Clintonville Historical Society celebrates 40 years
Living cemetery, trolley tours planned
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville Area Historical Society will celebrate its 40th anniversary, Saturday, July 18 by commemorating the city’s history.
Activities will include trolley tours with tour guide, living cemetery activities, and displays at the Clintonville Community Center. Some businesses and organizations will partake in the celebration by remembering the history of the firm or group, as well as the history of previous occupants of the building.
The trolley tours will run hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 3 p.m. Each trolley ride will start at the History House in Pioneer Park on 11th Street. Gerry O’ Connor will serve as tour guide.
The History House, Denn Cabin, and Cordwood House at Pioneer Park will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Clintonville Community Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature displays from the historical society and local fraternal groups and businesses. A display from the Boyer family and Dennis Lichtenberg on agriculture and rural life in the area will also be available for viewing.
The American Legion Auxiliary will serve food from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the community center.
The Wisconsin Bow Hunters Museum and the FWD Museum will also be open for tours during the day.
The living cemetery presentation is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Graceland Cemetery and St. Rose Cemeteries.
Local volunteers are scheduled to play parts of “persons of interest” from Clintonville’s history.
Living cemetery characters
(Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the Clintonville Historical Society.)
Norman Clinton: Considered the founder of Clintonville as he and his wife Lydia were the first permanent settlers in Clintonville in 1855. Others came before them but did not stay.
At one time (1856) he and his family erected a hotel called the Clinton House to help with the overflow of transient traffic from the Lyon House (Merritt Lyon, who arrive in 1852 but moved around). They also erected a dam, saw & grist mills, stores and acquired forest land. Active in building the community.
(Some of this copy & dates can be found on pp. 3,4 & 5 of “A Civic Century” about Clintonville.)
Lydia Clinton: She was born in Ferrisburg, Vermont on Aug. 1, 1800, of Quaker parents. She married Norman Clinton in 1823. They eventually settled in Clintonville where they raised three sons, Urial, Boardman, and Lewman, and adopted daughter, Libby. She later gave birth to another daughter, Martha.
She believed in education and helped home-school until school house was built. Lydia was severely injured in a runaway accident in her later years and rendered quite helpless.
Dr. William Harrison Finney: Finney was born July 14, 1876 to parents Dr. John Finney (Clintonville’s first mayor, 1887)) and his wife Isabelle. He had a brother, John Alexander, who died when he was 2 years old.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania and was well educated. In 1899 he graduated in medicine from Northwestern University of Chicago. He returned to Clintonville and practiced medicine. He also attended courses at medical schools in Vienna and Berlin. Dr. Finney was a well-respected doctor in the community.
In 1922, he married Elsie Luebke, daughter of Frank and Anna Luebke. Dr. Finney was also active in Clintonville civic and economic matters. Besides serving on several boards in the community, he was also owner of the two theaters in the city and several pieces of real estate in Clintonville. He donated land of which the Finney Library was built on in 1917.
Elsie (Luebke) Finney: Born on Oct. 28, 1892 to parents, Frank and Anna Luebke. Her family consisted of: one sister, Anita, who never married, and two brothers, Edward and Walter.
She played the piano at the local movie theaters during the silent film era. She also gave piano lessons in her home to many students in Clintonville. She married Dr. William H. Finney in 1922, and they took a trip around the world for their honeymoon. She then lived in the Finney family home on South Main Street, which was built by William’s father, Dr. John Finney.
As the wife of Dr. William Finney, she became part of the Clintonville society, participating in several clubs, serving as a director for several boards, as well as her association with society members in town.
Frank Sinkewicz: Sinkewicz was born on Nov. 19, 1908 to parents, John and Ursula, who were Lithuanian immigrants. He had two brothers, John and Andrew, and a sister Millie. They moved from Indiana to a small farm in Middle Inlet, Wisconsin where he graduated from Marinette High School.
In 1929, Sinkewicz moved to Clintonville and began work at the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company. Once a lathe operator in the machine shop, he worked his way up to Director of Industrial Relations. He was one of the founders of the Four Wheel Drive Credit Union.
He married Norma Dohrman, on Feb. 20, 1932 and had four children — Elaine, Dorothy, and twins Gerald and Geraldine. They were married for 51 years.
He was a member of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, the Men’s Club, and the Clintonville Rotary Club. In 1933, he organized a Boy Scout troop at the church and was scoutmaster for five years. He was also involved in the Goodfellows organization. He retired from FWD after 50 years, but continued as a consultant.
In the early 1950s, he helped organize the first Clintonville Harvest Festival.
Sinkewicz also played football on the FWD Truckers team and also played basketball, baseball and softball.
He was Justice of the Peace in Clintonville, serving for 19 years. He was elected mayor from 1962-1974.
David J. Rohrer: Rohrer was referred to as D.J. He was born June 30, 1873 in Menasha to Leonard and Rosina, natives of Switzerland. They came to America in 1856 and eventually moved to Clintonville where Leonard bought a saw mill and devoted himself to the lumber and milling business. D.J. had two brothers, Leonard O. and H.W.
He received a public school education in Menasha and Clintonville. His first business experience was secured in his father’s sawmill and lumber yard. He learned the business and took over the family business when his father died.
