Scott Wittman Visual: Blog en-us Scott Wittman [email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Sun, 12 Mar 2023 03:46:00 GMT Sun, 12 Mar 2023 03:46:00 GMT Scott Wittman Visual: Blog 120 120 Badger Bizarre Episode 20: The Fond du Lac County Jane Doe

Badger Bizarre Episode 20:  The Fond du Lac County Jane Doe


The 2008 gun deer season was unlike any other in recent memory, with 3 human bodies being found in the woods by hunters throughout the state.
Two of them were rather quickly identifed, while one, found in a frozen creek in Fond du Lac County, would lead investigators on a murder mystery they are still attempting to solve yet today.
Hear the heartbreaking tragedy of the young girl who came to be known only as the 'Fond du Lac County Jane Doe.' By the end, a name and a face will be added, but her story - who she truly was and what happened to her - is yet to be told.



[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Sun, 12 Mar 2023 03:39:29 GMT
Lost Fox Cities #LostFoxCities

Stay tuned for short outtakes from my first book, "Lost Fox Cities" leading up to its release on April 1st.




















[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Sat, 09 Mar 2019 20:54:42 GMT
Lost Fox Cities Short #1: The Valley Inn The Valley Inn circa 1920 and the modern hotel that replaced it.


The Valley Inn in Neenah was built in 1916, designed by a native son, George Edwin Bergstrom. 


Edwin Bergstrom was the son of George O. Bergstrom, co-founder of Bergstrom Stove Company and nephew of D.W. Bergstrom, founder of Bergstrom Paper Company.


The majority of Edwin Bergstom's career was spent in Los Angeles, where he helped build that city's skyline in its early days. Edwin Bergrstrom's work is still prominently displayed in Los Angeles today in his buildings such as the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (where Michael Jackson immortalized the Moonwalk,) and in the Los Angeles County General Hospital, setting of the fictional but iconic daily soap opera.

The Pasadena Civic Auditorium Los Angeles County General Hospital

In 1916, Bergstrom returned to his hometown to build his only local structure, the Valley Inn.  The hotel was billed as the "finest building of its kind in the state" upon its Grand Opening on September 11th, 1916. For over half a century it was the hub of social and civic gatherings in Neenah and one of the area's most prominent first class hotels.


Decades later, Bergstrom was chosen to be the architect with the daunting task of consolidating all of the contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense into one structure, as they were scattered all over the greater D.C metro area at the time. As challenging as such an undertaking must've been, Bergstrom came up with the design for the Pentagon in just five days.


Construction of the Pentagon began on September 11th, 1941, 25 years to the day after the Grand Opening of th The Pentagon. 9/11, 2001 e Valley Inn in his hometown, and, in a striking coincidence, 60 years to the day prior to being attacked by hijacked airplanes on September 11th, 2001.


By the mid-1960's, the Valley Inn had been surpassed by more modern hotels in the Fox Valley area and it was time for redevelopment. Wrecking balls came in 1967, and a new, more sufficiently modern hotel was built in its place.



[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Sat, 09 Mar 2019 03:55:03 GMT
This Is The Shot! This Is The Shot!


Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…


Port Review HartfordPort Review HartfordWisconsin, Photographer, Model, Wedding, "Wisconsin Wedding Photographer," "Appleton, WI Boudoir Photography"


Utilizing the psychology of color is a common thread in my work.  Scientisits discovered a long time ago that color has a definite effect on our emotions, moods, and perceptions.  Advertisers spend millions of dollars every year simply testing color because they are well aware of it's attributes. 


In the shot above, the color and shade of green utilized was carefully calculated.  Green is the most calming color to the viewer.  The goal of this shot was to portray confidence in beauty, but on a more soothing and refined level.  If red was chosen for the backround and wardrobe, the feel of the photograph would be much different.  The skin tones and gold accessories accentuate the gentle, natural, holistic healing power symbolized by the color green, as does her hand and finger positions around her face.


The rest was up to the model to complete the goal with the right facial expression and attitude, which she pulled off flawlessly.



What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.


If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.




[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton Boudoir Boudoir Photographers in Appleton WI model Photographer Wedding Wedding Photographers in Appleton WI Wedding Photographer Wisconsin Fri, 09 May 2014 04:07:55 GMT
This Is The Shot! This Is The Shot!


Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…



Model Port Update 1Model Port Update 1Model Port Update Hartford


While a student in art school a phrase I repeatedly heard my photo instructors emphasize was that before one could become a photographer, one has to learn to see.  Seeing, photographically speaking, is recongizing scenes compositionally, interactions between light and shadow, subcontexts of colors patterns, textures, etc. 

The person who most taught me to "see" was George Hurrell, in my mind, the greatest glamour photographer we've ever had.  I studied his work extensively as a student; his masterful manipulations of light and shadow, his tedious attention to detail, and his exceptional ability and understanding of how to portray mood and emotion to the viewer - unmatched to this day.

