Welcome to This Week in Wisconsin! This is the series where we take a week, and then we talk about Wisconsin shit that happened in that week.
Pretty neat, huh? Let’s do this.
July 23rd – Death of a President Mercifully Ends Trip to Ashland
Ashland, Wisconsin is a personal favorite of mine in TWIW, because it has the most depressingly mundane history of anywhere I’ve ever read about. It is the accounts receivable department of Wisconsin History.
This week, the town of Ashland was all abuzz because Thomas Hendricks – yes, The Thomas Hendricks – Vice President for Grover Cleveland, was heading to Ashland via steamship in 1885. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society he ate some fish, and went on a boat before Ulysses S. Grant died, thus saving Thomas Hendricks from staying another night in Ashland.
July 24th – Fire beats Iron River
6 PM, July 24th 1892. A fire starts in a hotel on the main drag of Iron River, Wisconsin. By the next morning, only a half-dozen houses would be standing in the Northwoods Boom Town. The fire spread so fast that the Superior Fire Department, about 30 miles west of the town, was called back on its way to assist because it was “too late to help.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the smoke could be seen from Ashland, some 40 miles east as the town was “wiped off the face of earth.” Those were the days when you could really make a meal out of reporting tragedy.
July 25th – The Kid goes to Cooperstown
Robin Yount, he of two AL MVP awards, 3,142 hits, 251 Home Runs, and one incredible mustache was inducted into the Hall of Fame on this day in 1999.
There’s not much left to say here. If you can’t dig on Rockin’ Robin, you can get the hell out.
July 27th – Fire Beats Phillips
Two years after the fire of 1892 leveled the town of Iron River, a forest fire tore ass just south of the area, through Price County. 100,000 acres were burned – among them the acreage that included the town of Phillips.
The fire left 2,000 people homeless and killed 13. But the people of Phillips, God Bless ’em, did not let an act of God move them from the Northwoods. They rebuilt the town – the whole town – in just about a year.
July 27 – 28th – Kohler workers want money, get bullets instead
Kohler, Wisconsin is what we call a “company town.” Today, that company is basically making toilets and putting them in hotels that cost way too much to be that close to Sheboygan.
Back in the day, the town was known for making toilets and then MURDERING THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THEM WITH IMPUGNITY. One such occasion was 1934. On July 27th, Kohler workers once again gathered en masse in front of the company plant demanding better pay and better conditions. As they grew more and more agitated, they began destroying some property. Company security then fired on the crowd. With guns. That had bullets in them. From towers. Two people died and about 40 were injured. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either outside agitators and communists or the guys with fucking guns that are responsible for the deaths. I guess we’ll never know.
The next day, 250 cavalrymen from the National Guard showed up to get both sides to settle down. And settle they did – seven short years later the strike came to an end.