Newsletter - March 2012


Burlington Historian

March 2012

Burlington Episode of "Around the Corner with John McGivern" to be Previewed
March 4 at Veterans Terrace and Televised March 8 and 9 on MPTV

The MPTV television series "Around the Corner with John McGivern" will present its episode on Burlington on Thursday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. on MPTV-HD Channel 10.1 and MPTV Channel 36.2. The Burlington episode will be repeated on Friday, March 9, at 8:00 p.m. on MPTV-HD Channel 36.1. It will be available thereafter on the MPTV website.

As a treat for area residents, the Burlington episode will be previewed at Veterans Terrace at Echo Park on Sunday, March 4, around 1 p.m. The doors will open at noon. The preview event is free, open to everyone, and snacks and a cash bar will be available.

Host John McGivern, producer Lois Maurer, and production manager Raul Galvan will be in attendance for questions after the half-hour preview. Program DVDs will be available for purchase.

The Burlington program is one of thirteen episodes in which McGivern, the Milwaukee-born comedian-actor-storyteller, takes viewers to various Wisconsin communities for a behind-the-scenes look at unique aspects which make the communities good places to live, work, and play.

In McGivern’s visit to Burlington last year, filming was done at the Historical Society Museum, where McGivern "met" Wisconsin historian John Gurda to talk about Burlington’s history. Also filmed were the Aquaducks at Brown’s Lake and various aspects of ChocolateFest – which draws large crowds, is managed and staffed by many volunteers, and supports many community causes.

Among other places McGivern visited were The Malt House for the Haylofters’ production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," the Beaumont Field baseball diamond, and Fred’s Parkview.

President’s Message

With daylight getting longer, we are on our way to another spring season. Our Wisconsin winter this year, having been mild, did seem to move along fast.

Browsing the photo pages of our website ( gives us an idea of how time and society have changed the way we look and live our daily lives. It was a much slower pace years ago. Most went about their chores in a routine manner unlike the "go here, go there" activities of today.

It’s important to teach our next generations how to pace ourselves and enjoy everyday life and keep our priorities in proper order.

With the addition of the upper level storage and office area and with our museum display area completed with many new items on display, we encourage all Society members to spread the word to all your friends and neighbors to stop in on a Sunday afternoon to browse and enjoy Burlington as it was years ago.

I’m looking forward to a fun and eventful 2012 and hope all the same for each of us.

         Dennis Tully

Pioneer Log Cabin to Open in May; Docent Scheduler and Docents Needed

Pioneer Log Cabin in Wehmhoff Square in downtown Burlington will open for the season in mid-May. The season generally extends into October depending on the weather.

The Cabin has usually been open to visitors on Thursday evenings from 3 to around 6:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Farmers Market and on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m. The Thursday evening hours seem to be particularly popular.

Jackie Heiligenthal, who has served dependably and faithfully as volunteer head and scheduler of the Cabin docents since 2007, has decided to step down from that position. Her efforts have been most appreciated and successful.

Now, however, the Society must look for someone to take on those responsibilities. If you are interested in the position, or in becoming a docent, call the Museum at 262-767-2884 or stop in the Museum some Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.

Christmas Program Again a Success

The Society’s 2011 Christmas program at Veterans Terrace, which featured Rochelle Pennington’s presentation on the World War I "Christmas Miracle," attracted a good size crowd, a portion of which is shown in the accompanying photo.

Ms. Pennington showed vintage photos; shared diary entries, letters home, and newspaper articles describing the Christmas truce between the German troops and those of the British, Scottish, and French forces; and showed some authentic World War I battlefield artifacts. A member of the audience, standing with Ms. Pennington in the photo, also showed some of his uncle's World War I memorabilia.

Because of the quality and popularity of Ms. Pennington’s programs, the Society has asked her to return on December 2, 2012, to present her program "A Walk Down Memory Lane." Further details on the program will be included in a future newsletter.

50 Years Ago . . .

In 1962 the City revised house numbers to provide a uniform numbering system and changed the names of several streets. Former street names that faded into history included Geneva, Dyer, Liberty, Livingston, Frederick, East, West, North, South, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Fox River, West Water, Mutter, Tower Lawn Circle, Delavan, South Origen, Wilmot Avenue, and Mary Ceil Drive.

Also in 1962, Burlington telephone numbers changed to the All Number Calling (ANC) system, with the prefix "ROckwell 3" becoming "763."

Historic Downtown Business Signs Donated to Society

Two large wooden signs, one around and the other over 100 years old, from historic downtown businesses have recently been donated to the Historical Society.

