Discover the Silent City- Volunteers

Now that we've shared what our re-enactors did for Discover the Silent City- I want to take a minute to thank all of our volunteers. 

Planning for each event practically begins as soon as the current one ends! The first step is to find a cohesive theme for the year. Research for possible characters is a long process. This area took many volunteers many hours for "Remarkable Women".  

All of our women actors were cast by LCHS member, Diane Breeser. The actors spend hours diving into the research of the character, costuming, and rehearsing. Most of the actors at the event had not even attended a Silent City event before! It can be exhausting, but exhilarating, to perform the same five minute presentation four or five times an hour for four hours!

Before the event it takes many minds and hands to plan and prepare for the event! Historic Oak Grove Cemetery is a BIG part of our event- without their help we would not have the great success we have have for the past 17 years!

Numerous volunteers brought food and desserts to help feed volunteers. Many hands moved hay bales and boards for seating. Tents were assembled and disassembled. 

Let us not forget our ever important Cemetery Tour Guides. These guides also spend numerous hours at Oak Grove with mock tours- just to be ready for attendees! 

The success of this event was greatly in part to all of the time our Curator, Peggy Derrick, took to ensure that "Remarkable Women of La Crosse" had a voice in the public presentation of history.

Many have asked if we have a theme ready for 2017- and that answer is- not quite yet! We are just getting the planning together for the next event. If you have an interest in being involved with LCHS, or Discover the Silent City, please contact our office!

 

Discover the Silent City- Steenwyk

 

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Our last stop on the tour took us to Grace Pettingill Hogan Van Steenwyk - portrayed by Wendy Mattison. This was the favorite performance out of many attendees to the tour.

Grace Van Steenwyk lived a very long life, and she lived it entirely here in La Crosse. A socially prominent figure, she devoted much of her time and energy to a slew of civic and religious good causes, including being a very early member of the League of Women Voters in the 1920s.  She was even a member of the La Crosse County Historical Society. Her first husband was James Hogan, who was a large wholesale grocer. After his death she remarried Gysbert Van Steenwyk. Van Steenwyk was a member of a prominent local banking family.

Grace Van Steenwyk tells a very humorous tale, based on something that happened to her in 1918 while attending the funeral of Judge George Bunn, a Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice. You’ll find yourself in stitches, laughing at her inadvertent adventure with an electric car in the cemetery during this solemn occasion. 

 

 

Discover the Silent City-Markos

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

The sixth reenactor on our tour presented Mary (Miriam) Markos- Portrayed by Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha.

In 1900, this 18 year old young woman immigrated from Syria, then part of the Ottoman Empire, to Pennsylvania with her family. It was there that she met the Markos brothers, especially Salem Markos who would become her husband and bring her to La Crosse. They opened a store here, Miriam became known as Mary, and she and Salem became active community members and civic supporters.

 

Discover the Silent City- Linker

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Visit number five took us to the Mausoleum to see Leona Foerster Linker- portrayed by Terry Visger.

By the time she was 16 Helene Foerster had changed her name to Leona and opened her own dress shop in La Crosse. The Minneapolis-trained dressmaker was a successful business woman and entrepreneur who worked for many years for the Gossard Corset Company, which sent her to Paris on annual trips as a buyer and designer. She combined her dressmaking skills, fashion sense, and expertise as a representative of Gossards Corsets to design and produce her own line of ladies’ undergarments, which she named the “Leona.”

 

A Leona was an article of intimate apparel known as a 3-in-1, as it combined a camisole, slip and bloomers into one garment, intended for wear under the corset. Thus saving the difficult-to-clean corset from getting dirty.

The now married Leona Linker patented her invention, and manufactured it in La Crosse. Leonas were sold throughout the country.

 

Discover the Silent City- Opdale and Adams

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Our fourth stop featured two "Remarkable Women". Reverend Nellie Opdale- portrayed by Deborah Nerud, and Dr. Abigail Adams- portrayed by Susan Fox.

 

These two women were close friends in life, and they will performed together on the “stage” of Oak Grove Cemetery. Dr. Adams was a medical doctor, when female doctors were rare, while Nellie Opdale was the first female minister in La Crosse, at St. Paul’s Universalist Church, in 1898. As Dr. Adams herself states, “Though we came from different backgrounds, we both found ourselves leading the growing trend of women making bold choices and taking charge of their lives.” Dr. Adams was a New Englander, from a middle class family--educated, but with limited financial means. She came to La Crosse with a sister and brother, and opened a women’s clinic on the corner of 7th and King Streets where she practiced medicine for over 10 years.

Rev. Opdale was born in New Lisbon and grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. She experienced personal tragedies, losing both husband and child, and finding herself in debt. It was then that she found her calling in the church, and started a journey that led to her being called to serve in La Crosse, and meeting Dr. Adams.

