Newsletter - June 2008


Burlington Historian

June 2008

Remodeling Project Receives Conditional State Approval and Is Finally Ready to Move Ahead

The Society's Museum remodeling project, which had been delayed as State and local reviews and permits were obtained, is finally ready to move ahead.

Our architects, Stelling & Associates, completed the revised plans on April 11, 2008, and submitted them to the Safety and Buildings division of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for review to ascertain compliance with the 2006 International Building Code, which Wisconsin adopted as of March 2008. After several matters, including the obtaining of supporting letters from Burlington's Building and Fire Inspectors, were resolved, the Safety and Buildings division gave conditional approval on May 14, 2008. Since then, the appropriate city permits have been secured, and the remodeling is scheduled to get underway the first part of June.

While the Society is disappointed that the approval process has taken much longer than anticipated, we look forward to having the remodeling completed, new and improved displays depicting the Burlington area's rich history constructed and fashioned, and the Museum reopened as early as possible.

Pioneer Log Cabin Opened for Season; Docents Needed

Mid-May again marked the opening of Pioneer Log Cabin as Jackie Heiligenthal and her group of dedicated docents began another season of hosting visitors to one of Burlington's treasures. The Cabin, located in Wehmhoff Square just a block north of the Museum, will be open Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 until about mid-October, weather permitting. It will also be open several Thursday evenings, beginning June 5, in conjunction with Burlington's Farmers' Market, which will be held this year in Wehmhoff Square.

In addition to Jackie, the docents include Joyce Becker Lee, Jim Kubath, and Kathy Thate. Additional volunteers to handle the docent duties would be appreciated. Anyone wishing to join this dedicated group can contact Jackie at 262-661-4272 (home) or 763-4943 (work).

President’s Message

Summer is a great time of the year to experience the many natural resources and community activities we have available in our great State of Wisconsin. There is a great web site available that lists hundreds of activities and historic places to visit throughout our state:

Progress is slow but sure on the renovation of our Society's museum. Now that the permits are in place, we hope to have our project near completion by year's end.

Enjoy the summer and our refreshing Wisconsin weather.

          Dennis Tully

Mt. Hope Cemetery Update

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ned Farley and his archeological students from Wisconsin Lutheran College returned to Mt. Hope Cemetery on the weekend of April 18 to 20 to do some research and mapping. Some Society members, History Professor Glen Thompson, and several of the students also did additional raking and clean-up. Two previously unrecorded tombstones were noted following the weekend's work - those of Hannah Manwaring (shown at right, top) and David French (shown at right, bottom)

The College group plans to return in the fall to do additional mapping and research, including a ground x-ray to identify additional possible gravesites.

Appreciation Dinner

The Society's annual Appreciation Dinner to thank the volunteers who donate their time and talents to the various activities of the Society was held May 18 at Veronico's Restaurant. Thanks to Priscilla Crowley and Jackie Heiligenthal for making the arrangements again this year.


Library Celebrating 100 Years of Service

The Burlington Public Library is 100 years old this year. It plans to mark the occasion on July 17 and 18, 2008, with several activities taking place in the Library and in next-door Wehmhoff Square.

The Free Library Association was organized in July 1908 and opened its library in October of that year in a room in the Business Men's Association clubhouse (shown at right), which stood on Geneva Street (now Milwaukee Ave.) where the Village Square parking lot is now located.

The first librarian was Alma Neuhaus (shown at left), who served until 1923. The Library Association started with about 50 members; and the collection included about 400 volumes. The Library was open a couple of hours two days a week. Within a year about 500 reader cards had been issued and the number of volumes had grown to over 1,000.

After a stint on the second floor of the Florence Block on the corner of Chestnut and Pine Streets (now site of CRT - Canella Response Television), the Library was turned over to the City in 1913 and moved to City Hall, which was then on the corner of Pine and Washington Streets (now site of Trend Setters).

It was moved to the present City Hall in 1926 and remained there until 1964, when it moved to its current location in the former Burlington Post Office building.

Burlington's 1908 Building Boom

An article in our March 2008 issue described Burlington in 1908 -- 100 years ago, when the city was beginning to blossom as an industrial center in western Racine County. With industry growing, the need for residential and commercial development also grew. The following article from the October 10, 1908, Standard Democrat shows the building boom that occurred that year. Many of the houses and buildings listed here are still standing, although some have given way to commercial or community development.

