That's My Story documents historical objects and their stories from Wisconsinites. Our possessions illustrate lives of those past, and offer a glimpse into their beliefs, values, occupations, and pastimes. By sharing personal objects and the experiences they represent, you help us to tell the story of Wisconsin.

We invite you to share an object and tell its story. Your object can be anything from your grandmother's wedding dress to a business card of a historic Wisconsin business, to a toy you played with as a child.

Dan H.

Name: Dan H.

STORY: Civil War CDVs

Estimated Date: 1863

Have had these 3 CDVs in the family since the Civil War. They are of 3 generals: Brig. Gen. Gresham, Maj. Gen. McPherson, and Lt. Gen. Grant. Gresham was from New Albany, IN, where my family was from.

Cheryl A.

Name: Cheryl A.

STORY: Clock

Estimated Date: 1950s

A clock, made from a sampler kit (possibly) was given to me by someone who was cleaning out an attic. It was handmade but needs cleaning and repair at this point. When finished, it will go over the fireplace in a mid-century home.

Dennis A.

Name: Dennis A.

STORY: Signal Electric Oscillating Fan

Estimated Date: 1944

In April of 2006, I purchased a vintage oscillating fan, partly because it was made in Menominee, MI, where my ancestors lived. A few years later, I began researching my family history. The 1911-12 Menominee city directories showed that Arthur Arnold (my grandfather) was a foreman at the Menominee electric and Mechanical Co. By 1919, my grandparents moved the family and company to Kenosha, WI and it became the Signal electric Manufacturing Co. So my 1944 SE oscillating fan does have some connection to my ancestors that I never knew.

Judith K.

Name: Judith K.

STORY: Tin Crumber

Estimated Date: 1950s

The "crumber" came from my grandmother, who lived in Kenosha. I believe it is made out of tin. There is no company name on it. My grandmother was not a fancy person but I always found this "table scraper," as I called it, readily handy at my grandmother's house. I used to play with it like I was cleaning the table, even if there wasn't a table cloth on the table. It's been part of the family as long as I can remember and I was born in 1952. I don't know if it was a present or a purchase.

Age: 63

Judith K.

Name: Judith K.

STORY: Candy Dish

Estimated Date: 1950s

I believe the metal candy dish was a wedding present to my parents in January 1950. They were married at 1st Congregational Church in Kenosha. Growing up, this is the first candy dish I remember being used in the living room. I could not find any company name on it. The glass liner is Pyrex. I don't know if that came with the candy dish or if my mother added it to keep the dish clean. I was always struck by the "peas in a pod" as the handle on the lid. It seems heavier than tin so I'm guessing it is aluminum.

Age: 63

Christina E.

Name: Christina E.

STORY: Scythe

Estimated Date: 1860s

My husband and I recently bought an old farmhouse in Danbury, Wisconsin. The other day he noticed there was a scythe that was grown into the trunk of a very old maple tree by our garage. After some research we discovered that during the Civil War it was common for farmers who went off to war to hang their scythe up in a tree. If they returned from war they would take it down. However if they died in service of their country, then the scythe was left hanging as a memorial to the lost soldier.

Age: 33

Mary Jane B.

Name: Mary Jane B.

STORY: Travel Desk and Railroad Passes

Estimated Date: 1890s

My object is my great-grandfather's travel desk and railroad passes. This family heirloom tells a part of the history of the railroad. My great-grandfather was a traveling land agent. He traveled to a variety of cities in an attempt to sell land rights along the railroad and to convince owners of companies and factories to locate nearby. He also helped land developers who wanted to site villages along the railroad. He would have brought his travel desk with him as he traveled and kept his tickets inside.

Laura K.

Name: Laura K.

STORY: Civil War Letters

Estimated Date: 1860s

These are transcribed letters written by my mother's father's father's mother's father (my great-great-great grandfather) to his wife. Orlando Jackson vollentine was a volunteer in Company K, 16th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers - the "Ozaukee Rifles." He died from injuries sustained in the Battle of Shiloh two days before the birth of his only daughter.

Age: 43

Marlene W.

Name: Marlene W.

STORY: Heirloom Fabric Pieces

Estimated Date: 1800s

These wall hanging quilts which I pass on to my family, I made from my mother's heirloom fabric pieces of the 1800s that came on boat from Norway. My grandparents were born in Norway and immigrated to America during the 1880's settling in the Glenwood area of St. Croix County in northwestern Wisconsin.

Age: 68

Teri G.

Name: Teri G.

STORY: Oleograph

Estimated Date: 1880s

This beautiful portrait of Christ is called an oleograph. This was reproduced in the 1880s in Milwaukee for families to display in their homes. It has an oil base and the rich colors have been preserved. I love Jesus very much and I have this portrait displayed in my home in Hudson.

Age: 68

Teri H.

Name: Teri H.

STORY: Spirit of St. Louis Crochet

Estimated Date: 1928

In 1920, my great grandmother began a scalloped edged crochet project, hoping to adorn her new home with her husband. However, there were complications with childbirth and my Great Aunt died along with her twin children in 1920. Knowing of her daughter's dreams of flying in those clouds, and to keep her spirit alive, my great grandmother was inspired to finish her daughter's croquet project in this unique pattern designating the historical moment of Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris in 1927.

Age: 66

Maureen B.

Name: Maureen B.