In 1898, at age 25, he married Etta Besserdich, daughter of August, who was one of the early settlers in Appleton. They had two daughters, Ruth and Dorothy.
In 1920, he formed D.J. Rohrer Lumber Company.
He served on Park Board to oversee the Central Park and Bucholtz Park. He donated the suspension bridge which hangs across the Pigeon River, connecting Olen Park to the athletic field.
D.J. became a director of the re-organized FWD Company in 1910.
He was also involved in the Masons, Rotary Club, was an alderman and a member of the Clintonville Fire Department, as well as helping organize Riverside Golf Club, serving on the board. He was president of Clintonville State Bank, and a trustee at the Methodist Church.
Ursula Morser Doty: Ursula Morser Doty was born in Bridgeport, New York on Feb. 6, 1847. She moved from Sheboygan to the village of Clintonville in 1869 to be the school teacher in the first school house.
She married O.M. Doty (Orlando Marcus Doty) on Aug. 28, 1870. The family resided in Clintonville until about 1883 when they moved to Chicago where O.M. started a new job. After several jobs Orlando left Chicago for Houston, Texas. The family did not follow him to Texas and in 1895 Orlando remarried. He died in 1902 in Houston.
Ursula and her three daughters (Lydia McAfee, Harriette Wineow; and Eda Doty) are buried in Graceland Cemetery.
Ursula helped Lucretia Doty and Fanny Doty Guernsey start the Methodist church in Clintonville and was also instrumental in its funding and became one of its charter members.
Ursula was teacher of the Primary Class for seven years in the first Methodist Church of Clintonville, after she had helped to get it built in the old pioneer days.
She is quoted as saying, “There were not enough chairs for the little folks, so many of them had to sit on the floor during my lesson.”
She always kept a supply of pennies on hand for them as they frequently lost theirs and every child felt they had to contribute when the plate was passed. She had between 40 and 50 children in the class, who gave a regular attendance as much as possible.
Ursula was always on hand to assist with all the dinners and activities as that was the only way they had to raise money for the church.
John J. Monty (“Jack”): John J. Monty was born Jan. 17, 1868, in Keene, New Hampshire to parents John and Lula Monty. They came to the state of Wisconsin six months after John Junior was born.
In 1870 the family settled on a farm in the town of Bear Creek for 14 years, before coming to Clintonville. Jack barely reached manhood when his father died. When Jack took over, there was a mother and nine brothers and sisters to take care of.
In 1901 he received his commission on the city police force, and became a policeman when he was 33.
Two years after he started his police career, Jack married Margaret Ellsbury of the town of Larrabee, on March 18, 1903. They had five children, two of whom died in early childhood.
He was loved by the school children. Disturbances in the city were few and robberies occurred infrequently, all due to the fact that he was both respected and feared by the criminal classes. Monty was a law enforcement officer in Clintonville for 43 years, having been appointed city marshal by the council on April 9, 1902. In 1910 he was placed under civil service as police chief.
Hank Yungwirth: Yungwirth was born Sept. 21, 1889 in Oshkosh and was baptized in the Roman Catholic faith there. Later he moved with his family to a farm in the town of Larrabee which was also occupied by a brother, William, and a sister, Elizabeth, Mrs. Herman Kutchenreiter.
Yungwirth scavenged a living from Clintonville cast-offs for 40 years before his rat-infested hut north of the city was burned out in 1955. He was moved under court order to Weyauwega.
Indescribably filthy physically and cursed with a foul tongue, he, nevertheless, moved jovially through the city’s alleys most of his life, picking up scraps of wood and garbage, old clothing, bits of metal and assorted junk which he alone valued. He was the victim of public disfavor, but he had staunch friends, too, who felt he was mistreated by society. The children loved old Hank and his horse that weaved through the community collecting garbage and he was kind to them.
Pct. Arthur Gensler: Gensler was born April 13, 1896 in Bear Creek. He spent all of his short life up to the time he was in the service of his country, in this community, attending the schools of the town of Bear Creek and the parochial school of the Christus Church in Clintonville. He was confirmed on April 9, 1911, at the Christus Church and enjoyed the full rights of that church.
When the United States entered the World War, he was called into the service leaving for Camp Grant on Oct. 4, 1917, where he became a member of Co. D, 26th Infantry, 1st Division.
On May 18 his ship landed in France and after a short time there he took part in active battle, serving his country with honor and untiring effort until the Oct. 10, 1918, when he was wounded in action. He was brought to Base Hospital 31, Contrexiville, where death came as a result of wounds 14 days later, just three weeks before the war ended. He was re-interred from France to Graceland Cemetery three years later.
Libbie Hyde: Clark Hyde was born in the town of Ellington in Outagamie County on Jan. 10, 1858. She and her family moved to Bear Creek in 1878.
She married Frederick Hyde on Dec. 3, 1881 and they made their home in Bear Creek. In 1900 they moved to Clintonville and lived there with the exception of two years when they lived in Oshkosh.
She was active in public and civic affairs, and was well-known throughout the county. Her popularity helped her be elected as the first woman to the Clintonville Common Council in 1920. She was also re-elected to a second term.
While on the council, she was a member of and chairwoman of the Poor Committee. She was also a member of the Graceland Cemetery Association Board of Trustees.
She died in 1924 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Oshkosh. She was buried in Graceland Cemetery.