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Our Mammoth Sculpture Has a Name!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thank you to everyone who voted on the name for our new mammoth sculpture!  After over 800 community votes our sculpture has been named Tundra!  

Tundra was created by Carl Vanderheyden in collaboration with John Koester and is made from three recycled 250 gallon heating oil tanks from the Green Bay area. Tundra stands 7 feet tall and weighs 750 pounds.  

We would like to extend a special thank you to the Romaine & Mary Schanock Family Foundation and Renco Machine Company for making this project possible.  

What’s the 411 on these ‘90s toys?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In the last three weeks interning here at the Neville, I have been working on cataloging a collection donated by the Colburn family. ThNPM #2016.6.4e donor’s grandfather, Enos Colburn, served as President of the City Board of Park Commissioners in Green Bay from 1938 until his death in 1945. Colburn Park was renamed after Enos Colburn in 1956 in remembrance of his dedication and services to the environment.

Within the donated collection were two Beanie Babies, which were of particular interest to me. One can only imagine how silly I felt wearing gloves to hold a Beanie Baby that was ‘born’ just a year after I was! But using gloves to hold any object within the museum’s collection is best practice used by all museums no matter how old the object is. Although I felt odd using gloves to hold the Beanie Babies, I understood it was necessary for the object to stay in a condition that can last another 100 years.  It’s hard to think of our everyday objects as historical because we don’t consciously think that we are currently creating history.

Everyday objects such as Beanie Babies made history with their release in the early 1990s. The first Beanie Baby™ was released in 1993 and ultimately began the trend that had people collecting as many as they could get their hands on. The craze escalated when Ty Warner, owner of the company that distributNPM #1995.24.8bed the Beanie Babies, began to retire certain Beanie Babies. By 1995, this strategy pushed Beanie Babies as the most wanted toys in the country.

Along a similar vein would be the collecting of Mattel’s Barbie ™  Dolls. The Neville has a wide-ranging collection of dolls including many Barbies. One particular Barbie, the Masquerade Ball Barbie is 1 of 8 donated to the museum for an exhibit in 1995. The donor, Georgia Rankin collected around 2,000 Barbie Dolls between 1959 and 2000. Rankin said her reason for collecting the dolls stems from her belief that the dolls replicate how real world fashions change and teaches young girls they can grow up to be anyone they want to be.

Museums collect objects that tell a story about our history. Both Beanie Babies and Barbies reflect social movements before 2000. These kid’s toys were a large part of people’s lives and by keeping a couple of Beanie Babies and Barbies in the collection here in the Neville we have a part of that moment in history. If the object has made a large impact on the world, that is something that should be preserved for future generations to observe.
Visit the Neville Public Museum to see Beanie Babies “Speedy” and “Erin” from the Colburn collection and more from the 1990s.

Kylie LaCombe
Intern, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point

Why Was Ebenezer Childs Left Out of Green Bay History?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Last month in Part I of this blog we introduced the colorful character of Ebenezer Childs.  Early in our research for Life and Death at Fort Howard we encountered this larger-than-life figure who was apparently involved in many of the “firsts” in Green Bay’s history.  Childs’ memoirs have been used as a source by countless researchers studying this time period, but no one has taken the time to learn more about Childs himself.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, Childs is unknown in Green Bay today and very little was written about him by the people that worked and lived with himLetter from Childs to his lawyer accusing his wife of having an affair (May 28, 1839), Neville Public Museum Collection .  

One of the unfortunate truths about working on exhibits like Life and Death at Fort Howard is that, eventually, you have to stop researching and start actually building the exhibit.  Our team had moved on to researching other aspects of the Fort Howard story when our Research Technician, James, made an unexpected discovery about Childs. 

