Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gov. Blaine and the Ku Klux Klan

     It was an "all-electric" fiery cross that led the Ku Klux Klan parade in Livingston, Wisconsin on August 2, 1924.  The Livingston Band followed Klanswomen carrying flags.  Behind the band, 82 Klansmen marched in full hooded regalia.  A large crowd, estimated at 2,500 came out to cheer and listen to a speech by a "Dr. Stout of Detroit, Mich." Ira Stout was the Kleagle (leader) of the Detroit Ku Klux Klan.

     The meeting started with the band’s rendition of On Wisconsin, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.  Stout said the Klan never bothered other creeds, "but we're fighting their system."  He said the Klan was cleaning up the "booze evil." As his speech concluded a large cross was set afire while the astounded townsfolk watched and cheered.  It was a typically theatrical Klan rally.  Years later (1968) a witness to the rally recalled: “Many of those in attendance were there only for the curiosity and were not Klansmen. The speech was an attack on the three K's the "Koons", the "Kikes", and the "Katholics". Many of the people who heard the speech were repelled by the speaker's remarks and left the meeting quietly before it was over.”  Contemporary accounts show no such reaction by the townspeople.

     In the early 1920's the Ku Klux Klan was an organization on the rise, touting what they called "Pure Americanism."  In fact they were a hate group, which, like so many others used patriotic themes to wrap bigotry and hate in.  In the south racial hatred was still the main theme, but as the Klan moved north, they emphasized hatred of immigrants, Catholics and Jews.  They used pageantry, theater and color to draw the curious and slander their enemies.  They ingratiated themselves with the local citizens by contributing small sums to churches and charitable organizations. For example the local news section of a newspaper in Richland County reported:  “During church services Tuesday evening a number of Klansmen entered the church remaining near the entrance while one walked to the platform and presented Rev. Pfaffman with a sum of money and a letter of thanks for his interest here.”  A small town community building financial ledger reads “March 3, 1928. Received from the Ku Klux Klan five dollars” The Richland Observer of October 28, 1926 gives another example:  “The order of the knights of the Ku Klux Klan gave an oyster supper in honor of their friends and neighbor, Rev. J. C. Hatch, Friday evening.  The table decorations consisted of a large American flag.  Supper was served to nearly one hundred.”  Many were fooled by the Klan’s pretensions to patriotism and Christianity.  Many were not. 

     Wisconsin's governor, John Blaine, who hailed from Boscobel, was one of those who were not fooled, and he was a vehement opponent of The Klan.  Blaine was first elected Governor in 1920.  In 1921 citizens of Milwaukee and Kenosha petitioned the governor asking that he take steps to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from taking root in Wisconsin.  “With such a record as the Ku Klux Klan had during the period following the Civil War,” he said, “and steeped in crime as the Klan was, do you think that any liberty loving, law abiding sensible citizen of Wisconsin is going to join an order that is alleged to be the counterpart of the Klan of rebel days, if in fact it is?”  He was to discover that a large number of Wisconsin citizens would take the bait and join.

    Because of Blaine’s “unalterable opposition” the Klan was determined to defeat him in either the primary or general elections of 1924.  They had their grievances against Blaine.  He had refused the support of the Klan and instead denounced them when his opponent in the 1922 election wrongly stated that he was supported by the Klan.  He had refused them the right to use public property for rallies.  He declared that as long as he was governor "state property will not be used by any organization which suppresses the identity of its membership, or permits the masking of its officers and members operating in the dark or otherwise…I have through executive orders and communications and through campaign speeches let the people of the state know my stand against this organization and similar organizations."
    Both of the major political parties adopted platforms opposing the Klan in 1924.  The Democratic State Platform read: We pledge the Democratic Party to oppose any effort on the part of the Ku Klux Klan or any organization to interfere with the religious liberty or political freedom of any citizen or to limit the civic rights of any citizen or body of citizens because of religion, birthplace or racial origin. The Republican platform proclaimed “We are opposed to the Ku Klux Klan or any organization that would deny to any citizen the free exercise of those sacred rights because of race, nationality, language or religious belief.

