A member of Crandon graduating class of 1913 tells his story

Good afternoon Forest County residents.  It’s been awhile.  We’ve been busy developing a new online platform that highlights our holdings found within our Local History Room.  The resource is titled “The Crandon Public Library Local History Archives” and can be found at www.crandonpl.org/archives

One of the items found within the site is an one page questionnaire completed by an unknown source regarding the World War 1 military service of Forest County resident Ralph Owen Wyman.

Ralph Wyman, son of Eggbert and Jennie Wyman, entered the United States Navy on April 10, 1917 in Milwaukee.  He trained aboard the U.S.S. Oregon and was promoted to the rank of Engineman aboard the U.S.S Mississippi.   A year later, in April of 1918, Ralph was aboard the U.S.S. William Rockefeller when it left New York carrying a cargo of fuel oil.  The ship successfully made its way to Lamlash, Scotland on May 15th continuing on its course, escorted by two destroyers, for Rosyth, Scotland.   On 21 May 1918 the William Rockefeller was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank in 13 minutes. Three of her crew of 51 were lost. [source: shipscribe.com/usnaux/ww1/ships/w-rockef.htm]

Within two days Ralph Wyman and the other young men that were aboard the U.S.S. Rockefeller were rescued by the U.S.S. Megantic and arrived at the Port of New York on June 2, 1918.  

According to Ralph Wyman’s military headstone application, Ralph continued his military service in the U.S. Navy, mustering out in July of 1919.

Two photos of Ralph Wyman exist in our local history photo collection.  A portrait of the Wyman brothers, and a photo of the 1913 Crandon High School graduating class.

The graduating class of 1913. (Names not in order: Rosslyn McCoy, Amy Grandine, Emma Beggs, Della Ferguson, Flourice Laatsch, Joy Woodbury, Russell Bailey, Joy Riggs, Will Shay, and Ralph Wyman

Then and Now

Our parade route has changed over the years.   We have quite a few photos of parades on Lake Avenue, yet this parade took place on E. Madison street in downtown Crandon.  Wonder why?  Maybe a newspaper article will shed some light on the different parade routes over the years.

Happy 4th of July!

then and now E

Lest We Forget

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

This morning I spent some time with the 1944 edition of the Forest Republican.  Not a week went by in 1944 that Forest Republican readers were not told about a local boy missing in action, or one that had fought and died for our country.  The clippings below only offer us a glimpse into the lives of these soldiers and does not give justice to their time served, nor their sacrifices given.   It does allow us to pause, remember and to share.

If you are interested in helping us preserve these stories as they deserved to be told, please contact Michelle at the Library.


Depression Era Photos of Forest County now available

Mrs. Smallwood and her baby in the shack which they share with another family near Alvin, Wisconsin

Living in rural Forest County in the 1930’s was tough. Newspaper articles, court records and family stories tell of multiple families living in one room shacks trying to farm the cut-over land with little or no success. Now a U.S. government collection of historic photos offers us a glimpse at just how tough it was. The photos are just part of a new website with interactive browsing tools called Photogrammar developed by Yale University.

Housed in the Library of Congress for the past half-decade, the images of rural America were commissioned by the government in 1935 to gain public support for efforts to resettle poor farmers displaced during the Great Depression. In fact “an elderly couple who found it no longer possible to make a living on their farm in the Forest county cutover timber region” was the first family in the United States to receive the benefit of the United States Resettlement Administration. [Appleton Post-Crescent, 03/01/1937, p18.]

Only 35 of the 170,000 photos on the site are of Forest county.  However each of the 35 photos tell a story and remind us how grateful we are to those who chose to settle the land we now call home.

Click here to see Forest county photos.

Click here for an interactive U.S. Map of the photo locations.


Appleton Post-Crescent. MAR 1, 1937. p18.

Bounty Statements

Nora Radliff. Photo from the Mike Monte collection.

As residents in Milwaukee continue their lookout for the wild cat stalking their city, here at the Crandon Public Library a local history volunteer has completed an indexing project to a collection of county records that highlight a time in Forest County’s history when local residents hunted wild cats and wolves in return for bounties paid out by the Forest County Treasurer.

The collection includes over 150 certificates of bounties created by the Forest County treasurer’s office in the early 1900’s.  The documents acted as the official record allowing for the disbursement of county funds in exchange for the scalps of wolves and wild cats.

certificate of bounty
A statement that Chet Starks produced the scalpof two wolves killed inthe town of Laona andproduced the carcass tothe chairman in thepresence of ElmaDraeger.

