Date in History: 1944

Ever watch a softball game at Ralph Park in Fort Atkinson and wonder who Ralph was?

Benjamin Ralph was born in Vermont and came to Fort in 1853 at the age of eight. Over the next two decades he helped his family run a general store, but in 1875 he struck out on his own, buying a 60-acre farm on the near northeast edge of town. Here he kept some cows, delivered milk into the city, and frequently rented his land to the traveling circuses. The circus boss would always give the Ralph kids tickets to get in free – not a cheap proposition as Ralph had seventeen children, nine by his first wife who died at age 38, and eight more by his second wife.

In 1944 those children sold part of the old homestead to the city to be used as a park. Now, eighty years after Benjamin Ralph’s death, almost a thousand softball players run around his old fields every week, and children play on his pastures.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 05/05/2003.