Featured Markers 2014

Posted November 9, 2014: New WHS Marker Dedicated: Wisconsin Soldiers' Home 1864-1867 (Milwaukee County)
On Sunday, October 26, 2014, I had the privilege to attend the dedication ceremony for the Wisconsin Soldiers' Home historical marker. Honored were the men in Civil War battlefields far from Wisconsin, and the women back home who worked tirelessly to send mittens, quilts, hospital supplies, and notes with prayers and patriotic sentiments to encourage the war-weary soldiers. Finally, through letters and other records, we had the opportunity to meet "personally" some of the veterans who benefited from the dedication and compassion of the "women of the former West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society".
Did you know that per capita, Wisconsin sent more of its young men to Civil War battlefields than any other state? She did! This week we honor all our Wisconsin soldiers – those all who gave some, those some who gave all.
Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Soldiers’ Home, to “meet” some of the soldiers it served, and to see how the West Side Soldiers Aid Society, Inc. is carrying on its legacy with projects that support today’s soldiers and veterans.

Posted October 19, 2014: Haunted Wisconsin: H.C. Timm House 1873 (Calumet County)
Wisconsin has many haunted historical buildings. The H.C. Timm House, built in 1873, is located in New Holstein. The Timm family occupied the house for over 100 years, until the house and most of its contents were donated to the New Holstein Historical Society in 1974. The gorgeous Greek Revival-influenced building, open nearly year-round for tours, is also known for its otherworld visitors. A MPT Network Paranormal Investigation was conducted in 2012. Click here to learn more about the house, the Timm family, and to watch the paranormal investigation video. Oooooo weeeee oooooo! 

Posted October 1, 2014: A New Marker is Dedicated: The West Bend Aluminum Company (Washington County)
On August 16, 2014, in West Bend (Washington County), Wisconsin, the sons and daughters of 50 years (1921-1971) of West Bend Aluminum Company presidents, their families, friends, and former employees, gathered to dedicate a new Wisconsin Historical Society historical marker. Click here to view photos of the ceremony and the new marker.

Posted September 1, 2014: Marker 195: The Passenger Pigeon
September 1, 2014: A sobering 100-year anniversary
Today marks exactly 100 years since the last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. At their peak, millions of these birds flew together, the roar of their passing blocking out sunlight and making normal conversation a challenge. Yet, in just a few decades, they were “hunted out of existence,” wrote journalist Barry Yeoman in Audubon magazine, “victimized by the fallacy that no amount of exploitation could endanger a creature so abundant.”
In Black River Falls, at Rest Area 54 on westbound Interstate 94, Wisconsin Historical Society Marker 195 honors the passenger pigeon, records that the largest nesting on record anywhere occurred in this area in 1871, and relates the pigeon's tragic journey into extinction. Click here to learn more, and to view a Lost Bird Project simulation of a flock of passenger pigeons passing overhead. 

Posted August 17, 2014: Chapel Car "Grace" (Green Lake County)
Did you know there was once a fleet of Chapel Cars spreading the Word of God across America by railway? One of those cars, the jewel of the fleet, now resides at the American Baptist Assembly Green Lake Conference Center. Beautifully appointed with stained glass windows, brass accents, and elaborate woodwork, this car also boasts a rich and interesting history. Check "Grace" out here, then make your plans to visit in person.
Posted July 13, 2014: Marker 179: Holt & Balcom Logging Camp No. 1 (Oconto County)
Located in Lakewood, Holt & Balcom Logging Camp No. 1 is the “oldest standing lumber camp in Wisconsin” in its original location. Curator Kathleen Marsh has spent the past several years raising more than $100,000 to restore the camp. During that time the State historical marker was placed in storage. The good news is the camp’s restored, the marker’s back up, and the museum is enjoying record-breaking attendance! Join the fun and make plans this summer to visit the Holt & Balcom Logging Camp No. 1. Click here to view the marker, and for directions and hours of operation. 

