GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

From Lake Michigan to Chicken Alley: The Bizarre History of Wisconsin

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – People are not afraid to take a deeper dive into the unexplainable. Over the last few years, the topic of the paranormal has gained in popularity. Turns out, there’s some interesting events from right here in Wisconsin.

Researcher, Chad Lewis gives lectures on strange events and hauntings that have happened here. He recently held one in partnership with the Historic Allouez Society, “The Bizarre History of Wisconsin”.

So how bizarre could Wisconsin’s past be?

Let’s take a short trip to Shawano, Wisconsin to a place called “Chicken Alley” .

Legend has it when you go down this road, you will see mysterious lights coming right in front or behind you only to vanish as quickly as they appeared. If that’s nothing special to you, how about tales of phantom chickens?

There have been reports of people thinking they hit one with their car. So much so that they got out to see if it was all right and to investigate the damage on their vehicle. Only to find nothing there.

Or there are the string of strange deaths with everyone associated with a house in Merrill, Wisconsin.

The T.B. Scott Mansion.

Courtesy: Merrill Historical Society

According to the Merrill Historical Society, before it was named the City of Merrill, it was called the Village of Jenny. The speculation is that it was named after an Indian Chief’s daughter who died in childbirth. Legend has it, in his grief the Chief prayed to the Great Spirit asking that her burial site be sacred. In 1884, T.B. Scott, Merrill’s lumberman founder, built his house on the native land.

In October of 1886, when the construction was close to being completed, T.B. Scott died. His death began a series of unfortunate events for people associated with the mansion…

Courtesy: Merrill Historical Society

T.B. Scott – Built mansion. Died before he occupied it.
A.E. Scott, widow of T.B. Died one year after him. Never lived in mansion.
Walter Scott (son) – Fatally stabbed in Chicago in 1902.
Edward Kuehle – Owned mansion in 1899. Suffered financial losses and became deranged.
John Barasanti – Foreclosed on Kuehle. On his way to Merrill to claim the mansion when he was stabbed to death at the Union Station in Chicago.
Charles W. Gibson – Had office in mansion. Went uptown one day and disappeared.
Popcorn Dan – Had popcorn stand in Merrill. Lived in mansion, was possibly also the caretaker. Took the maiden voyage on the Titanic.

(2020) Daniel Coxon a.k.a. “Popcorn Dan” 
Encyclopedia Titanica

While it is believed the mansion is haunted, residents in the area have a soft spot for the 135-year-old landmark. The house is vacant now, but some in the community want to see it saved and used a museum, or an office space.

If you think being off land is a safe space from the folklore, think again.

Not only is Lake Michigan popular for UFO sightings – by the way, Wisconsin is home to the “UFO Capital of the World” for hotspot, Long Lake in Campbellsport – but there is also many who have claimed to see a giant sea serpent or Lake monster living in the lake.

There are written accounts from the pre-Civil War era, where people have claimed to not only have seen this giant aquatic monster but have tried to kill it. It’s said to have been seen hundreds of times, yet no one seems to know what it is.

So, now that we know of these legends, what do we do with this information?

Chad says he likes to give these lectures because it inspires people to get out and explore. It encourages people to get out of the house and travel around our state. The sites are quite popular with geocaching groups, an outdoor activity where participants follow a GPS to retrieve hide and seek containers. Often, the spots are located near historical landmarks.  

“Whether they’re a die-hard skeptic, true believer, or somewhere in between,” says Lewis. “There’s a lot of uniqueness in our state.” Sometimes you just have to dig a little bit for it… sometimes literally, but it’s out there and it makes our state that much more interesting.

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