STORY: Grandparent's Log Cabin

Estimated Date: 1900

This is the log cabin my great-great grandparents, Philip and Joanna Bodamer, built upon their arrival in the Town of Byron on July 4, 1846. They already had five daughters and another on the way. Wilhelmina, the girl in this photograph, was born in November, 1846, and, my great-grandmother Caroline arrived in October of 1848. All the girls grew to adulthood in this log cabin and all embraced the spirit conveyed in this last photograph of a pioneer home.

Age: 65

Charlene W.

Name: Charlene W.

STORY: English Taxi Cab

Estimated Date: 1965

When Dr. Meekes of Milwaukee called in 1981 that he was ready to sell us his antique dental collection we didn't realize it included an English taxi cab. The cab was a vehicle he had brought over from London in the late 1960s to pick up Dental patients and bring them to his office in downtown Milwaukee. It took a while for my husband to learn how to handle a car with the steering wheel on the right side - tough to go through toll booths. We have had fun driving around in this cab for the last thirty years.

Age: 73

Carole Jean Z.

Name: Carole Jean Z.

STORY: Grandfather's Journey to America

Estimated Date: Late 1800s

Hot off Gutenberg's printing press was the world's best seller, the Bible. My husband's grandfather, step-grandfather really, owned a Dutch language version. His name was John Van Stedum. An outstanding memory of my husband is seeing "Grandpa John", as he was known by the descendants of his seven step children and three biological children, all of whom were "his kids", sitting on the edge of his bed each and every night, praying. Grandpa John came to America seeking religious freedom, he found it.

Age: 71

Carole L.

Name: Carole L.

STORY: Howard 901A Series Radio

Estimated Date: 1947

The far-flung places of the world opened up the Christmas I got this 1947 Howard 901A series radio made by the Howard Radio Co. of Chicago. Suddenly, I could travel through space & time, tuning in WHA ("The oldest station in the Nation") and beyond. I could listen to Milwaukee's "Billie the Brownie," visit "Grand Central Station," or go back in time with "Let's Pretend" or "The Lone Ranger" & its "thrilling days of yesteryear." From the small village of Albion, WI, I could be anywhere - or any time - in the world.

Age: 76

Jodie K.

Name: Jodie K.

STORY: Recycling Glass Bottles

Estimated Date: 1960s

The American Soda Water Company instilled in me the idea of recycling beverage bottles long before plastic ones showed up on the landscape. As a child in the 1960s, Saturday mornings meant a ride in the station wagon to the Loomis Road plant with wooden cases of empty bottles jingling in the back. These would be dropped off on a metal conveyor belt and we'd get to choose bottles of our favorite flavors to fill two cases: Cola, Strawberry, Cream. Once I tried something exotic called "Quinine". But only that one time.

Age: 56

Margy H.

Name: Margy H.

STORY: German Language Primer

Estimated Date: 1885

This German language primer belonged to my husband's Mother, Bertha Kasper Horneck. Starting in 1929, she taught for 5 years at a one room school in Sheboygan County. At that time many of the children could only speak German as they started school. Since Bertha had grown up in a German/English speaking family, she could speak and write German as well as English. Bertha could easily instruct the children as they learned their lessons and as they learned their English also.

Age: 75

Krista J.

Name: Krista J.

STORY: Grandfather and Uncle

Estimated Date: 1902

This tintype taken in 1902 shows my Uncle John Jautz (left) and my Grandpa Gotthard Jautz (right) at Schlitz Park (now Carver Park) in Milwaukee. The brothers were still single men and enjoying the day together.

Age: 63

Eileen P.

Name: Eileen P.

STORY: Hillside Bowl

Estimated Date: 1900s

In 1908 & 1909, my grandmother and her brother worked for Frank Lloyd Wright's aunts, Jane and Ellen Lloyd Jones at their co-educational boarding school in Hillside, WI. My grandmother worked in the laundry, her brother worked in the horse stable. My grandmother kept a number of items from her time working at Hillside, among them this beautiful bowl given to her by the "Aunts" when she left.

Age: 65

Ginny S.

Name: Ginny S.

STORY: Father's Yearbook

Estimated Date: 1955

1955 Phillips High School 'Wabasso' yearbook. The cover features a photo of my dad posing as PHS mascot 'Lucky Logger'. School photographer caught my dad, then a senior, on his way home from work at a local lumberyard one day. Dad, in work boots & plaid shirt, canthook over his shoulders, embodied the image of the hearty young Wisconsin logger. His copy of the '55 Wabasso rests in a school display case, along with his canthook, connecting today's PHS 'Loggers' with their historic past.

Age: 56

Charles M.

Name: Charles M.

STORY: Asymmetric Intersection

Estimated Date: 1990s

As a boy of 10 in 1940, I made a startling discovery. The intersection of two state highways in the middle of our tiny village contained a surprising asymmetry; the north-south lanes contained a barely noticeable jog where it intersected the east-west lanes. A N or S bound vehicle had to be redirected slightly to pass through the intersection. Was it an accident of the roadbuilders or an artistic attempt to break the village's symmetry? No one knows but, sadly, it's gone now, destroyed by road construction in the 1990s.

Age: 85

Karen W.

Name: Karen W.

STORY: Quilts

Date: 1925 - 1930

My great grandmother Minnie Martin Tucker quilted the 2 tops pictured, flower garden & wedding rings before 1933. She was born in Racine in 1868 and moved to Juneau Co. in 1879. She died Oct. 1933 in New Lisbon. Both quilt tops were hand stitched & have been finished. I cherish them and all the work that went into them.

Age: 73

Karen W.

Name: Karen W.

