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

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.

Amanda’s Weekly Archival Discovery

Hello Forest County Residents!

Check out this neat photo of Mrs. Stuart’s 2nd grade class sitting outside of the school. I wonder if it is their first day of school?

[courtesy of the Albert and Hazel Carrier Collection]

The children pictured in the photo are:

Zora Carrier, Grace Bioardface, Elve Butlger, Vivian Rennie, Todd Hazel, Tray Palmer, Annie Webber, Viola Rosell, Lola Cahoe, Eliane Miner, Angeline Crowell, Donald Todd, Jack Hammerberg, Frederick Carter, Harold Hansen, Cecil Shark, Norman Larson, Elferd Tisher, Clarence Johnson, Kermit Ison, Winford Campbell, Herbert Jose, Randolph Maxon, Thomas Fielding, and Billy Oestrack

Does anyone know what school this is?