I do not, save for rare occurrances, emulate Hurrell's photographic style in my work, but traces of Hurrell's inspiration are alive in every shoot I do.  Loretta Young once commented, “We thought we were gorgeous because by the time HURRELL finished with you, you were gorgeous.”   I think of this quote everytime I view my subject, whether I'm shooting a family portrait, a model, or a wedding.  They all deserve the same.

The above shot is but one result.


What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.


If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.


[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton Boudoir model Photographer Wedding WI Wedding Photographer Wisconsin Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:00:00 GMT
This Is The Shot! This Is The Shot!


Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…



Heritage Park WeddingHeritage Park WeddingHeritage Park Shawano WI Wedding  


There's an old adage in photography the eludes to the fact that often times the best shot comes when you least expect it.  This shot actually came AFTER the photo shoot was completed, or at least, I thought it had. 

This was photographed at a wedding in Shawano, WI.  

The bride and groom had previously chosen Heritage Park in Shawano as the location they'd like me to shoot outdoor portraits of themselves and the wedding party.  It is a beautiful park with a number of restored historic buildings dotting it's landscape, making for very charming and alluring wedding portraits.  Time was scarce, as it usually is when photographing after the ceremony and before the dinner.  Everybody in the party was so wonderful and cooperative it made my job that much easier.

After only approximately 25 minutes of shooting formals of the bride and groom, as well as the entire party, I announced that I thought we had everything we needed and we could all begin the transit to the reception hall.  Moments later, just as the wedding party was about to engulf them in a circle of hugs, the groom pulled his bride towards him one final time before the euphoria of the night to come was about to begin.  I quickly drew my camera back up to my eye and captured one final frame...this one. 

Literally 2 seconds later, the newlyweds were consumed by the arms of their friends in the party.

"The best shot comes when you least expect it." 

Often times, capturing the most touching moments means the photographer must realize the shoot is really never over.


What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.


If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.





[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton Heritage Park Shawano WI Heritage Park Wedding Photographer Shawano Shawano Wedding Photographer Wedding Wisconsin Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:00:00 GMT
This Is The Shot! 03/24/14 This Is The Shot!


Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them.  Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…



White WeddingWhite WeddingWelome in.


This was taken at a wedding at High Cliff State Park in Appleton, WI. 

The children are the bride's from a previous relationship.  After the ceremony, the bride, groom, and two boys took a walk to take in the occassion in private.  I wanted to respect their moment so I did not follow them.  After taking just a few steps in their direction, the younger child turned and put his arm around the groom, their new step-father.  A poignant moment providing for a moving photograph symbolizing the acceptance of another into one's own family. 

The smile on the child's face further illustrates his feelings on this day, as does the proud, confident expresson his older brother gives as he peers directly into my camera.

Wedding days can be hectic, especially for those being united.  There are hours of entertaining, seemingly endless hugs and handshakes from well-wishers, limos, buses, food, dances, photos, loud music etc.  This newly unified family knew that was all coming and made it a point to escape, if only for a minute, to take a little time to acknowledge what had just taken place.

This is a moment in time that will never be again.  Because of this photo, they can have it forever.


What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not?  Feel free to comment.


If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you on your special day, feel free to contact me through, or at 920-205-4181.  You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.




[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton High Cliff State Park Photographer Wedding Wisconsin Mon, 24 Mar 2014 16:00:00 GMT
Sarah and Tim I'm often asked if I shoot weddings, as I do not emphasize that genre in my content.

Short answer to that question:  Of course! 

Give me a call or send me an email and I'll give you the longer answer.  Let's talk about what we can create together....

[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton Photographer Wedding Wisconsin Fri, 21 Feb 2014 06:05:03 GMT
The Rape of Wounded Knee

  As a historical landscape photographer, I often find myself experiencing many different emotions and feelings while standing at the sites and on the same ground that various fascinating events in our history took place. Whether standing on the crest of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, exploring the Gold Rush towns of the Black Hills, or gazing upon the small Wisconsin lake that inspired John Muir to become the “Father of our National Parks,” these sites help me feel more a part of the American Experience so many of us have lived for. While these emotions flow freely, the one that more often than not takes hold is pride.

Pride in being an American.  Pride in knowing that so many past Americans gave their lives, and life’s work, so I could prosper and live in ways of my own choosing so many generations later.  Pride in knowing that they have given me the same opportunity to help make this a better nation and world for those who will follow me.

But something happened this past June that I wasn’t prepared for. While standing at a site, a site I knew was not one of happy occurrences, that sense of pride was nonexistent. Rather, there were sharp feelings of shock, anger, shame, and embarrassment.

While traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota, I took an unplanned trip to the site of the Battle of Wounded Knee. As we know today, this was not a “Battle” at all, but rather more widely and appropriately referred to as the “Massacre at Wounded Knee.” While the specifics of that horrendous December, 1890 day have been debated for over 120 years, the bare facts remain the same: hundreds of mostly unarmed Miniconjou Sioux indians were rounded into a circle and mowed down by the US 7th Calvary, heavily armed with countless rifles and Hotchkiss rapid fire machine guns. Of the 350 indians murdered that day, (some reports say closer to 450) all but 120 were women and children. The Calvary even chased down those that had escaped, up to 2 miles away, and finished them on the spot.  