STORY: Music Store and Family Genealogy

Date: 1930s

This is Ben T. Tucker's music store in New Lisbon, WI ca 1930's. He was born in Prairie du Chien 1863 or 1864 & died in New Lisbon 1945. He was my great grandfather. This picture belongs to Adoree L. S. We have researched the Tucker genealogy in Wisconsin for many years. Ben & Minnie had 12 children, 6 boys & 6 girls that grew up in Fountain, New Lisbon & Mauston.

Age: 73

Kateri D.

Name: Kateri D.

STORY: Mother's Pictorial Story

Date: 1850s-1870s

Inherited Photos A HER-STORY of a French Canadian/Acadian Family I inherited my mother's treasure trove of pictures and negatives, dating to the 1850s, including photos of my great-great grandparents from the Acadian and French Canadian villages of Québec. Thanks to my mother for such a vivid pictorial "her-story" of our family. The rich heritage of the French Canadian community of northeastern WI was greatly enhanced by the photographs preserved by Emélie Archambault Dupuis.

Age: 74

Jean K.

Name: Jean K.

STORY: Great-great Grandfather's Homestead Certificate

Date: 1877

My great-great grandfather Gottlieb Salzmann immigrated to Wisconsin from Prussia with his mother, father, and three brothers in 1864 when he was 14 years old. Gottlieb married in 1873. On June 4, 1877, Homestead Certificate No. 500, Application 945 was granted to Gottlieb for 160 acres in Shawano County. Gottlieb farmed the land and built a house that is still standing. The Homestead Certificate has been preserved in very good condition nearly 140 years and I am extremely proud to be the current recipient.

Age: 55

Lori W.

Name: Lori W.

STORY: Duck Hunting Decoys

Date: 1880s-1920s

My LaRocque ancestors were among the earliest settlers in Prairie du Chien, an active trading hub at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. My grandfather, Peter and great-grandfather, Joseph (and probably many more before them) carved duck decoys for both function and art. Peter and the Valley family made their decoy weights from a watchmaker's mold - totally unique to those carvers. In 1883, alone on a duck hunting trip, "3-finger" Joe shot off two fingers and still managed to paddle 35 miles home!

Age: 59

Jim Z.

Name: Jim Z.

STORY: Father's Army Service

Date: 1941-42

Many objects: dozens of letters (& photos) from and to my father during his first 2 years in the army, from his induction in Feb '41 thru his courtship and marriage to my mother in June '42, and beyond. His lively descriptions & enjoyment of army & wartime life, his rise from buck private to M/Sergeant in the 8th & 6th Armored Division within a year, his amusing & dramatic exchanges with his family in Madison and their struggles to keep the Wisconsin Brick Company afloat after the Depression and much more.

Age: 70

Ann D.

Name: Ann D.

STORY: Elsa Ulbricht Charcoal Drawing

Date: 1910

This is a 1910 charcoal drawing by Elsa Ulbricht, a well-known Milwaukee, Wisconsin artist and educator and my great grandmother's first cousin. She drew it while studying art at the Pratt Institute in New York City. My grandmother purchased it from Ulbricht's estate. During the Depression, Ulbricht established the Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project that employed unskilled women to produce useful, well designed, well made articles that met needs of schools and other public institutions.

Age: 42

Dennis C.

Name: Dennis C.

STORY: Letter

Date: April 15, 1873

In 1873 a William Lehmann in Menominee, Michigan, responded to an inquiry by an attorney in Milwaukee regarding the circumstances of a Mrs. Margaret Hill. Mrs. Hill apparently survived the Peshtigo Fire of 1871, but she was left in dire straits. I found this letter among my father's personal effects. I have no idea how my father acquired it, nor why he kept it. The letter does shed light into a dark corner of someone's life. It also reflects on the civic mindedness of contemporaries.

Age: 71

Carol D.

Name: Carol D.

STORY: Mother's Dolls

Estimated Date: 1917

These dolls belonged to my mother and her older sister when they were children in Milwaukee. The dolls, made in Germany, are 20" high with china heads, eyes that close and teeth. My mom's was the baby doll. They are in their original doll bed which has rubber wheels. My mother displayed and loved these dolls until her death in 2010 at the age of 93. I cherish them as a remembrance of my mom and of early Milwaukee.

Age: 73

Terry A.

Name: Terry A.

STORY: Great Grandfather's Bookcase

Estimated Date: 1895

The bookcase in this photo was made by my Great Grandfather, Lorenz Knutzen in Green Bay Wisconsin in approximately 1895. It is made from a Butternut tree that grew on J. Herbigneaux's farm. Celina Herbigneaux married Lorenz Knutzen in that same year. Family history tells us that the old Herbigneaux farm is the present location of the Home of the Green Bay Packers better known as Lambeau Field. That makes this bookcase a treasured family heirloom. Lorenz Knutzen an immigrant from Denmark became a Methodist Pastor.

Age: 69

William T.

Name: William T.

STORY: Haunted House

Estimated Date: 2015

This haunted house terrorized me as a youngster. I feared passing it going to school. It was vacant at the time - except for ghosts. The Milwaukee Journal had an article about it later telling how someone had rigged up a remote sound device to terrify passersby with weird noises. My son and I frequently take power walks so I thought it a great idea to saunter past my old nemesis recently to see if the horror still persists. Now occupied and respectable, it appears rather stately, and, one might say, even welcoming.

Age: 85

Betty M.

Name: Betty M.

STORY: Grandmother's Journey to America

Estimated Date: 1849

The old lady in this 1849 tintype is my third great-grandmother, Hannah Buxton, photographed as she was preparing to leave Yorkshire for a new life in America. When I was given this treasure in 1977, I found it hard to comprehend the anguish in her face--sorrow for the desperate hard times she was fleeing? Or fear of what lay ahead. This precious treasure reminds me of the fortitude of our ancestors, building new communities and creating our new state. And now at 88, it tells me that age is not a deterrent to facing life with resolve.

