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Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County

Sager, Kenneth
Notes, brush and pen,   pp. 217-231 PDF (6.5 MB)

Page 217

                  By Kenneth Sager
   In 1850, when Wisconsin was two years
 old and Outagamie County was not yet
 born, when the American West loomed as
 a land of promise to exploit in a demo-
 cratic fashion and the moral issue was to
 have or not to have slavery, strictly cul-
 tural pursuits anywhere in the United
 States were followed by a minority. There
 was soil to till, trees to fell, gold to mine
 and cotton to be picked; economic wants
 demanded fulfillment. The urge to reap
 material profits was greater than the
 desire to splash color upon a canvas, ink
 upon a page or to weave notes into
 musical composition. American culture
 was largely an imported product.
 Exceptions were the field of literature and
 Stephen Collins Foster in music. During
 the year marking the mid-nineteenth cen-
 tury the publishers brought out Melville's
 White Jacket, Emerson's Representative Men,
 Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and
 Hawthorne's romance, The Scarlet Letter.
 The latter two works became 'best-
 sellers." Other authors and poets who
 could claim a reading public were Holmes,
Lowell, Poe, Cooper and Whittier. Three
years before, Longfellow had completed
"Evangeline." At work at a novel was
Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her Uncle Tom's
(abin, published in 1852, was a potent
piece of propaganda for the abolitionists.
As for Foster, marriage to Jane McDowell
in 1850 provided inspiration for some of
his finest songs which he composed in the
succeeding years. "Old Folks at Home,"
'Massa's in de Cold Ground " 'Jeanie
with the Light Brown Hair" and "Come
Where My Love Lies Dreaming" became
perennial favorites for parlor singing.
  Music of some form readily assumes
stature in any society. Communities in
Outagamie County were not hesitant in
adopting the art as an adhesive cultural
force. In the first decade of the county's
existence concerts in the several villages
were numerous and well received. In 1856
the Lawrence College Chapel, located in
what is now Main Hall, was the scene of
Miss Amanda Crandall's "musical ex-
hibition." Her students in voice and
piano were such a success that she sched-
uled a repeat performance. An early

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