Barbershop harmonies sung and stories of bootlegging told at Bits & Pieces this weekend

On Sunday, June 30, the Prairie du Chien Historical Society will sponsor its annual Bits and Pieces – Music and History at 1:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Fort Crawford Museum.

This year, The Keystone Chorus will present a selection of songs sung in barbershop harmony. The Chorus is based out of Elkader, Iowa, and is a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. In the last half of the 19th century, barbershops often served as community centers. Men waiting their turn in a barbershop harmonized spirituals and popular songs. This generated a new style, consisting of unaccompanied, four-part, close-harmony singing. A revival of a cappella singing began in the late 1930s and soon the “Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America” was established. The men of The Keystone Chorus are part of the “Society.”

Saloons also were neighborhood gathering places, but members of Temperance Societies believed that the production and consumption of alcohol should be prohibited. In 1920, “Prohibition” became the national law. In response, many people in the United States began to make “home brew” and “moonshine.” Mary Elise Antoine will share stories about the stills, bootlegging, and raids that were part of the history of Prairie du Chien during the Prohibition Era.

The program is free, but a goodwill offering will be appreciated.

For more information, contact the Fort Crawford Museum, 326-6960, or visit

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