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The Murder of Lt. Foster and His Frock Coat

Friday, February 05, 2016
In our core exhibition On the Edge of the Inland Sea, you can get lost in all the stories and artifacts between the mastodon and the 1908 Holsman Car.  But one thing that caught my eye, even before becoming the curator, was a blue military coat tucked in a corner by the “Fort Howard” section of the exhibit.   Behind the Fort Howard in "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"coat is a sketch of a man pointing a musket at another man and below is a small label with a story.   The story of the coat’s owner's fate is captivating.  But the stories untold in the exhibit are even more remarkable.    

The first part of the story is what you find in the exhibit on the second floor of the museum.  The young U.S. Army lieutenant who wore this coat 185 years ago died in it. Lt. Amos Foster was shot and killed by one of his own soldiers, Private Patrick Doyle.   In February 1832, Doyle was detained in the guardhouse for being drunk and disorderly.   Alcohol consumption was a real problem at Fort Howard, especially since part of the soldier’s rations included two gills of whiskey or rum (the equivalent of four shots today).   After a few days, on February 7, 1832, Doyle persuaded a guard to escort him to the Lt. Foster’s quarters to talk to him.  After harsh words and a scuffle Doyle stole the guard’s musket and killed Lt. Foster.  Doyle was immediately arrested.  He was tried and sentenced to death in July of 1832.  It is said Doyle was hanged outside the stockade wall of the fort for all to see. 
Painting of Fort Howard from 1899 by B. Ostertac (#2704/1757)

My big question when I started to look at the coat more closely was how do we know?  How do we know what happened and the supposed words exchanged between Lt. Foster and Doyle?  How do we know this was Lt. Foster’s coat?  After I started pulling at this thread I found there is far more to this story than has been told in that label on the 2nd floor.  After digging through historical documents, different stories of the incident were revealed.  Interesting tales of Doyle’s time while he was incarcerated and even a ghostly haunting of the officer’s quarters are mentioned in people’s memoirs.  


Beyond historical documents the coat itself can tell you another part of the story.  It reveals Lt. Foster’s role in society while he wore it (a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry based on the coat construction and rank insignia).  It can also share insight to his early demise.  We can clearly see where the bullet entered and exited.  We can see loss of wool from blood staining.  It is also probable the surgeon at the time, Dr. Clement Finely, tried to get at the wounds quickly.   The bottom 7 buttons appear to have been cut off, probably because they were buttoned at the time of the murder. 


   
 
The coat Lt. Foster was wearing when he was murdered on February 7, 1832 (#1988.78.1)
 Entry point of the bullet that killed Lt. Foster

Now if you look at the photograph of the coat on exhibit in our main gallery on the second floor, you may notice it has all of its buttons.  That’s because the one on exhibit there is a replica.  Why would we not put the real thing out?  Because of all the coat has been through.  It has been through 19th century Wisconsin winters, a gunshot, blood stains, and several years in an attic in Texas.  That is why the exhibit team is beyond excited to pull the real thing out of storage for Life and Death at Fort Howard.  Not only will the coat be displayed for the first time at the Neville, but the team has created exciting new ways of explore the coat and Lt. Foster’s story. 

There is so much more we can and will share about this special artifact but nothing beats seeing the real thing.  Life and Death at Fort Howard is open through April 9, 2017!

Lisa Zimmerman
Curator 

    

Exhibits Exposed

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
One of my favorite things about working at the Neville is that there is always something new to see or do at the museum.  This past year we’ve borrowed two great exhibits (Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs and Extreme Deep:  Mission to the Abyss), developed a great exhibit about local history (Building Our Community: 100 Years of Architecture and Design), and hosted several art exhibits showcasing works from the region and beyond. 

When our team met recently to discuss ideas for 2016, one of our goals was to find new ways to provide our visitors with unique, one-of-a-kind experiences.  In response, we developed a new program series called “Exhibits Exposed,” which will take place the third Wednesday evening of each month, starting at 6:00.  In this program you’ll join one of our experts on staff for a tour of a featured exhibit, and learn some of the facts and stories that didn’t make it onto the labels.  Then, you’ll have a chance to view some iconic artifacts pulled from our collection that are usually not available to the public.

My colleagues and I are very excited for the chance to share these rarely-heard stories, and even more rarely-seen artifacts from the Neville’s amazing collection.   We hope you’ll be able to join us for these intimate and lively discussions.

