Make a Great Escape with Us in Autumn

Did you know that Appleton, Wisconsin was a childhood home of the legendary escape artist, illusionist, and paranormal debunker Harry Houdini? And did you know that there is a currently-airing TV series on Fox, Houdini & Doyle, dramatizing Houdini’s real-life relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes?

You can learn more about the life of Houdini when you make a three-day escape with us on our September 21-23 Autumn Excursion, when we’ll visit the Houdini exhibit in Appleton’s History Museum at the Castle (pictured below) as part of our tour of Wisconsin’s historic entertainment-related sites.

For the Autumn Excursion brochure, including the itinerary and registration form, click here!

Castle Appleton

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A Notion Worth Entertaining: Autumn Excursion 2016

Marketing Flyer 2016 Annual Autumn Excursion

For a brochure of this event, including an itinerary and registration form, please click here!

For more information about the Autumn Excursion, call 414-476-4061.

And in the meantime, don’t forget about the FWHS Annual Meeting, coming up on June 15th (click here for the brochure)!

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Get On Board for the 2016 Annual Meeting

Join in the Adventure

June 15th, 2016

US Mailboat at Lake Geneva

Day’s Events

7:30 ~ Bus pickup available at The Dutch Mill Park & Ride in Madison

9:30 ~ We board Lake Geneva’s Mailboat! Experience how the mail was delivered for 100 years–and still is! (Don’t be late or the boat leaves without you!)

1:00 ~ Off to Black Point Estate where site director David Desimone will join us for our Box Lunch Meeting on the scenic Black Point veranda, and share with us some fascinating history! Then we enjoy a tour of the Estate, which includes witnessing what YOU (FWHS members) did to help preserve this treasure.

The price includes tour bus, boat fare, all Black Point programs, lunch and snacks.

Members: $43

Non-Members: $55

Please click here for the registration form and meeting brochure.

Space is limited! Reserve your spot now!

Black Point Estate


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Want to Be on a Schooner Sooner? Then Sail with Us on the 23rd!

Sign up for a tour aboard a Great Lakes schooner ship

Voyage back into Wisconsin’s maritime history

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Milwaukee

2015 Autumn Excursion Pic 2

Members of Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society are invited to take a two-hour cruise around Milwaukee Harbor aboard the SV Denis Sullivan, the world’s only re-creation of a 19th century three-mast Great Lakes schooner ship.

The schooner ship voyage on Wednesday, September 23 is part of the FWHS Autumn Excursion. For those who cannot make the full Excursion, you can still sign up for the schooner boat tour portion for $45. The tour will include a brief talk on “Pirates of the Great Lakes” by Dan Heiber. The crew of the Denis Sullivan will guide tour participants in actually sailing the schooner for those that wish. The boat tour departs from the Discovery World Pier in Milwaukee at 8:30 am and will return at 10:30.

To sign up for this exciting adventure aboard a unique boat from the history of the Great Lakes, contact FWHS Tour Coordinator JoEllen Hegwood at 414-476-4061 or

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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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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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All Aboard for Autumn Excursion 2014!

SEPT 4-6, 2014

This September 4th-6th, enjoy the adventure of a tour along the mighty Mississippi and the Great River Road on the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s annual Autumn Excursion! The trip will feature extensive tours and special historical presentations along the river with stops at La Crosse, Prairie du Chien, Cassville, Platteville and Dubuque. Marvel at the panoramic views from riverside bluffs, take a step back in history with colorful re-enactors, and tour some of Wisconsin’s earliest homes in this unique travel experience!

Highlights of the excursion include:

–In LaCrosse, stops will include the grandeur of Grandad Bluff, historic Hixon House, the Riverside Museum with a visit from Doc Frank “White Beaver” Powell, and a lunch aboard an authentic paddlewheel riverboat on a tour of the river

–Learn about the tragic trail that ended the Black Hawk War and the Winnebago Treaties signed at Ft. Crawford

–Prairie du Chien will feature a tour of the Villa Louis mansion and participation in the “Carriage Classic” held on the estate grounds, a walking tour of this oldest town in the state including stops at the rarely open to the public Francois Vertefeuille House and the oldest cemetery in Wisconsin, a visit to the Ft. Crawford Museum and a supper overlooking the river

–In Dubuque, highlights include a visit to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, a Personal Dubuque City Tour which includes views of the one-of-a-kind Fenelon Place Elevator & historic Mathias Ham House, and a picnic lunch at Eagle Point Park overlooking the river

–The Platteville stop will include a tour down into an actual lead mine at the Rollo Jamison Museum, a presentation on the ethnic settlement of the region, and a special program by historic re-enactors

–At Stonefield, near Cassville, attractions include a working turn-of-the-century family dairy farm, displays of antique farm implements, experiencing the sights and sounds of Wisconsin’s early railroads, and a tour of the grand summer estate of Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first governor

This magnificent and historic Autumn Excursion features deluxe Lamers motorcoach transportation with on-board entertainment, two nights stay at the Country Inn & Suites in Prairie du Chien, most meals (all for FWHS members), and all entrance & site charges and special speaker & presentation fees included in the price of only $535 for double and $660 for single occupancy. An optional Lamers Cancellation Protection Program is available for $45.

Reserve your spot on this fantastic tour now by calling Lamers Tour & Travel at 1-800-236-8687 or 414-281-2002. You can also download and print the registration form and itinerary here: 2014 Excursion Registration & Itinerary. A $125 deposit will save your seat on this wonderful traveling experience – final payment is due by August 1. If you have additional questions about the trip, contact FWHS tour coordinator JoEllen Hegwood at 414-476-4061.

steam boatstuff

carriageup the hill

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June 25th, 2014: Annual Meeting & Adventure into History

It’s a History Mystery Tour!

One fairly common area once set aside in cities is now getting rather hard to find. But it still lives on in the city of Waukesha–and we have the evidence! Famous people were not uncommon in Waukesha–some arriving after they were famous, but some owing a part of their ability to become a leader in their field to time spent in Waukesha. And here’s a clue too…sometimes it wasn’t the person that we remember, but what they left behind!

The Waukesha County Museum, located in downtown Waukesha, exhibits substantiation of the many lives of the area–some of them still mysterious to this day. But maybe WE can crack the code!

To join us on this year’s Annual Meeting and Adventure into History, and to help solve Waukesha’s history mysteries, please print, fill out, and mail in the right side of the info and registration form below!

Annual Meeting 2014

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