This discovery was a letter written by Childs which was sent to Morgan L. Martin, his attorney.  (Read the letter here)  In the letter we learned that Childs had married into the prominent Grignon family and that his wife had recently given birth; however, Childs alleges that he is not the father of his wife Margaret’s child.  He names a man who he believes to be the father, and reveals that “one thing is certain… I can never live with my wife anymore.”  This revelation was shocking, as Childs had never mentioned a family in his memoirs.  We later found a reference to the Childs’ wedding in another source, but otherwise this letter was the sole indication that Childs had ever been married.

Recently we had a chance continue researching more about Childs and his life after Green Bay.  We utilized the Area Research Center at UW-Green Bay and were able to find marriage and birth certificates that back up the contents of this letter, along with a Childs v. Childs divorce file.  During the divorce Margaret Childs wrote a scathing and lengthy statement alleging that her husband was often intoxicated and “neglectful”.  

This letter may explain why we know so little of Childs; we can only assume that the divorce was an embarrassment to all involved, and after Childs left Green Bay it is reasonable to assume that it was not a topic of polite conversation.  Perhaps the residents of Green Bay avoided speaking of Childs, and that is why his name has not made it into the history books until now.  It is also quite possible that he was intentionally omitted from the record, essentially “erasing” him from history.

The thing that attracted me to Childs in the beginning was the sheer outrageousness of his claims mixed with an element of mystery.  As we continued to uncover his story, however, I began to think;  Is it really my place to expose this incident in the life of a man who lived 150 years ago that he himself would have preferred to stay secret?  As a historian I try to use the stories of the past to make sense of the present.  Ebenezer Childs was truly a “founding father” of Green Bay, and he deserves to be remembered as such.  Understanding this chapter of his life not only explains why he hasn’t been viewed in this light until now, but explains the decisions he made after his time in Green Bay.  It also reminds us that there are always two sides to every story and that as historians all we have to work with is what has been left behind.

Ryan Swadley

Museum Education


*Within two years of his divorce Ebenezer had left Green Bay, served as a state legislator, and spent his final days in La Crosse.  Further research will need to be done regarding Margaret and Louis, but it appears Margaret never remarried and lived near Kaukauna for the rest of her life.  We have not yet found any records of Louis.

Green Bay Ranger Coat Leaves for Conservation

Monday, August 15, 2016

You may have recently seen this coat in Life and Death at Fort Howard but you won’t find it there anymore.  Thanks to a grant from the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian Society, thMorgan L. Martin's Green Bay Ranger Coat,  ca. 1840 is week the coat is being sent to the Midwest Art Conservation Center for conservation.   But what makes this coat so special? 

This coat dates back to the 1840s and belonged to Morgan L. Martin.  Martin held several different posts in Green Bay including Indian Agent, Judge and Captain of the Green Bay Rangers.  This is Martin’s Green Bay Ranger jacket.

The preservation of this artifact is important not only because it belonged to Morgan L. Martin (1805-1887) but also because of its association with the Green Bay Rangers.  Martin came to Wisconsin in 1827 and became a prominent civic leader in the area.  In 1836, Governor of the Wisconsin Territory, Henry Dodge created an organized militia.  Gov. Dodge claimed that there was danger in the defenseless borders of the territory and that there were threats of armed conflicts with natives.   He proposed that there should be one company of cavalry troops in each territorial county.   March 5, 1837 may have been the first commissioning of a Wisconsin militia field commander as Dodge designated Morgan L. Martin as Captain of the Green Bay Rangers.  The Rangers were a mounted rifleman unit.  This is also believed to be the birth of the Wisconsin National Guard.  

This Green Bay Rangers co Areas of loss on the exterior of the coat tails at has been in the museum’s care since 1935.  While we’ve taken care of the coat for over 80 years, time sometimes takes its toll on textiles, leaving areas of loss (the holes you see).  Conservation will keep these areas from getting bigger and preserve the structural integrity of the jacket.  The conservation team will also create a pattern of the coat which will help us create a replica in the future.  Both the conservation and pattern help us preserve this piece of Green Bay history for future generations. 

This project would not have been possible without the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian Society.  We thank them for their shared interest in preserving our local history.  The coat will return to Life and Death at Fort Howard in January 2017!


