Each week a small segment of Vernon County history is published in the county papers.
For the week of 6/4/2023
by Kristen Parrott, curator
The Wisconsin Historical Society’s travelling exhibit, We Will Always Be Here: Wisconsin's LGBTQ+ Historymakers, opened at the museum on Monday, June 5. It will be here throughout the month of June, closing on Saturday, July 1. The exhibit is in the museum’s 1st-floor, handicapped-accessible, air-conditioned conference room.
This display features eight Wisconsinites from the past and present, including writer R. Richard “Dick” Wagner (1943-2021) of Madison, and activist Manonia Evans (born 1950) of Milwaukee. The information is presented on panels that look like pages out of a comic book or graphic novel, with illustrations by nipinet landsem.
Our own new exhibit about local LGBTQ+ historymakers, called “In Plain Sight: The Taylors of Lynxville”, is also on display in the same space. And you have the opportunity to write down your own story in the “story corner”. These exhibits can be viewed at the museum during our regular summer hours of Monday through Friday, 11AM to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM, or by appointment.
Remember that Company B of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers will be at the historic Sherry-Butt House this coming Saturday, June 10, from 10AM to 2PM. This free event will take place on the lawn of the house, located at 795 N. Main Street in Viroqua. Company B is a group of Civil War reenactors from La Crosse, and they will be camping, marching, drilling, firing muskets (with blanks), and generally portraying the life of a soldier during the war.
The Vernon County Historical Society will serve barbecues, chips, lemonade, water, and coffee on the lawn for a freewill donation. Parking will be available at the Vernon County fairgrounds next door to the house. The public is invited to talk with the reenactors throughout the day and learn about life during the Civil War. The house, built shortly after the end of the war, will also be open for tours during and after the event.
Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday, established in 2021. It is celebrated on June 19, commemorating the fact that on June 19, 1865, the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas were freed. Last year’s Presidential Proclamation noted that, “On Juneteenth, we remember our extraordinary capacity to heal, to hope, and to emerge from our worst moments as a stronger, freer, and more just Nation. It is also a day to celebrate the power and resilience of Black Americans, who have endured generations of oppression in the ongoing journey toward equal justice, equal dignity, equal rights, and equal opportunity in America.”
This year we will honor Juneteenth with a special celebration of Black history in Viroqua. This free public event will be held on Monday, June 19, at 6PM at the Viroqua Cemetery, 429 Hickory St. We will dedicate the new stone placed over the previously-unmarked graves of three African Americans, all members of the Craft family, who lived and died in Viroqua in the late 19th century.
Local actor Dodie Whitaker will portray Lottie Craft and tell the story of the Craft family. Local American Legion members will provide an Honor Guard ceremony, in honor of Jefferson Craft's participation in the Civil War. And the Rev. Margaret Hoversten will bless the new gravestone. Feel free to bring a lawn chair or something else to sit on. Refreshments will be served afterward in the gazebo. Rain date is Monday, June 26.
For the week of 5/28/2023
by Kristen Parrott, curator
The Vernon County Historical Society will be grilling hot dogs and bratwurst this Saturday, June 3, from 10AM to 2PM at Nelson Agri-Center in Viroqua. I’ve heard these two foods described as 19th century working-class German-American street food, basically bread and meat meant to fill you up and keep you going for hours. A history lesson in a hot dog! Money raised at the grill-out will help us continue to preserve and promote local history, so come out and eat for a good cause.
The next meeting of the genealogy class will be Thursday, June 8. The class is going on a field trip to the La Crosse County Archives, located on the 2nd floor inside the Main Street Library at 800 Main Street in La Crosse. Meet in La Crosse at the archives at 10AM for a group introduction to the resources there, followed by individual research time. New students are always welcome to join the class.
The La Crosse Light Guard, also known as Company B of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers, will be at the historic Sherry-Butt House on Saturday, June 10. Company B is a group of Civil War reenactors, and they will be portraying the living history of the Federal infantryman and civilian population during the period 1861 to 1865.
This free event will run from 10AM to 2PM on the lawn of the house, which is located at 795 N. Main Street in Viroqua. Parking will be available at the Vernon County fairgrounds next door to the house. The Vernon County Historical Society will be serving barbecues, chips, lemonade, water, and coffee, for a freewill donation.
The soldiers will march and drill at 10:30, fire muskets (with blanks) at 11:30, and give short talks at 12 and 12:30. Drilling and musket firing will repeat at 1PM. The public is invited to talk with the reenactors and learn about life during the Civil War. The house will also be open for tours that day.
Summer hours at the museum begin on June 1. Throughout the summer, the Vernon County History Center (a.k.a., Vernon County Museum) will be open Monday through Friday, 11AM to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM. As always, we are also open by appointment.
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