Newsletter - September 2012


Burlington Historian

September 2012

Hammiller House Donated to Historical Society

Due to the generosity of Ruth Hammiller, daughter of long-time Burlington residents Cyril and Marion (Rhodes) Hammiller, the Historical Society has become the owner of one of the three pre-Civil War fieldstone houses on the north side of Jefferson Street on the Hillside. Ms. Hammiller, who grew up in the house, donated the house and property to the Society in August in honor of her parents, both of whom were long-time members of the Society.

Cyril Hammiller (who died in 1986) and his first wife, Catherine Alvord (who died in 1948), bought the former Mrs. Elizabeth Heiligenthal house in 1939. Cyril’s second wife and widow, Mrs. Marion Hammiller, lived there until her death in 2011 at age 98.

The house is located on land that Moses Smith, one of Burlington’s first settlers, acquired in 1839 at the Milwaukee land office. After Smith, who left Burlington in the late 1830s, the Hammiller lot was owned by Pliny and Ephraim Perkins, Joseph and Theresa (Reuschlein) Thering, Phillip and Adolphina (Block) Griebel, Fred Achen, Joseph Eckert, and several Heiligenthals. Old Burlington directories list Andrew Betzig in the house in 1876 and Phillip Griebel there in 1897.

The house has oak beams and the walls are 18 inches thick from cellar to attic. Attached at the rear is a more modern addition.

The Society is in the process of developing plans for the property.

President’s Message

This summer has been a "hot one." Not much rain to keep the crops happy and the air conditioning bills are not keeping anyone happy. That being said, the Society has had a great summer season and productive year.

We have received another donation of real estate in the form of an historic pre-Civil War stone house in the "Hillside" area of Burlington. The Hammiller family donated the property they have had since 1939 located at 216 W. Jefferson Street, which is one of three stone homes on that block that were built in the early 1850s. We are now gathering ideas for historic preservation and community and educational uses of the property.

The Society’s one-room school house known as Whitman School, which is located in Schmaling Park on Beloit Street, has recently been "spruced up" and is ready for pre-arranged tours for any interested student or community groups. Our thanks go out to Jackie Heiligenthal, Priscilla Crowley, Jim Crowley, Gary Heiligenthal, and Don Vande Sand for their "cleaning and polishing" expertise and also to Naomi Rauch who donated her sewing skills for new window treatments for the school house.

We also thank Don Vande Sand and Roger Bieneman for helping move stored artifacts from the school building to the adjacent storage building, Pete Hintz and Roger for moving a set of ice elevator wheels donated by the Herb Koenen family, and Roger and wife Joy for moving a grain fanning mill donated by Julian Warren.

As a reminder, all Society members, other readers of our newsletters, and community and area residents are welcome to volunteer some of your free time by joining us in our day-to-day activities or by participating as a guide at the Museum or docent at our Pioneer Log Cabin.

                Dennis Tully

Paul Lipton Bequest

The Society has received a bequest in the amount of $5,000 from the late Paul P. Lipton, a Burlington native and graduate of Burlington High School and the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Lipton died in Florida in January 2012 at age 95.

Mr. Lipton, shown at right, was born in February 1916, the second of six children of the late Isaac and Ida Lipton.

After graduating from Burlington High School in 1933 as valedictorian of his class (one of four Lipton children to achieve that distinction), he attended the University of Wisconsin, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1937 and a bachelor of laws degree in 1939, ranking first in his class. Other honors included Phi Beta Kappa as a junior and Coif, the honorary law society. He also played clarinet in the university band. He then accepted a fellowship to Harvard Law School where he received his master of laws degree.

In 1940 Mr. Lipton became an attorney in the Internal Revenue Service’s Washington, D.C., headquarters until entering the U.S. Navy in 1943. Upon discharge he returned to the IRS. From 1950 until 1980 he had a law practice in Milwaukee limiting his practice to disputed tax matters.

