DECEMBER 2016

Society Seeking Grant Funds for Projects

     At the invitation of the Burlington Chapter of the Wisconsin Alpha Delta Kappa (ΑΔΚ) organization, the Society has submitted proposals for 2017 grant funds from ΑΔΚ’s Barbara Beetow Memorial to fund several needed projects relating to Whitman School, Pioneer Log Cabin, and the Rooker Cemetery.
     ΑΔΚ is an international honorary organization for women educators. It is committed to educational excellence, personal and professional growth, and the collective channeling of its members’ energies toward the good of their schools, communities, the teaching profession, and the world. ΑΔΚ has more than 1,300 chapters in the United States and around the world.Barbara M Beetow
     Barbara M. Beetow (1929-2005), shown at right, was a long-time member of AΔK and served as its Wisconsin state president for a term. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 from Whitewater State Teachers College and her Masters degree later from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She taught school at the primary level for over 38 years, of which 33 years was with the Lake Geneva School District.
     The fund established in her memory provides grants to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, like the Burlington Historical Society, for community-based altruistic projects. As its bylaws state, the Society’s purposes are exclusively educational, being to preserve, advance, and disseminate knowledge of the history of the City of Burlington and the counties of Racine, Kenosha and Walworth.
     The projects for which the Society submitted grant proposals were:

● Whitman School – A group of volunteers is hoping to re-institute a program to provide a mid-1800s classroom experience to Burlington-area children. Before that can happen, the plumbing system needs to be inspected and, if necessary, updated; and restroom fixtures may have to be replaced. Also, new curtains are needed for seven replacement windows.

● Pioneer Log Cabin – Earlier this year “boring” bees infested the undersides of the exposed cabin roof boards. An exterminator took care of the bees but said that the bee holes should be filled and the undersides of the exposed roof boards should be painted to prevent re-infestation. A grant would be used to hire the filling and painting work to be done.

● Pioneer Log Cabin – Before the log cabin was re-opened in Wehmhoff Square in 1999, the spaces between the logs were “chinked” and “daubed” to seal the walls against driving wind and snow, helping them to shed rain, and blocking the entry of vermin. The daubing has “weathered” to the point that some portions have cracked and pieces have fallen to the ground. A grant would be used to have an expert determine which portions of the daubing need to be replaced and to hire someone to do the work required.

● Rooker Cemetery – The Society owns a one-acre “burying ground” called Rooker Cemetery on Spring Prairie Road east of the intersection with Bieneman Road. The cemetery is barely visible from the road and is not easily accessible. There are no signs near the road showing the cemetery’s presence or in the cemetery showing who is buried there. Grants would be used to provide such signs.
President’s Message

     Another year behind us again. They seem to move along so fast. Our Society had a few items taken care of this year that were needed, such as the renovation of the 1840 Whitman School House. The roof was rebuilt and shingled and we had the gutters and downspouts and all the windows replaced along with exterior and interior painting. We are excited to have some volunteers who are interested in reactivating our tour and one room school house demonstrations for the students of our area that were so popular in years past.
     Also, we are on our way with a re-design of our award winning website. It has been several years since we upgraded the site and you will notice a new look with additional features when completed. Spread the word to family historians about the huge amount of data and vital statistics we have online to aid in genealogy research. We hope to have everything in place by the 1st quarter of next year.
     We are expecting a good turnout for our annual Christmas program at Veterans Terrace on Sunday, December 4. Another great history program is scheduled by best-selling author and speaker Rochelle Pennington on the “Edmund Fitzgerald,” the largest shipwreck ever to go down on the Great Lakes.
     The officers and board members of the Burlington Historical Society wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and an exciting and prosperous 2017.
                                                                              Dennis Tully
Pioneer Log Cabin
Grateful for Our Docents

     The 2016 Pioneer Log Cabin season has come to an end and the cabin will be closed now until next May. Our Thursday night openings in conjunction with the Farmers’ Market and our Saturday afternoon openings saw many visitors touring the Log Cabin. We are grateful for our docents who make all visitors feel welcome as they share the history of Burlington’s Log Cabin. Many thanks to Priscilla Crowley, Jackie Heiligenthal, Lori Hintz, Jim Kubath, Helen Lena, Mary Nichols, Noel C. Payne, Deborah Schlitz, Mary Skwierawski ,and Bernard Walli for their dedication. See you next spring! For anyone interested in volunteering, please call Jackie at 262-661-4272.
Winter Memories

