Featured Markers 2013

Week of December 23, 2013: WRL-55: The Wampum or Mexico (Manitowoc County)
Chief Wampum died in December 1844, and was buried in a rough pine box by some 500 mourners who braved a fierce snowstorm for a funeral held with “all due ceremonies accompanied by all the doleful songs and lamentations incidental to a pow wow” and which afterwards was “kept up daily for fully three weeks”. The Chief was over 6’ feet tall, known for his “dignified and courteous” demeanor and his honesty in dealing with both whites and his own people. He was so highly respected and trusted that he was often sought out to resolve disputes, his decisions bearing as much weight as any court judge. Over the years, his burial site became lost. In 1908, the Manitowoc County Historical Society desired to erect a tablet honoring the venerable Chief. They solicited the services of one George LaCount, who had attended the Chief’s funeral as a boy and knew well the burial site located on a farm formerly owned by his father. After a 46-year absence, George returned to Manitowoc Rapids to mark the exact spot where the Chief lay at rest. The marker was prepared, and on August 9, 1909, “fully 4000 people”, the largest crowd in Manitowoc Rapids’ history, gathered at the monument dedication. Click here to view the marker (located in Manitowoc Rapids, Manitowoc County) and to learn more about the life of esteemed Chief Wampum or Mexico.

Week of December 16, 2013: Christmas Tree Ship Point (Kewaunee County)
Much of the magic of the Christmas tree we know and enjoy today is because of the efforts of the loggers and schooner captains of Wisconsin who delivered fresh cut pines to Milwaukee and Chicago in the 1880s. Click here to visit Christmas Tree Ship Point at its beautiful Algoma location (in Kewaunee County) on the edge of Lake Michigan, and then follow the links to read more about the fascinating, endearing and ultimately tragic story of the Christmas Tree Ship. 

Week of December 9, 2013: Marker 73: Chief Waupaca (Waupaca County)
Chief Waupaca was a friendly Potawatomi Indian living in the vicinity of what is now Waupaca, Wisconsin, when the first white men arrived. Even though his tribesmen bitterly despised the white settlers, Chief Waupaca remained on friendly terms with them. When the tribe conspired to massacre an entire small white settlement, Chief Waupaca persuaded them not to. He then remounted his pony with the intent to leave, but suddenly fell dead and toppled to the ground. Marker 73 is located at nearly the exact spot where he fell and was hastily buried. Click here to view Marker 73 (located in Marion, Waupaca County) to read more about the story and to learn more about Chief Waupaca. 

Week of December 2, 2013: Marker 40: Butte Des Morts (Winnebago County)
In 1730, on the banks of Lake Winnebago, French soldiers and Menominee warriors conspired to destroy a Fox village. The Fox were attacked from the lake and from the rear. The village was destroyed and the nearly 1,000 men, women and children who died in the slaughter were buried in a mass grave 12 feet high, 60 feet long and 35 feet wide. Click here to visit Marker 40 (located in Menasha, Winnebago County) to learn more about events leading up to the attack, and its aftermath.

Week of November 18, 2013: Marker 11: Aztalan (Jefferson County)
Aztalan is one of the most important archeological sites in Wisconsin, and is included in the National Historic Landmarks Program. Home to Wisconsin Native Americans between AD 900 and 1200, the 20-acre village was well planned. The village was abandoned for reasons that remain a mystery, and present-day archeologists continue to excavate the property in search of valuable information about the daily life of Aztalan’s inhabitants. Click here to visit Marker 11 (located in Lake Mills, Jefferson County) to learn more about this State and National archeological treasure. 

Week of November 11, 2013: In Honor of our Veterans
This Monday, November 11, 2013, is Veterans Day. Thank you to all our veterans for their service to our country, and for their role in preserving the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. The Wisconsin Historical Markers website includes links to 353 veterans memorials across the State of Wisconsin. Click here locate the veterans memorial in your community. If you can't visit the memorial in person, consider a virtual visit this week, and post a comment honoring a veteran in your family / community. 

Week of November 4, 2013: Marker 282: Birthplace of the American Water Spaniel (Waupaca County)
Of all the breeds of dog recognized by the American Kennel Club, only five were developed in the United States and one, the American Water Spaniel, originated in Wisconsin. Click here to visit Marker 282 (located in New London, Waupaca County), to learn more.


Week of October 28, 2013: Marker 327: Sinking of the Lady Elgin (Milwaukee County)
Built in 1851 in Buffalo, New York, at a cost of $95,000, the Lady Elgin, named after the wife of Canada's Governor General, was the Great Lakes predecessor to the Titanic. In September 1860, Lady Elgin became entangled in the politics leading up to the Civil War, as Wisconsinites took sides over the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Amidst accusations of disloyalty to the State and disarmament by Wisconson's Governor Randall, the Union Guard and its supporters were on a celebratory return trip from Chicago where they sought to arm themselves independently from the state, when Lady Elgin was struck amidships. Click here to visit Marker 327 (located in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County) to read the whole story, and to visit links with additional details of this tragic event. 

