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Firsts & Landmarks
So you thought you knew all about Racine and all of its history...READ ON!
Note: When dealing with firsts many things can be questioned --

Remember the old cliché

However with documentation,
we will add to -- or change any listing.
All illustrations are from the Oak Clearing Museum Achives.




October 10, 1699 a fleet of eight canoes bearing a party of French explorers entered the mouth of Root River.
These were the first known white men
to visit what is now Racine County. The earliest names for Racine were Indian versions of Root River, "Chippecotton".

November 1834 - Captain Gilbert Knapp
accompanied by three men came to the mouth of the Root River, built a hut
and made the first settlement in Racine County
which he called "Port Gilbert"


Gurdon S. Hubbard

The first owners of the original plat were Gilbert Knapp, Gurdon S. Hubbard and Jacob Barker.

The first woman settler in the City of Racine was Sarah Milligan, August ,1835.

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The first white woman in Racine County Mrs. Elam Beardsley (Caledonia) January 1835.
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The first white child born in Racine County was Emma Cary, August 31,1835 the daughter of B.B. Cary.
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The first white boy born in Racine was Henry Meyers, son of J.M. Meyers.
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The first magistrate was Joel Sage.
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The first hotel was built on Main Street near Third in 1835 by John Pagan.
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The first general store was operated by Glen & Mason.
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The first shoemaker was Samuel Lane.
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The first blacksmith was William Chamberlain.
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The first saw mill in area was built by William See, at the Root River rapids (Horlick’s Dam ) in 1835.

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The first brick mason was Ira Dean.
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The first physician was Bushnell B. Cary

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The first sermon preached in Racine was by
Rev. Mark Robinson in 1835.
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Racine was first laid out in lots and blocks
in the winter of 1835-36.
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The first brick maker was Benjamin Pratt in 1836.
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The first Methodist minister stationed here was Samuel Pillsbury in 1836.
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The first Presbyterian pastor was Rev. Cyrus Nichols in 1836.
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The first school was started by a Mr. Bradley in 1836.
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The first school building was built on the northeast corner of Main and Third Streets.
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The first post office in the area was established at the Rapids and was called Root River in 1835.
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The first Post master was A.B. Saxton. In 1836 it was moved to Racine and Bushnell B. Cary became postmaster.
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The first lawyer was Marshall M. Strong, June, 1836.

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December 7, 1836 Governor Henry Dodge approved the act of creating the county of Racine.
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December 29, 1836 the first wedding in the City of Racine was celebrated. The contracting parties were Alfred Cary and Mary Knight.
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The first Church built in Racine was the First Methodist in 1837.
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The first large hotel was the Racine House built in 1837.

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April 4, 1837 the first election of county officers was held in the County of Racine.
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The first jail was built of logs in 1838.
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The first private school was conducted by Mrs. Gilbert Knapp in 1838.
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The first bridge was built over Root River at Main Street in 1838. It was carried away by flood waters in 1843.
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January 2, 1838 the first civil townships in Racine County were created by an act of the legislature.
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January 19, 1838 the Racine & Rock River Railroad Co. incorporated , and was the first chartered railroad company in Racine County.
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February 14, 1838 the Racine Argus was the first newspaper printed in Racine County .

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December 22, 1838 the building of a Territorial Road from Racine to Madison was authorized by the legislature.
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The first Danish settler was John Bangs in 1839.

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The First Presbyterian Church Was Founded
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Racine's First Courthouse was built on the Public Square in 1839

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March, 1839 the first sale of Government lands in Racine County was conducted in Milwaukee.
Sale price $1.25 per acre.
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August, 31, 1839 the first lighthouse in Racine began operation. It stood on the south bluff at the end of Seventh Street. The present site of the Racine Public Library.

February 13, 1841 Racine was incorporated as a village.

The first president of the village was Dr. Elias Smith, 1841.

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The first Village election was held April, 1841.
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The first Welsh Settlers Arrived in 1841, including Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Davis, Griffith Richard and Thomas Jehu.
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The first Norwegian settler was Miss Ann N. Sellem in 1841.
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The first Public school was built in 1842 at College Avenue and Seventh Streets.
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The first Public schoolteacher was Samuel W. Hill.
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Jerome I. Case built his first thresher in Rochester, Wi. in 1842.

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The first German Settler was George Hyde in 1842.
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Allen Porter opens a cabinetry shop in 1842.
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April 5 , 1842 the first school commission was organized.
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The first fire company was organized in 1843.
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The first leather tannery owned by S.N. Norris, opened March 3, 1843
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The first Circus Nichols & Co. came to town August 11, 1843
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The first fire wardens in 1843, were Chester White, Amaziah Stebbins and Elias Smith.
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In 1844 the population of Racine was 1,920.
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The first foundry was operated by Wilson & Burgess in 1844.
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The first cemetery superintendent was Owen Roberts in 1844.
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J. I. Case moved his threshing machine business
to Racine in 1844.

