On this day: April 17

1863 - (Civil War) Marmaduke's Second Missouri Expedition begins

Between April 17 and May 2, 1863, Confederate forces led by General John Marmaduke attacked Union troops in Missouri and Arkansas. This expedition included the battles of Cape Girardeau and Chalk Bluff. The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry was among the Union troops that defended the expedition.

1867 - Wisconsin Civil War Hero Killed

On this date Joseph Bailey was killed while attempting to arrest two criminals in Vernon Co., Missouri. Prior to becoming sheriff, Bailey fought for the Union in the Civil War and used his logging experience in the Wisconsin pineries to save a fleet stuck on the Red River in Lousiana. The Union fleet had lost successive battles with Confederate soldiers during an abortive river invasion of Louisiana in May, 1864. As the troops retreated, $2,000,000 in federal ships were in danger of being captured by the enemy because falling water levels had stranded them. Bailey, a former lumberman, proposed damming the river to increase its depth and allow Union gunboats to float free when the dam was released. His plan, enacted in last-minute desperation, worked successfully and Bailey is still remembered for his heroic efforts during the Civil War. Bailey's story is told in this 1895 article by Albert Bigelow Paine, biographer of Mark Twain. [Source:  Paine, Albert B. "An Exploit of the War."  St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 20, 1895]

1897 - Thornton Wilder Born

On this date Thornton Wilder was born in Madison. A renowned author and playwright, he taught at the University of Chicago from 1930 to 1937. His plays Our Town (1938) and The Skin of our Teeth (1942) won Pulitzer Prizes and have been performed countless times by school and amateur theatrical companies in the decades since.You can read a 1928 article about his Wisconsin roots in our Wisconsin Local History & Biographies collection. [Source: Thornton Wilder Society]

1931 - Beloit Roadhouses Move to Avoid Closure

On this date operators of five Beloit roadhouses - - "an inn, restaurant, or nightclub located on a road outside a town or city" according to the American Heritage Dictionary, but during Prohibition often implying one that sold bootleg alcohol -- closed their establishments at the "suggestion" of federal prosecutor Stanley Ryan. They further agreed to move out of Rock County rather than have their businesses padlocked for a year, the civil penalty for certain Prohibition violations. [Source: Janesville Gazette]

1990 - First Female County Board Chair in Racine

On this date, Jean M. Jacobson became the first woman to be elected as the Racine County Board's chairperson. [Source: Racine Timeline.]
An error has occurred. This application may no longer respond until reloaded. Reload 🗙