Posts Tagged With: Milwaukee

Tea Cart and Teacher Resources

I enjoy going to garage sales in the summer, and when I saw two sales happening just a couple blocks from home, I convinced my daughter to walk over with me.  We left the first sale with money in our pockets and empty hands. At the second sale, I walked around a table with an abundance of china and crystal dishes, and knick-knacks, which I admired and left on the table.

IMG_0470But then I spotted, covered in dust and grime, a tea cart. A traditional tea cart with beautifully spoked wheels and and drop leaves and everything. “It’s just like Hattie’s!” I squealed. Minutes later, we were rolling a tea cart down the bumpy sidewalk, with our other purchases precariously piled on top. Not quite the spectacle of Hattie and Teddy hauling an upside-down desk to the Soldiers’ Home through the busy streets of Milwaukee, but a sight nonetheless.

After a thorough cleaning with Murphy’s Oil Soap and elbow grease, I found a spot for it in the living room. And the next day, I rolled it across the room, with faint clinking of my grandmother’s china, laden with chocolate zucchini scones and mini-muffins, strawberries, and tea.

I imagined how many other times it may have been used, for women’s meetings or neighborhood card parties, holiday gatherings and family parties. And I look forward to making our own memories with it.

What does this have to to with Teacher Resources? That’s what else happened this summer. We added Teacher Resources for Hattie’s War to our Resource page.  Spread the word–it would make a great classroom read. And if someone needs to borrow a tea cart for a visual aid–I just might be able to help.

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Categories: Hattie's War | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

From Jubilation to Mourning

In Hattie’s War, Hattie and her family celebrate the war’s end with the rest of Milwaukee. Little did she know how quickly the joy would pass. The city was still decked out in red, white, and blue when the news came from Washington–President Lincoln had been shot and killed. Those who can remember President Kennedy’s assassination, or the days after 9/11, can imagine the grief and horror experienced by the people of Milwaukee when the news reached them on Saturday.

The Milwaukee Daily News for Sunday, April 16, 1865 headline read “The City of Milwaukee in Mourning.”
The appearance of our streets yesterday presented a sad and striking contrast with that of last Monday. Upon the receipt of the news of the fearful crime at the National Capital, the people were stricken with a paralyzing grief and horror. Men gathered together in little groups at the corners of  streets, and many wept while listening to the recital of, or perusing the dispatches. Never has such a deep gloom settled upon the people. So sudden and unexpected was the whole affair, that it seemed like a frightful dream, and people seemed to be in a [d]aze — loth to believe the report till the signature of Secretary Stanton confirmed it beyond doubt. The mayor, Abner Kirby, promptly issued a proclamation requesting the suspension of business, and that all buildings be clothed in mourning. The request was at once complied with. Flags upon buildings and vessels were placed at half-mast, and the solemn black and white drapery was hung out from very many buildings, reminding one and all of the sorrowful calamity. The whole of East Water Street was clothed in mourning — far different from the colors which were exhibited on Monday last. All business was suspended. There was no bustle, no activity. Men and women walked in silence, many bearing some emblem of mourning. No one but expressed sorrow and regret, and denounced the murderers. Less than one week ago it was our lot to chronicle one of the most jubilant celebrations Milwaukee ever witnessed, today one of the greatest reasons of mourning. May we in future be spared the latter trial.

In my last post, I mentioned that Colonel Buttrick had been put in charge of the celebration parade for the city. Here’s the rest of the story.

The Death of the President— The Funeral Ceremonies In Milwaukee
“The celebration of the nation’s victories, fixed for the 20th, is abandoned, and in its stead the people are called upon to pay tribute of respect to the memory of our chief magistrate, whose tragic death has filled us with horror, and whose loss to the nation has bound us together with the bonds of a common sorrow. The funeral ceremonies, consisting of a procession and orations, will take place on the day of the funeral of President Lincoln to be announced hereafter. Meanwhile, all associations, societies and organizations in the city are requested to report as soon as practicable, to the undersigned that they may be assigned a place in the procession. We have called upon those who have been and still are in the service, to rejoice with us. We ask them now to unite with us in our public manifestation of respect to the memory of one whom a nation honors and whom history will make immortal. Details will be published hereafter.
By direction of the committee,
E. L. BUTTRICK,
Chief Marshal”

Categories: Civil War, Hattie's War | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Enthusiastic Rejoicing of the People”

One hundred and fifty years ago today, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant, ending the Civil War. For Hattie Bigelow, and the people in the northern states, this was a joyous day. Most Americans, too young to remember the end of World War II, can probably not imagine what this meant to the people. To imagine what Hattie would have experienced, we went to the newspapers of the time.

