Monday, September 22, 2014

1890 census substitute

For genealogists who like to trace their family movements, the big gap in census records occurs in 1890.  That census was almost entirely destroyed by fire.
So, to track a family in Fond du Lac in 1890, there is a great alternative.

The 1890-91 Fond du Lac City Directory, is really a combined directory of the City of Fond du Lac, the Villages in Fond du Lac County, as well as all the rural residents of the county.  While this does not include names and ages of family members, it should help to discover whether your family resided in the county, or had moved on.

Many of the "City" Directories, actually include county information.

The 1876, 1890-91, 1897-98, 1901, 1905 and 1913 all include county residents.
There is also a 1904 directory showing all of the rural routes in the county, with the names of persons receiving mail along those routes.

All of these directories listed above are available for research at the Fond du Lac County Historical Society.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1867 School Register for Taycheedah

Now that the summer  season has come to a close, I am back digging through the many records found in the library of the historical society.  Right now I am looking through the school books, and the school registers.

Yesterday I found the Teacher's Daily Register for 1867 for Taycheedah School, and this is the earliest book ever found for any Fond du Lac school so far.  Of course, give me a little time.  I might find more!!!

You might not be able to read the full list pictured above, but a very familiar name in Fond du Lac history pops up from the middle of this page......9 year old Peter Mengel!  WOW!

What is interesting, in reading this first book, is the fact that all of the boys are listed on one page, and all of the girls are listed on the second page......then, each student is given a number.....the boys get the odd numbers of 1,3,5,7,9    and the girls get even numbers  2,4,6,8
There are a total of 58 students in the list.
The school register starts with the date of November 11, 1867, and marks each student's attendance.  Five of the boys did not start attending until Nov. 18th.

Here is a full list of surnames found in this register:

Other School Registers for Taycheedah, are for the years:
1876 to 1878
1881 to 1884
1892 to 1894
1896to 1897
1898 to 1899
1899 to 1903

Monday, September 1, 2014

Early Schools

Recently I was asked to look for a record of a woman who used to teach music in the schools, at an early date of 1850's and 1860's.

Unfortunately, most records just don't go back that far, and our earliest school yearbook in from 1907.

But I did do some digging, to see just what kind of early records we might have, and found something of interest.  In the 1880's the school district published a monthly "Reader" which consisted of writings from the second, third and fourth graders.

"Our Little Folks' Reader is published monthly during the school year, directly from manuscripts furnished by the pupils of the second, third and fourth grades (primary) of the public schools."
"Its aim is to improce the work of the above-mentioned grades in all of the elements of composition applicable to such grades, and to serve, secondarily, as supplementary reading. Enough copies are printed to serve all classes of the above grades."

The two issues that we have in the library are dated June 1887, and December 1888.

Here are some sample stories:

The Old Sly Cat
There was a cat; she was very sly. She would hide and if she saw a mouse, rat or bird, she would make a spring and catch it before you could think. One day the canary bird was let out of her cage, and before we knew what the cat was about, she had killed our pretty bird.
Emma Weber, Second Grade, Ruggles Street.

A Birthday
My brother's birthday is to-day. He is three years old. He is very rough and wild. He is very strong. He can climb pretty well, and he likes to run and jump. His name is Paul. He cries when he sees me go to school, because he wants me to play with him. He is very playful and very fat.
Herman Scherzinger, Second Grade Cherry Street.

My Visit
Summer before last I went to Michigan. It took us a day and a night to get there. I had to go on the cars until I got to Milwaukee, then I got on the steam-boat. We were crossing the lake in the night. We got to Manistee in the morning. About three o'clock in the afternoon we went on a steam-tug to Hopkin's-peer and then we went in a wagon five miles to Pleasonton.
Swymour W. Cheney, Second Grade, Ruggles Street

Locked In The Postoffice
Last Saturday night I was out riding with a lady, and she wanted me to go and get the mail, which I did. It was dark and I could not find the box. There was a man in the office, and I asked him if he would find the box. He said, "Most certainly;" and he found it, but I could not unlock it. I tried quite a while, but did not succeed. Then I heard them lock the door of the office. I was very much frightened. I went to the door and cried, and a man in the other part of the office asked me what was the matter. I said that I was locked in, and he said, "Don't cry, I will let you out;" and he got my mail and let me out. I was very glad to get out.
Ida Rediker.  Third Grade, Cherry Street.

