UPDATE  - Jan 2011 

All of the listings below are out of date.
Up to date content can be found on the new 1FamilyTree web site.

This page is a collection of interesting stories that I wanted to include on this website, but didn't really fit elsewhere or made some pages too long.

Please feel free to email me any interesting stories you may have on our mutual ancestors and relatives.



Jack Powers Boxing Fight in Menasha


St. Patrick's Askeaton Pew Listing 1887



Michael MEEHAN saves 150 lives

1900 Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado dated April 25, 1900;
FACED DEATH FOR OTHERS; Engineer Mike Meehan of the Rio Grande Saves Lives of Passengers
A Rio Grande engineer stood at his post of duty yesterday afternoon and faced a horrible death, in order to save the lives of over 150 passengers. Engineer Michael Meehan of light engine No. 804 was trying desperately to set the auxiliary brakes with a monkey wrench when his locomotive was running wildly down the hill north of Sedalia, the ride ending with a terrible crash as the engine struck passenger train No. 11, ascending the hill. The air brakes were disabled and the eccentric would not work to reverse the engine. A last chance lay in setting the auxiliary brakes. A collision with the passenger at full speed meant terrible loss of life and the engineer took the chance of being killed in order to do all in his power to save others. With a crash the monsters struck, head on, and the brave engineer was crushed between the tender and engine. It was 4:05 o'clock yesterday afternoon when the accident happened, the passenger having departed from Denver about an hour earlier. Although the efforts of the engineer did not prevent the collision, his heroism in doing more than his duty mitigated the accident. None but the engineer were hurt. Henry Hansen, fireman on the light engine jumped, as did the men on engine 527, which was drawing the passenger. All were slightly bruised. Given Best Attention
Engineer Meehan was attended by Dr. J.B. Devlin, the company physician, who went to the scene of the wreck with the crew sent out to clear the road. He was placed on the Santa Fe train and arrived in the city at 8 o'clock last night. The injured engineer was taken to his home at 568 South Water Street and given the best of medical attention.
Meehan's injuries are considered serious because the exact nature of them cannot be determined. He complains of pains in the pit of the stomach and in the abdomen and is undoubtedly hurt internally. The only visible injuries are a few cuts and bruises about the face. Meehan did not lose consciousness and suffered a great deal of pain. An encouraging sign was the absence of hemorrhage.
Both locomotives were derailed and badly smashed. None of the coaches of the passenger train left the track, however, and no one was hurt except the engineer who tried to avert the collision. The rails were torn up for some distance and traffic stopped about six hours.
It was 300 yards east of Toluca switch that the wreck occurred. The engine was scheduled to pass the passenger at this point. Being without a train, it was going at a high rate of speed to make the switch. No. 11 was climbing the hill rather slowly. Engineer George Root did not understand that there was something wrong with the other locomotive until it was almost upon his train. Then he realized the danger indicated by the warning blasts of the whistle and reversed his engine and jumped.
Dodged Approaching Death
When Root saw the light engine coming it was several hundred yards beyond the switch. The occupant of the cab of the runaway, however, was busy trying to stop. He cast frantic glances ahead, knowing that the passenger was about due, and expecting every moment that the valve would yield to his wrench and apply the brakes. Finding it was too late, however, he began pulling his whistle with the most agonizing shrieks imaginable. It required at least thirty seconds for Root to catch the full significance of the blasts and then there was hasty work on his engine. Yanking the sand lever wide open, he shut off steam and opened the air valve at the emergency point, at the same time pulling back the reverse lever to form an air cushion in the steam cylinders. All this was done so rapidly that it required probably two seconds for the whole performance. Root's fireman was down in the gangway and was warned with a yell to jump. Out he went and just an instant before the crash Root followed.
Meehan did not attempt to jump. He had pulled into the siding and Fireman Hansen was behind closing the switch. The engine was rolling along about as fast as a walk, when the fireman came up and started to climb aboard. Meehan suddenly told him he could not stop the engine and thought that by running he could get down below the north end of the switch and flag the approaching express. The fireman started to run ahead, but the engine increased its speed and soon caught him. Then he jumped up on the pilot and began waving his arms and finally his jacket in an effort to warn the engineer ahead. This was unsuccessful and Meehan began to toot the whistle and the fireman jumped. Meehan remained on board, and tried to get out of the way of the sides of the tank, which were certain to crush him against the boiler when the crash came. He could not get quite far enough and was caught and squeezed in bad shape when the engines came together. The two machines met and wrestled in mighty throes for at least fifteen seconds, and during all this time - it seemed like an hour - the passengers were wondering what was coming next. They were almost thrown out of the windows by the sudden reversing and application of air, but the heavy coaches in the rear were tightly locked to the rails and took up much of the buffing.
Roar of Awful Conflict
The final crash was terrifying, for with the grinding and breaking of steel and iron was added the roar and hiss of escaping steam, which lasted for several minutes and hid from view the awful scene up ahead. Then the work of relief started and to the astonishment of everybody the brave engineer was alive, although badly hurt and suffering great agony.
A great deal of work was required to open the road because the two heavy engines were so badly smashed ad interlocked. Trains No.2 and No. 19 were due at the scene of the wreck soon after it occurred. Both were compelled to stop because of it. The passengers and baggage on the two trains were transferred to No.11, which brought them to Denver, arriving at 9 o'clock. The load of No. 11 was taken on by the trains on the other side of the wreck.
The injured engineer has been in constant service with the Rio Grande for seventeen years. He had never been injured before, and was considered one the best men in the employ of the company. He has a wife and five children.

The following is taken from the personal injury records of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Co.:Date: April 24, 1900
Train: Ex (express) Michael Meehan, Engineer, Denver Place: Toluca
Fatally injured. Died the following day. In head end collision between light engine #804 that he was running and train #11. It is claimed that engine #804 could not be stopped owing to airbrakes being defective, no wheels on hand brakes in tank and piston head coming off in right cylinder, rendering water brake reverse lever and throttle practically useless. Probably caught between corner of tanks and cab of engine in attempting to set hand brake with monkey wrench.
Claim paid: July 14, 1900 $1500 Louise Meehan, wife

1900 Denver Post; April 27, 1900; FUNERAL OF MICHAEL MEEHAN; Many Friends Pay Tribute to a Brave Engineer
A large crowd of friends gathered at St. Joseph's Church at 9:30 o'clock this morning to do honor to Michael Meehan. The services were held for this brave engineer, who met with the accident that caused his death, while at the post of duty, were held under the auspices of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Division No. 451 and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Division 273. The coffin was heaped about with beautiful floral offerings. Reverend Father Brandt officiated. The pall bearers, all of whom were members of one of the two orders in charge, were Patrick Keneran, Frank Hockenburger, Henry Henson, James Slattery and John Dale.
A short service was conducted at the grave by the lodges. John T. Brown, chaplain and J.W. Rice, chief engineer officiating.
(The Denver Daily News lists his place of burial as Mount Calvary Cemetery.)

1900 Port Washington Star; Saturday, May 12, 1900; Michael Meehan, an engineer on the Rio Grande railway, who 17 years ago was a resident of this city, heroically stood at his post and saved the lives of 150 passengers near Sedalia, (about 15 miles south of Denver) on Tuesday, April 24 and gave up his own. The cause of the accident was the disabling of the air brakes, but instead of trying to save his own life he remained on the engine and set the auxiliary brakes with a wrench. The speed of the train was slackened, but the engine crashed into another and Meehan was killed. No other person was hurt. He left a wife and five children. The funeral was held Friday, April 27 and was largely attended.

Malachi Ryan is honored by the University of Wisconsin

Every year during "Farmer's Week" The School of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, honors a resident of the state for his or her agriculture accomplishments. In February of 1931 this honor went to Malachi Ryan.


During the selection process the University contacted several persons. Here are a few of their replies;

The Superintendent of Outagamie County Schools, A. Meating;


Another letter came from Robert Amundson;

Another letter from neighboring Brown County Agricultural offices;

There were two other hand written letters also in the files, but I can't put everything online!



Malachi accepted the honor and would attend the Farmer's Week ceremonies in Madison

Malachi included this "lengthy" sketch of himself.

The last line of this reads " member of the County Board of Outagamie County."


