Newsletter - March 2014


Burlington Historian

March 2014

100th Anniversary of Burlington’s Lincoln Statue to be Celebrated May 18;
Noted Lincoln Scholar 
Steven K. Rogstad to Deliver Main Address

The Historical Society, in conjunction with the City of Burlington, will host a program on Sunday, May 18, at 1:00 p.m. celebrating the 100th anniversary of Burlington’s Lincoln Statue (shown at right). The one-of-a-kind statue is located at the intersection of State and Kane streets.

The statue, sculpted by George Etienne Ganiere, was donated to the City by Burlington native, Dr. Francis W. Meinhardt, whose parents and grandparents were early Burlington residents. It was unveiled in an impressive ceremony in October 1913.

Steven K. Rogstad, a nationally known Lincoln scholar, will be the main speaker at the program. Mr. Rogstad, a Racine native who, since age 6, has studied the life of Abraham Lincoln, graduated from Washington Park High School in 1977 and from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 1981.

Mr. Rogstad taught seminars and courses on Lincoln at UW-Parkside, at Carroll College as part of that institution’s Civil War Enrichment Program, and at the Civil War Museum in Kenosha.

In 1993 he delivered the re-dedication address for the Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln Monument in East Park in Racine, and in 1997 the dedication address for that Monument’s new landscape design and lighting system. To help celebrate Racine’s sesquicentennial in 1998, Mr. Rogstad established the Lincoln Monument Restoration Project, which restored the statue of Abraham Lincoln by sculptor Albert Louis Van den Berghen at State and Hamilton streets. The restored sculpture was unveiled and re-dedicated in 1999.

For 12 years Mr. Rogstad served as secretary and editor for the Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin. He also served as review editor for the Lincoln Herald, a journal published by Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.

Mr. Rogstad is the author of numerous reviews and articles related to his Lincoln research. He has also written introductions to two books by Frank L. Klement – The Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery and Lincoln’s Address and The Limits of Dissent: Clement L. Vallandigham and the Civil War. He was co-editor for The Many Faces of Lincoln and edited/introduced Lincoln’s Critics: The Copperheads of the North by Frank L. Klement. He is the author of Companionship in Granite: Celebrating the Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln Monument.

In April 2008 Mr. Rogstad was appointed to the Wisconsin Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He serves as the Commission’s Secretary and is a member of its Memorials and Markers Committee.

The program is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. Some seating will be provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. Refreshments will be available following the program.

President’s Message

I hope we are "over the hump" with winter. It seems like a long time since we have been able to get out and feel some "non-icy" fresh air.

It should be an interesting and eventful year for our Society. Plans are almost complete for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Statue at State and Kane streets adjacent to Lincoln School. This gift to the City from Dr. Francis Meinhardt, a local dentist, is a "one of a kind" statue referred to as "The Meditative Lincoln" by sculptor George E. Ganiere. May 18th, a Sunday, is the date we ask members to mark on their calendars for this event.

In January, we lost a great talent and friend, Don Zurn, a member of our Board of Directors and one of the Museum’s curators. Don was a major designer and engineer for the rebuilding of our museum displays after our reconstruction project a few years ago. We are thankful for the many days and hours he provided and will miss him greatly. We offer our sympathies to Don’s wife, Mary, and other family members.

Included in some new additions to our vast archives is the offer from the Burlington Standard Press of its bound collection of original newspapers that were printed over the years going back to the time of the Civil War. What a great addition to the Museum and the Burlington community. To know that these treasured items will be protected and used for many generations to come is foremost in our minds.

Listen up for the first robin to sing us a greeting and I hope all of us have an early and enjoyable spring.

     Dennis Tully 

Remembering Don Zurn

Wherever he went, Don Zurn (right), who passed away at his winter home in Florida in January, would always seek out the museums – both to visit and, when he could, to volunteer at. Museums were his passion.

When he learned that the Burlington Historical Society’s Museum was being renovated, he approached a Society officer saying that when we were ready to put the displays back, he wanted to help. And help he did!

His expertise and artistry in assessing the available space and preparing places for and laying out artifacts and other objects in our collection was extraordinary.

His gently and kindly offered suggestions for placing display cases and large objects like our grand piano and pump organ in just the right places hit just the right notes.

When it came time to focus and adjust the spotlights in the overhead tracks to show our collection of artifacts, paintings, mannequins, and other objects in the best light, up and down the ladder Don went, seeing how it would look to a visitor, making the needed adjustments, and, when perfect, moving on to placing the next spotlight.

When a tool collection needed to be affixed to a plank that would fit in a tall but rather narrow space, Don laid out the tools on the plank, marked their positions, drilled the holes, and using plastic lock-ties, fastened the tools securely in place.

