Friday, December 29, 2017


Certain maladies traditionally have had a bit of levity associated with them.  Oh, not the really bad ones.  Only Monty Python level humor can make fun of The Black Death. No, its mostly the little stuff.  Toothaches for instance.  Although being in the midst of spending my 2018 International Travel fund on root canal work lessens the merriment for me considerably.

Perhaps one of the maladies most prone to jokes is gout.  At least in times past it was very funny.

Because gout can be brought on by over indulgence in meat and alcohol it was considered in the 17th and 18th centuries to be largely a disease of the rich.  And to see them get a bit of comeuppance for their high living was broadly satisfying...

The wrapped and propped up feet were universally recognized as a sign of gout.  The disease classically hits the base of the big toe the hardest.

Gout is an unusual word.  Most medical phrases of more recent vintage are highly polysyllabic. Ankylosing Spondylitis.  Polymyagia Rheumatica. (Both are, like gout, joint diseases).  

Gout derives from the Latin "gutta" meaning a drop.  It was theorized that some kind of unfortunate humors were dripping into joints.  Actually that's not a bad explanation, as acute gout is caused by uric acid crystals congregating in joints instead of being excreted by the means suggested by their name.

Gutta became the French "gote" circa 1200.  Gutta also gave us other words.  Gutter for a method of conveying drops of rain water.  Possibly Gut from a similar derivation.  Candles still "gutter" in the sense of melting little channels from which drops of wax drip out.  

What intrigues me is that in French the word "goût" means taste, or tasty.  It makes me think that at some point the connection between the acute pain of gout and the ongoing pleasure of eating heavy, meaty meals and washing them down with rich wine must have been made by some clever medieval observer.  

Hoping that your holiday indulgences have been free of acute consequences.


While researching Gout Cartoons I found a series of modern ones.  Put out by the "Gout and Uric Acid Education Society" they are entirely without malice.  And without any humor at all!  If you are oddly curious....Here Ya Go.

This Education Society seems earnest and well intended, but I do note it is sponsored financially by several pharmaceutical companies that, oh, just maybe have a vested interest here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Goats, Kids but No Kidding.

Any time a song becomes famous there are lawsuits claiming, on the basis of a similar tune or words, that somebody else wrote it.  And wants a pile of money for their work.

So, although I seldom do posts featuring my grandson, I do have to put up a song I composed for him.  If something similar ever hits the big time this will be my "marker".  Pay up, despicable song pirates...

The inspiration comes from a little Wildlife Petting Zoo that he likes to visit.  There are lots of animals including goats.  And goats will eat anything.  The goat chow you buy from a little dispenser, sure.  But if that is not forthcoming they'll nibble on you instead!

Cows Say Moo
By Tim Wolter
Copyright 2017
Horses neigh,
Cows say Moo.
Goats are gonna eat your shoe.
Pigs they roll in mud and dirt but
Goats are gonna eat your shirt.

Woof says Dog,
Meow says Cat.
Goats are gonna eat your hat.
Camel he is way up there but,
Goats are gonna eat this chair.

Chickens they eat bugs and ants,
Goats are gonna eat your pants.
Here we are just me and you,
and the Goat who's gonna eat your shoe....

The tune is something along the lines of "This Old Man", which I assume is well into the Public Domain.  

Feel free to sing it to your own kids and grand kids if you want to be Silly.  

But if you start making money off of it expect a visit from my non Silly legal team!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Designing Bright Orange Machinery

The "Man of Steel" category is one I started using last year when I went back to Tech School in my dotage.  It made literal sense then, as I was taking a machining class.  Metal was drilled, turned, cut.

This semester I am taking a Mechanical Design class.  Not much metal involved but I did not feel like making a new category tag.

The last project of the semester had us working in small groups.  We had to design a mechanism with four hinged bars.  It had to move the final bar between a specified set of degree parameters.  There was.....actual math involved.  It had likely been 40 years since I tried to do calculations involving cosines.  