Mr. Clark wrote this text to introduce Malachi Ryan at the Testimonial Dinner;

Malachi Ryan's picture and his award testimonial hangs in Babcock Hall at the University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Agriculture


James Harney is murdered by bootleggers






1/17/1940    Marcella Feller Bowls a 609

Alban Wilpolt's Murder

1970 Kenosha News dated December 19, 1970;

Kenosha tavern keeper dies of gunshot wound. A well-known Kenosha tavern keeper and nightclub operator was found dead early this morning apparently from a gunshot wound to the head, according to Police Chief Robert Bosman. The body of Alban Wilpolt, 67, was found in the parking lot at the rear of his tavern at the corner 56 Street and 22nd Avenue, police said. A fire department rescue squad was called after an unidentified party notified the police of the body about 6:45 this morning. The Fire Department report noted the man had at least one bullet hole in his head. He may also have been beaten. Police believe that robbery was the motive. Mr. Wilpolt operated Wilpolt Bamboo room, 5605 22nd Avenue, and resided above his establishment. Police are conducting an intensive investigation to the circumstances regarding the tavern owner's death. A coroner's verdict was unavailable late this morning. In June, 1969, Wilpolt's cabaret license was revoked by a City Council because a dancer had been convicted by a court on a charge she had gone both bottomless and topless during a performance in April of 1969. Every few months Wilpolt returned to City Council to ask that his license be reinstated. Finally in June of this year his Cabaret license was restored. Reports indicate that he was trying to sell the tavern. Police are unsure how much money, if any, Wilpolt had on his person at time of his death.

1970 Kenosha News dated December 21st, 1970; Wilpolt victim of abortive holdup effort.
Kenosha police believe that Alban Wilpolt, 70, well known Tavern and nightclub operator found shot to death early Saturday, was the victim of an abortive holdup attempt. A police spokesman this morning confirmed Wilpolt's empty wallet and tavern and car keys were found about three blocks from Wilpolt's Bamboo Room, 56 05 22nd Avenue, behind which his body was found. Police officers Les Martin and Gerald Schuetz were sent to the rear of the tavern about 6:37 a.m. Saturday, after police had received call that a man was lying on the ground in the parking lot behind the tavern. They summoned the rescue squad. Fireman answering the call discovered Wilpolt had been shot. Corner Harold Wagner, M.D., indicated Wilpolt had died of gunshot wounds. He was shot once in the head and once in the body with a 25 caliber automatic. As theorized by police, Wilpolt locked his tavern and left by the front door sometime around 1:30 a.m.. It's suspected that a would-be robber or robbers waited for the elderly tavern owner behind the building, where his car was parked. It is thought that at least one gun gunman robbed Wilpolt of his keyes and wallet. The wallet apparently contained only a dollar oe so. Apparently an attempt was made to force the victim to open the rear door of the tavern. His glasses were found between the storm door and the inner door. Police have no idea whether Wilpolt was shot because he refused to open the door, because he attempted to resist, or because he may recognize the robbers. After being shot his body was dragged a few feet, apparently in an attempt to temporarily conceal it. Residents of the neighborhood did not hear a shot, police said. The tavern was not entered, despite the fact the holdup man had the keys in their possession. The only thing still missing, after discovery of the wallet and keys, is a small amount of money from Wilpolt's billfold. The intensive police investigation is continuing today. Wilpolt was born in Kaukauna, on May 25th, 1900, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Wilpolt. He moved to Kenosha in 1921, and operated taverns and restaurants in this area since 1936. He was a veteran of World War I, and served in the Panama Canal zone. Surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Edward (Irene) Flynn, of Kenosha, and Mrs Leona Faust, of Kaukauna. Two brothers and sister preceded him in death.

1990 The Kenosha News dated April 21, 1990 Unsolved murders linger.
Twenty deaths between September 9th 1989 and January 1963 are listed as unsolved murders. Prior to 1963 it had been 15 years since a murder in Kenosha had gone unsolved.... December 19, 1970- The body of Alban Wilpolt, 70, found shot in the head outside his tavern, the Bamboo Room, may officially be ruled opened but the police believe a good suspect in the case was a Racine man convicted in the shooting of death of another Kenoshan outside a bar on 14th Avenue near 63rd Street in March 1971. Although the suspect never confessed to Wilpolt shooting, he was convicted in the other case and sentenced to Waupan for life, plus 15 years for the attempted armed robbery of his March victim.


John E. Vandenberg US Marines Pfc, Missing in Action 1942-2000

United States Department of Defense - News Release- No. 714-00 -IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 29, 2000
The remains of 19 World War II Marine Raiders killed in action on Butaritari Island (Makin Atoll) and listed as missing in action since August 1942 were recently identified, and will be returned to their families for burial. The remains are those of:
Capt. Gerald P. Holtom, Palo Alto, Calif.
Sgt. Clyde Thomason, Atlanta, Ga.
FM1C. Vernon L. Castle, Stillwater, Okla.
Cpl. I.B. Earles, Tulare, Calif.
Cpl. Daniel A. Gaston, Galveston, Tex.
Cpl. Harris J. Johnson, Little Rock, Iowa
Cpl. Kenneth K. Kunkle, Mountain Home, Ark.
Cpl. Edward Maciejewski, Chicago, Ill.
Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, Lafayette, Calif.
Cpl. Mason O. Yarbrough, Sikeston, Mo.
Pfc. William A. Gallagher, Wyandotte, Mich.
Pfc. Ashley W. Hicks, Waterford, Calif.
Pfc. Kenneth M. Montgomery, Eden, Wis.
Pfc. Norman W. Mortensen, Camp Douglas, Wis.
Pfc. John E. Vandenberg, Kenosha, Wis.
Pvt. Carlyle O. Larson, Glenwood, Minn.
Pvt. Robert B. Maulding, Vista, Calif.
Pvt. Franklin M. Nodland, Marshalltown, Iowa
Pvt. Charles A. Selby, Ontonagon, Mich.
The Marines were members of the Marine Corps' 2nd Raider Battalion, killed during the August 17-18, 1942, raid on Japanese-held Butaritari Island, during which an estimated 83 Japanese soldiers were killed.
Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson commanded the Raiders during the operation, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's son, Capt. James Roosevelt, was the operation's second-in-command. Ferried to the island by submarine and landing on and departing Butaritari by rubber boats, the Marines were unable to evacuate the bodies of their fallen comrades.
With the assistance of island inhabitants, including a man who assisted in the burial of the Marines in 1942, a recovery team from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI) uncovered a mass grave and excavated the remains in November and December 1999. That operation was preceded by an initial investigation in August 1998 and an unsuccessful recovery effort in May 1999. The U.S. Marine Raider Association provided invaluable assistance with firsthand information and documentation about their combat on Butaritari.
In late 1999, the CILHI began an exhaustive forensic identification process, including the use of mitochondrial DNA, to confirm the identities of the Marines. Marine Corps officials, using historical military records and more modern search techniques, located the next of kin of each of the Marines.
Arrangements for the transportation and burial of the Marines are underway, in consultation with the families. The first burial is expected to be that of Cpl. Yarbrough in Sikeston, Mo. in December. Among the remains recovered are those of Sgt. Clyde Thomason, the first enlisted Marine awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.
The identification of these Marines contributes to the ongoing effort by the Department of Defense to locate and identify more than 88,000 American service members who remain missing in action from World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