Age: 88

Barbara S.

Name: Barbara S.

STORY: Great Grandparents

Estimated Date: 1870s

Jacob Zaun, Sr., who homesteaded on Mequon Rd. in the 1840s, wanted his son Andrew to wed the next door neighbor's daughter, thus enlarging the Zaun farm. He tried to bribe Andrew, who wasn't having Horsefaced Hortense, as he called her, by deeding a portion of the farm to the girl. But Andrew had his cap set for pretty Caroline Mueller. Here they are as newlyweds. We often wonder what the jilted gal did with her part of the Zaun farm!

Age: 79

Berr H.

Name: Berr H.

STORY: Autograph Book

Estimated Date: 1887

Guidance from 1887: "'My child, when you mix with bad boys, the result is not good. Forget not that to stay away pleases God.' Your Mother, Maria Zimmermann." My grandmother, Johanna Zimmermann, rural Mayville, Dodge County, as a young woman in 1887, received an autograph book. Her mother, my great-grandmother, wrote a page in the lovely German script that reflects the cultural heritage and Christian upbringing in a German immigrant community.

Age: 81

Mary Anne H.

Name: Mary Anne H.

STORY: Grandmother's Radio

Estimated Date: 1930s

On this 1930s radio, my 80 year old grandmother in Plymouth, Wisconsin listened to Gabriel Heater's nightly war report during WWII. I was 3 & still remember Heater's voice. In an age before TV & the internet, rural Wisconsin was isolated from the mainstream. Radio was the miracle that brought the world into one's living room.

Age: 73

Dawn L.

Name: Dawn L.

STORY: Antique Cup

Estimated Date: 1920s

As I was walking through our land in Black River Falls, I noticed a couple glass bottles that had found their way to the surface after many years of the Wisconsin winter freezes. I got out my metal detector and found that I had stumbled across a 1920's logging camp. For many years I would metal detect this area. In 2005 I found one piece of this cup and in 2005 found the other. I also found several prohibition whiskey bottles, shell buttons, marbles, pottery and many other items. These items sure told me a story.

Age: 56

Sara L

Name: Sara L.

STORY: My Grandpa's Cranberry Research

Estimated Date: 1920s-1940s

My objects are pictures of the early organization of the Wisconsin cranberry industry. My grandfather, OG. Malde, was the entomologist for UW. He had experimental stations at Cranmoor (near Wisconsin Rapids). His research helped advance the growing of crops. He also traded plants with Native Americans in Michigan- this plant is now the largest grown species in Wisconsin.

Age: 63

Current City: Milwaukee Area

Lisa M

Name: Lisa M.

STORY: My Visit to London

Estimated Date: 1984

I got this matchbox from The Marquee Club in London in 1984. I lived in London for about five months in 1984. Major British musicians, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and David Bowie played this tiny, dark venue in the early days of their careers. By the time I got there, musical choices included a lot more metal and post-punk bands. The Marquee was on Wardour Street in the artsy West End at the time, it finally folded at another location so I treasure the tiny piece of it that I still have over three decades later.

Age: 51

Current City: Madison

Amy N

Name: Amy N.

STORY: My Great-Grandmother's Baptism

Estimated Date: 1900

This was passed down from my grandmother and it is important to me because it offers a record of my family history. It was used to commemorate the baptism of my great-grandmother, Lydia Marie Wilhelm.

Current City: Madison

Paul V

Name: Paul V.

STORY: My Gridley Dairy Albums

Estimated Date: 1897-1942

This is a research project I have been doing for a number of years on the Gridley Dairy (1897-1942) in Milwaukee. I purchased two photo albums that contained pictures of several dairy plant workers and have identified several of those in the photos and I'm working on the rest. In addition to the Dairy, the people who worked the various jobs will be remembered as well.

Current City: Milwaukee Area

Mary Jane C

Name: Mary Jane C.

STORY: My Great-Great-Grandfather's Cabin

Estimated Date: 1929

My great-great-grandfather owned a lumber company in northern Wisconsin and fell in love with this spot in the north woods. He built this cabin in 1929 and left it to his family, which has now allowed generations of us and our friends to also fall in love with the white pines and the iron-tinted lake, the forest and the creatures. The immediate sense of calm that the smells and sounds of the north woods brings to me and my family is truly a remarkable Wisconsin experience.

Age: 34

Current City: Madison

Judy P

Name: Judy P.

STORY: My Grandfather's Restaurant

Estimated Date: 1925

This book was in the family since 1925. It was from my grandfather's restaurant, The Fritz Gust, which was at 408 Water St. (Essentially where the Public Market is now). The book is a record of people who visited the restaurant which included guests from all over the world.

Age: 47

Current City: Milwaukee Area

Jamie E

Name: Jamie E.

STORY: Poygan Gun Box

Estimated Date: 1930s

I have been waterfowl hunting since I was young. We found this at a rummage sale and I could imagine a blustery day of duck hunting with this gun box: shells inside, gun resting on the top.

Age: 59

Current City: Delafield

Diane W

Name: Diane W.

STORY: Her Great Grandmother's Doll

Estimated Date: 1918-1920

This doll belonged to my mother (Addie's great grandmother- in the photo) who was born on a ship coming to America from a German village in Russia. My mother was born in 1912; the doll probably dates to 1920.