Posted June 23, 2014: Wisconsin's Maritime Trails: Historic Shipwreck: Schooner Gallinipper (Sheboygan County)
Date: July 5, 1851
Place: Lake Michigan, 17 miles NE of Sheboygan
Built in 1833, the wooden schooner Gallinipper is the oldest commercial vessel found in Wisconsin waters. Her career started in the fur trade days and ended as she carried waves of immigrants to the new state of Wisconsin. When she sank on July 5, 1951, she became the oldest commercial vessel found in Wisconsin waters, where she remains today -- upright and intact on the bottom of Lake Michigan.
Click here to learn more of her interesting story, recorded along the Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails (in Sheboygan).

Week of June 8, 2014: Marker 115: Birthplace of Flag Day (Ozaukee County)
Date: June 14, 1885
Place: Waubeka, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin

In a one-room schoolhouse in the middle of miles of farmlands, 19-year-old teacher Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in an inkwell on his desk and asked his students to write an essay on what the flag meant to them. Cigrand declared June 14th the “birthday” of the American flag, based on the June 14, 1777, congressional adoption of the “Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the United States of America.
From then forward Cigrand devoted his life to bringing about a national recognition and observance of “Flag Day”.
Click here to visit the marker (located in Waubeka). Then follow the links to The National Flag Day Foundation and this year’s National Flag Day Observance activities on Saturday, June 14, 2014, right here in wonderful Waubeka, Wisconsin!

Memorial Day Weekend 2014
Over the past two years I have visited more than 400 veterans 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.
Earlier this year, I came across and was profoundly moved by the memorial honoring 21-year-old Army Spec. Shaun A. Novak of Two Rivers, whose long list of accolades includes a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. This is what makes these kinds of memorials so important – so that we can be reminded that the freedoms we enjoy came at a very high cost, and be rightly humbled by the bravery and sacrifices of our soldiers.
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 intent of Memorial Day – to honor with all due respect the soldiers who, while humbly “just doing my job”, willingly, bravely, and unquestionably gave their “all” .
Click here to visit the Two Rivers Veterans Memorial (located on Two Rivers) and to honor Soldier Shaun A. Novak.

Week of April 13, 2014: Elvis Presley Fight Scene (Dane County)
Filed under: NO WAY!!
It’s 1:00 a.m. on a June 1977 night. A 17-year-old Madison service station attendant is being pummeled by a pair of would-be thieves. Two black limos emerge from the darkness. Suddenly, a back-passenger door flies open. A paunchy, middle-aged man with jet-black hair emerges and rushes to the boy's rescue with a karate-stance intervention that leads to the end of the fisticuffs. That man? None other than the King of Rock & Roll – Elvis Aaron Presley, himself! Shaking your head and insisting it's urban legend. Not a made-up story, it's true! There's even an historical marker at the spot where it all happened. Click here to visit the marker (located in Madison) and to read all about it.

Week of March 16, 2014: Marker 135: Birthplace of the Republic Party (Fond du Lac County) 
If the winter of 1854 was anything like this winter of 2014, our story begins: One hundred sixty years ago, in early March 1854, despite sub-zero temperatures, mountainous snow drifts and treacherous patches of ice, Alvan Earle Bovay and 53 “Whigs, Free Soilers, and Democrats” set out against the harsh elements to participate in a birthing. Nearly two years in gestation, the little one had already been named -- “Republican” . . . a name that “felt” good, a name that carried “charm and prestige.” Bovay and his compatriots gathered inside a little white schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, their goal to form a new political party “to fuse together anti-slavery elements.” Discussions were held, votes were cast, and the Republican Party was born, making Wisconsin home to “the first Republicans in the Union” and the birthplace of the Republican Party. Click on the marker to learn more about the birth of the Republican Party, and to visit the now-historic Little White Schoolhouse. 
Click here to visit the marker (located in Ripon) to learn more.

Week of March 9, 2014: WRL-86: Dr. Arlow Burdette Stout, Ph.D. (Dane County)
Arlow Burdette Stout, Ph.D., was born in Ohio on March 10, 1976. He spent his youth in Albion, studied at Albion Academy, taught a rural school, taught botany at the University of Wisconsin, and later made his way to the New York Botanical Gardens where he became Director of Laboratories. He authored more than 300 botanical research publications. His research on the day lily transformed this once minor garden plant into a popular and reliable perennial. His work earned him coveted scientific affiliations, the most distinctive recognition awards, and honorary life memberships to distinguished horticultural societies.
Click here to visit the marker (located in Edgerton, Dane County) and to learn more about Dr. Stout and his unprecedented day lily legacy. 