United States Department of Defense - Press Advisory No. 157-P August 14, 2001
Makin Island Raiders to be Honored at Arlington
The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, will speak at a memorial service for Marines of the 2nd Raider Battalion who were killed during a raid on Butaritari Island in 1942. The service and subsequent burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. EDT.
The remains are those of Capt. Gerald P. Holtom, Palo Alto, Calif.; Sgt. Clyde Thomason Atlanta, Ga.; FM1 Vernon L. Castle, Stillwater, Okla.; Cpl. Daniel A. Gaston, Galveston, Texas;Cpl. Edward Maciejewski, Chicago, Ill.; Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, Lafayette, Calif.; Pfc. William A. Gallagher, Wyandotte, Mich.; Pfc. Kenneth M. Montgomery, Eden, Wis.; Pfc. John E. Vandenberg, Kenosha, Wis.; Pvt. Carlyle O. Larson, Glenwood, Minn.; Pvt. Robert B. Maulding, Vista, Calif.; Pvt. Franklin M. Nodland, Marshalltown, Iowa; and Pvt. Charles A. Selby, Ontonagon, Mich.
The families of six other Marines killed during the raid elected to have private burials. A casket containing co-mingled remains will be interred during the ceremony in addition to the 13 individual caskets.
The 19 Marines were killed during a raid on Butaritari Island, in the Makin Atoll, Aug. 17-18, 1942. They were members of the 2nd Raider Bn., a Marine unit organized and trained to conduct commando and guerrilla-style attacks behind enemy lines. The unit was led by then-Lt. Col. Evans Carlson and his second-in-command, Maj. James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sgt. Clyde Thomason, whose remains will be among those interred Friday, was the first enlisted Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II.
During the two-day battle, the Raiders killed an estimated 83 Japanese soldiers, but their attempts to leave the island were bedeviled by a high and crashing surf and they were unable to evacuate the bodies of their fallen comrades.
In November 1999, a recovery team from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI), uncovered a mass grave on Butaritari Island and excavated the remains. The remains were transported to CILHI where an exhaustive process led to the identification of the Marines and the subsequent notification of their families.
The remains will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. An arrival ceremony will be conducted by Marines from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and the President's Own, United States Marine Band. For media access to the arrival at Andrews or the ceremony at Arlington, contact Marine Capt. Joseph Kloppel at (703) 614-4309.

November 12, 1944

The RAF sinks the German battleship Tirpitz at Troms Fjord, Norway. The reputation of the Tripitz was so fearsome, that any hint of its use caused escort ships to flee their convoys.

Thomas E Harney Appointed Superintendent of Public Schools for Dunkirk, NY.

1942 Unknown Newspaper article; Appointed Superintendent of Public School for Dunkirk, NY. Former Cloquet man is educator in New York State Thomas E. Harney, son of Mrs. and Harney, 23rd third Street, Cloquet, has been appointed superintendent of public schools at Dunkirk, New York. Mr. Harney is a well-known former resident of Cloquet, having received his elementary and high-school education here, and has many friends in the community who will be interested in his appointment to the position. Following are comments on Mr. Harney's appointment as taken from an article in the Buffalo New York Evening News: eight years of college and university training and 20 years of administration and supervisory experience in the field of education fit Mr. Harney for the position. A native of Duluth, he is married and father of three children. He lives on Main Street, Clarence. Following graduation from Superior State teachers College, Mr. Harney trained at the Naval Aviation School, Great Lakes Illinois. Upon completion of the course he declined an instructor-ship in favor of active duty at the U.S. Naval Air Base, Paulliac, France. After the war he was director of civilian rehabilitation in the detached service U.S. Navy, at Lille, France. He was a principal of a Carlton Elementary School and the Ada high-school before assuming the directorate of the Department of Education at Nazareth College, Rochester. Since 1931 he has been a director of education at Canisius College. Mr. Harney received his bachelor of arts degree in education from the State Teachers College at Superior Wisconsin, and his master of arts degree from the University of Notre Dame. While completing his master's thesis, he was a part-time instructor. He also directed summer sessions at Springfield Illinois Junior College, sisters of the St. Joseph motherhouse, Pittsburgh N.Y., and Mount Carmel College in Niagara Falls Ontario. He did graduate work at the University of Rochester, Syracuse University and University of Buffalo, where he is a candidate for a director's for a doctor's degree in education. Mr. Harney is the author of numerous magazine and technical journal articles, and two of his educational workbooks have been published. He was awarded one of 12 Notre Dame graduate school scholarships offered in nationwide competitive examination. Mr. Harney served as vice president of Buffalo chapter of progressive education association and is a member of the American Legion .

January 18, 1952 - Malachi Harney appointed Technical Assistant to the Commissioner of Narcotics, Treasury Department.

House Fire - December 21, 1958


Rev. Eugene Earl La Meres



Below is an article from the Appleton, Wisconsin Post-Crescent; date November 1976
From Tucson, Arizona, comes the story of a former Appleton Attorney, Thomas A. Ryan, who was surprised by the gift of a new, $20,000 Mercedes Benz 300D because 32 years ago, while he was a World War II captain and tank commander, he saved the lives of many German children hidden in a castle.
As reported in the Tucson newspaper, Ryan came onto a castle in the woods near Wolfsburg. German officers occupying the castle surrendered to Ryan without incident. In the castle were art treasures by the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, hidden there because the museums were they had hung were in danger of being bombed.
The castle also was a refuge for 32 children of high-ranking German military officers. Ryan remained at the castle about a month before returning to his command post 300 miles to the south. While he was at the command post, Ryan was made privy to secret information that the Russians would take control of the Wolfsburg area
That bothered him, because he had heard that the Russians had executed many children of German officers in Berlin. So without orders, Ryan returned to the castle and after some finagling with British authorities, who controlled it, was able to evacuate the children. The adults sneaked away through the woods and fields, Ryan recalled.
At the time Ryan was given a hand-carved dagger that had once been owned by Frederick the Great. The heirloom had been given to Ryan by one of the German families, in appreciation for his life-saving deed.
Many of the children Ryan had saved tried to reach him, but the letters kept coming back from Appleton marked "deceased". That's because the letters were going to the home of his father, also named Thomas Ryan, who died in 1944. The elder Ryan was an Outagamie County Municipal Judge.
A year ago, while attending a paratroopers' convention, Ryan met a general who asked about the children. The general said the commander of NATO's ground forces, General Johann Kielslmansegg, had inquired about the incident. Three of Kielsmansegg's children were among the 32 children Ryan had saved.
Ryan, a retired Colonel, wrote the retired general and asked about his "second family". Kielsmansegg wrote back saying his nephew would see Ryan soon in Arizona. Ryan received a call from Count Dr. Gunzel von der Schulenburg-Wolfsburg, the nephew. A couple of hours later, he and Kielslmansegg's daughter were at Ryan's home with the Mercedes, which they presented on behalf of the 32 children who were hiding in the castle.
Ryan had a little something for them, too. The dagger, that once carried by Frederick the Great. It was the German family's last remaining heirloom. The Russians had destroyed all of their other treasures when they occupied the castle.



Dave and Rosalee Harney COW Bicycle Ride


In October of 1975 Rev. Father Alphonse Elsbernd wrote this short history of his family;

In the 200th year of the existence of the USA, the thoughts of many turn to the past, to the achievements of their ancestors who came to this land seeking freedom and a better life. They came on slow sailing ships, traversing the land in ox-drawn wooden wagons to settle on the pristine prairie land. They survived difficulties we can today but barely imagine.

On the following pages you will find the story of the Elsbernd Family, as best as I could seek out the details. The memory of this family must be kept alive in order that their great body of descendants knows just who they are. Details are easily forgotten, and then are lost forever. For a closing there is a report about mother's relations, although in less detail. Some free space has been left so that each family can write its own supplements
to this monograph.

I gratefully acknowledge the gracious assistance provided to me by many interested persons. First of all I thank my sister Frances, who maintained a name list through the years and from a visit to the homeland of my father brought back the names of his ancestors from the church register. Gratitude is also due to Martha and Loretta and the many others without whose help this work could never have been concluded.

If this short history brings the Elsbernd family closer together in mutual understanding and bonding, I will feel richly rewarded - because unity is strength!

October 1975

How the Catholic Church in Winneshiek and Surrounding Areas Got Started.

The first church in our diocese was St. Raphael in Dubuque, which was founded in 1833. Four years later it became a cathedral as bishop Loras was ordinated. Iowa became a state in 1842. The church here started out as an Indian mission. The Winnebago tribe was relocated from Wisconsin to Fort Atkinson, and the fort was build to protect them from the Sioux. As many of the Winebagos were converts, the bishop sent Father Remigius Perot to attend to their spiritual needs. He arrived early in 1842, but did not stay very long as the Presbyterian minister of the fort gave him trouble (his woodshed was actually burned down).

Father Joseph Cretin from Dubuque arrived early in 1843; he stayed until 1849 when the Winnebagos were sent back to Minnesota. Soon after his arrival;, with the help of the Indians and a few white settlers he build a wooden church. It stood East of the current catholic cemetery on the farm where now the Philipp Huber family lives (the church was destroyed by a prairie fire in 1853). One year later Father Cretin build a small school on the reservation and later a small chapel, which he called "Our lady of the seven sorrows" because of the many problems he encountered during his care for the Indians.

