The Mysterious Sinking of the
Edmund Fitzgerald

by Felix Berkelman, age 13

The Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship that ever sank in the Great Lakes, and one of the most famous shipwrecks in the world. Many of the details about its sinking remain unknown.

At 2:30 pm, on November 9th, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald departed from Superior, Wisconsin. Its captain was Ernst M. McSorley, along with 28 other crew members, and 26,116 tons of cargo. [read more]

A Renowned Local Poet - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

by Leila Fletcher, age 17

Society in the latter half of the 19th century held the rigid expectation that women limit their activities and aspirations to housework and raising a family. These expectations were present for, yet irrelevant to, Wisconsin’s most famous poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Ella Wheeler was born to an artistic family on November 5, 1850, in Johnstown, Wisconsin. The family excelled in both music and writing; Ella’s brother, Marcus Wheeler, published articles in the Wisconsin State Journal. Despite their inclination for the arts, they were a farming family, even though farming was not their strong suit. In order to try their luck in a different area, they moved and settled down in Westport, just north of Madison, when Ella was 18 months old. [read more]

How the Civil War Shaped Wisconsin

by Desteny Alvarez, age 14

What does Wisconsin have to do with the Civil War? It turns out, quite a bit.

The Civil War started because the southern states, called the Confederacy, hoped to form their own country with their own laws. Specifically, they wanted to continue using slaves. The northern states, called the Union, wanted to keep all the states together and abolish slavery, a principle backed by President Lincoln. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate army attacked the Union army. This started the Civil War. [read more]

The Significance of Native American Mounds in our State

by Hanna Eyobed, age 14

Have you ever been hiking in the Madison area and seen mounds in the ground? Do you know the significance of a mound to Wisconsin’s history?

There are many kinds of mounds built by Native Americans. They can be shaped like panthers, bears, geese, and turtles. Others can be in the shapes of cones or lines. According to the National Park Service, the mounds were built with very little technology. Builders used baskets to gather and carry dirt to the mound location. Then they began pouring the dirt out and proceeded to press the dirt down with their hands and feet. This process took a few days as they would work from morning to night, padding down the dirt to their desired shape. [read more]

Activist Vel Phillips Left Her Mark on Milwaukee History

by Kadjata Bah, age 14

Wisconsin housing rights champion, Vel Phillips, took on many firsts as a Black woman in Milwaukee.

Coming out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school as the first Black woman to graduate, Phillips went on to pursue a career in local and state government. With the struggles of women and Black people in mind, she first began as a lawyer and activist, later becoming the first Black person and first female alderperson elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 1956. [read more]

The Oneota Were One of the First Settlers in Wisconsin

by Eowyn Gomez Cruz, age 14

After the Mississippians settled in Wisconsin, other groups of Indians began living in Wisconsin. Between 1000 AD and 1630 AD, a group of Indians that the archaeologists called Oneota lived along the Waupaca River. They were the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk and other Indian nations.

The Oneota settled in large villages in southern Wisconsin. They often lived near large bodies of water, such as the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan, but also lived next to smaller rivers. The Dombrowski Site is one of several small Oneota villages found along the Waupaca River in Portage County in the Central Plain. They were excellent farmers: cultivating corn, beans, and squash. The three vegetables were named the “three sisters” by many Native Americans. The “three sisters” grew well together and made for a well-balanced diet. [read more]

How Wisconsin Benefited from Captured Soldiers During World War II

by Devika Pal, age 13

In 1942, a rumor spread around England that Hitler was planning to initiate an airdrop of weapons into the prison camps to bring back Nazi prisoners of war (POWs). Hearing the rumors, England became worried and asked America to house their prisoners. America reluctantly agreed and the Germans, Japanese and Koreans POWs were sent to work in America on empty supply ships known as Liberty Ships.

POWs were first sent to work in military camps, but then the Army realized that prisoners could pay for their keep if they worked in rural areas that lacked manpower. Japanese and Koreans were put in permanent base camps, while the Germans were put in branch camps, camps that were only used if needed and tended to be more lenient. The security varied with the type of camp, some letting prisoners interact with civilians while others kept them segregated. [read more]




