Sheboygan's Liberty Bell
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April 21, 2010

An article in a local Sheboygan advertiser tells the story of a war in the 1970s between the City of Sheboygan and the State of Wisconsin over a historic replica.

In 1950, the State was presented with a 2,000 lb. (909 kg) replica of the famed Liberty Bell. The state turned the bell over to the State Historical Society and it was planned that the bell become a touring historical artifact to be displayed in various towns across Wisconsin. In 1968, state senator Ernest Keppler found the bell on display in front of the Wisconsin State Correctional Institute for Girls near Madison and arranged to bring it to Sheboygan, where it was placed in Fountain Park, a park located downtown and dedicated to the city's Civil War dead.

The bell was supposed to remain in Sheboygan for six months and then go on to another town, but for some reason it stayed there. The city recieved a request from state officials to return it in 1970, but the city seems to have ignored it.

In 1975, the Mayor of Sheboygan, Richard Suscha, along with the city's common council, decided to spend $100,000 on a remodeling project of Fountain Park for the upcoming United States Bicentennial celebration. Naturally, the bell would be the centerpiece of the new park. At about the same time, however, Senator Keppler suggested that the bell would make a swell display for the state capital building. The state requested that Sheboygan hand over the bell. Mayor Suscha refused.

Over the next couple months, a war raged between the state government and the city of Sheboygan. The state insisted that the bell was legally the property of the Historical Society. Suscha responded with an executive order prohibiting anyone from moving the bell from the park.

Finally the state threatened to press charges against the city, and Mayor Suscha relented. The bell was returned to Madison. But when it arrived, it was found that the bell's clapper, which weighed a good 14 pounds (6.4 kg), was missing!

The mayor denied any complicity with the missing clapper; and to this day its location remains a mystery.


1. article: Echoes of Our Past: "Sheboygan's Liberty Bell" — by William Wangemann in The Beacon; Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Game and Story Use

  • Two communities feuding over possession of a historic artifact could make a good excuse for an adventure.
    • The PC's could be hired by one group to acquire the artifact, by any means necessary
    • Or, hired by the other group to protect it from underhanded thieves!
  • Whatever did happen to the copped copper clapper? Was the caper conceived by a cunning kleptomaniac?
    • It's quite the conundrum.
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