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On This Day: March 18

1864 - (Civil War) Attack on Journalist John Y. Smith

Madison journalist John Y. Smith was attacked by Confederate soldiers near Island No. 10 while on a trip down the Mississippi. Smith was able to escape from his attackers and hide himself on shore until a Union gunboat picked him up.

1890 - Bible Prohibited from Wisconsin Schools

On this date a Rock County circuit court decision which had permitted the Bible to be read in classrooms was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1889 a group of Edgerton citizens brought suit against their school board for allowing area teachers to read the Bible in class. They contested the teacher's use of the Douay version which, they claimed, differed materially from the King James translation. The case was tried in the circuit court of Rock County. The judge denied the petition and ruled that "reading the Bible was not sectarian and was, therefore, lawful and proper." The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which handed down a decision that reversed the circuit court and held "the use of any version of the Bible as textbook in the public schools" violated the Constitution. [Source: Wis. Court System, "Famous Cases of the Supreme Court"]

1891 - First Lady Catherine Taylor Dies

On this date Catherine Hurd Taylor, wife of Governor William Robert Taylor, died in Madison. Born in 1820 in Connecticut, Catherine Hurd married William Robert Taylor on September 13, 1843, in La Porte, Ohio. They relocated to Cottage Grove in Dane County. Catherine Taylor gave birth to three daughters, only two of whom lived to adulthood. She served as first lady of Wisconsin from 1874 to 1876. After nearly forty years of marriage, William Robert Taylor filed for divorce on January 23, 1882, claiming that Catherine left him. Catherine did not consent to the divorce, which was granted anyway, allowing her husband to remarry in 1886. Catherine Hurd Taylor died in Madison and is buried next to her husband at Forest Hill Cemetery. [Source: First Ladies of Wisconsin: The Governors' Wives, by Nancy G. Williams, pg. 74]

1953 - Braves Move to Milwaukee

On this date the Braves baseball team announced that they were moving from Boston to Milwaukee. [Source: The History Net]

1954 - Parker Pen Employees Win Wage Increase

On this date employees of Parker Pen in Janesville won a 5-cent-an-hour wage increase in contract negotiations. After the raise, male employees made a base pay of $1.95 an hour while their female counterparts were paid $1.62 an hour. [Source: Janesville Gazette]

1974 - Hortonville Teachers' Strike of 1974

On this date teachers in Hortonville went on strike. In 1973 the Hortonville Education Association and Hortonville school board began negotiations but after ten months of bargaining, negotiations stalled. By that time, some teachers had been teaching for over 5 years without a contract and in late January 1974, HEA members began informal picketing. Beginning March 18, approximately 500 teachers supported the picket line. The Hortonville Vigilante Association formed to counter the picketers and escort replacement teachers to class. Over 240 persons replaced eighty-four striking teachers, some only teaching one day. On April 2, the school board terminated employment of striking teachers and withdrew 1974-75 contracts. After striking teachers were fired, educators arrived in buses from across Wisconsin to march with them in solidarity. In August 1974 the HEA sued Hortonville School District for violation of due process and violation of the open meeting law, but lost the case. On appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that HEA's rights of due process had been violated. The Hortonville school board then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which reversed the Wisconsin decision, finding in favor of the school board. This conflict, one of the most bitter strikes in Wisconsin history, resulted in legislators enacting a new law that provided for mediation and arbitration to resolve public sector disputes. [Source: Voyageur Magazine, Big Labor in a Small town: The Hortonville Teachers' Strike, winter-spring 2003]