May 2010 Newsletter

May, 2010                                                                              Volume 7, No. 5


Wednesday, May 26

6:30 p.m., Starin Park Community Building

Annual Pot-Luck Dinner

This is our annual pot-luck dinner and meeting.  We hope you can attend.  It would be a good time to meet other members and talk about our exciting year ahead.  We have a lot of issues to discuss with the depot building renovation and museum.  As usual, bring a dish to pass, your plates and eating utensils, and your own drinks.  Coffee will be provided.


But, before the Pot-Luck . . .  

Stone stable sign dedication

Saturday, May 22, 1:00 p.m.

The stable will be open for viewing from 12:00—4:00 p.m. and the depot will be open from 1:30—4:30 p.m.


            Welcome—Ellen Penwell

            Historical and Architectural Significance of the Stable—Kathleen Lashley

            Grassroots Project that Saved and Restored the Stable—Ginny Coburn

            A Visit by Zerah Mead, early Whitewater settler—a living history presentation by Jim Boisvert  (see note on last page of newsletter)


Kathleen Lashley will be in the stable displaying the raffle quilt and selling tickets.  Jim Boisvert will remain in the stable during the afternoon demonstrating the use of agricultural tools frequently mentioned by Zerah Mead in his 1840-41 diary entries—cradle scythe, flail and adze.


And, after the Pot-Luck . . .

Memorial Day Military-Themed Show and Tell

Monday, Memorial Day, May 31, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


The Whitewater Historical Society, in conjunction with the American Legion Post 173, will have a Military-Themed Show and Tell; a display of privately owned military memorabilia including artifacts, books, papers, and photographs at the American Legion Hall on Memorial Day.  Any veteran or family with World War I or later memorabilia is welcome to bring items to the building prior to the Memorial Day events for inclusion in the display.  Fred Kraege plans to be there with his many books documenting Whitewater’s contribution to war efforts extending back to the Civil War.  For more information, contact John Newhouse (473-6710 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or Ron Binning (473-3930  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Don’t forget to attend the other activities of this day.

  • VFW and Knights of Columbus Ceremonies at HillsideCemetery, 9:00 a.m.
  • Parade at 10:00 a.m.
  • Ceremonies at the Legion Hall at 11:00 a.m. followed by a public luncheon.
  • View military memorabilia until 1:00 p.m.


History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military.  It originated as Decoration Day, and many of us can remember our parents or grandparents referring to the holiday under that name.  Right after the Civil War, many people began the tradition of decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.  The holiday was widely celebrated after 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, the powerful Civil War veterans group, endorsed the tradition.  By the late nineteenth century, Decoration Day, always held on May 30, was a national tradition.  The use of Decoration Day for the holiday remained until the around World War II.


After World War I, the holiday was broadened to include those who died in all wars or in military service.  The date remained May 30 until 1968, when Congress passed a bill making Memorial Day and most other federal holidays permanent Monday holidays.  This system went into effect in 1971.  Although still remembered primarily as a day to honor war deaths, many people also use the day to decorate graves of loved ones and ancestors.  Memorial Day is different from Veterans’ Day in that Veterans’ Day honors all veterans of military service, whether they served in war-time or not. 


Depot Restoration News



On May 6, a meeting was held between Jessie Powers, representative of Ithmus Architecture, Inc. and members of the restoration committee, Kevin Brunner, City Manager; Kathleen Lashley, Landmarks Commission and WHS; Bruce Parker, City of Whitewater; Mary Nimm, City of Whitewater; and Carol Cartwright, WHS. 


One of the important things discussed was how to preserve, repair, and restore important architectural features of the building while adding energy efficiency, updated lighting and electrical components, and making the basement a functional part of the building.  Jessie will be coming up with plans and ideas shortly.


One of the other important details was the schedule.  Our delays with the Department of Transportation have cost us a year, so now the schedule for completing architectural drawings and planning has moved to October and the actual work on the depot may not begin until winter.  Although discouraging, the society now knows what might be realistic about the completion of the project and can plan accordingly. 



On a brighter note, a recent accounting of our fund-raising efforts has yielded very positive and encouraging news!  Since launching our fund-raising campaign in June of 2009 with the goal of raising a total of $60,000, we have successfully raised to date $47,374 from combined pledges and cash.  This leaves us with $12,626 yet to raise.  The most important news is that we have reached and exceeded our $40,000 required match for the Transportation Enhancement Grant.  The additional $20,000, for which we will continue to fund-raise, is designed for improvements and upgrades in the exhibition of our collections in the restored building. 


Our Buy-A-Brick campaign has been a successful fund-raising tool.  We have sold 42 $100 bricks, 15 $250 bricks and will continue to promote the sale of bricks through at least the end of this year.  Please continue to promote these sales and distribute brochures.  They are available from Ellen Penwell at 262-203-6529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Many brochures are still available at City Hall, the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce, the SweetSpot, and other locations.  The Society is deeply grateful to everyone who has contributed to our successful fund-raising campaign and would like to extend a special thank you to the Breakfast Kiwanis for their pledge of $4,500. 



Does anyone have ideas for a 4th of July float entry?  If so, please bring your ideas to the May meeting.  The theme for the parade is “Celebrate Independence Day in the Banner City.”  Parade Grand Marshal is Jim Stewart of the Whitewaterbanner



Joyce Nass Dies Unexpectedly

Joyce May (Sherman) Nass died unexpectedly on Sunday, April 11, 2010.  She and her husband, Wilfred, were long-time members of the Whitewater Historical Society, and in fact, Joyce had attended our March 31 meeting and bottle program.  Joyce and Wilfred came to many meetings in the past, but were not as active in the last few years due to Wilfred’s ill health and Joyce’s commitment to care for him. 


Joyce was born in Whitewater in 1929 and attended WhitewaterHigh School.  In 1948 she married Wilfred Nass.  They had four children, 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.  Joyce had a varied and full life.  She worked as a telephone operator and owned the Whitewater Cab Company with Wilfred.  She worked for over 20 years as a teletypist at Sears and cooked at WashingtonSchool.  She was a volunteer at blood drives and local elections and was a member of St. John’sLutheranChurch and the local Homemakers Club. 


She collected historic memorabilia and had a keen interest in Whitewater history.  As a life-time Whitewater resident, her knowledge of and enthusiasm for the community will be a major loss.  Deepest sympathies go out to her children, Wilfred/Wally, Stephen, Melodie, and Heidi and all of her loved ones. 




W7646 Hackett Rd.

Whitewater, WI  53190



Jim Boisvert, living history interpreter.

Many of you may know Jim Boisvert as a former fourth and fifth grade teacher in the Whitewater School System.  If your child had “Mr. Boisvert,” you knew they would be challenged to perform their best for an innovative and dedicated teacher.  He was regularly listed in “Who’s Who of America’s Teachers” and was honored twice as an excellent teacher by the WisconsinCenter for Academically Talented Youth.  In “retirement” Jim has taken on the role of a living history interpreter for school and/or public groups.  He has developed four characters that represent different eras in American History, and for the Stone Stable Sign Dedication, he has created a character based on the 1840-1841 diary entries of Zerah Mead, an early settler in nearby LaGrange.  He has also studied histories of other pioneer communities to make his presentation as relevant as possible.  You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see this presentation.