This little reader is the earliest example of material found from out early schools.  It prompted me to check the stories, and see just what schools these essays came from, so here is a list of schools.

Amory St.
Cherry St.
Cotton St.
Grant St.
Hickory St.
Marr St.
Rees St.
Ruggles St.
Sibley St.
Walnut St.
First St.
Second St.
Fifth St.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Langdon Divers Current Display

The beginning of summer is always a busy time at the Galloway House and Village, and this year is no exception.
We have several new displays in the Blakely Museum that I have been working on, as well as a display in the Langdon Divers Room at the Fond du Lac Public Library.

"From the Attic" is the current display at the Fond du Lac Public Library, which runs through the month of June.  There are many portraits on display that are not normally on display in the Galloway Village.  Also on display is a collection of handmade bridal dolls, made by Bernice Parfitt of Ripon, WI.  These brides are all dressed in period bridal fashions from 1776 to 1976.  What a treasure.

Portrait of Uriah Stroup

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thornton Library Open House

On May 3, 2014  The Thornton Library hosted an Open House.  A big Thank You to all who attended and got to know many of the holdings that are available in the library.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Strascino Piano Company

Recently I had someone ask about the history of the Strascino Piano Company, so I had to do some digging.

The company was formed in 1895, but only lasted until 1908, when the company dissolved.

The owners and managers of the company had hoped a source of local labor could be drawn upon and trained to fill requirements. The thought perished in the very onset. The art of piano making, especially in the era of the Strascino venture, was a highly specialized field of endeavor.

Piano makers served a four to five year apprenticeship, followed by no less than two years as journeyman before being accepted into the guild.

There wasn’t a single operation at the Strascino plant that even faintly represented mass production. All leg spindles were hand turned, scrolls and trim were hand carved, even most of the holes required, were hand drilled.

The varnishing, or finishing as it was called was a process requiring tremendous skill. Each piano received from six to eight coats of a high grade, extremely thin resin varnish. After each application was thoroughly dry, it was hand rubbed.

The finisher sprinkled powdered pumice stone into the palm of his hand and added a few drops of boiled linseed oil. From here on, hours of long sweeps of a back and forth motion continued until the individual felt his work was almost completed. In the final operation pumice stone or talcum powder was used. The finished product had the appearance of a mirror. Today the entire practice is a lost art.

The amount of time that these true craftsmen used to create the pianos, as well as the invention of the Player Piano, was the beginning of the demise of the company.

There are several of these pianos on display at the Galloway House and Village.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thornton Library

It's official!

The library on the grounds of the Fond du Lac Co. historical Society is now known as "The Thornton Library", named after longtime members and supporters. Ray and Mildred Thornton!

A Grand re-opening of the library will be held Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 10 am to 4 pm.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Osceola township

Several days ago I posted a listing of some township tax rolls that are available for research in the library.  Today I have one more township to add to the list.

Osceola Township
                Tax Rolls
                                1862, 1864, 1868 to 1873 (1874 missing)
                                1875 to 1887 (1888 missing)
                                1889 to 1901 (1892, 1895 missing)

                                1903 to 1915 (1902, 1909 missing)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Melrose Farm

The Galloway House and village was once a working farm called Melrose Farm.  Recently I found documentation in the files that included photos of the buildings on Melrose Farm in 1944.

Stock Barn

Dairy Barn

Granary and Hen House

Horse Barn

You can stop in the library on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11-4 to see the rest of the photos.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Township records

Some of the records available for research at the library, include old township Assessment books.  While they are not all inventoried, here is a sample list of several townships, and what Assessment and Tax books are available.  This list will be expanding as we inventory more of our holdings.

