Wisconsin State History

Wisconsin State collage of images.

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General State History
Historic Figures

General Wisconsin State History

Various Indian tribes first inhabited the area known as Wisconsin. The Chippewa, Menominee, Oneida, Potwatomi and Ho Chunk tribes lived in the area undisturbed until the late 1880's. The first European explorer to reach Wisconsin was Jean Nicolet; searching for the Northwest Passage to China, he traversed Lake Michigan, landing near Green Bay in 1634.

France laid claim to Wisconsin as part of its territory in the new World in 1672. In 1763, Wisconsin was part of the territory ceded by France to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris. Twenty years later, again at Paris, the British relinquished their claim to Wisconsin; and it became part of the United States.

In 1787, under the Northwest Ordinance, Wisconsin became part of the great territory north and west of the Ohio River out of which Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin were later created. In 1836, the Wisconsin territory was organized, including what are now the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and parts of the Dakotas. The first territorial legislature met at Belmont about 5.5. miles northeast of Platteville. The two-story frame building and grounds surrounding the first capitol are now a state park.

In 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state to be accepted into the Union. The present capitol building in Madison was erected between 1906 and 1917 and the third on this site.
Wisconsin Historic Figures

Georgia O'Keeffe
1887-1986: Of Sun Prairie, is recognized as one of the leading artists of our time.


Frank Lloyd Wright
1867-1959: Arguably the world's greatest architect, was born and raised in Wisconsin.


Harry Houdini
1874-1926: The world's most celebrated magician, was raised in Appleton


Laura Ingalls Wilder
1867-1957: Author of the "Little House" books was born in Pepin.


Aldo Leopold
1887-1948: A famous conservationist, was a professor at UW-Wisconsin.