Welcome to This Week in Wisconsin – the only internet-based Wisconsin History week-in-review series to feature the F word .
Let’s get to the weird shit.
July 31st: Lake Geneva Goes Footloose
On this day in 1967, Lake Geneva city leaders finally addressed what was clearly a deeply terrifying and deleterious scourge on the city: go-go dancers. Women were barred from dancing or serving cocktails or as waitresses in bikinis or swimsuits.
The next year, in 1968, Hugh Heffner opened up the first Playboy Club right on Lake Geneva, site of the Grand Geneva Hotel today. So who knows how he got around that one.
August 1st: Blackhawk Gets Beaten (Again. And Again.)
Remember the Black Hawk War? The ‘war’ wherein a bunch of Native Americans are trying not to get killed thanks to a constant torrent of racism and botched communication? Well, on this day in 1832 it almost ended. Black Hawk was leading his group through western Wisconsin, when they reached the Mississippi. For some reason, the army didn’t want them to leave Wisconsin alive – I mean, they’ve been chasing them for so long it almost seems shitty to not let the white people kill them at this point.
Anyway, to block their escape the US Army sent out the Warrior, a steamship loaded with an artillery gun. Upon seeing the aptly-named Warrior, Black Hawk drew up a white cloth and attempted to surrender to the ship. The crew of the Warrior, thinking that the whole white cloth thing is just something you do in cartoons, FUCKING FIRED ON BLACK HAWK ANYWAY. About two dozen unprepared members of the British Band were killed.
August 1st: It’s the Prayer That Never Ends
On August 1st, a group of Franciscan sisters in La Crosse began a round-the-clock prayer of adoration and thanksgiving before the Blessed Sacrament.
Some sisters starting praying to it, not knowing what it was. And they’ll continue praying forever just because…you get the idea.
The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have been doing this, at least two at a time, non-stop for 139 years.
August 2nd: The Battle of Bad Axe FINALLY ends the Black Hawk War
My God, this whole summer has just been British Band slaughter this, and Black Hawk got beat up that. But finally, on August 2nd, it comes to a close. Black Hawk had spent most of the summer with his few hundred warriors trying to get the women and children of the British Band safely away by creating tactical diversions. The whole time, Atkinson, his men, and the group of Sioux mercenaries they kept killing them anyway.
At Bad Axe, the majority of the Band was killed. Black Hawk tried to pull his pursuers north, while the families furiously built methods of escape for the remaining few hundred to escape over the Mississippi. The Sioux found them and killed all but about 22 who were able to escape.
August 4th: Anti-War Riots in Port Washington
So we like to think Wisconsin, with it’s northerly position and large contingent of Union troops distinguished in battle, would be well rallied to the cause of the Civil War. In Port Washington in 1862, it was far from it.
The War Department ordered a draft be conducted in town, and on August 4th, a district attorney named in newspapers only as Mr. Pors commissioned the draft despite death threats. And let me tell you, a good sized crowd attempted to make good on those threats.
Mr. Pors was thrown – or carried, the paper didn’t say which – the Post Office stairs and beaten badly “so a heavy amount of blood flowed from his wounds.” He escaped the bludgeoning there, but the mob’s work was hardly done. They smashed the shit out of his house and pretty much anything that had anything to do with him. “Even innocent birds that were playing in their cages,” said the paper, “were killed by the infuriated mob.” The rioters continued for days, and in true Wisconsin fashion, brought a cannon into play to help fire on ships of US soldiers who might come to resist them.