 

 

Exhibits Exposed Schedule
January 20:  Iroquois Beadwork and Sisters in Spirit
February 17:  The Fur Trade in Green Bay
March 16:  Feline Fine and the Art of Cats
April 20:  Stories of Life and Death at Fort Howard
May 18:  Art and Artists of Green Bay
June 15:  The Ice Age is Coming
July 20:  Interstellar Overdrive – Eyes on the Sky
August 17:  More of Life and Death at Fort Howard
September 21:  Frozen Green Bay
October 19:  Haunted Wisconsin
November 16:  Holiday Memories

All programs take place the third Wednesday evening of each month at 6:00 and are free with regular museum admission.  Sessions will be capped to ensure a personalized experience; additional sessions will start on the half hour as needed.

Ryan Swadley
Education Specialist

A Fort Howard Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

192 years ago a cheerful holiday feast was held just across the street from the museum near Leicht Park at Fort Howard. 

Once a fort officer, Col. McNeil (later commander of Fort Howard 1824-1825), found out how important it was to the French residents of the area to celebrate Christmas, he planned an elaborate party.  The officers invited the French, the Americans and native people living in the area.  The 4’ o’clock dinner is said to have fed a hundred people.  The evening included a feast of fish, bear, and porcupine along with a dance that lasted late into the night.  

A local land surveyor who attended the fort’s Christmas dinner/dance in 1823 describes the evening...   
    The hall was well filled… men and women, were attired in all the grades of dress, from the highest partisan down to the buck-skin coats, pants, petticoat, and moccasins of the aboriginals.  Yet as no one of the elite thought himself over-dressed, so, on the other hand, none of the citizens, French or half-breeds reproached themselves with least want or etiquette, or of intended disrespect of their host, on account of costume.
    -Albert G. Ellis

The fort hosted several gatherings like this one during its existence.  Maj. Zachary Taylor (Commander of Fort Howard 1816-1818 and later President of the United States) has been known for hosting social events but the truth is several officers enjoyed throwing hosting parties, including Col. McNeil.  

An Invitation addressed to Mrs. Lawe for a ball at Fort Howard in 1820 (NPM #1989.26.48) 

These gatherings led to some interesting stories including one murder and dangerous trip across the river during a violent storm.  These stories will be featured in our upcoming exhibit, Life and Death at Fort Howard opening in April 2016.  

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Night at the Museum

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thank you to all who helped celebrate the Neville’s 100th anniversary at the inaugural Night at the Museum event held at the Museum Tuesday night!

 Deputy Director, Kevin Cullen, explaining SCUBA diving gear for underwater archaeology to a guest

Because of our generous supporters the Neville Public Museum Foundation is able to support the mission of the Neville Public Museum and inspire audiences by presenting innovative and thought-provoking exhibits, educational programs and public events on history, science and art. We greatly appreciate your support in helping to create a community legacy of bridging communities and connecting generations!

~Kasha Huntowski, Neville Public Museum Foundation 

 

Iroquois Raised Beadwork with Karen Ann Hoffman

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Over the last year the museum staff has had the pleasure to work with two Wisconsin artists in the creation of our current exhibit Sisters in Spirit: Native American Stories in Rocks and Beads.  Geri "Sisters in Spirit" on exhibit until February 14, 2016Schrab contributed the rock art watercolors featured in the exhibit, many of which are based on rock art sites in Wisconsin. Karen Ann Hoffman uses her tribe’s traditional Iroquois raised beadwork to celebrate the legends of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).  Together the exhibit presents a compelling glimpse of the continuing influence of Native Americans on contemporary Wisconsin art.

Karen Ann’s contemporary work takes inspiration from the historic pieces like the artifacts in the museum’s collection.  When Karen Ann took some time to look at our collection’s Iroquois raised beadwork we asked if she’d be willing to share her thoughts in a blog.   So here is a guest blog post from Karen Ann Hoffman about the art of Iroquois raised beadwork and the museum’s collection.  Enjoy!

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Iroquois Raised Beadwork 

Iroquois Raised Beadwork is a rare and beautiful style of Native American art which originated in the Eastern Great Lakes region. This art is a material language which embodies, preserves and expresses Iroquois world view. Its forms and designs reach back over ten-thousand years. The motifs were first executed with bone and shell, later with moose-hair and hide and, since the 1500’s, with glass beads and trade cloth.


