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September 2013 Odd Wisconsin

The Search for Wisconsin's First Priest

"How's fishing?" That's the question that greeted Rev. A.A.A. Schmirler as he paddled the rivers of northern Wisconsin during the summer of 1959. The historian-priest was not fishing, however, but retracing the route of the first missionary to visit Wisconsin almost exactly 300 years before. Father Schmirler was trying to discover the exact location where Fr. Rene Menard died while...
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Posted in Strange Deaths on September 25, 2013

Wiskonsan's Biggest Booster

In 1838, James Duane Doty (1799-1865) was elected by Wisconsin voters to represent them in Washington. He had already served in the Michigan territorial legislature (1833-35) and finagled having Madison chosen as Wisconsin's territorial capital. He went to Washington in 1838 to represent not only the voters but also absentee landowners, Eastern speculators, and capitalists trying to exploit Wisconsin's natural...
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Posted in Odd Lives on September 19, 2013

White Culture through Ho-Chunk Eyes

As large numbers of white settlers streamed into Wisconsin for the first time during the 1820s, the original inhabitants were puzzled by the exotic newcomers. One day in 1828, Ho-Chunk chief Dandy (1793-1870) was at Galena with some companions. Later that year they were going to Washington to meet with U.S. officials, and may have been familiarizing themselves with the...
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Posted in on September 12, 2013

Kitty Ryan Subdues the Bear

Early in the last century, Jack Ryan kept a saloon for woodsmen at Mercer, Wisconsin. Fresh from a long winter in the forest, lumberjacks would often blow their entire season's wages on a grand spring bout of drinking, gambling, fighting, and debauchery. Ryan kept a pile of old gunny sacks in a corner where they could pass out on the...
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Posted in Animals on September 3, 2013

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