going on to two terms in the U.S. Senate (1833-1844)....
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Posted in Odd Lives on January 17, 2013

Wisconsin Ghost Town

In 1837 two entrepreneurs erected a grist mill on the banks of the Wisconsin just below Portage. All across southern Wisconsin, new communities were springing up from the prairie like mushrooms after a rainstorm. This was the only mill for 40 miles, and pioneer farmers from as far away as Baraboo, Columbus or Madison carted their wheat to the hamlet...
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Posted in Odd Lives on January 8, 2013

The Parrot and the Crows

In 1871 the great P.T. Barnum came to Wisconsin and established his famous traveling show. Ten years later he merged with James Bailey's circus to become "The Greatest Show On Earth." For 20 years Barnum personally traveled the country with his animals, acrobats, and entourage of eccentrics. He was famous for flamboyant advertising, and when asked when he would quit...
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Posted in on January 3, 2013

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