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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


There is no evidence of skeletons of giants ever being found in Wisconsin, interim state archaeologist Amy Rosebrough told Wisconsin Watch.

Reports made around 1911 “were picked up by some media outlets and sensationalized, including claims that the skeletons were larger than normal,” she said.

The New York Times reported May 4, 1912 on secondhand information that human skeletons were found during an excavation near Delavan Lake and that 18 heads were “much larger” than typical humans. Delavan Lake is about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

The three-paragraph Times story attributed the information to a man from Delavan who visited Madison. The story did not say how the man knew about the skeletons, but reported Charles E. Brown of the Wisconsin Historical Museum would investigate.

Rosebrough said correspondence with researchers made at the time, including with Brown, show “none of the parties involved make any mention of unusually large bones.”

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Google Docs Amy Rosebrough skeletons email

New York Times Strange Skeletons Found

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.