In that area I don't think I was much help to the team, but I was somewhat more useful when it came time to outsource the non printed parts.  My workshop contains anything you could use in a project of this sort and a handful of components from an old Vex robotics kit served us well.  I also, not surprisingly can hammer out a technical report with ease.  You just have to have a sense of how far you can push the humor.  When one graph was put in upside down I decided to leave it there, explaining that we were anticipating the Australian market to be a major sales opportunity.

Anyway, here's the gizmo.  The orange parts were all designed on the computer and 3D printed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Soda Pop and Stronger Stuff - Old Moses

If you think of the American frontier of the mid 19th century as a hard drinking place awash in whiskey you would not be far off.  Barring of course a few places where curious "dry" sentiments held sway among the devout and dry throated.

But the economy of the whiskey seller left few traces. Early saloons were usually cheaply built.  Barrels got broken up, and most of the glass bottles were generic.  Beer left a few more traces, in the form of solid brick brewery buildings and an array of glass and pottery bottles marked with their origins. But these usually came later.

The first businesses to fairly consistently put their names on beverage bottles tended to be soda pop makers.  It was a necessity of course.  Unlike brewers whose main product has always been delivered in kegs, soda pop came in individual bottles which were a significant capital expense.  They needed them back for re-use.

As I meander here and there through local history sometimes I find incomplete little tales that still lack a final chapter.  So today I present the story of the first soda pop manufacturer in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin.  Somebody just needs to find a bottle somewhere with their name on it.
The first clue in this story was a modest newspaper ad from 1868.  It pretty much just gave the name:  "Schofield, Garon & Hebert soda bottlers Chippewa Falls".

Newspapers from that era grudgingly dole out a few more scraps.

April 18, 1868
"Hebert, Caron and Schofield are making preparations for the manufacture of mineral water on a quite extensive scale.  Their works are near Church Street under the bluff."

May 2nd, 1868.
"The machinery for Schofield, Garon & Hebert's Mineral Water works came to hand this week - they will be ready to commence operations about Monday next".

September 26th, 1868
"Hebert and Caron dissolve partnership.  Caron will continue at the same location".

Finding out anything more has been tough sledding.  The earliest map of town shows no buildings where the bottling plant was supposed to stand. A photo of roughly the same vintage hints at a small frame building.

And as to the three men behind the enterprise...

Schofield may have been an out of town investor.  Nobody fitting the description was living in town in the late 1860s although nearby Eau Claire did have a guy by that name.

Garon was a saloon keeper.  Variously his first name is given as Michael or Mitchell, with the latter seeming to be correct.  His billiard hall and saloon was on Bridge Street, then as now the main avenue of town.  He is running newspaper ads in the late 1860s and still appears in the 1875 census.  With the first name confusion it is hard to be entirely sure but he was probably born in 1826 and emigrated in 1851.

Hebert is the most interesting of the three.  Moses Hebert or "Old Moses" as he appears to have been called, was another saloon owner.  

The location of his establishment is a little hard to pin down.  I find one reference to it being on Central Street and another, from 1875, that relates that "The Summer Garden building of Mr. M. Hebert in LaRose's addition was destroyed by arson.  Building and stock insured for $1,300."  Central Street was probably where he rebuilt after the fire.  It is mentioned that above the door of this bar was a sign that said:

"Old Mose. Live and Let Live."

There is a subtle difference in contemporary articles, between soda water and mineral water.  Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the latter was usually a bottled product.  The former seems to have been served from a tap, in the fashion of later drug store soda fountains.  I found multiple advertisements from saloons of the late 1860's with phrases like "Ice Cream and Soda Water to be had in their season".

Moses Hebert had a stroke in August of 1875 but survived, only to drown in shallow water when trying to launch a fishing boat in 1878.  It is mentioned a short while later that he had to be reburied out of the Catholic Cemetery.

If I had to guess I would discard the theory that Moses indicated a Jewish heritage. Heberts are still fairly common in these parts and most I know are Catholic. More likely somebody checked his paperwork and found out that he had been married too often or too concurrently.  Did too many grieving widows show up at the service?