After Father Cretin left in 1849 there was a short interruption. However, in the same year a group of Catholic families from Indiana and the surrounding areas moved in and settled in the reservation. Frank Huber donated 20 Morgen (about 15 acres) to the diocese, and most of the wooden buildings were relocated close to the place where now the "littlest church" stands. In the same year Bishop Loras sent a priest from New Vienna to take care of the spiritual needs of the immigrants, who visited every three months. Later the priests from Guttenberg came to visit monthly. Catholics from far away came to attend the services.

Then, in either 1853 or 1854, the wooden church burned to the ground. Many thought it was arson. A new church was built with wood in 1854, but in two stages. The church stood northwest of the church offices.

In the following year, Philipp Laurent came to Festina, as it was now known, and Festina became the main church for all in this area and the surrounding parts. One story tells of a couple who came all the way from north Washington so they could be married in the in the church in Festina. The wooden church was used until 1861, when the current stone church was dedicated.

Short History of the Elsbernd Family

The family name is unusual in the old country and here. An uncle of my father came to Cincinnati in the early years of 1850. He is, as far as we know, the first and only one with that name who came here before my father and his brothers who followed. All Elsbernds in the USA derive their origin from these three, and all came from the same family in Legden, Westphalia. According to family tradition, as told by my father, the name is a combination of "Els"" from the German word "Else" (a small tree that grows along river shores) and "Bernd", an abbreviation of the Christian name Bernhard. Originally, it probably meant Bernhard who lives near the Elsen trees. The name appeared on a document for the first time in the 15th century. The name was recorded in a register of soldiers serving the Archbishop of Cologne. Nothing further is known about that Elsbernd. At that time, the archbishops were feudal lords who administered parts of the kingdom and thus they had soldiers. The name appeared again in church records of the Legden parish. There it is recorded that a certain Elsbernd (Christian name illegible) was married in 1515 to Annaken ten Sundarz. From there on a direct line can be traced up to our ancestors.

According to custom (observed even today), the first-born sons were the ones who always inherited the family homestead and, on the day of their marriage, became "Buhr" (Low German for Farmer). Each then had the obligation to let his parents and all siblings remain in the family home, the latter until they became of age or married. When they left the house, they received some money as their share of the inheritance. That is how the farm existed for 400 years and how it will continue to exist in the future.

Bernard Elsbernd, the oldest living son of the marriage of 1616, became "Buhr" when he married Maria Wenning. Gerhard Elsbernd, their oldest son, married Adelhard Buschmann. Joan Bernard Elsbernd married Anna Margaretha Messing and inherited the family farm. Joan Herman Elsbernd (1770-1835) was the next in line. He married Elisabeth Elperts. He was the grandfather of my father. Bernard Herman Elsbernd, the father of my father married twice. Bernard was born in 1812 (the year in which Napoleon suffered his disastrous loss in Russia), and died in 1888. He married twice. By his first wife, he had a daughter, Anna Catharina, who married a Mr. Hiller. There is nothing
else known about her. His first wife died early, and then, Bernhard Herman married Anna Catharina Heitkemper (1819-1892). Seven children come from this marriage:

1. Catharina (1842-1920) She married Franz Mi)ö)ller in Germany. after his early death she came to Festina in 1888 with her 3 children. there, she remarried, a Mr. Gehling.

2. Gerhard Hermann (1848-1923) The oldest son who inherited the farm.

3. Anna Maria (1850-1933) She was the first of the family who came to Festina at the age of 19 years. In 1870 in Festina she married Johann Elpert whom she knew already before she left Germany.

4. Bernhard (1853-1915) He came to Festina at the age of 30, married Elisabeth Schlattmann, also an immigrant from Legden. They settled in various parts of the West. Finally reched/settled downs in Crosby, North Dakota.

5. Joseph (1856-1936) My father. He arrived in Festina in 1875 at age 19. There he married and stayed as a farmer. This book tells about his ancestry.

6. Klara (1859 - ) She remained in Legden where she married Gerhard Gossling (1859-1940) a farmer. She had 10 children. Klara is the mother of Johann Gossling who came to Festina in 1925 and married Auguste Hartmann in 1925. (This was the first marriage ceremony I performed as a priest). They settled near Festina for a while, then moved to Lawler where Johann Gossling died in 1972.

7. Sophia (1862-1924) She arrived with her brother Hermann in Festina in 1883. There she married John Tilkes. They settled near North Washington where both are buried.

The first Elsbernd, that we know something about and is the forebearer of all Elsbernds throughout the world - as far as we know - married in 1616. Between him and my father, who married in 1880, are sic generations - a total of 264 years. That means, each generation is 40 years! What's the reason? There are many! They married late, the first child was not always a son. A lot died young from diseases and epidemics. Others died on the battlefields in numerous wars that swept across Germany in past centuries. We in USA, who never lived through an invasion, cannot possibly imagine the destruction that a war can bring to a country.

Father left Germany at 18 years, to avoid the mandatory military service. The small Prussian state had under the direction of the infamous Chancellor Bismarck conquered the smaller German states and unified them under Prussian rule. The catholic West German states suffered under his protestant government, which was an additional attraction for Catholics, to emigrate to the new land, which offered them religious freedom.

After a long trip, Father landed in New York. With the train he came to Ossian. The current Milwaukee line was extended to Calmar in 1869 by McGregor. No doubt the train transported goods for the work groups further west. From Ossian he went on foot to Festina with just 5 dollars in his pocket.

In Festina he lived with his sister Anna Elpert, who had come six years earlier. At first he completed odd jobs: clearing land of tree stumps (for one stump he got 15 cents, less for smaller ones), carrying stones for building houses (the house of Tony Gerlemann east of Rogers farm was built of stones, that he had carried from the old quarry from Romualds Farm) and other odd jobs, that were to be had. During winter he made wooden shoes, that were in fashion in those days. This was an occupation that he knew and that he had learned as a boy; he made 4 to 6 pairs in one day. They were made in the cellar of our house and in the evening by the light of a kerosene lamp finished upstairs in the family circle. He did this work until 1910, when the demand for wooden shoes receded.

Festina was at this time still a raw boundary city. There was a brewery (parts of the buildings still stand today west of town) and 13 saloons. Father Augustin Saufer, the pastor, tried to rid the town of them but he had to fight against must resistance from the local gentlemen. They threw stones against the church building, broke windows and threatened with violence. The pastor was afraid and asked my father, to sleep in the parish house, until the storm had settled.

Most of the grain was harvested by hand. Long scythes were used to cut the corn down; others followed and collected the stalks to tie them into bundles using a handful of the stalks. Then the bundles were placed in a pile to allow them to dry out. Afterwards the grain was separated from the stalks by means of flails. This took many hours. Migrant workers followed the ripening corn from the south. They were a rough bunch and since father refused to work in the hot sun if he did not have a jug of beer near a shady tree the
migrant workers must have kept the brewery and the saloons alive. Father remembers that some years later the first mechanical harvesters appeared. These consisted of a simple horse-drawn platform on which the grain cuttings fell. A worker stood at the side of the platform and used a rake to sweep the cuttings aside when a complete bundle had been collected on the platform. The men following behind the platform bound the bundles by means of a handful of straw. Undoubtedly father was doing this work since he was very good at tying loose bundles together that the binder had lost. Father vividly remembers the
uproar when a certain farmer bought the first McCormack mechanical binder. On Sundays many farmers came from far and wide to look at the wonderful and funny thing. Its disadvantage was that it bound the sheaves with wire that had to be cut and moved away by hand before the bundle came into the thresher. Later machines used twine.

The stone church in Festina had been built 14 years before he arrived there.
In this church he married Maria Möllers in autumn of 1880. Friar Sauter married them. In the same year he became a citizen of the USA. They made their home in Festina in a house that was located on the side that is presently occupied by Mrs. Joe Einck. Anna was born here. He continued his work until they bought a farm in Springfield, north of Ossian (now called Wiltgen-farm) in 1884. This is where Mary was born. They only worked on the farm for one year and sold it for the same price for which they had bought it. Then they
bought a farm from Henry Wenthold located to the south of Festina (presently the property of MR. Wenthold). The other children were born on this farm.