Located in Mazomanie, Wisconsin at the intersection of Highway F and Highway 19 is Dane County’s oldest rural elementary school: Halfway Prairie School. From 1844 to 1961, Halfway Prairie School operated as a one room schoolhouse. It was not until 1964 that it became a part of the county park. [read more...]
The Midwest, especially the state of Wisconsin, is covered with thousands of ancient effigy mounds. From ground level, these mounds usually just look like small hills, but they were actually created by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Some of these mounds are over 1,500 years old and can be over 100 meters in diameter. These mounds are usually made in the shape of an animal or human. It is believed that they were often built at the base of hills in order for the entire mound to be seen during construction. [read more...]
Harry Whitehorse, a world renowned Native American, carver and painter, worked with wood, metals, paints and snow to make art. The Ho-Chunk artist and native of Black River Falls, Wisconsin is well known for his sculptures, statues, and murals around the world. Ten of his pieces are included in the Madison area. [read more...]
Outside of the Midwest, The Upper Peninsula is by all accounts a puzzle to a significant part of the U.S. populace. Shockingly, even to the absolute midwest, it is normal to imagine that the Upper Peninsula is a piece of Canada; and some of the time course readings do not have the foggiest idea what express the Upper Peninsula is in. The vast majority accept that the Upper Peninsula is bordered by water in other locations. [read more...]
Society in the latter half of the 19th century held the rigid expectation that women limit their activities and aspirations to housework and raising a family. These expectations were present for, yet irrelevant to, Wisconsin’s most famous poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox. [read more...]
Things took a turn for the worse, however, when doctors noticed an irregular heartbeat during one of Slayton’s training sessions. They realized Slayton had atrial fibrillation, which did not affect his physical performance but made people in Washington nervous. Slayton was deemed unfit to fly just two years before his flight. He was pulled as an astronaut from Project Mercury and Slayton decided to return home to Wisconsin. [read more...]
Have you ever been hiking in the Madison area and seen mounds in the ground? Do you know the significance of a mound to Wisconsin’s history? [read more...]
Wisconsin housing rights champion, Vel Phillips, took on many firsts as a Black woman in Milwaukee. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered how the Odana Pond came to be? [read more...]
Do you know the significance of both the city of Aztalan and the Mississippians in Wisconsin’s history? [read more...]
What does Wisconsin have to do with the Civil War? It turns out, quite a bit. [read more...]
After the Mississippians settled in Wisconsin, other groups of Indians began living in Wisconsin. Between 1000 AD and 1630 AD, a group of Indians that the archaeologists called Oneota lived along the Waupaca River. They were the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk and other Indian nations. [read more...]
Being black in Wisconsin can be hard. African-Americans come across many challenges in life compared to other groups of people, who may or may not encounter the same type of events in the state. [read more...]
Imagine having to campaign to keep commercial businesses from building over the cemetery your grandmother is buried in. This is a struggle that many Native Americans face today. Every day, they see their culture and what their ancestors built being taken away and destroyed. [read more...]
The Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship that ever sank in the Great Lakes, and one of the most famous shipwrecks in the world. Many of the details about its sinking remain unknown. [read more...]
Have you ever asked yourself: why are barns in Wisconsin painted red? Contrary to the myth that farms were painted red so that cows could find their way home, it turns out that this strategy is non-factual because cattle are colorblind to the colors red and green. It'll surprise many to hear that barns weren't even originally red. [read more...]
About 11,000 years ago, a man died in what is now Nevada. The body was placed in a blanket and buried at a place called Spirit Cave. Recent research and scientific discoveries, including new research at Spirit Cave, are changing what we know about prehistory. [read more...]
Wisconsin got its nickname “The Badger State” before it became a state. In the 1800’s , Wisconsin was actually Native American land that contained a lot of lead. [read more...]
The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was one of the largest ships to ever roam North America's Great Lakes. It is also one of the most famous, and is widely known for its mysterious disappearance. The Fitzgerald is the largest ship to sink on Lake Superior. [read more...]
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is suggesting several new requirements that the group says will strengthen Wisconsin’s open government rules, allow government bodies to operate with more transparency, and provide the public with better access to important information. [read more...]
In 1942, a rumor spread around England that Hitler was planning to initiate an airdrop of weapons into the prison camps to bring back Nazi prisoners of war (POWs). Hearing the rumors, England became worried and asked America to house their prisoners. America reluctantly agreed and the Germans, Japanese and Koreans POWs were sent to work in America on empty supply ships known as Liberty Ships. [read more...]
