Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

Madison — Celebrating 150 Years

Articles and Documents

Stoner's Recollections of Madison
George W. Stoner (1830-1912) arrived at what would become downtown Madison on September 6, 1837, as a little boy. In this series of recollections written many years afterwards, he describes coming overland from Cleveland, meeting the handful of other settlers, including the Peck family who were the first white residents, the construction of the first buildings and businesses, roads, and noteworthy events such as the first election and the first suicide (caused by a broken heart).

The Surveyor Who Laid Out Madison Recalls His Days in the Field in 1837
Franklin Hatheway first visited Wisconsin in August 1835, when he was 17 years old. He returned home to New York, learned surveying on the Genessee Valley Canal in 1836, and the next summer (1837) he returned to Wisconsin and conducted the surveys described here. His memoir is one of the earliest accounts of Madison.

An Early Day Tragedy: the Shooting in the Territorial Council
On February 11, 1842, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature was interrupted by the shooting of one member by another. After Representative Charles C.P. Arndt implied that fellow member James R. Vineyard had lied in the chamber, Vineyard drew a pistol and shot Arndt in the chest. English author Charles Dickens, who was traveling in the U.S. at the time, used the incident as an example of the brutality and barbarity of frontier Americans in his book, American Notes.

A Visit to John Muir's UW Dorm Room, ca. 1862.
In this short reminiscence, Grace S. Lindsley recalls visiting John Muir in his room on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison in the early 1860s. She describes how he had invented a combination bed/alarm clock that tipped him onto the floor each morning, and how he dumped her and her young brother out of it. She also briefly recalls a visit he made to Madison in 1896, and his opinion of receiving an honorary degree from an East Coast university.

The First Comprehensive History of Madison to 1874
Daniel Steele Durrie was the Wisconsin Historical Society's first librarian, holding the position from the mid-1850s until his death in 1892. From all of the books, newspapers, pamphlets and related materials that came into the Society, Durrie assembled this history of Madison, including, as Durrie notes, "the minutiae of our early history." He also managed to speak to many of the first settlers, such as Roseline Peck, who provided reminiscences of life in early Madison. Durrie's book is also richly illustrated with drawings and photographs.

Loveliest of the Lawn — Madison is Promoted as a Tourist Destination in 1877
This fanciful history and description of Madison touted the area for its healthful lakes, romantic woods, and social and educational institutions. Intended to lure tourists, the article provides information on travel, hotels, and area attractions.

Drawing of John Muir's invention, the student desk clock, scale 3 inches per foot.
WHI 26482

Madison Women Produce a Cookbook to Help Poor Children, 1894
The Attic Angel Association began in 1889 when Madison resident Elva Bryant began sewing clothes for poor children. Enlisting the help of her sister Mary and several friends, Bryant began collecting discarded clothes and sewing new clothes for poor families. The name "attic angel" came from Bryant's father who declared, seeing his daughters descending the stairs, "here come the attic angels!" This 1894 cookbook was produced to help raise money for their efforts.

Madison: a Model City — John Nolen Envisions the Future of Madison, 1911
John Nolen, a landscape architect from Massachusetts, devised this plan for the future growth and development of Madison as both the capital of the state and the home of its university. Dividing his work into three parts, Nolan envisioned Madison as a place for politics, education and, most of all, for living. Nolan submitted the plan to the directors of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association in 1911.

The KKK Parades Through Madison in 1924
The Ku Klux Klan first appeared in Wisconsin in the fall of 1920. In October 1924, the Klan staged its first parade in Madison, drawing a sizable crowd to watch the spectacle. With little to offer members and no clear statement of purpose, the KKK was unable to maintain member loyalty and support, and had all but disappeared by 1928.

The Federal Government Iinvestigates Prohibition Enforcement in Wisconsin, 1929
"Wisconsin . . . is commonly regarded as a Gibralter of the wets — sort of a Utopia where everyone drinks their fill and John Barleycorn still holds forth in splendor." So began Frank Buckley of the Bureau of Prohibition in his 1929 survey of Prohibition enforcement in Wisconsin. Buckley's survey of Wisconsin provides a detailed portrait of the state soon after citizens had voted to repeal the state's own Prohibition enforcement act. In both statistical tables and description, Buckley describes Prohibition conditions in each county and provides his own colorful observations of life in select cities, including Madison, home of the "queen of bootleggers" (pg 1103).

Stories of Madison
Odd Wisconsin features tales from Madison's early history: Black Hawk's retreat through the city, the earliest travelers' accounts, how Madison became our capital, getting rid of the wolves, building the first house, pigs under the legislature, a visit to John Muir's dorm room, the first telephone call, and much more. Two stories will appear each day throughout the sesquicentennial celebration.

Knights Templar parade south on Carroll Street during the Wisconsin Commandery convention.
WHI 19958
select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text