Our Young Men Register

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.

Today these draft registration forms are widely available for research through numerous sites include Family Search and Ancestry.com.

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.





Decoration Day 1906

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.

Forest Republican. May 25, 1906

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”.

Forest Republican, June 1, 1906

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”.

Forest County Veterans preparing for Memorial Day program, May 26, 2014

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

The Heat Wave of 1911

As the Midwest Heat Wave of 2012 hopefully comes to an end, many news outlets are highlighting the July 4th, 1911 heat wave that struck the eastern United States and killed 380 people.  This lead me to wonder what kind of weather Crandon was experiencing in July 1911.

As it turns out, the local newspaper didn’t make that big a deal out of the heat wave.  The only mention of the heat is an advertisement from the “City Drug Store” and in an article titled “Beulen Loses His Beer”.

Beulen Loses His Beer

President James Beulen, of the Fine Cut club of this city, is warm under the collar and not from the warm weather either. The last-trip made to Crandon by Joseph Eihlien of the Schlitz Brewing Co., of Milwaukee, he met James and upon parting told him, that he being an old friend, he would send him a case of beer from his big Milwaukee brewery. The beer came just before the Fourth of July, and James placed it in his cellar with great care, and then presented a number of his friends each with a bottle before he sampled any of it himself. Later on he pulled a cork and discovered that some unhung reprobate had opened a good share of the bottles, drank the beer and refilled them with water. Then he had to hunt up the people he had given bottles to and find out if they had beer or water. If Jim should ever discover the perpetrator of the joke he swears that Forest county will have to record the worst tragedy in its history.

As it turns out, James Beulen was one of Crandon’s Civil War Veterans.  According to R.T. Krueger, Beulen served in Wisconsin’s Company I of the 11th Wisconsin Infantry and Company E of the 52nd Regiment Infantry.  Let’s hope someone discovered the “unhung reprobate” that pulled this prank on one of Crandon’s veterans!

A Grand Fourth of July Celebration

Crandon’s Historic July 4th, 1916 celebration

June 9, 1916 advertisement

According to newspaper reports, Crandon’s Commercial Club, began preparing for their “rousing celebration” in May of 1916.  Members of the executive committee included T.B. Guthrie, M.D. Keith, W.A. Wescott, J. Breakstone, Wm. Wilson and Lyle Carter.  These gentlemen urged the citizens of Crandon “to do your share toward making this a big day”.

The committee did their fair share of making this an event to remember. According to the June 30th advertisement in the Forest Republican, the committee went to “great expense” to secure Howe and Barlow and their dog Ginger, a sensational Iron Jay Wire Act and Prof. Perry  who would make a “death defying slide for life hanging by his feet, from the court house dome”.

And, to finish off the celebration, “Fire works will be fired from a barge anchored out on Metonga Lake, on the night of the Fourth”.

A Grand Success!

July 7, 1916 follow-up article

In a follow-up article published on July 7th, it was announced that “about two thousand people from neighboring towns and the country” attended the 1916 Crandon celebration.  The morning trains were filled with visitors from “Shawano, Lily, Neopit, Langlade and other settlements.”   “The trains were met at the depot by the Crandon band which headed a long parade of floats and automobiles”.

The article went on to announce the winners of various races held throughout the day.  In the half mile running race between ponies, Howard Kuss, Dennis Lee and Hiram Ritter were winners in the order listed.  In the “free for all trotting race”, Mont. Whitt, Ed Merenes and E. Jamison all participated with Mont. Whitt earning the first prize money.

A photo of the July 4th parade route meeting the morning trains at Crandon’s depot.

All-in-all it sounds as if the July 4th, 1916 celebration was a grand success!