Father was not used running a farm, particularly not an American-style one. I still remember well having visited a cousin in Germany in 1933 who owned something that looked like a huge farm for that region. Father had only one horse. In order to plow the field, he tied the horse and the cow together, which were supposed to then pull the plow.
Mother however had grown up on a farm, and in the first years, she ran the farm more or less. But father learned; he was soon free from debt, provided well for the large family and saved enough to be able to buy a larger farm and to hire farmhands instead sending them out as rented workers to others.

Toward the end of the year 1908, the 120-acre farm was sold for 80 dollars an acre. A farm that was twice as large in area was bought from Mrs. Henry Cremer at 89 dollars an acre. It was divided later between John and Alois. Now Ray and Roger live on it. The new farm drove father into large debts. He was a man, who worried about the people, whom he employed and to whom he had to pay wages. This was often made clear in discussions.

One day, as he was again moaning because of the large debts and his inability to pay the wages, we reassured him that if he worked hard and it would not be long, until he was free from his debts. He was sure that we were wrong. So he agreed to buy a car, in the year in which we were free from debt. With the inflation, that the First World War brought, the debts were gone, and we reminded him of his promise. And so we got our first auto, a Ford Model T. It cost 380 dollars. For us, it was the greatest of luxury. We could drive to church past all the farmers, who were still dependent on horse and wagon.

Until 1916 the roads were bad; Under or over each hill there were hoof or wheel marks. The first road grader, pulled by an early model tractor, appeared, in order to make the road to Calmar useable by cars. William Ehler operated it, and my brother John
steered the tractor. Now the road was passable by cars, except in winter when it was blocked by snow, and in spring, when the deep, soft mud caused the wheels to get bogged.

In Jan 1925 my parents and Frances moved from their farm into a newly built house in Festina (it now belongs to Rudi Luetkenhaus.) Father couldn't remain idle. He bought a cow, two pigs and a few hens and continued his farming on a small scale, until his poor
constitution made this impossible. Both parents died in the same year, 1938, only 6 months apart. They now rest in the cemetery in Festina.

An uncle of father's, on his mother's side, Gerhard Heitkemper, came to Festina early in 1859. He died of an illness only few months later. His was the first burial in the in the new cemetery bordering the church. Before this burials were in the old cemetery of Festina, east of the house of Miss Catherine Mi(ö)ller. Still earlier people were buried at the "old Mission" .

Maria Moellers (1861-1938), My Mother

Her father, Henrich Moellers, was born in 1823 in Telgte in Westfalia. At the age of 23 my mother came with her younger brother Bernard, 17, to Festina. She was among the first settlers in the region if Festina. The Iowa Indian territory was opened to white settlement only eight years earlier. Fort At(k)inson was still occupied by soldiers who were protecting the Winnebago tribe (driven there from the other side of the M ississippi)from their enemies, who held their traditional hunting grounds. A Catholic priest was stationed in the fort for the soldiers and the Indians. The wooden church was built on the old military trail somewhere between the Brinks, now Huber farm and the Catholic cemetary. Without doubt, Henry and his brother attended this church, on foot at that.
Pioneers were very used to moving around. In 1848 the government began to move the Indians onto the reservation in Minnesota. The chaplain left them. Next year a group of six Catholic families came from Indiana and settled on the abandoned Indian Reservation. They soon built the largest wooden building on the reservation and established it on the site where now the "smallest church in the world" stands. It was named "Our Lady of Seven Aches/Pains/Sufferings/Anguishes (take yourpick)". The same year Priests from New Vienna and later from Guttenberg came to hold regular church services with the first settlers. Grandfather was certainly one of the worshippers in this wooden church. It was at the time the only Catholic church in this region and people came from from Waucoma, Spillville and West Union. In 1853 or 1854 someone set the wooden church on fire. It was thus completely destroyed. Immediately the settlers began to build a new church, but in two Fruehjahren, as Festina was then called. This wooden church stood northwest of the present rectory. In this small church Henry married Anna Tegelkamp, born in 1828; also an emigrant from Telgte in Westphalia. Reverend Louis Decailly married them.
It was the 19th marriage that taken place in the church that year.

The current stone church was built around 1860 (dedicated 1861). Together with the stone church, the current cemetery was also put into operation. The first man who was buried at this cemetery was an uncle on my father's maternal side, Gerhard Heitkemper, who died in 1859. Up until his wedding grandfather had a herd of sheep and did odd jobs.
Then he bought a farm, measuring 120 morgens. The land had earlier been given to a certain Mills Beddach, a captain of the Virginia Militia, as a reward for faithful services. He however never came to take possession of the farm. His widow sold it for 2 dollars a morgen to Henry. It was untilled soil, which had been never touched by a plow. Here he began to cultivate the land using oxen as beasts of burden. His son William, who modified the name to Mi(ö)ller, and the grandchildren (the Miller brothers) continued the agriculture until recently. Now Steve Einck lives on the farm, who married Marylin
Humpal, a great-great-granddaughter of Henry.

The life of the settlers was hard. A rough hewn log cabin served as home. No, no carpets, not even a cement floor, no electricity with all the amenities and comforts, no railway, no proper roads, but simple paths between the fields, no telephone and no newspapers, no fuel for heating and cooking except wood. Tallow candles were the first source of oil three years, after Henry had begun farming in Pennsylvania. The few businesses, which operated in small towns, made these in exchange for eggs and other farm products. They traded for goods and not cash.

In order to sell grain, for instance wheat, for cash, one had to bring it to McGregor, since the river was the only route of transportation. The way with an ox truck, which did not have springs, took four to five days on the military route, which those was only finished road at the time, when one began with the agriculture.

Mother told us once that (Henry?) had been late. The dark night had already begun. Their mother ignited a lantern, climbed to the top of a tree near the house, and hung her there inside. So the light could lead him home. Another time, than the winter was very severe, mother brought the only cow, which still gave milk into the house to guarantee that the small children were supplied.

One day the news of the Indian massacre, which had occurred in New Ulm in Minnesota, spread in the village. Some settlers began to hastily pack their carts in order to flee. Those things that could not be carried, were hidden. Cooler heads prevailed and made it clear to the others that New Ulm was far away. Thus all decided to remain.

Toward end of the civil war, while the family was working in the field, The local sheriff road out to Henry and gave him his induction orders into the army.

But he could not leave wife and children behind. Unfortunately he began to look for a substitute for his army position. This was possible in these times. Finally he found a loafer. After a lot of haggling they agreed on 200 Dollar, a very considerable amount back
in those days. The man joined the army, but no sooner had he put on his uniform than the war was over. Nevertheless he demanded the whole amount. He left Henry with a staggering high amount of debts. It took years until they were payed off. Money was scarce, farming was primitive and the prices very low. The rustic family was practically only self-supplier. Most of what one ate came from the farm. The sheep`s wool was processed and spinned to threads by hand, then knitted to socks, gloves, caps, woolen jackets and other things. As a boy I used to watch mother processing and spinning the wool, while father would finish the wooden shoes that he had made this day. While doing so the family gathered around a kerosine lamp.

The garden products were preserved. Cabbage was fermented to sauerkraut in tall stone pitchers. The pigs were slaughtered during the winter. Meat was cut and all kinds of sausages prepared and hang up in the smokehouse until they were smoke-dry. They were preserved until the summer in they way the Indians preserved things. Mother had not received many formal school lessons. In the 1870ies Festina had a one-room school. If a teacher was found, he taught reading, writing and calculating and maybe some more with the help of few books and the ever present and much used cane.

Since mother was the only girl at home and was called upon to do much work, she was not able to go to school but for less then a year as she often told us. In spite of that she was able to learn enough high German to read the prayer book. Since all settlers were of German origin, with the exception of one or two, it was German that was the language that was taught in school. This continued until the first World War. When I went to school English [??] was taught as a foreign language then. Church services were also entirely in German until 1918. This was changed because of patriotic reasons. That's how a new generation grew up that learned no German. Mother was able to "speak" with her grandchildren only using signs and her smile.