Here's the location of the "Mineral Water works" in the fall of 2017.  You can see the church up above, the bluff below.  There are no structures left and even the streets that once were down below have been erased.

Standing at the base of the bluff you find a few discarded containers, but much newer and more likely to have contained beans than beverage.

Of course what one should find here would be a field of broken bottles, perhaps stamped with the designation SGH.  But there is nothing to be seen.

Probably the enterprise was small scale.  5,000 objects are not likely to be lost to history entirely.  500 might be, especially if a bankrupt firm had them all stacked in boxes and they went to the dump together.  

Even generic bottles of the proper age and construction are very rarely encountered in excavations intentional or serendipitous.  

Were these bottles in fact embossed with the names of the proprietors?  For this to make any sense there would have to be a competing company, somebody to get the stock confused with.  And in Eau Claire - about 15 miles away - there was a soda water manufacturer who got started a year or two earlier.  Maybe this was too far away to be a concern in 1868.  Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire were several hours wagon ride apart then, now they blur together and there is a speedy road that will get you from one to the other in ten minutes.

There is a somewhat later connection between the Eau Claire bottler and the man who started the second(?) and more successful soda bottling plant in Chippewa Falls.  It's a good story, one with Indian uprisings real and imagined, but it must wait for another day to be told.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Lost Brewery of Chippewa Falls

Breweries often figure prominently in the history of our communities, especially in places like Wisconsin.  Sometimes the history is easily seen.  Breweries were often substantial both in physical structures and in the impact they had on their towns and cities.  A few hardy survivors are still in operation in their original versions.  

But sometimes the history of a brewery can be elusive.  

Consider Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Of course everyone knows about Leinenkugels.  And if you are any kind of a local history buff at least the basics of the enigmatic F.X. Schmidmeyer brewery are known to you.  But what about the third brewery?   

It was while going back over the Schmidmeyer story, sifting for any additional scraps of info that I ran across a few brief mentions of what I have come to consider "The Lost Brewery".

My first hint was this brief item in the Chippewa Falls Herald from May 29th, 1872.

"The Spring Street bridge across Duncan Creek is now in a passable condition.  It leadeth to Messers. Mitchell and Ming's brewery and hence is likely traveled considerably."

But in the very same edition we find this notice:

"Dissolving partnership known as The Union Brewery Compay.  Mr. Busselman withdraws.  John P. Mitchell and M.J. Cummings carry on."

Another notice turns up in the December 10, 1873 edition of the same publication:

"DISSOLUTION NOTICE. The partnership heretofore existing between Peter Mairet and Fred Schmidt in the Brewery business is this day dissolved by mutual consent.  Mr. Schmidt will pay all debts and collect the bills due."

Although the location is not mentioned and the names have changed, this is the same brewery mentioned the year before.  The link that connects them was this brief note in the Chippewa Herald on November 14, 1873:

"The brewery on Spring street across Duncan Creek is now open and manufacturing beer.  Peter Mairet and ________ Smith are proprietors."

This of course was just a month before the announcement that the business had gone under.

Lets start with a picture, presumably of the brewery.  It is from an 1874 Illustrated View of Chippewa Falls.  Just over the Spring Street bridge we find...

The structure marked with the red arrow sure looks like a brewery.  It is built into the hillside where there was likely a storage cave.  And it has the typical multi story configuration breweries found useful; letting gravity do much of the work of shifting raw materials in the manufacturing process.  It is unidentified on this map.

So what to make of this?

Oddly you sometimes find that failed enterprises leave a wealth of information behind.  Bankruptcy proceedings, legal wranglings with all their juicy paperwork. But what little I have been able to figure out so far on the "Mitchell and Ming" brewery is as follows.

"Ming" has to be a chummy nick name for Cummings, specifically Matthew J. Cummings.  He was from Ireland, an early businessman who helped build the Catholic Church that loomed (judgmentally?) on the hill above the brewery site.  He also had a planing mill across the creek from the brewery until it washed away in a huge flood in 1884.

