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Wisconsin History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Wisconsin
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Wisconsin history.
The people living in Wisconsin belong to a broad group of Native Americans, mainly tribes who speak Algonquian and Sioux. They include the Menominee, Kickapoo, Miami, Winnebago, Dakota, and Iowa. Later in the century, other groups enter Wisconsin, including the Fox, Sac, Potawatomi, and Chippewa.
Wisconsin became a U.S. territory following the American Revolution and soon after began attracting settlers looking for work in its mining, lumber and dairy industries. It was admitted to the union as the 30th state in 1848.
17th Century Wisconsin History Timeline
1634 - Jean Nicolet: First known European to reach Wisconsin. Sought Northwest Passage.
1654-59 - Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medart Chouart des Groseilliers: First of the fur traders in Wisconsin.
1661 - Father Rene Menard: First missionary to Wisconsin Indians.
1665 - Father Claude Allouez founded mission at La Pointe.
1666 - Nicholas Perrot opened fur trade with Wisconsin Indians.
1672 - Father Allouez and Father Louis Andre built St. Francois Xavier mission at De Pere.
1673 - Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette discovered Mississippi River.
1678 - Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Lhut (Duluth) explored western end of Lake Superior.
1685 - Perrot made Commandant of the West.
1690–1820 - Roman Catholic missionaries established the mission of St. Ignace de Michilimackinac, at Mackinac (now Michigan). The mission was the center for traders going to and from what is now Wisconsin.
18th Century Wisconsin History Timeline
1701-38 - Fox Indian Wars.
1755 - Wisconsin Indians, under Charles Langlade, helped defeat British General Braddock.
1763 - Treaty of Paris. Wisconsin became part of British colonial territory.
1761 - Fort at Green Bay accepted by English.
1764 - Charles Langlade settled at Green Bay. First permanent settlement.
1766 - Jonathan Carver visited Wisconsin seeking Northwest Passage.
1774 - Quebec Act makes Wisconsin a part of Province of Quebec.
1781 - Traditional date of settlement at Prairie du Chien.
1783 - Following the Treaty of Paris, the United States takes ownership of the Wisconsin Region.
1795 - Jacques Vieau established trading posts at Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Made headquarters at Milwaukee.
19th Century Wisconsin History Timeline
1814 - Fort Shelby built at Prairie du Chien. Captured by English and name changed to Fort McKay.
1815 - War with England concluded. Fort McKay abandoned by British.
1820s - High prices for lead attracted settlers to the mines of southern Wisconsin. The Michigan 1820 census lists residents of what is now Wisconsin.
1825 - Indian Treaty established tribal boundaries.
1826-27 - Winnebago Indian War. Surrender of Chief Red Bird.
1828 - Fort Winnebago begun at Portage.
1832 - Black Hawk War.
1833 - Land treaty with Indians cleared southern Wisconsin land titles. First newspaper, Green Bay Intelligencer, established.
1835 - First steamboat arrived at Milwaukee. First bank in Wisconsin opened at Green Bay.
1841 - James D. Doty appointed governor by President John Tyler.
1842 - C.C. Arndt shot and killed in legislature by James R. Vineyard.
1847 - Census population 210,546. First Constitution rejected by people. Second Constitutional Convention.
1858 - Legislative investigation of bribery in 1856 Legislature.
1859 - Abraham Lincoln spoke at state fair in Milwaukee.
1861 - Beginning of Civil War. Governor called for volunteers for military service. Bank riot in Milwaukee. Office of county superintendent of schools created.
1861–1865 - Over 90,000 men from Wisconsin served in the Union armed forces during the Civil War.
1864 - Cheese factory started at Ladoga, Fond du Lac County, by Chester Hazen.
1865 - 96,000 Wisconsin soldiers served in Civil War; losses were 12,216.
1871 - Peshtigo fire burned over much of 6 counties in northeast Wisconsin, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.
1872 - Wisconsin Dairymen's Association organized at Watertown.
1874 - Potter Law limiting railroad rates passed.
1876 - Potter Law repealed. Hazel Green cyclone.
