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On This Day in Wisconsin History

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On This Day: March 22

1854 - Eugene Shepard, Father of the Hodag
On this date Eugene Shepard was born near Green Bay. Although he made his career in the lumbering business near Rhinelander, he was best known for his story-telling and practical jokes. He told many tales of Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjack, and drew pictures of the giant at work that became famous. Shepard also started a new legend about a prehistoric monster that roamed the woods of Wisconsin - the hodag. Shepard built the mythical monster out of wood and bull's horns. He fooled everyone into believing it was alive, allowing it to be viewed only inside a dark tent. The beast was displayed at the Wausau and Antigo county fairs before Shepard admitted it was all a hoax. [Source: Badger saints and sinners, by Fred L. Holmes, p.459-474]

1865 - (Civil War) Wilson's Raid Begins
Wilson's Raid, a cavalry operation in Alabama and Georgia, commenced. Union General James H. Wilson led his U.S. Army Cavalry Corps on a month-long expedition to destroy Southern manufacturing facilities. His troops were opposed unsuccessfully by a much smaller force under Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry participated in this operation.

1877 - Lavinia Goodell Opens the Door for Women Lawyers
On this date, due to Lavinia Goodell's persuasive efforts, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a bill prohibiting denial of admission to the bar on the basis of gender. Born in Utica, New York, in 1839, Goodell was the daughter of abolitionist William Goodell. She moved to Janesville in 1871 where she began studying law at the age of 32. She gradually made a place for herself in the firm of Jackson and Norcross and was admitted to the bar in Rock County in June 1874, after a local circuit judge decided that women could be admitted. Though she maintained a general practice, she took particular interest in defending the rights of married women, penal legislation, and prison reform. In 1875, one of her cases was appealed to the state supreme court but she was not allowed to represent her client there. In rejecting her request to practice her profession, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan wrote, "Nature has tempered woman as little for the juridicial conflicts of the court room, as for the physical conflicts of the battle field." Goodell then worked with the legislature to pass and defend enabling legislation. After the legislature passed it, she reapplied for admission to practice before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and her petition was granted on June 18, 1879, with Judge Ryan dissenting. [Source: "Admission to Bar of First Woman Attorney Raised Question Never Settled." Wisconsin State Journal (14 September 1924)]

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