Andy Szudy

Jan 182014
 

Engine & caboose at the Mazomanie depotThe Mazomanie Historical Society will hold its annual meeting Sunday, January 26th at 1:30 p.m. followed by a special program at 2 p.m. featuring Frank Wolf who will discuss the railroad and Mazomanie.

The annual report of the society will be presented during the business meeting. Dues and donations for the Benefactor Drive will be accepted and an election of officers will take place. The nomination committee will present a slate of officers for consideration. Nominations may also be made from the floor.

Immediately after the business session, local historian Frank Wolf will present an illustrated talk about the railroad in Mazomanie. The span covered will range from 1856 to the present day. His research will culminate in a forthcoming book which he anticipates will be published this summer.

He will describe the considerable influence the railroad has had on the village since the it was platted in 1855. Frank conducted a thorough search of some 400 railroad people who were associated with the operation of the railroad in the village. He has sketched out sixty railroad men from thirty families most of which have relatives still living in the area, including names such as Cooper, Hodgson, Lawler, Lucey, Royston, and Salava. Questions and discussion will be welcomed.

All members, guests, and the general public are welcome to attend.

Nov 132013
 

Several changes have been made to the site, the foremost of which is the addition of a blog.  The blog will contain information about MHS news, website updates, museum exhibits, events, etc.  The main page of the website will store current news items.  For all other blog posts, please visit the main blog page.  Alternately, you can go to the drop-down menu above, select News and then Blog.  If you are an RSS feed aficionado, you can subscribe to our RSS feed here to keep up-to-date with our blog posts.

To go along with the blog, we also have new widgets on the right side of every page of the website.  These include website submenus, MHS hours, Mazomanie population statistics, MAGI statistics, etc.

Finally, we’ve added one more new feature: This Month In History.  This contains the same entries as the Timeline, but organized by month.  Once enough entries are added (sometime in the distant future), this will morph into This Day In History.

Nov 032013
 
Order of the Eastern Star materials

Order of the Eastern Star materials

The Mazomanie Historical Society has opened a mid-season new exhibit which correlates to the All Around Downtown-1850-1900 exhibit that opened earlier this year.  The focus for the satellite exhibit focuses on secret societies and fraternal organizations that formed in the Mazomanie area during the last half of the 19th century.

Secret societies provided many important benefits to their members, not the least of which was a sense of community.  Indeed, it has been said of this period that a town was not truly established until it had its own Masonic lodge.

Entertainment leaflet

Entertainment leaflet

Crescent Lodge No. 97, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons was formed in Mazomanie when a dispensation was granted in 1857 for the organization of a lodge and in June the following year a charter was granted.  As membership in these types of organizations has dropped in recent years, many have disbanded or consolidated with neighboring lodges.  The Black Earth and Mazomanie Masonic lodges have combined as Crescent Valley Lodge No. 97 and now meet in the Masonic building in Black Earth while the Masonic building in Mazomanie is used for other purposes.

Order of the Eastern Star chapter documents

Order of the Eastern Star chapter documents

In 19th century America one’s community and peers were often defined by secrets.  This was the golden age of fraternalism and the United States had literally hundreds of such organizations.  Each had their own “mystic” traditions and esoteric rites.  For most, these groups served purely social purpose.  Others joined secret societies for business connections, financial protection and even insurance benefits.  All found—in an age before T.V. and the Internet—an appreciated escape from everyday life.

Royal Neighbors banners

Royal Neighbors banners

The Mazomanie Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, No. 318 was organized January 10, 1874 and its purpose was to promote economic and political well–being of the community and agriculture, and to create direct cooperation between farmers and consumers, and to provide social activities for isolated farm families. Order of the Eastern Star, Odd Fellows and Modern Woodmen of America may remain as some of the more familiar organizations but those such as Mystic Workers of the World and the Mendotas–Montezuma Council, No. 8 or the Scientific and Literary Association of Mazomanie and Black Earth are unheard of today.

Royal Neighbors charter

Royal Neighbors charter

The museum is located at 118 Brodhead Street and is open Sundays through September 8, 1- 4pm or by appointment, 795-4355 or 795-2549.   The society’s Research Center is located in the Mazomanie Free Library; to contact historian, Virgil Matz for an appointment call 767-2305.

–Rita Frakes, Curator

 

 

 

Royal Neighbors ritual

Royal Neighbors ritual

Modern Woodmen of America buttons

Modern Woodmen of America buttons

Nov 032013
 
Brodhead Street

Brodhead Street

All Around Downtown, a new exhibit for 2013, features a photographic tour of downtown Mazomanie between 1855 and 1900. Both exterior and interior views are displayed along with vintage advertisements from the local newspapers. Period artifacts of various businesses are also included. The museum is open on Sundays from 1 to 4 pm until Labor Day.

Crescent Street

Crescent Street

 

Nov 032013
 
Bestor Display

Bestor Display

Ornate pump organs from the Victorian period, the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, were a common fixture in many household parlors.  According to the 1897-1909 Sears, Roebucks and Montgomery Wards catalogues, they ranged in price from $21.50 to almost $65.00 depending on the type of wood and the extra features such as beveled mirrors or fretwork.The Mazomanie Historical Society Museum has two such organs on display this season with one of them newly acquired this year.  Stenciled on the organs are BESTOR BROS. MAZOMANIE, WIS and D.L. BESTOR, CROWN, MAZOMANIE, WIS., which at first would leave one to believe that the organs were manufactured in Mazomanie. Just as today’s car and truck dealer’s have their dealer name and address affixed to the vehicles, Bestor Brothers and D.L. Bestor did the same with the pump organs and sewing machines they sold, first in Black Earth and then later in Mazomanie. A treadle sewing machine with the Bestor name on it is included in the display.

