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Wisconsin Folklore

Edited by James P. Leary

Publication Year: 1998

    Highly entertaining and richly informative, Wisconsin Folklore offers the first comprehensive collection of writings about the surprisingly varied folklore of Wisconsin. Beginning with a historical introduction to Wisconsin's folklore and concluding with an up-to-date bibliography, this anthology offers more than fifty annotated and illustrated entries in five sections: "Terms and Talk," "Storytelling," "Music, Song, and Dance," "Beliefs and Customs," and "Material Traditions and Folklife."
    The various contributors, from 1884 to 1997, are anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, historians, journalists, museologists, ordinary citizens reminiscing, sociologists, students, writers of fiction, practitioners of folklore, and folklorists. Their interests cover an enormous range of topics: from Woodland Indian place names and German dialect expressions to Welsh nicknames and the jargon of apple-pickers, brewers, and farmers; from Ho-Chunk and Ojibwa mythological tricksters and Paul Bunyan legends to stories of Polish strongmen and Ole and Lena jokes; from Menominee dances and Norwegian fiddling and polka music to African-American gospel groups and Hmong musicians; from faith healers and wedding and funeral customs to seasonal ethnic festivities and tavern amusements; and from spearing decoys and needlework to church dinners, sacred shrines, and the traditional work practices of commercial fishers, tobacco growers, and pickle packers.
    For general readers, teachers, librarians, and scholars alike, Wisconsin Folklore exemplifies and illuminates Wisconsin's cultural traditions, and establishes the state's significant but long neglected contributions to American folklore.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

In 1846, two years before Wisconsin became a state, the English scholar William J. Thoms coined the word "folklore." A partisan in the romantic and nationalist movements that swept Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, Thoms was fascinated by the sayings, stories, music, songs, beliefs, customs, and crafts practiced by English peasants. He felt, as did the...

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Introduction: On Wisconsin Folklore

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pp. 3-30

The notion of Wisconsin folklore begs consideration of the palpable yet elusive nature of Wisconsin itself. Wisconsin, the word, is an anglicized spelling of a French version of one or several native expressions variously attributed to the Ho-Chunk, the Menominee, and the Mesquakie (Vogel 1965). Wisconsin, the place, emerged as a descriptive phrase for an...

PART ONE Terms and Talk

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pp. 31

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1 The Significance of Manitowoc

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pp. 33-35

Place names-their origins, their meanings, their stories-fall prey to "progress" as surely as the land. In an era when emergency 911 systems have stimulated the conversion of local road names into numbers, only the elderly and the antiquarian may recall or care that West 18th Street was once the "Swamp Road"-especially since the swamp has been drained and filled. Many place names once invoked by Wisconsin's Woodland Indian peoples have vanished altogether before the onslaught of armies, settlers, and entrepreneurs eager to mark the land with words that celebrate themselves, the old worlds...

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2 Names in the Welsh Settlement

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pp. 36-39

The Welsh immigrated to southern Wisconsin in the early 1840s. Around Rewey-along the Pecatonica River in Iowa and lafayette Counties-they were farmers, lead miners, and ferVent devotees of Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches. This account, set down by Charles Roberts in the early 1940s, concerns the Rewey 'Welsh Settlement" in the late nineteenth century and makes prominent mention...

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3 German Nicknames of Places in Early Dodge County

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pp. 40-41

Dodge County has been, since the 1830s, among the most German areas of America's most German state. In a county where German was actively spoken on the streets through the 1930s, where children were educated in German parochial schools, where occasional church services are still conducted in German, and where such German names as Herman, Huilsburg, and Leipsig festoon the official map, the unofficial presence of German nicknames for places does not surprise. C. H. Bachhuber, likely a native Dodge County German, was living in West Allis when he became one of many "locals...