Week of October 21, 2013: Marker 336: Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (Waushara County)
Born on a hardscrabble farm near Almond, Wisconsin in 1853, young Henry Soloman Wellcome grew up to be a key figure in the development of pharmaceutics and the promotion of medical research. His work in England earned him the title of Sir Henry, and he was knighted in 1932. Click here to visit the site honoring Sir Henry (located near Almond, Waushara County).

Week of October 14, 2013: Marker 157: Maiden Rock (Pepin County)
Around 1700, a young and beautiful Sioux girl was forced by her relatives to marry a man she despised. Less than an hour after the ceremony, she brought herself to a precipice overlooking Lake Pepin, and freed herself from her marriage vows. Marker 157 memorializes the maiden's plight and her unyielding devotion to the man she loved. Click here to visit Maiden Rock (located near Stockholm, Pepin County) to read the whole story.

Week of October 7, 2013: Marker 475: Reuben Deming (Kenosha County)
After Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, it was illegal to provide shelter, food or any other assistance to a runaway slave. Anyone caught violating the law faced six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. But that didn’t stop one Kenosha abolitionist from living by his convictions. Click here to visit Marker 475 (located in Kenosha, Kenosha County) and learn about the bravery of Methodist minister Reuben Deming. 

Week of September 30, 2013: Marker 24: Wisconsin Lead Region (Lafayette County)
Ever wonder how Wisconsin got to be known as "The Badger State?" The nickname originated in Wisconsin's southwest corner. Click here to visit Marker 24 (located in Schullsburg) and read the story.

Week of September 23, 2013: Marker 164: Yellow River (Washburn County)
Wisconsin is home to the Yellow River, so named by early French explorers because of the bright yellow sand on the bottom of Yellow Lake through which it flows. Aboriginal Indians once lived along the river banks. Today it boasts some of the best fishing in Wisconsin. Click here to visit Marker 164 and learn more about the history of Wisconsin’s Yellow River.

Week of August 12, 2013: Milwaukee County Dedicates New Marker at Historic Salem Church (Milwaukee County)
With much pomp and circumstance, the descendant faithful of Salem Church in Milwaukee dedicated the Wisconsin Historical Society's newest marker on August 10, 2013: Birthplace of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Click here to learn more about Wisconsin's newest addition.

Week of August 5, 2013: Do you know when?  (Columbia County)
America celebrated its independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. But it was many years before the American flag was raised for the first time over a Wisconsin fort. To find out what prompted the raising of the American flag, and when it happened, visit Marker 142.

Week of June 17, 2013: It happened in Wisconsin! The birthplace of the Republic Party. (Fon du Lac County)
The idea of a "Republican" party was conceived in 1852 by Alvan Earle Bovay of Ripon and Horace Greeley in New York, with the intention to dissolve the Whig Party in favor of a new party that could "fuse together anti-slavery elements". To learn more about the gestation of the Republican Party and how it got its name, visit Marker 135.

Week of June 3, 2013: It happened in Wisconsin! The birthplace of Flag Day. (Ozaukee County)
On June 14, 1885, in a country schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin, a 19-year-old teacher and his students celebrated the first flag day. Marker 115 commemorates this occasion, which eventually led to President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming June 14th the national observance of Flag Day. Click on the 1917 Flag Day poster to visit Marker 115.

Week of May 28, 2013: Lions an' Tigers an' a Hodog -- Hodog!? Oh, my!! (Oneida County)
In the part of Wisconsin known as "Up North," there, in 1896, was discovered a creature that thrived on "white bulldogs and those only on Sundays." This fierce creature, known as "the Hodag", is so elusive the Wisconsin Speleological Society (say that three times!) spends an entire weekend every fall searching the caves of Rhinelander for a glimpse of the 14-horned monster. Marker 191 documents The Hodag and its influence on the Up North community of Wisconsin. Visit Marker 191: The Hodag, learn more!

Memorial Weekend 2013: All gave some, some gave all.
Over the past 11 months I have visited more than 200 war memorials honoring those thousands of Wisconsinites who served in the military. From the American Revolutionary War to our present day heroes, each memorial has been sobering. One memorial has stayed with me: the memorial honoring 22-year-old Marine Corporal Justin J. Cain of Manitowoc. As we enter into our Memorial Weekend with road trips and BBQs and revelry and myriad ways to enjoy this three-day weekend, let us also remember the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families who have secured our freedoms by giving their "all." Click here to learn more about Corporal Cain. Click here to search for a memorial in your Wisconsin county.
 
Week of May 20, 2013: It's called what??
The word "Milwaukee" is believed to have origins in Potawatomi or Ojibwe languages, meaning "Gathering place by the water." To modern-day citizens, Milwaukee has nicknames like "Brew City," "Brew Town," "Mil-town," and "Cream City." Why "Cream City"? Think it's about all those Wisconsin cows and breweries? The answer might surprise you! Visit Marker 476: The Cream City, to find out more.

Week of May 13, 2013: It Originated in Wisconsin!
Imagine the old days when both automobiles and roads were few in number -- and there were no GPS devices to help you get around. Once they ventured out, how did people know where to go or where they were if they got lost?? One solution originated in Wisconsin! Visit Marker 46: Highway Marking to learn more.

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