Madison, Wis. – Two additions will be made to Wisconsin’s official list of State Historical Markers this month, part of a 3-year initiative that aims to elevate underrepresented histories throughout the state.
The Wisconsin Historical Society was awarded a $75,190 grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation in 2021 with funding to support the creation and installation of new markers as well as the replacement of markers containing inaccurate or outdated language. Focused on Native American and Black history, respectively, the two markers will be located in Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee County and Lake Ivanhoe in Walworth County.
A dedication ceremony will be held for the Tee Sisikeja (Bad Waters Village) marker—the 600th State Historical Marker to be erected in Wisconsin—on Monday, October 17 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis. Located within what is now State Fair Park, the marker highlights the area’s significant Native American history.
“State Fair Park welcomes more than a million visitors each year, however, many don’t realize the historical significance this area holds for Native Americans,” said Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, Wisconsin State Fair Park board member. “Updating the placement and language of the existing burial mound historical markers was a collaborative effort that ultimately makes it possible to share a piece of Wisconsin’s story with respect for Native American cultures and traditions.”
While most of the indigenous burial mounds that once stood in Milwaukee County no longer remain, two are still located in State Fair Park today. The dome-shaped earthworks are near a former village site and have a shape and style typical for the period between 2,700-1,500 years ago. After European contact, Native Americans from villages along the Menominee River or travelling to trade in Milwaukee laid their loved ones to rest within the ancient structures.
“Collaborative efforts to create memorial markers focused on Indigenous culture provide educational opportunities for all park users to enjoy,” said Bill Quackenbush, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation. “Working alongside the Wisconsin Historical Society and representatives from the Wisconsin State Fair Park has been nothing short of an amazing experience in that sharing our knowledge of Tee Sisikeja helps to assure there are appropriate protection and preservation practices taking place towards burial mounds of this nature.”
The Lake Ivanhoe marker focuses on a place considered to be Wisconsin’s first Black-owned resort community, located six miles east of Lake Geneva in Walworth County. Three Black community leaders from Chicago, Jeremiah Brumfeld, Frank Anglin and Bradford Watson, founded it as a resort destination and safe haven for middle-class African Americans in 1926. The resort was an immediate success, and Black families enjoyed the lake and the outdoors in safety. The Lake Ivanhoe Property Owners Association was instrumental in bringing the story of Lake Ivanhoe forward and played a leading role in the historic marker initiative.
“We are grateful for the funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation that has supported this important work of preserving and sharing more stories of Wisconsin’s rich and diverse history, like that of the Lake Ivanhoe community,” said Christian Overland, Director & CEO for the Wisconsin Historical Society. “The Lake Ivanhoe marker would not have been possible without the support of and close collaboration with the community and their dedication to sharing local history.”
The Lake Ivanhoe marker will be dedicated on Saturday, October 15 in a ceremony hosted by the Lake Ivanhoe Property Owners Association.
For more information about the Wisconsin Historical Markers Program, visit: https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS48
About the Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both an independent state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people every year through a wide range of sites, programs and services. For more information, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.
About the Pomeroy Foundation
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation® is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and working to improve the probability of finding appropriate donor matches or other life-saving treatments for blood cancer patients. Established by Trustee Bill Pomeroy in 2005 to bring together his two greatest passions, the Pomeroy Foundation is a private, philanthropic organization located in Syracuse, N.Y. As the nation’s leading funder of historic roadside markers, the Pomeroy Foundation has awarded nearly 2,000 grants for markers and bronze plaques in 46 states and Washington, D.C. To learn more about the Pomeroy Foundation, visit wgpfoundation.org.
About Wisconsin State Fair Park:
Wisconsin State Fair Park is a year-round entertainment venue hosting hundreds of events and meetings annually throughout the four seasons, including the annual Wisconsin State Fair, presented by UScellular. The Wisconsin State Fair takes place for 11-day each year in early August, and annually welcomes an average of one million visitors to experience the state’s largest agriculture showcase as well as a plethora of food, shopping, rides, games and entertainment. The Fair Park is home to the Exposition Center, Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center, Milwaukee Mile Speedway, Wisconsin Products Pavilion, and many other facilities. Visit WiStateFair.com for more details.