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4 Deutsche Sprichworter: German Sayings in Milwaukee

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pp. 42-48

Prior to the mass popularity of the self-help industry, with its plethora of dull phrases about role models, mentors, parenting, self-esteem, and safety, caring elders placed greater reliance on sharing proverbs: wise, witty, poetic, sometimes acerbic pronouncements that, as folklorist Roger Abrahams elegantly suggested, offered "traditional solutions to traditional problems." As a kid in the 1950s and 1960s I heard plenty from my dad, Warren Leary. Perhaps his favorite was "the old dog for the hard road," reserved...

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5 Milwaukee Talk

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pp. 49-61

German-inflected talk has become part of the regional vernacular in Milwaukee and throughout much of eastern and central Wisconsin. Paralleling the celebration of Scandinavian dialect by Minnesota's Rlmmaking Caen brothers, of Fargo fame, and radio monologist Garrison Keillor, such diverse Wisconsin musicians as avant-rocker Sigmund Snopek and Two Happy Cowboys from Wisconsin (Rob Johnson and Rick Murphy) have toasted Beer Town's talkers with numbers like "Aina Hey" and...

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6 Ten Thousand Swedes: Reflections on a Folklore Motif

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pp. 62-71

Rhymed ethnic taunts have long been part of everyday banter in culturally diverse Wisconsin. Columbia County Yankees razzed their "foreign" neighbors with "the Irish and the Dutch, they don't amount to much," while Catholic Celts in working-class Ashland heckled their Slavic coreligionists with "Irish, Irish, ring the bell/Polack, Polack go to hell." Initially intended cruelly, such gibes also engineered intimacy...

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7 Characters on the Chippewa Waters

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pp. 72-79

Dangerous occupations breed characters and characters are known by nicknames. Indeed the acquisition of a moniker often indicates a worker's shift in status from callow outsider to fullRedged veteran. The Chippewa Valley was the heart of Wisconsin's "pinery," with lumber camps, river drives, boom operations, and sawmills dominating the region's economy from the 1840s through the early decades of the twentieth century. The era's noted woods workers-whether Anglo-Canadian or Yankee, whether French, Irish...

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8 The Brewing Industry

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pp. 80-84

From the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, hardly a town in Wisconsin lacked a brewery. In the 1870s the destruction of Windy City breweries by the Chicago Fire, the proliferation of reliable railroads, and new refrigerator cars combined to vault Milwaukee into prominence as "Beer City" (see Jerry Apps, Breweries of Wisconsin [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992]). No wonder musicians as diverse...

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9 Apple-Picking Terms from Wisconsin

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pp. 85-88

Thanks in part to the efforts of the University of Wisconsin's Extension system, apple production was established in the state early in the twentieth century. The apple industry persists in the hill country of western Wisconsin, from whence these terms derive, as well on the Bayfield Peninsula that juts into lake Superior. Frederic Cassidy's elegantly written study provides both a solid glossary and a step-by-step elaboration of the apple-picking...

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10 Farm Talk from Marathon County

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pp. 89-105

For more than a century Wisconsin's farm population has declined steadily, with one "farm crisis" succeeding another. Those family farmers who persist have typically relied not only on their own skill and hard work, but also on the assistance of neighbors, grandparents, parents, and siblings. The participation of farmers in a multifaceted and multigenerational community is particularly evident in the rich and, to outsiders, often esoteric quality of their occupational speech. Roger Mitchell's elaboration of vocabulary, proverbs, and expressions of belief is exemplary of the kind of talk a careful listener might hear amidst Wisconsin farmers over the varied course of a typical year-which is exacrly how these...

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11 Application to Live in Northern Wisconsin (North of Highway 29)

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pp. 106-110

Highway 29 runs from east to west, linking Green Bay, Wausau, the Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire area, Menomonie, and River Falls, while neatly separating Wisconsin's northern region from the south. Above this line lakes, woods, and log trucks proliferate. It's the home of self-described "jackpine savages," and the place where Igrew up. In 1960 the hometown Rice lake Warriors basketball team made it to the state tournament in Madison. That was before the present system of four divisions based on relative population, and schools competed with one another irrespective...

