Newsletter - December 2004


Burlington Historian

December 2004

Christmas Program and Open House at Museum December 12

    The Historical Society's annual Christmas program and open house will be held on Sunday, December 12, 2004, at the Museum, starting at 1:30 p.m. The program will feature music and songs of the season by Kerry Hart.

    Ms. Hart is currently completing her Master's degree in voice performance at Northwestern University, where she recently sang the lead role of Jo in the University's production of "Little Women." In addition, Ms. Hart has sung and played piano professionally with the Florentine Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Opera For The Young.

    Ms. Hart is also a wedding musician and jazz singer. She is in her third year as the music director at Peace Lutheran church in Burlington.

     The public is invited to the program and open house. There is no admission charge.  Those bringing a can of food to be donated to Love, Inc., will be eligible for door prizes.  Refreshments will be served.

Four Directors Re-Elected at Annual Meeting

Nick King, Doug Lind, Jackie Pennefeather, and Don Vande Sand were re-elected to 3-year terms on the Society's Board of Directors at the annual meeting held in October.

Displayed at the meeting were many presidential and political campaign items from the Society's collection. Among them were a pin with Abraham Lincoln's photograph from 1860; the True Republican Ticket for the Burlington area from 1860, which featured Lincoln for President, Hannibal Hamlin for Vice President, and John Fox Potter for Congressman; and a silk handkerchief that Dr. Edward G. Dyer took with him when he went to a Liberty Party convention in Buffalo, New York, in the 1840s.

Following the annual meeting, several of the items were moved to the Burlington Public Library, where they were on display through the first week of November.

Special thanks to the Historical Society members who furnished the snacks for the annual meeting and to Bill and Judy Stone of Brighton-woods Orchard for the cider.

President's Message

     This Thanksgiving, the Burlington Historical Society has plenty to be thankful for. The tireless effort of many volunteers who yearly support our activities is greatly appreciated. Through their dedication, they keep the past alive and at the same time keep a sharp eye out for the future. As the year 2004 draws to a close, we wish everyone a Joyous Christmas Celebration. 

The new year will present challenges and opportunities, as progress continues on numerous projects large and small.  The board of directors will be devoting time to study the current utilization of space within the museum and develop plans to enhance display, storage, and preservation capabilities. The Burlington Historian will feature details of this study as it progresses.

   Matt Becker (left), long-time member of the Historical Society, talks with visitors at the annual
WHATCHAMACALLITS event at the downtown Burlington Logic Puzzle Museum as they tried to 
figure out what the items are.  The items on the table were among the 28 antiques that the Historical 
Society provided for the event. A total of more than 150 different items made up the hands-on event held in November 2004.

Since the completion of the restoration of Pioneer Cabin in 1999, little in the form of maintenance on the structure has been required up until now.  However, some settling and shrinkage in the daubing and interior "whitewashing" has occurred. The repair work will be accomplished over the winter. Meanwhile to make room, the cabin=s furnishings were packed away in the loft and larger articles were removed to the museum for storage. Removal or replacement of many artifacts will give the cabin a "new" appearance for visitors when the cabin reopens in May of 2005.  We welcome Kristina Simpson, our newest docent to the cabin=s staff.

            Doug Lind 

Website Update 

Have you checked out our website "" lately? The searchable databases have been or are being updated to include research and data entry completed through about September 2004.

Baptism, interment, and marriage information through 1920 has been added to the "People of Burlington and Vicinity" and "Marriages . . ." databases for St. Charles, St. Joseph's, St. Kilian's, and St. Alphonsus Catholic Churches, and partially for St. Francis Xavier at Brighton.

And additional "Events" and "Home and Farm" information has been added to those databases. 

Weather Folklore from The Old Farmer's Almanac

--    Thunder in November indicates a fertile year to come.

--    If sheep feed facing downhill, watch for a snowstorm.

--   If the geese on St. Martin's Day (November 11) stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas.

--    A warm Christmas, a cold Easter.

--    A green Christmas, a white Easter.

--    December cold, with snow, brings rye everywhere.

--    December changeable and mild, the whole winter will remain a child.

--    If the first snow sticks to the trees, it foretells a bountiful harvest.

