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About This Site

In a recent presentation about Wisconsin and the Civil War, Lance Herdegen, noted Wisconsin Iron Brigade historian and director of the Civil War Institute at Carroll College, observed that we are in danger of losing our understanding of the prominent role the state played in the abolition movement prior to the war. Beginning with the well documented fugitive slave case of Caroline Quarrels in 1842 and extending to the eve of the Civil War with the Legislative threat to secede from the Union over federal enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, Wisconsin had a strong abolition pedigree. The creation of the Republican party in Ripon in 1854 leading to the election of Lincoln as president six years later was driven largely by the issue of abolition. Repeated appearances in the state by the nation's most eloquent spokesman for abolition, Frederick Douglass, himself an escaped slave, reflected the state's prominent current of activism.

This site is devoted to documenting that heritage at the local level through fragments found in the state's newspaper records, letters and journals, biographies, and the work of local writers. Much of the research being done at this level must be credited to Kevin Dier-Zimmel, a Dodge County researcher specializing in the Civil War era. His assistance, information, and depth of knowledge has been critical in the development of these pages.

The Fairwater Historical Society maintains this site in memory of the Willard Pond family, early anti-slavery pioneers of western Fond du Lac County. For additional information, contact Bob Schuster, 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, WI 53716 (rmschust@wisc.edu).