Current City: Milwaukee Area

Diane W

Name: Vicki W. (Play)

STORY: Her Great Grandmother's Doll

Estimated Date: 1918-1920

This is a Welta Perle Camera, manufacture in Germany in 1934. Purchased in Milwaukee by my father, Wilber Taylor, In 1935 to take pictures of his family(wife and 3 children). Used extensively during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. I inherited it in 1967 and my husband and I used it to take pictures of our son, who was born in 1970.


Age: 47

Current City: Green Bay

Kristine M

Name: Kristine M.

STORY: My Grandmother's Bedspread

Estimated Date: 1930s

This is an example of cultural heritage brought to Wisconsin by my Swedish grandmother, Bertha Davida Karlsson Swanson. She came to Peshtigo, WI in 1921 and worked in her uncle's boarding house. She crocheted this bedspread with the 48 states and it was displayed at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Family lore is that she on a blue ribbon with the item.

Age: 63

Current City: Green Bay

Lorrie S

Name: Lorrie S.

STORY: My Aunt at the World's Fair

Estimated Date: 1933

My aunt and her friends from work went to the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. This is a letter opener she received there and I also have a photograph, I believe, of their trip.

Age: 54

Current City: Black Creek

Dorthy J

Name: Dorthy J.

STORY: My Scrapbook

Estimated Date: 1954-1955

I made this scrapbook for my father including newspaper articles and campaign materials from his unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Green Bay in 1954. I think it gives a nice snapshot of local politics of the day.

Age: 63

Current City: Green Bay


Name: Marilyn


Estimated Date: April 30, 1889

The flag reminds me of our U.S. history and all that George Washington and his men went through during the Revolutionary War. My 5th grandfather fought at Kings Mountain October 7, 1780. The flag is also special because it was held by a child from Waukesha during the April 30th 1889 parade celebrating the centennial of George Washington's inauguration.

Current City: Waukesha

Gene S

Name: Gene S.

STORY: My Great-Grandfather's Snow Shovel

Estimated Date: 1910

My great-grandfather, Edvart Anderson, came from Norway in 1894 at age 21. He made this homemade wooden snow shovel probably around 1910 or thereabouts. He was a shoe and musical instrument repairman so he had the skills to make the shovel. Shovels became more affordable in the 1930s and 40s, so he probably bought them after that.

Age: 65

Current City: Appleton

Pipe 2

Name: Kara

STORY: Grandmother's Pipe

Estimated Date: 1800s

This pipe was given to my husband and I from his grandmother who lives in England. We don't know a lot about the background of it but we think the pipe is most likely made out of Meerschaum, which is a soft white mineral. The face on the pipe is of a woman.

Age: 34

Current City: Madison


Name: Kelly R.

STORY: Family Reunion Photo and Ancestry Research

Estimated Date: 1900

This is a photo taken in 1900 of my ancestors, the Northcotts, at a family reunion. From England, they settled in Juneau County, Wisconsin. My grandmother left me the photos and information she had compiled about our ancestors. I have been able to share this reunion photo and the key with my own family while doing genealogy research. As I add people to our tree and find them in the photo, it brings alive the past for me. I hope that the research I am doing will be of value to my descendants.

Age: 54

Current City: California


Name: Kristin G.

STORY: Great Grandfather's Compass

Estimated Date: early 1900's

My great grandfather's compass inscribed July 30, 1908 and imprinted "Made in France". He used to guide folks up Mt. Katahdin in Maine near our family farm/town and logging camp in (Davidson, ME). Family lore says he took both President McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt on excursions, which involved mule trains and a cook - hardly roughing it! - up the mountain using this compass. It survived all that, his lifetime in the logging industry, and 3 generations before the glass was cracked when my sister threw it during a temper tantrum as a child.

Age: 47

Current City: Madison


Name: Erica G.

STORY: Carriage Clock

Estimated Date: Early 20th Century

This carriage clock belonged to my great-great-aunt "Bessie" (Elizabeth Marshall). It's spring-driven and meant for travelling, though whether or not she had a carriage I don't know. Aunt Bessie lived at 40 N. Prospect Ave., in a fashionable Milwaukee neighborhood that no longer exists. A picture of the house is in the Society's archives.

Age: 49

Current City: Madison


Name: Tyler S.

STORY: Harold C. Bradley House

As a member of the Sigma Phi Fraternity at UW-Madison, I've lived in the Bradley House for 3 years. The house was designed by Louis Sullivan and built in 1909, originally for UW professor Harold C. Bradley and his family, but was sold to Sigma Phi in 1915 because it was much too big for the family. In 1976, the home became the first National Historic Landmark in Wisconsin. Living in this magnificent house has been a quintessential part of my college experience and is truly something to be proud of. This house will forever be important to me.

Age: 21

Current City: Madison


Name: Glenn B.

STORY: Father's long skis for jumping

Estimated Date: 1935

My father's long skis for jumping--painted red by one of his too-playful children--were crafted by his own father who made skis for eight sons. Five of them became competitive ski jumpers who loved the winter sport as much as summer baseball. Farm jumps dotted the hills and coulees especially where Norwegian immigrants settled. From 1885 to 1950 or so, ski jumping inspired young imaginations and small town tournaments drew spectators by the thousands.

Age: 71


Name: Jenny S.

STORY: Great-Great Grandmother's Work Basket

Estimated Date: 1860

This is my great-great grandmother's (Mary Elizabeth Thrasher) work basket containing two thimbles, a tatting needle, some tatting she had been working on, and two of her silk handkerchiefs. Handed down through the generations, from my great grandmother (Axah Jane Thrasher) to my grandmother (Carrie Spencer) to my aunt (Mescal Povich) to my aunt (Lucy Ehlinger), this piece of family history has finally made its way to me. It elegantly speaks to the simple, hardworking life led by these pioneering women of Wisconsin's north woods.

