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Northwest Quiz: Local History

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Our nation is very young, but thousands of important events have already been forgotten. Test your knowledge of our northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin region. No peeking; answers below.

1. Which state university was established first?
A) Illinois State University in Normal
B) University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
C) University of Wisconsin

2. Which of these Wisconsin-area native tribes abandoned its settlements along the Rock River and Turtle Creek, near present-day Beloit?
A) Oneida
B) Menominee
C) Potawatomi
D) Ho-Chunk

3. The Illinois Territory (not state) was established when?
A) 1709
B) 1759
C) 1809
D) 1859

4. True or False? Illinois Gov. Richard Yates (1818-1873) sent more troops to aid the Union during the Civil War than any other state.

5. Which state has the fourth-largest U.S. Amish population?
A) Illinois
B) Iowa
C) Wisconsin
D) Minnesota

6. In 1837, the Illinois capital moved to Springfield from what city?
A) Chicago
B) Freeport
C) Galena
D) Vandalia

7. A pair of Europeans explored the “Illinois country” in 1673. Who were they?
A) Marquette and Joliet
B) Ferrante and Teicher
C) Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
D) Amerigo and Vespucci

8. True or False? Wisconsin is known as the Badger State because the burrowing animal was so prevalent during early European settlement.

9. What’s the oldest city in Wisconsin?
A) Green Bay
B) Madison
C) Lake Geneva
D) Stevens Point

10. The first female mayor of Chicago was elected when?
A) 1959
B) 1969
C) 1979
D) 1989

11. What famous movie director/actor was born 30 miles east of Lake Geneva?
A) Ron Howard
B) Orson Welles
C) George Clooney
D) Alfred Hitchcock

12. True or False? The first tank battle of WWII was fought mostly by soldiers from Illinois.

13. When was the first rail line laid in Illinois?
A) 1798
B) 1838
C) 1888
D) 1938

14. What’s the location of Wisconsin’s most disastrous railroad crash?
A) Johnson Creek
B) Milwaukee
C) Madison
D) Mineral Point

15. What famous 19th century American writer was born in Oak Park, Ill., in 1899?
A) Mark Twain
B) Henry David Thoreau
C) Edgar Allen Poe
D) Ernest Hemingway

Quiz Answers

1. C. The UW was founded in 1848. ISU was founded shortly before the Civil War, in 1857. The U of I was founded in 1867.

2. D. The Ho-Chunk tribe abandoned its settlement in the 1830s, when U.S. troops came through during the Black Hawk War.

3. C. 1809 (Illinois was established as the 21st state in 1818.)

4. True. Yates, a Whig-turned Republican, served in both the Illinois and U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

5. C. Wisconsin’s Amish population ranks fourth after Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

6. D. Vandalia was the Illinois capital from 1820 to 1835.

7. A. French explorers Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Joliet (1645-1700) descended the Mississippi to the Arkansas River and returned to Wisconsin via the Illinois River. They were the first Europeans to reach the Illinois country.

8. False. Wisconsin earned the moniker because of “the Badger Boys,” an insulting title for the miners in the southwestern part of the state. Their winter burrows, built into the hills, resembled the lodgings of badgers.

9. A. Green Bay was founded as a trading post in 1634, which was 142 years before the U.S. was founded. Chicago wasn’t founded until 1833.

10. C. Mayor Jane Byrne was elected in 1979.

11. B. Orson Welles was born in Kenosha in 1915. He also spent time living in Grand Detour, Ill., as a child.

12. True. On Dec. 21, 1941, a platoon of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, with crews made up mainly of Illinois National Guardsmen, fought the first tank battle of WWII on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines.

13. B. 1838

14. A. Johnson Creek. In 1859, a train was thrown into a ditch after hitting a large ox; 14 people died. A public outcry asked farmers to take more responsibility for their livestock.

15. D. Ernest Hemingway. Poe (1809) and Thoreau (1817) were Massachusetts natives and Twain (aka Samuel Clemens b. 1835) hailed from Missouri.

Sources: Illinois State Historical Society Association and Wisconsin Historical Society

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