August 2004

The Times Villager article; Gordon Van Asten, Ramona (Litscher) Van Asten, Michaal Van Asten


Van Asten family makes major donation to LC windmill visitors center


By Diane Baumgart

The Van Asten family has donated $225,000 to Little Chute Windmill, Inc. The donation will underwrite the cost of the windmill’s visitors center.
The visitors center will be named the Gordon, Ramona and Michael Van Asten Visitors Center in honor of their generous donation. Gordon and Ramona are donating $150,000 and Michael is donating $75,000.
“Originally, it started with just the windmill,” Mike Van Asten said. “It seemed almost a necessity to have a visitors center with it. A windmill can only take about a dozen people at a time (on tour). You’re talking four or five separate windmill tours and you can’t have people sitting on the bus. By expanding the project to have a visitors center and the Little Chute Historical Society museum, which is going to move their home inside the facility, it now gives people someplace to learn about the Dutch culture and history of the village.”
Van Asten said that a windmill in Pella, Iowa, another Dutch community that recently constructed a windmill, had just short of one million visitors in the first year of operation.
“It should be an economic boom to the downtown,” Van Asten said. “I think there’s a number of businesses that cater to the tourism trade that  … with the construction of the windmill would make a lot of sense — gift shops, imported Dutch gifts, cheeses, specialty coffee shops, and a café.”
The Van Asten family has a long association with and history of service to the village of Little Chute. Gordon Van Asten founded the popular Gordy’s Food Fair grocery store on Main Street, near the site where the windmill will be built. The Food Fair was managed by the Van Asten family from 1961 until 1987, when Fairway Foods of Minneapolis purchased it.
Michael Van Asten owns Liberty Hall Conference Center in Kimberly and the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn Appleton/Kimberly. He serves as vice-president of Little Chute Windmill, Inc. and is the secretary and a member of the executive committee of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Little Chute windmill will rise more than 100 feet above the village downtown landscape. The idea of constructing an authentic Dutch windmill began in the early 1980s as a way to commemorate Little Chute’s unique Dutch-American heritage. The project gathered momentum with the formation of Little Chute Windmill, Inc., led by former village president Donald DeGroot.
Little Chute Windmill, Inc. is currently working to raise the $2.5 million needed to construct and maintain the windmill project. Mike Van Asten said he has made dozens of presentations to large corporations and small businesses as well as to individuals seeking funding.
“I did feel making the lead gift would certainly get the momentum going and encourage others in the community to get involved as well,” Van Asten said of the family’s donation, adding that currently, there are pledges approaching a half million dollars.
The Little Chute Windmill Committee hired Lucas Verbij, a Hollander, to build the working windmill that will grind grain, which will in turn be used by other businesses.
The functional, working windmill will attract tourists and school groups from a wide region, hastening the development of Little Chute’s recently refurbished Main Street and stimulating the entire local economy.
In addition to the visitors center and museum, Windmill Park will include an educational center for children, meetings rooms, flower gardens and an orchard filled with Dutch tulips as well as a brick walk winding through the park


photo by Diane Baumgart

With Little Chute windmill plans in hand, from left, Lucas Verbij of Verbij Windmill Design and Construction, the Netherlands; Mike Van Asten, Little Chute Windmill Committee member; Tom Kocken, McMahon Associates; Thom Miron, Quantic Architects, LLC; and Paul Benedict, McMahon Associates, stand on the now vacant lot where the windmill will be located. Work is expected to begin in spring 2005.






Appleton Post Crescent Article dated January 2005;


Village goes for a spin

Little Chute developing ambitious plan for windmill

By J.E. Espino
Post-Crescent staff writer

LITTLE CHUTE — For folks joining forces to bring an authentic Dutch windmill
to the downtown, there’s no doubt what the $2.5 million endeavor will bring
to the village and region.

“It can’t help but happen. It’s going to be a landmark,” said Janet

Construction is scheduled in the fall and will be handled by millwright
specialist Lucas Verbij of the Netherlands. It will be the state’s first

“We hope it will be a tourist attraction and give the town some identity,”
said Don De Groot, the windmill committee president.

The windmill will change the complexion of the small town. It will tower 110
feet high and have blades that are about 80 feet across, De Groot said. He
said the idea behind building the windmill is to preserve and celebrate the
village’s heritage. He estimated that 55 percent to 60 percent of the
population has Dutch roots.

Recognizing the project’s potential for tourism and dollars, in the summer
months Verstegen, a Village Board member, created a beautification advisory
panel to address village aesthetics.

Planters, stamped with the village’s windmill logo, were ordered and placed
along Main Street to harmonize with the newly reconstructed road.

Businesses, organizations and residents wanting to contribute to the
windmill’s cause stepped forward to donate $500 each for 16 planters.

It’s the sort of response the Little Chute Windmill Committee — the group
coordinating the campaign — gets these days. Major fund-raisers have not
been held. And yet the committee has received contributions totaling about
$500,000, some arriving from across America and even the Netherlands.

De Groot expects the committee to establish a bank account in the
Netherlands, where donations can be channeled.

“Our goal is to build this windmill from private donations. We don’t want
any tax dollars from the village,” he said. “There are some people who feel
their tax dollars should not go toward this project. We respect that.”

Part of the funds raised will go toward the maintenance of the windmill once
it’s complete.

Although the idea is to build community support in financing the project,
the committee won’t pass up opportunities to secure monies from private
foundations and grants at the federal and state levels.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension is working on an economic impact study
of Pella, Iowa, and Holland, Mich., two communities that have windmills and
are comparable in size to Little Chute. Part of the findings could be
announced in late spring; the information would be conducive to help spur
development in the village.

“We’re looking at the windmill as part of the overall revitalization of
northeast Wisconsin,” said Mark Harris, committee member.

Just like Kaukauna has its aspirations to convert the defunct Fox Valley
Greyhound Park into an indoor water park and Neenah has its
Riverwalk-Shattuck Park project, Little Chute needs its signature piece, he

“It will be dramatic,” Harris said. “Residents will have a positive
perception of their own village. It’s bound to be compelling when they
actually see the windmill and they can say, ‘I live in that village.’ It’s a
village pride thing, and that is very important.”

Designs show the windmill’s base measures 29 feet, 10.5 inches across and
stands about 100 feet above ground. The structure will sit on a parcel on
Main Street — once the site of three homes — in front of the Gerard H. Van
Hoof Memorial Public Library and Civic Center. The last lot will be cleared
after June 30.

“I’m going to be 74 in March. I hope to live long enough to see it
completed,” said Jane Vanden Heuvel, a Little Chute native, whose husband,
Lloyd, belonged to the windmill committee until his death in August 2003.

“I think he’d be happy to see this go.”

A historical society museum, visitor and education centers, meeting and
conference rooms, and an auditorium are included in the design.

“What really drove us to do this is our centennial,” De Groot said of the
village’s celebration in 1999.

At the time, the Little Chute Centennial Committee wanted a booklet
commemorating its past 100 years of incorporation. A community-wide
collaboration resulted in a 400-plus-page book.

Interest in the village’s history was high and remains so today.

“We got to thinking what a shame it is we don’t have a central location for
the history of the immigrants that settled this area,” De Groot said.

Solidification of plans to bring the windmill and other facilities will
ensure that history is preserved for the generations.

“We were a Dutch community from early on. If the young people see the
windmill, they will know this is part of our heritage,” Vanden Heuvel said.

The historical society is putting out calls, asking residents to donate or
loan newspaper clippings and any items of historical value.

“As time goes by, it gets harder to collect artifacts,” De Groot said.

Beautification, meanwhile, continues to be pushed for what is destined to be
the second-most important structure in town, the first being St. John
Nepomucene Catholic Church, established in 1836.

Last March, St. John, the second oldest church in the Catholic Diocese of
Green Bay, completed a $3.4 million renovation.

“I’d just be embarrassed if we got thousands of visitors coming to Little
Chute, and Little Chute was not looking its best,” Verstegen said.

A garden club was started shortly after the formation of the Citizens
Advisory Board on Beautification to draw greater participation.

Efforts are under way to set eight planters, which the village already owns,
on Freedom Road and County OO.

Donations are being secured for an additional 12 planters to be placed on
Main Street, Grand Avenue and the library, Verstegen said.

