Burlington’s 103-Year-Old Lincoln Statue, Which Was Pulled Down by Vandals
on January 30, Was Back in Place and Standing Tall Within Two Weeks
Burlington residents and others were shocked and stunned when they learned on Saturday, January 30, that the City’s only public statue – the 103-year-old statue of Abraham Lincoln near the intersection of State and Kane streets – had been pulled down by vandals and was laying on the snow.
The vandalism, which had occurred about 6 a.m. Saturday morning, had been observed by a witness, and the vandals were quickly apprehended by the Burlington Police Department. The truck used by the vandals was found in a parking lot a few blocks away on Washington Street with the motor still warm and a tow strap hanging out the back of the truck. A bank’s video surveillance camera had recorded the vandals exiting the truck.
On Saturday afternoon, City Department of Public Works employees, Burlington volunteer firefighters, and community members, together with Merten’s Towing and Augie’s Excavating, came together to pick up the statue and move it to the Public Works building on S. Pine Street (Highway 83 South) for safekeeping until it could be transported to Milwaukee for inspection by Vanguard Sculpture Services, which had cleaned the statue in 2014.
On Monday, February 1, the statue was taken to Milwaukee where Vanguard inspected it for any damage the vandals may have caused. Fortunately, only some minor scrapes and abrasions were found, which Vanguard fixed. Vanguard cleaned the statue, both inside and out, before it was ready to be returned to Burlington.
As part of the cleaning process, Vanguard was able to powerwash the inside, thus removing much of the sand-like material left in the statue at the time it was cast in 1913. According to a Vanguard official, the removal of this material, which attracts moisture over time, can help to extend the life of the statue.
When Vanguard had completed its work, the statue was returned to the Department of Public Works facility to await its return to the pedestal from which it had been torn by the vandals.
On Thursday, February 11, the day before the 207th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, Vanguard representatives, Public Works Department employees, and employees of Wanasek’s Crane Service and Ketterhagen Memorials participated in putting the statue back on its pedestal. As the crane picked up the statue and raised it to an upright position, the statue turned so that Lincoln momentarily looked toward the south before those guiding the statue back to the pedestal swung it around so Lincoln would assume his pre-vandalism position looking to the north.
The statue was then covered with a tarp to keep it “under wraps” until the community held a “Welcome Back, Abe” ceremony on Sunday, February 14. Over 100 people attended the ceremony on a snowy afternoon. Participants in the ceremony included Civil War re-enactors from the Col. Hans C. Heg Camp 15, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (shown in photo at right); Lincoln historian Steven Rogstad, who had given the main address at the statue’s rededication in May 2014; Lincoln impersonator Nic Bur; Historical Society president Dennis Tully (shown above inspecting the damage to the statue); Burlington Mayor Robert Miller; and Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave.
Following the outdoor ceremony, the participants and attendees, at the invitation of School Superintendent Peter Smet and his administrative assistant Priscilla Crowley, moved into the Lincoln School building to enjoy refreshments, which included two sheet cakes donated by the Walmart Supercenter.
Vandalism Incident and Community Cooperation in Restoring Lincoln Statue Both Widely Reported
The vandalism involved in toppling the Lincoln Statue on January 30, 2016, and the cooperation of Burlington city and area residents in the aftermath of that senseless criminal act were both widely reported in newspapers, on television, and on the internet.
While the television coverage occurred mostly in Wisconsin, the newspaper coverage ranged nationwide from Connecticut, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., on the east coast to California and Washington State on the west coast and from the northern states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin to the southern state of Texas. Newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, and Indiana also reported on the Burlington stories.
The internet, of course, is available worldwide so knowing the number of people who might have seen the news through that medium is virtually impossible.
The seasons are moving at a fast pace again. We have experienced a mild start to winter and not much snow to contend with. The activities within our society have been quite hectic with the recent news of the vandalism of the Lincoln Statue. We, of course, were all shocked to hear the statue was on the ground that early Saturday morning. The satisfying thing about it was that the early detective work was a success and the alleged culprit was apprehended almost immediately. I hope this sends a message to others that they’d better think twice prior to such actions in the future.