Age: 53


Name: Lawrence S.

STORY: First Grade Report Card

Estimated Date: September 1948

On September 6, 1948, I walked, with my older brother and sister, one mile to the one-room country school on Oak Grove Ridge, near Seneca, in the heart of Crawford County. For eight years, I was immersed in what Ben Logan called "perhaps the greatest educational system in the world". Our teacher started her teaching career four weeks after the atomic bombs ended WWII. My mother saved all nine of her children's report cards.

Age: 73


Name: Cheri S.

STORY: Wisconsin Dells Souvenir

Estimated Date: September 1948

My great aunts lived on the old homestead in Trenton, near West Bend until 1986. One of their "treasures" was this souvenir from the Wisconsin Dells. Of course, they explained when I was a child, it was called Kilborn City when they visited there in the 1920s.

Age: 59


Name: Leah P.

STORY: Great Grandparent's Guestbook

Estimated Date: July 15th, 1943 - June 18th, 1949

When my grandmother, Eunice Hensley Klema, passed away in 2011, we discovered a leather-bound address book that turned out to be the guest book for the home of her parents, Werner and Emma Dey Hensley, on Deer Lake near Tomahawk, WI. Owners and guests, including 3 of my great-grandparents, took turns writing in the book, painting a picture of life "Up North" in the 1940s. This book is a great treasure and a chance to hear those who are long gone speak to us in their own words.

Age: 52


Name: Antoinette P.

STORY: Christmas Cactus

Estimated Date: 1936

My grandfather was born in Milwaukee. In 1931 during the Great Depression my family moved to Spring Lake in Waukesha County. After a fire, they then moved to Pound, Marinette County. Inside their farm house, in 1936, was a Christmas cactus. Today nearly every household in the family has at least one cutting from that Christmas cactus. We learned from my grandmother to put it outside under a bush in the spring, ignore it all summer, and bring it in before fall. These plants are living links to the past and constant reminders of survival.

Age: 64


Name: Robert H.

STORY: Antique Telephone

Estimated Date: 1950

My father worked for the Thorp Telephone Company. He started in 1948 climbing poles and installing phones like these. When you placed a call, an operator would come on and say, "Number Please." There would be up to 8 people on a party line, so you had to know your particular ring. Ours was two longs and a short. In the 50's everything switched to cable and all-black dial phones and in the 60's, fancy colors and buried cable. By the time he retired in the 80's everything was digital and he did his repair work on a computer.

Age: 68


Name: Brian G.

STORY: 1816 first edition Bible

Estimated Date: 1816

This is an 1816, American Bible Society first edition King James Version of the Bible. It was found in the flood of 1884 at the Isaac Thompson farm in the Town of Spring Brook, Dunn County Wisconsin. Their farm was in the flood plain of the Chippewa River. It was felt to be a miraculous Act of God, showing the importance of religion to them. Next year, it will be 200 years old and is still in quite good condition.

Age: 70


Name: Don L.

STORY: Great Uncle's Practice Case

Estimated Date: 1925

This practice case belonged to my Great Uncle Tom, who used it to practice his civil service skills. He worked for the Railway Mail Service in the 1920s and 1930s. Each pocket of this unit is labeled with a different railway route or geographic destination. The case was found in my grandfather's storage shed and at an auction at his tavern in 1981, I outbid a collector for it. This artifact recalls the age of rail and the days when getting a letter was really a big deal!

Age: 57


Name: Paul O.

STORY: My Elementary School

Estimated Date: 1936

Jefferson East Elementary school was built by the WPA in 1936. It is a limestone, slate roofed beauty. Not only is it wonderfully constructed outside it has equal charms inside. The good people of Jefferson, Wisconsin, have kept up the building because they recognize its beauty, architectural and historic importance. To me it is my beginning. It's where I learned the basics and went on to greater achievements but it's the memories of friends, family and adventures there that make it the most special.

Age: 57


Name: Lynette P.

STORY: Grandfather's Horse-Drawn Wagon

Estimated Date: 1932

Our Grandfather, Edwin Cork, was a carpenter in the 1930s in Madison. He built their family home off Monroe Street, along with several other homes in the Wingra division of the City. They had a chicken and rabbit coop, and goat. Grandpa kept his horses in a stable a couple of blocks away. He would hitch up the wagon and make his way to the shop. Here is a picture of his horse-drawn wagon in front of the shop at 208 S. Pinckney St., Madison.


Name: Rita L.

STORY: Wooden Spice Chest

Estimated Date: 1915

I have a primitive looking carved wooden spice chest that was given to me by my dad. When I got it, the little square drawers were filled with nuts, bolts and nails and it was propped up in the corner of the chicken coop on the family farm. I was under the impression that my grandpa made it for my grandma to keep her spices in, but eventually it was thrown out for a "modern" version. I treasure it!

Age: 72


Name: Sheila H.

STORY: Great Grandmother's Tatting Machine

Estimated Date: 1895

My mom was raised by my great grandmother after her mother died when my mom was five. Along with this "machine" came a newspaper article. The Milwaukee Museum interviewed my great grandmother and displayed her lace making machine at the museum. She complained that young girls at the time didn't want to learn lace making. She was talking about my mom. I remember my mom complaining because I didn't want to learn how to knit or crochet. I also have some of the lace she made. The city in Austria she came from was famous for this lace.