Green spaces are constantly explored and an adopt-a-garden program is off to
a start.

“We’re not always looking for huge gardens,” she said.

Areas considered for improvements are schools, churches, businesses, public
property and busy streets.

Among some of the projects picked up are the three planters at St. John
School, a section of the lawn at Stitch’s Alterations and Repairs and a lot
at Gentlemen Jacks.

Groundbreaking for a Walgreens drugstore at the intersections of Madison,
Main and Lincoln streets is still a few weeks away. The developer, Gerald
Van Dyn Hoven, another windmill committee member, already has vowed to be
the contact person between his project and the beautification board.

A welcome sign will go up at his lot to serve as a gateway to the village.

Even the color chosen for the store’s brick makes a difference. Ideally,
they’ll need to be red to harmonize with the downtown.

Bricks for the sidewalks and pathways are on sale.

The phone rings a lot more at the De Groot home. Businesses and individuals
inquire about names and corporate logos that can be inscribed on the bricks.

De Groot does not worry about running out any time soon.

“We’ve got room for an awful lot of them,” he said.


For more info on the windmill, go to   http://www.focol.org/littlechutewindmill/

August 18, 2004;

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2004
Demand Soars for Laughing Cow Cheese

LITTLE CHUTE, Wis. (AP) - Cheese maker Bob Gilbert is struggling with his good fortune and his misfortune. Thanks to a mention in ``The South Beach Diet'' book, demand for his Laughing Cow cheese has soared beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't make enough of the cheese to meet demand.

``If you are an old cheese warrior like me, this breaks your heart,'' said Gilbert, president of Bel/Kaukauna U.S.A. ``I fought and clawed for every pound I could get in this business and it breaks my heart that we aren't able to ship more.''

Sales of the sweet-tasting, individually wrapped, tiny cheese wedges are up 250 percent from a year ago, primarily because the South Beach Diet introduced it to Americans wanting to lose weight, Gilbert said.

``I told my management, 'I would rather be lucky than smart.' The lucky part is we appeared in the diet book. We didn't expect it,'' said Gilbert, whose company is the American subsidiary of Fromageries Bel, a Paris manufacturer of cheese products.

Bel/Kaukauna, headquartered in this community not far from Green Bay, expects to sell 12 million pounds of Laughing Cow cheese this year, in part by importing more from France and by expanding U.S. production at its Kentucky plant, Gilbert said.

Demand is double that, he said.

Jann Marks, 45, is frustrated the company can't make more. Marks, who has lost 27 pounds on the South Beach Diet, eats only two or three wedges of the snack each week.

``Honestly, I would probably eat it everyday if I had enough. But I can't because I can't get it,'' said Marks, of the Chicago suburb of Darien.

She has taken some extreme measures to get the cheese. She found out when her neighborhood grocer had a shipment arriving and sent her 70-year-old mother to get in line and grab six packages.

The South Beach Diet, a modified-carb plan that shuns mostly sugar and refined flour products, recommends one three-quarter-ounce wedge of Laughing Cow light cheese with a pear as an afternoon snack in a sample meal plan.

Each wedge has 1 gram of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat and about 35 calories.

Kathryn Severance, 67, of Black River Falls, Wis., has had no problems buying the regular version of Laughing Cow cheese but can't find the lower-fat variety in her town of 5,000 people. Even so, she has lost 15 pounds since she started the diet in April, in part by snacking on Laughing Cow three times a week, she said.

Elisa Zied, a New York dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says she isn't surprised the cheese quickly became popular because of the diet.

``People are always looking for the magic food, the miracle food, the quick fix,'' she said.

The South Beach Diet may be relatively new, but Laughing Cow has been around for a while. The cheese, which Gilbert said tastes like a creamy Swiss, was developed in the early 1900s in France.

The Laughing Cow brand was registered as a trademark in France in 1921, using the symbol that was the insignia of a French Army unit that resupplied soldiers with food during World War I, Gilbert said. The smiling cow was on the side of the military's chow truck.

A package of eight Laughing Cow cheese wedges sells retail from $3.49 to $4.49, meaning the delicacy costs nearly $10 a pound, said Gilbert.

John Umhoefer, executive director of the trade group Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, said the low-carb diet craze also is helping makers of string cheese and natural cheese snacking sticks.

``Members tell me they are expanding production for those cheeses,'' he said. ``There is no irony here. We knew it was healthy all along.''

At the height of the Laughing Cow shortage last spring, one package of the wedges was offered on eBay for more than $20, according to Gilbert.

He expects the high demand won't last forever.

``If other fads are any indication, if other diets are any indication, people will tend to slip away and fall away,'' he said. ``But hopefully when they do, they are going to remember that Laughing Cow tastes great.''

On the Net:

South Beach Diet: http://www.southbeachdiet.com

American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org

Irish spirit alive in Askeaton

Brown County hamlet pays tribute to heritage

By Tony Walter

Irish growth in town of Holland

               1860        1870

Ireland-born residents       252       314

U.S.-born Irish children       159       561

Dutch residents       156       183

Source: Brown County Library

Arleen Hanaway started to do an Irish jig, but then caught herself. “The first thing we did on St. Patrick’s Day was go to church,” said Hanaway, 90, who grew up and still lives in the southern Brown County hamlet of Askeaton.

“You had to do that before the shoes came off and the dancing started.”

The people of Askeaton broke the ice on being Irish in Wisconsin. So, as every community prepares to go green and pay homage to shamrocks, corned beef and cabbage, the full-time Irish enjoy the attention of this annual salute to their heritage with a fond memory of how it used to be.

“The Irish heritage is celebrated here,” said the Rev. Al Geiser, priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the heart of Askeaton, which is part of the town of Holland. “And they know how to celebrate well here. It’s a small community with a big heart. They even welcome this German pastor.”

It was the town of Holland, then called Hollandtown, that drew the first Irish immigrants to Brown County in the late 1840s. Farmers from County Limerick purchased land and named their community Askeaton after the village they left. Two decades later, the Irish far outnumbered the Dutch.

“We grew up with people who were fast on the draw with an answer and very witty,” said Bill Clancy, who grew up and still lives in Askeaton. “They didn’t mind telling you when you were acting a little above the rest of them.”

Hanaway, whose maiden name was Farrell, grew up on a farm just west of the church.

“We all got along because we were all kind of poor,” said Hanaway, who raised 10 children and still lives on St. Pat’s Road. “We got along with what we had.”

But even then the Irish knew how to have fun, she said. “We’d go dancing at Kelly’s Tavern (now the Rocky Top). At our house, we had no water or electricity in those days but got along with what we had.”

William Duffy, 88, a retired Brown County judge, said St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t the type of celebration then as it is now.

“This was the Depression, but most of the partying probably came along a little later,” Duffy said.

Bob Brick, 61, who grew up in Askeaton and still lives and works there, said there aren’t as many Irish in the community as there used to be but still considers his heritage as “something to be proud of.”

The percentage of Irish residents in Askeaton has naturally dwindled.

Hanaway notes that she is the only Irish resident on her street, where once there was nothing but Irish.

But the names on gravestones in St. Patrick’s Cemetery across the street from the church trumpet the community’s Irish past: Wall, Burns, Hart, Carroll, Finnegan, Summers, Clark, Meehan.

James Benton, a sociology professor at St. Norbert College, said the parades that have come to be identified with St. Patrick’s Day are really the result of political one-upsmanship in the nation’s big cities.

Elected Irish officials were determined to make a bigger splash than their Italian neighbors and scheduled parades and parties to do it. The tradition expanded to other places, if not Askeaton.

Arleen Hanaway will celebrate the day by finishing her jigsaw puzzle, and maybe having a sip of Irish whiskey. Duffy and Clancy will go to Van Abel’s restaurant in Holland to eat corned beef.

All will wear green.

Which communities have the most Irish ancestry?

The list is the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate (note: It’s an estimate because it’s based on forms that were sent out only to one in six people, then extrapolated) of area people claiming Irish, Celtic or Scotch-Irish as their first ancestry, measured against the total population of each community. The communities are ranked according to which is the most Irish. The counties are listed in alphabetical order.