When he saw the dishes, utensils, and other gadgets in our kitchen display cabinets in no particular order, Don spent an afternoon carefully rearranging them.

When he thought that a piece of metal fence or a small log he had at his Bohner’s Lake-area summer home could be used or fashioned into a prop for some display or other, Don did the work needed to prepare them for display and gladly donated them.

When a woodworking project was needed, he enlisted his friend Tom Kreuzinger to craft it; and when his daughter Diane, who had picked up the love of museums from her Dad, visited, he enlisted her help in touching up our mannequins.

Don was proud of our – or should we say his – Museum and enjoyed showing it to others.

He will be truly missed.

Juvenile Band Organized By Judge Stang Was Popular in Burlington in 1898

The following article (lightly edited) appeared in the Racine Journal Times of August 17, 1935. Although no by-line announced the reporter’s name, it was probably written by Otis Hulett, who was that newspaper’s Burlington reporter for many years.

Way back in 1898 Lawrence Stang – a Justice of the Peace – organized some of the boys of Burlington into a juvenile band. (The band, whose original members belonged to St. Mary’s parish, made its first public appearance during a play at St. Mary’s hall in the spring of 1898.) Until 1901 it was known as St. Mary’s Juvenile Band. It is not definitely recorded just why the name was changed, but it is hinted that there was some difference of opinion over the matter of uniforms. The upshot of this difficulty was that the band members got their own uniforms, severing their connection with St. Mary’s church and being known thereafter as the Burlington Juvenile Band.

Some members of that band are dead now (written in 1935). Others long since have laid aside their musical instruments, and all most certainly have outgrown those uniforms which caused so much commotion, but one of their number, George Schumann, still plays, being a member of the Burlington Harmony band which is taking an active part in the Burlington centennial celebration.

Attended Rally

The “kid band” (whose members were between 10 and 15 years old) was in much demand in those days, for the boys were a real musical organization, and as such, being youngsters, were a novelty. They played at church picnics and at county fairs, but their really big trip was one to Waukesha, where they played at a political rally addressed by William Jennings Bryan. It was shortly after the silver-tongued orator of the Platte had won the presidential nomination with his “cross of gold” speech. Burlington, then as now, a stronghold of the democratic party, turned out en masse for the rally, and took the “kid band” along.

(Editor’s note: If, as we surmise, Otis Hulett wrote this article, he may have taken a small “liberty” with one of the facts. After all, he was also president of the Burlington Liars Club. A search for Bryan’s “cross of gold” speech showed that the speech was given in 1896, before the Juvenile Band was formed. But Bryan also ran for president in the 1900 election and it was probably at that time that the band went to Waukesha.)

An annual event for several years was a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, as guests of the St. Paul railway (sometimes known as the Milwaukee Road. The boys, decked out in their uniforms, lolled in the coaches at their ease until the train stopped for a station, and then caught up their instruments and played selections under the watchful eye of their director.

Recognize These Names?

Who were the boys who played in the “kid band”? You would be surprised!
Early members included Albert Schumann and Fred Steinhoff, snare drummers; Ed Beller, cymbals; Frank Beller Jr., bass drum; Joe Stang and George Jacobs, altos; John Angsten, William Ammon and Fred Schumann, cornets; Clarence Colburn, French horn; Lawrence Stang Jr., trombone; Fred Pregger, tenor; Howard Colburn, baritone; George Schumann, bass. Art Kummers was the drum major, and always made a hit with the crowds, out there in front, a cocky, diminutive figure crowned by a big, white shako. Lawrence Stang Sr., who organized the band, was director and played cornet with the boys.

The Big Adventure!

     Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

When you were a kid, didn’t you want to go on a really big adventure? Kids always yearn to be able to do something different, something exciting, something they have never done before. Of course a kid’s idea of a "big adventure" is not on the same level as big game hunting in Africa, or driving a car in the Indy 500, or sailing away to exotic places – nothing quite so grand.

When we were kids, our ideas were a little more scaled back, like managing to sneak out of the house after bed time and sitting on the back porch to watch the stars – AND managing to get back inside the house without getting caught. Or a big adventure might be spending the night outside in a tent (in your own back yard of course) and not being too scared to stay out there the whole night. Or maybe it was when Mom finally let you and a friend ride your bikes from Lyons to Burlington on Spring Valley Road without telling you at least a dozen times to make sure and watch for traffic and not to let anyone kidnap either one of you on the way to Burlington or on the way home and to make sure we didn’t spend all afternoon in Burlington and to be back before supper.

