Historical Markers


Zillman Park, S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and E. Ward St., Milwaukee

From a quiet mid-19th-century farming community to a bustling industrial center along Kinninckinnic Avenue in only twenty years, Bay View's industrial transformation could not have occurred without the contributions of hundreds of immigrant workers who poured int the community's foundries, brickyards, machine shops, tanneries, and a glass factor, seeking employment in the last quarter of the 19th century. The first industrial workers in Bay View were recruited from Sheffield, England, for their knowledge of steel production, but over the years other immigrant workers from the British Isles, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Italy, among others, would make Bay View one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1998 #373


S. Superior St. and E. Russell Ave., Milwaukee

Near this site in Bay View stood the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill, the first major heavy industry in the region and tan important producer of iron and steel for the Midwest. The mill, which opened in 1868, transformed ore from Dodge County and Lake Superior area mines into iron products, including thousands of tons of rail for the region's growing railroads. By 1885, more than 1500 people were employed at the plant, some recruited from the iron-producing districts of the British Isles, and the village of Bay View grew from a rural crossroads into an industrial community surrounding the rolling mill. On May 5, 1886, the mill was the scene of a major labor disturbance. Nearly 1500 strikers from around Milwaukee marched on the Bay View mill to dramatize their demand for an eight-hour work day. The local militia, called to the scene by Governor Jeremiah Rusk, fired on the crowd, killing seven people. The mill closed in 1929, and the buildings were demolished a decade later. But the community of Bay View remains, a neighborhood of mill workers' houses, shops, and churches.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1985 #276


State Park Main Gate S 81st St. and W. Greenfield Ave. West Allis

At the outbreak of the Spanish American War in April of 1898, President William McKinley called on the states to gather their military forces. State officials ordered the Wisconsin National Guard to report for duty at Camp Harvey, named for Wisconsin Civil War Governor Louis P. Harvey and located on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park. The Wisconsin National Guard had been established in 1879 to improve the existing militia system. The war with Spain (1898-1899) demonstrated for the first time the value of the National Guard as a reserve component of the army. In the time of crisis, the Guard units from Wisconsin and the other states could rapidly augment the small active-duty forces. Wisconsin contributed 5,469 men divided into four infantry regiments for service in the Spanish-American War. The First and Fourth Wisconsin Infantry regiments never left the United States. The Second and Third Wisconsin Infantry regiments participated in military operations in Puerto Rico, where they lost two men killed in action. A total of 132 Wisconsinites died from disease, principally typhoid fever.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1992 #319


1756 N. Prospect Ave. Milwaukee

Near here a Civil War training camp was built in August 1861. Named Camp Holton, Camp Sigel, and finally Camp Reno, its boundaries were Prospect and Bartlett avenues with Lafayette and Royall places. Six Wisconsin infantry regiments, almost 7,000 men, were mustered in and equipped for the Union army here. Two other Civil War posts, Camps Scott and Washburn, were on the city's west side.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1989 #289


(1835-1906) 8685 W. Grange Ave. Greendale

Born in Detroit of Irish Immigrant parents, Curtin came to Milwaukee in 1837 to join his mother's family, the Furlongs, an settle on a farm in Greenfield. IN the 1840s the Curtins moved into this typically Irish stone house described in Curtin's Memoirs After his father's death, Jeremiah persevered in his love for learning and languages and graduated from Harvard College in 1863. His command of Russian won him a position in the U.S. Legation in St. Petersburg in 1864, thus launching his forty-year worldwide career as linguist, translator (Sienkeiwicz's Quo Vadis), ethnologist, folklorist, and diplomat. He died and was buried at his wife's Vermont home in Bristol.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1973 #196


7325 W. Forest Ave. Greenfield

Following the end of World War II, Milwaukee's rapid urban development forced the seven rural towns of Milwaukee County into annexation or incorporation. When Greenfield incorporated as a city in 1957, the last of Milwaukee County's towns disappeared and with it ended the system of town government Yankees brought to the area in the 1840s. Although Greenfield's original town plat of 36 square miles has been greatly reduced, this are has remained the center of civic activity for over 150 years.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1997 #342


1110 N. Old World Third Street, Milwaukee

In this vicinity, Kilbourntown, one of the three original Milwaukee settlements, was founded by surveyor and land speculator Byron Kilbourn in 1835. Kilbourntown's first residents were entrepreneurs from the East. In 1839, a small group of German immigrants from Pomerania arrived in Kilbourntown, heralding a major 19th-century immigration of German settlers. Concentrated in Kilbourntown, this German population helped Milwaukee become the “most German city” in the United States. By the 20th century, Kilbourntown's German population had substantially dispersed, and the area became a community of rich ethnic diversity, soon becoming the heart of downtown Milwaukee.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1998 #334


Civic Center, Milwaukee

MacArthur Square was designated on September 17, 1945, to honor General of the Army Douglas MacArthur for his leadership of Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II. MacArthur, his father General Arthur MacArthur, and his grandfather judge Arthur MacArthur were all residents of Milwaukee. Douglas lived at the Plankinton House and attended West Division High School. In 1898 he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy by Milwaukee Congressman Theobald Otjen. Douglas MacArthur's final visit here was on April 27, 1951, when he received an honorary degree from Marquette University and spoke at this site.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1979 #255