After the “Battle,” and as some of the bodies lay where they fell for up to two weeks, the US military hired civilians to bury the dead. A trench was dug in the frozen ground at the base of the hills that the Hotchkiss guns fired from, and 150 indians were thrown into a mass grave, leaving at least 200 unaccounted for. Those bodies were most likely scattered throughout the frozen, blizzard covered land, so remote still today, the bones of which may still be lying there.

This incident, forever immortalized in Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” is now referred to as the end of the almost 300 year-long struggle between the expanding US and the Natives who were already here. What happened at Wounded Knee was so brutal, so appalling, that both sides simply stopped fighting.

This was only the beginning of a stream of circumstances that have continued to inflict injury and suffering upon this, what should be, sacred land.

In 1973, the community of Wounded Knee was seized by an urban indian militant group known as the American Indian Movement. For 71 days, Wounded Knee was held captive as AIM said they were protesting the re-election of corrupt Tribal Chairman Richard Wilson. The standoff led to several shootouts with the FBI, leading to numerous deaths, some of them still unsolved to this very day. In the years following the standoff, violence and murder continued on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where Wounded Knee is located. Most of these murders, many of them still unsolved, were the actions of corrupt tribal politicians fighting amongst themselves.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in SW South Dakota, is among the poorest regions of our nation. It has been compared with Third World countries, and the comparisons are valid.

When I visited the actual Massacre site at Wounded Knee, I was at first confused. Confused at how a site of such importance could be left in such disregard. The grass is uncut, (or at least not cut nearly enough,) and weeds grow indiscriminately. While my wife and I walked the grounds, we continually kicked candy bar wrappers, empty water bottles, blowing shopping bags, etc that are strewn about. Children are climbing on the chain link fence which “protects” the mass grave still there. Panhandlers mercilessly solicit their homemade jewelry until you finally relent. Some of the Natives there were polite and helpful. Some were downright scary and a bit threatening. It is not an enjoyable place to visit - nor should it be - it is a site of great sorrow, but it was frankly unbearable due to the lack of respect shown to those who came to pay theirs.

My confusion turned to anger when driving through the Pine Ridge Reservation. Homes are more like huts. Garbage is blowing everywhere. Dogs run loose on the highway, suffocating in the heat. The lack of pride demonstrated by this way of life was simply outrageous, even insulting.

I have heard the “This is what we did to them” arguments; the referral of Pine Ridge as the "1st concentration camp in America;” that we have destroyed their economical way of life, and these conditions are a result of broken treaties and stolen land over a hundred years ago. It is these very arguments and this defeated state of mind which sustains this level of helplessness.

The Pine Ridge Tribal Council is the bulk of the problems today and has been for many, many years. It is infiltrated with corruption, lies, cronyism, and a disturbing lack of educated members.

Unemployment on the reservation is upwards of 89%.

That’s right…89%.

There are no banks, hardly any commercial businesses, and adequate housing for the close to 40,000 residents is at pathetic levels. The complete instability and incompetence of the Council prevents any possible employers from moving in. There are millions of dollars every year, granted to the Tribe through the US Dept of Interior for economic growth and housing which “vanish.” There are claims by some Sioux leaders that close to 1 billion dollars…1 billion!…has been given to the tribe over the last 10 years alone. That is American tax payer funded money. Where is that money going? No one on the Council can say.


That is why it angers me, and as an American tax payer, it insults me.

This is what Pine Ridge has done with that $1,000,000,000:

  • 97% of residents live under the poverty line
  • No industry, technology or commercial infrastructure
  • No public transportation
  • Only a handful of paved roads, making many homes on the reservation inaccessible in winter
  • No discount stores or movie theaters
  • 1/3 of all homes lack basic running water, sewage and electricity
  • Over half of the homes currently standing need to be burned down due to black mold. There is no insurance to cover this
  • Healthcare is virtually nonexistent
  • Teen suicide is 150% higher than national average
  • Infant mortality rate is 300% higher than national average
  • Diabetes and TB rate is 800% higher than national average
  • Alcoholism is pervasive and well beyond an epidemic
  • Life expectancy is 45-50 years, the lowest of anywhere in America.

All for $1 billion.

The Massacre at Wounded Knee occurred over 120 years ago. It is unfortunate. Many atrocities occurred throughout America’s expansion, both executed by, and against, Americans. But those wrongs cannot be remedied anymore. The past is over.

One drive through the Pine Ridge Reservation, and one visit to Wounded Knee will illustrate the sad depression of pride and rampant corruption that runs amuck abound a once proud people.

It will take a complete systematic change of attitude to fix these problems, though not enough tribal leaders and residents have offered up the effort to show they even care.

It is true the Massacre at Wounded Knee is still occurring. Except this time, amid the barrage of blame and finger-pointing, it’s self-inflicted.

