FDL Mayor H.H. Dodd: traitor?

Deep in Fond du Lac history lays the true story of Harrison Horton Dodd, who, just nine years before serving as mayor of Fond du Lac, was found guilty of treason in U.S. military court and sentenced to hang in 1865. How did Dodd escape the noose? How did the man whose obituary praised him as a “respected citizen” escape his past?

Local historian Sally Powers-Albertz will tell the true story of Mayor Dodd at 2 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 21, at the Fond du Lac Public Library. The programs are free; no registration required.

Known as “commodore” for his love of yacht racing on Lake Winnebago, Dodd was born in Brownsville, N.Y. and lived in Toledo, Ohio. He arrived in Fond du Lac in 1868, where his employer, the American Express Co., had transferred him from Kalamazoo, Mich.

But it was Dodd’s activities while living in Indiana during the Civil War that come into question. He’s said to have founded one of the most-dangerous and subversive organizations in U.S. history, the Sons of Liberty, which opposed the Union Army. The group was an offshoot of the secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle, which itself was the impetus for the Ku Klux Klan.

Powers-Albertz, a lifelong resident of Fond du Lac, is past president of the Fond du Lac County Historical Society, genealogist and author of Fond du Lac’s Fogotten Pipeman.

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