The evident purpose of the Klan and every other secret political organization is to disorganize and disrupt the harmonious development and existence of economic organizations of workers and farmers, by stirring up dissension among them, and such secret political organi­zations are encouraged by organized privilege to spread dissension, hate and suspicion that cooperative economic organizations may be destroyed… We oppose any attempt to divide our people into warring factions that destroy the harmony and friendships of neighborly cooperation.”
    The reality was often at variance with these pronouncements as many candidates were more than happy to speak before the Klan and accept its money and influential support.
     In 1924 the Klan threw considerable support to Governor Blaine’s primary opponent, Arthur R. Hirst.  In the summer of 1924 small blue buttons reading “Back to Boscobel” began to appear all over the state.  By August, the press was reporting that it was the Ku Klux Klan that was distributing the buttons to show opposition to Blaine.  The Klan was also planning a visit to Blaine’s home town.  On August 6, 1924 the Madison Capital Times reported that the Milwaukee headquarters of the Klan was negotiating with the Milwaukee Road to charter a special train to carry Klansmen from Madison to Boscobel on August 15th to march in the streets as part of the “Back to Boscobel” movement. 

     In the same year, a civil war of sorts was being fought in Muscoda.  Boscobel itself had no Klan organization, so Muscoda served as the meeting place of most Boscobel Klan members.  The mayor of Boscobel was Ben L. Marcus, who was also manager of a number of industries and stores in the town.  Marcus was Jewish, and the Klan was anti-Semitic.  Other issues, such as disagreements on public improvements fueled some of the antagonisms, but the Klan was the catalyst that brought affairs to the level of vehement antagonism and violence.  There were many Catholics in Muscoda also, who knew of the bigotry of the Klan regarding their faith, and the organization of their church.  In June 1924 the activities of Klan members led the editor of the Muscoda Progressive Newspaper to write an article denouncing the KKK.  Klan leaders were nervous and they called Grant County District Attorney George B. Clementson, asking for members of the Sheriff’s Department to be on hand for their conclave to be held on June 25th.  Clementson dispatched the Sheriff and a deputy who witnessed over a hundred fully uniformed Klansmen take part in ceremonies at the edge of town.  There was no violence that night, but feelings were not soothed by the hooded circus, and in the dark of night on August 9th stickers were placed on the fronts of certain businesses reading:
Every criminal, every gambler, every thug, every libertine, every girl ruiner, every home wrecker, every wife beater, every moonshiner, every crooked politician, every pagan papal priest, every shyster lawyer, every K. C., every white slaver, every brothel madam, Rome controlled newspapers, every black spider – is fighting the Klan.  Which side are you on?”

     The editor of the Progressive, reporting the sticker placing wrote: “if there are any “deadbeats,” “bootleggers” and “women-chasers” in Muscoda that don’t belong to the Klan, we don’t know about it.  From inquiry in other towns in this neighborhood we find the same thing is true.”  Tempers were heating up, and the fuel was about to be cast on the fire.

Next Issue:  Fire and Bullets

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Feral Pig Killed Readstown May 16 2008 

Odds 'n' ends: Big, hairy pig attracts gawkers in Wisconsin

VIROQUA, Wis. - A steady stream of vehicles pulled along the shoulder of the road to get a look at it: an enormous, hairy pig that apparently had been struck and killed by a vehicle.
"I took a look to see if it had any tusks," Andy Sherry of Viroqua said. "If it did, somebody got to them before I did. It was really a big, big pig."

Large populations of the hard-to-find, feral animals are thought to live in southwestern Wisconsin.
The animal was found on the highway five miles south of Viroqua 61 Friday morning. It appeared to have been dragged from the center of the road, and it had a severe head wound.
Vernon County chief deputy Jim Hanson said a semi driver hit the 450- to 500-pound sow early Friday and apparently didn't have reportable damage. He said a removal company took care of the carcass.  "It's not a real common occurrence," he said.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources considers feral pigs an exotic species that poses a threat to the environment and to agriculture. Anyone with a small-game license is allowed to hunt them at any time of the year.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


