The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Civil War Era Flag Returns

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
After months of conservation work this Civil War era flag is ready for exhibit! This important piece of Brown County history is more than 12 feet long and 8 feet high.

Flag Conservation
This flag has been at the museum since 1934. When we identified it for exhibit use last year it was clear the 157 year old flag needed some care. There was extensive shredding and areas of loss that made it difficult to exhibit and care for. To exhibit the flag safely, while also considering preservation, the piece needed conservation. A highly trained specialist worked on the flag. They supported the flag by hand stitching nylon tulle around the stripes to stabilize the fabric.

How Did We Identified the Flag?
This flag is believed to be the last flag to fly over Fort Howard. We were able to confirm this by putting together clues from different sources.
  • First was the writing on the upper left hand star: "From Major Shaylor, Old Fort Howard during the War, 1865."
  • Second, is an excerpt from History of Brown County by Deborah Martin that re-caps an event that took place at the Fort Howard in 1861. Martin mentions Mattie Underwood as the maker of the flag which matches the name in museum records. Martin also mentions Major Shaylor as “the venerable custodian of this ancient stronghold"-the same name on the flag.
  • Third is the style of the flag. The 34 stars represent the 34 states of the Union from 1861 to 1865 under President Abraham Lincoln. This canton design is in the “The Great Star” style. This pattern was used in the 1800s but died out after the Civil War. All these clues provided enough information to confirm this is the Fort Howard flag. 



What is Fort Howard? (Hint: Not a paper company)

The U.S. Army arrived on the shores of the Fox River in August 1816, two years before Brown County became a county. They established Fort Howard, changing the dynamic of the community and influencing what it is today. Fort Howard operated until 1852 when it was de-commissioned. In the following years a volunteer infantry used the site under the care of Major Shaylor. On May 3, 1861 President Lincoln made a speech calling for volunteers to join the Union Army. On May 18th, people of Green Bay and the surrounding areas put together a special event at Fort Howard. It supported Lincoln’s call and included the raising of this impressive flag. During the Civil War soldiers trained at Fort Howard before leaving for the South. Eventually, Chicago & North Western Railroad bought the land and the buildings were officially de-commissioned in 1872.

Ready for Exhibit
After all of this work on the flag and research we’re ready to share the flag with you! This remarkable artifact will be a centerpiece in the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County. Experience it for yourself starting May 29th!

Lisa Kain
Curator

Green Bay's Titanic Ties are Unsinkable

Thursday, April 12, 2018
On April 14, 1912 the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. It sank less than three hours later in the early morning of April 15, 1912.  The sinking of the RMS Titanic 106 years ago may feel distant in time and place but Green Bay has deep connections to the disaster. 

Dr. William E. Minahan, who died on the Titanic, is buried in a crypt in Woodlawn Cemetery, visible from Riverside Drive.  Dr. Minahan was traveling home from Europe with his wife, Lillian, and sister, Daisy after an extended vacation abroad.  The Minahans had planned on sailing home sooner but a coal strike prevented their intended ship from leaving.  They thought they were lucky having been able to book first class tickets on Titanic, but history would prove otherwise.

On the night of the sinking, Dr. Minahan put his wife and sister into a lifeboat telling his wife, “Be brave.  No matter what happens, be brave.”  Those were Dr. Minahan’s final words.  His family received news on April 27, 1912 that Dr. Minahan’s body, one of only 340 of the nearly 1500 that perished, had been recovered.  

Dr. W.E. Minahan had many siblings, some of whom lived in Green Bay.  You may recognize the Minahan name; the Minahan-McCormick Building, owned by W.E.’s brother John, was a prominent Downtown Green Bay building until it was razed in 1984.  Another brother, Robert, was also a physician in Green Bay.  Sister Daisy, who survived the Titanic, was a popular school teacher in Green Bay.  

Much lore surrounds Dr. Minahan’s voyage and death on the Titanic.  Before their trip abroad, it's said that a fortune teller told him he would die on his second trip to Europe, a prediction he took seriously enough to buy a larger life insurance policy.  Decades later, in August of 1987, the family would again be struck by tragedy.  Dr. Minahan’s crypt in Woodlawn Cemetery was robbed.  

The next time you're in Green Bay driving down Minahan St. or past where the Minahan Building once stood, take a moment to remember Green Bay's personal connection to one of the great tragedies of the twentieth century.


Broad, William J. (2012, April 14). Experts Split on Possibility of Remains at Titanic Site. The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/science/titanic-may-hold-passengers-remains-officials-say.html

Gores, Stan (1968, April 12). Led Wife and Sister to Safety; Dr. Minahan Stayed on Titanic. Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter.

Scarborough, Mark (1998, April 18). Family here got news of ships sinking.  The Daily Tribune, p. 3A. 

Tianen, Dave. (1986, September 14). Lesson in humility. Green Bay Press Gazette, Scene-5.

Pedro Finally Lands

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
It is the Neville Museum that is the ultimate home for Pedro the Pelican.

First conceptualized in 2015, this mural idea has spent the last few years intent on finding a prime location to tell its story. Pedro, now at the Neville, will be near his family and friends who cruise the Fox River in first-class style.

Pedro was inspired by; you guessed it, the AMAZING Pelicans that have been popping up all over. Out of nowhere these huge animals started populating the Fox River corridor in Green Bay, but why? Remediation efforts taking place along the Fox have changed our ecosystem. First it was micro-organisms then small animal marine life, and then the small fish populations began increasing. Now we have top predators patrolling these waters. These pelicans aren't just passing through. We have large numbers of nesting pairs who regularly return to Green Bay to start their families.  

Pedro is a celebration of our remediation efforts and Green Bay's new relationship with the Fox River and its tributaries.  The Fox River facilitates our international businesses and is also an interwoven biological habitat for thousands of animals and plants.  The Fox River is at the base of the world’s largest fresh water estuary making it an extraordinarily unique and precious ecosystem. 

We also recognize the Fox River for its inherent beauty. The most exciting cities in the world embrace their waterways and leverage their beauty to bolster economic prosperity and heightened quality of life.  Green Bay is hot on that path. Not only are we expanding pedestrian trails along the Fox but we are also developing new amenities like kayak launches, parks and bike paths. 

Pedro is accented by immense waves, representing Green Bay's ambitious and dynamic future. As we grow and change new windows of opportunity open. The mural is a reflection of the exciting and dynamic state we now find ourselves in.  

If you've noticed these majestic birds on your way to work or if you're feeling the buzz that is pulsing in Green Bay come check out Pedro the Pelican at the Neville Museum and discover the many great things happening in Green Bay.


Kent Hutchison, Artist

For more information about the Neville's outdoor art visit Art at the Neville!

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