Former Board Member Passes Away

Francis “Bud” Daly, age 89, of Wisconsin Rapids, died Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at Our House Senior Living on 12th Street, Wisconsin Rapids.

A memorial service will be held in June of 2018. A complete obituary will appear at that time in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.

Ritchay Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Published in Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Feb. 2, 2018.

Daly was a former SWCHC Board member.

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Communal Neglect: More buildings bite the dust

Four photos by David Farmbrough show old houses in Wisconsin Rapids before they were razed.

621 Saratoga Street, Wisconsin Rapids The fine old “farmhouse,” first on that block, was probably built in the 1880s. Neglected for years, tenants and landlord allowed sewage to flood the ground floor and the city demolished it in 2012.

Civil War era house from 1st Street North, Wisconsin Rapids. The city demolished it in 2012, in spite of its good condition and historical importance.

Another Civil War era house from 1st Street North, Wisconsin Rapids, also seen at left in previous photo. The city demolished this house in 2012.

The Love House, or Lamplight Inn, built when railroads arrived in 1872, was demolished in November 2016. (Note that (Uncle) Dave Engel obtained the Lamplight Inn sign when the bar of that name closed.)

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Posted in Dave Engel, David Farmbrough, Local history, photos | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Greeting Cards from Christmas Past

written by Kathy Engel, SWCHC Librarian

Over the years, many greeting cards have been donated to the South Wood County Historical Museum. Here are some examples I have compiled.

Card #1: This Christmas card, from Claude and Ruth Aniol, dated 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression, depicts what was on the minds of many during that time. A quick search for Claude and Ruth Aniol in city directories and online showed Claude and Ruth had lived in and eventually were buried in San Antonio, Texas. Who in Wood County received this card is unknown.

Front of card

Back of card

Inside of card

 

#2: A card with a copyright date of 1908 states on the back that it was from Grandma Spade.

 

#3: “A Merry Xmas To Fred From Mother Lessig” dated September 1920. This homemade card was possibly created by Eliza Lessig for her son Fred. It shows the Lessig family home in the town of Rudolph, where the Lessig family ran a brickyard.

Front of handmade card

Interior of handmade card

 

 

#4: Season’s Greetings from George W. Mead (Florida).

 

 

#5: Christmas 1888. This card was at one time glued into a scrapbook. The back states that it was sent to Pearl F. Forbes at Lounsberry, S. Dakota, from Richard Rezin, Centralia, Wisconsin, Christmas 1888. Richard and Pearl were later married, farmed in Rudolph and engaged in the cranberry business in Jackson County.

Front of card

Back of card

 

Merry Christmas from the South Wood County Historical Museum!

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Connected to One Another with History

written by Alison Bruener, Museum Assistant

As I prepare to welcome 2018, I begin to wonder what items will find their way to 540 3rd St. S. in the coming year. It’s been a busy year for museum staff. We’ve seen items unearthed from the attic and placed into exhibits for the public to see. New visitors ventured in throughout the summer, some with childhood memories of when the building was the T.B. Scott library. I’ve learned names of individuals who make up the history of our county, listened to stories from those born and raised here to those who moved here at some later point in their lives. I never know when someone I meet will have an event or time in their life when they  touched a historic part, not only their community, but the country as a whole.

I’ve countless times walked past a small lap desk on display under the Witter history in the back sun room of the Museum. It was only when SWCHC Director Emeritus Dave Engel gave me a brief history and assignment to find information of the original owner that I realized how interconnected everyone is.

Professor Chittenden, who came to the area in the 19th century, was a man of many interests. He was principal at Howe high school, worked on water quality in the area and discoursed at the Congregational Church.

But it was perhaps his life before Central Wisconsin that gained attention and took some further digging. Before moving to this area, Thomas W. Chittenden was a teacher in New York and possibly taught a young boy who would one day become a great figure in American history.

But, to learn that name you will have to wait for the next issue of Artifacts, where the story can be given in greater detail!

The past couple weekends, the Museum was open for the Christmas Tree Walk.  I am gladdened to see we had even more people walking through than we did for this event last year! Our Museum housed numerous trees in different rooms decorated by individuals, groups and organizations who are making history in South Wood County.

Here are some photos from this year’s event:

Upside-down tree from the 2017 Christmas Tree Walk

 

Billy Parker, military re-enactor, poses in the Buehler gallery

 

The Sun Room

 

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Slip Sliding into the Future

written by Angelica Engel, Website Coordinator

Recently, I have been editing, proofreading, and posting the class of 1965’s “Lincoln High Newsletter,” curated by Kent Vasby, whose wife is a member of that class. Vasby himself graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1958.

I graduated from Rapids Lincoln in 2008, so these folks graduated over 40 years before me. And, yes, I am aware that the Lincoln of 1965 was housed in what I knew as “East Junior High,” and that my high school building came into existence in the 1970s, after these individuals were well into their adult lives.

My father, Dave Engel, was a member of the class of 1963. As I was growing up, he interviewed truly elderly people. Now, he has instructed me to preserve historical documents from a graduating class two years younger than him. That would be like me getting old enough to think the class of 2010 has something interesting to say!

But what strikes me most, as someone hurtling toward her 30s, is that my high school years, too, will be considered of historical value someday. In fact, my elementary school (Rudolph Elementary School) is already history, as the building now houses a charter school called “Think Academy.” And, my middle school, West Junior High, is also home to another entity, Wisconsin Rapids Area Middle School.

It’s beginning to dawn on me, a decade out from senior year, that it is actually possible for me to one day have graduated from high school 55 years previous.