 Last week, in writing about the destruction of the William Morrison cemetery, I mentioned that Morrison was a juror in a trial involving Dr. James C, Campbell whom I described as “an apparent crackpot who billed himself as a Surgeon and “Botanic Physician of the Reformed School.” There is more to say about Dr. Campbell than that.
     James Claibourne Campbell came to Platteville in its early days (before 1841) and by 1845 had a thriving practice.  The 1881 History of Grant County says about him: The early physicians, it may here be observed, were Drs. Bevans, Russell and Basye, of the regular school, and J. C. Campbell, who killed or cured with lobelia and steam. Nothing is known of his qualifications to act as a Physician and Surgeon, but it is probable that he learned what was then called the Thomson System of Botanic Practice. 
     Samuel Thomson, a native of New Hampshire, seeing the failures of standard medical practice in the first half of the 19th century, and being exposed to folk medicine, studied the use of plants to treat and cure disease. Self-taught, the herbalist then developed the use of “steaming” in treating the ill.  Basically this consisted of pouring vinegar over hot stones while the patient sat over the stones and under a cover to concentrate the steam.  Between the steam and herbal medicines and poultices, Thomson claimed to have much more success than conventional doctors.  He noted the standard medical practitioners “would always either bleed or give physic (laxative).” He noted that the condition of a woman neighbor grew worse the more doctors visited her.  The doctors, he said, could give her no relief “excepting a temporary one by stupefying her with opium and giving physic.” Doctors also administered mercury and other poisons which more often than not harmed rather than helped the sufferer. 
     In 1822 Thomson published a book, The New Guide to Health, which set forth his principles that the paths to elimination (bowels, lungs, pores) must be kept open and internal body heat maintained.  Treatment consisted of using herbal concoctions or decoctions that induced sweating and a feeling of warmth, along with steaming and applying herbal poultices for lacerations, Canker-Rash (Scarlet Fever), Measles and Pox. Thomson gave certificates to those who bought and studied his system (above) and apparently Campbell was one of these. “Those calling on me for medicine” Campbell said, “shall receive the Botanic medicine, and no other.

     The interesting and frightening fact about Campbell is that he also billed himself as a surgeon, having to all appearances no training in the art. According to a memorial to Dr. Campbell, written by his descendant Clinton Kimball in 1952, he did receive a medical degree from a Missouri College, but not until he was sixty-five years of age (he was born on October 30, 1810). His claimed surgical repertoire in 1845 included Trephining (boring a hole in the skull, usually to treat penetrating head wounds or depressed fractures, but sometimes for headaches, epilepsy or mental illness),  tying the iliac artery (to treat uncontrolled uterine bleeding) and Lithotomy (cutting out stones from the kidney, bladder, gallbladder, etc.).

