The Top 10 of 2004
In what is becoming a year-end tradition, members
of the Wisconsin Historical Society staff take a
retrospective look at history-making stories that
have unfolded over the past 12 months and identify
the top 10 with a Wisconsin connection. This year's
stories run the gamut from political, medical and
war news to history-making sports stories. And for
a slightly more comprehensive look at the year in
review, we've added three additional top 10 lists — history
books, history Web sites and artifacts acquired for
the state history collection. You might also be interested in our 2004 Year In Review.
Top 10 Wisconsin History Events and Stories
Pvt./Medic Michelle Witmer
- Michelle Witmer Killed in Baghdad
Michelle Witmer of New Berlin, the National Guard's
first female soldier to be killed in combat,
was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Witmer, who was helping train Iraqi police, was
killed in an ambush on April 9. She was serving
in Iraq along with her two sisters, Rachel and
her twin Charity. Witmer was the first member
of the Wisconsin National Guard to be killed
in combat since World War II. To date, 32 Wisconsin
soldiers have died in the war in Iraq.
- Voters in Swing State Wisconsin Hit the
Wisconsin citizens were courted repeatedly by major
party candidates in the 2004 presidential election,
resulting in one of the highest voter turnouts
in Wisconsin history. An estimated 2,992,390
voters cast ballots, far exceeding the 2.62 million
who voted in the 2000 presidential election.
State voter turnout was 73 percent. The national
average was 59 percent, making 2004 a banner
year for participatory democracy.
- Brett Favre: Iron Man
Green Bay Packers quarterback and future Hall of
Famer Brett Favre made Wisconsin and NFL sports
history by starting his 200th consecutive game
on Monday, November 30, 2004. Favre led a spirited
team to victory over the St. Louis Rams, 45-17.
- Maybe it Was the Bike
Lance Armstrong and the U. S. Postal Service cycling
team won a world-record sixth consecutive Tour
de France on July 25. Armstrong raced on different
versions of the Trek Madone SL, and used ultralight
aerodynamic time-trial bikes for the Tour's four
time trials. The Madone bikes, designed and manufactured
by Trek in Waterloo, Wisconsin, are one of the
only commercially produced frames ridden in the
Tour. The Postals won all six Tour de France
races riding Trek bicycles.
- First Major PGA Championship in Wisconsin in 71 Years
The 86th Professional Golfers' Association championship,
played at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin,
pumped a staggering $76 million into Wisconsin's
economy, nearly doubling the economic impact
of the 2003 PGA tourney in Rochester, New York.
Vijay Singh won the championship by making a
birdie on the first of three playoff holes. The
par-72 course hugs two miles of Lake Michigan
shoreline and was stretched to 7,526 yards for
the final round, the longest layout in major
- $205 Million Overture Center for the Arts Opens
The Cesar Pelli-designed Overture Center for the
Arts opened in Madison on September 18. Covering
a city block, the center houses seven performance
spaces including the 2,251-seat Overture Hall
and five visual arts spaces. The center encompasses
existing Madison landmarks in a new modern building
topped with a glass dome. The construction cost
of $205 million was a gift from W. Jerome Frautschi
- Brewers Sold to California Investor
Milwaukee's Selig baseball family sold
the Brewers baseball club to Los Angeles
investor Mark Attanasio for a reported $180 million,
though sources close to the Brewers believe the
sale price was closer to $200 million. The transaction
means ownership of the state's major league baseball
team passed outside of Wisconsin for the first
time since the baseball franchise was brought
to Milwaukee in 1970 by Selig and Edmund Fitzgerald.
- Rabies Survivor: Wisconsin Makes Medical History
As a result of a potentially groundbreaking medical
experiment, Jeanna Giese, 15, of Fond du Lac, became
the first known human ever to survive rabies without
vaccination. Giese was bitten by a bat at a church
service on Sept. 12 but did not seek treatment
and was not vaccinated. She was admitted to Children's
Hospital in Wauwatosa on October 18 with full-blown
rabies. Rabies vaccine is ineffective in advanced
cases so doctors opted to put Giese in a drug-induced
coma and treated her with a combination of anesthetic
and antiviral drugs.
Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch
- Wisconsin Football Great Elroy Hirsch Dies
Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch died January
28. Known for his unorthodox running style, Hirsch
starred as a running back on the 1942 Wisconsin
Badgers football team. He also played nine years
in the National Football League and led the Los
Angeles Rams to the league title in 1951. A Wausau
native, Hirsch later returned to Wisconsin as the
UW-Madison athletic director. He retired in 1987.
- Potosi Picked for National Brewery Museum
Wisconsin's unique association with the history
of brewing beer was recognized when the American
Breweriana Association picked the Potosi Brewery
in Grant County as the site for the National
Brewery Museum. The original Potosi Brewery opened
in 1852. Funded by a half-million-dollar federal
grant and $250,000 from the American Breweriana
Association, the Potosi Brewery Foundation plans
to seek additional funding sources to finance
the $3.4 million project.
Do you have an idea what the top history events and stories of the past year are? Tell us.