1865 Cooking Tips:  Pie-eat-y 
(From the Burlington Standard, April 26, 1865)

    As very many readers have doubtless been given from early youth, to pie-eat-y, I trust I may be forgiven for making a few suggestions in regard to this department of cookery. I will commence with --

Lemon Pies -- Those decoctions of lemons, grated crackers, milk, eggs, and what not, which are denominated lemon pies, are an imposition and an outrage on the palate. There is an antagonism between milk and lemon juice that never can lead to a happy union. The only genuine way to make this peer of pies, is as follows:  For two pies, take two cups of stoned raisins and two fair sized lemons, from which the seeds should be removed. Chop the raisins and lemons together very fine and stir into them two cups of the best Sugar House syrup. Have ready your plates lined with good puff paste, and put in the mixture with a middle crust which must be rolled very thin. Decorate the top crust as fancifully as your artistic power may admit of, and bake thoroughly in a not too hot oven. Owing to the costliness of these pies, as well as to the fact that they are not strictly an article of healthy diet, it is expected that they will not be indulged in except upon holidays; besides their deliciousness might breed a contempt for common food. 


 Mince Pie -- There is danger of overdoing these pies. Many cooks think that the making of mince pies is simply a process by which to make way with immense quantities of spice, currants, citron, raisins, suet, vinegar, wine, brandy and -- I trust nothing else. Now I think a good pie can be made which need not necessarily send one to bed, with oppressive presentiments of evil to dream of coroners' inquests and great grandmothers. There should be twice as much fruit as beef, cinnamon and mace, and the slightest hint of cloves, give an agreeable and aromatic flavor which any additional spice destroys. -- Citron and currant are superfluous, and boiled cider is better than brandy. -- Raisins should be stoned and not used too plentifully as they will usurp the other qualities of the pie. Nice plump ones should be placed around the rim, as it is particularly cheering, when one is munching into the crust to come unexpectedly upon such a lump of sweetness.


Apple Pies -- With fresh apples, a cook can hardly avoid making a good pie of this sort. A tender crust, not too short, is first to be considered. Then, after lining your plates, fill them with tart, juicy apples, sliced thin. Add a little water; cover, without pinching down the edges hermetically, and bake until the bunches caused by the apples will yield to the finger. Then, while hot, remove the upper crust with a broad-bladed knife, stir in a little sweet butter, two spoonfuls of light sugar, a little nutmeg, and replace the crust. With dried apples, most cooks seem to think that miserable pies are a natural consequence, and so take no pains to render them anything but dry, tasteless affairs. But it is very easy to make them otherwise. Firstly, a good quality of fruit should be selected. Remove what peel and core you may find, and let the apples remain in cold water over night. In the morning put them in a porcelain kettle, with fresh cold water, and let them boil gradually until perfectly soft. Beat them to a pulp in an earthen bowl, stirring in a little butter, sugar, and whatever spice is liked -- good cinnamon giving the best flavor. Above all, see that the apple is plentifully juicy, and the lumps beaten out. Half a pound of dried cherries or raspberries, stoned with the apples, greatly improves this pie -- which, made after these directions, need never be apologized for. 


Cream Pie -- I know of no more alluring thing in all the triumphs of cookery than this -- more especially, now that dastardly milkmen, instead of the sweet breathed, and great eyed cows of my country home, bring me my milk, or rather a cerulean liquid purporting to be milk, which admits of no cream pies, nor even a hint of them. These are so simply made and so within the reach of all farmers, no matter if groceries go up to an unheard of altitude -- that it may seem superfluous to country readers, and only tantalizing to city-ites, to write of them. I would only say that they are infinitely better when made without crust -- custard --letting the base ingredients of flour and lard interfere as little as possible with the ravishing taste of the cream, which should be slightly sugared with the purest "loaf," and gently tinctured with the bland flavors of lemon or mace. -- The cream should be such as one finds on milk after it has stood twenty hours -- thick, yellow, and sweet with the honey of clover fields. It should be beaten for ten minutes, as it will then consolidate more readily, and the pie should be set on ice, or exposed to cold air, until it is thoroughly cold, before being brought to the table. 

Tales from the Winter of '36 

(Photos taken in February 1936 from Romie Erdmann's Old Town Pump scrapbook) 

Coal Dealers Are Kept Busy                      Free Press, Feb. 20, 1936  

Burlington has been unusually lucky in that our local coal dealers, the Burlington Feed Co., Dardis Lumber & Fuel Co., Farmers' Feed & Fuel Co. and Wilbur Lumber Co., have through co-operation been able to keep their customers supplied with enough coal during the extreme cold spell of the past month and there is little danger of a coal shortage here in the near future.

Dealers Kept Busy

Ever since the cold weather came on so suddenly a month ago, local dealers have been kept busy supplying their customers with coal. With the demand for coal some thirty per cent in excess of what it usually is at this time of year and with transportation difficulties to contend with, it is a wonder that they have been able to cope with the situation as well as they have. Local dealers have thus far been able to obtain their supplies from the docks in Milwaukee, but the demand has been so great that supplies there are running low and some kinds of coal, especially Pocahontas, are hard to get. There seems to be enough of hard coal on hand there to last for a while.

