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Bohi, M. Janette / A history of Wisconsin State University Whitewater, 1868-1968

1 In the beginning: nation, state, and village (1837-1868),   pp. 7-[18]

Page 11

In the Beginning                        11 
good people of the community, like their fathers who had once smuggled 
French molasses, yielded to the temptation to take timber from Uncle 
Sam's Bark Woods. From November to March, 1840 the resulting labors 
of from 150 to 200 men had been dragged across the frozen Bark River. 
The more pious hired men of less scruples to do this for them, and so 
engaged in theft by proxy.26 Seven years later a gambling organization 
sold boxes of sand under the guise that the customer was getting cheap 
half-dollars of its own manufacture, giving Whitewater the reputation of
being rough. The most interesting incident of all came out of the dancing
school which was founded in 1840 by men of good will for the improve- 
ment of youth and the cultivation of the fine arts. The subscription read:
We, the undersigned, believing in the cultivation of the more refined feel-
ings and graces of our nature, and that a well-conducted dancing school will
promote refinement in society and at the same time afford innocent amusement
for the young, do agree to pay the sums set opposite our respective names
toward defraying the expenses of a dancing school,... to be conducted accord-
ing to strictest rules of propriety.27 
The Murrays of Beloit, a town of high reputation, were engaged as teachers
and rules of temperance were established. At the close of the 1841 school
a grand ball was held and merriment was at its best "when suddenly the
tide of mirth was stayed, as a venturous youth, impelled by a mischief- 
loving spirit, dared.., to press upon the lips of a fair young lady present
an unmistakable kiss."28 Such presumption so disheveled the propriety
one old gentleman that he ordered the young man to leave the room. When 
the youth refused, he obtained unsolicited assistance through the door 
and was next heard of filing a complaint before a Richmond justice. The 
attorney explained to the jury that there was no impropriety in the act 
itself since kissing was the first thing taught us by our mothers, since
juror had kissed and been kissed, and since the act was not forbidden either
by civil or moral law. Convinced, the jury ruled that kissing was legal,
point which from that time has remained unquestioned, this decision hav-
ing long since become incorporated into the common law of this vicinity."
In 1947 the Whitewater kiss was popularly revived when a University of 
Wisconsin professor gave it as a state radio play commemorating the 100th
anniversary of the land grant to colleges and universities. The play was
repeated at Whitewater on the occasion of the first open meeting of the 
Whitewater Historical Society on May 16, 1947. In 1962 it was again pro-
duced in Madison "to a full house which included several interested
water folks" who were celebrating the city's 125th year.29 To offset
sordid undercurrents of human nature the several churches held revival 

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