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On This Day: January 17

1864 - (Civil War) Battle of Dandridge, Tennessee

The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry fought in the Battle of Dandridge, Tennessee. Colonel Oscar La Grange led a successful retreat of the surprised and outnumbered Union forces.

1874 - Father Joseph Salzmann Dies

On this date Father Joseph Salzmann, founder of St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, died. Originally from Austria, Salzmann arrived in Wisconsin in 1847 to help found the Seminary, which was located south of Milwaukee on property originally purchased by a community of Bavarian Sisters who erected a convent on the site.

1900 - Female Cotton Mill Workers Strike

On this date 100 female employees of the Monterey mill, affiliated with the Janesville Cotton Mills, went on strike for higher wages. According to local sources, a committee of four "good-looking young ladies" was appointed to negotiate with management. Doing piece work, the women earned only $40 a month. The company said the women "don't know how good they've got it...because they are paid more than at other local cotton mills and as well as some men with families." The women argued their monthly pay only averaged $20. Within three days, all the women were hired to work by tobacco warehouses. The Monterey mill was one of three Janesville cotton mills in operation at the turn of the century. [Source: Janesville Gazette]

1943 - Astronaut Daniel C. Brandenstein Born

On this date NASA astronaut Daniel C. Brandenstein was born in Watertown. Brandenstein graduated from Watertown High School in 1961 and received a B.S. in mathematics and physics from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1965. He joined the Navy and was designated a naval aviator at Naval Air Station, Beeville, Texas, in May 1967. Brandenstein flew 192 combat missions in Southeast Asia between 1968 and 1970. He was selected by NASA in January 1978 and became an astronaut in August 1979. A veteran of four space flights -- STS-8 (August 30-September 3, 1983), STS-51G (June 17-24, 1985), STS-32 (January 9-20, 1990), and STS-49 (May 7-16, 1992) -- Brandenstein has logged over 789 hours in space. From April 1987 through September 1992, Brandenstein served as Chief of the Astronaut Office. In October 1992 Brandenstein retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy. [Source: Association of Space Explorers]

1995 - First Lady Mary Fowler Rennebohm Dies

On this date Mary Fowler Rennebohm, wife of Wisconsin Governor Oscar Rennebohm, died. She graduated from the UW School of Commerce (now the School of Business) in 1920. Throughout her husband's term, she was known for her impeccable hospitality, often entertaining several hundred guests and organizations each week, including President and Mrs. Truman, Hellen Keller, General Dwight Eisenhower, and several motion picture personalities. Mrs. Rennebohm was not only renowned for her hospitality but was also active within the Madison community. She collected a large library of books by Wisconsin authors, to be housed in the mansion. She was also very active in the Women's Commerce Club, the American Red Cross, the Dane County Women's Republican Club, the United Way of Dane County, the Girl Scouts, the YWCA, and the Attic Angel Association. She led a fundraising drive throughout Wisconsin, collecting pennies from school children. The final amount collected was $4,363.58 which was donated to help create the central fountain in front of the then-new United Nations building in New York City. [Source: First Ladies of Wisconsin, The Governors' Wives by Nancy G. Williams, p.184-188]