I want to thank my teachers: Samuel Thomas and Lorna Hill for instructing me in the the cultural connections and responsibilities that make Iroquois Raised Beadwork so rich and meaningful. Thanks are also due to the Neville Museum for exhibiting my contemporary Iroquois Raised Beadwork. I have come to understand that pieces I produce today, should stand, not for me as an individual; but for our Iroquois world view. That someday, long after my name is forgotten, my beadwork will need to speak about us in a strong, clear voice.

The Iroquois Raised Beadwork pieces in the Neville Museum’s collection represent a different segment of Iroquois beadwork often termed “Whimseys”, though some feel this term trivializes the artform (Elliott, Preserving Tradition and Understanding the Past: Papers from the Conference on Iroquois Research, 2001–2005). They were likely made in New York or Canada by members of the Mohawk and Tuscarora communities specifically for sale to the tourist market in the mid to late 1800’s.

Mohawk-style beadwork of this period, is often characterized by a heavier, more opulent beadwork style using larger seed beads than the Tuscarora-style work which may exhibit more intricate beadwork patterns using smaller seed beads. Some pieces have characteristics of both styles.
Whisk Broom Holder dated 1905. Mohawk style (#R32-5)
Iroquois beaders developed items which would appeal to the souvenir market: pin cushions, needle cases and match holders.

These items were sold at locations popular among Victorian Era middle and upper middle class tourists including: Niagara Falls, New York State Fairs, and exhibitions up and down the Eastern Seaboard and were often embellished with the location name or date of purchase. Heavily Beaded pincushion circa 1880 (#L6802)

Perhaps because so many of the pieces were purchased during honeymoon trips, the heart became a popular form. A tri-lobed heart was not uncommon and examples of this shape appear as pincushions in the Neville’s collection, all in the heavily raised “Mohawk-style” so popular in the last quarter of the 19th-Century.

This large, stuffed pincushion (circa 1880) is a fine example of Mohawk-style exuberance.                                         The original purple color of the velvet has faded over time.  (#4523/2169)
Iroquois Raised Beadwork is fascinating and important. It relates its maker to the long chain of Iroquois beaders who came before and provides a connection to beaders whose faces we have yet to see. For myself, when I bead sometimes I swear I hear the whispers of the beaders of our past encouraging me to, “do it right, do it well. Keep our voices alive.”

Yaw^ko
Karen Ann Hoffman 

Meet Our Education Specialist

Monday, November 09, 2015

Last March I was offered the amazing opportunity to join the staff of the Neville as the Research Technician.  From helping launch our online image collection Snapshots in Time, to planning youth and adult programs, and to working with our team on the upcoming Life and Death at Fort Howard exhibit, I’ve learned a lot about the museum itself and about the community of Green Bay.  Being from the Madison area I was aware of the Neville and the role Green Bay played in state history (and of course the Packers), but over the past 8 months my family and I have come to learn what a great place to live this really is.  I’m excited to share that I’ve recently been offered the chance to continue my career path here at the Neville by moving into the Education and Events Coordinator position.  I look forward to many more years of providing my friends and neighbors with the types of experiences that make the Neville such a valuable and unique resource.

In this new role I hope to support the Neville’s mission of “Bridging Communities, Connecting Generations” by finding the best ways to serve the many groups and audiences we have here in Brown County.  In the coming months we will be rolling out a handful of new program series’ for kids, families, and adults, and will continue to make changes to our school and youth programs to better fit the needs of educators.  We’ll also be developing programs for scouts, planning summer camps, and making ourselves available for outreach education beyond the museum’s walls.  I look forward to continuing to be part of the exhibit design team where I’ll work to develop interactive and hand’s-on elements for our exhibits that will bring them to life for visitors of all ages.

I can’t say “thank you” enough to my colleagues, new friends, and the community of Green Bay for being so welcoming to my family and me.  I can’t wait to return the favor through my work here at the Neville Public Museum.

 

Ryan Swadley, Education and Events Coordinator 

A Necklace Made of Hair

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Here at the museum we have over 100,000 three-dimensional artifacts in our collection.  They span thousands of years and hail from all around the world.  As Halloween approaches we were thinking about the depth of our collection and how we could show some pieces that don’t get much face time with the public.  We’ve been changing our case the lobby every few months and we thought this would be a great opportunity to feature some of our eerie artifacts.   I’m not going to give too much away here because there are some remarkable artifacts in the case that you should see for yourself.  Hair Necklace ca. 1855

 

When we started preparing for this mini exhibit, we asked our interns to explore our collections with death and mourning in mind.  They came back with unique artifacts including objects from an old funeral home, a mummified bird from ancient Egypt, and mourning jewelry.   All of these objects made it to the exhibit but I found this one piece of jewelry fascinating.  It is a necklace made of hair.  Yes, human hair.   Hair has been used for centuries in different art forms.  In our collections we hold necklaces like this one, pendants, pins, and wreathes. 