Oakfield Village
                Assessment Rolls
                                1908 to 1917 (1918, 1919 missing)
                                1920 to 1928 (1929 missing)
                                1930 to 1954
                                (1955 to 1979 missing)
                                1980, 1984, 1985
                Tax Rolls
                                1908 to 1915
                Personal Property Tax Assessment Roll
                                1912 to 1915
        1980, 1982, 1983, 1985

Lamartine Township
                       Assessment Rolls
                                1865, 1868
                                1873 to 1889 (1875, 1877, 1884, 1887, 1888 missing)
                                1890 to 1901 (1894, 1900 missing)

Springvale Township
Assessment Rolls
                                1848, 1850, 1853, 1855, 1859
                                1861 to 1865 (1866, 1867 missing)
                                1868 to 1888 (1889 missing)
                                1890 to 1946 (1935 missing)
                                1959  to 1975 (1965, 1966 missing)
                Tax Rolls
                                1864, 1865, 1875, 1876, 1879
                                1890 to 1911 (1895, 1903, 1905, 1906 missing)


New donation - FDL Theatre

Yesterday I received a new donation to the Fond du Lac Co. Historical Society Library, and when I took a good look, I was astonished at what I found.

The treasure of papers and theatre programs included the program for the Grand Opening of the Fond du Lac Theatre,  known back in 1925 as Fischer's Fond du Lac Theatre.

Inside this program, is a photo of the original building, just completed, and it is a photo that I have never seen before.

Here's a close-up of the photo on this page:

The entrance obviously was moved in later years, since it now appears in the middle of the block, but this shows what a wonderful building it truly was when built.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dolls in the Attic

Poking through boxes in the "attic" of the historical society, is like Christmas!  You are always surprised and excited by what you find.

Recently while just getting an idea of what was in storage, I encountered 3 rather large boxes that felt as if they were empty.  Did I get a surprise when I opened them, and found dolls, dolls, and more dolls, all handmade and beautiful.

18 of the dolls are wearing bridal dresses in period styles, from 1786 through 1966.
30 of the dolls are men and women dressed in period costume, starting in 1640 to the 1880's.

The dolls were made by Bernice Parfitt, of Ripon.  She used a book, called 'The Doll Book', by Estelle Ansley Worrell, which included not only sketches of the costumes, but patterns for making all of the dolls and costumes shown in the book.

Bernice started making the dolls in 1976, and made 1 or 2 dolls each year.  In 2008, when she and her sister broke up housekeeping, she donated the dolls to the Historical Society.

Here are pictures of some of the extraordinary dolls:

Showing her 'hoop' slip

1776 and 1786 brides

1815, 1820 and 1834 brides
Martha and George Washington?
1860, 1860 and 1870 dress styles

Three 1880 style dresses
1812, 1812, 1830 and 1850 men's styles

Ag photos

I've been going through photos, looking for some to display at the Agricultural Showcase.  (March 1, 2014 at the Fairgrounds) The Historical Society will have a booth there, and I want to find some old photos to draw some interest.
I found some old promotional photos, (probably for June Dairy Month) and actually recognized an old neighbor from my childhood days.  I grew up near Luxerin Farms, and so I recognized Clarence Sheridan in the accompanying photo right away.

If anyone can identify the other people in these photos, we would like to add their identification to our files.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Library Hours

YES, the library is now open!  Hooray!

But................there is always the weather to contend with, so if there are any weather alerts, such as a wind chill warning, or a storm warning, then the library will not open.

Current Winter Hours:
Tuesday and Thursday  from 11 am to 4 pm
By appointment, call 920-313-0535

Also, we are still 'straightening' things up a bit, so there is a need for volunteers to help to inventory library contents.

Monday, February 3, 2014

old schools

There are several photos of old county school buildings in the photo collection at the Fond du Lac County Historical Society, some of which are a puzzle, because they are unidentified.  If you know where any of these schools were located, or have an old photo of a school, I'd like to hear from you...

These first two pictures are simply labeled as the school by Ries Cemetery.  Well, I have searched and have not found any cemetery by that name in Fond du Lac county.  Could this be a mistake?  Perhaps the cemetery is in an adjoining county.  Note the front entrance roof, that has two different grades to the slope of the roof.  Very unique.

Unlabeled except for the date...

Where was this school?

This school has a bell tower!

Just a beautiful building!

This is a larger building, the bell tower is empty here!  Wish I could identify this school.

old street photos

The January weather this year did not lend itself to much work at the Historical Society library, but once in a while I brought home some photos to go through and want to post a few here.
If you look at the building on the left, behind the stop light, that is the old Fond du Lac Dry Goods Store, on the corner of Main and Second St.  This view is looking down Second St with the photographer standing on Macy St.  Note the tall chimney on the right, which also appears in the second photo.