Herr Busselman, who dropped out in 1872, was a certain Louis Busselman.  He is listed in the 1870 census as being 42 years old, born in Baden Germany, and having the occupation of "brewer".  It seems possible that the Union brewery arose from an earlier, small scale brewery run by Busselman.  But it could be that he was a brewer in the employ of one of the other two establishments in town.  Names seem to come and go with puzzling frequency in the early brewing industry.  Busselman lived on the site, an 1878 news clipping mentions a fire at his house on Spring Street, across Duncan creek.  I think this defines Busselman as the brewmaster - living on the premises being the norm - and is a point in favor of an earlier starting date for the enterprise.

John P. Mitchell sounds to me like more of an investing partner.  His occupation is listed as "bookkeeper". He came to town early, in the 1850s.  His historical legacy is mostly how often he got elected to various local offices.  County Clerk, Sheriff, etc.

Of Mr. Mairet and Mr. Fred Schmidt I have found little.  Neither seems to have been around for long.  Mairet is not a common name.  So the brief mention I found of a Peter Mairet being married to Luitgarde Schmidt is almost certainly our guy.  I suspect he may have been a Schmidt in law and if so lets hope that union went better than the Union brewery!

I think that was the end of the line for the Union Brewery.  An 1874 City Directory does list "Smith and Son" as brewers on Spring Street.  Smith being the English version of Schmidt it is likely the same guy.  Could the son have been a son in law?  But as to evidence that this was still a going concern at this point I have found nothing.

The site today, standing on the east end of the Spring street bridge.  It is an apartment complex for old folks.  I have of course examined the hill behind and can see no trace of brewery foundations or a storage cave.

So farewell to the Union Brewery, that faltered and failed in the early 1870's.  They may have only brewed a few batches of beer.  

So what went wrong?  

It was a competitive marketplace they were entering.  It is not always best to be the first on the scene, as the declining fortunes of Schmidmeyer and the rising ones of Leinenkugel's proved.  But being third is probably not good.  

And the site was problematic, prone to flooding.  In fact I suspect one reason there are so few signs of earlier structures here is that enthusiastic flood control efforts have raised the ground level.  And of course the usual suspects...under capitalization, production problems, perhaps they had one of the damaging fires that were so typical of the industry.  It is worth mentioning that the fall of 1873 is remembered for a Financial Panic that hit just as the Union Brewery was starting or perhaps restarting production.

You could ask I suppose, why I bother with a detailed history of a forgotten, failed brewery from long ago.  Well, somebody had to do it!  And besides, our heritage is not just a victory parade of those who march proudly into the history books.  For every such laurel crowned titan of local industry there were likely a dozen who gave it their best shot and then vanished from the public eye.  Let's remember them too.

Which will lead me to an even more enigmatic business just a few hundred yards downstream......

Friday, December 15, 2017

Spam Haiku

I have a special email account that captures most of the spam sent my way.  After a certain number accumulate they are simply automatically deleted.  But I take a look now and again, as legitimate emails turn up once in a while.

Mostly of course it is full of oddly phrased missives from people who would like access to my bank account.

The other day I looked over the accumulated emails and realized that they had a sort of poetry to them.  Almost like haiku.

Very loosely, haiku poems have 3 lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables in them.  Just for fun I decided to take snippets of peculiar spam and craft haiku from them.

My best girl inquire,

free of cost audit report for

The Rolex Watches

or perhaps this one:

Highly Sincerely

principally tremendous

still remember me?

you can even mine a single "Nigerian" email for its built in, if unintended poetry.

artist and miscreants

ready to share with you 40%

of Cahoot Bank here

Now, let me try my own original composition.

Voices from nowhere

Foolishly hope for my cash

Delete button - click

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Forgotten Brewery Caves - A Thunderous End

A news article that appeared in numerous Iowa papers in May of 1892.

