Odd Wisconsin


While Bob La Follette’s exploits as leader of progressive politics are legendary, his early morning exertions to save valuable government documents and executive department paintings during the disastrous 1904 capitol fire are largely unknown – until now. Odd Wisconsin captures the Wisconsin people, places, and events that didn’t make it into conventional state histories, lowering a bucket into the depths of Wisconsin history and bringing to light curious fragments of forgotten lives.


This unique book unearths the stories that got lost to history even though they may have made local headlines at the time. No mythical hodags or eight-legged horses here! Odd Wisconsin features strange but true stories from Wisconsin’s past, every one of which was documented (albeit by the standards of the day). These brief glimpses into Wisconsin’s past will surprise, perplex, astonish, and otherwise connect readers with the state’s fascinating history. From “the voyageur with a hole in his side” to “pigs beneath the legislature,” Odd Wisconsin gathers 300 years of curiosities, all under the radar of traditional stories.


“Great things come in small packages sometimes. Witness Erika Janik’s compelling volume, Odd Wisconsin: Amusing, Perplexing and Unlikely Stories from Wisconsin’s Past, a 180-odd-page book packed full of interesting scenes from America’s Dairyland.”          —Bobby Tanzillo, managing editor, OnMilwaukee

“Dipping into the pages of Odd Wisconsin is like opening a box of your favorite chocolates-every one is a delicious treat! Gorge yourself on the whole thing, or savor them slowly, one by one. From the Scotch Giant (his shoes were 13.5 inches long and nearly 4 inches wide) to the smallest railroad in the world, from the rattlesnake-harvesting Sarah Hardwick to the Tarzan of Rhinelander, these odd morsels of Wisconsin’s history are pure pleasure.”—Harriet Brown, former editor, Wisconsin Trails magazine

“With its progressive tradition and proud history, we like to imagine Wisconsin as a place of character. But we are a place of characters, too-as any statewide ballot will attest. Odd Wisconsin celebrates that nicely twisted side of our state’s face mask, from oddities to eccentricities, from heroic eagles to Confederate spies, from pigs in the legislature’s basement to the sea monster that rattled Pere Marquette, all squares in the crazy quilt that is our past.”—Dennis McCann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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