The War of 1812 didn’t go too well for the U.S.A. Our capital city was captured and burned but we did survive to win the war as a nation. Perry’s defeat of the British naval forces on Lake Erie in 1813 was a major accomplishment that made Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry a national hero. One century later in 1913 Perry’s Victory Centennial Celebration was a national event. Members of the Wisconsin National Guard and other military contingents that were sent to the event were given large bronze medals. Commemorative items were also issued on the local level and one of these was issued in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It is an attractive pin back design with so much going on that has remained a mysterious item to collectors for nearly a century. The 37.7 mm badge illustrated below is made of a gold color metal with red, white and blue enamel and was made by the S. D. Childs Company of Chicago. The center design with an Indian in a canoe above and a city view below is based on an early sketch of Fort Howard which shows the Indian canoeing past Fort Howard. The outer blue enamel circle is inscribed “PERRY’S VICTORY CENTENNIAL HOME COMING” The home coming portion could be referring to a local school sporting event or more likely the return of the Wisconsin National Guard contingent from the Centennial ceremonies on the shore of lake Erie. The inner white enamel circle has the following inscriptions followed with my clarifications. “LABAYE VERTE 1634” which is the name Green Bay in French and the year that the first white man, Jean Nicolet first visited the site. “NAVARINO 1829” was the small town first platted by David Whitney in 1829. “FORT HOWARD 1816” The actual fort was built in 1816 and later incorporated in 1854. “ASTOR 1835” The town of Aster was first platted by John Jacob Astor’s agents Ramsey Crooks and Robert Stuart in 1835. Across the center with a red enamel background “18 GREEN BAY 38” 1838 is the year that the towns of Navarino and Astor were combined to form the Borough of Green Bay and today both names are still used to designate two districts within the City of Green Bay. So there we have it; a historic battle commemoration and a local history lesson all wrapped up in one very attractive badge.
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