Building Business in Busy, Booming Burlington

One Year's Building in Burlington Shows The City in a Very Prosperous Condition

That Burlington has shown an unprecedented building boom the past year the Standard Democrat is prepared to demonstrate in a most convincing manner. Never before have so many buildings been erected in one year's time. And these were not erected for speculative purposes, but for actual use, and in most cases were erected because there was a pressing demand for the same.

In the case of residences, the buildings were occupied as soon as they were completed, and the same holds true of factories and business blocks. Burlington's population has increased so fast that additional residences were absolutely necessary to house the people. A vacant house has been a curiosity in Burlington for more than a year. There has not been a vacant store building in the city, and some merchants would now like larger quarters to accommodate increasing business.

The Standard Democrat has compiled a partial list of the new buildings erected the past year, or now in process of building. The list is given below:


-- William Rothering, Geneva St. (Milwaukee Ave.) (shown at right)
-- Frank Schemmer, Geneva St. (W. State St.)
-- Henry Vos, two on Geneva St. (W. State St.)
-- Andrew Johannes, Geneva St. (W. State St.)
-- Andrew Johannes, Weiler's addition
-- Edwin Caldwell, Chestnut St. (Hillcrest) (shown at right)
-- Charles Stubley, Chestnut St.
-- Louis A. Rein, Chestnut St.
-- Henry Ebbers, Chestnut St.
-- Frank Reuschlein, Reynolds Ave.
-- Fred Baumeister, Reynolds Ave.
-- William Prasch, Origen St.
-- Herman Schultz, Kendall St.
-- Simeon M. Reinardy, Washington St.
-- Joseph Zwiebel, Washington St.
-- Richard "Dick" Kelly, Washington St.
-- Orval Roosa, Storle Ave.
-- Edwin Moe, Storle Ave.
-- Andrew Jacobs, Henry St.
-- John Terhorst, Perkins Blvd.
-- Joseph Eckert, Perkins Blvd.
-- Louis Finsky, Perkins Blvd. (shown at right)
-- John Luke, Perkins Blvd.
-- John J. Marquis, Perkins Blvd.
-- Joseph Bernert, Perkins Blvd.
-- Ben Rossmiller, Perkins Blvd.
-- Alfred McKercher, Edward St.
-- Otto Oldenburg, Edward St.
-- John Gerke, Edward St.
-- Louis H. Rohr, Kane St. (shown at right)
-- Henry Madigan, Kane St.
-- Henry Weygand, Highland Ave.
-- Bert Newbury, Duane St.
-- Conrad Roettinger, Wisconsin St.
-- Ernest Walter, Main St.
-- William Johnson, Main St.
-- Mrs. Barbara Juranek, Jefferson St.
-- William Meinecke, Dodge St.
-- Ferdinand Richter, Madison St.
-- Henry Mole, Tower St.
-- Mrs. Henry Pregger, McHenry St.
-- Orville McLaughlin, McHenry St.
-- Mrs. Leopoldina Bauman, West St. (N. Perkins) (shown at right)
-- William Leach, North St. (Congress St.)
-- Charles Mather, Wilmot Ave. (S. Pine St.)
-- William Wald, Wilmot Ave. (S. Pine St.)

Factories, Business Blocks, Etc.

-- Badger Basket & Veneer Co. (Calumet St.) (shown at right)
-- Security Lightning Rod Co. (Pine St.)
-- Citizens' Gas Co. (Calumet St.)
-- Mathias P. Petrie (Washington & Pine) (shown at right)
-- Albert Fenn (E. Chestnut St.)
-- Bernard J. Wentker (Hillside) (shown berlow)
-- Richard Weygand (E. Chestnut St.)
-- Charles E. Reed (E. Chestnut St.)
-- John Peters (Dodge St.)
-- St. John's Lutheran school (Madison St.)

Besides the above, the Citizens' Gas Co. has put in about seven miles of gas mains the past year; the city of Burlington has put in about two miles of water mains, and is now at work on about four miles of sewers.


The cost of all the building and public improvements has run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. This money, to a great extent, has been spent with Burlington dealers and Burlington laboring men, and is one of the causes why "THERE ARE NO HARD TIMES IN BURLINGTON" and why Burlington is a "BUSY, BOOMING BURLINGTON."

Farewell and Hello

             Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

Recently I attended a musical review of the 1950s and it reminded me of how much fun we had as teenagers. Who could forget those high school years -- the years of American Bandstand, sock hops, rock n' roll, sleepovers, Elvis Presley, the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, the Beach Boys and all the rest? The late 50s and early 60s were truly a more innocent time. The biggest things in our lives were who's dating whom? what record was climbing the charts? the newest dance craze? and what should I wear?

