For the size of a small rural community, Ripon has been home to an unusual number of
noteworthy individuals. The following is just a small sampling of the people who at one time called Ripon their home and went onto national or international importance.
Of political interest are the men who attended the 1854 meeting in the Little White School House and established a new political party. This included Alvan Bovay
, Amos Loper, Abram
Thomas, Jehdeiah Bowen, and Jacob Woodruff. of importance regarding the Booth War of 1860 are Edward Daniels and Oscar H. LaGrange. Acting Territorial Governor
and Secretary John Scott Horner
had a home in Ripon. After the Civil War George W.
Peck lived in Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse and went on to be elected the Governor
of Wisconsin in the early 1890s.
Students from Ripon College include Spencer Tracy of the golden era of Hollywood and
Harrison Ford of Star Wars and Indian Jones fame. Al Jarreau became a famous jazz
artist, and McKey Sullivan won America’s Next Top Model.
Important to commerce would be Harry Gordon Selfridge who founded Selfridge’s
Department Store in London, Ben Marcus who founded the first of 700 Marcus Theaters
in Ripon, and Jeanne Bice who founded Quacker Factory of QVC fame.
Two Ripon residents who made their mark on history through military service include
Oscar H. LaGrange, a high ranking officer in the Civil War, and James H. Banville, a
local teacher who went on to become a general of the WWII and post-WWII eras.
Historical women of note include Carrie Chapman Catt who was a national women’s
suffrage leader and founded the League of Woman Voters, and Winifred Edgerton
Merrill, the first woman to receive a PhD in mathematics. Clarissa Tucker
Tracy was an American botanist from Ripon College.