     Because of the utter lack of sterile procedure (the Germ Theory of Disease had not yet been developed) infection and death were common.  Dr. Campbell was sued a number of times, usually not for malpractice, but he gave public notice nonetheless: 
“TAKE NOTICE ALL: …if the patient dies, or the medicine docs no good, or the limb or part of the body operated upon by me as a Surgeon, is lame or in any way wrong, after the ope­ration, I will not be responsible for mal-practice or bad treatment in any way, and will, in all cases, charge the full price of the above bill, whether they are benefited or not. In very many cases, the fault is in the patient, or nurse, for which I cannot and will not be responsible.”
      Campbell was continually stymied in collecting his fees for services.  His diary mentions him visiting patients, not to administer treatment but to attempt to collect for treatments given.  In 1844 in the U.S. District court at Lancaster, a jury denied him the right to collect on certain fees he had billed. We do not know the reason.  His response was to take out a nearly full page advertisement in the Platteville Independent American and General Advertiser on January 25, 1845 announcing:
In order to form a more perfect system of doing business — establish justice — insure and provide for my own defence — promote my general welfare and secure the blessings of lib­erty to myself and family, do ordain aid establish, That I will not sell any more Medicine, without the money or its equivalent paid in hand, except, the persons wanting the same are POOR — WIDOWS — ORPHANS. or objects of CHARITY, such can come and "buy without money or price.”
     Campbell’s love of money apparently led him into both social and legal trouble.  A case arose in which he apparently was named to administer the estate of one Edmund Locke.  He withheld funds from the man’s widow and child claiming that $1,440.00 in fees were owed him.  He was expelled from the Masonic Lodge for this outrage in 1852.  That same year he took his family and moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  Subsequently, Jonathan Moore, administrator of the Locke estate won a judgment against Campbell, and in 1854 his lots in Platteville and land in the country were sold by Sheriff William McGonigal to pay the Locke Estate principal and interest.
     In 1852 Campbell acquired as a patient an important citizen of St. Louis, John F. Darby, former two term mayor of St. Louis and then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  From June through September 1852, Campbell made three trips to give treatment to Darby and provide him medications to use in his absence.  Darby was suffering from some kind of “paralytic condition” which made it nearly impossible for him to raise his arms.  Campbell told Darby it would cost him between $200.00 and $500.00 to cure him.  The treatments consisted of steam treatments, “Life Liniment”, “Ague and Fever Physic”, “Composition Tea”, and Emetics.  At this time Campbell was hawking his own “California Medicine” packets as well.
     Campbell must have felt that there was more profit to be made in St. Louis than in
Platteville, for on November 8, 1852 He packed up his family and went to Galena, taking passage from there to St. Louis aboard the steam boat Shenandoah. “We had to pay $12.00 each for passage” he wrote in his diary.  On the voyage downriver the Shenandoah struck bottom and began to sink.  The passengers were transferred to another boat, the Wisconsin, which promptly began to leak.  They almost sank, but the crew saved them and they finished the trip aboard the steamboat Regulator.
    Campbell continued his medical practice in St. Louis, and late in life received a degree in medicine.  He remained in St. Louis and continued his practice until 1880. In that year, at the advanced age of seventy, he and his wife returned to Platteville and took up residence in the old Campbell House, part of which still stands at 150 Market Street. The back portion and the third floor have been removed over the years.
     James Claibourne Campbell died in Platteville on November 12, 1881.  He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Platteville.  Campbell’s son James Alexander Campbell became a well-regarded Oculist (Ophthalmologist) and Aurist (otologist or ear doctor), the author of a number of books and papers on his specialty. By the time of James C. Campbell’s death, medical science had outgrown his concepts, and was ready to scientifically investigate and cure the killers of his younger years.  The world today is a much better place to live a healthy life because scientific research has replaced folklore in medicine.

     The James C. Campbell house as built
   The James C. Campbell House today

Friday, September 19, 2014


 Luke 12:2 (New Living Translation): The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.
       Long ago a group of children from a one room school went with their teacher on a bright spring morning before Memorial Day, to a small nearby cemetery.  As they had in past years, they came to clean the small 30 by 30 foot plot and make it presentable for the day of remembrance.  They would clean the grounds, pick up the twigs and leaves left from last year, and place flowers on the graves.  These acts of respect for the dead gave the children happiness and pride, for they had been taught to respect the memory of those who had come before them.  It was a civilized and decent thing to do, and it brought them close to the community of all eras that made the place they knew as home.  They came as little citizens, proud of the part they were playing, but this year was to be different.  They were to suffer a crushing disappointment and witness what they considered, and those still alive continue to consider, a grim injustice.  That year, probably 1941, they found the cemetery gone, and where it had been there stood a barn.  They were told that the farmer who owned the land had torn down the monuments and the fence that protected the little cemetery, and had erected a large barn-like shed right over the graves.  They returned to school downcast and outraged, but they never forgot. 

   One day I was asked by a younger relative of those children, now well advanced in age, if I had ever heard this story.  I had not.  I took notes and began asking and researching.  I found that the township on which the barn stood did have a designated tax exempt burial ground.  No record was found to show who might be buried there.  I asked Karen Reese of the Grant County Genealogical Society for help.  She set the highly competent members of her group to work.  They found an article from the Fennimore Times of April 12, 1905 entitled "The Old Morrison Homestead" which contained the following information:  

"The farm consists of 312 acres, all but 80 acres, in Liberty, being in the town of North Lancaster.  It is the old homestead of William T. Morrison, the original and pioneer settler of Lancaster, who came here in 1826, and after whom it was proposed to name the north part of the town of Lancaster, when it was decided last year to divide the town.  His remains lie buried in a little square cemetery, sheltered by a mammoth pine tree, only a few rods west of the house, itself an old-timer, having been built over half a century ago.  In the little graveyard there are also seven others, children and relatives of Mr. Morrison, one of them his son-in-law, Dr Charles Bradshaw, who practiced medicine in Lancaster, and two Hollingsead young ladies." 