Coal From the East

All dealers tell the same story--it is hard to get coal through from the eastern mines. They will receive orders, but are way behind at the present time, and promise delivery only in the rotation in which orders are received. Added to this delay is the uncertainty of transportation under present weather conditions. One dealer reported that it took five days for a car of coal to arrive in Burlington from Milwaukee, which gives a fair idea of what the railroads are up against.

Local schools have thus far been able to keep going without having to close down for long periods as has been the case in so many places. The local high school has been using close to four tons a day. The arrival of a car load of coal for them one day during the past week was a lucky thing for the Memorial hospital. They had only enough coal on hand to last for about six days and an order for a carload had been placed, but no one knew when it would arrive. The coal for the high school was arranged that part of it was diverted to the hospital.

Ration Coal

Nearly all the yards have been holding down on the amount of coal delivered to customers in an effort to make it go around. A lot of coal has been trucked from Milwaukee to Burlington and surrounding places in order to meet the demands of customers.

Fuel shortages in many places have necessitated the closing of factories. Unless a new supply of coal could be had at once, the Bradley Knitting Co. at Delavan expected to close today.

While Elkhorn had a two months' supply of coal yesterday, its stocks of canned goods and meat were running low. Truckers have refused to haul canned goods in the sub-zero weather. One grocer exhausted his supply of preserved food last week and others said they had only limited stocks. 

Chief Cautions Auto Drivers to be Careful        Free Press, Feb. 20, 1936 

Chief of Police Grossman has issued the following warning to auto drivers cautioning them to be careful and obey regulations.

"Disregard of parking regulations and stop signs will not be tolerated just because we have been having a lot of snow and cold weather," the chief declared, adding that he feels auto drivers have been taking advantage of the situation.

"Snow has now been removed from all downtown streets, and parking in driveways, in front of theaters, hotels and gasoline pumps is entirely unnecessary," he declared. "Cars found parked in these places will be ticketed."

Contrary to the city's traffic regulations at any time, the practice of running past stop signs is especially dangerous during the cold weather when car windows are covered with steam or frost, making it impossible to see whether other cars are coming through an intersection. 

Coldest Month Known by Weather Bureau             Free Press, Feb. 20, 1936 

Tuesday brought Milwaukee to the end of its coldest 30-day period in history. Since January 19th the average temperature has been 1.5 degrees above. The coldest month, which also was the coldest extended period that the weather bureau knows of there, was January 1912, when the temperature averaged 5.6 degrees.

This February appears destined to be the coldest since the weather bureau was established in Milwaukee. There had been 15 sub-zero days up to Tuesday (Feb. 18). The coldest February to date was in 1875, when the thermometer dropped below zero 18 days. 

Heavy Run of Syrup Sap Expected 
            Free Press, Feb. 20, 1936

Lake Geneva--Preparations are underway at Kaye's park, on the south shore, for the maple syrup run. Miss Blanche Kaye, who has been in the business many years, expects a heavy run this year as snow and cold weather are favorable to the maple syrup industry. From 200 to 300 pails must be hung on the trees which necessitates a great deal of preparatory work. The sap begins to run usually the latter part of February--Regional News

From the "Locals"                       Free Press, Feb. 20, 1936 

Spring Prairie--The following students, who are attending the East Troy high school, were obliged to remain there during this week on account of the conditions of the roads: Lee, Lester, Easton, Vincent, and Ned Whitmore and Margaret and Dorothy Tober.

Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Albright started for Walworth County hospital on Saturday evening, but due to the conditions of the roads were somewhat delayed and were overtaken by the "Stork." They took refuge in a nearby farm home where a baby daughter was born. Mrs. Albright and baby were later removed to the hospital, where both are reported to be doing nicely. 

Honey Creek--Friday morning seven trucks were stalled between Honey Creek and Rochester. The farmers were game and took their milk by sleigh and transferred it to the respective trucks. The main highway was plowed out Saturday. It is a pleasing sight to see the farmers coming to the village with their milk and transferring it to the trucks. The feed grinder was at the corner for several hours Monday afternoon grinding for farmers residing on roads not opened for cars. 

Postponed Events                        Standard Democrat, Feb. 14, 1936 

Because of the cold and blocked roads a number of scheduled events have been postponed:

      The annual party of the Pure Milk association at the Masonic temple was postponed until next Tuesday evening, February 18.

       The turkey dinner to be served by the ladies of the Congregational church was postponed until next Thursday evening, February 20.

       Because rural students were unable to get to school for practice, the high school pageant "America My Country" has been postponed until in April.