The Society’s Christmas program was again a success although the numbers were down from prior events. Our volunteers decorated for the holiday and created some great treats and sweets for all to enjoy along with the interesting program on Charles Dickens presented by Rochelle Pennington.
We were recently invited to provide an “Historic Photos of Burlington” program at the Burlington Senior Center. It became one of the top attended events in recent months for the center. The Senior Center, located within the Racine County Building on Main Street, is in the process of relocating as the present facility, needing extensive repairs, will be demolished by the County. Following is a short history of the Senior Center over the past years. This community is fortunate to have such fine organizations as this to help meet the needs of our citizens.
As you read this, I hope you will start to feel some of the signs that “Spring is just around the corner.”
History of the Burlington Senior Center
In 1969, the “Sweet Adelines” performed for a group of senior citizens at the Plymouth Congregational Church as part of a worldwide “share a song” day. Enthusiasm after that event generated the formation of a committee consisting of Jerry Travis, Seth Fratt and Glenn Adams to find ways to continue such events for area seniors.
Monthly meetings were commenced with the help of the Burlington Rotary Club and the Burlington Business and Professional Women’s Club in October of 1969, with 95 persons being 55 years or older in attendance, using the former City of Burlington firehouse (shown below) at 164 Commerce (now N. Pine) Street. The Board of Directors included Agnes O’Shea, Marie Vaillancourt, Emma Blaiske, Herbert Cormack, Benson Tibbetts, Rose Wahlgran, Evelyn Miller and Marietta Kearney.
The firehouse at that time (shown above) was used by several organizations; however, the seniors were responsible for painting, furnishing and upkeep. Tuesdays were meeting days for movies, card playing, bingo and pot luck meals.
In February of 1972, the Senior Center was moved to the Veteran’s Memorial Facility at Echo Lake. By 1974 the membership grew to over 200 seniors. A Christmas party in 1974, including a fully catered holiday meal, was attended by 117 seniors with singing, dancing and music furnished by accordionist Al Noble.
Dues at that time were $1.00 per year and the board met monthly to plan social events and other activities. Rent for the facility was paid jointly by the City and Town of Burlington.
Our thanks goes to Gladys Bublitz, the historian for the Burlington Senior Center, for providing this information. All seniors in the area are invited to partake in the various activities the Senior Center offers by calling 262-767-9880 for additional information.
“How Does Your Garden Grow? With Silver Bells and Cockleshells . . .”
Contributed by Priscilla Crowley
February 2 and the groundhog says . . . “Early Spring”!! Why is it that it seems like spring comes at the same time every year no matter what the groundhog says? I guess we pay attention to him or her because we all want that “early spring.” Rainy winter days are not as much fun as rainy spring days. Rainy winter days are gloomy and cold and damp and sometimes downright discouraging. On the other hand, rainy spring days engender a feeling of hopefulness and put a “spring” in your step and you know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers!” The day may be just as gloomy and damp looking, but the possible rewards make the difference! Who doesn’t like to see the first spring flowers poking their little heads out of the ground, turning their little faces towards the sun so they can stretch and grow and provide all of us with that little boost of happiness that comes with the start of a new season?
Moms all know that we are swiftly moving from the snow seasonal mess that gets tracked all over the house to the spring muddy, yucky mess that will get tracked all over the house. We are sort of trading one mess for another but somehow it’s different. I can still hear Mom, “When will you ever learn to wipe your feet? and shut the door, we aren’t heating the outside you know!” How many times have we repeated that phrase to our children? How many times will our children repeat that phrase to their children?