Age: 68


Name: Mary S.

STORY: House of Hawley

Estimated Date: 1908

Years ago I gave a copy of the "House of Hawley" to the Museum, a precious present from a great-aunt. It detailed the arrival of the Hawleys in the 1630's from England and their eventual arrival in WI in about the 1830s to Wiota and then on to Argyle. Lots of good stories in it that I was more than happy to share!

Age: 68


Name: Kurt S.

STORY: Great Grandparent's Saloon

Estimated Date: 1915

This is a 5 cent token from my great grandparents Hugo and Eliza Stolze. They purchased a saloon in 1914 in Kalinke in the township of Hewitt. They added a grocery store which supplied area logging camps. I like being able to hold a piece of my family history and imagine the others who may have held this piece.

Age: 48


Name: Pat G.

STORY: Aunt's Circus Experience and Bible

Estimated Date: 1956

My Aunt Ella Grahn "Mills" Milbaurer was the final sideshow "fat lady" of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus before it closed. On her first trip with the circus she was given a pocket sized New Testament. Aunt Ella retired the Cole Brothers Circus and the side show in 1962, she died in 1964. I can still remember her booming laugh, massive size, and crazy family dinners. The small Bible has become a treasured memento of Aunt Ella. It reminds me of our great circus history in Wisconsin, and the heritage of memories from my family.

Age: 57


Name: Martin D.

STORY: Large Road Map of Wisconsin

Estimated Date: 1911

While researching early highway history I came across this 1911 map. This is no glove compartment road map, but actually four and a half by five foot wall map that would have been used by highway planners in the early days of Wisconsin roads. The map depicts geological features and every road that existed at the time with "main traveled roads" shown in red. Wisconsin's Highway Commission would've used tools such as this map to plan and implement what would become the nation's first numbered highway system.

Age: 61


Name: Ann G.

STORY: Father's Painting

Estimated Date: 1929

My father, Chester Dryan, was an artist and went to Woodstock, NY for an artist's convention in 1929 with Ted Rozak, and Lester Cheney. He painted this painting along the way.

Age: 84


Name: Nancy O.

STORY: Antique Vase

Estimated Date: 1900-1920s

I inherited this vase from my parents. It sparked my interest in antiques and especially pottery and glass. I have a nice collection of German and Irish crystal which has been acquired through many years, but I never really knew its value. I bought a Mexican doll at a flea market for $20 and got it appraised at $500! This makes life fun and keeps me young!

Age: 82


Name: William D.

STORY: Harley Davidson Memorabilia

Estimated Date: 1964

Motorcycle cap - 1956. Factory visitor pin - 1962. Kidney belt with H-D logo - 1957. Toy model of a motorcycle, made from a kit I assembled - 1964.

Age: 76


Name: Larry G.

STORY: Grandfather's Desk

Estimated Date: 1915

In Colby WI, my grandfather supported his family as a livestock dealer. The desk was a friend's gift for boarding his daughter while she attended a local Lutheran school. Later, my father found comfort in the fact that his dad wanted him to have it. Continuing in the livestock business, my dad used the desk as his dad had, plus in the capacity of Township Clerk, he used the desk to maintain township records. Willed to me, the desk remains a constant symbol of the livelihood of two generations of my family.

Age: 78


Name: James K.

STORY: Father's Football Helmet

Estimated Date: 1928-31

In the age of concerns about football concussions my father's leather football helmet is an anachronism. My father used it at New Lisbon High School as a senior in 1930. The helmet is all leather without cushion or any face guard. It was housed in our closet for more than 60 years. As a child I used to scrape it across my cheeks to get it on. Amazingly it fit a 10-year old child. The helmet served my father well as he played one year on the UW-Madison freshman football team in the 1930s.

Age: 66


Name: Anne K.

STORY: Handwerck Doll

Estimated Date: 1900

My husband's grandmother, Johanna Handwerck, emigrated from Germany. Her family of doll makers was involved in the failed 1848 Revolution. When she left, her few possessions included a Handwerck doll. A friend and I were at an antique mall and found a Handwerck doll; it was expensive so I did not buy it. My friend talked about her own doll. Across the nape of the beautiful doll's neck was ... Handwerck! She gave it to me! Now our granddaughter loves this doll.

Age: 76


Name: Jo Jean J.

STORY: Dance Studio and Puppet

Estimated Date: 1920s

I am a 'Kehl', a Dancer, an admirer of my father Leo T. Kehl who knew how to teach and promote interest in the 'World of Dance' to all ages...all abilities. "MR. MONKEY', his hand-held puppet intrigued every 3 year old child that walked in the door of KEHL School of Dance at 223 E. Mifflin and formerly 213-15 E. Mifflin now called the 'Bartell Theatre' built by my grandfather, F. W. Daddy Kehl. 'Mr. Monkey' shook hands with toddlers enticing them into class, bowing, clapping hands with approval, keeping smiles on on all their faces!


Name: Patricia J.

STORY: Grandma's Journey to the United States

Estimated Date: 1913

Grandma Lau, with her five children (one being my mother), sailed back to Germany because her husband had come in to an inheritance. While the children were American citizens, Grandma was not and this created many issues in their return trip. At this time, Germany was also at war, creating a very scary situation for my family. Her husband eventually was able to get them passage back on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. The pictures depict the ship they returned on, an inexpensive jewelry box depicting the ship, and my Grandma.

Mike D

Name: Mike D.

STORY: Brewing Labels and Pabst metal bottle from early 20th century

Estimated Date: 1920s-1940s


Name: Winifred L.

