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Wisconsin Death Trip By Michael Lesy find Inspired ideas for your own writing

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“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

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If you are looking for inspiration for your writing, then look no further than the pages of the ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ By Michael Lesy, with a preface by Warren Susman Published in 1973 by Random House, Inc.

In this book, you will find interesting and morbid; seemingly, normal accounts of events from the ‘Badger State Banner’ a Wisconsin newspaper. Compiled and published during a twenty-year period stretching from 1890 to 1910 consisting of written and pictorial factual accounts.


Anti-dipsomania gold

Cure Jailhouse incendiary

Incest Lake monster early death

Memorialized Insanity Old death

Memorialized Death in the asylum

Window smasher Ossified man

Bloody vandalism Suicide-moral

Disgrace Self Sabotage Incendiary

Fires Old lady miser Transvestite”~ Wisconsin Death Trip’

The newspaper’s editors father and son, Frank and George Cooper.

Charles Van Schaick was the town’s photographer. He took pictures using glass plates and silver emulsions. Thirty years after Van Schaick’s death, 30,000 glass plate negatives were found stacked and disintegrating.

The preface states that, “Historians have become convinced that there was a major crisis in American life during the 1890s,” a “Psychic crisis.”

Superstition, conjecture, the ability of gossip, religious beliefs and the effects of long winters spent alone, can and have, pushed people to the brink of reality. The most docile, church-loving individuals will break into pieces and bludgeon their family and their neighbors to death.

In this book, you will find people whose lives played out for entertainment (early TMZ without the humor) for the acknowledgement of their deaths, crimes, disappearances, depravities and family photos seemly written to an eerily apathetic audience.

Read your own local paper. There you will find articles that will tax your hold on reality and have you thinking about your ‘own connections’ to what is real. Add in the lack of truth and honesty. Mix in a dash of cold long winters and you have the beginnings of a great story.

~Badger state banner. (Black River Falls, Wis.) 1868-1926

~Michael Lesy


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