“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Wisconsin Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on January 21, 2021

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Wisconsin ranks 15th among states and provinces with markers in this database. Wisconsin is a state in the United States of America located in the American Midwest. It is also in the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin is some 65 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 5.8 million people. The state is divided into 72 counties and 71 of them have entries in this database. In Wisconsin we have discovered historical markers in 518 cities and towns lying in 478 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 2,838 historical markers in Wisconsin, by our count. We have cataloged 2,837 historical markers and 113 war memorials—each individually presented on 2,913 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 2.0% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another historical marker in Wisconsin that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

The first Wisconsin marker in the database, Ringling Brothers Circus, was added April 8, 2007. It was photographed near Baraboo in Sauk County and was erected in 1956. The last one added was submitted earlier today, and titled Jorgens Park Preserve / A Tribute. It is near Scandinavia in Waupaca County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Wisconsin was erected in 1868. It was this one: Town of Rhine Civil War Monument, and one of our correspondents found it in Rhine in Sheboygan County on October 8, 2013.

Wisconsin Historical Topics
542 • Settlements and Settlers
511 • Industry and Commerce
376 • Notable Buildings
327 • Sports
316 • Waterways and Vessels
216 • Native Americans
197 • Churches and Religion
190 • Education
163 • Cemeteries and Burial Sites
117 • Roads and Vehicles
    ... and others ...

Wisconsinites don’t want to forget their Settlements and Settlers history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Wisconsin about Settlements and Settlers—542 of them—than about any other historical topic. A close second is Industry and Commerce with 511 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Settlements and Settlers topic was Point Basse, added June 8, 2007. It had been erected in 1963 in Nekoosa in Wood County. The last one submitted also was submitted earlier today, and titled Jorgens Park Preserve / A Tribute. It had been erected near Scandinavia in Waupaca County. The earliest marker erected with the Settlements and Settlers topic that we have listed was erected in 1887. It is Solomon Juneau, found in Milwaukee in Milwaukee County on November 26, 2010.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Wisconsin? What we know is that Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet is the most viewed entry in the database from Wisconsin since it was added in 2007. It is located in Portage in Columbia County. This year so far, the most viewed Wisconsinite entry is located in Ellison Bay in Door County. It is The Clearing.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Wisconsin county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Milwaukee County, with 497 of them. It is followed by Dane County with 430 markers. The Milwaukee area of Milwaukee County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 442. In Dane County the area with the most markers, 315, is Madison.

Historical Markers in These
Wisconsin Counties
497 • Milwaukee County
430 • Dane County
116 • Waukesha County
114 • Manitowoc County
112 • Ozaukee County
105 • Door County
99 • Brown County
80 • Eau Claire County
73 • Columbia County
66 • Chippewa County
    ... and others ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Wisconsin with the most markers we again find Milwaukee at the top of the list with 442 markers in or near it. And Madison also shows up again in next place, with 315 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 53703 at the top of the list with 164 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 53703 is assigned to Madison WI.) It is followed closely by ZIP Code 53203 with 160 markers. (53203 is assigned to Milwaukee WI.)

Historical Markers Near These
Wisconsin Cities and Towns
442 • Milwaukee
315 • Madison
82 • Manitowoc
76 • Eau Claire
67 • Green Bay
50 • Sturgeon Bay
32 • Chippewa Falls
32 • Kenosha
31 • Port Washington
29 • Wisconsin Dells
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Milwaukee County, the first marker added to the database from there, Captain Frederick Pabst, was added June 12, 2008. It was erected in 1992 in Milwaukee. The last one submitted was uploaded on August 31, 2020, and is titled Lake Protestant Cemetery and was erected in 2020, in St. Francis. The earliest marker erected in Milwaukee County that we have listed was erected in 1887. It was Solomon Juneau, found in Milwaukee on November 26, 2010.

Latest entry from Wisconsin. Click to go there
By Keith L, October 10, 2020
Latest Entry from Wisconsin
“Jorgens Park Preserve / A Tribute”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Madison. The first: Yahara River Parkway, was added June 14, 2009. It had been erected in 1996. The last: Forest Hill Soldiers' Lot added on January 3, 2020. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1908: Harvey Hospital, added on July 12, 2010.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

The Wisconsin Historical Society is currently in charge of the familiar tobacco brown with a badger symbol official historical markers found all over the state and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation typically installs and maintains those that are roadside. They erected their first marker in 1951, and we have 428 of their markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from Wisconsin. Click to go there
By Eric Kuntz, January 20, 2017
A Wisconsin Historical Society Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Wisconsin have been marked with history. Check out Menominee County, Forest County and Taylor County. We've only found, respectively, 3, 3, and 2 historical markers there. Visiting one or more of these parts of Wisconsin might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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Jan. 21, 2021