While reading through the bounty statements in this collection it is important to remember to put the documents in historical context.  In today’s society reading about the bounty on wolf pups may be upsetting to some; however, according to L. David Mech, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, in the forward to the book The Timber Wolf in Wisconsin by Richard P. Theil, “Wisconsin settlers thought of the wolf as evil incarnate” (Mech, xvi) reinforcing the fact that our elected officials used tax payers dollars to pay for the scalps of wolf pups, wolves and wild cats not as a sport but rather as population control.

Descriptions of the records, including the names of individuals who received bounty payments, can be viewed online here.

“Crandon is her name…”

As our local history collection here at the Crandon Public Library continues to grow and we are able to visualize and read about the early residents of this place we call home, we are beginning to get a better understanding of the early beginnings of Crandon and Forest County.  But while we have photos and documents that bring early Crandon to life, we have not been able to hear what early Crandon sounded like– hoof-beats down main street, carriage springs squeaking while passengers made the long trip between Crandon and Argonne and waking up to the 6:00 a.m. quiet of a snowfall that would be shoveled and not plowed.  Some day we may uncover photos or documents of these type of events but sadly we may never hear the voices and sounds of these events.  Or so we thought…

Last Wednesday evening a handful of Crandon residents were able to hear the voices and sounds of some of our early residents thanks to the efforts of Jim Leary,  a co-founder of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.   Jim Leary and his colleagues have made accessible hundreds of original sound recordings found within the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress including materials collected at lumber camps and shanty’s right here in Forest County.

The materials were originally collected by Sidney Robertson, an independent song catcher, who traveled the upper Midwest in the 30’s and 40’s frequenting “lumber camps, dance halls and chain gangs.” (Folk Music of Wisconsin, http://csumc.wisc.edu/src/)  During one of her travels she found herself in the Forest County welfare office in the company of Warde Ford, a caretaker at Crandon’s funeral home.  Through her relationship with Warde, Sidney Robertson was able to meet, interview and record a handful of Crandon residents including Robert Walker, Elizabeth Walker Ford, Jerome Ford, Warde Ford, Charles Spencer, and Harry Fannin.  (Leary.  Folksongs of Another America, p. 26-40).

Sidney Robertson’s field notes, currently located within the Library of Congress, revealed a song composed by Ed King of Crandon, and sung by Warde Ford, simply titled Crandon.

Excerpt from the book Folksongs of Another America by James P. Leary.
Excerpt from the book Folksongs of Another America by James P. Leary.



Jim Leary thoughtfully agreed to allow us to add this song to our website acknowledging that the reason he and his colleagues study folk art is not for fortune but rather to uncover these type of hidden gems that will enhance the understanding of our local history.  Thank you Jim!

Also many thanks to Jacque Hurley for donating a copy of Jim’s book Folksongs of Another America to our Wisconsin collection.  It will be available for checkout soon!

For more sound recording please visit the Wisconsin Folksong Collection and the Sidney Robertson Cowell collection within the Library of Congress.

A fond farewell

Good afternoon Forest County residents.  You will notice that this blog post is being written by me, Michelle Gobert, the Director of the Crandon Public Library.  Regretfully our local history clerk Amanda Flannery has taken another position in central Wisconsin and has completed her time here at the Crandon Public Library.  I’m sure those of you who read this blog have thoroughly enjoyed Amanda’s devotion to documenting Forest County history one blog entry at a time.  Here at the library we will miss her sense of humor, her love of literature and her dedication to making a difference in her small community.

And while Amanda has moved on, she has left with us a copy of her graduate thesis, which I will use as inspiration in my attempt at writing a weekly column focusing on local history.  Here it goes:

The Oral History and Archaeology of the Keith’s Siding Site Location was submitted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December of 2013 as Amanda’s partial fulfillment of  her Master of Science in Anthropology Degree.  In the thesis abstract Amanda states that “the goal of this research was to systematically conduct oral history interviews in order to compare the information derived from those interviews with the historical documentation and archaeological data to create a richer interpretation of the Kieth’s Siding site”. (Flannery 2013)

Ironically, one of the oral history interviews that Amanda was fortunate enough to conduct was with Pauline Quade, who just this week passed away at the age of 87.  Pauline was only three years old when her family left Wolfe County, Kentucky and settled five miles south of Crandon at Keith’s Siding. Pauline’s entire oral interview, and references from her own manuscript titled Keith Siding Days  are used throughout Amanda’s thesis.

These two documents are both part of our Local History Collection.  Both offer a glimpse into a small part of Forest County’s rich history.  A history that both Amanda and Pauline  chose to document.  In closing her thesis Amanda states that “besides the accounts of a few wealthy lumber company owners not much is known about the lives of the ordinary citizens that settled in Forest County”.  Gratefully we now have  Pauline’s story, Amanda’s thesis and the collection that Amanda herself sorted, cataloged and documented as the basis of our local history room.  A growing collection that tells the story of ordinary citizens that at one time called this place home.  A collection that is truly “ours”.