PART TWO Storytelling

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pp. 111

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12 Turtle Trying to Get Credit (A Tale)

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pp. 113-121

The traditions of Wisconsin's Winnebago (or, as they are now known, Ho-Chunk) people tell them they have always been here. Certainly they occupied villages throughout southern Wisconsinparticularly along the Black, Fox, Rock, and Wisconsin River valleys-at the time of European contact. In the nineteenth century, the United States government forced the Winnebago to move successively to reservations in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Many people, however, resisted forced relocation and...

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13 Oiibwe Stories fromNorthern Wisconsin

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pp. 122-138

The most populous of Wisconsin's native peoples, the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) occupy six reservations in the northern part of the state: Bad River, lac Courte Oreilles, lac du Flambeau, Mole lake, Red Cliff, and St. Croix. At the time of European contact, they were situated near Sault Sainte Marie, at the western edge of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and moved west with the fur trade. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an Indian agent, was the first to report on Ojibwe storytelling traditions in 1839. Since then Ojibwe...

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14 Legends of Paul Bunyan, Lumberiack

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pp. 139-148

Paul Bunyan is an inescapable presence in contemporary Wisconsin. One can read about his exploits in fourth-grade social studies texts, see his mighty ax at Wisconsin-Minnesota football games, gorge in his restaurants in Minocqua and Wisconsin Dells, pose alongside his statue in Eau Claire, and marvel at the immensity of his underwear in Rhinelander. Bunyan's current association with the bygone days of white pine logging, lumber camps, and river drives is undeniable. But the extent to which Wisconsin's bygone woods workers actually told stories about Paul Bunyan remains a matter of debate...

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15 Ghost Stories (As Told by Old Settlers)

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pp. 149-158

Wisconsin's European immigrants hailed overwhelmingly from peasant communities animated by the supernatural. Kitchens, barns, crossroads, lakes, rocks, and woods were-especially at night and during seasonal transitions-the territory of ghosts, little people (fairies, leprechauns, nisse), giants, and such peculiar beasts as trolls. Sometimes hostile, they were more often simply mischievous and could be appeased with gifts of food or kept at bay with charms. Sorcerers and devils were more problematic. They...

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16 Gamroth the Strong

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pp. 159-162

legends celebrating great strength are common in rural and industrial settings and, not surprisingly, they flourish in Wisconsin. Indeed farm and factory hands, particularly when they are members of new immigrant groups at the bottom of the economic ladder, are often stereotyped by outsiders as being "all brawn and no brain," or "strong but stupid," or "having a size 52 shirt and a size 2 hat." But insiders typically regard them as gentle, playful, helpful fellows possessing awesome power. In the summer of...

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17 George Russell: The Repertoire andPersonality of a NorthCountry Storyteller

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pp. 163-175

As a folklorist who, since the 1970s, has sought regionally distinctive storytellers throughout Wisconsin, I have often been told "You should have heard old so and so, he could tell stories all night." Traditional storytelling is hardly a lost art in contemporary Wisconsin, but stories-even if they are the same stories-do change with time as their tellers update them to fit changing circumstances. In 1980, I wrote: "both George Russell's early life and his repertoire of sayings and stories are integral with the final phase of European immigration, pioneer homesteading, and lumbercamp labor in northern Wisconsin." Old stories...

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18 Finnish Folktales

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pp. 176-182

Finnish Americans settled in northern Wisconsin and the greater lake Superior region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, establishing small farms on cutover acreage, and toiling in the woods, in the mines, and as domestics. They brought with them a rich folk culture that included woodworking and weaving, songs and dance music, and an array of stories ranging from magic tales, to supernatural...

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19 Woods and Waters

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pp. 183-188

Hunting and Hshing have been part of Wisconsin life for centuries. The dwelling places and activities of native peoples revolved around the pursuit of Hsh and game, and many Indian people continue to hunt deer and capture fish with their ancestors' dedication. European immigrants and their descendants have also found Wisconsin a proverbial land of plenty-a place where former peasants were free to hunt deer in the manner of nobles and kings. Deer hunting dominates...