"With a tremendous noise, resembling the explosion of a dozen heavy cannons, almost a half acre of ground on Stewart avenue, in West Dubuque, suddenly disappeared, Monday.  No building was on the ground, the site is that of the old Cockler ale brewery that flourished there many years ago.  Near the old brewery is an abandoned mineral shaft over one hundred feet deep that terminated in a cave.  This cave was walled up when the brewery was in operation, and was used as a room in which barrels of ale were stored.  After the ground had disappeared an investigation showed that a large portion of the walls of the cave had fallen in, carrying with it the surrounding soil, making a huge cavity fully half an acre in extent opening into what is believed to be a subterranean lake.  A bowlder (sic) dropped into the cavity was heard about ten seconds later to splash into the water hundreds of feet below the surface.  It has been the theory of miners for years that a vast subterranean lake existed under this portion of the city, and this is only another evidence of the fact."

I really enjoy reading 19th century newspapers.  Among other things it makes me feel better about my own excessive use of commas!

So what's the story here?

Dubuque is an unusual town in many respects.  It was settled very early, and despite the overall agricultural economy of the area it began as a mining boom town when lead was discovered in abundance in the area.  Hence the reference to an "abandoned mineral shaft".  There are a lot of these.  What is fascinating is that one was converted to a brewery cave.  Did they winch the kegs of beer up and down a 100 foot vertical drop?  Seems rather excessive.

The original article was in error in some respects.  The name of the brewery was Fockler, not Cockler, and by Dubuque standards it was not even very old.  It was in business from 1865 - 1871.  In April of 1871 it befell that fate common to so many breweries, a devastating fire that started in the malting kiln and destroyed everything.  It was not rebuilt.

The location of the brewery poses some difficulties.  There is no specific community called West Dubuque, and the names of the streets have mostly changed.  The best reference I could find put it at "Julien and 8th Streets", with Julien being renamed Primrose in 1894...two years after the half acre cave in.*

I'd expect a half acre cave in to be something you could still see....maybe something like this?

It makes sense to turn a gigantic sink hole into a city park.  I mean, what else are you going to do with it?  Below is a Google Earth view from street level.  Back behind the ball diamond there is a suspicious looking depression.  I think I'd be careful with any holes in the ground back there.....

* I'm not 100% sure on this location.  It seems pretty far out of the early town. If anyone down that way could enlighten me I'd be obliged.  There is a marvelous Encyclopedia Dubuque that has helped me in earlier research but that sadly shows no clarity on this little enigma.

Monday, December 11, 2017

FIRST Robotics - The New Game

The last couple of years I have been fairly deep into FIRST Robotics.  For those wandering in late it is a world wide competitive engineering program for high school students.  I have gone from being the smart adult who actually knew things about building robots to a combination of comic relief, ambassador and juggler of many delicate and/or heavy objects.  I also keep the floors swept.

Its the students who are the smart ones now, the students who create the technology that to primitive eyes - mine - is indistinguishable from magic.  I take consolation in the fact that the middle school students now coming up out of our "farm system" will quickly surpass my current high school wizards, who will in short order join me in the peculiar experience of watching Younger and Smarter people surpass them.

In our first two seasons we met a couple of times in the fall then had a "cold start" at the beginning of the build season.  That by the way is January 6th.  

This year we have kept the motors turning over slowly, so expect to have just a bit less rust on our early efforts.  We have a promising looking crew.  We only lost a couple to graduation and our returning veterans are smart.  We also have a good bunch of recruits.

Each year FIRST throws out a "teaser" video giving a basic theme for this year's game. It also contains hints and clues which are picked apart endlessly by those trying to guess at the specifics.  I must admit I have only watched it one time, so my game predictions below are ill informed.  But I did get things mostly right last year....

Theme: Classic video games

Assumptions: You can't actually roll Donkey Kong barrels all over the place.  

                      In the current era it is likely that the Princess will rescue the Prince.

                      Mostly non violent, or at least abstract.  There was Medieval Siege a
                      couple of seasons back.

