Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Can You Help Identify These Fine Fellows?

Michael Whaley, of The Free Congregation (formerly the Freie Gemeinde) of Sauk County (Wisconsin), recently wrote to us at MKI:

"We have at the Hall an ellipsoidal framed piece that has seven cameo photographs pasted to an old thin-wood mounting board. The photographs are of good quality, but appear to have been cut out from some other source -- a magazine, perhaps. 

I can identify the man in the center: Eduard Schroeter, Speaker of the Freie Gemeinde von Sauk County from 1853 until his retirement in 1886; and, earlier, Speaker of the Freie Gemeinden of New York and Milwaukee.  [See: Berenice Cooper's 1968 article, 'Die Freie Gemeinde: Freethinkers on the Frontier.']

Three men at center

I also have a suspicion [the photos] have to do with the Bund von Freie Gemeinden von Nord Amerika."

And just today, Michael Whaley wrote to announce, "The portrait on the top left is of Michael Biron, founder of Der Freidenker (1871), and the 4th Speaker of the Painsville Freie Gemeinde (from 1897-1902) in Franklin Township, WI. The Painesville congregation is often identified as the first Freie Gemeinde in Wisconsin. It was organized in 1851 under the name "The First Free Christian Congregation," but in practice it probably came to more closely resemble other Freie Gemeinden (e.g., Sauk County's) during Christian Schroeter's tenure as the congregation's 3rd Speaker (1857-1890), as in 1872 it wrote a new constitution and renamed itself the Free Congregation at Painseville.

See http://www.painesville.bravehost.com/history.htm and http://painesville.bravehost.com/speakers.htm." 

Looking at the Cooper article, the fellow on the lower right might be a younger Friedrich Schünemann-Pott, speaker of the Freie Gemeinde in Philadelphia from 1854 to 1871, when he accepted a call from San Francisco. Schünemann-Pott also edited the Blätter fiir freies religioses Leben, from 1856 to 1872, a journal that, according to Cooper, "contains much valuable information about the Free Congregations, [including] letters from readers, reports of local activities such as reading circles, dramatic programs, concerts, lectures, and libraries, and articles on science, history, philosophy, and literature." Perhaps this image comes from one of the Free Thought journals?

We put the call out to the Wide World (webbed), asking if anyone can identify (definitively or as an educated guess) the other men featured here. Please contact Kevin Kurdylo at kkurdylo(at)wisc.edu or Michael Whaley at spikeyboy(at)earthlink.net

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wisconsin Peoples

This image, showing the fondness families often have for their ancestors, is the cover of The Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin from October of 1942. The issue's title is "Wisconsin's Changing Population," and it features interesting summaries under the heading of Settlement and Population Growth, such as: Streams of Settlement, The Coming of the British, Yankee farmers Come from New England and New York, Continental Europeans Find Opportunities Here, and Census Reflects Changes in Place of Birth and Nationality of State's Citizens.

Here is one quote, up for discussion: "Dairying was initiated in Wisconsin under the leadership of a few Yankees who had sensed the bankruptcy of wheat culture and who were seeking a more solid and permanent base for agriculture. But dairying was accepted and made a practical working farm industry by the Germans and Swiss preeminently. The Yankees did not wish 'to be tied to a cow,' but the regularity of the work and of the income were the very things which appealed to the industrious Germans and Swiss. They had brought with them for Europe a familiarity with cheese and butter-making. Their practical pioneering became the basis for the Wisconsin dairy industry of today."

The frontispiece of the issue is the famous map, in color, by George W. Hill, "People of Wisconsin According to Ethnic Stocks, 1940." Hill used census statistics and other state information to create his map.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book worm?

Our primary collection focus at the Max Kade Institute is German-language books published in North America, so this 1858 volume of Schiller's sämmtliche Werke from the J. G. Cotta'scher Verlag in Stuttgart doesn't really belong here, yet I've been unwilling to give it up. Here's why:
If you look at the spine, just below Schiller, you can see a hole, as if the book were had been burrowed into by a large bug or bookworm.  Open the book, and you find this damage, which seems unusually drastic.

And what is that in the gutter? Is that the worm!?!

Not a worm at all -- turns out to be a bullet!

Can anyone identify this bullet, particularly in terms of how old it might be?

We have to wonder what took place in someone's library long ago: An accidental discharge? A life spared by bad aim? We will probably never know, but the mystery of it keeps this odd volume in our library.
PS The book's title page is stamped with the name "Edward T. Berkanovic," who we know was a lawyer in Milwaukee and who, in 1990, donated six other items to our Institute.