Top 10 History Books
From Michael Stevens, Director of Public History (in no particular order)
- "Cataclysm: The First World War As Political Tragedy"
by David Stevenson
- "Third Down and A War to Go" Terry Frei (Buy)
- "Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier"
by Alfred F. Young
- "Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas"
by David Hackett Fischer
- "His Excellency: George Washington"
by Joseph J. Ellis
- "When Is Daddy Coming Home?" by Richard Haney (Buy)
- "The Reformation: A History"
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
- "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow
- "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare" by Stephen Greenblatt
- "1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs — the Election that Changed the Country" by James Chace.
Top 10 History Websites
From James Ellis, Website Producer (in no particular order)
- Wisconsin Electronic Reader
Stories, essays and letters about Wisconsin, from 1835 to 1849.
- Minnesota Historical Society
Un-official sister historical society produces some excellent content and great Web work.
- Digital Encyclopedia of American History
University of Houston has collected links of other websites and put them together as a virtual encyclopedia.
- American Journeys and Making of America
Primary sources dating from 1000 AD to 1877.
- The Valley of the Shadow
Two communities in the American Civil War
- Ad*Access and Prelinger Archives
Database of advertisements between 1911 and 1987.
- History News Network and Arts and Letters Daily
History as it happens.
- National Archives (England)
We have almost 400 years of history and some days that feels like a lot. And then I remember that National Archives of England has over 1,000 years of material.
- Japanese Photographs from 1850-1890
Gorgeous, high-definition images from Edo-era Japan.
When it comes to quick facts or definitions, Wikipedia has them all beat.
Top 10 Objects
Acquired for the State History Collection
From the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Museum
Designed c. 1937 by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) for the dining room of Taliesin West. The chair resided in Taliesin West until the furniture was replaced. It was then used in the Wisconsin cabin of James Lloyd Jones. Later, the cabin was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. John R. Howe and the chair was reupholstered by Mrs. Howe.
Donated with a matching ottoman by Lu Sparks Howe.
Fair Ribbon Quilt
Made by the donor's great aunt Elizabeth (Meibohn)
Milward of Madison from about 250 ribbons won
by Elizabeth's husband William Henry Milward for
his fruits, flowers, and poultry between 1908 and
1934. Several ribbons are from the Wisconsin State
Fair, others are from agricultural fairs around the
Electric Drink Mixer
Manufactured by Wisconsin Electric Co. of Racine
between 1921 and 1928. The word "Horlick's" on
its base refers to the Horlick's Malted Milk Co.
of Racine. Wisconsin Electric was founded in 1913
by Chester Beach and Louis Hamilton, who had previously
helped found the Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Co.
of Racine. According to legend, Hamilton Beach
Manufacturing Co. developed the first practical
electric drink mixer in 1911 at the urging of William
Worn by noted suffragist and peace activist Jessie
Annette (Jack) Hooper (1865-1935) of Oshkosh, who
served as recording secretary of the National Committee
on the Cause and Cure of War. The Committee held
an annual conference most years from 1925 through
1940, and Hooper was the chair of the Committee delegation
that took petitions to the World Disarmament Conference
at Geneva in 1932. Hooper may have worn this sash
to one or more of these conferences between 1925
and 1935. More
Worn by Francis Edward McGovern (1866-1946) at his
inauguration as Wisconsin governor in 1911.
Donated by James H. van Wagenen
The museum received not only the hat, but also
the frock coat and cane used by McGovern at his
inauguration. These items join a small collection
of clothing associated with the ceremonies and
balls held in honor of the installation of the
Used in the 1960s by the Norton and Lois Stoler family
of Madison to help celebrate Passover.
Donated by Lois Stoler.
The museum acquired this plate after
hosting the traveling exhibition, "Unpacking
on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest." The
exhibition focused attention on documenting Wisconsin
Designed by renowned Ho-Chunk artist Truman Lowe
beginning in November 2002 to honor the September
21, 2004, opening of the National Museum of the
American Indian. The blanket design is based
on the applique ribbonwork patterns of Lowe's
mother, Mabel Davis Lowe (d. 1976), and is titled "Sauninga" ("The
Shining One" in Ho-Chunk), which was Mabel
Davis Lowe's given Indian name. The blanket was
manufactured in 2003 by Pendleton Woolen Mills
of Portland, Oregon, which called this a "Ribbon
Robe," product #ZR495-50579. More
Made by D. Picking & Co. of Bucyrus, Ohio,
and used by donor's parents, Ernest Albert
and Hulda Hilfiker, to make Swiss cheese. Ernest
and Hulda owned and operated the Tuscobia
cheese factory north of Rice Lake, Wisconsin,
from 1942 to 1984. Ernest was born in Boswil,
Switzerland, and emigrated to the US in 1924.
He operated several cheese factories in Monroe,
Wisconsin, before buying the Tuscobia plant in
Worn by donor's maternal grandmother Emma (Ketel)
Gallagher at her wedding on September
4, 1901, in Neillsville, Wisconsin. Emma was
born August 1873, probably in Neillsville, the
daughter of William Ketel, a
stone mason, and Matilda Miller/Mueller. Emma
married David Gallagher, a lumberman.
The donor describes them as extremely poor. In
the 1900 census Emma and her mother were both listed
as seamstresses, so they would have made the dress.
Designed by nationally known sculptor Rene Paul
Chambellan (1893-1955) and made c. 1946-47 for
the Ripon Knitting Works of Ripon, Wisconsin.
The plaque was made to commemorate the plant's
earning the Army-Navy "E" award for
excellence in war production during World War