Lisa Kain


The Moon: A Dangerous Place?

Monday, July 18, 2016
The moon seems like such a familiar place these days.  We know how big it is, what it is made of, the atmosphere around it and its relationship to the Earth.  Now think back fifty years.  Scientists during the 1960s had no idea what the moon was like.  Was there a solid surface?  Was there a layer of dust on that surface?  If there was a layer of dust, how deep was that layer?  Was it a couple of feet deep or a couple of hundred feet deep?  If the United States was going to send a man to the moon, these were the kinds of questions that needed to be answered.

Segment aired on WBAY in September 1963, Neville Public Museum Collection 

I had the opportunity of working with the film held in the museum’s collection.  Here I was able to see just how unknown the moon was and NASA's thoughts on their ten year plan and budget for sending a man to the moon.

NASA spent billions of dollars making and launching rockets, satellites, space probes and space crafts into space in order to gather information.  Every one of their programs was essential to the United States’ goal of a landing a man on the moon.  Each program was made to teach the scientists something new about space and the moon.  

Space Programs:
Mercury: 1958-1963
Project Mercury was for sending a man into the Earth’s orbit.  This would help scientists learn how the Earth’s atmosphere works and how to send a man into space and return him safely.  Alan Shepard was the first American man to be launched into space and John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.
Astronaut John Glenn  responds to letter from a local resident, Neville Public Museum Collection
Echo: 1960
The Echo project was used for improving communication knowledge.  

Gemini: 1961-1966
The Gemini Project was intended to learn space travel techniques that would help with the actual moon landings.

Lunar Orbiter: 1966-1967
The Lunar Orbiter Program was a handful of unmanned space crafts sent to the moon to take pictures and help narrow down landing spaces for the future Apollo missions.

Surveyor: 1966-1968
The Surveyor Program’s mission was to send satellites to land on the moon.  This would help determine the kind of surface there was on the moon so then when the time came to send astronauts there, they would know they could land safely on the surface.

Apollo: 1961-1972
The Apollo Program’s purpose was to use all of the information gathered from the previous programs to send a man to the moon, walk on the moon and then return safely home.  On this day in 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts landed and walked on the moon.  In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts were able to drive on the moon.
1971: Apollo 15 astronaut standing next to the Lunar Rover Vehicle on the moon. Neville Public Museum Collection #7636

It is hard to think that the moon was once an unknown, scary place to not only the public but to scientists as well.  Years and years of intense research went in to determining if space travel was even possible and if a moon landing could be on the long list of future goals.  Fortunately, with dedicated scientists constantly researching, the United States was able to remove the fear of the moon and send astronauts to walk on it.  Since then, NASA has been developing new technology to further their knowledge of space.  This technology is how we are able to learn information about the planets, stars and galaxies and how we are able to view amazing pictures of the incredible Space.

Visit Eyes on the Sky: July 16-November 6, 2016

Andrea Schroeder
UW-Green Bay Intern

Who is Ebenezer Childs?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The best part about history is that no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something more to every story.  We’ve been learning that lesson again herEbenezer Childs 1856  From the Wisconsin Historical Societye at the Neville Public Museum as part of our research into Fort Howard and the early foundations of Green Bay.  Wealth and power, marriage and divorce, drunkenness and defiance, and even an alleged affair and paternity scandal come together in the story of Ebenezer Childs.

Over a year ago, when we began our initial research for our exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard, we naturally looked to our collections from the prominent “founding fathers” of Green Bay.  Men like Morgan L Martin, Henry Baird, and many members of the Grignon family were all connected with the first settlers in Green Bay.  However, we kept coming across a man named Ebenezer Childs, who was mentioned throughout many official records and personal correspondences, but who he was and what he did was never really explained.  Using books and articles that researchers before us had written we finally identified this character, and even found that he had written a very short autobiography.