What does spring mean? It means many things – it means a chance to dig in the garden, watch the trees sprout their leaves, see the grass turn green and grow and grow, warmer days with endless sunshine, baseball, roller skates, the sweet smell of newly turned earth and growing things and the sounds of children playing and shouting to each other, the sound of children on bikes racing up and down the street, birds chirping merrily away and scolding each other, the sound of neighbors calling to each other, lawn mowers being started for the first time, the sound of a soft spring rain helping to bring everything to life or the sharp sounds of a spring thunder storm reminding us of nature’s part in the whole scheme of things. Spring is the smell of fresh laundry hanging on the line, snapping in the wind, the sound of a wind chime that has been ruffled by a soft spring breeze or just a door or window open to the sights and scents of a new season – in short – the happy sounds of a world coming to life after lying dormant for the winter.
Remember the first day you swore to Mom that it was warm enough to go without a jacket? I can see the twins now coming through the door after school with their books in hand and jackets slung over their shoulders. I can hear Mom – “Why aren’t you wearing your jackets – it’s not that warm out?” The response was always the same, “It’s too hot out, we’re roasting, can we put on our shorts?” It was probably somewhere around 50 degrees outside and if this had been a fall day, it would have been “too cold” outside. I can sympathize, I hate having to bundle up in the winter and love the feeling of freedom you get when you can just go outside without a coat or jacket.
Remember the seed catalogs? They usually started arriving in January and I can see Dad looking through the different catalogs trying to decide what to grow this year. Burpee Seeds, Jung Seeds, Gurney Seeds, their catalogs all came and they all offered up seeds with the wonderful promise of delicious fruits and vegetables, bigger and better than ever! I don’t remember that we ever ordered from these companies but they were sure nice to look at. Vegetable gardening has its own rewards but there is no denying it is a lot of work. We kids were only too happy to help and I’m sure Dad appreciated every bit of the help we gave him. Of course, we were the most enthusiastic at first; digging in the dirt didn’t seem like work, it was sort of like playing in a big sand box. The amount of dirt we dragged into the houseprobably would have filled a couple dozen planters and I’m sure Mom was just as pleased with our efforts as Dad was. He even used to let us help plant the seeds and I can hear him saying over and over again – don’t put the seeds all in one hole, you have to spread them out so they all grow. After the seeds were planted came the hard part, waiting until they started to come up. Every day we would race home from school to look at the garden and see if anything green was coming up yet. To us it seemed like it took forever for any tiny green shoots to appear.
Little did we know that once all this stuff started growing you weren’t done yet, after it all came up someone had to weed the garden. Here’s where the enthusiasm went by the wayside. Weeding wasn’t as much fun as digging, we had a ton of excuses: too much homework (Mom and Dad didn’t believe that one either), too hot, too cold, too sunny, too tired, stomach ache, back hurts, had to help Mom (that one we didn’t get far with either – it was usually a last ditch attempt to get out of it), there were as many excuses as there were hours in the day.
After the weeding, when everything was ready to pick, we got some of our enthusiasm back, picking wasn’t as bad as weeding. It was sort of exciting to find a tomato that was green yesterday but had miraculously turned red by today and was now ready for eating. Thank goodness we never grew cucumbers, they have to be picked all the time. My husband told me horror stories about he and his sisters being sent out to the garden on a daily basis to pick the cucumbers. They used to sell their cucumbers to the pickle factory in Lyons so they had to make sure they got them when they were smaller and they grew lots of them – he said it seemed like they were always in the garden picking the darn things.
Isn’t it funny how as you grow older you change your mind about some of the drudgery associated with gardening? Now most of us can’t wait for spring so we can plunge our hands into the dirt and start that growing process. For some people it’s vegetables and for some it’s flowers. I was very surprised to find that both of my children enjoy gardening now, mostly vegetables for them but whether it’s flowers or vegetables the process is still the same, dig, plant, weed, enjoy.
Looking back I realize how many pleasant memories are associated with the gardens Dad put in so many years ago. We didn’t think so at the time but those summers spent digging and planting and weeding were providing us with some very happy memories. The time we spent doing things together in that garden are another snapshot in time of who we were and where we came from. In the garden of life, memories are one of the most precious things we can grow and pass on to our families. So even if you don’t like to get your hands dirty by digging in the dirt, you can still plant a garden and reap the rewards. Plant a few memories and watch them grow – it’s well worth the effort. Happy Spring to us all!!