A Mind of Her Own: Helen Connor Laird and Family, 1888-1982 by Helen L. Laird

By Helen L. Laird

A brain of Her Own:  Helen Connor Laird and kinfolk 1888–1982 captures the general public achievement and inner most discomfort of a notable Wisconsin girl and her relatives, whose pursuits and impact prolonged way past the borders of the state. Spanning nearly a century, the historical past speaks to the best way we have been and are: a stridently materialistic kingdom with a deep and protracted religious part.

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Sample text

When a wagon with a “Petrified Man” the owner claimed to have found near Peshtigo stopped in town, Mrs. D. didn’t want to pay the ten cents for a glimpse. “No, Mrs. Sargent,” Mr. Connor replied. ” Or, he might have added, look in the window of Mr. 6 Many of the men had little respect for themselves. They drifted from camp to camp living on temporary labor, companionship, and booze. Young ladies attempting to settle them down to the hard routine of raising families were not often successful. D. borrowed heavily, delayed payment of bills to suppliers, and paid his workmen with scrip, paper money issued by the company in -, -, -, and -cent and one and two dollar denominations.

Constructed a summer cottage on the western shore of Birch Lake, the Connor family left Wood County for Forest County’s cool northwoods. A boxcar loaded with riding horses, ponies, chickens, a couple of pigs, a milk cow, family pets, and several trunks full of clothes, linens, blankets, and plated silver preceded them. While the Connors eagerly looked forward to the yearly migration, their hired girls reluctantly went along. Most had never left home before. For them the deep woods and the isolation were terrifying.

Helen was fifteen when politics began to dominate life in the Connor home. D. had been a minor and “safe” member of the Republican Party led by business-oriented Stalwarts Charles F. Pfister, John Coit Spooner, and Henry Clay Payne. He attended state conventions, and as chairman of the enormous Eighth Congressional district, which spanned almost all of central and northeastern Wisconsin,1 he supplied the Republican Central Committee with lists of “the doubtful, the careless and the stay at home voters” and lists of superintendents of lumber and mining camps, who could instruct the men on how to vote.

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