The Benjamin F. Goss Bird Club was founded in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1928, with a membership of five. The club formally organized in the 1930’s and drafted its first Constitution in 1939. Since then, members have met for field trips, bird counts, and monthly meetings, which always include a presentation on birding or nature study.

Benjamin Franklin Goss

1823 - 1893

Benjamin Franklin Goss, known as Frank to his family and friends, was born in New Hampshire in 1823. A printer by trade, he became a pioneer settler when he and his family moved to Wisconsin in 1842, purchasing and farming 160 acres near the east end of Pewaukee Lake in central Waukesha County.

Over the years, Goss was a farmer, a merchant, a holder of many public offices, and a soldier in the Civil War. He married Abby B. Bradley in 1851. Sadly, the couple lost two sons as youngsters, and their daughter as a young woman. Later in life, Frank and Abby adopted a daughter, Pearl.

Always an ardent student of nature, Frank had boundless enthusiasm for birds and their nesting habits. He traveled much of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and even parts of Cuba, often with his brother Nathaniel, to collect bird eggs and to study bird behavior and nesting activity. Most of Goss’s Wisconsin collecting was accomplished in and around Pewaukee, as well as in the Horicon Marsh area.
The rarest egg he obtained was that of the Passenger Pigeon, which he collected in Pewaukee on June 3, 1873.

Goss's explorations and collections gained him a reputation as a renowned naturalist, ornithologist, and ooligist (egg specialist) in the mid 19th century. His extensive collection of North American bird eggs was donated to the Milwaukee Public Museum in the 1880s where it remains today. This vast collection of North American bird eggs totalling 720 species was said at the time to be the finest collection but for the Smithsonian Institute's own collection. As a result, the MPM bestowed on him the title of Honorary Curator of Oology and Ornithology.

Characterized as a person who was kind to all, of good humor, honest, and upright, Frank died at his home in Pewaukee at the age of 70 in 1893.
He is now the namesake of Wisconsin's longest-running bird club.