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June 8, 1844 the propeller "Racine" arrived and was honored with a stand of colors by the people of the village.
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June 17, 1844 the first steam dredge arrived and began work on the harbor.
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July 4, 1844 the first celebration of Independence Day was held in the Village of Racine.
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July 14, 1844 the first steam ship "Chesapeake" entered the harbor at Racine.
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The first Village of Racine bonding experience was for a $5,000.00 harbor improvement in 1844.
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The first court house bell was made at Racine Bell Foundry in 1845.
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In 1845 a new hotel opened under the title "Congress Hall" (pictured). The building was one of the most exstensive and splendid brick structures in the territory. It was erected by the Hon. Lorenzo Janes and was located at 3rd and Lake Avenues.

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April 30, 1846 a charter was issued to the first "Odd Fellows" Lodge in Racine County.
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In 1846 Daniel Slauson Built the Federal Style Methodist Parsonage building at 504 Park Avenue.

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August 8, 1848 the City of Racine was incorporated.
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The first mayor was Reuben M. Norton in 1848.

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October 6, 1848 the first meeting of the Racine City Council was held
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In 1850, the first city directory of Racine was published by Mark Miller.
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The First Plank Road built in State of Wisconsin was built in Racine County, as far as Rochester, WI.---- According to page 6 of the 1850 Mark Miller directory.
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September 27,1851 land was purchased for a "poor farm" to be located in the Town of Yorkville.
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The First Presbyterian Church at Seventh Street and College Avenue was built in 1851.

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November 18, 1851 thirty acres of land was purchased for Mound Cemetery.
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May 5, 1852 the corner stone of the First Racine College buildings was laid.

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June 5, 1852 Mound Cemetery was formally dedicated.
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The first meeting of the Wisconsin Teachers’ Association was held in Racine in August, 1852.
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The first Racine High school was built in 1853.

The first School principal was John G. McMynn in 1853.

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November 15, 1853 the first bank in Racine County was chartered the Racine County Bank.
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In 1854, the First Congregational Church building 826 State Street was built.
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Brewer and Dufrocq opened their doors in Racine. The only pipe and reed organ manufacturer west of New York.
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February 24, 1855 the Racine Gas Light & Coke Co. was incorporated .
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The first railroad built in Racine county was the Racine, Janesville & Mississippi which was completed to Burlington in 1855.
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In 1856 Henry S. Durand built the finest Italianate Mansion in Racine located at 1012 South Main. The building now houses the Masonic Temple.
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In 1857 the McClurg building, 245 South Main Street,
was built in the Italianate style. The building was considered the first fire proof building constructed in the city.
It survived the "great fire" of 1882,
which destroyed numerous buildings in north east portion of Racine’s downtown.

December 24, 1857 the first graduating high school class in the State of Wisconsin
were ten scholars graduating from Racine High School.

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W.A. Porter, son of Allen Porter, relocates and expands Porter's Furniture Store. Which operates still to this day on 6th Street in downtown Racine.
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October 18, 1858 the first Racine Police Force was established by the City council.
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October 1859 the first train car load of coal was brought to Racine to see if it could be used for fuel.
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May 2, 1861 the first Civil War company from Racine, left Camp Randall at Madison.
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In 1861 J.I. Case employed 120 men. $1.25 was the average daily wage.
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In 1862 St. Catherine's Academy was opened by Mother M. Benedicta and Mother Thomasina, Dominican nuns.
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In 1866 St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (pictured)
624 South main street
was built in a Victorian Gothic Style.

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January 4,1866 a $150.000. fire destroys property near Fifth and Wisconsin Streets.
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In 1866 the first baseball game was played between two teams of the Racine Baseball Club.
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In 1867 William Dingee built the French "Second Empire" mansion located at 827 Lake Avenue.

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October 1, 1867 the first steam fire engine was purchased for the Racine Department.
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In 1868 the Thomas Jones mansion, 1144 South Main Street was built in the Italianate Style.

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March 14, 1870 the Racine county Old Settler’s Society was organized.
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December 25, 1870 a $50,000 fire destroys the Racine Woolen Mills building.

July 17, 1872 the Taylor Orphan Asylum of Racine was opened.

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In 1873 Horlicks Food Company was established in Chicago Illinois . The business was known as J. & W. Horlick's Food.
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In 1873 the Rev. Dr. James W. Carhart of Racine built the first light self propelled highway vehicle in the United States and probably the first in the world. It was named "Spark" and was driven by a two cylinder engine. Carhart became known as the "Father of Automobiles."

