Elizabeth Baird

Life in Territorial Wisconsin


How do you make history?

Elizabeth Baird was a strong woman with fierce determination living on the Wisconsin frontier. Born a native French speaker, Elizabeth taught herself English and worked as an interpreter in her husband’s law firm, all while operating her family’s farm and recording her memoirs. Her rich descriptions about the fur trade, 1800s Green Bay, and the Peshtigo Fire provide a window into life in early Wisconsin.

Meet Elizabeth Baird

View Transcript: English Spanish

Questions to Consider

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 1 superimposed above it

When she moved, Elizabeth needed to learn new ways of living (and even a new language) to communicate with her neighbors. Think about a time when you joined a new group. How did that feel? What were some of the new things you needed to learn?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 2 superimposed above it

Many people asked Elizabeth and Henry Baird for help after the Peshtigo Fire happened. Why do you think people looked to them? Who are they leaders in your community today? How do they help others?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 3 superimposed above it

We know about Elizabeth’s life in territorial Wisconsin because she wrote about her experiences, and those accounts were published. Do you record your own stories and experiences? Why do you think keeping records of our lives is important?

Read On

Elizabeth Baird portrait illustration

Elizabeth Baird: Life in Territorial Wisconsin

Get the full story with this biography book. Audio files are available on each page if you’d like to listen along!


Project Credits

Becky Marburger

Associate Producer
Joe Young

The Brave Union

The Brave Union

Animation Voice Over
Margaret Sodomy

Audiobook Narration
Aika Zabala

Audiobook Editing
Kerman Eckes

Catie Pfeifer
Vicki Way Kipp

Translation Services
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services

Educator Support Materials
Mia Forslund

John Vieth
Erika Kachama-Nkoy
Tim Schneider

Charles Barrows

Executive Producer
Dan Kaplan

Special Thanks
Peggy Garties
Kristin Leglar

Story Advisors

Brenda Autz
Park Elementary School
Middleton, WI

Charlene Dupler
Lakeview Elementary School
Wind Lake, WI

Kurt Griesemer
Wisconsin Historical Society
Madison, WI

Kristen McDaniel
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Madison, WI

David J. O’Connor
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Madison, WI

Amanda Price
Marshall Elementary School
Marshall, WI

Carol Rumpel
Arcadia Elementary School
Arcadia, WI

Tanya Schmidt
Oshkosh Area School District
Oshkosh, WI

Corey Thompson
Cardinal Stritch University

Stephanie Unertl
Lake Mills Area School District
Lake Mills, WI