Who was Increase Lapham? Why are there area parks, schools, buildings and streets named after him? On Thursday, April 4, the Friends of Jonathan Clark House will present an author talk on Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham by local authors Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes.
In this biography of Wisconsin’s first scientist, Bergland and 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 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, a short stories and book author, is retired from the Milwaukee Area Technical College faculty where she taught English. Her co-author is Paul G. Hayes who was a science reporter at The Milwaukee Journal for 33 years and continues to enjoy writing in his home in Cedarburg. They will be pleased to sell and sign books after the presentation.