The McCarthy Youth & Conservation County Park is a spacious park in Cottage Grove that offers many activities for families and friends to enjoy. The park’s 285 acres of land features equestrian trails, hiking trails, camping sites, sledding hills, snowshoe trails, cross-country ski trails, picnic areas, and archery areas. [read more...]
The University of Wisconsin-Madison's student-run newspaper, The Daily Cardinal celebrates its 125th birthday this year. Its first edition hit newsstands on April 4th, 1892. Today, The Cardinal continues to publish local and national news online and in print. [read more...]
One hot day this summer, Deney, Sarah, Josepha, drove all the way from the Free Press newsroom off West Broadway to Appleton, Wisconsin, ready to learn about space and geology. We embarked on this journey to attend the annual Wisconsin Space Grant Conference, titled “Uncharted Lands: Geology and Space.” While we were in the city, we visited the Weis Earth Science Museum to learn about fossils, rocks, and minerals. [read more...]
Ever since the redistricting maps of 2011, gerrymandering in Wisconsin has been in the political spotlight. Redistricting―redrawing voting district boundaries―is a regular occurrence in the United States. It’s intended to adjust political maps based on population and allow for fair elections. Unfortunately, it has been manipulated to further political agendas in an act called “gerrymandering.” Since the majority party draws the lines, redistricting is often used to suppress opposition and keep a certain party in power. However, an increasing number of voters and politicians are calling for reform of the redistricting process to create fairer voting districts. [read more...]
Plum and Pilot Islands, two small islands off the Door County coast had been apparently fading into the background of local people's daily lives for decades. However, in 2007 with the creation of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, a non-profit formed by local citizens, the fortunes of the islands began to change. [read more...]
The Midwest harbors many fascinating many mounds, burial sites, and historical landmarks - some are even located in Wisconsin. [read more...]
When one thinks of a magician, one might imagine card tricks or a guy pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The famous Harry Houdini did more than that, however: he was an escape artist. [read more...]
The Menominee people are some of Wisconsin’s oldest residents and have practiced sustained-yield forestry on their lands for hundreds of years. However, due to laws and treaties set by the United States, the Menominee have had to fight to regain control of their forests. [read more...]
The Capital Times, founded by William T. Evjue, turns 100 years old this year. Current editor emeritus, Dave Zweifel, is proud of the newspaper’s long and rich history. In fact, Mr. Zweifel refers to The Capital Times as Madison's proudly radical newspaper. [read more...]
The Ringling Brothers Circus was one of the best circuses ever, and it all began right in Baraboo, Wisconsin! [read more...]
The Great Chicago Fire was a very devastating event in history. It killed many people and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property. [read more...]
Simpson Street, the road on which Simpson Street Free Press was established, was once a corn field and the Royal Airport. The area around Antler’s Tavern—a beloved institution—has been through many challenges, but it’s always had a strong sense of community. [read more...]
About 250 people died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The famous, or infamous, Chicago Fire remains a sad and well-known chapter in American history. What many people don’t know is that up to 2,400 people died in a much larger but relatively unknown fire in northeast Wisconsin. The Peshtigo Fire was the deadliest fire in United States history. Both of these fires occurred on the tragic evening of October 8, 1871. [read more...]
A new exhibit recently opened to the public at Henry Vilas Zoo. The exhibit celebrates Wisconsin history and the creatures who are the face behind it all—badgers. [read more...]
For years, science education has been an important part of the Simpson Street Free Press curriculum – so has museum trips. Recently, I joined other teen editors for a wonderful weekend in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where we attended the annual Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Conference and the famous Pump House Regional Arts Center. [read more...]
We met at our South Towne newsroom early one Wednesday morning—most of us with droopy eyes and tired faces. It was early, but we were excited for the day’s adventure: we were headed westward toward Mount Horeb to visit the village’s new Driftless Historium & Mount Horeb Area Historical Society. [read more...]
In the 21st century, the world is at our fingertips. Smartphones provide the answers to any question imaginable in just a few seconds. These pocket-sized devices also allow users to connect with others almost anytime, anywhere. Yet while we may take them for granted, smartphones didn’t always exist: inventors worked through decades of design to bring us the modern phone we have today. [read more...]
Back in the 1800s, many Irish people emigrated to Wisconsin. To this day, their descendants continue to live throughout the state and influence its culture. [read more...]
The original model of the typewriter was finished in 1867. Christopher Latham Sholes and other inventors developed the typewriter in a small machine shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After a few years of improvements, the world’s first practical typewriter was introduced in 1874. [read more...]
We recently made a trip to downtown Madison. Simpson Street Free Press writers, Lucy Ji, Alex Lee, and Helen Zhang, visited the City-Council Building looking for another piece of local history. What we found was a little-known treasure that is both history and art. [read more...]