Set Sail for the 2015 Autumn Excursion!

2015 Autumn Excursion

September 23-25

Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society presents:

Lake Michigan Lighthouses & The Schooner Coast

2015 Autumn Excursion Pic 1

Enjoy the fascinating history of Wisconsin’s lighthouses along the Schooner Coast of Lake Michigan on the 2015 Autumn Excursion! This three-day adventure will include waterside stops at sites from Milwaukee to Door County’s Death’s Door, magnificent views from atop some of Wisconsin’s most iconic lighthouses, cruises onto Lake Michigan to relive the days of the Great Lake schooners, and guided tours through several maritime museums that will include stepping aboard historic ships built right here in the Badger state.

The excursion includes handy pick-up and drop-off sites in Madison and Brookfield.  Transportation for our excursion will be aboard a deluxe Lamers Tour & Travel motor coach.  Lodging accommodations will be at the Leathem Smith Lodge in Sturgeon Bay, only steps away from the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan.  Besides the breathtaking views, our lodge also has an indoor pool and complimentary breakfasts.  Our dinner on the excursion’s first evening at the lodge will be a specially prepared (just for us!) Door County Fish Boil!

2015 Autumn Excursion Pic 2

Highlights of the excursion include a sail around Milwaukee Harbor aboard the SV Denis Sullivan (the world’s only recreation of a 19th century Great Lakes schooner), a special tour of the North Point Lighthouse and Museum, a guided tour of Manitowoc’s Wisconsin Maritime Museum (including a World War II-era submarine), a guided tour of the Cana Island Lighthouse, a trip to Door County’s Gills Rock, a scenic cruise through Death’s Door to view the Plum Island and Pilot Island Lighthouses, a special guided tour of the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, and a stop at the Port Washington Lighthouse and Light Station Museum.

There will be special presentations made for excursion participants on the history of shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, the fascinating story of the Kasube fisherman as told by Anne Gurnack, “Pirates of the Great Lakes” by Dan Heiber, and the research of Ken & Barb Wardius on Wisconsin lighthouses.

2015 Autumn Excursion Pic 3

The registration fee for the 2015 Autumn Excursion is $670 for double and $835 for single occupancy.  The fee includes motor coach transportation, driver, on-board entertainment, site charges, entrance fees, accommodations, special speakers, 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners and 3 lunches (FWHS members will also enjoy an ice cream treat at Wilson’s).

Click here for the registration form and itinerary of this fantastic excursion! If you have additional questions about the trip, contact Lamers Tour & Travel at 800-236-8687 or our tour coordinator JoEllen Hegwood at 414-476-4061.

Registration deadline is August 18, 2015.

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Wednesday, June 17th: FRIENDS Luncheon to the Past

Ruth Kohler Portrait

Coming up on Wednesday, June 17th:

FWHS members will reconnect with their roots!

We’ll journey back in time to explore the State Historic Site of Wade House, and we’ll learn about the life of Ruth DeYoung Kohler (portrait above), founder of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Wisconsin Historical Society–the organization that became FWHS!

Because preserving Wade House was one of Ruth’s passions, we invite everyone–FWHS members and guests alike–to get on board the horse-drawn transport awaiting us at Wade House.

At our Wade House luncheon, we’ll meet the people who continue to carry on our FWHS founder’s work, including her family and other supporters.

Also included in this exploration of our past is a visit to an important Kohler house with social and architectural significance to FRIENDS, women, and families all over the state.

To see more about this amazing opportunity, including a complete itinerary and the registration form, be sure to check out the Spring edition of our Pillars newsletter!

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We’re Accepting Donations for the 2016 Antiques Auction!

FWHS Donation Images 1

Donate now!

Empty your attic and cellar!

We are looking for vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) items for the 4th Biennial 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction.

Tax deductible receipts provided!

Preserve Wisconsin’s history — auction proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Riene: 262-363-4700,

Debbie: 815-575-1272,

FWHS Donation Images 2

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Save the Date for Next Year’s Auction!

We’re proud to officially announce the

4th Biennial

30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction

Saturday, April 23, 2016

10:00 a.m., Preview 9:00 a.m.

