The winter season is a terrific time to cozy up by the fire with a good history book (or laptop) and learn some facts about our region to share with family and friends. This quiz is sure to spark your curiosity. The Illinois State Historical Association and the Wisconsin Historical Society, the resources we used here, are excellent starting places. No peeking! Answers posted below.
1. True or False: Under the leadership of Gov. Richard Yates (1818-1873), Illinois sent more troops to aid the Union during the Civil War than any other state.
2. Which of these Wisconsin-area native tribes abandoned its settlements along the Rock River and Turtle Creek, near present-day Beloit, Wis.?
3. The Illinois Territory was established in what year?
4. Which state university was established first?
a. Illinois State in Normal
b. University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
5. The very first book ever printed in Wisconsin was an almanac printed by a Catholic priest for whom?
a. German immigrant farmers
b. Ojibwe natives
c. Early territorial explorers
d. Dairy farmers
6. In 1837, the Illinois capital moved to Springfield from what city?
7. A pair of Europeans explored the “Illinois country” in 1673. Who were they?
a. Marquette and Joliet
b. Ferrante and Teicher
c. Coronado and Cortes
d. Amerigo and Vespucci
8. True or False: Wisconsin is known as the Badger State because the burrowing animal was so widespread during early European settlements.
9. What disaster killed 111 people in Centralia, Ill., in 1947?
b. Factory fire
d. Coal mine explosion
10. The first female mayor of Chicago was elected when?
11. According to legend, Lake Geneva, Wis., was originally called this name.
a. Finger Lake
b. Big Hand Lake
c. Big Foot Lake
d. Elbow Lake
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?
14. Where was the location of Wisconsin’s first, and most disastrous, railroad crash?
a. Johnson Creek
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 Allan Poe
d. Ernest Hemingway
1. True. Yates, a Whig-turned-Republican, was Illinois governor from 1861 to 1865. He also served in both the Illinois and U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate.
2. D. The Ho-Chunk tribe lived along the Rock River and Turtle Creek, where the city of Beloit, Wis., is today. The tribe abandoned its settlement around the 1830s, when U.S. troops came through during the Black Hawk wars.
3. C. 1809 (Illinois was established as the 21st state in 1818).
4. A. ISU was established just before the Civil War in 1857, and U of I just after it, in 1867.
5. B. Ojibwe natives were the subject of the first book published in Wisconsin, in 1833 or 1834. The Kikinawadendamoiwewin, or almanac, collected tribal information for tribe members and for visitors unfamiliar with that culture.
6. D. Vandalia was the capitol of Illinois from 1820 to 1835, when it was moved to Springfield.
7. A. French explorers Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Jolliet (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 a badger.
9. D. On March 25, 1947, 111 coal miners died in an explosion in Centralia. (In 1942, more U.S. coal miners died than WW II U.S. Armed Forces.) The event prompted the U.S. House and Senate to enact safety and security legislation for miners and their families.
10. C. Jayne Byrne became Chicago’s first lady mayor in 1979.
11. C. Big Foot Lake was the original name for Lake Geneva, because of its resemblance to a foot. The name was changed by a land surveyor who thought the lake resembled Seneca Lake, near Geneva, New York.
12. True. On Dec. 21, 1941, a platoon of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion tanks, 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 was the site of Wisconsin’s first rail crash, on Nov. 1, 1859. The train was thrown into a ditch and five passenger cars were smashed together after it hit a large ox. The animal had fallen under the cow catcher and snagged beneath the locomotive.
15. D. Ernest Hemingway. Poet Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Ill., in 1878. Poe (1809) and Thoreau (1817) were Massachusetts natives.
Sources: Illinois State Historical Association and Wisconsin Historical Society