Ithaca, Wisconsin is a small town located in the southwestern part of the state. Despite its size, the area has a rich history that spans several centuries. From early Native American settlements to the arrival of European settlers, there are many important events that have occurred near Ithaca. Here are seven historical events that have taken place in the area:
1. Native American Settlements
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the Ithaca area was home to several Native American tribes. The Ho-Chunk, also known as the Winnebago, were among the largest and most prominent tribes in the area. They lived in villages along the Wisconsin River, including near present-day Ithaca.
2. Arrival of French Trappers and Explorers
In the early 1700s, French trappers and explorers began to arrive in Wisconsin. They established trade relationships with the Native Americans and built forts in strategic locations. One such fort was Fort Winnebago, which was built in 1828 near present-day Portage. This fort played a significant role in the fur trade and served as a hub for transportation and commerce in the region.
3. Founding of Ithaca
The town of Ithaca was founded in 1855 by Clark Beardsley, who built a sawmill and gristmill along the Pine River. The town grew quickly, and by the end of the 1800s, it had several stores, a newspaper, and a school.
4. Wisconsin State Capitol Fire
On February 27, 1904, the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison was destroyed by fire. The fire started in the attic and quickly spread, causing extensive damage to the building. The state government was temporarily relocated to the Ithaca High School while repairs were made to the capitol.
5. Prohibition-Era Bootlegging
During Prohibition in the 1920s, bootlegging was a common practice in Wisconsin. The Ithaca area was no exception, and many local farmers and residents made moonshine and sold it illegally. There were several raids and arrests of bootleggers in the area during this time.
6. WWII Prisoner of War Camp
In 1944, a prisoner of war camp was established near Ithaca. The camp held German prisoners who had been captured during WWII. The prisoners worked on local farms and in canning factories. The camp closed in 1945 when the war ended.
7. Tornado Strikes Ithaca
On June 7, 1984, a tornado struck the town of Ithaca, causing extensive damage. Several homes and businesses were destroyed, and several people were injured. The tornado was part of a larger outbreak that affected several states in the Midwest.
In conclusion, the history of the Ithaca area is rich and varied, with significant events taking place over several centuries. From Native American settlements to the arrival of European settlers, to a prisoner of war camp and a devastating tornado, the area has seen its share of triumphs and tragedies. Today, Ithaca remains a small but vibrant community with a deep sense of history and pride in its heritage.
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