Excerpts from the Mazomanie Sickle are as follows:

March 5, 1892:  Black Earth:  Bestor Bros. seem to be doing quite a good business in sewing machines and organs.  Sever Lee has invested in a new $350 piano.

December 6, 1895:  Bestor Bros. have dissolved partnership.  D.L. Bestor and family have moved to this place.  Mr. Bestor will start a music store here.  Hugo Welsch’s store building has been partitioned off so as to make three separate stores.  One being used by himself, one has been rented by D.L. Bestor and the third by Knapp Bros.  D.L. Bestor has opened a general store. 37 Crescent St. (Mazomanie)

January 10, 1896:  D.L. Bestor has disposed of about two carloads of pianos or organs since December.

Further research indicates that the Geo. P. Bent Piano Co. was established in Kentucky in 1879 and moved to Chicago in 1889 when it added the name CROWN to its pianos and organs.  As the economy started to get bad in the late 1920s the company was sold to the Winter Piano Co. in 1927.  Winter immediately discontinued the Geo. Bent name in 1927 and added the CROWN name to its line of instruments.

Also from the Sickle is the obituary for David L. Bestor, 1860-1929, which included the following.  “Mr. Bestor was engaged in the farm implement business at Black Earth for a number of years before coming to Mazomanie in 1897.  After five years in the retail business, he organized the Mazomanie Telephone Co. which he managed successfully until his 1916, when he retired from active business”.

The museum which is located at 118 Brodhead Street is open summer Sundays and holidays from 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.  For more information or an appointment call 795-2992.

–Rita Frakes, Curator

Nov 032013
 
Girl Scout Smock

The Daisy Girl Scout smock with patches and pins belongs to Sophie Reader. Sophie is now a Brownie in Troop 2133, lead by her mother, Heather Reader.

A new display at the Mazomanie Historical Society Museum coincides with the 100th anniversary Girl Scout celebrations all across the U.S. this year.  Area residents and current scout leaders have contributed numerous items and memorabilia to create a display that features many aspects of the scouting program.

According to accounts in The Sickle, the earliest known Girl Scout troop in Mazomanie formed in 1945 and it held a mother daughter banquet the following May in the Mazomanie Community Building. Some but not all of those scouts include Lois Reeve, Betty Westland, Shirley Duhr, Mary Sears, Virginia Ohnstad, Kathleen Shackleton, Marilyn Gust, Mary Fangmeier and Betty Lou Solon.

The scouts were active through the 1950s and 1960s and then inactive until Mae Wildt helped to revitalize the program.  Mae had been a scout herself in the Milwaukee area in the mid 1940s and then became leader of Troop 666 which included daughters Karen and Lisa.  Now granddaughter Sidnee is a Brownie Scout.  It is not unusual for generations of a family to become involved in the scouting program.

Black Earth scout, Kathy Bomkamp, and best friend, Carrie Obright, were very active in the 1970s and 80s.  Eventually, both received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the symbol of Girl Scouts highest achievement in 1982.  Mother, Irene Bomkamp, was leader of Black Earth Troop 303.

Currently there are nine troops which include Daisy (kindergarden & first grade), Brownies (second and third grade), Juniors (fourth and fifth grade), Cadettes (sixth, seventh & eighth grade). The tradition of girl scouting is very strong at this time with the involvement of 13 leaders and many, many girl scouts.

Girl Scout Sash

This sash belongs to Heather Reader who participated in the Girl Scout Riverland Council in the LaCrosse area. Now she is leader of the Brownie second grade troop 2133.

The display includes uniforms, photos, projects, camping experiences, memories, and memorabilia from the Girl Scout celebration held in Madison on May 5, 2012.  The society is compiling a list of past and present scout leaders and personal memories from people involved with the scouting program.  Paper and photos can be copied and returned to the owners.  For more information and/or to contribute, contact Rita Frakes, Curator, 795-4355 and Virgil Matz, Historian, 767-2305.

The museum located at 118 Brodhead Street is open summer Sundays from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment, 795-2992

–Rita Frakes, Curator

Oct 152013
 
Civil War Exhibit

Civil War Exhibit

A new exhibit has opened in museum for the 2011 season. Prepared by Curator Rita Frakes and Research Historian Virgil Matz, it portrays in photos, text, and artifacts the role area people played in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. This year, 2011, is the anniversary of the beginning of the conflict that erupted in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.Within a month of Lincoln’s call for volunteers on April 15, 1861, Lucius Fairchild, who would later serve three terms as Governor of Wisconsin, came to Mazomanie to give a speech supporting the raising of troops requested by Lincoln. Area men responded and enlisted in Companies A and G of the 11th Wisconsin Infantry. By the time the war ended in 1865, over 200 local men had served in the 11th, 14, 17, 23, 35, 40, and 49th Wisconsin Infantry, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, and the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery.

Among other objects, the exhibit contains a musket, sword, and uniforms used in the conflict and many stories and photographs of the men who were killed, wounded, and taken prisoner. Detailed efforts taken by local people in support of the men in the field are also displayed. The exhibit will remain in the museum through several seasons as the nation commemorates the war that divided the country 150 years ago.