The Neville Public Museum
On the Edge of the Inland Sea
A 12,000-year walk through time that leads visitors on a journey from the end of the last Ice Age to the mid-20th century.
On the Edge of the Inland Sea is the Neville's permanent exhibit that uses thousands of artifacts, historic film footage, photographs and graphics to explore the history of Northeast Wisconsin from the end of the last Ice Age to the mid-20th century.
Included are its geology, biology and ecology; Native American life; French, British and Yankee settlements, as well as the later wave of European immigration; and the development of lumbering, farming, business and industry as Green Bay grew into a modern city. The entrance to the exhibit is a replication of a melting glacier as it recedes back over the landscape.
As the Ice Age ebbed, a boreal forest gradually covered Northeast Wisconsin. It was home to many birds, insects, fish, and other animals like caribou, moose, lynx, wolf, and snowshoe hare. Sharing the forest was a variety of larger mammals, like the mastodon, woolly mammoth, and giant bison. This mastodon was the target of a group of Paleo Indian hunters, who inhabited the area ca. 10,000-6,000 B.C.
The Native Americans of Wisconsin built several different types of shelters. The most common was the wigwam, built with a curved framework of hardwood saplings. The framework was then covered with cattail mats or sheets of either birch bark or elm bark. The bark or mats could be rolled up and carried from camp to camp. The entrance was covered with a leather or fur flap.
Early Green Bay
Introduced into Green Bay in 1862, the railroad had tremendous impact on the communities of Northeast Wisconsin. By 1881, four railroads served Green Bay and Fort Howard. Wisconsin supplied about 80,000 soldiers to the Union cause in the Civil War, at a cost of $12 million and the loss of some 11,000 lives—113 of whom died of disease. In Brown County, conscription of men into the Union army began in November 1862.
The Peshtigo Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, was one of the nation's most tragic and destructive natural disasters. Over 1,200 lives were lost in this conflagration, which was overshadowed by the Great Chicago Fire of the same day.
Nineteenth Century Farm Life
Nineteenth century farm life demanded long hours of work from all family members, but for women in particular there was no rest. Women's chores ranged from milking cows, feeding pigs, and churning butter to spinning, weaving, sewing, assisting in shingle making, and helping to clear fields. This floor loom, built in the 1860s by a German immigrant, was used for weaving rugs from scraps of well-worn clothing.
Victorian Age Home Decor
Green Bay's home decor during the Victorian Age reflected the characteristic theme of that era—"too much is not enough!" The closet-less Victorian home placed nothing in storage, and rooms collected and reverently displayed the family's purchases of the decade.
By 1925 electricity was being put to a variety of new uses, including lighting advertising signs like the one from Green Bay's Stiller Company (1917-1972). Pioneers in the photography business, the Stiller Family also sold other goods, ranging from photographs to musical instruments to goldfish.
The horseless carriage is a 1908 Holsman Runabout, which illustrates the beginnings of the modern age in Green Bay.