Wisconsin, The Badger State

Wisconsin, The Badger State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Wisconsin’s nickname is the Badger State. Lead miners slept in the 1800s. The miners were called badgers after the animal, eventually giving the state its nickname.

The way Wisconsin got is its name is from a river. What is now known as the Wisconsin River was misspelled several times by the French from the Marquette word for Meskousing. It was also written as Miskous and Miskonsing—and later, Ouisconsing, which is how the local tribes pronounced the river’s name. When the 1825 lead mining rush brought folks to the territory, the pronunciation evolved to Wisconsin.

The early history of Wisconsin

Potawatomi, Menominee, Ojibwa, and Winnebago were tribes in Wisconsin early in its history. In the 1630s, French explorer Jean Nicolet came to the area. French and British fur trappers soon followed, drawn there by the abundant wildlife. Great Britain won the land after the French and Indian War.

Lead mining rush

In 1825, many miners rushed to the area when rich deposits of lead were discovered.

Badgers are animals that dig holes and live in underground burrows. Folks began to call the miners badgers because some of the miners lived in shelters dug into hills.

The area became the Wisconsin Territory in 1836.

Wisconsin becomes a state

Wisconsin became the 30th state on May 29, 1848.

America’s Dairyland

cheese-2829034_960_720Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. With about 2 million cows, the state makes more cheese than the other states.

First Kindergarten

In 1856, Margarethe Meyer Schurz taught the first kindergarten class in the United States. Five students in Watertown, Wisconsin, learned by singing and playing and working together in groups.

Margarethe had learned about kindergartens “a garden where children grow” from growing up in Germany. Children—and parents—are happy she brought the idea to America!


Other fun facts about Wisconsin

hamburger-1238246_960_720Head to Burger Fest in Seymour for an annual festival celebrating the hamburger. They give Charlie Nagreen credit for creating the first hamburger in 1885—he was 15!

Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote Little House in the Big Woods, was born in 1867, near Pepin. Her books show the pioneer’s life.

In Milwaukee, William Harley and Arthur Davidson built the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1903.

The state capital is Madison.

The state bird is the robin.

The state flower is the wood violet.



50 States Our America: Time for Kids, Time Inc. Books, 2017.

“America’s First Kindergarten Teacher,” Wisconsin Historical Society, 2019/01/17 https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS4385.

Balkan, Gabrielle. The 50 States, Wide Eyed Editions, 2015.

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About The 50 States, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

Fast Facts About the 50 States. Children’s Press, 2010.

Keenan, Sheila. Greetings from the 50 States, Scholastic Inc., 2008.



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