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April History in the Midwest

April is a busy month in Midwestern history! How many of these events and people do you know about?

Margaret Tobin Brown of Hannibal, Missouri made history as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” aboard the Titanic on the fateful night of April 14, 1912. Molly’s wealth was known as “new money.” This was because Molly’s wealth wasn’t inherited. Her husband, J.J. Brown, made his fortune in mining. The Tobin family was progressive for that day. Her parents valued education, equality and personal growth. The Brown home museum can be visited in Denver, Colorado.

Every April, the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) hosts the annual MPSA Conference at the historic Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois. The association was founded in 1939 and serves to advance scholarship in all areas of political science. More than 5,000 presenters and 55 countries participate in this yearly conference. The MPSA headquarters are located in Bloomington, Indiana.

In April of 1860, the Pony Express was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. This communication service ran from Missouri along eight states, ending in California. It was developed as a means of communications before the invention of the telegraph. The speed was unheard of, because it only took 10 days for this relay system to travel across half of the country! You can visit the national historic trail in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada and California.

One of the strongest icons of American industry and consumerism, Henry ford died on April 7, 1947 in Fair Lane, his estate in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford was known for his drive, his ingenuity and his desire to make the automobile accessible for everyone. Although the grounds remain open, the estate is closed to the public for restoration. You can, however, visit the Henry Ford Museum, located in Dearborn, Michigan.

On April 4, 1887 in Argonia, Kansas, Susanna M. Salter was the first woman to be elected as a mayor. However, her nomination on the Prohibition Party ticket was actually a joke played by several of the local men. Susanna knew much more about politics that most people suspected; her father-in-law was a former lieutenant governor and her father was the town’s first mayor. Sadly, she didn’t seek a re-election even though she seemed to have done an effective job. Several years after ending her position as mayor, the Salters moved to Oklahoma, where she died at the age of 101.

Nebraska City, Nebraska was the home to the first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872. We can thank J. Sterling Morton for the planting of one million trees in Nebraska on this first Arbor Day! Morton was a newspaper editor and a former governor who had a dream to encourage people to plant and care for trees. Now, the last Friday in April is a worldwide celebration of trees and their conservation. The Arbor Day Foundation’s motto is: “We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”

Is there a person or an event that you feel should be included in this article? Please let me know! Use the contact form below and I’ll respond promptly.

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