The first Europeans to explore the Mississippi River valley were French. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet arrived at what is now Prairie du Chein (Prairie of the Dog in French), Wisconsin in 1763. Twelve years later, Nicolas Perrot established a trading post there, an outpost of the French fur trade industry.
The area became British after the French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Years War). Two fortifications in the area (Fort Shelby and Fort Crawford) were scenes of battles during the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War. Colonel Zachary Taylor, later a United States president, was stationed at Fort Crawford, as was Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, who became president of the Confederate States of America. Davis married Taylor’s daughter, Sarah.
Laetitia and her group began the day with a tour of Fort Crawford and then went for a hike in Wyalusing State Park on the high bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Later they toured Villa Louis, a mansion along the Mississippi River that was home to H. Louis Dousman during the late nineteenth century.
That afternoon at happy hour, Laetitia wrote the limerick of the day based on an overheard conversation about a local young couple who couldn’t afford the airline tickets that they would have needed to qualify for the Mile High Club. They tried a more affordable alternative, but were thwarted by Mother Nature in loco parentis.
When young Philip from Prairie du Chein
Sought to woo Opal on a freight train
On a moving flat car
They didn’t get far
‘Til the clouds burst with down-pouring rain.