 

Civil War Era Hair Wreath

The art of hair jewelry began in a small Swedish town but slowly spread across Europe and was brought to America in the 19th century.  It did not gain popularity until after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861 at which time she wore jewelry made of hair.  There are a few reasons that hair was a great choice for decoration; it does not decay, it can be used with metalwork or precious gems without damaging either, and it is symbolic of the departed. The use of hair jewelry in mourning demonstrates a personal connection with the deceased.

 

 Ambrotype "Aunt Sadi Spencer" ca. 1855

If you look carefully at this picture, you can see the hair necklace from our collection around this woman’s neck. This image is from an ambrotype in the collection from around 1855.  The woman in the photograph is identified as “Aunt Sadi Spencer,” a relative of the Cady family of Green Bay.  After some time in our research library and collections I’m sad to say I was unable to find any further information about Sadi Spencer or who may have died for her to be wearing the necklace.  But we’ll keep an eye out for our mystery woman and if anyone has any information about her we’d love to see it! 

 

You can see these pieces and the rest of the Artifacts of Death exhibit in our lobby until November 14th

 

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

5 Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon

Friday, October 23, 2015
Five Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon

1. He’s not a Woolly Mammoth

Stompy is a mastodon, but what’s the difference?  For starters mastodon tusks were less curved than a mammoth's. Mastodon teeth were different from a mammoth’s as well.  Why was that?  Because Mastodons lived in swampy areas and chewed on branches and shrubs.  Mammoths grazed on grasses in open plains. You can see the difference between the two species teeth just behind Stompy in the exhibit! 

2. His fur is made of cow tails

Stompy is covered in 1,500 cow tails!  The cow tails were washed, bleached, and colored before being adhered to his body.  This was done by the artist to achieve the look of shaggy curly hair which would’ve helped him stay warm at the end of the last Ice Age.

 

 Photo taken in 1983 right after the diorama was installed for the new museum

3. He sheds… so please don’t pet the mastodon  

Stompy is now 32 years old!  Over the years he’s begun to lose a little hair but who wouldn’t after entertaining the masses for three decades?  We’d love for Stompy to stick around another 30 years so please don’t pet him.  He’s a museum favorite and we want to keep him looking shaggy for a long time. The more exposure he gets to human touch the more he will deteriorate just like any other artifact in the museum.

 

4. He was made in Indiana  

When the museum started to plan for their brand new building in 1982, they also began to plan for a new large-scale exhibit about the history of Northeastern Wisconsin.  Part of that story was to be told with a diorama of the Late Pleistocene Period by diorama artists Pat and Theresa Gulley of Williamsport, IN.  The artists modeled Stompy from an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo.  Stompy was the first piece to be installed in the On the Edge of the Inland Sea.

 

Photo of curator Dennis Jacobs preparing Stompy for the opening of "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"

 

5. He’s only 3/4th the size he should be

Due to size constraints in the exhibit the entire diorama is made at 3/4th size, including the Paleo-Indian hunters.  Imagine Stompy and the hunters just a little bigger next time you go through the Ice Cave!

Bonus Fact: Did you know the crouching hunter wasn’t originally behind Stompy?  He was first installed on the ledge directly across from Stompy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Next time you venture through our Ice Cave we hope you’ll take a second to say hi to Stompy, maybe snap a picture with him and consider how he came to be here at the Neville!

 

Photo take my Mallory VonHaden

 

 

Take a Deep Dive into the Past

Monday, October 05, 2015

Approximately 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water and yet only about 5% of it has been documented by humans.   Water is vital to life as we know it, yet, we know so very little about what exists in our oceans, seas, or lakes.  Similarly, we know little about how these water systems behave, effect climate, or what secrets they harbor.  Fortunately, over the past century scientists and explorers have begun to access the mysterious depths of our oceans and Great Lakes thanks to advances in technology. 

At the Neville Public Museum, we are revealing these mysterious worlds through exhibits and public programs.   Whether it is shipwrecks, submarines, or sea creatures that interest you, we invite your whole family to come and participate in this exciting adventure taking place in downtown Green Bay. The following exhibits and programs are being offered at the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibits:

Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss 

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

Come face-to-face with the last frontier - the deep sea.  Meet Alvin, JASON and Remus, state-of-the-art robotic explorers that will take you on extreme deep adventures.  There you’ll discover bizarre fish and tour sunken ships. 

