Fort Atkinson’s newest downtown mural will be dedicated at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.

Decorating the Water Department building overlooking the Rock River at 37 N. Water St. West, the mural is spearheaded by the Fort Atkinson Beautification Council.

Created by Milton muralist Larry Schultz, it features designs from the community’s past and present.

“With every gift, our city becomes a more beautiful place,” Beautification Council President Jude Hartwick stated. “Our mission is to beautify the city and its environs. We, in Fort Atkinson, live in a very special community. It’s people like you who make it so.”

The $20,000 mural has been paid for entirely through donations and fundraising. Major contributions have come from the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, Jones Dairy Farm, Hoard’s Dairyman and Fort Community Credit Union.

The dedication is being held in conjunction with Civil War Day and Governor William Dempster Hoard Day, which takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hoard Historical Museum.

Hoard, a resident of Fort Atkinson, was a Civil War veteran, the 16th governor of Wisconsin and the founder of W.D. Hoard & Sons, which published the Daily Jefferson County Union newspaper and publishes Hoard’s Dairyman and Hay & Forage magazines.

The museum grounds will be the temporary home for Civil War re-enactors from the 2nd Wisconsin, who will portray Civil War camp life and help visitors experience some aspects of soldier life during the Civil War. Re-enactors will help visitors learn basic army commands and pass along other soldiering tips gleaned from the history of the Civil War.

Inside will be a variety of programs focused on Governor Hoard and his life. They will explore different aspects of immigration, which was a hot topic within politics for Hoard much as it is today.

At 1 p.m., museum director Merrilee Lee will present, “The Downfall of Gov. W.D. Hoard: the 1889 Bennett Law.” The Bennett Law, passed in April 1889, required children between ages 7 and 14 attend school for up to 24 hours a week. However, the contentious section of the new law required that vital subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic and U.S. history be taught in English.

It was the language requirement that became the political issue. Lee will explore the origins of the law, Hoard’s opinion and the political outcome.

At 2 p.m., Dr. Nengher Vang, of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, will present, “In Search of a New Home: Hmong Refugees and Hmong Americans in Wisconsin.”

Dr. Vang will share the story of the immigration of Hmong refugees from Laos after the Vietnam War to the U.S. and Wisconsin. He also will highlight the connections, comparisons, and contrasts between the Hmong experience and the experiences of other immigrant groups.

Dr. Vang earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from Davidson College, a master of arts in theology from the Iliff School of Theology, a master of arts in peace studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

At 3 p.m. a panel discussion on immigration in the Civil War will be led by members of the Madison Civil War Roundtable. Immigrants played a vital role in the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) as soldiers; the roundtable will discuss several aspects regarding immigrants in the war.

Throughout the day, guests are invited to join Civil War re-enactors for military drills. Civil War soldiers drilled, or marched in formation, frequently to practice the skills that they would need in battle while also learning to function as a group.

All scheduled programming will occur in the Jones Family Gallery.

The event is free and open to the public. There also will be refreshments in honor of Gov. W.D. Hoard’s 183rd birthday.

The Hoard Historical Museum and National Dairy Shrine Museum are located at 401 Whitewater Ave. The museums are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Funding for the Hoard Historical Museum comes in part from membership sales and fundraisers.

For more information, call the museum at (920) 563-7769, like on Facebook and check out the museum website at www.hoardmuseum.org.

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