I got to thinking about the WRPS schools I attended because Kent Vasby asked about what contributors remembered of their school buildings. Here is an example from Roger Fritz, April 27, 2017:

“Mead school was under construction when I started kindergarten. I had to walk past it on the way to Edison School. (Now the [site of] west side fire station).  We stopped to watch the workers building it [Mead]. I remember talking to one guy who told us he was a stock car racer and only did building for fun (I don’t think it was Dick Trickle).  Also recall the whole Edison crowd marching in line to the new shiny Mead. The Edison was very tall and dark. The Mead was very short and light colored. Both only had two floors. Bet they saved a lot on the cost of bricks and stair treads.”

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Lincoln High Newsletter Available to Read

We are happy to have added to both our Museum collection and our website the Lincoln High Newsletter circulated by Kent Vasby. Vasby’s wife is a member of the class of 1965, as are many of the contributors. In the Newsletter, Vasby suggests topics and often contributors reply based on those topics, or they supply other news.

We are working on posting a couple more of the extensive collection each day. You can read what we have posted so far here. If you would like to see complete print copies, please contact Lori to set up a time to come in to the Museum.

As an example of the stories the Newsletter contains, here is John Hesterman’s response to “What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done?”

In 1974, my wife and I had started our family and were getting settled into our first house. I was working for a large engineering company at the time and they asked if I would be interested in going to Iran to work on a project. Although we had some reservations, given our family situation, we agreed to pack up three children, ages 2 to 6, and move to Tehran for a year. Fortunately, it was a period of relative calm in Iran. The Shah was still in power and the United States was a strong ally. I could look out my office window and see the American flag at the US Embassy. The Embassy was also a great place to eat lunch, because it was the only place in the city with real American food. Little did I know that the Embassy would be overthrown just a couple of years later. We returned to the US before the revolution got started. Over all, it was quite an exciting experience for a young couple in their 20s.

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Artifacts 51 has arrived!

The latest issue of our local history magazine, Artifacts, is currently appearing in subscribers’ postal boxes. Here is a small glimpse of what the magazine contains this October.

Scenes of various fender benders.

Story by Dave Engel about Packer trainer Dominic Gentile

Story by Dawn Davis Wesenberg about a famous friend’s kindness

To receive a complete print version of this 32-page historic document, email lori@southwoodcountyhistory.org for a membership to the South Wood County Historical Corp. If you are interested in contributing stories or pictures to the February 2018 Artifacts, please contact the editor, “Uncle Dave” Engel at dave@southwoodcountyhistory.org or 540 Third Street S., Wisconsin Rapids WI 54494.

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Good Friend Gone

Written by (Uncle) Dave Engel, Director Emeritus

James C. Nuhlicek, fellow traveler since ’59, died Thursday, Sept. 14, from the effects of a brain tumor.

Rapids residents of a certain age will remember “Nuhly” as a Coke-bottle glassed, Maynard G. Krebs-inspired, “tennie”-shod, heartbreaker—found Friday nights at the Rapids theater and, in college years, at Buzz’s and the Brig. Jim was a minor celebrity because his father, Joe, operated the Chatterbox snack shack on West Grand Avenue. To our amusement, his mother, Gatha, gave him a good-night peck even when he came home late and redolent of wickedness.

Jim and I, both English majors, roomed together at Point college. After graduation, Jim joined me at Western Illinois University, where I taught English and he reeled in an M.A., retiring in 2012 as a distinguished English professor at State University of New York-Cobleskill, where he developed a specialty in Eastern Philosophy. Along the way, he lived with gentle compassion and prickly humor. He said he wasn’t afraid to die, that his main concern was for those left behind.

See the upcoming February Artifacts for more about Jim.

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Another Season Ends

written by Alison Bruener, Museum Assistant

There’s the saying “time flies by” that you heard as a child but don’t realize until you’re grown. I started my internship with the South Wood County Historical Museum the summer before my senior year at Northland College; this week marks the end of the third season I’ve been fortunate to be here. There is always a project to be done, new faces to greet and more knowledge to gain from this place and the people who enter.

While working to preserve the history of South Wood County, we thought about how to document the Museum’s own history.  While there were scans available to preserve our images, we felt it be a good idea to compile these images. As it turns out, this project encompassed great amounts of photos. A previous blog post showed what the early days of the museum were like. With the help of Uncle Dave, I’ve learned a lot about the people who have helped get to where we are today.

Shirley Temple Doll Exhibit 1988

Marshall Buehler working on Depot Exhibit in 1993

Chair Exhibit 1993

Senior Expo 1996

Front porch restoration 1996

Betty with Artifacts 2011

Ice Cream Social 2016

Christmas Tree Walk 2016

As another season ends, I’ve seen firsthand how “time flies by.” From the newcomers who I greet, to the donations people can’t wait to talk about, there is always more to learn and experience in this fantastic building that has seen so much history.

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Notes from SWCHC President, Phil Brown

The Museum hosted two high school reunions this summer, Lincoln High School 1962 and 1967. These reunions are always enjoyable because many of these classmates haven’t been to the Museum since it was the T.B. Scott Library.  I particularly enjoy hearing about experiences of growing up in the south Wood County area during the 1950s and ’60s.

We probably get most visitors into the Museum through special events so please keep us in mind if you are interested in using our facility during when we are not regularly open.

Beginning in September, we begin an upgrade to our cranberry room exhibit and prepare for the third-annual Christmas Tree Walk, for which, last year, we had close to 1,000 visitors during the first two weekends of December. More information about this year’s Christmas Tree Walk will be available in future blog postings.

This is also a great time of year to recognize the efforts of Micky Erickson and Christine Griffith, leaders of the Wood County Master Gardener Volunteers who maintain the beautiful gardens at the Museum.  This year, their efforts were recognized by the Yard and Garden Club of Wisconsin Rapids through a “Five Star Award.”  Congratulations and thank you to all of the Master Gardener Volunteers who work so hard to make our grounds a showpiece for the community.

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