PART THREE Music, Song, and Dance

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pp. 190

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20 Menomini Indian Dance Songsin a Changing Culture

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pp. 191-199

The Menominee, or "wild rice people," occupy a small portion of what has always been their northeastern Wisconsin homeland. Yet they harvest timber nowadays to a far greater extent than wild rice, and many other aspects of their culture have changed since the beginnings of European contact. From the 1920s through the early 1960s Menominee musicians, for example, were as likely to play Rddles, marching band instruments, and guitars as they were the old courting Autes and various drums. The...

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21 The Wanigan Song Book

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pp. 200-218

Songs were plentiful in many northern Wisconsin lumber camps during the heyday of white pine logging that extended from the mid-nineteenth century until roughly the time of World War I. Veteran woods workers from Maine and Canada carried a tradition of altering old songs or composing new ones to convey the circumstances of their occupational lives. Some concerned death on the log drive; some chronicled the characters and incidents of a season's labor; while others celebrated skilled competitions. Franz Rickaby...

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22 Kentucky Folksongin Northern Wisconsin

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pp. 219-250

Eastern Kentucky has long been venerated as a hearth of ancient English folk culture in America. And while that image has often been exaggerated and distorted, there is little doubt that the region's mountain people sustained a repertoire of stanzaic narrative folksongs, or ballads, with deep Old World roots. In the late nineteenth century, some eastern Kentucky families left coal camps and hard times in southern Appalachia for the only slightly better circumstances of northern Wisconsin's lumber...

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23 "The Light Fantastie' in the Central West:Country Dances of Many Nationalities in Wisconsin

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pp. 251-258

Born and raised in Madison, Wardon Alan Curtis received a degree in classics from the University of Wisconsin in 1889, pursued a career in journalism, and eventually settled in Ashland, New Hampshire. Were Curtis writing today, he might be slinging cheeky pseudo-intellectual prose for Rolling Stone or, perhaps, forsaking print altogether to foam at the mouth on talk radio or MTV. His account of Wisconsin's dance-hall pluralism, published in a popular national magazine, is pioneering in its focus...

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24 Hoppwaltzes and Homebrew: Traditional Norwegian American Music from Wisconsin

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pp. 259-267

"Old-time music." Throughout much of America that phrase is most commonly associated with fiddlers playing the jigs and reels once prevalent at dances in rural New England, amidst the southern Appalachians, and on western ranches. In the Upper Midwest, however, "old-time music" has usually meant polkas, waltzes, and schottisches-and the phrase is a direct translation of the Norwegian gammaldans. In 1926, Henry Ford, fearing the musical influences of African Americans and "foreigners," sponsored a series of...

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25 Polka Music in a Polka State

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pp. 268-283

In 1994, the Wisconsin legislature designated the polka as Wisconsin's state dance. It all began when a Madison elementary school teacher and polka enthusiast, Vi Bergum, collaborated with her students on a class project. They approached Senator Gary Drzewiecki, a concertina-playing Polish American from Pulaski representing the greater Green Bay area. The senator drafted a bill, held hearings that were well attended by supporters and the media, and soon the polka shared coveted status with the...

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26 Black Gospel Music in Milwaukee

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pp. 284-291

Black gospel music thrives in such southern Wisconsin cities as Janesville, Kenosha, Madison, Racine, and especially Milwaukee, where African Americans, present since the nineteenth century, have settled in increasing numbers since the 1940s. Hailing from the rural South and from Chicago, they sustain a wide variety of religious performance styles. Yet the vibrant Milwaukee gospel scene has been little studied in comparison with that of such other midwestern cities as Chicago and Detroit. As such...