At Old World Wisconsin’s Clausing Barn

Highway 67, Eagle, Wisconsin

Clausing Barn


Preview Night (by reservation)

(262) 363-4700

Friday, April 22, 2016


Auction profits benefit the Wisconsin Historical Society


We Thank Our Sponsors:

Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association

Carol Miller, Bailey’s Honor Auction Service

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Yvonne Wheeler, Prairie Wind Graphic Design

Richmond, Illinois


Brought to you by the FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society

Celebrating over 60 years of supporting WHS

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Fresh Chocolates, Vintage Chocolate Makers: Wisconsin’s Historic Confectioners

You know how we really like vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) things (such as the vintage and antique items you’ll donate to our 2016 Benefit Antiques Auction by calling Riene Wells at 262-363-4700…hint hint)?

Well, we really like vintage and antique businesses too…that is, those Wisconsin establishments that were founded over 50 years ago and are still around today.

We also happen to really like chocolate, and we’re pretty sure a lot of you do too.

So with all that said, we present to you a short list of some of Wisconsin’s vintage and antique chocolate makers, whether you need an amazing last-minute Valentine’s Day gift assortment for your sweetie, a fix for your sweet tooth in the upcoming months, or just a fix of sweet local business history! Links to their websites and online stores are in the titles.

Wilmar Chocolates: This Appleton handmade chocolate shop was founded in 1956 and has won numerous awards from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.


Hughes’ Home Maid Chocolates: Three generations of the Hughes family have been making and chocolates in the basement of their Oshkosh family home since 1940.


Kehr’s Candies: Founded in 1931 by newlywed couple Pearl and B.D. Kehr, this Milwaukee shop started out selling caramel corn in the early days of the Great Depression before expanding to candy, starting with chocolate fudge. The Kehrs’ son Bill took over in 1960 and then sold the shop in 1995 to longtime employee Paul Martinka, who carries on the Kehrs’ tradition.


Beerntsen’s Candies: Mark and Brenda Beertsen run this Green Bay candy store three generations after Henry Beerntsen first opened it in 1925.


Quality Candy/Buddy Squirrel: Founded in 1916 in Milwaukee by Polish immigrants Joseph and Lottie Helminiak, this chocolate store grew and eventually moved to St. Francis in 1985, where it merged with the 1960s Buddy Squirrel nut business.


Kaap’s Old World Chocolates: This Green Bay chocolate store was founded in 1909 by Otto Kaap, who made his chocolates overnight so they would be fresh the next day. Over time, he expanded the store to include an ice cream parlor and restaurant.


Seroogy’s: Three generations after being founded in 1899 by brothers Joe, Jim, and Sol Seroogy, this De Pere chocolate shop is still in the family and run by Seroogy brothers named Jim and Joe!


Oaks Candy: This chocolate shop has been an Oshkosh staple for over 100 years!




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Return of the Asparagus Man: Heaven on Earth for WADA and Friends

“Asparagus Man” painting donated to

2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction;

Heaven on Earth to be displayed at

Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Assn. Show

Feb. 6 & 7, 2015, Waukesha

Anyone familiar with Wild Rose, Wisconsin, will remember it is as a tiny, picturesque town, smack dab in the middle of the state. If you ever traveled down County Highway K between 1947 and 1975, you may have encountered the tiny one-bedroom farm home of Adam and Anna Berg with signs “Odd Job Work” and “Asparagus” hanging on the clapboards. Adam had just retired as a Chicago cab driver in 1947 when he and Anna made Wild Rose their home, selling asparagus and charging 10-cent admission to their art gallery to generate a small cash income. He soon became known locally as the “Asparagus Man.”

A self-taught folk artist, Berg believed isolation from the cultural mainstream allowed him to develop a technique to “carve” his paintings using the medium of oil. By adding multiple layers of oil paint over a period of years, he painstakingly transformed his detailed paintings into low reliefs up to ½” thick. Berg described Heaven on Earth, completed in 1963 after five years of paint layering, as “the masterpiece of his life’s work.”