Childs’ memoirs were the piece of the puzzle we needed…or so we thought.  He writes of his many exploits; some as simple as building the first framed home in Green Bay, building the first ox yolk here, partnering with John Arndt to build the first sawmill in the area, and even claiming to have brought the first piece of lead to Green Bay.  Other tales, such as how he eluded the authorities of the fort to illegally sell alcohol to the soldiers, survived harrowing journeys to St Louis and Madison, and outran tax collectors as a young man in his home state of Massachusetts are more fanciful.  However, in a letter to his lawyer, Morgan L Martin, we discovered a whole side of Childs’ life that he did not share in his remembrances.
Ebenezer signs the letter he wrote to his lawyer Morgan L. Martin in 1839.  This letter revealed an unknown part of his life and his connection to a prominent family in Green Bay.
As historians, the case of Ebenezer Childs reminds us of two things.  First, the process of doing history is messy and murky.  Researchers in the present day can only use the sources that have not been destroyed or lost.  Who knows how many stories, people, and events have been forgotten simply because no record of them survives?  The second lesson is that you can’t always believe everything you read.  Childs makes many claims in his own autobiography, but we can also prove he left many things out.  Neither a modern day Facebook profile nor a 150 year old autobiography can tell us the complete story of a person’s life, and it’s easy for the writer to embellish, omit, or simply misremember the facts.

Stay tuned for Part II of this blog, where we reveal the scandals that may have caused Ebenezer Childs to have been “erased” from history.  Or, even better, visit Life and Death at Fort Howard to discover what we know about Childs’ life.  And even better than that, visit us on Wednesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. for our Exhibits Exposed program, where we will share new information about Childs that has been discovered even after the exhibit opened along with additional artifacts and stories about the people of early Green Bay.

Frank Hermans of Let Me Be Frank Productions will be bringing the vivacious character to life this weekend only at the museum.  For more information and tickets visit Ticket Star.  


Ryan Swadley 

Museum Education

Public Archaeology at the Site of Fort Howard

Friday, May 27, 2016

On May 20th  and 21st I had the pleasure of leading a public archaeological survey at the site of the historic military site, Fort Howard, in downtown Green Bay. Thanks to special permission from Brent Weycker, owner of Titletown Brewery, we were allowed to set up a survey area behind the brewery along the railroad tracks.  Based on historic maps and previous research, this area is thought to be the location of the southeast section of the former fort.  

More than one hundred people came out both days to learn about the fort’s history and the technology being used to locate it.  Although we know the approximate location of the fort we do not know exactly where the stockade or any of the buildings stood.  The main technology used in the survey was the museums’ Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). 

GPR is a technology that uses radio waves to “look” into the earth without digging.  The radio waves bounce off of buried objects and are captured on a computer chip.  After the survey area is mapped the data can be sliced in layers using special computer software.  This can reveal patterns that might give clues to the size and shape of buried features and how deep these features are located.

Over the course of the 2 days, 3 survey grids were collected with a total area of 5,433 cubic feet.  The depth that the GPR was looking was just over 6 feet deep.  After processing the data, it was clear that there is large amount of disturbance in the first 2 feet or so, likely from the past hundred years of railroad activity. However below 2 feet things got interesting. 

GPR Maps showing anomalies at 1.2 meters below the surface.  Red and Green shaded areas indicate buried objects / features.

Around 3 feet below the surface, a series of anomalies appeared in all of the survey grids we collected.  Once the grids were stitched together at the same depth, a pattern emerged that strongly points to these anomalies as being human-made and possibly associated with the historic Fort Howard.   At this time we cannot confirm that what the GPR is showing us is the fort but if there was to be a controlled archaeological excavation, we can recommend an exact location to dig.  Known as “ground truthing,” an excavation would prove if what we’re seeing are the remains of wall foundations or something else.  Aerial view of the Fort Howard Military Post prior to its demolition, ca. 1867

In the meantime, we hope to continue surveying the area behind Titletown Brewery, and hopefully beyond, in order to piece together a much larger understanding of Fort Howard.  If the patterns in the data below one meter continue, then it will make for a compelling case that we have located the foundations of the fort that made Green Bay American.  