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27Joua Bee Xiong, Hmong Musician

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pp. 292-304

Hmong people from mountainous northern Laos began making their way to Wisconsin in the mid1970s. Recruited during the Vietnam War by America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to harry the North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Hmong also battled the communist Pathet Lao at home. Eventually their villages were overrun. Those who survived sought refuge in camps across the Mekong River in Thailand where they hoped for emigration to America. Now, in the late 1990s, more than thirty thousand Hmong people live in various cities across the state of Wisconsin. Maintaining many aspects of their...

PART FOUR Beliefs and Customs

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pp. 305

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28 John Mink, Oiibwe Informant

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pp. 307-322

Traditional beliefs, customs, and other forms of folklore are rooted in distinctive ways of life and they are best understood within the contexts of particular individuals' lives. Joseph Casagrande's portrait of John Mink richly exemplifies the traditional way of life of a remarkable person who sustained his people's culture as the world changed around him. Medicine man, hunter, storyteller, staunch traditionalist, John Mink was, for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, both a link to the past and an inspiration for such future elders as John Stone, James "Pipe" Moustache, Bill Bineshi Baker, Bill Sutton, and Edward Benton...

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29 Faith and Magic

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pp. 323-330

Magico-religious practices were once extremely widespread among Wisconsin's European ethnic peoples, nor have they subsided entirely. Such Catholic communities as Dickeyville, Forestville, Holy Hill, Loretto, Necedah, Rudolph, St. Joseph's Ridge, and Sinsinawa Mound, for example, include remarkable shrines and grottos, most of which are associated by the faithful with ongoing miraculous cures. (See Lisa Stone and Jim Zanzi, Sacred Spaces and Other Places: A Guide to Grottos and Sculptural Environments...

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30 The "Plaster Doctor" of Somerset

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pp. 331-338

Most traditional healers in Wisconsin have practiced their arts within small circles and without widespread publicity. Not so with John Till: having traveled from his native Austria to the lumber camps of northwestern Wisconsin, Till drew on Old World folk medical treatments to attract thousands of patients among the region's working-class immigrants. like Euro-American folk healers generally, and like his teachers-a "healing blacksmith" and a pious hermit-Till invoked divine powers, asked that people pay...

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31 "Jecz Cha Nacho!": You Are Invited to a Polish Wedding in Wisconsin

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pp. 339-342

Polish weddings in Wisconsin are justly famous as extended festivities involving the surrounding community. Early in this century local women did all the cooking; the engaged couple.delivered wedding invitations personally; musicians escorted the wedding party to the church, then from the church to the dance hall; men paid for dances with the bride by hurling silver dollars onto a plate; women removed the bride's veil, then gave her an apron and a broom while singing ancient songs about the travails of married...

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32 The Wisconsin Oneida Wake

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pp. 343-345

Rites of passage involving birth and death retain extraordinary significance among many of Wisconsin's American Indians. Babies may receive an "English name" at birth, but their "Indian name," often bestowed by an elder, comes later. Cradle boards remain in wide use among the Ho-Chunk, while Ojibwe babies may play with and be protected by a "dream catcher." Some Ojibwe, Menominee, and Potawatomi youngsters also wear a pair of "baby moccasins"-duly marred by a small hole so that the baby's pure yet vulnerable spirit might not be lured away before its time by affectionate deceased...

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33 Julebukk

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pp. 346-351

On August 22, 1942, the linguist Einar Haugen posed an important question to a seventy-twoyear- old woman in the Wisconsin Norwegian stronghold of Coon Valley: "Julebukk?" Her answer was immediate: "Oh yes, they still do that in some places. It used to be great fun in the old days, for there were only the young people of the neighborhood ..." (translated from the Norwegian in Haugen, The Norwegian...

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34 The Yuba, Wisconsin, Masopust Festival

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pp. 352-355

In the 1850s, Czechs settled along the lower Wisconsin River Valley and to the north around the current Richland County communities of Yuba and Hillsboro. Mostly Catholic and farmers, they brought with them a rich tradition of seasonal religious practices, including Masopust. Like the better known Mardi Gras, Masopust is a pre-Lenten or Shrove Tuesday celebration, a final occasion to eat, drink, and dance before the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and the six-week fast preceding Easter. Part of a liturgy that...