Some winter memories captured from past issues of the Standard Democrat and Free Press (forerunners of the Standard Press)

“Catching Bobs” Boyhood Sport

Standard Democrat, January 15, 1915

     The generations come and go but the spirit of the boy does not change.Catching sleigh 1860s
     A glimpse of the youngsters “catching on” bobs these winter days brings back tender recollections of the youth of this writer. Back in the early eighties, there was always sure to be a foot or two of snow on the ground before Christmas time, and every farmer in the country had a good pair of bob sleds. What fun it was on Saturdays and holidays to catch a bob ride a mile or so – or possibly more – out in the country and then hop on another sleigh headed for town for the return trip. But woe is me! Well do I remember the times when the “gang” had stuck to a sleigh for a distance of three or four miles, hoping to meet the return ticket, and then be disappointed. The return trip to town under those conditions was not so cheering, and the long walk up and down hills, with boots frozen hard, is well remembered, even to this day. With all the discomforts which came to youth in those days, however, the joys and pleasures still stand forth so prominently that the brighter side is always uppermost in mind.
(Image at right shows sledder catching a ride in New York in 1860s - courtesy:  ephemeral New York)

Gaede’s Hill

Standard Democrat, February 12, 1897

     Who in Burlington does not know of “Gaede’s Hill” (near the corner of Origen and Lewis streets) and the pleasure it brings to our young people, and some of the older ones? After the heavy snow storms of two weeks ago the boys shoveled a wide path down the hill. This was carefully iced and made an ideal “slide.” Bobs loaded with from two to ten young people would start on the top of the hill in the rear of the Zimmer residence, and with a good sleigh and the track in proper condition would go as far as the Blanket factory (later known as the Burlington Mills), a distance of three long blocks and across Lewis and Chestnut streets. The joyous shouts of the young folks was too much for many of the older ones and they were not satisfied until they had taken a ride on the swift-going bobs.
     Of course the coasting is attended with some danger, but fortunately no serious accidents have occurred this winter.

Snowballs Save School Building
When Fire Starts

Free Press, March 19, 1931

     Miss Norma Ketterhagen, teacher of the High Street school (once located on Karcher Road), is due for an honorary commission in the Burlington Volunteer fire department.
     t was just after the snow of last week that the school children in the High Street school noticed, while they were playing in the yard, that smoke was ascending from the roof of the school house. Miss Ketterhagen was told about it, and the nearest assistance being some distance away, she hit upon a plan which undoubtedly saved the school house. Calling the school children around her she set them to work packing snowballs. These snowballs she threw at the roof with such efficient marksmanship that the small roof fire was soon extinguished.
     When help arrived, having been summoned by one of the school boys, the excitement was over and a fair sized burned patch on the roof was all that remained of what might have resulted in a serious blaze. The origin of the fire is not known although it is thought to have come from a chimney spark.

Christmas Is Coming – The Goose Is Getting Fat . . .

