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Murder, she rediscovered

Historian finds old news clip intriguing enough for Facebook

Aug. 20, 2012

Muskego - A decades-old newspaper clip about Muskego's first murder a century earlier is now getting the kind of exposure only possible in modern times - through Facebook.

The Muskego Historical Society decided to put the clipping on Facebook because of how intriguing it is for a variety of people for a variety of reasons, historical or otherwise.

"I thought 'People are going to get a kick out of it,' " said Laura Mishefske, the Historical Society historian who found the clipping in what she described as a musty, dusty scrapbook in the organization's archives at the Old Settlement Center.

Murder revisited

The aged article is an account of the 1874 murder that happened during "a drunken row," Mishefske said.

It tells the story of a local doctor named P.C. Bigelow, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter after stabbing Joseph Peschke, who had earlier assaulted him with a club.

The doctor got four years in prison. He was offered the chance to get out earlier if he would quit drinking, but that was just too high a price for the hard-drinking doc, who said he'd rather serve out his sentence. Which he did.

Mishefske doesn't know what publication the clipping came from, although other clippings in the scrapbook were from the now-defunct Tri-Town News.

"It was probably from the 1970s or '60s," she guessed, based on the condition of the newsprint and the style of lettering used. "It doesn't look like an old font."

Digging deeper, Mishefske found nothing more on either the doctor or the victim. The fact that nothing came up on the doctor made her wonder about the accuracy of the story's last line, which stated that Bigelow went on to be "an excellent physician and prominent politician."

Worth sharing

Though she also doesn't know why the newspaper would have run the story that might even have been reprinted from a much older source, Mishefske said that when she found it, she immediately wanted to share it.

"It's not something you hear about (every day)," she said.

More information about Muskego history, genealogy helpers and historic photographs may be found at the society's website,muskegohistory.org.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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