So I predict stair climbing or ramps.  No, I'll go farther.  There will be both options. There will also be some kind of coin like objects to put into slots.  I'm going to say they will light up when put into the right place. Of course, and this is not a stretch at all, the background music and effects will all be cheesy early video game stuff.  I am already tired of the silly little "Wocka-Wocka" noise that Pac-man makes and fear that I will hear a lot more of it in the future......

Build Season begins in one month.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wilson Wisconsin 2017

I thought it might be interesting to have a look at Wilson Wisconsin.  From reading the Ryan & Scott saloon ledger book I had formed a mental picture of the town.  So on a sunny mid November day it was off for a look.  Here it is.

The ledger book returns to downtown Wilson.  It does not look like a very busy place, does it?  In fact I actually did drive through and missed it.  To find the place you need to turn off of the highway and go over some rail road tracks.

The less than vibrant economy of Wilson seems to have always been tavern based.  So, are either of these the Ryan and Scott tavern?

No and probably no.  The white building in the foreground is a former "meeting hall" now a VFW post, where a drink can always be had.  The brown building down the street has been a tavern until fairly recently.  It is now defunct.  But I think that is too modest a building for a brewery owned tavern.  They wanted to look good.  So they tended to go for things like this structure across the street:

Maps and such are hard to come by in micro town America but this sure looks right.  Perhaps the structure to the left is a heavily remodeled version of the barn that is mentioned in saloon records.  The back of the tavern is a residence, this would fit with the suggestion that Riley and Scott had some room and board facilities.

In the background you can see the only other two signs of commercial life in Wilson. A tiny little post office in a trailer.  And beyond that a white brick building that is currently an auto repair shop but I can guarantee you, it got its start doing horseshoes not oil changes.

The saloon was not open when I visited at mid day on a Saturday.  There were some lights on inside.  It had that peculiar look that one encounters on occasion.  Has it been out of business for a short while or is it open when and if the owners feel like it?  To be fair this was opening day of Deer Hunting Season, which in Wisconsin is a Holy Day on which all non hunting activity ceases down to the sub atomic level.  Out behind the tavern was a nice ball field that looked to have seen recent play.

The outfield fence, deep center field.  Is there a more succinct description of The American Dream than this?  I assume that any home run through the slot gets free drinks for the team all night.

So what would Ryan and Scott think of their town a century and change later?  Well it was probably sleepy then and remains so.  I think they could relate to the simple reality of business moving off of Main Street and over to the highway a quarter mile off.  This process has been repeated many times.  Probably Wilson got its start when the railroad went there instead of through some other now extinct hamlet.

On the highway there are two more taverns.  Honestly, Wilson is listed as having a population of 176, and not all of them are of legal age.  So if we assume the former Ryan and Scott tavern is still open - when the owners feel like it - that gives us four active and one recently defunct watering holes.  

Competitive business I guess, tending to the thirst of rural Wisconsin.  I am sure the long ago saloon keepers would approve of the sentiments on display at one of the modern places.....

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Running a Saloon in 1904

A garage sale find.  Most people just skim right over old books but a customer with sharp eyes saw something unusual about this one.

It is a business ledger for a small town saloon.

The location was Wilson, Wisconsin.  Not much there then or now, but presumably enough thirsty farmers to keep a tavern in business.  The proprietors were a Mr. Ryan and a Mr. Scott.

You can learn a lot by looking at "the books".  Mostly it seems to have been a listing of people's bar tabs!

Elegant hand writing.  I noticed a subtle change as the ledger progressed from 1902 to 1905.  Here the entries are all for Mds, which I assume is short for merchandise.  Earlier entries just said "drinks".

So, if you got a little behind in your tab there seemed to be assorted ways to pay it off.  Here Mr. Purvis paid his tab with potatoes!  He started running a new one right away.

Evidently you could also pay your bar bill with sheep!  Who knew?

Or with hay!  In other entries I note that the establishment rented a barn and occasionally bought cows, so this does make a little sense.