       Municipality       Number       Total       % Irish

                     claimed       population

De Pere       1,682       20,545       8.19%

Allouez       1,248       15,443       8.08%

Ledgeview       266       3,394       7.84%

Pulaski       221       3,043       7.26%

Scott       260       3,588       7.25%

Lawrence       110       1,530       7.19%

Holland       96       1,338       7.17%

Ashwaubenon       1,138       17,671       6.44%

Wrightstown (t)       130       2,048       6.35%

Howard       847       13,539       6.26%

Suamico       520       8,679       5.99%

New Denmark       85       1,455       5.84%

Pittsfield       136       2,410       5.64%

Green Bay (c)       5,622       102,368       5.49%

Humboldt       69       1,313       5.26%

Morrison       85       1,652       5.15%

Hobart       251       5,063       4.96%

Denmark       97       1,985       4.89%

Bellevue       556       11,909       4.67%

Wrightstown (v)       76       1,891       4.02%

Rockland       61       1,530       3.99%

Green Bay (t)       64       1,799       3.56%

Glenmore       41       1,171       3.50%

Eaton       39       1,414       2.76%


Brown        13,700       226,778       6.04%

Door       1,783       27,961       6.38%

Kewaunee       606       20,187       3.00%

Oconto       1,603       35,634       4.50%

From the July 4, 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Nun adopts role of Lady Liberty

Devout woman's persistence and pluck helped immigrant fight deportation

Posted: July 3, 2005

With more than 296 million people, this is a big, powerful country. It's nearly impossible for one little person to stop the wheels of the federal bureaucracy once they begin to grind.

But don't tell that to anyone who knows Sister Josephe Marie Flynn, 64, of Milwaukee's south side.

"For a skinny, white-haired nun, she packs a wallop," said Darrell Morin, a parishioner at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hales Corners, where Sister Josephe served as director of Christian formation until last Thursday . Morin has seen Sister Josephe in action, working to save Regina Bakala, a fellow parishioner, from being deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"This case never would have turned out the way it did if it had not been for the strength of character and faith that Sister Josephe Marie displayed," said Morin.

Now, the nun is helping a number of other immigrants in their battles for American citizenship.

How the Milwaukee nun managed to garner the forces of lawmakers and lobbyists from both sides of the political aisle, stand up to the federal government and win - at least temporarily - is a lesson in patience, persistence and pluck. She says that her saga is a timely reminder on this Fourth of July that this country was settled by immigrants fleeing persecution, a haven for those whose governments oppress them.

Everyone who knew of her case said that Bakala, a high school principal who fled the Congo in 1995, was a "goner," certain to be deported back to her homeland where, many feared, she would be tortured and killed for her opposition to the government there. Even the African woman's lawyer had all but abandoned hope.

"We were frantic," said Mary Sfasciotti, Bakala's immigration lawyer. "All of us, we were nearly hysterical. I honestly didn't know on Monday morning if Regina would still be in this country by that Wednesday."

Bakala, 41, now home in Milwaukee with her husband, David, and their two children, Lydia, 5, and Christopher, 4, praises the two most powerful forces she knows for her sudden change in fortune and the fact that she is still alive - God and Sister Josephe.

A feisty person

Sister Josephe, born Mary Therese Flynn, has been raising hell for as long as she, or anyone else, can remember.

"She's feisty all right," said her sister, Ruth Vonderberg of Whitefish Bay. "And she doesn't take 'No' for an answer."

The oldest of three girls of Joseph Flynn, an auto mechanic, and his wife, Mary, Sister Josephe spent much of her middle school years in Monches, Wis., in a most un-nunlike way.

"I liked being liked by the boys," she said with a giggle that is only slightly naughty all these years later. But there was just one love that pulled at her heart, fierce enough to draw her outside at night to stare at the stars and dream.

"I wanted to serve God with all my heart," she said. "Even now, it just takes my breath away how much he loves me and I love him."

At 14, she entered the convent in Prairie du Chien to study to become a School Sister of Notre Dame.

"A lot of people think we have a lonely life," she said. "But there are advantages to being a nun. We are on the cutting edge of social justice. We work for the poor. I wouldn't have the time or energy to do that if I had a family. Or the trust. When you're a nun, people give you a lot of trust."

After teaching stints in Beaver Dam, West Bend, Messmer High School in Milwaukee and schools in Marshfield, Wis., and Escanaba, Mich., Sister Josephe turned her attention to the charismatic movement of the Catholic Church. Never stopping long enough to get a driver's license, she traveled the country by Greyhound bus, putting on retreats for those who sought to deepen their faith with what she calls more "right brain" activities, such as dream analysis, art therapy, music, dance and speaking in tongues.

Seven years ago, she took the job at St. Mary's, one of the largest parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, directing the adult religious education and formation programs. That's where she met Bakala in 2000. The Congolese woman had just moved to Milwaukee from Atlanta and was working at a nursing home nearby.

"She told me that she dreamed that she would have a black friend," Bakala recalled. "And when I told her that my late mother was named Josephine, we both knew that it was meant to be. From then on, she was like my mother, or my best friend."

Lawyer persuaded to take case

The two became fast friends, spending holidays together, confiding in one another.

Bakala had been denied her petition for asylum, and the case was on appeal. Or, so she thought. Last fall, when the Bakalas applied for a mortgage, they learned that the appeals court had denied her again, years earlier, noting that she had entered the country in 1995 using false documents. Bakala's original lawyer moved to New Jersey while the case was on appeal and says now that she was never notified of the decision. Panicked, Bakala asked Sister Josephe what to do next.

"I told her not to make a big case out of it. No news was good news," Sister Josephe said.

But on March 22, federal agents showed up at Bakala's door and took her to a detention facility in Kenosha, where she was locked up in a small, windowless cell. The next day, she was transported to Milwaukee, where she was fingerprinted and the paperwork was begun to have Bakala sent back to the Congo.

Sister Josephe got the call that night and went right to work, assembling a team of professionals from the parish that would get the word out about this mother of two small children and the very real threat that she faced. People of the parish joined forces to help, regardless of age, race or political party.

"We attacked this as Americans," said Morin.

That was the only way, said Sister Josephe.

"This parish is something like 97 percent Republicans," the nun said. "One woman told me, 'Sister, I have a shrine to George W. Bush in every room of my house.' I told her, 'Well, I have a dartboard with his picture on it.' But that wasn't the point. I knew that if we focused on the plight of one woman, one lovely woman, that the politics and politicians would follow."

And they did.

Ultimately, her list of supporters read like a Who's Who of the powerful. Her team got commitments of support from Republican congressman Paul Ryan, his Democratic colleague Gwen Moore and the two U.S. senators from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl. Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote a letter of support.

Still, no lawyer would take the case.

"They kept saying it was too late," Sister Josephe said.

After being turned down by three lawyers in Milwaukee, the nun finally talked Sfasciotti, a lawyer in Chicago who has worked in immigration law for many years, into working on the case.

For the next few weeks, Sister Josephe and her team followed every order that Sfasciotti gave them, orchestrating a letter-writing campaign and traveling to Washington to lobby on Bakala's behalf. The lawyer was impressed. Sister Josephe, she said, was a powerful ally.

"She understood what needed to be done," Sfasciotti said. "She did not go off on tangents, this one."

The lawyer filed three motions, noting that her original lawyer had not included a number of factors - including the torture and rape - in the original petition. Most people figured it was too late when Bakala's new passport arrived, and she was told that she would be leaving in two days. These last-minute petitions are almost never successful, Sfasciotti said.

"There were many tears that day," Sister Josephe said. "And prayers."

To everyone's surprise, the day before Bakala was to be deported, the Board of Immigration Appeals voted to reopen her case.

Bakala is not free to stay indefinitely. There will be a new hearing on the merits of her case, probably later this summer in Atlanta. So far, her legal bills top $25,000.

Sister Josephe, who followed through on plans made in January to retire from St. Mary's, is now working full-time on writing about Bakala's case. She is helping others with immigration matters, including people from Indonesia, Nigeria and another person from the Congo.

"I know. I know. I'm this nun with a mission. Have mouth, will travel," she said. "But I really believe that if we look at one another as human beings, we'll see the justice. This country was founded on those principles. So much of our discussion about immigration today is based on fear," Sister Josephe said in reference to changes in immigration policy that focus on terrorism. "This is not the America that we want to be part of."

From the July 4, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel