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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 7/14/2024
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Are you old enough to remember the U.S. bicentennial in 1976? If so, what do you remember? Maybe colonial costumes, and hometown festivities, and lots of red, white, and blue. Another major milestone is coming up soon – the 250th, or semiquincentennial, in 2026. (A quincentennial is 500 years, and the “semi” just means half of that, or 250.)

July 4, 1776, was the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and is considered the day when the United States was founded. 1976 was the 200th anniversary, the bicentennial, of that event.

A lot has changed in the past 50 years, and I think that this commemoration will be quite different, maybe more thoughtful and introspective. The American Association for State and Local History has suggested several themes for the 250th, including Unfinished Revolutions, Power of Place, We the People, American Experiment, and Doing History.

Although Wisconsin was not one of the original 13 colonies, we can still examine these themes. We can think about what this place was like in 1776, and how the U.S. form of government has worked here over the years, and many other ideas. I am especially interested in looking at how our perceptions about the past contrast with realities, and how anniversary celebrations reveal contemporary ways of thinking.

An event of this scale takes a lot of planning, and that’s why people are talking about the U.S. 250th now, two years early. Soon the Vernon County Museum and History Center will begin work on exhibits for the 250th, and begin brainstorming about programs. If you would like to partner with us on a project relating to the semiquincentennial, contact us at

Remember that the Vernon County Historical Society’s annual pork chop dinner is coming up soon. It will be held on Saturday, July 27, from 4 to 7PM. This will be a drive-through carry-out event in the parking lot of the history center. Each meal costs $15. You will enjoy a pork chop, baked potato, baked beans, coleslaw, applesauce, a roll, and a cookie. All proceeds will help us to continue preserving and promoting Vernon County history.

Stoddard July 4<sup>th</sup> parade down Main St.

U.S. bicentennial parade in 1976 down Main Street in Stoddard.


For the week of 7/7/2024
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Summer is in full swing, and I bet that your calendar is filling up. Be sure to add these events to your list:

The genealogy class meets this Thursday, July 11, at 10AM, at the Vernon County Museum and History Center. Teacher Karen Sherry will present odds and ends of useful genealogy hints that she’s picked up over the years. New students are always welcome to attend. Vernon County Historical Society members attend for free, and non-members are asked to pay $5 per session.

The Vernon County Historical Society’s annual pork chop dinner will be held on Saturday, July 27, from 4 to 7PM, in the parking lot of the history center. It will be a drive-through carry-out event. Each meal costs $15 and includes a pork chop, baked potato, baked beans, coleslaw, applesauce, a roll, and a cookie.

Looking ahead to August, our next grill-out at Nelson Agri-Center in Viroqua will be held on Saturday, August 10. Volunteers will be serving hot dogs and bratwurst from 10AM to 2PM. Funds raised at these events help to preserve and promote Vernon County history.

In the evening of that same day, Saturday, August 10, come enjoy a Swift Night Out in the parking lot on the west side of the museum and history center. Chimney swifts roost in the building’s large chimney, and the hundreds of birds streaming into the chimney at dusk is a sight to see. The event will begin at 7:30PM with brief talks by swift expert Dr. Stefan Gleissberg of the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group, and by local birder Dave Krier. Then we’ll watch the swifts roost in the chimney around 8:30PM.

Other local groups are also holding summer events that might be of interest to history-lovers. The Cheyenne Settlers Heritage Society will be holding its annual reunion and fundraiser on Saturday, July 27, from 10AM to 6PM, at the Fireman’s Park in Hillsboro. There will be speakers, food, games for kids, and more at this event celebrating the history of Cheyenne Valley.

The annual Wild West Days in Viroqua will be held the weekend of August 16-18, offering an opportunity to step back in time and experience a taste of frontier life. And the village of Coon Valley will celebrate its 175th on Saturday, August 24, from 7AM to 10PM, with food, games, music, vintage cars and tractors, and a scavenger hunt.

Summer is a great time to get out and learn about local history. Hope to see you at these area events!


The previous two articles:

June 30, 2024

June 23, 2024