1877 - John T. Appleby patented knotter for twine binders.
1883 - Major hotel fire at the Newhall House in Milwaukee killed 71. South wing of Capitol extension collapsed; 7 killed. Agricultural Experiment Station established at university.
1885 - Gogebic iron range discoveries made Ashland a major shipping port.
1887 - Marshfield almost destroyed by fire.
1890 - Stephen M. Babcock invents quick, easy, accurate test for milk butterfat content.
1891 - Bennett Law repealed after bitter opposition from German Protestants and Catholics.
1893 - Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered state treasurer to refund to the state interest on state deposits, which had customarily been retained by treasurers.
1894 - Forest fires in northern and central Wisconsin.
1897 - Corrupt practice act passed.
1898 - Wisconsin sent 5,469 men to fight in Spanish-American War; losses were 134.
20th Century Wisconsin History Timeline
1900 - Wisconsin's first state park, Interstate near St. Croix Falls, established.
1907 - Current Capitol begun.
1908 - Income tax amendment adopted.
1911 - First income tax law; teachers' pension act; vocational schools authorized; Industrial and Highway Commissions created; workmen's compensation act enacted.
1913 - Direct election of Wisconsin's US senators approved.
1915 - Conservation Commission, State Board of Agriculture, and State Board of Education created.
1919 - Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) ratified.
1920 - Nineteenth Amendment (women's suffrage) ratified; first state to deliver ratification to Washington.
1921 - Equal rights for women and prohibition laws enacted.
1923 - Military training made optional at university.
1925 - Senator La Follette died on June 18.
1929 - Professor Harry Steenbock of University of Wisconsin patented radiation of Vitamin D. Legislature repealed all Wisconsin laws for state enforcement of Prohibition.
1933 - Dairy farmers undertook milk strike to protest low prices. Wisconsin voted for repeal of 18th Amendment (Prohibition) to US Constitution.
1934 - Wisconsin Progressive Party formed.
1942 - Governor-elect Loomis died; Supreme Court decided Lieutenant Governor Goodland to serve as acting governor.
1941-45 - Wisconsin enrolled 375,000 for World War II; casualties 7,980.
1946 - Wisconsin Progressive Party dissolved and rejoined Republican Party.
1948 - Centennial Year.
1949 - Legislature enacted new formula for distribution of state educational aids and classified school districts for this purpose.
1950 - Wisconsin enrolled 132,000 for the Korean Conflict; 800 casualties.
1951 - First major legislative reapportionment since 1892.
1957 - Legislation prohibited lobbyists from giving anything of value to a state employe.
1958 - Professor Joshua Lederberg, UW geneticist, Nobel prize winner in medicine.
1959 - Gaylord Nelson, first Democratic governor since 1933, inaugurated. Circus World Museum established at Baraboo. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, died.
1960 - Mrs. Dena Smith elected state treasurer, first woman elected to statewide office in Wisconsin.
1961 - Legislation enacted to initiate longrange program of acquisition and improvement of state recreation facilities (ORAP program). Federal supervision of Menominee Indian tribe terminated on April 29; reservation became 72nd county.
1965 - 1966
1971 - The legislature, now meeting in regular session throughout the biennium, enacted major shared tax redistribution, merger of University of Wisconsin and State University systems, revision of municipal employe relations laws.
1964-1975 - 165,400 Wisconsinites served in Vietnam; 1,239 were killed.
1989 - Laws enacted included creation of Department of Corrections, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and a statewide land stewardship program.
1994 - Laws enacted included removal of about $1 billion in public school operating taxes from property tax by 1997, a new regulatory framework for Public Service Commission regulation of telecommunication utilities, and granting towns most of the same powers exercised by cities and villages.
1997 - Groundbreaking for controversial new Miller Stadium, future home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
21st Century Wisconsin History Timeline
2000 - Legislature approves a local sales tax and revenue bonds for renovation of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.
2008 - Lake Delton in Wisconsin Dells completely drained after record rains caused its banks to burst
2011 - Winter storm dumped nearly two feet of snow in some areas, wind chill temperatures were between -20 to -25F