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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 10/20/2019
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Each year in November the Vernon County Historical Society hosts a banquet to honor its volunteers and members. This year’s banquet will be held on Sunday, November 17, at the Viroqua American Legion, corner of Rusk and Decker. A social time will begin at 12 noon, and the meal will be served at 12:30.

Dinner will include beef tips and gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, a green salad, and dessert. Tickets are $15 per person. Reservations are required and pre-payment is strongly encouraged. Contact the museum at 637-7396 by November 7 to make your reservation.

One of the highlights of this annual event is the presentation of the Volunteer of the Year award. We are pleased to announce that the 2019 Volunteer of the Year is Denise Kirchoff. Denise began volunteering at the museum in February of this year, and she has made a big impression in just these few months.

Denise works at the museum as a “daily volunteer”, helping out several afternoons a month with whatever needs doing, such as research, filing, and mailings. She also now writes the “10 Years Ago” column for the “Pages From the Past” feature in the Vernon County Broadcaster. And she has helped out at a number of recent events, including serving refreshments at the Cemetery Walk at the Viroqua Cemetery and serving meals at the grill-outs at Nelson Agri-Center and the Pork Chop dinner at the Sherry-Butt House.

In addition, Denise was a member of the planning committee for one of our biggest events this year, the Normal School building centennial party in July. She focused on the building’s architects, Parkinson and Dockendorff, researching their lives and the other buildings they designed. She then created displays about them for both the museum and the local public library.

Help us honor Denise and all of the Vernon County Historical Society’s valuable volunteers by attending this year’s banquet. The afternoon will also feature the election of new Board members for next year, 2020.

The museum’s fall hours will soon come to an end, and we’ll move to the winter schedule. Through October 31, the museum will be open Monday through Friday, noon to 4PM. Beginning November 1, it will be open Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 4PM, and also by appointment. Winter hours last through the end of March.

The 1st National Bank building in Viroqua
The 1st National Bank building in Viroqua, now Citizens 1st Bank, was designed by La Crosse architects Parkinson and Dockendorff. They also designed the Vernon County Normal School building.


For the week of 10/13/2019
by Kristen Parrott, curator

October is American Archives month, when we celebrate all the history that has been saved in archives across the country. The museum has an archives, and in it we save pieces of history from every part of Vernon County. Photographs, record books, diaries, oral histories, and newspaper clippings, plus many other items, can all be found in the archives. You are welcome to come use this archival material whenever the museum is open. During the month of October, public hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 4PM.

Doll lovers will want to note that the museum’s doll exhibit has just been completely re-done. Dolls that have been on exhibit for several years are now resting in storage, and dolls that were in storage have come out to play, or at least to sit in the exhibit. Antique and vintage paper dolls, porcelain head dolls, doll-sized household items, and more can be seen on display. A special feature is a group of dolls from all over the world collected by Amanda Johnson Schatzke.

Here’s a date to save: The Vernon County Historical Society’s annual banquet will be held this year on Sunday, November 17. We’ll gather at noon, and the meal will be served at 12:30. Tickets are $15. The event will be held at the American Legion in Viroqua. More details next week.

One reason the banquet will be held at the American Legion is to celebrate its centennial. The nationwide military veterans’ organization was founded in 1919 by returning World War I service men. Local posts soon sprang up across the country, and across Vernon County.

One of our chief sources of information about the history of the American Legion in Vernon County is the book, Vernon County War History, which was compiled by members of the Viroqua American Legion in 1926. We have several copies of this book in our archives.

From it we learn that the American Legion posts in Viroqua and Hillsboro were both formed in 1919, shortly after the national organization was formed. Posts in Chaseburg and Westby were organized in 1920, and posts in La Farge, Stoddard, Coon Valley, and Ontario were organized in 1921. Genoa organized a post in 1926. We’ll look more closely at the history of local Legion posts in coming weeks.


The previous two articles:

October 6, 2019

September 29, 2019