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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 5/17/2017
by Carol Krogan, assistant curator

Recently in this column we’ve been featuring short biographies of the people who will be remembered at this year’s Cemetery Walk. The annual “Walk Among Our Ancestors” will be held at 4PM on Sunday, June 4, at the Viroqua Cemetery. The theme of the 2017 walk is the World War I centennial. We continue this week with a short introduction to Kenneth “Snort” Larson.

Snort was born in Monroe County in 1898 and graduated from Cashton schools. At age 20, he was drafted into the Navy during World War I, serving for only three months. When he returned to the area, he found his calling as a jeweler and watchmaker, eventually purchasing the Viroqua store of his mentor, Carl Coe.

Being an avid sportsman, Snort later added a sporting goods section to his store. In 1958, he sold the shop to Kenny and Bev Lewison. Snort was involved in various organizations in Viroqua including the American Legion (formed by WWI veterans) and the Rod and Gun Club. H died in 1970. Learn more about Snort Larson and other local people who were active in WWI by attending the Cemetery Walk in June.

Another centennial that is being commemorated in 2017 is the completion of the current state capitol in Madison. Designed by George B. Post and Sons, construction began in the fall of 1906 and was finally completed in 1917. The old capitol was damaged by fire in 1904 but remained in use during its re-construction.

A fire broke out on a cold February day in 1904 after a gas jet ignited a newly varnished ceiling. Frigid temperatures and an empty water reservoir impeded the extinguishing of the fire. The last section of the old capitol was completely demolished in 1915. An exhibit commemorating the history of the capitol and the erection of the current capitol building is on display in the first floor of the capitol building through the end of the year. A virtual tour is also available on the website

Whether you are a life-long resident or a newcomer to Vernon County, we hope you will make it a priority to visit the Vernon County Museum this year to view the exhibits and/or do some genealogy or Vernon County research. Museum hours in May are Monday through Friday, noon to four, or by appointment. During June, July and August, museum hours are Monday through Friday, noon to four, and Saturday, 10 to 2. If you have any questions, you may reach us by phone at 608-637-7396 or by email:


For the week of 5/10/2017
by Carol Krogan, assistant curator

In last week’s column we featured a short excerpt of a biography of World War I soldier Tilmer “Tim” Running who will be portrayed at the Vernon County Historical Society event, “A Walk Among Our Ancestors”, on Sunday June 4, 2017, at 4PM at the Viroqua Cemetery. Other ancestors who will be featured are Orbin Anderson, Kenneth “Snort” Larson, Dr. Charles Lauder, and Isabelle Morley speaking about the Red Cross in Vernon County.

Orbin Anderson was born in Viroqua in 1894 to Thomas and Marie Anderson. He was just 6 years old when his father died and his mother was left with 6 children to raise. The family moved to Mason City, in the Town of Franklin, to live with Marie’s brothers Martin and Gus on their farm.

Anderson registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, mustered in on September 18, 1917, and served in Company B of the 341st Division. His company arrived in France on May 24, 1918. Anderson wrote a diary during his service which relates what life was like in the Army for an infantry soldier. The museum is fortunate to have Anderson’s diary in its military collection. Anderson and his company hiked many hundreds of miles and survived on meager rations. Fortunately, Anderson returned home to Viroqua, married and became a local businessman. He passed away in 1979.

Shortly after World War I, the Viroqua American Legion post placed wooden crosses in the Viroqua Cemetery to memorialize Vernon County’s fallen soldiers. After 25 years of being exposed to the elements, those crosses deteriorated. They were removed and replaced with white cement crosses. In 1952, the Viroqua-based Jacobson-Olson Legion post also dedicated a new granite memorial, a gift of William F. Lindemann. It reads: “In Memoriam – This Memorial is dedicated to all soldier dead.”

In 2012, the Viroqua Cemetery Association began making plans to replace the now-crumbling cement crosses with a black marble memorial inscribed with the names of the fallen. The marble was chosen to match the existing Vernon County War Memorial located on Main Street in Viroqua. Fundraising efforts were made and the new marble pillar was placed opposite the 1952 memorial on a section of concrete with a flag pole in the center. In September of 2012, a granite bench was donated by Vernon Memorial Hospital and placed near the marble pillar. The crumbling cement crosses have now been removed.

Among the names on the new marble pillar is that of Tilmer Running. Learn more about Tilmer, Orbin Anderson, and three other World-War-I-era Vernon County residents at our annual cemetery walk on June 4.

The previous two articles:

May 3, 2017

April 26, 2017