“Badger Boneyards” Explores Wisconsin’s Cities of the Dead

Press Release from the Wisconsin Historical Society:
The bodies are buried, but the stories are not. From the ornate tombs of Milwaukee beer barons to displaced Chippewa graves and miniscule family plots, “Badger Boneyards: The Eternal Rest of the Story” ($16.95, ISBN: 978-0-87020-451-7) unearths the stories of Wisconsin. Football great John Heisman is buried here, as is the state’s smallest man, a woman whose tombstone names her murderer, and the boy who would not tell a lie and paid the price.

Even in a graveyard, peace proves hard to come by: Wisconsin’s Native American tribes have fought for undisturbed grounds and proper burial. A patch of Belgian graves now resides beneath a parking lot while the headstones cluster nearby, and the inhabitants of a Bayfield cemetery were disinterred by a raging flood. Sometimes the dead are recalled with only a first name, and sometimes no name at all. Following the clues in tips from readers, unusual epitaphs, and well-worn stones, Dennis McCann finds the melancholy, the humorous, the tragic, and the universal in Wisconsin’s cities of the dead.

“[In ‘Badger Boneyards’] there is the sensitivity to small-town life that is the hallmark of McCann’s writing, along with his playful use of language… He never makes fun of his subjects, but revels in telling their stories. His cemetery stories are far more about life than they are about death.”-TimCuprisin, OnMilwaukee.com

“Longtime travel columnist Dennis McCann has turned his distinctive blend of storytelling and humor to the sites where most of our human journeys end. McCann recounts 30 tales of Wisconsin cemeteries (plus one each over the borders in Michigan and Iowa)… [landing] on boneyards big and little, with a special preference for the small and striking.”-Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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