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On This Day: December 21

1862 - (Civil War) The 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry sets out for Vicksburg

The 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry participated in Grierson's Raid on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in Tennessee. This was the first engagement in a movement by Union Col. Benjamin Grierson.  It led 3,500 men on a 450-mile ride from Tennessee through Mississippi, arriving in Vicksburg on January 5, 1863.

1872 - Helen Farnsworth Mears Born

On this date Helen Farnsworth Mears was born. A sculptress, she began studying under Lorado Taft at the Chicago Art Institute. Mears was commissioned to do a figure to represent Wisconsin at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893). The result was a nine-foot statue, "Genius of Wisconsin," which now stands in the state captiol. Her best-known work, a statue of Frances E. Willard, was executed under commission from the state of Illlinois in 1898, and was unveiled in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol in 1905. She was also the sculptress of the Adin Randall Foundation in Eau Claire, which was completed in 1914. She was living in New York City when her promising career was cut short by an untimely death on Feb. 17, 1916. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biorgraphy, p. 250-251]

1879 - Fire Destroys Phillip Brewing Company

On this date fire destroyed the Phillip Brewing Company's malthouse, grain elevators and office building in Milwaukee. [Source: Pabst Brewery History]

1955 - Jane Kaczmarek Born in Milwaukee

On this date Jane Kaczmarek, star of TV's Malcolm in the Middle, was born in Milwaukee. Kaczmarek grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1979, where she majored in theater. She also earned an MFA in theater from Yale University in 1982. [Source: IMDB]