Maybe a billion more will help…


[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Black Hills, Pine Ridge, Rape South Dakota, Wounded Knee, tragedy Sun, 09 Feb 2014 06:51:50 GMT
Photography Apps It's amazing what is happening with the world of photography.  These apps would have been pure science-fiction when I graduated from photo school in 1999.

[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Tue, 30 Apr 2013 01:40:49 GMT
A Looming Decision for Two Rivers...


Two Rivers,

James Edward Hamilton, an early pioneer and the man most responsible for putting your town on the map, now needs your help.

His manufacturing complex, built over a 40 year period from the 1880s to the1920s, and covering over 12 acres of waterfront property, may be staring down the wrecking ball.

J.E. Hamilton was born in Two Rivers in 1852. After his father, also prominent in Two Rivers' history and twice an elected member to the State Legislature, was killed in the line of duty in the Civil War, young James wandered a bit. He moved to New York with his family, and then returned to Two Rivers working various odd jobs. He then left for the Dakota Gold Rush in 1876, only to return again a year later - but this time he returned a determined man. He famously said to his mother after telling her he would be staying in Two Rivers for the long haul, "If there's anything in the old town, I'm going to get it out of her,"


Did he ever.


By 1880, J.E began his own business developing wood type. By 1885 he expanded his business to include furniture and cabinets, and by 1889 the Hamilton Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated and housed in the largest factory complex of it's kind in the world.

The factory complex continued operations as Hamilton's Wood Type Manufacturing until 1992 when it was acquired by what is now Thermo Fisher Scientific. By the mid-2000's dark days were looming and trends were not heading in the right direction. This last fall, the last 200 manufacturing employees at the factory, built in 1881, were let go.


The question now is what happens to the old complex.


The easy answer is what seems to be the opinion of the majority of Two River's current business owners: Tear it down.


Really? Just tear it down? Wash your hands of it? The tradition, symbolism, and legacy of those buildings mean nothing to you?


The legacy of Hamilton Wood Type Manufacturing is that it was the lifeblood for 130 years of Two Rivers residents. Inside those walls were generations of blood, sweat, and tears shed by factory workers providing for their families, planning for their futures, as well as their children's futures. Many of them often times working overtime, or double shifts, so their children could go on to a brighter future and live the American Dream.

And you want to tear that down...

It is understandable that not all of our historic buildings can be saved. Some of them have deteriorated to the point where they just simply aren't safe anymore. Just 10 years ago however, almost 1,200 employees still worked inside these walls at Thermo Fisher. No doubt that extensive repairs are needed, but It is unlikely that a sprawling complex of this stature would go from being safe for hundreds of employees to beyond repair in just 10 years...and if it did, the city itself should be ashamed.

Some business owners, as in the news clip above, are clamoring for the buildings to be torn down and "something attractive to the community" put in it's place.

"Something attractive to the community?"

The Hamilton Buildings have their own "site file" at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, containing scores or writings, clippings, and historical documents pertaining to the buildings and their history. It housed the museum dedicated to the largest collection of wood type in the world and was a destination for artists, scholars, students, and craftsmen from the world over. It even has an award winning movie produced about it entitled, "Typeface" released in 2009.

Yes, maybe something more "attractive to the community" would work....


As a historical landscape photographer, I have seen the results of other community leaders and business owners from decades past who thought the same about certain structures in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. They, too, thought razing older buildings and putting in "something attractive" was the best way to implement innovation and promote commercial and residential development in their communities. Our streets are littered with these "attractive" sights throughout our state, and sadly, throughout the country. More often than not, these properties are now abandoned warehouses, old parking lots with cracked, uneven, weed-riddled pavement, or condo and retail space which never hold tenants. The community leaders who made those decisions are no longer around to answer for their decisions, and current leaders refer to the actions of their predecessors as "unfortunate," or "mistakes."

Two Rivers, you now have a chance to not make that same mistake. A "build it and they will come" mentality is unrealistic. You will never be a destination city...and that is OK. It is in your simplicity, identity, and history which lies your beauty. Hamilton IS your identity, your history, and your legacy - not condos or boutique shops. It is what you are not which makes what your are so unique.

If you tear these buildings down it is a virtual guarantee future generations will wish you hadn't.

Work with Thermo Fisher to repair and revitalize the buildings, acquire them, and build a task force to recruit future companies to once again provide for future generations of Two Rivers families.

James Edward Hamilton not only provided a good living to many generations of Two Rivers residents, he also built the Hamilton Community House, was instrumental in the founding of the Bank of Two Rivers, Grace Congregational Church, The Two Rivers Coal Company, and the city's early light, water, and phone companies, much of this paid for with his own money.


The spirit of J.E. Hamilton is no doubt somewhere, watching what may become of the pillars of his life's work.

73 years after his death, it's time to pay him back.