He served on American Bar Association committees, wrote numerous articles on tax issues, lectured at tax institutes, and spoke to professional groups. For varying periods, he was a lecturer in the Graduate Tax Program at the University of Florida; Lecturer, University of Wisconsin; and Adjunct Professor, University of Miami Law School. He remained active in his retirement, keeping current with computer skills, world news, and sports.

Survivors included his brother, Samuel Lipton, and sisters, Frances Weinstein, Esther Lange, and Ruth Stein.

Society Photo Used in Japanese Magazine

A photo that the Society used in its December 2009 newsletter to illustrate an article relating to a box social held in Lyons in 1913 was seen on the internet by a Japanese firm when the newsletter and the photo were posted to the Society’s website..

A representative of the Japanese firm asked the Society in April 2012 for permission to use the photo in connection with a magazine it was publishing to accompany a model-building series for Japanese children, called "Building Anne of Green Gables."

The Society granted permission to use the photo provided that the Society was given credit and that the Society receive a copy of the publication in which the photo was used.

In June 2012 the Society received a package from the Japanese firm containing the magazine and the modeling-building kit that accompanied it. While we couldn’t read all of the magazine, since most of it was in Japanese script, we could see that the Society had received credit for the photo – both in Japanese and in English.

The front cover of the magazine is shown at the right and the page on which our photo was used is shown at the left.

The photo, from the Society’s collection of Free Press photos donated by the late Elmer Ebert, shows the late William King, father of Society member and former Society president Nick King, acting as auctioneer at a basket social held in February 1949 at the former Duckett School on what is now Highway 142. Among the folks enjoying the basket social is the late Al Breske (lower left), father of Society member Barbara Breske Guzzetta. Barbara attended Duckett School at the time. The other folks in the photo are unidentified.

Duckett School

Duckett School was a one-room schoolhouse in Section 3 of the Town of Burlington. The building, which last served as a school in 1950-51, is now privately owned. Some of the teachers at Duckett over the years were Clara Elderbrook, May Lapham, Vera Karges, Grace Perkins, Mary Hoeffner, Lois Wilson, Florence Kornhoff, Mary Warren, Russell Olson, Evelyn Karpen, Marion Robers, Eunice Jante, Shirley Hart, and Evelyn Vogel.

We Are Family . . . .

           Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

I love my family – every single one of them, all the aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, daughter, son, in laws – the whole darn bunch. We are an eclectic bunch and entirely original. When we get together, it’s absolutely amazing. We may not see each other for months at a time, but it’s always the same – you pick up the threads just as if it were yesterday when you last saw them. My Mom and Dad both came from large families. Dad’s are country folks and Mom’s are city folks. As you can imagine, each of the families have different views on life but both have the same capacity for loving life and their families no matter what.

Unfortunately, many times when we see each other, it’s at a funeral for someone. As the aunts and uncles age, this seems to happen more and more frequently. In Dad’s family only 2 sisters and 2 brothers are left out of 9 children; in Mom’s there are only 2 sisters and 1 brother out of 7 children left. Soon we cousins will be the "older" generation. Scary thought – that means we are supposed to be wise and all-knowing – able to dispense sage advice to the younger generation. That’s tough stuff especially since there are days I’m still trying to figure out my own path through life. 

What this story is really about is family. Family – they are the people who have to love you no matter what – even if they don’t want to. Family are the people who give you strength, pick you up when you fall down, and point you in the right direction when you are leaning toward the wrong path. They are the ones you share all those special memories with.

Recently one of my Dad’s younger sisters passed away. Funerals are never any fun but there is a special closeness that you share with the rest of the family that is so precious. Dad’s family is easy to pick out at gatherings such as this – they always gravitate towards each other. Soon you will see a circle of chairs or a group of people huddled together exchanging stories and catching up on everyone’s life. As more and more people meander towards the group, more room is made and the group grows. Everyone has something to say and contributes their bit to the conversation. Stories are exchanged, memories recalled, and new information is shared. The group includes everyone from the older wiser heads to the little ones who are being bounced on someone’s knee or being passed from one person to the other.