In 1874 the Racine Post Office was located in the Gorton Block at 5th and Main Streets until 1897. The site was later occupied by a succession of banks. It now houses the Racine Art museum (R.A.M.).

Built in 1875 St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1533 Erie Street is another fine example of Victorian Gothic Style.

May 18 1875 James and William Horlick were issued a U.S. patent for thier infant and invalid food.

The original St. Luke’s Hospital building at 1310 College Avenue was built in 1876.

July 4, 1876 the corner stone of the second Racine County Court House was laid.

In 1877 Horlicks Food Company built thier first building in Racine designed especially for the manufacturing of their celebrated " Horlick's Infant & Invalids Food."

February 13, 1877 the First Baptist Church building at Main and Sixth Streets, was destroyed by fire.

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In 1879 Racine's first Telephone Exchange was established by P. J. Tracy. There were 24 subscribers.
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In 1880 the Wind Point Light House was constructed.
The tower rises 112 feet above the lake.
It said to be the "Oldest and Tallest Lighthouse still standing on the Great Lakes."

In 1880 the Charles ( Karel ) Jonas house was built at 1337 Erie Street.
Jonas was one of our country's outstanding Bohemian- American Leaders.

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In 1882 Racine Fire house Number 1
was built at 1412 Racine Street.
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St Mary's Hospital serves its first patient in 1882

May 2, 1882 a great fire destroyed
a large northeast section of downtown Racine.

September 1, 1882 the first free postal delivery
in Racine was inaugurated.

September 4, 1882 plans for a new City Hall at the corner of 3rd and Main street were adopted.

May 18,1883 a great tornado passed over the north side of Racine, killing eight people.

May 23,1883 the Belle City Street Railway Co. was granted a franchise and the first Racine street railway system began.

June 5, 1883 William Horlick produced and patented the first powered milk in the world. He named his new product "Malted Milk"

July 4, 1884 the Racine "Civil War Soldiers" Monument was dedicated.

The first horse known to hold two world records for trotter and pacer was Jay - Eye - See,
owned by Jerome I. Case. The horse won his first record in 1884.

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March 22, 1885 the first meeting of the city council
was held in Racine's new city hall building at 3rd and Main Streets.
The building was designed by James Chandler.
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In 1886 Samuel C. Johnson founded one of Racine's largest industries named Johnsons Wax. This company still flourishes today.

In 1886 the building at 314 Sixth Street was constructed for the Racine branch of the Y.M.C.A.

In 1886 Racine's first toboggan slide was built at the west end of Eighth Street on the bank of the Root River.

February 1, 1887 Racine’s first major water works began operation.

The first known Black man to hold public office
in Racine was Peter D. Thomas
who was elected coroner in 1887.

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In 1888 Racine Fire Station Number 4
was constructed at 1339 Lincoln street.
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The old Chicago & Northwestern Train Depot built in 1888, now stands behind St. Stephen Church 1769 State Street. The depot was moved there when the new 1901 depot was built.
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The first gasoline powered automobile in Racine was built by Edward Joel Pennington in 1889.

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The fine Victorian Eclectic mansion located at 1100 South Main Street was built in 1893 by Joseph Miller.
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The first three stories of the Dr. Shoop Building
215 State Street were built in 1893,
with plans to add more stories as needed.
In 1899, three more floors were added.

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In 1895 August Frank built the fine French Chateaux style mansion at 1520 College Avenue.
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December 15,1895 a county jail was completed at Fifth Street and College Avenue and was accepted by the county Board.
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The Universalist Church of the Good Shepherd, located at 625 College Avenue, was built in 1895.

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July 22,1895 a franchise was granted to the Wisconsin Telephone co. to establish service in Racine.
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In 1896 the Charles Carpenter, Classical Revival style mansion was built at 1324 South Main Street.

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October 7, 1896 the Racine's Women's Club was founded
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Build in 1896 St. John's Lutheran Church, 1501 Erie Street, is one of Racine’s finest Victorian Gothic churches
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In 1897 the first building designed and built specifically for a post office was erected at 6th and Main Streets.

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September 9, 1897 the first public library in Racine
opened at 245 Main Street.
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The Racine Golf Association opened the first 9-hole course.
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Pottinger Steel Works was founded as a blacksmith shop in 1898.
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May 28,1898 the first company left Racine for service in the Spanish - American war.
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In 1899 Henry Miller built the Classical style mansion located at 1110 South Main Street.
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In 1899 three additional stories were added to the Dr. Shoop building on State Street. Making it one of the most pretentious buildings in Racine.
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