Before we got to high school came 8th grade graduation. We were King of the Hill -- we were the oldest in the building and "ruled the school," everyone looked up to us. What a rude awakening high school was. Here we were -- at the bottom once again -- lowly freshmen.

Remember what it was like at your eighth grade graduation? How excited you were? Can you feel the soft summer breeze coming in through the open windows and the scent of the flowers and how beautiful they looked? My graduation class consisted of 17 students. I can still picture all of us lined up in our best, ready to receive our diplomas. We were all headed different directions, some to St. Mary's, some to Burlington High School, some to Elkhorn High School, some to Lake Geneva -- the chances of some of us seeing each other again were pretty slim. When I close my eyes I can see my parents with my brother and sister sitting beside them in the audience. I can see the nuns in their black habits, their rosaries softly clicking as they moved through the church. It's amazing how much influence they had on all of us. When I see a nun in full habit today I automatically stand up straight, stop fidgeting and keep my eyes straight ahead and my nose out of my "neighbor's business."

With graduation behind me, I had the whole long summer to speculate on what high school would really be like. Coming from such a small school, the high school looked overwhelmingly huge. The closer September got the more I nervously anticipated my future. Part of me couldn't wait and part of me would obsess about everything that could go wrong. What if I got lost? What if I couldn't open my locker? What if I didn't have any friends? What if I said or did stupid stuff and everyone laughed? What if I couldn't figure out Algebra? What was I thinking? Do they really make you cut open dead frogs? What if I throw up or faint? What if they thought I dressed funny? I had to ride a bus -- why me? Did they think bus kids were dorky? What if my teachers hated me? What if, what if, what if? It was August and panic was really beginning to set in.

Then it was here, the first day of school. I must have tried on 4 different outfits, nothing was right, and then I had to get on the bus with a bunch of kids I didn't even know. It was the longest ride of my life. Once I got off the bus, I had my schedule and locker combination clutched in one hand and my notebooks, pens and purse in the other. When I had last been in the high school for orientation, the building was mostly empty; now there were people everywhere. Students filled the hallways; they were all calling out to each other, catching up on summer activities, hurrying off to find their classes or purchase lunch tickets or chatting with friends. It was organized confusion. They all knew where they were going and I didn't have a clue. I wandered up one hallway and down another frantically looking for my locker and trying to figure out which direction to go for my first class and all the while the clock was ticking faster and faster toward the first bell. Finally I found my locker; now all I had to do was get the darn thing open -- my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't work the combination. Finally, mostly by luck it opened. Now to find my first class -- Western Civilization with Mr. Kane (I later found out he was known as "Killer" Kane.) After a bewildering day full of new experiences and a lot of confusion, I was actually glad to go out and get on the dorky bus and go home.

I look back now and see how silly all my fears were but at the time all those worries were like huge boulders resting on my shoulders. The difficulties seemed insurmountable but like everything, time changes your perspective. Remember what high school was like? Scary at first but later it was fun - football games, homecoming, prom, school activities, dances, friends, all the funny things that happened? In high school we came of age. We started to think about things -- sure all the fun stuff of high school seemed to be our priority but somehow we began to change, we began to think about things like the war in Vietnam, poverty, civil rights, equality of the sexes, politics -- all kinds of things we never thought about before. We had opinions -- something else we never had before. We got involved in politics, times they were a changin' and they were changing fast. The 60s brought on a whole new way of thinking and living -- it wasn't our parents' world anymore. By the time we were seniors in high school, we were very different from the lowly freshmen we started out as. Yes we were still kids, wet behind the ears, but we thought we could change the world and in a way we did. We children of the 60s have definitely left our stamp on the world. Not all of us went off to war and not everyone marched for civil rights or any one of a dozen other causes, but we did bring a whole different way of thinking to the world. I think about all the changes my parents and grandparents saw in their lives but just look at the changes we have seen in our lives. Whatever you think about growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, you have to admit it was never boring. There was always something going on. The things that happened helped to shape our thinking, our opinions and our way of life and, in turn, it helped to shape the lives of our children. Every generation touches the next and something of us lives on for generations to come.

When families get together for holidays the talk always turns to, "Do you remember Uncle Henry or Grandma Mary or Aunt Bessie and the time that . . .?" What we always forget is that Uncle Henry and Grandma Mary and Aunt Bessie live on in all of us and a little part of all of us will live on in all the generations to come. It could be the way we look, or the way we think, or even the way we walk or talk, but something will live on. Whenever you think you have accomplished nothing in life, think again -- you are part of the big picture, you are a definite piece of the puzzle and you are living history. Isn't it great??