The first is the HOTEL BURLINGTON sign shown in the 1906 photo at left. In the photo, the "HOTEL BURLINGTON" sign hangs from the canopy over the front door of the hotel on Pine Street. The building is now occupied by the Sci Fi Café. Shown are fishermen Ed Petrie, Gus Heublein, Henry Kortendick, Edwin Caldwell, and Oscar "Hooty" Konst (not necessarily in that order), who brought their 1-day catch from Duck Lake – 89 pickerel, 3 bass, 76 perch, a croppy, and a bullhead – and strung them up on three lines at the hotel.

The sign, donated to the Society by member and former president, Nick King, is shown in the photo at left. It is now housed in the Society’s storage building near the Whitman School.




The other sign, reading F. A. SCHWALLER LAND CO., stretched nearly 20 feet across the front of the Schwaller building, also on Pine Street. The sign is shown between the 2nd and 3nd floors of the second building from the left in the circa 1915 photo at left below. At that time, businesses on the ground floors of these Pine Street buildings were Jacob Wien’s clothing store, Al Reuschlein’s shoe store, Egizo Giannini’s fruit and confectionery store, and C. B. Wagner’s hardware Store.

The sign, which had been stored on the Schwaller building’s upper floor, was donated to the Society by Connie Stellmacher, who owned the building and formerly had a law office there. The sign was moved, with help from the Wanasek Co., to the Society’s storage building, where it is shown in the photo at right below.











And Away We Go . . . . .
                  Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

Here it is the middle of February – we have finally gotten our first snowstorm of the season and all I can think of is summer vacation. Thinking of summer and vacation just naturally brings back the memories of those beloved "family vacations" we all took in our much younger years. Our family never went anywhere too fancy; most of the time our vacations consisted of visiting relatives we didn’t see very often or staying in a cabin "up North" and once we went to the Wisconsin Dells. It’s not really important whether we stayed at the finest resort available with all the amenities or stayed in a simple cabin in northern Wisconsin. What was important was that we were all together as a family, sharing an experience.

I would like to be able to tell you that our vacations were organized and calm with no hint of chaos at all. Unfortunately, we never did things that way. Most of our travels were accompanied by a certain amount of disorganization, a little hysteria, a certain amount of squabbling and a whole lot of chaos. We always had a great time; after all what’s a family vacation without chaos and a little hysteria?

Getting ready to go on vacation was almost as much fun as being on vacation. It was always a "Murphy’s Law" kind of a thing. If something could go wrong – it did. Mom would spend weeks trying to figure out how many and what kind of clothes to pack for all of us, how to pack, should we take our own pillows and bedding?, what about food?, and how could everything possibly fit in the car? One year we even took our dog – now that was a vacation!

One year on the night before we were to leave to go "up North" my brother was helping out in the garden, he was digging with the pitchfork and instead of digging up a potato, he managed to stick one of the tines through his big toe. Now remember, this was the night before we were to leave "on vacation." There was a lot of yelling and crying and blood and dirt and dire predictions of possible "lockjaw," possible blood poisoning and should we take him to the doctor? (where would we find a doctor at 6:00 on a Friday night?) do you suppose if we clean it out good with soap and water and peroxide it will be ok?

Eventually the crying stopped, the bleeding stopped, the toe was washed out with soap and water and peroxided with everything we had and iodine added for good measure. The toe was wrapped and the decision was made to not go to the Doctor that night but to wait and see what it looked like in the morning. I was always surprised at the amount of faith that was put into the plan of "Let’s sleep on it and see what it looks like in the morning." With that statement we were all sent to bed and told to go right to sleep – no fooling around – we all had to be up and out of the house early in the morning.

Of course we girls were all sympathy for our brother’s suffering. It was really more like, "Good going moron – now we’ll probably have to stay home, what a klutz!" or "Great, just great – now I suppose your toe will turn black and fall off!" It’s just wonderful how brothers and sisters always pull together in a crisis.

Well, morning came, his toe had not turned black or fallen off as predicted; it looked ok, so it was decided to take a chance on "lockjaw" and /or blood poisoning and head for the North Woods anyway. We were gamblers at heart. We girls were good with that, after all it wasn’t our toe. A fresh bandage was put on the toe, we managed to get his foot into a tennis shoe without laces, Dad started stuffing the car with various suitcases, boxes, bags, pillows, food, maps, drinks, dog food, blankets, extra jackets, sweatshirts, Mom, brother, sister, me and Dad and the dog and away we went.