The Milwaukee Daily Journal dated April 11, 1865 reads “The wildest enthusiasm prevailed throughout the city yesterday, and the people turned out en masse to celebrate the last and greatest victory of the Union army. From morning till night the streets were filled with people, every one bearing in some device the national colors. East Water Street was decorated along its entire length with red, white and blue, as was also Wisconsin, Maine West Water street, and from nearly every building in the city “waved the starry flag.” 

“Early in the morning the people began to congregate in numbers at the corners of the principal streets, and as if by common consent, all places of business were closed. Every one was all animation, and in a short space of time was inaugurated one of the largest and most jubilant celebrations Milwaukee has ever witnessed. The cannon were brought out, and peal after peal shook the earth. The bells were rung [with] untiring zeal. Every available carriage or other conveyance was brought out, and every horse bore the national colors affixed to some part of the harness. The Chamber of Commerce took an active part in the celebration, and a delegation from that body hurriedly visited all the prominent business establishments, and organized in a surprisingly short time The Grand Procession.”

That evening buildings of the city were lit up in celebration, as the Milwaukee Daily News states: “In view of the glorious news of the surrender of Lee, the near termination of our bloody war and the prospect of early peace, The Daily News Building, together with the whole of Ludington’s block was illuminated last evening from the fifth story to the street. On East Water and Wisconsin streets and on the front facing Spring street the windows presented one blaze of light. It ia well to rejoice in a time like this. Our country has lived through four years of desperate war, and the government has been shaken to its very foundation. And now that the end approaches, and we hope for a speedy termination of our present great trouble, and the preservation of the old Union, and look to see the starry flag wave over the whole country with not a star erased, it is meet, we say, to rejoice. The hearts of a patriotic people are enlivened with this hope, and in accordance with and symbolic of this, the windows of THE NEWS office were illuminated, presenting a brilliant and gorgeous spectacle of light.”

How exciting it must have been for Hattie and her classmates to be let out of school to join in the celebrations. After four long years of war and suffering, peace had come at last. Colonel Buttrick was put in charge of the more formal procession and celebration to come the following week–but that’s another story.

 

 

Categories: Hattie's War | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Glimpse of Hattie’s War

soldiers' aid fair signold abe at soldiers' aid fairEarly in Plank Road Winter, Hans and his father reminisce about seeing Old Abe, the eagle mascot of the Eighth Wisconsin regiment, at the Soldiers’ Home Fair in Milwaukee when Henry Hoffman returned from the war.  Later, when Sophie visits the Soldiers’ Home, she notices that her mother is “as proud of the new building as though the donations from Yorkville ladies had funded the entire project.”

 

women at soldiers' aid fair          The Soldiers’ Home Fair of 1865 was the most significant fundraising event of Civil War Wisconsin.  In this grand version of the popular soldiers’ aid fairs, Milwaukee women enlisted the help of communities statewide to raise over $100,000 to purchase land and build a permanent home for returning soldiers on property that still serves veterans today.

fish pond at soldiers' aid fair

 

In our forthcoming book Hattie’s War, Emily and I tell the story of eleven year-old Hattie Bigelow, a Milwaukee girl deeply involved in relief efforts, including the Soldiers’ Home Fair.

On June 21, 2014, the modern West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society of Milwaukee recreated the sights and sounds and smells of that fair, treating visitors to the Civil War Museum in Kenosha to a glimpse of Hattie’s world.  In the spirit of the dedicated nineteenth-century citizens who continued to support American soldiers after the war, the sponsors of this modern fair donated all proceeds to the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

Emily and I are eager to share the rich heritage of Wisconsin’s Civil War history with readers of Hattie’s War this fall.

Categories: Hattie's War, Plank Road Winter, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writing on the Wing

Two days ago Emily and I realized that Plank Road Winter, our revision in progress, needed an entirely new chapter. The next day I plotted scenes in my head while driving from Indiana to Wisconsin.

The following morning at the Milwaukee airport I filled twenty pages in the little spiral notebook I carry in my purse. Aboard a flight to Minneapolis, I typed those pages into my Netbook.

I spent the afternoon in the Augsburg College library alternately scribbling in the spiral and typing from the handwritten draft. Early in the evening I typed the final lines of Chapter 27, emailed the manuscript to my sister author, and headed off to see the campus show that was my purpose for the trip.

Ending a long session of writing fiction is like coming up from underground, blinking and a bit dazed by the strange world of colors and light. It’s nearly the same feeling as closing a book after a long stretch of reading. One emerges groggy and disoriented from traveling between worlds.

I write this post aboard a flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee—though I have not yet arrived in Milwaukee, as the plane has been diverted to Madison, Wisconsin, because of snow. Does this mean I’ll have an opportunity to sit in an airport and edit a few more chapters of Plank Road Winter?

A writer can always make use of an unexpected gift of time.

Categories: On Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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