Shipwrecks of the Fox River

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

This exhibit displays through photographs the removal of nine tugboats, barges and dredges that were extracted from the Fox River between 2013 and 2014. For more than three-quarters of a century, these workhorses of Green Bay’s early shipping days lay sunken in the Fox River Shipwreck Graveyard.  

Navigating our Waterways

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

This series of photographs and historic shipping ledgers illustrates the variety of vessels that worked Green Bay’s waters in pursuit of commerce and recreation.  Whether they were schooners, tug boats, barges, or freighters, they all played a role in the development of this city’s landscape. 

 

Events:

Extreme Deep Adventures

Saturday, October 17, 2015 11 am - 3 pm

All Hands on Deck for Hands-on Fun! Science activities, crafts, demonstrations, and games will be available at the museum for all ages.  Learn about Scuba Diving and Wisconsin’s shipwrecks, Listen to pirate-themed stories and meet Pirate Pete for photo opportunities. Regular admission rates apply.

Extreme Deep Lecture Series

This series evening lectures brings some of the leading experts in their fields of Great Lakes research to the Neville Public Museum.  These lectures are free and begin at 6pm.

October 6: Deep Water Archeology by Tamara Thomsen, underwater archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society

October 13: The Great Lakes: Their Future by Val Klump, Director of the Great Lakes WATER Institute

October 20: Climate Change and the Great Lakes by Julia Noordyk, Coastal Storms and Water Quality Specialist 

Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology and Maritime History Conference

Saturday October 10th (10am – 4pm)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This annual event brings together underwater archaeologists, maritime historians, and divers, for a day of presentations about maritime history and underwater archaeology in Wisconsin waters and beyond.  Registration is $20 and is open to the public. 

Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director

 

Artifact Research: An Intern's Experience

Monday, September 28, 2015

My time at the Neville Public Museum was extremely educational even though it ended far too soon. I took this internship so I could gather more experience in the museum field. During my internship I worked on a variety of projects and tasks. I began my internship by learning the museum’s cataloging system and database since it varies in different museums. With their database mastered on a basic level I could attach pictures and information. This helped the museum’s digital initiative where every object will have a picture in Argus, though there is a lot to be added yet! A major project I worked on was cataloging two accessions of Kaap’s restaurant artifacts into the museum’s permanent collection. This was a very valuable experience that laid the groundwork for any future cataloging I may do. I learned a great deal at the museum but honing my research skills was the greatest one. I spent a great amount of my time researching artifacts the museum has for research requests and for the future Fort Howard exhibit opening in April 2016.

I worked on two aspects of the upcoming exhibit; women’s clothing and accessories, and weaponry. As fascinating as women’s fashion is during the early 1800s, my favorite aspect of research for Fort Howard was the weaponry and armory because it is just so intriguing! The items held in the collection that date to the Fort Howard era are mostly muskets but other artifacts include: bayonets, swords, pistols, a cannonball, and other various guns. The main armories of the time period we were interested in were the Springfield Armory (the model 1816 being the most abundantly produced), and the Harpers Ferry Armory. During the early 1800s most muskets were flintlock but because the time period for this exhibit extended from 1800-1850 some of the muskets were percussion locks. This was a change that made the guns more reliable and weather resistant than flintlocks. This also meant that some of the guns that were made earlier in the 1800s such as M1816’s were modified from flintlocks to percussion locks. US M1816 Flintlock Musket

A lot of the guns have manufacturer stamps or other marks that can help add provenance to the gun. Examples are proofs for European guns, designs carved or stamped into the gun, initials, and other marks. Below is an example of initials on the handle of a rifle that was locally made in the 1840s. Shotgun made by A.P Hyatt around 1845

Something to remember is that some weapons were brought from Europe before armories became popular in the U.S. During the time period we were interested in, many people probably had guns that had already been imported. The U.S. Army also imported weaponry for the Civil War as well as wars before that meaning Fort Howard likely had imported weaponry and U.S. made weapons.

Though there is a lot more to do for the future Fort Howard exhibit, researching the time period and helping to choose and research artifacts was a great way to push the planning further. Overall I am by no means an expert on weaponry from the early 1800s but I did learn a lot and my research skills are for the better!

 

By Natasha Khan- Intern


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