It wasn’t quite the early, early start the parents wanted but we did manage to get out of town before 8:30 a.m. Not bad, but of course that doesn’t count the time spent coming back home to check and make sure that all the doors and windows had been closed and locked and that the stove was turned off.

There we were, Mom and Dad in front, me, Jackie and Jon and various pillows, games, blankets, bags and one very over-excited dog who spent her time running back and forth across the bare legs of all three of us kids trying to look out of both windows at the same time. I’ve often thought we must have resembled either Ma and Pa Kettle and their brood or the Beverly Hillbillies making their way down the road.

By the time we hit Janesville on our way "up North," there were already rumblings from the backseat about "When are we going to stop and eat?, I have to go to the bathroom., The girls are pinching me, tell them to stop pinching me (absolutely not true!), Jon is being a big dummy jerk! (absolutely true!), Tell the dog to stop scratching my legs – stop the car, I think the dog is gonna throw up!" I don’t know how Mom and Dad stood it and still retained any amount of sanity. This wasn’t a vacation, this was a tour through the "Twilight Zone."

After many hours of travel – it seemed like days – we finally arrived at our destination. We were staying in a cabin that belonged to Dad’s boss. Our expectations were that we would be by a lake with a sandy beach where we could swim and play in the water and Dad could do some fishing. The cabin would be a little rustic but very comfortable. What we got was a man’s hideaway cabin really meant only for fishing and hunting. The cabin was dark and musty smelling because it was deep in the woods and the trees blocked out most of the sunlight. It was sort of spooky looking and felt damp, it was on a lake but the lake wasn’t suitable at all for swimming it was full of algae and lily pads and unknown creepy creatures. It was ok for fishing as long as you liked Bullheads. There was a pier and a boat but the woods were thick and there was no open space around the cabin for kids to run and play.

Let’s face it, these kinds of vacations really weren’t much of a vacation for Mom – there was still cooking and cleaning to be done and trying to keep track of three kids and a dog in foreign territory was no easy task. In spite of everything we managed to have a good time, we found a swimming lake close by and Dad did enjoy catching what fish he could from the pier. He helped out with the cooking and we managed to figure out how to play in the "big woods" without getting lost or falling into the icky lake, and we even managed to not be attacked by the swarm of snakes Mom was just sure were lurking just beyond the cabin door.

Thankfully it only rained one day while we were there so we weren’t all penned up in the cabin driving each other crazy. We managed to hang on to the dog without losing her in the big woods. Jon’s toe healed up and none of us acquired any new injuries of gigantic proportions, only the normal run-of-the-mill ones we were used to seeing on a daily basis.

Friday rolled around and the packing started all over again, only this time it seemed as if there was more stuff than we had started out with. It couldn’t have been food, we ate most of that – we didn’t buy that much in souvenirs but somehow the stuff didn’t pack as nicely for going home as it did at the beginning of this adventure. We kids figured it was because we were going home with dirty clothes – everyone knows that dirty clothes pack bigger than clean ones – it’s all the dirt and sand and sweat – it expands the fibers and makes clothes bigger. Somehow everything got crammed into the car for our return journey home. We cleaned up the cabin, made sure it was locked up tight, took our rightful places in the car with hardly any disagreement as to who got to sit by a window and away we went.

If you think the drive up took a long time – it was nothing compared to how long it took to get home. Remember we had all been semi-nice to each other all week and now we were confined in really close quarters – something had to give. We didn’t even make it to the main road before the squabbling began. Bless Mom and Dad for not stopping the car and depositing us by the side of the road with a sign that said, "Free for the taking!" Eventually we ran out of steam and fell asleep – I can only imagine how happy Mom and Dad were – the silence must have been wonderful.

Finally we arrived back home safe and sound. Never had a little house looked so good. We piled out of the car, all five of us, hot, sweaty and a little scruffy around the edges and I swear the first thing out of our mouths was, "Hey Mom, what’s to eat?" Mom didn’t even dignify that with an answer. It was all hands on deck to help unload the car. The bad part about coming home from vacation is putting everything away and doing the laundry that had accumulated all week. It was beans and weenies for supper and Sunday was promoted to wash day.

Home always feels like a fantastic place to be when you’ve been away for a while. To quote Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz," "There is no place like home!" The memories these family vacations generated are so very important. It’s another part of the "Remember When" game we all play. When you take your family on vacation and the kids are squabbling about whose turn it is to sit by a window, and aren’t we there yet? and when do we eat? and the always popular, Mom tell him or her to quit pinching me – just remember that someday you will look back and remember those days as some of the best ones you ever shared with your family. It may take a lot of years, decades even, but someday it will become a great memory.