Throw back Thursday – 94 years ago the City of Crandon had two taxi companies, McMillion’s Pool Hall, three schools, the Hotel Hellstrom, and a wide variety of automobile dealerships and service stations. Check out the 14 page city directory on our Archives site at www.crandonpl.org/archives
The biographical sketch below was part of the Crandon Public Library’s 2016 Cemetery Tour featuring WW1 soldiers laid to rest in the Crandon Lakeside cemetery. Research for the sketch was conducted by Library staff using original documents and newspaper resources found within our Local History room. We welcome any additional historic information on our soldiers, including photos. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit this information. –Thank you.
Hello, my name is Lynn Paul. I was born on December 2, 1893, in Lincoln County, Wisconsin. When I was a few years old, my parents, James and Agnes Paul, moved my sisters and I to the town of Prentice, in Price County. My father was a traveling insurance agent and in 1910 he traveled to Crandon. He must have liked it here an awful lot because he decided to stay here and raise us kids in Crandon.
I was 23 years old when I registered for the draft. I was working in Karlberg’s grocery store in Crandon at that time and was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard. After I was drafted and trained in the Army I was sent to an artillery camp in France. While I was at the camp I saw a lot of German prisoners. They were real young fellows. Some of them were actually Hamburg University students who really didn’t seem to side with the Kaiser as much as other prisoners did. I talked to a few prisoners who had lived in the States for awhile but unfortunately our superiors gave us the order forbidding us to talk to them so I never found out if they liked living in Wisconsin.
My buddy “Sloppy Weather George Gifford” came to my camp before his trip to Paris. I wish George could have been in the artillery unit with Ben Ferguson and I as he was a blame good scout. We were all proud and glad to fight for Uncle Sam especially after seeing the conditions of France and the Germans. We were sure the Americans would bring home the bacon because us Sammies showed more pep in a minute than those Germans did in a week. In fact, I told Art Carpenter in a letter I wrote to him that was published in the Forest Republican that if “all the Germans and French are as slow as the ones I seen, it is no wonder that the war was lasting so long. It takes the German prisoners longer to fix a bath house or dig a sewer than it took Forest county to build the court house”
When I got back from the War, I married my girl Adah Moe and become a brother-in-law to Colonel Himes. Ada and I had three children: two daughters and one son, Mary, Ellen and James. Many of you might recall that I was the owner and operator of Paul’s Grocery Store in town for 43 ½ years. My family and I lived above the store that is now the chiropractor’s office on Main street. I always had candy to give to kids who came in my store, as well as candy to throw to kids at parades. People said I was a very nice guy, highly thought of in the community. During the great depression I gave two bags of groceries to 7-year-old Homer Rosa at no charge shortly after his family moved to Crandon and had very little money. After that, Homer’s mother never shopped for groceries anywhere else.
I guess my patriotic feelings for our grand country must have made an impression on my own son James because during WWII he enlisted and as part of the 717th Bombardment Squadron and flew combat missions over enemy targets in southern Europe, Germany, Austria, France and in the Balkans. Our family was devastated when he plane was shot down on February 19, 1945 and he was officially declared “missing in action” My wife and I and James
sister’s Mary and Ellen had a headstone placed here in our family’s plot in memory of him. I guess his name is also listed on a plaque in Florence Italy along with the names of the other soldiers missing in action and assumed dead. We were real proud when the Government awarded Jim with the purple heart for his ultimate service to our country. My wife and I spent our last days in Crandon. I died in 1975 at the age of 81.
One hundred years ago today, on June 5, 1917, hundreds of Forest county mothers woke to the knowledge that their sons would be required by days end to register for the draft under the Selective Service Act of 1917.
According to the Northern Citizen, [published in North Crandon] the first young man to register in-person at the North Crandon local board was Rev. G. Gerth.
Gustave August Gerth was born on February 16, 1888 in Fairchild, Wisconsin. In June of 1917, he was married and had one child. The Reverend did claim an exemption from the draft due to his occupation as a minister.
According to the government circular that was published to “help young men who are called upon to do military service” just “because you claim exemption from draft, it by no means follows that you are exempt. For the information of the war department you should make a claim now if you intend to prosecute it. Some persons will be exempted on account of their occupations or offices, some on account of the fact that they have relatives dependent upon them for support” [Northern Citizen, June 1, 1917].
A follow-up story on the draft registration published a week later, stated that 27 out of the 43 North Crandon men to register on June 5, 1917, did in fact claim exemption. Many of them did so based on the fact that they were farmers which they felt was “as patriotic as to go to the front”.
According to the Rev. G. Gerth’s obituary published in the April 20, 1963 edition of the Marshfield News-Herald, Reverand Gerth’s first church was the North Crandon church. He served in that role from August 1912 – August 1918. During that time frame, he also served at the Lutheran churches in Hiles, Cavour, Armstrong Creek, Fence and Goodman.
Happy Memorial Day Forest County!
The long weekend ahead of us marks the opening of the summer season for many Northwoods locations. While we are all looking forward to some nice weather and relaxation, it’s important to remember the origins of Memorial Day as a somber holiday set aside to remember the staggering 620,000 people who were killed during the Civil War.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.
I recently came across of photo depicting Crandon’s 1906 Decoration Day and I’m excited to be sharing with you today.
According to an article published May 25, 1906, in the Forest Republican, Decoration Day 1906 was to be celebrated in Crandon on Wednesday, May 30th with the Woman’s Relief Corps in charge of the program. The program was to feature a procession which would form at the Opera House and promptly move to the cemetery where all the “graves will be decorated and appropriate services held”.
Yet the photo I found yesterday shows Crandon community members heading south down Lake avenue, away from the Opera House and cemetery. Reading a bit further into the Forest Republican I discovered the reason why.
According to a recap of the Decoration Day program published a week later, after the program held at the Opera House, which was “filled with people”, a procession marched to the lake, where the “regular service for the dead was given by the W.R.C. and veterans of the Civil War”.
It is interesting to note that not only do we celebrate in about the same fashion as we did 111 years ago, but that “rain interfered considerably with the observance of ‘Decoration Day 1906”.
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
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!