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35 Dyngus

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pp. 356-361

Dyngus, or "Switching Day," is an ancient rural Polish custom practiced by youngsters on Easter Monday and Tuesday. Its origin is said to recall the crowd that gathered around the tomb of the risen Christ. When guards could not command people to disperse, they used switches, then water. Dyngus was widely practiced by Wisconsin's Polish Americans and other Slavs well into the 1940s, with the boys taking the...

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36 Belgians Bring Along Their Customs

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pp. 362-366

In 1853, nine families of Walloon Belgian farmers left the province of Brabant to settle in Wisconsin. They were bound for Sheboygan County, a German and Dutch stronghold, but soon traveled to the hinterlands around Green Bay where their dialect was more compatible with that city's large French-speaking population. More than fifteen thousand Belgians emigrated to the region in the next decade, resulting in what remains America's largest rural Belgian enclave. The essay included...

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37 The Swiss Colony at New Glarus (excerpt)

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pp. 367-370

In 18.45, Nicholas Duerst, a forty-eight-year-old judge, and Fridolin Streiff, twenty-eight and a blacksmith, left the Swiss community of Glarus in search of a site for "New Glarus" across the Atlantic. Upon their recommendation, 1.40 emigrants followed the next year to found what persists as the most prominent Swiss settlement not only in Wisconsin but in the United States. They soon established a Swiss Reformed Church, made first of logs, then later, in 1858, of stone. John Etter, the congregation's minister...

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38 Woods Customs

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pp. 371-376

Veteran woods workers of the old-time lumber camp and log drive era were proud of their occupational skills, memorializing them in song and story. Wisconsin's most widely sung traditional ballad, ''The little Brown Bulls," celebrates an end-of-the-season skidding contest between rival Scots Canadian and New England Yankee crews. The legendary 'Whitewater Ole" Horne, an immigrant Norwegian river driver, was reputed to ride the lead log through sluice gates, like a latter-day snowboarder negotiating a half-pipe, before perishing in a log jam. Wisconsin's woods workers...

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39 Wisconsin Tavern Amusements

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pp. 377-386

Throughout the state's history, Wisconsin taverns have sustained the legacy of Old World inns, of cultural institutions sharing status with, and often numerically exceeding, churches. In 1944, journalist Fred Holmes described Wisconsin German taverns in a way that characterized many more of the state's ethnic, rural, small-town, and urban-working-c1ass watering holes: "... the tavern is a community club house. After church, the whole family, before returning to the farm, is likely to enter to drink beer, while sitting...

PART FIVE Material Traditions and Folklife

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pp. 387

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40 Wisconsin Indian Drums and Their Uses

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pp. 389-395

Museums of "natural history" proliferated in the nineteenth century as a manifestation of western imperialism. 'Wild" lands and "savage" people were there to be colonized, developed, .and assimilated. European and American settlers, businessmen, bureaucrats, clergy, and even anthropologists typically subscribed to evolutionary theories of culture: it was inevitable, the argument went, that members of "lower" cultures abandon their traditions for the "higher" ways of the conquerors. As advancing civilization...

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41 Alex Maulson, Winter Spearer

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pp. 396-406

On November 20, 1903, the Rice Lake Chronotype reported a local fashion trend: ''The ladies are wearing Indian beadwork belts quite extensively." The area's Ojibwe people acquired glass beads from French fur traders like August Carot, who established a camp on Rice lake's southern shore in the eighteenth century. ladies' beaded belts came later. By the early nineteenth century, Ojibwe women who harvested wild rice and camped along the northern shore...

