Moving from Washington to Wisconsin has meant many changes for my family.
Personal changes have been the most challenging—changing jobs, schools, churches, homes, and saying goodbye to friends.
Changes in local climate have also required us to adjust. We left mild temperatures that necessitated longs sleeves and arrived to a humid 90 degrees. Rather than two seasons, “dry” and “wet,” we’re going to be experiencing four. I’m going to need to do some major shopping before winter hits…
There have been some unexpected changes, too. Confession: I may have become a bit of a coffee snob after 17 years in Washington. I miss all of the little drive-through coffee stands. (Well, the “G” rated ones anyway. :)) I’ve had a hard time finding my “go-tos” at the grocery stores, and for some reason chicken is more expensive. However, the cheese out here is excellent, and we had fresh sweet corn from a local farm today—wonderful!
However, changes mean opportunities to experience the history of a new area.
As I’ve explored, I’ve found a number of local memorials and markers—some in parks, others in cemeteries, and some tucked away in little towns, hidden unless you’re looking for them.
While the majority of my time these days is being spent learning new-to-me Language Arts, Math, and Science Curriculums (and dusting off my knowledge of all of the other subjects I’ll be teaching my first graders. And setting up my classroom. And taking care of the family. And trying not to lose my mind…) I’m planning on taking the moments I can slip away to check out these little pieces of history and share them with you!
I found this first memorial in the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Passing it the first time, I just saw its name— “The Hiker Monument”— which made me curious. Upon revisiting it, I discovered that the monument was not dedicated to someone who enjoyed blazing trails.
Dedicated in 1939, The Hiker is a war memorial meant to honor local men who served their country during several conflicts predating the First World War. To quote the plaque displayed to the front and left of the bronze statue:
Dedicated October 22, 1939
to commemorate the valour
and patriotism of the men
who served in the war with
Spain, Philippine insurrection
and China relief expedition
The common soldiers during this period were nicknamed (as you may have surmised) “Hikers.” The memorial was deliberately placed on the street that leads to the local cemetery, with the intent that veterans on their way to pay their respects there would see it each Memorial Day.
The Hiker was created by a rather exceptional artist, Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson. (1871-1932)
Although she was turned away from numerous Art schools, Kitson became a prolific sculptor and the first woman to be admitted to the National Sculpture Society. Her work is featured in many prominent places, including the Vicksburg National Military Park for which she created more than 60 monuments, bas reliefs, and busts.
The Hiker is one of her most famous pieces, with around 50 versions of the sculpture around the country.
Finding out more about The Hiker has me reading up a bit on the Spanish-American War, which is an era that I can’t claim any expertise on, though apparently if I make it back West there’s a National Park with some history on it…
For the time being, however, I hope you enjoyed this quick look at one of Wisconsin’s memorials as much as I did.
What about you? Have you stumbled upon any interesting pieces of history or art lately? I’d love to hear about your discoveries!