Josephine Hintgen's Jacket

 La Crosse County Historical Society

La Crosse County Historical Society

Catalog Number: 1981.042.01

This week’s thing that matters is a green and gold silk brocade evening jacket from the 1920s.

Its motifs of cherries and leaves is woven with metallic threads, making it even more elegant and dressy.

Its owner, Josephine Hintgen, would have worn it over her evening clothes to special occasions, or perhaps to meetings with the Vocational Guidance Association, National Guidance Association, or the Board of the La Crosse Child Guidance Clinic, all of which she belonged to.

Few have done more to advance the educational system of La Crosse than Hintgen, a pioneer of the local guidance system.

Hintgen staunchly believed that students could achieve more with a counselor to guide them, that each student had unique strengths and passions, and that every student deserved to achieve full academic potential, no matter how bleak the situation. With these beliefs, she helped forge the guidance system into what it is today.

Born in La Crosse in 1892, Hintgen was a well-educated woman.

In addition to attending La Crosse High School and La Crosse State Teachers College, she sought further education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harvard University, and several other higher education institutions including Stanford, Oxford and Wellesley.

Early in her career, she taught middle and high school. However, after taking a course at UW-Madison, Hintgen gained an interest in guidance work. She took her first guidance position as an attendance and vocational guidance supervisor for the School District of La Crosse circa 1920 — about the same time she would have acquired this jacket.

During the early 1920s, the school system struggled with students who were repeatedly truant or tardy, were dropouts or who needed to repeat grades.

There was a growing movement in the district that expressed the belief that schools needed to “teach children, not school,” and Hintgen was a firm supporter of this movement.

She was among the first in the guidance program to take a keen interest in the varied capacities, strengths, experiences and home situations of the students in her guidance program. She also addressed the inadequacies of the existing guidance system by bringing awareness to teachers, guidance counselors and concerned parents.

Hintgen’s many contributions to the La Crosse school system, which included exploratory and occupational preparatory courses, achievement testing and the Stay in School program, resonate with today’s guidance system.

She would continue to champion improvements to guidance systems throughout her career, even acting as a guest lecturer at UW-Madison. Eventually, Hintgen became the director of guidance and later assistant superintendent of the school district.

She was so beloved that a local elementary school, Hintgen Elementary, was named in her honor. Though she died Feb. 14, 1981, her legacy lives.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on October 13, 2018.

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.

John Nolen and La Crosse Parks

Amy Vach

Catalog Number: 2015.fic.195

 Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

More than a century ago, the recently developed park commission of La Crosse and Mayor Dr. Wendell Anderson invited John Nolen to discuss the potential for the development of parks in the city.

Nolen’s plans made way for creating some of the beautiful parks that we enjoy in La Crosse today, such as Riverside, Poage, Powell and Houska parks.

At age 34, Nolen and his wife sold their home and used the money for Nolen to enroll in the recently opened Harvard School of Landscape Architecture. Throughout the pursuit of his master’s degree, he studied under Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., whose father, Frederick Law Olmsted, was considered the father of American landscape architecture. A few years later, Nolen earned his degree and opened his firm.

Before Nolen came to La Crosse, the city established Ordinance No. 479 establishing a Board of Park Commissioners and creating Park Districts in the city of La Crosse. The first citizens appointed to serve on the commission were Joseph Hixon, Lucian Easton, Edward Colman, Fred Schnell and Henry Gund.

In 1908, Nolen first visited La Crosse and announced preliminary ideas for proposed parks for the city. An article in the La Crosse Tribune quoted Nolen “[...] I am convinced that La Crosse has an opportunity to acquire and develop a system of parks of unusual beauty, equaled by few other cities.” Nolen and the city were both excited about the potential that existed in La Crosse. Today, the city of La Crosse Parks and Rec Department boasts more than 1,400 acres of park space.

In addition to his work in La Crosse, Nolen also planned a Wisconsin state park system and plans for the city of Madison.

In Madison, Nolen advised widening streets, planting trees and regulating the height of buildings near the Capitol to emphasize it as the centerpiece.

Throughout his career as a landscape architect, Nolen and his firm completed more than 450 projects, and his impact on the city of La Crosse as well as Wisconsin will not be forgotten. This print of Levee Park, now known as Riverside Park, is preserved at La Crosse County Historical Society, as Nolen envisioned it.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on October 6, 2018. 

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.

1961 Oktoberfest Button

Frankie Bjork

Catalog Number:1990.087.266

 Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

The original Oktoberfest in Germany started on Oct. 12, 1810, to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in Bavaria, Germany.

For the first few years, it was an event used to boost agriculture in Bavaria. These first Oktoberfests didn’t include any amusement, except horse races, until a carousel and two swings were added in 1818.

In 2010, the horse races were brought back to honor the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest in Germany. Festival organizers have also set up a museum tent that allows attendees to see how the festival would have been celebrated in the past.

Oktoberfest didn’t find its way to the United States until the 20th century.

It was first celebrated in La Crosse in September 1961. It is the longest-running Oktoberfest in the Midwest.

Oktoberfest was brought to La Crosse by G. Heileman Brewing Co., the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce and many others that wanted to bring Munich to La Crosse. The La Crosse Oktoberfest celebration was described as “one of the most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S.” by USA Today in 2010.

When it was first celebrated here in 1961, people attending Oktoberfest purchased this button for admittance to the grounds. It could be used every day of the celebration. Those buttons were only $1 to purchase, which is the equivalent of $8.33 today. This year, however, festival has decided to use a printed pass for admittance to the South Side grounds.

The original Oktoberfest celebration in La Crosse in 1961 offered boat rides, helicopter rides, archery competitions, pig-dressing contests, a pie-eating contest, a Protestant service, a Catholic Mass and many more events. Many stores and businesses in La Crosse used to have special sales on Oktoberfest weekend. You could even buy houses cheaper during 1961 because of an “Oktoberfest Special.”

In keeping with tradition of maintaining international relationships, the city of La Crosse organized a soccer match at Memorial Field between the Milwaukee Bavarians and the St. Paul Soccer Club. To celebrate the first year of this celebration, Mayor Milo Knutson and Oktoberfestmaster Carl Mertens invited Burgomeister Bayerle, the mayor of Munich, Germany, to attend. He was not able to accept the invitation.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on September 29, 2018.


This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.