At my aunt’s funeral, the priest asked that all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren come to the front of the church and lay their hands on her casket. My aunt had 6 children and numerous grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren. When they all came to the front to touch her casket, it was a mini mob scene and the comment from the priest was, "Just look at what the love that two people had for each other has produced!" It was like looking at the branches of a tree, spreading out towards the sun, growing in every direction, strong and healthy; all coming from the same roots.

Take a minute to think about your family tree, the branches growing every which way and every year spreading wider and taller. The beautiful part about this is, even though my aunt is no longer here, her tree is still growing and reaching higher and higher. If you think about it, my aunt and uncle’s tree is really a branch off of the main trunk that started with their parents. This concept just goes on and on. That’s what family is. The family roots go deep and what has gone before helps to shape what comes after.

Don’t ever think you have never been part of anything important – just look around you – look at your accomplishments and be proud of how straight and tall your family tree has grown. You may think to yourself, "Hmm, straight and tall? What about cousin Ethel? She’s a regular dingbat, her section of the tree is just as crooked as can be!" Don’t worry, all of the knots and irregularities in the trunk and tree limbs just add character and flavor to your family tree.

Remember we are a product of all the branches, whether they are crooked or straight, that grow on our tree. How much fun would we have if we never had a crooked branch or two coming from our main trunk? Who would we talk about if everyone in the family were perfect? Everyone needs an aunt or cousin or an uncle who was or is a "little out there." It just makes us all the more human and makes for some interesting stories. Just think of the quirkiness that has been added to your personality because of a great-grandfather who thought he was the Emperor of China in another life or a cousin who is convinced that she can talk to spirits from the beyond or someone who has the market cornered on owning the world’s largest ball of tin foil. You may even have someone who can communicate with extra terrestrial beings and travels in space ships on a regular basis. Everyone has something quirky in their personality – a particular like or dislike, or certain beliefs, or a certain way of doing things – it’s all right. Embrace your individuality and celebrate your right to be your own person. All of us are what keeps life interesting and never dull. Enjoy your family, your friends, and your individuality. It’s all a part of that thing called "history!"

Library to Host Old World Wisconsin’s Historical Gardener

Marcia Carmichael, historical gardener at Old World Wisconsin and author of "Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin’s Early Settlers" will present a program on Saturday, September 29, at the Burlington Public Library at 1 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

Ms. Carmichael (shown at right) will share her passion of historical plants and the gardening styles of Wisconsin’s immigrants. Favorite plants, garden tools, food preparation, planting styles, and traditions of the early settlers will be explored through pictures and plants.

Following the presentation, the Burlington Area Garden Club will lead walks through the Society’s two historical gardens – the Vintage Garden maintained by the Master Gardners at Pioneer Log Cabin and the Legacy Garden maintained by the Garden Club next to the Historical Museum.

"Bottoms Up" Features Wentker’s Tavern

 A new Wisconsin Historical Society book, titled "Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries" features a cover photo, in color, of B. J. Wentker’s tavern on the Hillside in Burlington. The photo was taken by Mark Fay of Eau Claire.

Additional photos of Bernard J. Wentker at the Garden Entrance and the inside of the tavern in 1929, which were provided by the Burlington Historical Society, appear in the book, which highlights 70 of Wisconsin’s unique and historic saloons, bars, taverns, and breweries to illustrate the state’s well-known bar culture and brewing history. The book’s authors are Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz.

In connection with the book, Wisconsin Public Television is producing a companion documentary that will air in November. Burlington area folks will get a preview of the documentary on Saturday, October 6, when it will be shown at the Burlington Public Library. Watch for announcements of the time.

Did You Know?

In the 1864 presidential election, the Town of Burlington (which at that time included both the Village and Town), favored General George McClellan over President Abraham Lincoln, 295 to 150. Racine County, however, favored Lincoln, 2,038 to 1,646.