 

Discover the Silent City- Heileman

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Our third stop was Johanna Heileman- portrayed by Jill Pein.

 

At the age of 21, Johanna Bantle came to the United States from her home in Germany. While working as a maid in the Pabst family mansion in Milwaukee she met and married another German immigrant, Gottlieb Heileman. They eventually opened their own brewery in La Crosse, Heileman’s, and raised a family.

Gottlieb died in 1878 and Johanna was named president of the brewery. She remained the company’s president until 1912, and stayed active as a board member until her death in 1917, at the age of 85. She was one of the first female CEOs in Wisconsin history, and an upstanding figure in the La Crosse German community. Under the leadership of Johanna Heileman, the G. Heileman Brewing Company continued to grow, and more than tripled their production from the time of their opening up to 1912, becoming a leader in the industry and providing La Crosse with a successful business that brought recognition, jobs and revenue to the city.

 

Discover the Silent City- Dr. Lottirdge

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Our second stop was to visit Mary Elizabeth Parker Finney Lottridge- portrayed by Sara Slayton.

Dr. Lottridge was one of the first women in the United States to receive a degree in medicine and a license to practice both surgery and medicine. She studied medicine in Ohio, graduated in 1855, and practiced in West Salem for over forty years. Her first husband, had been a doctor, and she accompanied him on his rounds, discovering that she had an interest and talent for the work. When he died, she undertook medical training, and subsequently accompanied her father to La Crosse, along with her two children. There she married Leonard Lottridge. In 1876 they purchased the octagonal house in West Salem, built in 1866 by Dr. Horace Palmer. The attached stable made it possible for Dr. Lottidge to get into her buggy or sleigh without going outside in bad weather.

 

Discover the Silent City- Levy

This year LCHS hosted the 17th annual Discover the Silent City cemetery tours through Historic Oak Grove Cemetery. While previous events have included female characters, this event focused on the stories of eight "Remarkable Women of La Crosse". 2016's event saw attendance doubling previous year's attendance. This was a very successful event and we greatly thank all of our event organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! 

Over the next few days we will add some photos and a little more information on each "Remarkable Woman"

Our first stop was Fredericka Augusta Levy- portrayed by Dorina Lukins, and her neice- portrayed by Parker Blumentritt . 

Fredericka Augusta and her husband John Levy came to La Crosse in 1846 when the white settlement of Prairie La Crosse consisted of a smattering of crude log homes along the riverbank. They opened a store attached to their house, which also served as La Crosse’s first hotel. Augusta and John welcomed and assisted new settlers, ran the post office, and opened their home for church services for several denominations. John Levy served as one of the town’s first mayors. During the frequent times when John was away trading, Augusta ran the store and hotel.

 

[Art]ifact Exhibition Opening Reception ... Wow.

On February 26th, three years of hard work and collaboration became a reality as the much anticipated [Art]ifact Exhibition opened with fanfare at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. LCHS, UW-La Crosse and the Pump House partnered to create [Art]ifact, a unique project which involved selecting 15 locally connected historical artifacts, a tremendous amount of research, and a call to artists which culminated in the selection by jury of fifteen. Each artist was then assigned an artifact and had to create a new piece of artwork based on that artifact. The result was a body of diverse works that is simply amazing. Finally, the jury had the difficult task of choosing the winners of a variety of awards.

By every description, the opening reception of [Art]ifact was a staggering success. And we mean, WOW. The Kader Gallery, and in fact, the entire Pump House, was filled with art-loving, history-loving onlookers as speeches were made, credits were acknowledged, thanks were offered and awards were presented. The exhibition will run through April 17th.

The La Crosse County Historical Society would like to thank its partners and all the hard-working individuals who made [Art]ifact the stunning, unique, amazing exhibition that it is.

[Art]ifact Award Winners

Best Connection: $250, strong incorporation of the artifact’s history in the new piece
Lisa Lenarz, “Tiab Dawb: Cloth of Everlasting Friendship” (acrylic on canvas)
Artifact: Pleated Skirt, Creator Unknown, 1985-1995

Best Transformation: $100, artifact represented as something very different
Brad Nichols, “Trapped” (mixed media: sterling silver, steel, brass, mink fur, ceramic)
Artifact: Fur Muff, Lutz Fur Store, 1920

Best Renewal: $75, artifact represented as same item in modern times
Jonathan Eimer, “”La Crosse Stick” (wood, metal)
Artifact: La Crosse Stick, Creator Unknown, 1930-1950

Honorable Mention: $50
Preston Lawing, “Vulcan (Tong Khai) at the Forge” (wood-cut, hand-applied color)
Artifact: Knife, Tong Khai Vang

Honorable Mention: $50
Marcia Thompson, “Gussie’s Dress” (mixed media: monotype printing, fabric collage, hand stitching)
Artifact: Wedding Dress, Augusta Dobe, 1909