Scott Wittman is a professional photographer specializing in Historical Landscapes and Elegant Portraiture based in Appleton WI. More of his work can be seen at

[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Fisher Hamilton Manufacturing Rivers Thermo Two Wisconsin Sun, 07 Apr 2013 23:01:35 GMT
Studio Ready to Roll Appleton Photo studio

Consultation Area

I'm happy to announce, after taking about a month longer than first thought, the studio is now open and fully functional.  There are still some cosmetic issues to deal with, but nothing to prohibit shooting.    


Low key and Main backround shooting area


High key shooting area


Hair/Make-Up Area

Still some more pictures and mirrors to hang, nooks and crannys to tidy up, but for the most part this studio is ready to roll.  (Special thanks to my dad for helping me out with so much of this!)  Looking forward to creating some great work here.



[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Appleton Photographer Studio Wisconsin Tue, 02 Apr 2013 21:52:00 GMT
An Officer and an Indian  

As March is Women's History Month, I thought it fitting to research the very first woman ever written about in Wisconsin's recorded history.

Her name was Hopokoekau, or, "Glory of the Morning."

She is, to this day, the only known female chief of the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk Indian Tribe, and quite possibly the subject of Wisconsin's very first documented love story.

In an island village located near the northern base of Lake Winnebago, Glory of the Morning was born around the year 1711. Her father was the Ho-Chunk chief at the time. The island, formed by two branches of the Fox River flowing out from Lake Winnebago, today includes sections of the cities of Neenah and Menasha.

In her early years, Glory of the Morning made quite an impression on the tribe. Her wisdom, unusually superior, set her apart from others, including her brothers and the elders of the tribe. At age 18, her father became ill and passed away, leaving the Nation without a leader. In a stunning milestone event, Glory of the Morning was named to succeed her father as chief, causing a brief uproar by many in the tribe.


The French Come to WI


During Glory of the Morning's reign as chief, the French became involved in the Fox Wars throughout present day Michigan and Wisconsin. For the French to continue building it's empire in North America, the Fox River was vital to it's access to the Mississippi River and the western lands. The Fox River, however, was controlled by the Fox Indians, who resisted France's domination.

The Fox Indians were a deadly menace to the French. Surprise attacks and all-out slaughters were carried out by both sides, leaving a bloody, haunted history flowing through these waters.

Throughout the years of the Fox Wars, as well as the years of the fur trade, many French-Canadians passed through the region while serving their country's interests. One of these men was a French military officer named Joseph Sabrevoir Descaris. Descaris and his men established friendly relations with the Ho-Chunk on the island, ultimately culminating in Descaris' marriage to Glory of the Morning.

The officer was so enamored by the chieftess and the island village that he resigned his commission in the French military and became a fur trader, remaining on the island with Glory of the Morning and her people.

Breaking with much of the Greater Winnebago Nation at the time, Glory of the Morning aligned with the French against the Fox Indians in warfare throughout the 1730's and 1740's, though It was also largely through her efforts which led to peace finally being established between the two and ending the wars.


Duty Calls


In time, Descaris grew restless. His home country was facing an ever growing threat to it's empire in North America from Great Britain. He could not simply stand by. He was still a Frenchman, and with his country on the verge of war with it's greatest European rival on another continent, he was again ready to be an officer.

After seven years of marriage to Glory of the Morning, and with her, fathering three children, Joseph Descaris left the island and returned to his French-Canadian roots to re-enlist in the military and fight for his country. Glory of the Morning was torn. She understood the obligations of duty he felt for his people, as she felt the same for hers. Because of this, she decided to let Desacris go on without her, citing her refusal to leave her people without a leader. She did, however, offer for him to take their youngest child, their daughter, Nqno'abewiga. One can only imagine the scene of their final goodbye.



She would never see either of them again.


Years later, when the British invasion of North America was in full force and the French and Indian War was raging, Glory of the Morning remained loyal to her French-Canadian husband, and ordered her braves on the warpath against his country's enemy tribes. Their eldest son joined his father at the Battle of Ste. Foy, a French victory reclaiming the city of Quebec from the British.


It would be the last French victory of the French and Indian War.


Among the 833 French casualties of that day, was one Joseph Sabrevoir Descaris. Wounded in the battle, he died several days later. His son survived and returned to his mother on the island. Their daughter remained in Canada, living out her days married to a French-Canadian trader in Montreal.

Today, the Descaris name is still prevalent in the Ho-Chunk/Winnebago tribe, the pronunciation evolving over time, and is now known as the famed "Decorah" family. The chieftess and the officer's offspring thrived in a very celebrated line of Ho-Chunk Chiefs, including Spoon Decorah, Old Decorah, One-Eyed Decorah, and Waukon Decorah. Their influence was instrumental in many of the treaties signed between various Native American tribes and the United States.


As for Glory of the Morning?