STORY: Grandmother's Cross and Chain

Estimated Date: 1886

The cross and chain on my grandmother's wedding photo is very precious to me. John M. Farrell married Frances Wallraff in 1886. My mother wore it until she died and now I wear it with pride.


Name: Charlie F.

STORY: Dad's Business Card

Estimated Date: Late 1940's

"Manchester's Three Stores: East, West and on the Square" was a familiar radio jingle in Madison in the '50's. My dad worked there as a young man supporting his growing family in Middleton and bringing home, from time to time, household items bought with his employee discount. I was young when he died at 59 but I remember his stories of two famous individuals he called his friends: Onalaska native Bernice Fitz-Gibbon and former Reedsburg public school teacher Agnes Moorehead.


Name: Suzanne S.

STORY: Great-Grandparent's tea set

Estimated Date: 1926

This tea set was given to my Great-Grandparents as a wedding gift in 1924. It left Leverkusen, Germany in a wooden trunk along with all of my Great-Grandmothers possessions aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 1926. My 27 year old Great-Grandmother traveled alone with a 14 month old, my Grandmother, without knowing a word of English. She landed in Ellis Island then boarded a train destined to Appleton, WI to meet my Great-Grandfather who had moved 6 months prior.


Name: Thomas F.


Estimated Date: 1935

My Dad and I found this in an old abandoned garage from the 1920's and we were never sure of its purpose so we caught small fish and moved hot coals with it-----has a very nice Oak handle so I am sure it was used often and is built to last.


Name: Thomas F.

STORY: Living Wood

Estimated Date: 1960's

My Dad and I used to run a tree farm in Brookfield WI until my nephew destroyed the property---one of our favorite types of wood was White Ash and we would take the trees to a sawmill in Merton---it has long since shut down but some of this wood is still with me and will always be treasured for the simplicity it represents and the strength and courage of my wwll veteran father---I like the term "living wood" ---sometimes craftsman will use pieces like this to create beautiful tables and shelves


Name: Thomas

STORY: Packers Lamp

Estimated Date: 1973

Packers pride purchased in 1973 when the team was crummy--true loyalty will be rewarded at the pearly gates--remember that nephew!


Name: Karen E.

STORY: Bowling Trophies

Estimated Date: mid-1940's

My parents, Ruth Kodrich and Gilbert Engelking, met at Bert 'n' Eddie's Bowling Alley on Milwaukee's South Side, in the mid-1940s. Ruth was 100% Slovene - her parents emigrated after the turn of the 20th century. Gil's parents were a mix of German and Polish. They were both avid bowlers, but members of different leagues. These two trophies represent the bowling culture of Milwaukee in the 1940's as well as a social activity that brought people together, even from different ethnic backgrounds.


Name: Karen E.

STORY: Sterling Motors desk model

Estimated Date: ca. 1940's

This desk model truck from Sterling Motors is made of heavy bronze and measures 6.5" long and 2" tall. My grandfather, Emil Engelking, worked as a salesman for Sterling, but I don't know which time period. Originally Sternberg Motors, the company was quite innovative for its time. This truck was manufactured in West Allis and sold in Milwaukee from 1907 until it was purchased by White Motor Co. in 1953 and ended in 1955. The brand was revived from 1997 to 2009 by Daimler.


Name: Karen E.

STORY: Jo and Milt's Tavern Thermometer

Estimated Date: ca. 1950's

This is a souvenir thermometer from Jo & Milt's tavern in Milwaukee. It is 9" long and 3" wide and made of white marbleized plastic. Possibly made in the 1950s based on the phone number, I'm not certain of the year it was made, but I saw this hanging in my Aunt Mary's home in the early 1960s. Milwaukee was always a city of corner taverns and Jo & Milt's was a favorite watering hole for my Grandfather Frank Kodrich and my aunt Mary Kodrich Smith. We lived on S. 19th so they frequently walked.


Name: Karen E.

STORY: Handmade Wooden Grater

Estimated Date: ca. 1920's

This is a double-sided, handmade wooden and metal food slicer/shredder which measures 16" by 4" and was made by my immigrant Grandfather Frank Kodrich, probably in the 1920s after he was married and started raising his family. He was quite a jack of all trades and could repair shoes, make wine, make sausage, do carpentry and sheet metal work. He immigrated to the US in 1913 from rural Slovenia and represents so many immigrants who came to America to make a better life and escape war and poverty in Europe.

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Name: Gary H.

STORY: Beer Barrel

Estimated Date: 1966

My name is Gary Hess, and I live in Madison. The photo is my ¼ size white oak beer barrel. This barrel was one of the last beer barrels that was manufactured at the Hess Cooperage in Madison when the factory was closing in 1966. What makes this barrel special, are the five original signatures (of the four sons that worked in the cooper shop, which appear (from top to bottom) Joe, Tony, Foots, Eddie, and sister, Josephine. Josephine was the manager and bookkeeper.

Age: 72

Current City: Madison


Name: Barbara S.

STORY: Great Grandfather

Estimated Date: 1870s

Jacob Zaun and his wife Christina came from Germany with their sons, Andrew (my great-grandfather) and Jacob. Jacob was conscripted into the Civil War, but was already married with children, so he hired Andrew to go in his place. Lucky it was near the end of that war or I might not be here! Andrew was a busy Mequon farmer in his life. This portrait was taken at E. P. Mueller studio in Port Washington. He died only 7 years later, falling off a ladder while painting a farmhouse, breaking his ribs and puncturing a lung.

Age: 79

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