The St. Croix County Historical Society’s will commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial with exhibits and events when it opens May 1, highlighting two doctors connected to Hudson who helped injured Union soldiers in the nation’s bloodiest war.
“This year we’ll have exhibits on Dr. Samuel Johnson and Dr. Otis Hoyt,” says Jacki Bradham, historical society board member and publicity committee chairperson for the museum. “Both were doctors during the Civil War. Johnson came to Hudson after the war and ran a sanitarium on Third Street, and he was well loved. He was one of the first people in Hudson to have a telephone.
“Dr. Hoyt came here in 1856 and ran an inn,” Bradham said. “He was one of the first doctors in the St. Croix Valley on the Wisconsin side. He was very interesting, with interests from the railroad and politics to agriculture and apple orchards.”
Stationed at Camp Randall during active duty, Hoyt served in the Mexican War in the mid-1840s and was one of the first war-time surgeons to advocate operating on an limb rather than automatically amputating it.
Exhibits throughout the museum will highlight Civil War era artifacts from the SCCHS’s collections, such as a soldiers’ gear, period quilts, trunks, arms, currency, papers, memorabilia, and a diary from a local soldier among other items.
“Our biggest event this summer is the Civil War Re-enacters Encampment, and this year it will be bigger than in years past,” said Bradham of the free outdoor event July 16 from noon to 4:30 p.m. “The group who works with us is trying to locate a medical tent in keeping with our theme. Re-enactors will also display their Civil War artifacts. We expect it to be very well-attended.”
The Octagon House Museum is open for tours during the encampment with regular admission charged. Regular May–August hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 4:30 p.m. & Sunday, 2 to 4:30 p.m. and weekends in September, October and December.
The first event of the season is its Mother’s Day Tour on May 8, 2-4:30 p.m. Mothers get free admission with the paid admission of a child (any age).
Regular admission is $7 for adults, $3 for students ages 12 to 18, and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Special events may be pre-arranged for large groups (25+) with options of afternoon tea and/or a city walking tour.
On historic Third Street, the Octagon House is an eight-sided house built in 1855 and was the home of Judge John Moffat, who came to Hudson from New York. The museum complex includes the home, a garden house and Victorian garden, carriage house, and gift shop.
For information on other 150th anniversary Civil War events in Wisconsin, visit CivilWarWisconsin.com.