     Altogether, about nine bodies lie in the ground beneath the barn.  If we think of them as only ancient remains then, possibly we could wipe their final memorials off the earth to re-purpose the ground for a barn, as that ignoble farmer did years ago.  But these were people who lived through hardship, joy and pain just like we do.  Here is a short history of the family and its life on that farm:


     He was on the frontier when he was nineteen.  He was searching for a home of his own and enough land to clear in the slow, painstaking manner of the virgin frontier.   His name was William T. Morrison.  He was a friend of Major Rountree of Platteville, Judge J. T. Mills, Joel Allen Barber and James Vineyard.  By all accounts he was industrious and successful.  At his death the farm was large and prosperous, perhaps the best in the Lancaster area.

     When he first saw the Lancaster area, he saw, as the 1881 History of Grant County described it “a beautifully-rounded knoll, covered with low brush at intervals, through which forest trees, singly or in groves, spread their sheltering branches. At the foot of this knoll bubbled forth a limpid spring, clear as the purest crystal... Past this spring poured a brawling brook, fed by this and lesser neighboring fountains.”

     He did not marry until he was 28, a late age in those days.  His bride, Frances Jane Locey Hollingshead, was already widowed and the mother of two.  Her husband, a doctor named Daniel Hollingshead whom she married in 1827, had drowned crossing a swollen stream on his way to minister to the sick.  Her grandparents, Daniel and Phoebe Locey, had taken ship from Scotland for America in 1763.  The voyage by sail took six weeks.  On the way smallpox broke out among the passengers.  Both died, leaving five small children to make their way in the new world.  Frances’s father, Daniel, was the youngest of those five.  He grew up in Sullivan, New York and then moved to Carlyle, Illinois in 1826, raising 16 children.  This story is not very different from the stories of our own forebears as they spread across the continent.

     Frances probably moved from Carlyle, Illinois to Platteville with her older brother, A. R. T. (Alexander Robert Thompson) Locey, who was a doctor. Dr. Locey and his sister came to Platteville in 1835 after the death of both parents in that year.  The first school in Grant County was established in Platteville in 1834 by an eccentric teacher and prospector named Samuel Huntington, who taught about 25 children for about two years and then disappeared.  No one knew where he went.  The school was moved (1836) to the rear of a house where “Dr. A. T. Locey gathered about forty pupils, who were taught in the main by his sister, Miss Locey.” The Rountree and Vineyard children were among their students.  The next year Hanmer Robbins established a log schoolhouse and the teaching duties fell to him.

     William T. Morrison apparently was well acquainted with Platteville and the Locey family.  On June 22, 1836 he married Frances in Platteville and brought her to his Farm near Lancaster, along with her two children, Sarah Hollingshead, age seven and Martha Hollingshead, age five.  William and Frances had five children.  Frances’s brother John Newkirk Locey, Known as “Uncle Jud” also came to live on the farm.  William and his family settled down to work the farm.  Each succeeding year bought the routine of farm life.  There is little news or historical record to document the life of the family in these years. 

      In 1845 William was a juror, along with James R. Vineyard and Frances’s oldest brother Nehemiah (called Meyer) among others in proceedings involving a James C. Campbell, an apparent crackpot who billed himself as a Surgeon and “Botanic Physician of the Reformed School.”  As a result of these proceedings Campbell was forbidden to visit, medicate or treat patients on credit. The same James Campbell took a full page in the newspaper to defend himself and demean his detractors including the jurors.  Apparently his histrionics stirred little emotion or sympathy.

       A December 4, 1847 advertisement in the Lancaster Herald reads:  “TAKEN UP:  By the subscriber, ten days ago, on his premises, about two miles northeast of Lancaster, a red yearling bull with the lower half of the tail white, some white under the belly and no ear marks.  The owner is requested to prove property, pay charges and take him away.   W. T. Morrison.”  Losing livestock was a big deal to a farmer then, and still is. 

