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Weyauwega students learn local history

Historical society takes trunk show to school

By Angie Landsverk

Weyauwega Elementary fourth graders learned about some of the community’s history during a May 13 program.

“We’re having a trunk show today,” said Mary Jane Baehman, president of the Weyauwega Area Historical Society.

The historical society brought numerous items to the high school’s Performing Arts Center for the program.

“It’s exciting that we have the Weyauwega Area Historical Society here with us, in our building, to share a little bit of history, history of the community,” said Elementary Principal John Ohlson.

Fourth-grade students learn about Wisconsin’s history.

The historical society program focused on Weyauwega’s history.

“The trunk in front of you has some surprises in it,” Baehman told the students.

Throughout the program, she pulled items out of it, including old telephones.

The trunk also has a story.

Patty Barber recently donated it to the historical society after her mother Hazel (Plowman) Molenda passed away.

Molenda inherited the trunk, which came to the United States in 1885 on a ship when her ancestors left Nuremberg, Germany.

She wanted the historical society to have the trunk.

“She’d be happy to know it’s being used today,” said Baehman.

Baehman told the students that Weyauwega became a village in 1856 and asked them to imagine what it was like around that time.

Mill Street was Weyauwega’s “Main Street” back then, she said.

“It’s because water was the main form of transportation,” Baehman said.

Supplies came down either the Wolf River or the Tomorrow/Waupaca River, she explained.

Passenger trains once traveled through Weyauwega.

Everyday life in early Weyauwega

Pat Ritchie told the students what life was like back then.

Dairies delivered milk in glass bottles.

Families bought bolts of fabric to make their clothes.

Mothers and daughters often wore dresses made out of the same fabric, she said.

With wood stoves used for baking, there was no way to regulate the temperature, Richie said.

That meant items being baked were checked often.

Betty Larson said farms were small.

Each milk can had the farmer’s number on it so dairies knew whose milk was coming in, she said.

Farmers sat on stools to milk their cows by hand, she said.

Marietta Paap told the students that when Weyauwega became a village, 60% of the animals that pulled the wagons or worked on the fields were oxen.

“They used them because they are good in the mud. Ox are strong,” she said. “Oxen gave way to horses and horses gave way to tractors.”

Cows and the dairy industry came after the land was cleared and animals could graze on the fields, Paap said.

The program also included Brad Leonhardt explaining how he figured out some of the history about the historic house he and his wife Margie bought on Mill Street.

He used the historical society’s “Weyauwega Remembers” book, old fire maps and more to learn about some of the people who once lived in it.

The house was built in 1850, and they began renovating it last June.

“Think about all the different skills you need to learn to fix up an old house, Leonhardt said.

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