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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 8/14/2022
by Carol Krogan, assistant curator

On Friday, August 26, 2022, at 5 p.m., the Vernon County Historical Society (VCHS), partnering with the Viroqua Women’s Literary Club (VWLC), is hosting a very special event at the Viroqua Cemetery. A new marker will be dedicated which celebrates two of the many local women who were instrumental in the suffrage movement in Vernon County, Tilda Omundson and Kate Goodell. Tilda, a chiropractor, and Kate, a teacher, are both interred in the cemetery. This is just one of the 2, 370 markers on the National Votes for Women Trail sponsored by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS). According to the website: The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites “seeks to recognize and celebrate the enormous diversity of people and groups active in the struggle for women’s suffrage.” The trail marks the untold stories of suffrage in communities all around the United States. Besides the Viroqua Cemetery marker, the Lucy Stone marker is also featured on this virtual map. This marker, located in the Pioneer cemetery on S. Rock Street, Viroqua, was erected in 1930 by Dr. Charles V. Porter and marks the general area where suffragist and abolitionist Lucy Stone spoke on July 4, 1856 on these topics. Stone was a major voice in the national suffrage movement.

The NCWHS continues to add these stories to their website and is partnered with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to provide the donation of 250 roadside markers.

This VCHS/VWLC event is being held on National Equality Day, held each year on August 26. It celebrates the achievement of women’s rights activists and commemorates the passage of the woman’s suffrage amendment passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920. It also reminds us of all the obstacles overcome by the strong women who faced them to advance these rights for all women.

Please join us at 5:00 on August 26 at the Viroqua Cemetery, located at 429 Hickory Street. Viroqua Mayor Justin Running will read a commendation and the Honorable Judge Darcy Rood will be our featured speaker. The honorees, Tilda Omundson and Kate Goodell will tell their stories as portrayed by Tena Thompson, D.C. and Deb Deaver. Refreshments will be served in the gazebo.

Just a reminder that the Vernon County Historical Society will be represented at Wild West Days again this year. We will feature an exhibit about the Black Hawk War which culminated in 1832 in Vernon County. Stop by the bank building to learn more about this historic event and visit with one of our volunteers. This year’s event takes place on August 19-21 and is located at 925 Nelson Parkway, Viroqua. Hope to see you there!

Tilda Omundsen,and Kate Goodell

Tilda Omundsen, left, and Kate Goodell, right, age 14 or 15, circa 1890.


For the week of 8/7/2022
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Bakers, start your ovens! The Vernon County Fair has a new category, “Heritage Baking”, which expands on the former category of “Norwegian Baking”. In addition to the Norwegian favorites of lefse, flat bread, krumkake, sandbakkels, rosettes, and kringla, the new category also includes kolache, fruit strudel, and rogaliki.

I associate kolache with the Czech/Bohemian culture. In Vernon County, most Czech immigrants settled in the late 19th century in the eastern part of the county. Their community was centered in and around Champion Valley, an area that extends from the village of Dilly south to the village of Yuba (which is in Richland County). Today many people who are descended from the early Czechs and Bohemians also live in the city of Hillsboro.

A walk through one of Vernon County’s Czech cemeteries reveals many familiar names. In the Czech Brotherhood Cemetery (Ĉesko Bratrsky Hřbitov) south of Dilly, family names include Fanta, Havlik, Knadle, Mislivecek, Picha, Sebranek, and Vrbsky. No doubt some of these people made and ate kolache.

Fruit strudel makes me think of Germans and Austrians. 19th-century German immigrants to Vernon County settled especially in the Towns of Bergen and Hamburg, near La Crosse. German Lutheran and Methodist churches once dotted the area, and a few remain. Maybe these immigrants enjoyed strudel!

Rogaliki are defined by the Fair as “almond crescent cookies”, and they seem to be generally Eastern European. The “Heritage Baking” category also includes “any other entry not listed elsewhere”, so you could bake something representing other ethnic groups of Vernon County, such as the Swiss-Italians of the Genoa area, or the Irish of Irish Ridge and the Rising Sun community.

Our archives contains many local cookbooks with recipes for ethnic specialties. The 1948 “Nationality Recipes” cookbook distributed by the Vernon County Homemakers includes recipes from local people for Bohemian kolache, German coffee cake, and Norwegian sandbakkels and kringla. Cookbooks compiled by local churches and other organizations also feature heritage baking recipes.

You are welcome to visit the museum’s archives and peruse these cookbooks during regular summer hours of Monday through Friday, noon to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM. These summer hours will last to the end of August. Beginning September 1, our hours will be Monday through Friday, noon to 4PM.


The previous two articles:

July 31, 2022

July 24, 2022