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Wisconsin: stranger than you think

Book signing Oct. 24

Dan Plutchak /The Week

(Published Oct. 22, 2007, 4:05 p.m.)

There are more oddities in Wisconsin than can fill a book, if you ask author Linda Godfrey.

So after the success of Godfrey's Weird Wisconsin, she's compiled even more unusual stories into her latest book, Strange Wisconsin, to be released on Oct. 31.

Godfrey, of Elkhorn, will present a pre-publication book talk and signing at the Lake Geneva Public Library Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.

Following the program, copies of all her books will be available to be signed. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Lake Geneva Public Library.

Godfrey has been a chronicler of the odd and unusual since she first wrote about the mysterious Beast of Bray Road in The Week more than 15 years ago.

Her latest book includes her latest research into some of the more unusual things to be found in the Badger State.

Godfrey says she's always researching. "I'm a library hound," she says, looking through local histories and clip files of old newspapers.

Sometimes, the unusual anecdote is there simply for the asking. "I'll go into a gas station and ask, 'What's weird around here'," then go off and investigate.

Godfrey says there are plenty of strange Wisconsin stories right here in Walworth County.

Some of the not-as-well-known tales include the story of Jenny, Geneva Lake's sea serpent.

For years, up until the early the early 20th century, "something long, serpentine and frisky has been spotted gamboling over its eight-and-a-half-square mile surface," Godfrey writes.

There's even an account in a 1902 Milwaukee Sentinel reporting that "a sea serpent actually appeared in Geneva Lake Wednesday afternoon."

The writer referred to the creature as "his snakeship," noting that it not only burst onto the lake surface in broad daylight, but was witnessed by at least six people.

Then there's the story Godfrey tells about Bob Beutlich of Elkhorn, who has spent his retirement years searching for the scientific truth behind psychic phenomena.

Psychotronics is what he calls it, and by "marrying the human mind to electronic instruments, they believe, mankind can extend its senses to realms beyond our physical world, and achieve a more harmonious state of existence," Godfrey writes.

Godfrey's first book, Poison Widow was about Whitewater's sensational poison murderess from the 1920s. That led led to two popular books on werewolfs-The Beast of Bray Road and Hunting the American Werewolf.

That success drew the interest of Barnes and Noble, for whom she co-authored Weird Wisconsin and Weird Michigan.

In addition to the book signings, Strange Wisconsin is available online at amazon.com, with more information at



More signings:

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, Lake Geneva Public Library, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Thursday-Friday, Oct. 25-26, Milwaukee Public Museum, Book Signing of Weird Wisconsin and Strange Wisconsin, 3-9 p.m,.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, Halloween party signing at Book World, Marshfield, Wis., noon-2 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, Unexplained Conference, Eau Claire, 7 p.m. talk and signing


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