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Weekly Column

Each week a small segment of Vernon County history is published in the county papers.


For the week of 9/18/2022
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Fall is the season for driving around to enjoy the colors of the turning leaves, and in Vernon County, people often combine that with a trip to see the county’s famous round barns. Just in time for this season, the museum has received a generous donation of large, full-color photographs of Wisconsin round barns.

Bob Kisken of Colorado is an amateur photographer of Americana. After a career teaching public school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bob now has more time for his hobby of photography. He takes photos of cowboys, rodeos, and barns, including round barns. Some years ago, he travelled around Wisconsin taking photos of round barns, including all of those still standing in Vernon County at that time.

The photos are currently on exhibit in the museum’s conference room. You can see photos of the Miller-Sebranek barn on Cty. V near Mt. Tabor, the Evenstad-Hershberger barn on Pa’s Rd. near Bloomingdale, and the Cunningham-Cina barn on Maple Dale Rd. near Viroqua, plus many others. You can also see photos of round barns that have fallen in recent years, including the Mayenschein-Manser barn on Cty. P near Valley, which came down in 2009, and the Dank-Noecker barn on Dank Ln. near Trippville, which came down in 2019.

Our next free public history program will be held on Tuesday, October 4, at 7PM, in the conference room at the museum. Local historian Veronica Kleiber will tell the interesting story of Royce and Fran Jones and the arboretum and sundial that they built along Highway 14 between Readstown and Viroqua. The sundial is believed to be the largest armillary sundial in the world. It was pushed over by floodwaters in September 2016, and so far has been too expensive to repair.

Today the arboretum has become Second Nature at Reads Creek (formerly, Reads Creek Nursery). The current owners, David and Jennifer Tubbin, will also be on hand to talk about the present and future of the plant nursery. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Remember that the Vernon County Historical Society’s annual pork chop dinner will be held this Saturday, September 24, from 4 to 7PM or until the food runs out. Like last year, the dinner will be a drive-through, carry-out event in the museum’s parking lot at the corner of S. Main and E. South Streets in Viroqua. For $12, you will receive a delicious meal of pork chop, baked potato, baked beans, coleslaw, applesauce, roll, and cookie. This is an important fundraiser for the Historical Society, so please come out to support your local history.


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For the week of 9/11/2022
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Remember to visit us at the Vernon County Fair this week! Our booth is in the Vernon Memorial Healthcare Expo Center. You can play the ever-popular local history quiz and view an exhibit of country school photos. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to purchase some of this year’s sweepstakes tickets, and to buy your own copy of our latest book, Country Schoolhouses of Vernon County, Wisconsin.

There’s a new exhibit at the Vernon County Museum, about “Captain Joshua Sanford: A Flying Tiger from Hillsboro”. Joshua Sanford (1919-1962) was a decorated World War II fighter pilot in the Flying Tigers unit of the Army Air Force. The exhibit also covers his life in Hillsboro before and after his military service, and his efforts to improve life for the people of the Ho-Chunk Nation, of which he was a member. This display is located in the military area on the 3rd floor of the museum.

Our annual pork chop dinner, an important fundraiser for the Historical Society, will be held next week on Saturday, September 24, from 4 to 7PM or until the food runs out. A meal costs $12 and includes a pork chop, vegetables, bread, and dessert. This will be a drive-through, carry-out event in the museum’s parking lot at the corner of S. Main and E. South Streets in Viroqua.

This year we’ve been looking a little bit at the career of Vernon County’s first public health nurse, Palma Grahn, who began her work here 100 years ago in 1922. She wrote a regular column for the local newspaper, the Vernon County Censor, and reading her old columns gives us a feel for what she did.

The “County Nurse Department” column for September 6 reported on a couple of recent events. At a teachers’ institute in Viroqua on August 28, Martha Riley of the Social Hygiene Department of the State Board of Health spoke to the gathered teachers about “social hygiene”. In the 1923 Wisconsin Blue Book, Riley is listed as the Director of Social Work for the state’s Bureau of Communicable Diseases, so maybe her talk on social hygiene included reminders to cover your cough, and wash your hands, and other efforts to prevent the spread of disease, just as we do today.

The column also noted that two films on child welfare had just been shown at the new Temple Theatre in Viroqua, one called “Saving the Eyes of Youth”, and the other “Our Children”.

Palma’s September 13 column included “Hot Weather Hints for the Baby”, so September 1922 must have been unusually warm. One of the hints was, “Do not keep the baby in the kitchen. A cool shaded porch is the place for the baby these hot days. Place the baby in his basket, and don’t forget to cover it with mosquito netting.” Just those few words really evoke a different era.



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The previous two articles:

September 4, 2022

August 28, 2022