The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names

By Robert E. Gard, Foreword by Jerry Apps

Paperback: $19.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-707-5

320 pages, 10 b&w images, 6 x 9; E-book available


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Fifty years ago, educator and writer Robert E. Gard traveled across Wisconsin, learning the trivial, controversial, and landmark stories behind how cities, counties, and local places got their names. This volume records the fruits of Gard's labors in an alphabetical listing of places from every corner of Wisconsin, and the stories behind their often-unusual names. Gard's work provides an important snapshot of how Wisconsin residents of a bygone era came to understand the names of their towns and home places, many of which can no longer be found on any map.

Celebrated rural historian Jerry Apps introduces this reprint of Gard's work, saying that in "some ways 'The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names' is a reference book, a place where you can go to learn a little more about your home town. But in many ways it is much more than that, for it includes the stories of places throughout the state, submitted by the people who knew them. It is a book where story, people, and place all come together."

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Robert E. Gard was a lifelong educator, writer, and folklorist who came to Wisconsin in 1945 to join the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gard founded the Wisconsin Idea Theatre, the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, and the Arts Development Program for the University Extension, promoting the arts and culture of Wisconsinís rural communities. Gard also co-founded the Wisconsin Arts Foundation and Council, considered the first official state arts council in the country. In addition, Gard was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Finland in the late 1950s, received the first-ever large-scale grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for work in small communities in 1967, and lectured all over the nation and world. Gard, who passed away in 1992, was a lifelong proponent of recording and learning from the lives and stories of real people from communities large and small.