(Originally published in the Fall 2009 MAGIC Newsletter)
The National Public Television Network series "History Detective" provides the inspiration for this article. Mishicot has plenty of interesting history stories, many which are mysterious. Some, through research, can and have been solved. Here are several Mishicot mysteries:
In 1964, a tombstone was found under the old Holst Store when the store was dismantled. The engraving on the stone said "David Soper died 1869" The stone, thanks to Paul Burdick, who had it at his home for 40 some years, is now outside of our museum. When found, no one knew who Soper was, where he was buried, or how the stone happens to be where it was found. Two years ago, through research at the Manitowoc Library, we located information on the Soper family, which revealed that Soper lived in the Clarks Mill-Cato area. He died in 1868, not 1869 and is buried in a small cemetery a few hundred yards northeast of the bridge in Clarks Mill in a grave a stone's throw from the grave of Ira Clark, for whom the village of Clarks Mill is named. We know that Ira was a friend of Daniel Smiths' oldest son, Alfred, and they worked together on building the mills in Mishicot. The reason the stone was discarded was because the date of David Soper's death inscribed on it, was off by a year of his actual death. How the stone got to Mishicot is a still mystery. Could Ira Clark have brought it here on one of his trips to Mishicot? Could C. A. Holst, the founder of that store brought it here when he passed through the Clarks Mill area from Potter to Mishicot in the late 1880s? We don‘t know, but we can speculate. By the way, David Soper had four sons, all of whom served in the Civil War; sadly three of them never returned. The flowers planted in front of his stone at the museum are a silent memorial to them.
In 1970, a skeleton was found in a flower bed next to Lloyd Brouchoud's house at 411 Elizabeth Street. That house was built in 1904 by Dr. Karnopp and served both as a hospital and clinic in the village. So how did that skeleton get there and whose was it? Investigation by the sheriffs' department found that the skeleton belonged to Dr. C. J. Skwor and was a medical model used in his office in that house. It seems that sometime after his death, his wife buried it there to get dispose of it.
In 1880, Alfred Smith, the oldest son of Daniel, mentioned above, died in Neenah from 'dry-rot' (today we call that gangrene.) His obituary says his body was going to be returned to Mishicot to be buried in the family plot. Yet there is no marker. So ... are his remains here or not? Maybe investigation on where his wife is buried will give a clue. Or could the marker have sunk into the ground? Or did it rot away?
Here's another unsolved Mishicot mystery. In the1870's meeting minutes for the Town of Mishicot (the village was not incorporated until 1950), entries are found that show the town paid a Mr. Baugniet about $3 monthly to care for a "Mrs. Mishicott" at the Mishicot Poor House. (Mishicot built its own poor house to take care of those who could not care for themselves.) It was built in 1870 and still stands at 419 Randolph Street. Later he was paid $7 for a casket to bury her. So ... Who was Mrs. Mishicott? Investigation with the Potawatomi says their chiefs could have had up to four wives. So did one of them stay in Mishicot after the chief left this area in 1862? It seems possible. And where was she buried? Probably in the village cemetery in a part that was often called potters field.
The research center in our museum is intended to help discover these interesting stories and provide clues to the unsolved mysteries. We frequently receive and appreciate donations of information and documentation. The collection continues to grow and evolve. If you have not visited in a while, you may be surprised at what you find! If you have information, old photographs, newspaper articles, letters, or other historical documents you would like to donate, please contact Jim Sustman or the MAGIC office.
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