A map of Keith's Siding from the Crandon Public Library's local history collection cited in the "Oral History  and Archaeology of the Keith's Siding Site"
A map of Keith’s Siding from the Crandon Public Library’s local history collection cited in the “Oral History and Archaeology of the Keith’s Siding Site”


Payment for Bounty

Hello Forest County Residents,

This week I was cataloging documents on loan from the Forest County Courthouse Treasurer’s office. There is a large collection of papers stating how much money community members received for killing either a wolf, wild cat, or lynx. According to these documents as least from 1907-1912 people were encouraged to kill these animals and bring in the scalps as proof to the county clerk in order to receive money. To make sure no one stole someone else’s animal scalps you also had to have a witness to attest that you killed the animals. For example, John Shawano received $20.00 for killing five wolf cubs in Wabeno and it was witnessed by Shiloh Carlson. Through this collection we could figure out how many wolves, wild cats, and lynx were killed during this time period and where in the county the animals were found.

The Wisconsin State Legislature passed a state bounty in 1865 due to the pressure from farmers who did not like large predators killing their livestock. A person could earn $5.00 for every wolf that they killed. By 1900 deer hunting was an enormously popular past time in Wisconsin so large predators were detested even more. The bounty was increased to $20.00 for a mature wolf and $10.00 for a wolf cub. At the state level the bounty on wolves stayed in place until 1957


Does anyone remember their relatives turning in animal pelts to the Forest County Courthouse for extra money?



The Order of the Eastern Star

Hello Forest County Residents!

This week in the collections I found a scrapbook from the 50th Anniversary of the Halcyon Chapter of Number 178, The Order of the Eastern Star. The Order of the Eastern Star is a free mason organization that includes both male and female members. This organization was founded by Dr. Robert Morris in the late 1800’s because he wanted women to be allowed to be involved in free mason activity. Through this organization the values of the free masons could be a family affair(http://www.easternstar.org/our-history/).

The Eastern Star ” strives to build an environment for our members and our Order which is truly dedicated to Charity, Truth and Loving Kindness by uplifting each other and through service in our communities” (http://www.easternstar.org/our-history/)

According to The New North published on July 2, 1908, Dr. C.H. Moore from Oakfield, Grand Patriarch of the State, came to establish The Eastern Star in Crandon. There were many prominent members of the community involved in the organization including Mrs. Mary Moe. Mrs. Moe was the only original member at the 50th Anniversary celebration. The 50th festivities included an elaborate dinner, cake, prominent guest speakers, and musical entertainment such as the male quartet: Lyle Jackson, Clyde Sundberg, Earl Schilling, and Arthur Monbeck (Forest Republican 1958). I have heard that there are still some member of the Eastern Star in Crandon but they now have to travel to Antigo to attend meetings (Steve Conway Jr. 2014).



The Raymond House

Hello Forest County Residents!

This week I discovered a hotel registry for The Raymond House located in Crandon, Wisconsin at the Forest County Museum. I had not previously heard of this hotel and I was surprised to learn that another hotel was operating in Crandon besides The Park Hotel. From the registry I learned that this hotel operated from at least August 1901-November 1903. Harry Pooler, most likely was the clerk of the hotel due to the fact that his name was written many times in the front and back cover. Harry Pooler unfortunately died at the age of seventeen in 1903 after battling a bout of pneumonia for ten days. He may have picked up the illness from a passing traveler at the hotel. Harry’s brother Howard was a well known barber in the town.

An advertisement from the August 22, 1901 Forest Republican revealed that Joseph D. Raymond was the owner of the hotel. Joseph was born in St. Clair, Michigan in 1853. He came to Forest County in 1900 and remained here at least until 1905, according to The Federal Census. His occupation was listed as farmer and lumberman so he may have ran this hotel for extra income. He died in Isabella, Michigan in 1923. People traveling from Ireland, Canada, and all around the United States stopped at this hotel. According the registry J. Piermont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Grover Cleveland spend the night in Crandon. Former President Cleveland supposedly came to the Northwoods to do some fishing. This could be true because Cleveland was done with his presidency at this time and he listed his home address at Buzzard Bay which is where Cleveland owned a summer home. It is difficult to say for certain if these famous individuals stayed in Crandon because the clerk often wrote down the name so signatures could not be confirmed. But it is entirely possible that these great men of their time came to Crandon to get away from their work.

If any one has any information on the exact location of the hotel or has a photograph of the building I would love to see it!


Grover Cleveland's registration
Grover Cleveland’s registration


J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller registration
J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller registration