After 1766, she disappears from written history - and astonishingly re-appears in an account by famed 19th century author Juliette Kinzie, who visited the tribe on the island while her husband was an Indian Agent stationed at Ft. Winnebago, WI. Mrs. Kinzie describes the following encounter:

There was among their number, this year, one whom I had never before seen—the mother of the elder Day-kau-ray. No one could tell her age, but all agreed that she must have seen upwards of a hundred winters. Her eyes dimmed, and almost white with age—her face dark and withered, like a baked apple—her voice tremulous and feeble, except when raised in fury to reprove her graceless grandsons, who were fond of playing her all sorts of mischievous tricks, indicated the very great age she must have attained.

The astonishing aspect is that this account illustrates a visit Mrs Kinzie made to the island in 1832, when Glory of the Morning would have been approximately 121 years old! As there is no recorded date of her death, history can only believe what seems to be the unbelievable.


The Treaty of the Cedars


After the Treaty of the Cedars was concluded in 1836, the Ho-Chunk, along with thousands more Native Americans from over 4 million acres of land, were relocated west. This land included what is now the cities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point, among many others. The U.S. government took control of the land, and subsequently sold the island to James Duane Doty, who proceeded to name it after himself.

Today, when walking along the rows of giant oaks and willows abundant throughout Doty Island, it's easy for one's imagination to overflow among the serenity of the sound of water and light wind, among the modern streets, lined with mansions built by 19th century paper barons, and among the island's many parks which hold their scenic beauty throughout any season. It's easy to imagine why the Ho-Chunk chose this place as their home centuries ago. And it's easy to imagine the spirits of two long lost lovers, a Forest Queen and a military man, choosing to remain here together in death, which war deprived them of in life.


[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Fri, 15 Mar 2013 04:19:16 GMT
Reign Studios I am so proud of the work I was able to create while shooting at my studio in the Milwaukee area.  I had wonderful opportunities to work with so many fantastic artists, including models, make-up artists, designers, bookers, art directors, creative directors, as well as other photographers.

The video below is just a small sample of the images they helped me create...and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.

Thanks to you all. 


[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Wed, 13 Feb 2013 04:48:02 GMT
Pleasant Ridge

Tucked away among the undulating hills and abundant serenity of southwest WI, lies a plot of land which rests the remains of those who built a fascinating, though largely forgotten, Wisconsin community. A community, though no longer in existence, that still lends a legacy which epitomizes what is known as the American Dream.

Five miles west of Lancaster, in Grant County, a tranquil cemetery is all that remains of a place once known as Pleasant Ridge. A place unlike any other in Wisconsin, as it was settled and built by freed and escaped slaves from the Pre-Civil War South.

After being set free by his dying master, a man named Charles Shepard traveled with his family to the fertile lands of Wisconsin in 1848. After working in the Lancaster area for several years, Charles, along with his brother Isaac, had saved enough money to purchase 200 acres of their own. They called their land “Pleasant Ridge.”


Soon after, the national unrest leading up to the Civil War escalated and more former slaves from Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee moved into the Pleasant Ridge community. Included in them was the Thomas Green family, who, after 2 failed attempts at escaping to freedom, was able to board a train in St Charles, MO and arrived in Pleasant Ridge 3 days later.

The Shepards and Greens were soon joined on Pleasant Ridge by the Grimes, the Craigs, the Lewis’, and other African-American families, peaking at about 100 people.

Isaac Shepard became the most prosperous farmer in the area and lived at Pleasant Ridge for the rest of his life. On land donated by him, the community built one of the first integrated schools in the nation, accepting black and white students, and employing black and white teachers.

Thomas Green, who lived well into his 90′s, was once asked why he risked his life to come to Pleasant Ridge. As quoted in a 1936 interview in the Platteville Journey, “I saw too many families broken up on the auction block.”

After the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Charles Shepard and his son John walked to Prairie du Chien to enlist in the Union Army to fight for the way of life they found at Pleasant Ridge.


They never saw it again.


Charles gave the ultimate sacrifice at Vicksburg. John, while traveling back to Pleasant Ridge after the war, fell ill with pneumonia and died in Illinois. Both men are listed on the Civil War Memorial in Lancaster.

To them, what they had at Pleasant Ridge was worth the sacrifice. To breathe free air. To live a life of their choosing. To provide for their own families. Splendors and luxuries of which it seems so easy for many of us to take for granted today.

As the century turned and the generations at Pleasant Ridge expanded, the community found it hard to keep their children at home. The younger generations gradually began to search for greater opportunities elsewhere and in bigger cities across the country. Finally, in 1959, the last black resident of Pleasant Ridge, the grand-daughter of Thomas Green, passed away. Today, thousands of Greens, Shepards, Grimes, etc are prospering throughout this country because of the plight of a few so long ago.

On a visit to the cemetery today, you can stand on that very hillside they called Pleasant Ridge. You can gaze upon the vistas of plush, abundant farmland, and visit the resting places of those who made that initial journey from slave to free man.

You can see why they came here.

You can see what they fought for.

And you can thank them for reminding you that the way of life we have here, is, indeed, worth dying for.





















[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Wed, 13 Feb 2013 04:22:29 GMT
Rephotographing Neenah, WI  

Neenah Then & Now Neenah Then & Now

Neenah Then & Now How do we as Wisconsinites preserve our heritage?