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 1 (2)

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 3 (3)Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 6 (2)

This most impressive 60″ x 48″ piece, which was purchased in 1973 for $2,300 ($13,000 in 2014 dollars!) and which traveled throughout Wisconsin as part of the exhibit Grass Roots Art: Wisconsin, has been generously donated to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society for their 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, which will raise important funding for Wisconsin historic preservation.

Furthermore, before Heaven on Earth reaches its auction destination, it first will be displayed at the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association (WADA) Show on February 6 & 7, 2015 at the Waukesha County Expo Center!

WADA is kindly providing the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society with a free booth at this antiques show, where volunteers will accept tax-deductible donations of antique and vintage items for the 2016 auction. Tax-deductible receipts will be provided at the show to each donor. WADA also has provided their fourth grant to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society as founding & continuing sponsors of the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction. To learn more about WADA antiques shows and the grants and scholarships they provide, see

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction. You can follow her many auctions throughout the year at

For questions about  the 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, or to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700,,or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272,

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It’s Never Too Early to Donate Your Antiques!

Can you believe it?

We are already accepting tax-deductible donations of vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) items for the 2016 Benefit Antiques Auction!

Call Riene right away at 262-363-4700 and let her know what you have to offer!

Chair Drawing

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A Post-Thanksgiving Post

What’s new with Friends? Take a look at your Pillars newsletter to find out! Here are a few highlights:

-Check out page 7 and you’ll appreciate that turkey you just ate even more!

-Ever wonder about the holidays of long ago? Check out where to go to relive it on Pillars page 4.

-Pages 1 and 2 show you what you may have missed in September!

Also, be sure to check out your upcoming newsletters for special dates to hold in your 2015 calendar.

Until next time, fellow history buffs!



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Recapping the Great River Road: Autumn Excursion 2014

The 2014 Autumn Excursion, sponsored by FWHS, traveled the Great River Road along the mighty Mississippi River from September 4-6. The 28 travelers on the excursion enjoyed the fascinating history and beautiful scenery of the river.

Traveling first to La Crosse, the group enjoyed the breathtaking vistas of Grandad Bluff, a personal tour of historic Hixton House, and lunch aboard a paddle wheeler that “locked thru” on the Mississippi. Dr. Frank “White Beaver” Powell mesmerized the group as he told of his life in the “Gateway City” of La Crosse. After heading south and hearing the story of the Black Hawk War along the way, the group stopped for the night in host city Prairie du Chien, where a delicious supper at The Angus Supper Club was followed by Mary Antoine, President of the PDC Historical Society, telling all about the earliest days of her historic hometown.

Day 2 of the Autumn Excursion began with a ride to Dubuque’s Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, followed by a narrated tour of the city of Dubuque and a delicious lunch at the city’s Eagle Point Park overlooking the Mississippi River below. In the afternoon, the group stopped at Moundview Park in Platteville to see a historic reenactment of the War of 1812. A stop at Jamison Museum included a tour of the museum, a descent deep down into a once-working lead mine, a mining tram ride around the grounds, and an interesting presentation on the ethnic settlement of the lead mining region. Back in Prairie du Chien for the evening and after a pasta supper at the motel, the group learned about the 19th century Ho-Chunk Treaties.

The last day of the tour began with Mary Antoine rejoining us for a tour of Prairie du Chien, which included a visit to the oldest house in the city (a fascinating restored French-Canadian log cabin), stops at the oldest cemetery and church in the state, and a tour of the historic Ft. Crawford museum. The group was then led on a personally-guided tour of the magnificent Villa Louis mansion and participated in the Carriage Classic event on the grounds. The excursion then traveled to Cassville for guided tours of several different sites in Stonefield Village and the Governor Nelson Dewey House.

Once again FWHS has hosted a wonderful historic tour of a great part of the Badger State (the name taken from those early lead miners digging their homes in the ground). Thanks go out to FWHS board members JoEllen Hegwood, Frances Kravenik, and Brad Steinmetz for arranging the excursion and making it such a memorable experience for all the participants!

2014-09-04 13.00.10 (2) excursion2014-09-05 13.53.54 (2) excursion CANNON2014-09-05 16.02.55 (2) excursion2014 excursion - FWHS Mem. Frank chats with Twain

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