     Frances’s brother Dr. Alexander R. T. Locey, was elected Grant County Coroner in 1841 and Register of Deeds in 1842.  He moved to Lancaster where he apparently suffered business reverses and went bankrupt.  In addition to his tenuous finances Alexander and his wife Abigail lost an infant son, Alvin, in August of 1839.  William provided the plot in which the child was buried a short distance west of his home, and this plot became the family cemetery.  In November 1842 Alexander’s wife died.  She was buried in the same cemetery with her infant son.  In April 1846 Doctor A. R. T. Locey, left for Oregon in a wagon pulled by oxen.  The trip took six months.   He left his sons Joseph and Cyrus with his trustworthy brother in law, William T. Morrison.  In 1849 Dr. Locey left Oregon for Coloma, California, the place where gold had been discovered.  He operated a drug store and hospital for a time and then returned to the Midwest.  In 1852 he and his family crossed the plains again with his sons to Oregon.  There Dr. Locey died of tuberculosis in 1853. 

     William's immediate family suffered losses also.  His four year old son, Daniel, died on February 14, 1844.  His stepdaughter, Sarah Ann Hollingshead, died of tuberculosis at the age of 15 on June 2, 1844.  They were buried in the little family cemetery near the house.

    The gold rush fever must have been too much for William Morrison, the old pioneer, to resist.  He left his farm in the care of his family and in-laws and traveled to California. As the 1938 Locey family history reported:  "William Morrison and his elder sons drove an ox-team to California in 1849.  He made money, returned to Wisconsin by way of Cape Horn, and built a fine home near Lancaster."  Upon his return the Wisconsin Statesman newspaper carried the following report on October 8, 1850:  

“MORE GOLD.--Mr. William T. MORRISON, of this town, returned from California on Monday last, well ladened with gold, we expect. He says he has seen the elephant, and recommends all, no matter what may be their situation, to stay at home. All the gold a man can get in California, he says, will not pay him for half the suffering and privations he endures.--Grant County Herald.”

     In December of 1852 Martha Hollingshead, William's other stepdaughter and a favorite, died at the age of 22 of tuberculosis.  She was buried in the family cemetery.  William continued his labors on the farm, working and improving it, but the thread of life was run out for him.  On the first of April in the year of 1856, he died of an injury suffered on His farm.  He was buried in the little family cemetery, and a large stone bearing his name was set above his resting place.

     The family stayed on for some time, but Frances moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to live with her daughter and son in law.  She died there on August 13, 1881.  In 1883 the farm was sold to Peter R. Stoffel.  As the farm passed through time and into the hands of new families the time came when the Morrison family names became only characters carved in stone, and the plot only a nuisance to be removed.  One of the Elders who were children then said “there were lots of stones, and not just little ones, but large fancy ones that had benches at the foot where people could sit and meditate.  There was a fancy cemetery fence all around.”  I think that one of the most meaningful uses of cemeteries is to meditate; to take a few moments in the onward rush of life to think about our part in the bigger families to which we all belong;  the family of mankind, the family of God and the family of forebears and descendants.  These are the invisible lines of communication that have influenced us and which connect us to our children and grandchildren on down the ages that call us not only to civility but to civilization.


      Today, cemetery vandalism is a bigger problem than ever.  On August 10, 2011 three teenagers were charged with 75 counts each of criminal damage after breaking and knocking over markers at the Rock Church Cemetery in the Town of Clifton, near Livingston.  The damage was $500,000.00.  State law now gives the State Historical society the authority to prevent individuals from damaging burial sites.  Even the owner of property may not destroy a burial site on his land.  

     The saddest aspect of grave desecration is what it says about those who commit the act.  You have another hog pen or barn; a little more dirt to work.  Heedless of the dead, the spirit meaning nothing and memory a waste of time, you lower yourself to parity with the base creatures that root away their livelihoods in the mud. In the end you pass into eternity with a black cloud hanging over your name, if your name is remembered at all.