This is the old Alhambra building, facing Macy St.  All of the buildings in these two photos were demolished to make way for the present National Exchange Bank building and parking lot.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tallmadge Bible

Accidents happen. Sometimes preserving something from the past, takes a little effort.
One of the storage facilities for the Fond du Lac County Historical Society is the second floor of the Adams House, located on the Galloway House grounds.

Several years ago, the roof on the Adams House sprang a leak and needed to be replaced.  The leak was serious, and water poured onto some of the stored material, mainly 'books'!  Some were damaged beyond repair, and could not be saved.

Several years later, as I am moving some of the material, I encountered a large book, wrapped in archival paper, that was still stuck to the floor.  Obviously it was missed in the previous cleanup.

I opened up the book, and discovered that it was a family bible, and there was black mold along the bottom edges, but the mold had not penetrated into the paper.  I brought the bible home, and after a frantic call to the State Historical Society, carefully followed their suggested procedure for removing the mold.

I was determined to salvage this bible, because it had been the bible of Joel Tallmadge, the father of Territorial Governor Nathaniel Tallmadge.

The bible contains valuable Tallmadge family information, including an inscription on the inside cover where Joel wrote down who he bought the bible from, and how much he paid for it, as well as who should receive the bible upon his death.

Here is the inside cover:

It states that it Joel paid $9.00 for this bible.

The bible contains information about Joel Tallmadge, and his wife Rhobe Potter, as well as the births and marriages of their nine children.

 A copy of these pages will be available at the Historical Society Library for viewing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sisters of Mercy in Fond du Lac

Happy New Year!

In the course of taking an inventory of the books in the Historical Society Library, I came across a series of books that were published by the Capuchins of Mt. Calvary.  I have previously written about the Journal of Fr. Fidelis Steinauer in an earlier post.

There are two more books in this series:  Bonaventure's Memoirs, a translation from the German of the 1904 memoirs of Fr. Bonaventure Frey, OFM Cap., one of the cofounders of the first permanent Capuchin foundation in the Americas; The History of Mount Calvary, A translation of the book written for the 50th Jubilee of the Province of St. Joseph in 1907 by Fr. Corbinian Vieracker OFM Cap. 1857-1907.

Both of these books are of interest to any local historian.

I then found an even more valuable book, a biography of Bishop Henni, who was the first Bishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

I did find a surprise notation in this book, when I noticed a reference to The Sisters of Mercy as being affiliated with St. Joseph Church in Fond du Lac, running an orphanage.  Wait a minute......the Agnesians have always served St. Joes (my home parish) and this has to be a mistake.  I have never heard of the Sisters of Mercy.

Luckily, the book  is very well referenced, and the 'Sisters of Mercy' information came from The History  of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, published in 1880 by Western Publishing, page 606.  Well, off I zoomed to my copy of that book, and I was surprised to read:

  • St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy and Orphan Asylum - In January, 1876, the Sisters of Mercy purchased the S.E. Lefferts place on East Second Street, for $4,500, and converted it into a convent and asylum. In each of the years 1876, 1877 and 1878 the county voted $300 aid to the Sisters.  With this, and the personal means belonging to each, the building was raised another story, fences were built and other improvement made. .....Sister Mary Agnes is the Mother Superior, in whom rests the title to all property. She has sixteen associates. There are twenty-four orphan children now being clothed, fed and educated at the asylum. They are taught whatever trade they seem best adapted to follow. Thirty have found good homes through these Sisters...........The amount of good they quietly and secretly do is incalculable....They are, of course, Catholic.
Of course, I had to dig a little further.  The first reference indicates that the Sisters of Mercy remained at St. Joseph's until 1906, when they moved to Milwaukee.  I checked out the 1880 census for the city of Fond du Lac, and sure enough I found them listed under the heading of St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy and Orphan Asylum, with a Mother Superior, an Assistant Superior, a Mistress of Nurses, eight teachers, five housekeepers and twenty-eight young girls, most between ages 2-12.

I could find nothing in the 1900 census, but then found a second reference to the Sisters of Mercy, which indicated that they moved to Milwaukee in 1896, not 1906, which would explain why they are not found in Fond du Lac in 1900. 

You never know just what you will discover when you browse in a library!