WISCONSIN

State Information

Nickname(s):                           The Badger State

Motto(s):                                     Forward

State song(s):                            On, Wisconsin

 Capital                                         Madison

Largest City                              Milwaukee

Admitted to US                         5/29/1819                  30th State

Brief History

The French explored and settled the area that is now Wisconsin, but the British  took charge after the French and Indian War.  It became a territory of the United States after the Revolutionary War, but the British maintained control until the War of 1812.

Here are a few interesting facts about Wisconsin:

  • The opening of the Republican Party occurred here, on March 20, 1854, by anti-slavery proponents.

     

  • Wisconsin has many firsts, including: a hydroelectric power plant, workplace injury compensation law, a 4-wheel drive automobile, a gasoline powered tractor, a kindergarten class, the ice cream sundae, and a supercomputer (Cray). 

  • The Social Security system was formulated by Edwin Witte at the University of Wisconsin.

  • Harley Davidson Motorcycles started in here. 

  • Wisconsin is the leader in production of cheese, cranberries, and snap beans. 

  • Famous people from Wisconsin include: Orson Welles (actor), Harry Houdini (escape artist), Spencer Tracy (actor), Less Paul (inventor of the electric guitar), Frank Lloyd Wright (architect), and many others.

Interesting Stories

John Bardeen was born in Madison, WI.  He was exceptionally bright, moving from third grade directly into junior high.  When he was 12, his mother passed away.  He was heartbroken and barely passed high school.  He entered the University of Wisconsin at age 15, paying his fees and other college expenses on his own from his winnings at poker.  At that time, vacuum tubes controlled electronics.  John discovered transistors and received a Nobel Prize.  He next discovered superconductivity, which is useful in CAT and MRI scans, and received another Nobel Prize.  He was a regular person who deeply loved is wife, children and grandchildren.  But he was also a true genius who changed the world. His strongest recommendation to the young: “DON’T GIVE UP! Stay with the problem until it is solved.”  

Eric Heiden was born in Madison, WI. As he was growing up, he skated on the frozen lake outside his grandparents’ home.  His high school coach helped him get onto the 1976 Olympic team.  He began an extensive training program that made each thigh 29 inches in circumference, which was close to his 32-inch waistline.  In the 1980 Olympics, at age 21, he was paired up against the world record holder.  The race was neck and neck the entire way, until the last curve, where Eric sped across the finish line to win the gold.  In the next race, he slipped and fell, but got up and finished the race.  He went on to capture five gold medals.  Throughout his career, he obtained 15 world records.  His famous quote was “Sports and politics don’t mix.” 

Elmer J Burr was born in Neenah, WI, and graduated from Menasha High School.  Elmer enlisted in the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When his training was complete, he was sent to New Guinea.  A letter from a young lieutenant reported that he had been hit by machine gun fire and was dragged to safety by Elmer.  When they reached a safe area, the enemy threw a hand grenade that landed next to them.  Elmer threw himself over it, saving the life of his commander. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Elmer Burr was a selfless hero, sacrificing his own life to save another man.

Ken Stumpf was born in Neenah, WI, and graduated from Menasha High School.  Both Ken Stumpf and Elmer Burr were recipients of the Medal of Honor.  Sergeant Stumpf was on a search and destroy mission in Vietnam.  Three of his men fell wounded from hostile fire.  The enemy fire was so heavy that it prevented the unit from recovering the wounded men.  Ken left his secure position and ran through a barrage of incoming bullets to reach his comrades.  He picked up one man and carried him to safety.   He went back, dodging machine gun fire, and dragged another to safety.  He returned a third time and pulled the last man to safety.  He organized a squad and took out 2 more enemy bunkers.  Ken Stumpf received the Medal of Honor. Like the true hero that he was, he said that the men who lost their lives were the ones that really earned the medal. 

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