                                                   By Priscilla Crowley

     It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed and Christmas will soon be upon us. We have had some gorgeous November weather and a part of me keeps wishing that the nice weather will hang around for a while. Unfortunately, common sense tells me that probably won’t happen. The Hallmark Channel is running Christmas movies day and night, Wal Mart has all of its Christmas decorations up and ready for sale and we’ve barely made it past Thanksgiving. The other day I was shopping and I swear I heard “Grandma Got Runned Over By a Reindeer.” It only needs “Feliz Navidad” to make it perfect.
     Don’t get me wrong. I am the original “Christmas Kid.” I love everything about Christmas – the tree, the decorations, the wrapping, the shopping – all the little touches that make this time of year so special. But if I had to pick I would say that what I love the most about Christmas is the feeling you get, the closeness with family and friends, the spirit of giving and of reaching out to everyone with a bright smile, a card, a plate of cookies, a helping hand or just a simple “Merry Christmas.” It says a lot for all of us when you look at the generosity of the season – even if you are an old grump who likes to grumble and complain, you can’t tell me that your heart doesn’t lighten at the sight of a child who stands in awe in front of a lighted Christmas Tree or who is so excited to see Santa, they can barely keep from jumping up and down in excitement. While we say Christmas is for the little children, that’s not strictly true, it is for the children, but its also for all of us big children – all of us who suddenly find ourselves with a brighter smile, a lighter heart, a more generous outlook and the wish to lend a helping hand to someone who is less fortunate that we are.
     It’s for all who hold dear in their hearts the memories of Christmas Past, the secrets shared, the pleasure given with a thoughtful gift or just with your presence at a family gathering, a Christmas card or maybe it’s a phone call to brighten the day of someone you love or care about. Christmas generosity comes in many different forms – it’s not really about how many presents you buy and wrap or how much money you have spent; it’s about what’s in your heart and what you are willing to give and share with your fellow human beings. The true worth of Christmas is what you are willing to give of yourself to make someone else’s day brighter, happier, make their hearts lighter and help them realize that they are not alone. Let them know they have a friend – we are, after all, in this thing called life together.
     Soon it will be time to start the decorating and there is no doubt in my mind that we will soon have to erect the “VILLAGE.” Many years ago we started my Mom on collecting pieces for the “Dicken’s Village.” It started innocently enough with maybe a half dozen houses and then we added some little people and carriages and then we had to have snow to make it look authentic. Well, when Mom passed away I inherited the pieces she had and then my family started adding pieces, and people and trains, and roads, and more people and more buildings and more snow and more people and carriages until now it’s not a village, it’s a city. We even have a skating pond, with people. When we put up all the pieces it runs along the top of the built-in cupboard that runs the width of my dining room, across the top of my China Hutch, Dickens villageacross the sofa table and across my entertainment center (which is the length of one wall) and one of my bookcases – we go all the way around the living room and dining room. I think the last time we added it up there are about 45 houses and so many little people, I didn’t even count them.
     If you think it’s a major production when you put up your tree, you really ought to see what happens when we put up the village. The house is a wreck for days – first you have to clear all the surfaces of what’s already there and pack that away (you also need to remember where you put it so you can eventually put it back) and then you start hauling houses and people and accessories and snow and roads and more houses and more people up from the basement. By the time we are done – there are boxes and little people everywhere. The houses are all packed in Styrofoam containers and you wind up with little pieces of Styrofoam and cottony snow all over the furniture and carpeting. You can’t just put them up – you have to create a “village” which means hills and valleys – all those books I have really come in handy – they are the hills and then you have to place all the houses just so and make sure the lights work – get them all plugged in and then you have to go back and cover your “hills” with the snow and make sure everything looks just the way you want it – don’t put the village pub (if I tell you I have not one but at least four village pubs – will that surprise you?) next to the church – make sure you put the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in front of Scrooge’s house, make sure the train is on the track in front of the terminal, put the mailbox in front of the Royal Post Office – the must do’s are endless but I have to admit, as nuts as it all is, it is totally worth it when everything is in place and the lights are on and the village is complete. After all that work the village stays up through January – once it’s put together I can’t bear to take it down.
I don’t even want to tell you what happens when we have to take it all apart again and carry everything back down to the basement for storage.
     Sometimes I think we are a little crazy for going through all of this but it’s all part of it – it helps to convey the message that the Christmas Spirit is alive and well and not just in this house but everywhere. This is after all, the season of hope, of good will, of forgiveness, of charity, of loving and giving and joyfulness and wanting that special feeling that comes with being at peace with yourself and those you love. Don’t forget to reach out to others, help make this old world a brighter, better place for those around you, whether they are family, friends or strangers. This is the time of the year when we can take a break from our busy lives and remember what the true meaning of Christmas is and why we are celebrating. Enjoy and celebrate, create some memories and remember to keep Christmas in your heart year round. You won’t regret it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Historical Society.

70 Years Ago

On January 29 and 30, 1947, one of the worst blizzards in years, including an electric storm with thunder and lightning, tied up the area for several days. The following scenes were photographed by the late Elmer Ebert.

     1947 snow-1Looking from Pine Street toward Chestnut Street bend.

       1947 snow-2West side of Pine Street between Washington and Chestnut.

       1947 snow-3East side of Pine Street between Chestnut and (then) Geneva Street.