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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 6/21/2017
by Kristen Parrott, curator

The Vernon County Historical Society’s annual Strawberry Shortcake Social will be held on the lawn of the Sherry-Butt House on Tuesday, July 4, from 1 to 5PM. The historic Sherry-Butt House, built by Civil War Colonel Cyrus Butt, is located at 795 N. Main Street, Viroqua, next to the Vernon County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $5, available at the event.

Strawberries, homemade shortcake, and Culver’s vanilla frozen custard will be served with lemonade or coffee. Musical entertainment will begin at 1:30PM. The Viroqua Area Men’s Chorus will sing, and the Viroqua Community Band will play several pieces, including World-War-I-era music to honor the WWI centennial. Enjoy tours of the house all afternoon, which this year will feature a quilt exhibit with quilts from the museum’s collections.

The Strawberry Shortcake Social won’t be the same without Marcia. Vernon County Historical Society President, Sherry-Butt House manager, and long-time volunteer extraordinaire Marcia Andrew died suddenly on June 11. The Strawberry Shortcake Social was her signature event.

Marcia did so much for the Historical Society that I don’t even know where to begin. She volunteered at the museum five days a week, six hours per day, and spent many summer weekends working at the Sherry-Butt House. She had just completed a multi-year object inventory of the first three floors of the museum, including the archives, exhibits, and collections storage, and had begun to inventory the attic. As chair of the Capital Campaign, she had also just secured the final monies needed to pay off the elevator debt. Marcia was kind, generous, efficient, and irreplaceable.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out at this difficult time. If Marcia was your contact for something related to the Historical Society, please let us know so we can carry on her work. Especially if you usually do something for the Strawberry Shortcake Social, and no one has yet contacted you, then get in touch with us by phone at 637-7396, or by email at


For the week of 6/14/2017
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Would you like to be involved with the Vernon County Historical Society, but can’t find time during a weekday? If you have a few hours available on weekends, then we have volunteer opportunities for you this summer.

The Vernon County Museum is looking for volunteer help on summer Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM (and also on weekdays, Monday through Friday, from noon to 4PM). Volunteers usually choose one or two days each month to come in to work. Daily tasks include filing, typing, sorting, and other light office work, plus occasional research, cleaning, etc. Staff is always on hand to help the volunteers with any questions.

The historic Sherry-Butt House is also in need of weekend volunteers. The house is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5PM throughout June, July, and August. Volunteers work alone or in pairs to open and close the Victorian-era house and give tours to visitors during the afternoon. Both an audio tour and a written tour are available for volunteers who aren’t comfortable memorizing a script.

The museum and the historic house are both located just off Main Street in Viroqua. If you are interested in either of these volunteer opportunities, contact Kristen or Carol at the museum at 637-7396, or email us at

We continue to commemorate the World War I centennial with exhibits, events, and stories. Our WWI exhibits now include a display of soldiers’ souvenirs, a case devoted to fallen soldier Tilmer Running, and a homefront exhibit about Vernon County’s Red Cross groups. All three exhibits are in the military area on the museum’s 3rd floor, accessible by elevator or stairs.

A good resource for anyone interested in Wisconsin’s WWI soldiers is the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Its website, , contains a database of WWI soldiers from Wisconsin. From their homepage, click on “Researchers,” then “Military History”, and then “World War I.” At the bottom of the page you will see, “Genealogy – World War I Database.”

To try this new research tool, I entered the name of Orbec Sherry, second owner of the historical society’s Sherry-Butt House. The database gave me his service branch, unit, rank, and serial number. So, now I know that Orbec was in the Army with the 2nd Company Coast Artillery Corps in New Orleans, LA. (Actually, it told me he was in “2 Co CAC”, which I deciphered using a WWI serviceman’s glossary from the Washington State Digital Archives.) He was a private 1st class, and his serial number was 3036259.

Orbec’s dog tag, stamped with that serial number, and his Army hat, made by a New Orleans manufacturer, are both currently on exhibit at the Sherry-Butt House. Hope to see you there this summer, either as a guest or a volunteer!


The previous two articles:

June 7, 2017

May 31, 2017