Spooky News Analysis
Every fall freshmen enter universities and face certain inevitabilities. Undoubtedly, herds of first-years will roam the streets searching for house parties, find struggles in their daily studies, and forge friendships and romances to last a lifetime.
At the University of Wisconsin, young scholars will unavoidably face one element more intensely than perhaps anywhere else in the world.
Most current UW undergrads are aware of Madison’s ranking by the Princeton Review as the number two party school in the country, as well as the ranking by Sports Illustrated On Campus as the best college sports town, but who can be sure how highly UW would place on a listing of haunted universities?
The vibrations of past human experiences seem to seep from the very earth in Madison. The town’s respect for the illicit and historic has fostered an unparalleled Halloween celebration.
Including the Arboretum, the UW campus is home to 22 archaeological sites, many of which include burial mounds of the Ho-Chunk tribe. In April 2003, the Evjue Foundation gave archaeologists a $10,000 grant to create a map of the sacred sites and place signs on spots like Observatory Hill, Eagle Heights Woods, and Picnic Point, where members of the mysterious prehistoric Mississippian culture lived more than a thousand years ago.
Earlier this month, a parcel of Dane County land was set for sale until documents were discovered that showed the 6.2 acres to be a post-Civil War-era cemetery. The area, sitting near what was once the Dane County Hospital and Home bears a marble marker reading, “On these beautiful grounds lie the remains of the mentally ill, impaired and poor who spent their last earthly days here.”
Everyday, UW students unwittingly trod over graves. Two metal squares just to left of the Bascom Hill statue of Abraham Lincoln mark the final resting places of William Nelson, who died in 1837 of typhoid, and Samuel Warren, who died in 1838 after being struck by lightning while working on construction of the Capitol, yet many students wander past without a second glance.
Some places on earth bear no association with the history of human experience, but Madison, Wis. is not one of them. In the spirit of Halloween, the ghosts of those who went before us are with us everyday.