1st Brigade Band of Brodhead

Brodhead's Moral Foundation

It is with gentle steps that one cracks into researching the pioneering settlement of villages, towns, and cities of the United States.

In researching Brodhead's history, I have shared on the immigration and pioneering settlement of Brodhead and Green County. I have been concurrently researching Brodhead history in relation to complexities of settlements with Native Americans, as well as the social injustices of Americans who were brought to this country against their wills (enslaved), and dehumanizing laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. There is candidly dread when one researches whether if, or how, forebearers contributed or participated in these cultural and humanitarian atrocities.

It was a wonderful materialization in discovering that Brodhead was a pioneering realization of the COEXIST morality. I believe this explains the engrained sense of community here, as well as the interesting diversity of people and ideals we have found living here, many which folks do not often expect in a "small town" in our beloved State.

In my research, I had read how Brodhead's pioneers and local government where chastised by key coastal politicians in American history when it was discovered Brodhead pioneers coexisted peacefully with, and enjoyed an integrated community along the banks of the Sugar River which included Native Americans and other minorities.

Three Historical Highlights

I will be further researching and sharing in future posts, but three stories that illuminate Brodhead's early progressive history include:
  1. Winnebago Native Americans preceded Green County settlers, and Brodhead was a transitional territory for the Native Americans occupied through migrational travel. The "Half-Way Tree" in Brodhead marks the middle point between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan, and Winnebagos behoved settlers to protect this significant landmark. It was, and continues to be, protected as an integral part of Brodhead and history. 
  2. Infantries from Wisconsin made notable contributions in the Civil War. And within Wisconsinites' service, the 1st Brigade Band of Brodhead was such a fine outfit, it was personally chosen by Lincoln himself to perform at the White House on the day the Civil War ended. Notably, they were the sole brigade band invited to play, making it a remarkably exclusive privledge.
  3. Discriminating laws such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act enflamed racism against Asian Americans during Victorian Era America. However, in my research of local businesses in the early city of Brodhead, I have read articles and mentions of a laundry owned by a Chinese family, with consistent kind words and mention of the family within the societal mentions in the newspaper. The family went on to move their business to Chicago at the Turn of the Century, with an announcement of well of their departure with well wishes. This bringing more dimension to Brodhead rooted in racial diversity within inclusion.

Final Thoughts

This post is to not whitewash the complexities of history, and that there were indeed terrible issues of racism in Green County, with bigotry and biases which are unfortunately are extended into today. For example, I have unearthed mentions of KKK meetings in Monroe, and come across photos of blackface within theatre troops.

Green County's history is not without misdeeds and scars.

What this post is... the statement of a solid moral foundation on the formation of Brodhead and the history of inclusion. 

As we tackle present day issues, while educating and promoting awareness, it is easy to see present day activism's roots. Events such as the PRIDE parade and the Better Brodhead organization, are intrinsically tied with efforts of the 1st Brigade Band and peaceful coexistence with Native Americans. These movements are rooted in our inherent history of inclusion and the belief we can and should COEXIST.