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42 Work at Rest

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pp. 407-431

Women's handwork retains significance even in an era of ready-made artifacts and machine production. No longer compelled by necessity, many Wisconsin women still find abundant reasons to wield needles and weave in ways that sustain old traditions. Janet C. Gilmore's 'Work at Rest" provides insights into the varied lives, methods, and motives of eight such women. Herself a handiworker, Gilmore earned a ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University in 1981. Since then she has worked on numerous public folklore projects, including, from 1986 to 1997, nineteen surveys of folk...

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43 Meet a Wooden Shoe Hewer

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pp. 432-434

Before the mass production of rubber boots and the availability of treated leather, many Wisconsin farmers relied on wooden shoes, as had their old country ancestors, when trodding through barnyard mud, or when milking cows or cleaning the barn. The late Sigvart Terland of Frederic, born in 1907 in the Norwegian village of Helleland, grew up on a farm where he learned to make wooden shoes as his father and grandfather had done. "They'd have long nights in the winter," he told me in 1986, "and I'd sit in the dark and carve." From ages nine to nineteen he made shoes for his parents, two grandparents,...

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44 Feast of Folklore: The St. James Church Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut Supper

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pp. 435-444

In 1996, Gary Legwold published The Last Word on Lutefisk: True Tales of Cod and Tradition (Minneapolis: Conrad Henry Press), a handbook on what the author aptly called the Hsh noted for its "Iye bath and legendary odor." Legwold offered factual and facetious information on this Scandinavian American culinary mainstay before concluding with ''The Lutefisk Dinner Directory," thirty-plus pages in small print that included forty-three Wisconsin entries, many of them Lutheran churches. The Directory...

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45 Shrines and Crosses in Rural Central Wisconsin

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pp. 445-456

Wisconsin's Catholic communities are alive with folk religious expressions. Encouraged by but not officially bound up with the institutional church, these ancient folk expressions range from personal prayers, to elaborately braided and significantly placed palm fronds, to home altars, to outdoor shrines. Shrines in particular animate the landscape. Statues of the Virgin Mary-encased in stone grottos, under wooden arches, or against the curved and sky-blue painted porcelain of upended, partially buried recycled bathtubs-sanctify yards in and around the...

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46 "We Made 'Em to Fit Our Purpose":T he Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Skiff Tradition

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pp. 457-475

The proverbial "cultural baggage" of immigrants to Wisconsin sometimes literally included such handmade folk artifacts as items of clothing, specialized tools, and esoteric musical instruments. More often newcomers arrived with little more than know-how. This was certainly true when it came to the design, construction, and use of houses, barns, and boats. Wisconsin's cultural landscape testiRes to the rich folk knowledge of assorted ethnic builders, and their work has attracted a succession of architectural historians, ..

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47 Tobacco Growing In Southwestern Wisconsin: Ethnicity In aTraditional Labor Practice

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pp. 476-485

Wisconsin's commercial Rshers, loggers, farmers, and participants in other ongoing rural, outdoor occupations generally learn their fundamental skills traditionally-by watching, listening, and doing. The more specialized their work, the more they rely on special techniques and tools. Beyond its universally recognized status as "America's Dairyland," Wisconsin also ranks among the nation's leaders in the production and/or processing of cranberries, ginseng, horseradish, maple syrup, pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, and sphagnum moss-each of which demands specific skills and equipment. (See...

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48 The Pickle Factory

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pp. 486-496

As a high school student in the mid-1960s I began a series of part-time minimum wage jobs that included stuffing and addressing newspapers for the local weekly, loading trucks and sorting empty bottles on a conveyor in a soft-drink plant, and building molds before carrying and pouring ladles of molten iron at a small-scale foundry. I soon learned that each job had its complication and its rhythm. And you had to learn a trade's tricks and pace quickly or face interminable drudgery and frustration. I also learned that each worksite was more than a place where labor was performed. It was a cultural...


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pp. 497-521


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pp. 522-525


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pp. 526-542

E-ISBN-13: 9780299160333
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299160340

Publication Year: 1998