Week of March 2, 2014: WRL-73: The Graveside of Lansing A. Wilcox (Chippewa County)
Honoring Lansing A. Wilcox, Wisconsin’s Last Surviving Civil War Veteran
When he was born on March 3, 1846, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Lansing A. Wilcox brought with him into this world a legacy that would take more than 105 years to fulfill.
Before he was 18 years old, Lansing A. Wilcox had spent three years with Company F, 4th Wis. Calvary in Baton Rouge, LA. When the Civil War ended, he returned to Wisconsin with the rank of corporal.
After a few restless years of moving about, he finally settled in the Cadott area where he farmed, found work in a sawmill, taught school, and also served as village assessor. In 1902 he was appointed Cadott’s Postmaster, a position he held for 10 years.
He was a member of the GAR Post 183 in Cadott, where he became the last commander from 1946 to his death.
In 1942, when he was 96 years old, he married his fourth wife, 65-year-old Marie Duttle. By then, three other wives and a son had preceded him in death.
He lived his final 18 months at the Grand Army Home in King, Wisconsin, “waiting for the last trumpet to call me home”. On March 3, 1951, he celebrated his 105th birthday with his wife and many members of the Allied Orders of the G.A.R.
When he died September 29, 1951, he was one of five Civil War veterans in the nation, and Wisconsin’s last surviving Civil War Veteran.
Upon his death, he received a military escort from King to where he is now buried beside his first wife, Mary (1841-1926) and his son, at Brooklawn Cemetery in Cadott. An historical marker at the gravesite was erected in 1969.
Thank you, Corporal Wilcox for your service! Happy 168th Birthday!
Click here to visit the marker; then follow the links to learn more. 

Week of February 23, 2014: Marker 118: Laura Ingalls Wilder (Pepin County)
Happy Belated Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!!
On February 7, 1867, Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in a log cabin seven miles northwest of Pepin, Wisconsin, and the state historical marker honoring her. Her award-winning, eight-book “Little House” series begins when Laura is five years old and living with her family in western Wisconsin. The book, “The Little House in the Big Woods” was published in 1932, when Laura was 65 years old.
In 1954, Laura Ingalls Wilder was recognized by the American Library Association with an award that became known as The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years were named ALA Newbery Honor Books.
Marker 118: Laura Ingalls Wilder (located in Pepin, Pepin County) records Laura’s success as a writer of children’s novels, as well as her surprise at her success in that she “went to little red schoolhouses all over the West . . . and never was graduated from anything." Click here to learn more about Laura and her books.

Week of February 9, 2014: Marker 157: Maiden Rock (Pepin County)
Are you ready for Valentine’s Day this Friday? Love is in the air! Sentimental cards are bought and sent, flowers are ordered for delivery, dinner reservations are made – even with temperatures barely above zero here in northeast Wisconsin. Imagine not being allowed to be with the one you love. Imagine your family insisting you marry someone you despise, and you are powerless to object. What would you do? Around 1700, in western Wisconsin, on the cliffs overlooking peaceful Lake Pepin, a young Sioux girl found herself in this dilemma. Marker 157: Maiden Rock (located near Stockholm, Pepin County) records the story and the maiden’s way of escape. Click here to learn more. 

Week of January 14, 2014: Marker 436: Silver Mine Ski Jump (Eau Claire County)
Did you know that Wisconsin has been home to USA Cup & North American Ski Jumping Championships for 126 years! After Norwegian immigrants introduced ski-jumping to Eau Claire in the 1880s, The Eau Claire Ski Club held one of the nation’s earliest ski tournaments at the Silver Mine Ski Jump, 351 feet above the Chippewa River. Marker 436: Silver Mine Ski Jump (located in Eau Claire, Eau Claire County) is located at the site of the first ski tournament. Next Friday and Saturday, January 18th and 19th, the 127th Annual Silver Mine Invitational will be held. Click here to view the marker and for links to next weekend’s invitational. 

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