Martha Bergland presented the life of Thure Kumlien

31 03 2022

Like finding a rare orchid, Martha Bergland has unveiled a rare and important naturalist during the early settlement years in Wisconsin. Fellow Swede Carl Linnaeus, considered the ‘Father of Botany‘, would have nodded in approval at Thure Kumlien’s contributions in helping us understand the biological riches found in early Wisconsin” (Reference Tom Anderson, author of Learning Nature by a Country Road)

SAHSWI Board member and award-winning author Martha Bergland introduced her newest book “The Birdman of Koshkonong, The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien” in the society’s first fika meeting in two years. The March 12, 2022, meeting was held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Milwaukee with about 50 people attending, among them Betsy D’onofrio and Susan Binzel, great granddaughters of Thure Kumlien.

Martha transported us back to his life and community in 1843 and the contributions he made to Wisconsin and the world as a Swedish immigrant to Wisconsin. Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin’s earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the University of Wisconsin and became the first curator of the new Milwaukee Public Museum.

The Birdman of Koshkonong published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press is available for sale directly from Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Amazon, or your local bookstore. An excerpt of the book was published in the Summer 2021 issue of Wisconsin magazine of history.

After the presentation Marjorie Jothen’s 103rd birthday was celebrated to the tunes of Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson’s violins and the voices of meeting attendees, Happy Birthday both in English and in Swedish. Carol also baked a special birthday cake for Marge to share with everyone. Coffee and treats were served, and everybody enjoyed this first fika meeting in 2 years.

Martha’s presentation was held in the Sanctuary. Celebrating Marge with fika, from left Bev Wenzel, Kristin Laufer, Marge, and Carol Gustafson.