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Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Summer 2021, Volume 104, Number 4

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeStaircase with love seat and grandfather clock

Featured Story

Treasures of the Villa: Seventy Years of Interpretation at Villa Louis

By Mary Louise Antoine

This year marks one hundred fifty years since Villa Louis, the Dousman family estate, was built in Prairie du Chien. When it opened its doors in 1952, Villa Louis became the Society’s first state historic site, but it wasn’t the first time the home was open to the public. Antoine’s article recounts seventy years of changing interpretation at the estate, from a focus on Hercules L. Dousman’s fur trading days to the third generation of Dousmans who came of age during the gilded 1890s. Discoveries in the attic and at the home of one of the Dousman heirs ultimately led to a full restoration that reflects the richly patterned textiles and ornate household objects. The cover image showcases the home’s second-floor landing, with British Arts and Crafts-inspired wallpaper designed by John J. McGrath and a stained glass window with the intertwined initials HLD. VILLA LOUIS HISTORIC SITE; PHOTO BY ROGER GRANT


EnlargeJacob Spaulding posing in front of camera

Jacob Spaulding

White Euro-American settler Jacob Spaulding, pictured in a ca. 1860 ambrotype, is credited as being the founder of Black River Falls, having claimed the land for a logging operation in 1839. WHI IMAGE ID 123336

Spaulding’s Funeral

By Paul Rykken

During his thirty-seven years in the Black River Valley, Jacob Spaulding, the first Euro-American to settle permanently in Black River Falls, developed relationships with members of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Although he was part of the first wave of Euro-Americans to settle this part of Wisconsin, thus bringing large-scale change to the Native people of the region, Spaulding’s story complicates the expected narrative of settler colonialism: his funeral procession in 1876 was led by forty Ho-Chunk men. Author Paul Rykken looks at Spaulding’s last five years, which coincided with the final attempts by the US government to remove the Ho-Chunk from their homeland, and Spaulding’s efforts to stop the removal. Spaulding’s actions provide a window into the complex acculturation process that occurred in frontier communities and is a challenging counternarrative to the conventional view of the period.


EnlargeA male passenger pigeon collected by Frank Wollen in 1894 at Aztalan in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, now resides in the UW–Madison Zoological Museum.

Pigeon Specimen

A male passenger pigeon collected by Frank Wollen in 1894 at Aztalan in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, now resides in the UW–Madison Zoological Museum. UW ZOOLOGICAL MUSEUM #13787, PHOTO BY JOHN NONDORF

Passenger Pigeons in Wisconsin: From Millions to None

By John H. Nondorf

Once among the most populous birds in North America, the passenger pigeon, long considered a nuisance to farmers, disappeared over the last thirty years of the nineteenth century. Its demise was commemorated in a plaque erected by Aldo Leopold at Wyalusing State Park in 1947: “Dedicated to the last Wisconsin Passenger Pigeon shot at Babcock, Sept. 1899. This species became extinct through the avarice and the thoughtlessness of man.” Ironically, the bird whose flocks blotted out the sun has no known photographs in the wild, and only a few specimens exist today to show the birds’ peachy plumage. John Nondorf explores the birds’ Wisconsin connections in this image essay, which includes photographs in the WHS collection from the last private flock owned by Chicagoan Charles Whitman.


EnlargeCatherine Capellaro with a fellow staffer at the Gazette, an independent youth newspaper she started with friends.

At the Gazette

Catherine Capellaro with a fellow staffer at the Gazette, an independent youth newspaper she started with friends. CAPITOL TIMES (MADISON), SEPTEMBER 23, 1982; WHI IMAGE ID 149435

Newspaper Kid

By Catherine Capellaro

In this short memoir, Capellaro recounts her childhood growing up in a newsroom family, the daughter of two self-proclaimed “ink-stained wretches” who produced small-town newspapers in New Glarus and Monticello.


A subscription to the Wisconsin Magazine of History is a benefit of membership to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The current issue, described above, will become available in the online archives as soon the next issue is published.

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