Regular customers had their own pages in the ledger book.  Really regular ones had several pages.  It is interesting to see that there was not a single woman appearing in this record.  Not even one.  Oh, and also that some customers were identified like this one:

Let the historical record show that Old Man Buscart, as well as several other patrons identified as Old Man, all paid their bar tabs promptly.  Of course, a few customers were less diligent.  Sometimes you saw a line drawn and this notation"

Ed Manning seems to have taken the "Paid no good" designation seriously and settled up soon thereafter.

The products sold seem to be a mixture of liquor and beer.  Regards the latter it was all Pabst products.  In fact the ledger pages for Pabst transactions also include an entry each month for House Rent, so I figure the bar was owned by the brewery with Ryan and Scott just renting it.  This was a fairly common practice at the time but was less obvious than in the UK where independent pubs would be called "Free Houses".

Ledger books of course can only tell you so much.  The clientele looks to have been largely Irish, but that reflects the community.  So far as you can tell from the entries the product sold was beer - in bottles, cases and kegs - hard liquor by the drink or in several sizes of bottles, and cigars.  Lots of cigars.

There may have been living quarters associated with the saloon.  Not all of the rent entries make obvious sense, and in a number of places there are charges for "Board for 2 weeks".  This cost $12 according to the books, this seems pretty steep in an era not long removed from times when a working man would earn a dollar a day.....

There are a few references to non alcoholic beverages.  One entry specifically mentions purchase of "soft drinks" from Drewery and Sons of St. Paul.  And then there is this enigmatic page:

Typo notwithstanding this should be Joe Evans of Eau Claire.  He was a prominent soda pop bottler.  So I guess it makes sense that you could buy a barrel of Cider from him. And maybe a couple sacks of corks.  But a case of Flasks?  Did Evans have a wholesale side line business?  Or was there in fact such a similarly named man in such a closely related line of trade?  No answers.

Come on back next time, we shall visit the Wilson Wisconsin of 2017.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ultimate Wisconsin Christmas?

I think this picture has it all.

It's a little used car lot.

Now selling Christmas trees.

With a stand selling deep fried cheese curds!

Buy a tree and they throw in an order of curds.

When I stopped by a day later they even had one of those inflatable "arm waving guys" so common on used car lots!

I should really only report on what I have seen myself, but I am told that the proprietors are going to have a guy in a Grinch costume out front soon.  Will he encourage customers to come on in or to drive on past?

Ah, the mingled scents....fresh, aromatic pine and horrid, greasy deep fried treats...

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tree Shaped Tombstones - Cassville Wisconsin

Cassville is one of those towns built on a little strip of flat land down in a river valley.  Real estate was in short supply.  And for a cemetery anything too close to the river was out. You just wouldn't want the remains of your loved ones to go tumbling towards New Orleans during one of the frequent floods.

So they perched it up on a lonely bluff some distance out of town.  And in keeping with this week's theme it had a single Tree Shaped Tombstone.

An odd shape, quite stout.  I wonder if the McKemmie family tended a bit in that direction.....

I like to take close ups of little features.  Nothing remarkable here, just lichen and moss on a leaf carved from stone.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tumble down times in Cross Plains Wisconsin

- Note: One of my rules of thumb is that you never find just one of these "Tree Shaped Tombstones in a cemetery.  There are always at least a couple.  But on a fall road trip I ran across a bunch of exceptions to this rule.  Here is "One Off Week". -

Cross Plains Wisconsin.  I had taken a bit of a detour to visit hoping to find remnants of a cave in the ruins of a brewery on the edge of town.  No such luck.

But I did run across an interesting cemetery, another in our series of "One Off" tree shaped tombstones.

Valley Home Cemetery surrounds St. Martin's church.  St. Martin's has been decomissioned and now serves as the headquarters for the local historical society.  The place overall is well kept up and there are some nice monuments there.  But something, perhaps the nature of the soil, is causing trouble with some of the older markers.

Temps fugit.....

Anna Schulenberg has a nice tombstone.

The little motto below is rather Germanic and grim.  It translates roughly to "Death pain and Grave rest, with Christ in Heaven".  She probably did not die peacefully in her sleep.