How do we best pay homage to those who built our cities and towns, passed down their values and virtues, and left this great state in our hands to leave for future generations?

Some of the most important tools to preserving our heritage are not in museums. They’re not in city squares, town halls, or downtowns as statues or monuments.

Rather, they’re actually in just about every home in America.


Our photo albums.


With the exception of the written journal, no other medium documents our history as accurately as the photograph. Photographs hold power. The have the ability to illuminate everything about us. Our prosperity and hardships. They document our evolution over time in every avenue, be it style, architecture, or fashion. They have become the archival illustration of our villages transforming into metropolises, of lone houses expanding into communities, and of our ancestors looking us right in the eye.

They have also become a record for much of what we have lost over time. A chronicle of countless structures, at one time the pride and joy of someone‘s blood, sweat, and tears, lost to the annals of time…and a need for parking space. They are excerpts from a person’s existence long ago. Small, visual clippings from lives departed, and often times, our only way to connect with those who lived them.

We’ve all had that nostalgic feeling browsing through old, black and white photos. That kind of dreamy, wistful remembrance, whether we are in the picture or if it was taken long before our time. Those photographs are truly a semblance of who we are.

That is why we get that feeling.


Recently, I have had the opportunity of working with the Landmarks Commission of Neenah on this very topic. A “Then and Now” rephotography project to visually document where Neenah has been in the past, how it reached the present, and how to preserve the best of Neenah for her future.

Neenah, WI is rich with fascinating history. Many of it’s streets are lined with homes built by paper and lumber barons. Here was the founding of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the birthplace of Hollywood director Howard Hawks, and the hometown of the designer of the Pentagon, who’s family name, Bergstrom, still remains prominent today.

During this project, I have had the opportunity to sift through thousands of old photographs from museums, historical societies, and private citizens. When a certain photograph is chosen for inclusion, I then stand in the exact spot that a photographer stood decades ago, sometimes 100 years or more, and recreate the photo today.
The results are striking. Awe-inspiring.

Too often we don’t pay enough attention to our communities. It’s architecture. It’s layout. The people who left it for us.

They get thrown into the context of our world today and just simply don’t take priority over our jobs, kids, appointments, TV shows and everything else we need to get through the day.

However, when one looks at two photographs, side-by-side, taken from the exact same spot 100 years apart, it’s easy to pause for just a second.

Suddenly, that building with the “1889” carved in it you drive by everyday takes on a whole new meaning. The other smaller buildings around it today are not there in the first photo. You see it in the context in which it was intended. What you’ve always known as an apartment building is actually a hotel in the first photo. The people in the photo are dressed in nineteenth century fashion and seem proud to be in the photo, showing off for anyone who would view it.

You never really look at that building the same way again. You pay a bit more attention to it when you drive by. You smile. That nostalgic feeling comes back again.


That is the power of photographs as preservation.


Sadly, however, many photos show the mistakes we have made when open spaces have taken the places of once majestic buildings. Or when photos of modern buildings with “For Rent” signs are shown to take the place of turn of the century, state of the art architecture, with proud business owners standing outside their palaces, boasting with pride for what they had created.

The feeling of loss hits you…hard.

We owe it to those who came before us to remember them. To document the leftover parts of those who defined us. They are our heritage. They are our ancestors. We see evidence of their presence and existence all around us. Like ghosts, they struggle to call out for attention, but are powerless. All too often we fail to acknowledge them. We keep driving. We look away. We continue on with our lives, forgetting that they are the ones who gave it to us.


It is our duty to heed their call.







[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Neenah Rephotographing Wisconsin Thu, 07 Feb 2013 05:36:13 GMT
The Wonder of Aztalan  



Still today I remember the legends.


Tales told between school kids of a mysterious people, an ancient people, very similar to those we saw pictures of when learning of the Aztecs in Mexico. Stories of a long lost civilization living in our state, only to disappear from the earth, leaving their village for us to discover a thousand years later. Stories of war, stockade walls with lookout towers rising twenty feet in the air, pyramids, and even, dare we say, cannibalism. All of this… right here in Wisconsin?


Growing up in the Fox Cities, I never did get to take a school trip to this mystical place. Students only heard passing references to it by our teachers, stimulating our imaginations to flow in absolute wonderment.

Aztalan, as it is named, is nestled on the banks of the Crawfish River in Jefferson County. It is truly a site needing to be seen to be believed. Could all these tales I heard of as a kid be true? Pyramids like the Aztecs? Lookout towers? Ancient temples?

This past fall, I grabbed my camera and went to find out for myself.


Located a bit further west than halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, a short distance off of Highway 94, lies the town of Aztalan, in which resides Aztalan State Park. The town is also home to the Lake Mills-Aztalan Historical Society Museum, which boasts several original structures dating back to the mid-1800s.

After browsing through several of the buildings, including several cabins, a school house and general store, I made the very short drive down Mound Rd. to visit the reason for my excursion.