In Triangle at S 57th W. Hayes Ave. and W. Filmore Dr. West Allis

This tract of land was once a part of the estate on which General William (Billy) Mitchell (1879-1936) lived as a boy. His fearless and inquisitive personality as a youth carried over into his military career when he spoke out against overwhelming odds for an adequate air force. After commanding U.S. Forces in France during World War I, he emerged as the nation's pioneer advocate of air power. He did not live to see the wisdom of his foresight, but all America now honors his great courage, heroism, and keen sense of judgment on the future of air power. This marker is erected to the memory of this great air pioneer by the West Allis Rotary Club.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1955 #041


(1898-1978) At Golda Meier Library on UW-Milwaukee Campus

The UWM Library is named for Golda Meir. Born Goldie Mabowehz in the Ukraine, she migrated to Milwaukee in 1906, was educated at Forth Street School and North Division High School and in present Mitchell Hall of Milwaukee Normal School (1916-1917). She and husband Morris Meyerson settled in Palestine in 1921. There she helped found the Irsael Labor Party, held high political and governmental posts, and eventually became prime minister (1969-74).

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1979 #257


461 N. 35th St. Milwaukee

In 1879, Sherburn S. Merrill, the general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, purchased almost half a square mile in the Menomonee Valley to construct a massive railroad shop complex. By the early 1880s, the railroad company employed over 2500 workers. To provide housing for these workers, Merrill created “Merrill park” in 1883, a housing development between 27th and 35th streets. Desiring a “respectable” neighborhood, Merrill placed deed restrictions on his property, prohibiting “intoxicating liquors” and “livery stables.” New Englanders and German and English Immigrants, among others, settled in the area, and the neighborhood grew with a mixture of single-family houses, duplexes, cottages, and apartments. After the disastrous Third Ward fire of 1892 many Irish families moved west to Merrill Park, and by the early twentieth century, Merrill Park became Milwaukee's premier Irish neighborhood. The community remains one of Milwaukee's most ethically diverse.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1997 #355


Foot of E. Michigan St. Milwaukee

Near here, at the foot of Huron (now Clybourn) Street, the first cargo pier in Milwaukee harbor was built by Horatio Stevens, Richard Owens, Amos Tufts, and J. Kendall during the winter of 1842. The first vessel to dock at North Pier was the Cleveland, under command of Captain M. Hazard on June 1, 1843. The pier, 1200 feet long and 44 feet wide, with a freight shed at the end and a warehouse and tollgate at the entrance, permitted the unloading of freight and passengers from large vessels which could not enter the original mouth of the Milwaukee River, south of Jones Island. Near the pier was the first Milwaukee brewery, founded in 1840. In the following years, three more lakeshore piers were built, which created lively business activity on Milwaukee's east side, known as Juneautown. The first pier was destroyed during the winter of 1846 by strong winds and ice. The same fate later overtook the other piers. A new straight cut, opened in 1857, provided access to the Milwaukee River and to the downtown inner harbor which then developed.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1963 #036


Currie Park, Wauwatosa

One of the earliest publicly owned airports in the United States was established here on July 3, 1919, by the Milwaukee County Park Commission. The nation's first commercial air transport, the Lawson Airliner, took off from this field on August 27, 1919, on a demonstration flight to New York City and Washington, D.C. And returned on November 15, 1919. This two-engined biplane, 95 feet in wingspan, carried 16 passengers and two pilots. Milwaukee's first airmail was flown from here on June 7, 1926, by the Charles Dickinson Line, operating from Chicago to St. Paul via Milwaukee and La Crosse. This airport was deactivated during November 1926 when the need for more space led the county to purchase Hamilton Airport, the site of present General Mitchell Field.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1969 #168


N. Downer and E. Hartford aves., Milwaukee

On September 14, 1848, Mrs. William L. Parsons, the wife of a Congregational minister, opened the Milwaukee Female Seminary at the corner of Milwaukee and East Wells. Three years later it was chartered by legislature, thus placing Wisconsin in the vanguard of education at a time when colleges for women were almost unknown. A new building was erected at 1120 North Milwaukee Street. In 1855 the Wisconsin Female College, later named Downer College, was charted at Fox Lake. Both schools experienced financial difficulties until they merged to become Milwaukee Downer College in 1899. The two institutions combined their resources and moved in 1890 to this site, which became a new campus of forty wooded acres. When the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee purchased this campus in 1964, Milwaukee Downer moved to Appleton to join Lawrence College and is now part of Lawrence University.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1865 #147


231 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company opened its terminal here in 1905. The first car entered this building January 1, 1905. At one time the system extended west to Madison, north to Sheboygan, and south to Kenosha. The final line was abandoned June 30, 1951. The first floor was the terminal area, with two waiting rooms and thirteen car tracks; it was the largest terminal of its kind in the United States.

Wisconsin State Historical Marker Erected 1876 #236


Wisconsin's oldest Newspaper 1000 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Sentinel has chronicled the events of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the world longer than any other newspaper in the sate. Founded as a weekly on June 27, 1837, by Solomon Juneau, Milwaukee's first mayor, the Sentinel w