“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Waunakee in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Ella Wheeler Wilcox Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, June 12, 2010
1. Ella Wheeler Wilcox Marker
"Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone"

Wisconsin's most famous poet, who penned these lines, grew up on a Town of Westport farm located on the south side of Easy Street east of County I. She attended a one-room country school a half-mile east of that intersection. From 1917 to 1962, an elementary school at that site was named in her honor.

Two of Ella's essays appeared in the New York Mercury when she was only fourteen. Her prolific pen produced forty books, numerous magazine articles and a nationally syndicated advice column. She became a world traveler, patroness of aspiring young writers and internationally acclaimed celebrity.

Her poetry had a sentimental appeal that touched millions of hearts. She loved people and they loved her. No other Wisconsin poet has commanded such a large audience.
Erected 1982 by Dane County Historical Society. (Marker Number 20.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Wisconsin, Dane County Historical Society marker series.
Location. 43° 12.398′ N, 89° 24.353′ W. Marker is near Waunakee, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is on Easy Street 0.3 miles east of County
Ella Wheeler Wilcox Homestead image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, June 12, 2010
2. Ella Wheeler Wilcox Homestead
This is the area described in the marker as being the location of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's childhood home.
Route I, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Waunakee WI 53597, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Schumacher Farm (approx. 1.7 miles away); Andreas Dahl (approx. 4.2 miles away); The De Forest Depot (approx. 4.2 miles away); De Forest Centennial (approx. 4.3 miles away); Our Bell (approx. 4.5 miles away); Site of the First Well in DeForest (approx. 5 miles away); Eagle Effigy (approx. 5.3 miles away); Warner Park (approx. 5.4 miles away).
Regarding Ella Wheeler Wilcox. According to David V. Mollenhoff, Madison: A History of the Formative Years (2nd ed.), p. 224, Wheeler was inspired to write the lines quoted on the marker "by an experience she had in February 1882. She boarded a late-morning train at Westport for the ten-mile trip to Madison, where she planned to be a houseguest of the Braleys [see related marker] and attend the inaugural ball that evening for Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk. Wheeler boarded the train in high spirits, but then as she took her seat, she saw a friend dressed in black, her body shaking with sobs. The last time Wheeler had seen her friend, she was a radiant bride. But now she was a widow. Wheeler sat beside the sobbing young woman and tried
Ella Wheeler Wilcox image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, circa 1901
3. Ella Wheeler Wilcox
to console her, but she found that instead of cheering up her friend, she was enveloped in her friend's sorrow.

When Wheeler arrrived in Madison, she was greeted by the vivacious Mrs. Braley, who excitedly told her about their plans for the late afternoon and evening. Immediately Wheeler was swept into a world of laughter and happiness, and as the day passed the plight of her recently widowed friend completely passed from her mind. However, as she stood before the mirror that evening in the Braley home preparing for the gala ball, a vision of her mourning friend came rushing back and she realized how quickly she had forgotten her friend's sorrow. She contrasted the joy of her situation with the sadness of her friend. It was at that moment that Wheeler conceived those famous lines, "Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone." [sic]

The elementary school referenced in the marker could not be located.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. These are other markers related to Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Also see . . .  Dane County Historical Society. Society newsletter article on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. (Submitted on October 9, 2011, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.) 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicNotable Persons
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,074 times since then and 95 times this year. Last updated on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   3. submitted on . • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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