Join us for a joint meeting of the Kettle Moraine Chapter – Wild Ones and Kettle Moraine Land Trust with a presentation by Martha Bergland and Paul Hayes about their book, “Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham – Wisconsin’s Renaissance Man.” There will be door prizes and refreshments. Everyone is welcome and there will be no charge for attending.
In this biography of Wisconsin’s first scientist, authors Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes explore the remarkable life and achievements of Increase Lapham (1811-1875). Lapham’s ability to observe, understand, and meticulously catalog the natural world marked all of his work, from his days as a teenage surveyor on the Erie Canal to his last great contribution as state geologist. Self-taught, Lapham mastered botany, geology, archeology, limnology, mineralogy, engineering, meteorology, and cartography. A prolific writer, his 1844 guide to the territory was the first book published in Wisconsin. Asked late in life which field of science was his specialty, he replied simply, “I am studying Wisconsin.”
Lapham identified and preserved thousands of botanical specimens. He surveyed and mapped Wisconsin’s effigy mounds. He was a force behind the creation of the National Weather Service, lobbying for a storm warning system to protect Great Lakes Sailors. Studying Wisconsin chronicles the life and times of Wisconsin’s pioneer citizen-scientist.
Martha Bergland, after retiring from teaching English at Milwaukee Area Technical College, wrote an article for Milwaukee Magazine on Increase Lapham. The research for this article became five years of research on the biography. Bergland has written many articles and short stories, as well as two novels, A Farm Under A Lake, and Idle Curiosity, both published by Graywolf Press. She lives in Glendale, Wisconsin.
During 33 years at The Milwaukee Journal, science reporter Paul G. Hayes often relied on the work of Increase Lapham, whose home had been three blocks north of the newspaper office. After retiring in 1995, Hayes continued to write, often referring to Lapham and his contributions. This biography is a fitting finale to a fifty-year acquaintance. Paul and his wife live in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, where they raised two sons.