Well lets hope that she is resting more comfortably than her leaning tombstone!  Is it being propped up by that little slab from somebody else's grave or is that just there to make mowing the lawn easier?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tree Shaped Tombstones - Father and Sister

- Note: One of my rules of thumb is that you never find just one of these "Tree Shaped Tombstones in a cemetery.  There are always at least a couple.  But on a fall road trip I ran across a bunch of exceptions to this rule.  Here is "One Off Week".


Mineral Point Wisconsin is a great place.  Scenic.  Lots of history.  It was at the center of the early, pre-statehood lead mining rush.  I expected to find tree shaped tombstones a'plenty.  Nope.  The three cemeteries in town have a total of two examples, each - in the theme of the week - standing all alone.  One was pretty standard stuff but the other....

Reverend Francis Weinhart has a rather imposing tombstone.  Nicely done in the "Rugged Cross" format.  Appropriate for a man of the cloth.  Great detail too, look at the nails that hold the cross together.

I had expected that the "book" part of the monument would have a verse from Scripture.  The line up above VIEMENTO is a bit of Latin portmanteau that translates to "remember the life".

Occupational references on tombstones are always nice to find.  They say something about the deceased and also show the degree of creative latitude given to the monument carvers.  Here we have a Communion chalice and wafer.

Francis Xavier Weinhart was of course a Catholic priest.  He came to Mineral Point relatively late, in 1871.  That was when the German speaking members of the Catholic community decided they should have their own parish.  

If Priests were sort of the "rock stars" of the Catholic world, nuns had a different status.  Respected, in the case of school children sometimes even feared.  But they were decidedly less visible.  Here is an understated tombstone I ran across in Portage Wisconsin:

Perhaps the designation SIS could be interpreted variously but the key is in the other part of the inscription.  Fading and partially covered with lichens...In His Holy Name.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Inch Cemetery

- Note: One of my rules of thumb is that you never find just one of these "Tree Shaped Tombstones in a cemetery.  There are always at least a couple.  But on a fall road trip I ran across a bunch of exceptions to this rule.  Here is "One Off Week". -

Yes, there is a place called Inch Cemetery.  So far the story behind it has eluded me.

As the theme of the week is "Lone Trees" there is just one to show you.

As they tend to do, these stones tell a story albeit an incomplete one.  Notice the radical difference between these two markers?  One is old and the other new. The birth dates for Clark and Etta are similar, just one year apart.  But he died in 1901 and she lived to be 94.  I figure them to be husband and wife.  She seems to have been a widow for 60 years.

No other clear details.  Clark would be too young to be a Civil War vet.  

He does appear to have been a member of the Modern Woodmen of America on the basis of the snazzy little logo.  It is a variant I had not seen before.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tree Shaped Tombstones - Pacific

- Note: One of my rules of thumb is that you never find just one of these "Tree Shaped Tombstones in a cemetery.  There are always at least a couple.  But on a fall road trip I ran across a bunch of exceptions to this rule.  Here is "One Off Week". -

Pacific Cemetery was probably once aptly named.  It is in rural Dane county northwest of Madison.  From the front gate it still looks peaceful.

But it is no longer in a bucolic countryside.  The road along one side no longer conveys gently clopping horses and wagons but cars and trucks zipping past.  And to make it less tranquil there was a back hoe working nearby.  Also two dogs fenced in an adjacent yard who were quite vocal in their disapproval of my visit.  

Amidst all the racket I did find one Tree Shaped Tombstone.

A nicely done specimen.  Note the auto body shop in the background.

I like to highlight some of the nicer efforts of the talented artisans who made these. Note the well executed flower. It has its own little ledge, a chalice like pot, and every flower - or are they leaves? - crisply defined.

The same cannot be said for the "Book of Life" that sits atop the monument.  As we have seen on prior examples the right angle exposure to the elements is not kind to stone or to the works of man.  We are left with a few blurred dates and perhaps the name JONES.  At some point in the future I suspect the road will be quiet again, with gently whirring electric cars.  But by then the inscription will be lost entirely.