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On This Day: December 11

1819 - Jerome Increase Case Born

On this date Jerome Increase Case was born in Williamstown, NY. Case founded the J.I. Case Company in 1842, in Rochester. He gained recognition for the construction of the first steam engine for agricultural use. He was also mayor of Racine, Wisconsin for three terms and was state Senator from the Racine area for two terms. He was president of the Manufacturer's National Bank of Racine and founder of the First National Bank of Burlington. Case also founded the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, was president of the Racine County Agricultural Society and president of the Wisconsin Agricultural Society. Case died on December 22, 1891. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography]

1833 - First Newspaper in Wisconsin Published

On this date the Green Bay Intelligencer, Wisconsin's first newspaper, began publication. John Vorhees Suydam and A.G. Ellis head up the publication effort. [Source: History of Wisconsin, Vol. 1]

1862 - (Civil War) Battle of Fredericksburg Begins in Virginia

In one of the war's most lopsided battles, Confederate troops with superior field position slaughtered Union forces trying to pass through Fredericksburg. The  2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and Company G of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters were present but their losses were small. The 5th Infantry was under fire for most of the three days but miraculously escaped major harm. Berdan's Sharpshooters were deployed at multiple locations during the battle to pick off Confederate artillerymen and cover the Union retreat.

1868 - Kate Hamilton Pier Born

On this date Kate Hamilton Pier was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. On June 22, 1887, Kate along with her mother (also named Kate Hamilton Pier) graduated from the U.W. Law School. Both women completed the two-year program in one year. After graduating, she began her practice with her mother and father at the Pier Law Office in Fond du Lac. The Pier family practiced law in Fond du Lac until 1888, when they moved to Milwaukee. Shortly after the move, Kate joined the law department of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, where she stayed for one year before going into general practice with her family. By 1891, when the two youngest Pier daughters, Caroline and Harriet, graduated from law school, every member of the family was a lawyer. Notably, the Pier women comprised one-quarter of the women to graduate from the law school between 1875 and 1919. In September of 1889, two years after graduating from law school, Kate Hamilton Pier won her first victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, becoming the first woman to argue (and win) in front of that body. In 1894 she became the first woman to argue before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. In addition, she was admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Kate Hamilton Pier McIntosh died on April 1, 1931 in Fond du Lac. [Source: State Bar of Wisconsin]

1901 - Morris Pratt Institute Incorporated

On this date spiritual leader Morris Pratt gained incorporation for his school of spiritualism located in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Many people of this time embraced spiritualism to try to reach friends and family who had died in the Civil War. As a result, Whitewater became known as the "mecca of modern spiritualism." Pratt built his institute in 1888, which was initially used as a meeting place for public seances. Pratt decided to turn his institution into an educational school for spiritualists, focusing on science, literature, morality, and communication, as well as spiritualistic instruction. The institute was closed for a few years during the Depression, and then in 1977 relocated to Waukesha, where it remains one of the few institutes in the world that is dedicated to the study of spiritualism. [Source: Wisconsin Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes]

1941 - Union Workers Participate in War Effort

On this date, in the spirit of patriotism, AFL Local 19593 (representing Parker Pen workers) voted to forgo overtime pay, premium wages for night work and restrictions on working hours so the Janesville factory might spend more time on defense-related work. [Source: Janesville Gazette, December 11, 1941, p.1]

1971 - Joseph Leo Dies

On this date Joseph Leo "Roundy" Coughlin died. Known affectionately as the "Sage of Mendota," Coughlin gained national recognition as a sports columnist for both the Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. He was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame in 1968. He was also known for his philanthropic activities, raising money for poor and handicapped children. [Source: Bishops to Bootleggers: A Biographical Guide to Resurrection Cemetery, p. 55]