One of the first grants awarded by the Community Foundation went to the Black Hawk Pageant Committee. In early 1975, Crawford Thayer asked the Foundation for a contribution toward the purchase of bleachers to be put inside the Fort replica for the hundreds of people who came to watch the Black Hawk Pageant every year. The Foundation responded with a $100 grant to assist with the purchase.
Crawford Thayer’s interest in the Black Hawk War began in 1971 when he was asked to direct the first Black Hawk pageant at the newly constructed replica of Fort Cosconong (in Rock River Park). The historical drama was a huge undertaking and an even bigger success. Already interested in history and surprised by the pageant’s enthusiastic audience, Thayer decided to compile his own history of the 1832 conflict.
A native New Englander, Thayer earned his MA in English Literature from Yale University. He came to Wisconsin in 1949 to take a position at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Two years later he joined the advertising department at James Manufacturing Co where he worked for 30 years before retiring in 1981 to devote his full attention to the Black Hawk War. His 3-volume set on the Black Hawk War is available at the Hoard Historical Museum gift shop.