Slowly coming up to Aztalan State Park I was in 6th grade again. That butterfly feeling you have as a child while quietly sneaking up to a house you heard was supposed to be haunted was running rampant in my gut. All the legends and stories I imagined as a curious but impressionable school kid were reverberating in my head.

Then, I started to see the mounds. A row of small, round, conical mounds could be seen rising up in the grass. The butterflies became more prevalent.

After pulling into the park entrance and following a winding road further in, the legends suddenly became real. Stockades were soaring into the sky! After parking the car and seizing my camera gear, I made my way towards those stockades, the late afternoon sun producing giant black shadows on the ground behind them, adding to the already imposing feel of the tall, timber-like structures. Once inside them, I saw what they were protecting…pyramids! Large, platform pyramids, much like what I used to see in history books about the Aztecs. One pyramid had steps leading to the top. I was paralyzed for a moment as I attempted to envision all that had occurred on top of that pyramid. Sacrifices? Religious ceremonies? Burials? I had no idea. I looked around in bewilderment as I remembered once again the horror stories I heard of war and cannibalism at this site, though I could only hear one thing - silence.


Pure silence.

Only the occasional bird or wind gust could snap me out of the imaginative movie making going on in my mind.

But the temples were gone. The wood and clay round houses were gone. The plaza, once the hub of the village, silent.

Also gone was the larger-than -life, exaggerated version of this land and it’s people I knew as a kid.


Standing there, in the middle of the village, reality took hold and respect set in. It looked small. I felt ashamed. Standing there, on what once was the village plaza of a people I once looked at almost as a charachature, I gazed upon what used to be their burial mounds. I watched the grass bend in the wind on the pyramids on which most likely stood their sacred temples and houses. I listened to the current, so very slight, of the Crawfish River, where I knew they fished for food. I envisioned the stockades, now crude reconstructions, fully intact, three times as high as they stand now, and covered smooth with fired clay and painted ornamentations.


Approximately 900 AD was the first time this village was inhabited. Woodland people, those who built the effigy mounds so prevalent throughout the state, initially built a small settlement here. Some time later, around 1000 AD, the village was transformed by visitors from the Middle Mississippian culture who were from, or descendents of those from, the famous city of Cahokia, the Mecca of the Mississippian people. Cahokia was a monstrous ancient city of temples, plazas, and huge earthen mounds located along the banks of the Mississippi River close to present day East St Louis, IL. As Cahokia grew, it’s people expanded outward, establishing their own villages. Many moved north into northern Illinois and Wisconsin, and hence, into Aztalan. The small Woodland village morphed into a miniature Cahokia, boasting large earthen platform pyramids, stockades, and a plaza, which held community rituals, ceremonies, and gatherings.

Archeological evidence at Aztalan shows it thrived during a very violent time in our history. War with other tribes was frequent, as was human sacrifice and, in some cases, cannibalism. It was not uncommon throughout various tribes in the Americas during this time for war captives to be cannibalized. It was thought that this was how one could retain their enemies courage and valor. Human bones found in garbage pits with other discarded food sources demonstrates this activity likely occurred at Aztalan. There are some who use this to define those who lived at Aztalan as a sinister people. That is a travesty. They are mistaken.


As a photographer conducts their craft, they are forming for others a perception. Be it a portrait, a landscape, a household product, etc., they are shooting to portray a semblance made in their own vision. While driving to Aztalan, I envisioned shooting images of a very dark and mysterious nature. Images which would demonstrate the enigmatic yet ominous mood I remember feeling as a school kid talking about the secrets of this lost land.


I left without taking any of those photos.


Rather, the photos I wanted to take were the photos of how I felt the inhabitants would want us to know them today. Not as a black-hearted, war-happy people, but as a community of families, brethren, craftsmen, hunters, men, women, and children.

They lived in different times. We need to accept that.


Around 1200 AD, the inhabitants of Aztalan disappeared and the village was burned.

We don’t know why.


For centuries, it lay as it was left, untouched by human hands until American settlers accidentally walked upon it in the 1830s. The first accounts suggests some of the stockade walls were still standing - over 800 years after first being built! It instantly became a national headline. The finding was so extraordinary, some believed it must’ve been a hoax. Due to it’s visual similarities to the Aztecs, and even incorrectly linked to them by some, the site was named Aztalan.

Sadly, in 1838, an egregious error in judgment by then President Martin Van Buren resulted in the site being sold for $22. The land was plowed and priceless history was lost forever. Modern efforts to preserve the site began in 1919, archeological surveys were conducted, mounds and stockades were reconstructed, and finally, Aztalan was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and lives again for us to learn from, and remember.

As this hidden jewel is largely maintained by donations, I strongly recommend a visit. Once there, you may realize much of the haunting and menacing narratives you may have heard or read in the past will be disproved, but believe me…

…the magic still remains.

[email protected] (Scott Wittman Visual) Aztalan Cahokia Lake Mills Wisconsin Tue, 05 Feb 2013 06:23:07 GMT