They all seemed like huge adventures and great strides forward in the art of growing up. In reality, they were just small steps along the way, but the beauty of a great adventure is that it’s all in how you perceive it. If you decide to tackle life like it is one grand adventure after another, it will be. Your life will be full and rich and exciting – if you let yourself get bogged down with the humdrum every day details, you’ll think life is pretty boring. When we were children, small things entertained us, amused us, and made our lives exciting and worthwhile. Unfortunately as we grow up we forget that life is a grand adventure and we get caught up in the humdrum details. Children sometimes are much wiser than we grown-ups ever give them credit for.

Today if someone told me I would have to drag my mattress downstairs and sleep on the floor in the dining room to keep warm during the winter, I would think it was darned inconvenient and I would really be one annoyed person. When I was ten, it was the greatest adventure ever. We thought we were the luckiest kids on the block.

It was a winter sort of like this 2014 one – lots of cold and snowy days. The house we lived in at that time was an old farmhouse, not much for insulation and no central heating. A large oil-burning heater that stood in the corner of the dining room heated the entire house. The theory was that heat rises and therefore the heat would rise to the second floor and keep the bedrooms at least sort of warm. It was a nice theory but many mornings we awoke with frost on the inside of our windows, cold noses, and bare floors that would give you frostbite if you didn’t move quickly enough to put on your slippers or a pair of socks. Survival in the winter was not for the faint of heart!

This particular winter was a brutal one, temperatures dipped way below freezing night after night and we had the wind chills to match. It kept snowing and snowing and it seemed as if there would never be an end to it. Sound familiar?

Mom and Dad finally decided that it was just too cold upstairs for us to sleep there. They would have to come up with an alternative plan. There really weren’t a lot of choices in that drafty old house but they came up with the best possible one open to them. They decided that we children needed to be moved downstairs until things warmed up. That meant moving three mattresses and all the bedding. The only logical place was the dining room – it was the largest room in the house and it was in the same room as the oil space heater. Before anything could be moved from the upstairs they had to move everything in the dining room around to make space for what was coming. Furniture got shifted here, there, and everywhere. After that Dad had the job of moving everything from the second floor to the first floor and closing up the stairway to conserve the heat.

To them it must have been a huge pain – to us it was ADVENTURE – it was like camping out – it was going to be a riot! We couldn’t wait – just think all three of us in the same room, sleeping within arm’s reach of each other. The possibilities were endless, why we could do almost anything. Mom and Dad always stayed up later than we did, they watched television and here we were just feet away from where the television was. If we were quiet, we could watch all the stuff they watched after they sent us to bed. We would be staying up later, not going to bed like little kids. We could lie there and tell stories if we were sort of quiet. We could poke at each other if the other person had it coming. We could giggle and laugh and have a great time.

And we did have a great time – for about a week. Then things started to fall apart. Sleeping on the floor on a mattress started to get old, being that close to each other began to wear really thin, and what is it they say? "Familiarity breeds contempt." Let’s just say we went from being best buddies to "Mom, he (or she) is touching me, tell ’em to stop touching me!" Because we were downstairs everything had to be picked up, folded, and stacked neatly and the beds all had to be straightened up and looking half way decent in case anyone came to the house. More and more of our things from upstairs were finding their way to the downstairs where space was at a premium. Mom and Dad were definitely tired of literally tripping over us day and night. What started out as a great adventure was turning into something out of a low budget horror movie. I don’t know how the pioneers did it with everyone crammed into a small cabin and no place to even turn around without bumping into someone or something. I am amazed that so many children managed to reach adulthood without being murdered or maimed by parents and or siblings.

Finally after a couple of weeks, the weather straightened out and we were all shipped back upstairs. I don’t know who was the happiest, we kids or Mom and Dad. But when I think back, it’s not the last part of our adventure I have fond memories of. It’s that first week, now that was an ADVENTURE! Even though at the end of our little adventure things weren’t as hunky dory as at the beginning, it was still an adventure and left us with some great memories of days gone by.

Pioneer Cabin to Re-open in Mid-May; Volunteer Docents Needed

Pioneer Log Cabin in Wehmhoff Square is scheduled to re-open to visitors in mid-May. Provided that volunteer help is available, we plan to open the Cabin on Thursday evenings during Burlington’s Farmers Market, during the Society’s Ice Cream Social at the end of July, and on Saturday afternoons.

Jackie Heiligenthal will handle the scheduling of docents. If you are interested in becoming a docent, you can get in touch with the Society and we’ll have Jackie contact you.

Former Junior High Building, Now Dyer Intermediate School, Reaches Age 50

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the school building on S. Kendrick Avenue that now houses Dyer Intermediate School.