I will be presenting the findings of our GPR survey at a special Hardcore History event on August 9th at 6pm.  If you want to learn more about the history of the site and Fort Howard’s influence on Green Bay visit our current exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard open through April 2017! 

Kevin Cullen

Deputy Director

Mammoth Sculpture Naming Contest

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Meet the newest addition to the Neville Public Museum grounds!  This mammoth created by local artist Carl Vanderheyden, is made from recycled steel oil tanks and found objects.  These materials and the process create a signature style that can be seen throughout Brown County and across the nation.  In this sculpture, his largest creation to date, Vanderheyden captures the strength and movement of an extinct creature.  The mammoth joins our other outdoor sculptures including Mama and Baby Bones, our signature dinosaurs.  

We are so excited about this public art piece but it’s yet to be named.  We are opening naming up to our visitors!  All you have to do is take a picture of or with our mammoth and post it on a public Instagram account with the #NevilleMammoth.  Include your name suggestion and feel free to get creative!  Please be respectful of the artist’s hard work by not climbing or hanging on the piece.

Name suggestions will be taken until August 7th.   The top 5 names will be chosen and put to public vote in the month of August.  You can also submit your photograph and suggestion by emailing 

We can’t wait to see your photos and name suggestions!

Local Protests of the Kent State Shootings

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

 Protestors gather in Green Bay 4 die at Kent StateRichard Nixon ran for President in 1968 with the promise that he would end the Vietnam War. However, on April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced on live television and radio that the United States would be invading Cambodia. This led to many protests on campuses across the country. Protestors at Kent State University in Ohio launched a demonstration on Friday May 1st including various types of rallies and speeches. That evening, socializing in downtown Kent quickly escalated into a violent confrontation between protestors and police which included building bonfires, stopping cars, throwing bottles at police cars, and breaking store windows. This prompted the Mayor of Kent, Leroy Satrom, to contact the governor of Ohio requesting assistance from the Ohio National Guard. On May 3rd, approximately 1,000 National Guard soldiers were sent to the Kent State campus and tensions remained high.   During an incident on May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine.


Demonstrators march in downtown Green Bay

This tragic incident caused more unrest across the country. Almost five hundred colleges were shut down or disrupted by protests. More than 100,000 people demonstrated against the war in Vietnam and the killing of unarmed students in Washington D.C. just five days after the shooting. The events at Kent State have been referenced in documentaries, plays, film and television, and music. One of the best known responses to the deaths at Kent State was the protest song “Ohio” written by Neil Young for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Students march across the Claude Allouez Bridge from De Pere to Green Bay

Opposition to the Vietnam War and the events at Kent State led to protests here in Wisconsin as well. People in Green Bay also participated in demonstrations. These photographs were taken for the Green Bay Press Gazette on May 6, 1970 and show demonstrations in the area related to the Kent State shootings.  See more photographs at

Lure of the Ocean with Exhibition Director, Mike Rivkin

Friday, March 11, 2016

Last night the tour director of Lure of the Ocean, Mike Rivkin was able to visit the exhibit during its opening reception.  We had the opportunity to chat with Mike about his passion for the artwork    

How did you become involved with the SStanley Meltzoff Underwatertanley Meltzoff Foundation?

I’ve always been a fisherman by trade, frequently going on sea fishing trips. While attending school in New York in the Late 1970s I walked into a gallery hosting a show by Stanley Meltzoff. I was mesmerized by the pieces and began following Stanley’s work.  After selling my mail order business in 2004, I was looking to purchase an art piece and immediately remembered the work I had seen at Stanley’s gallery show. I went to the Stanley Meltzoff website to inquire about purchasing a painting. To my surprise, I actually received an e-mail back from Stanley Meltzoff himself. Sadly, Stanley passed away later that year; however, I became friends with his family and continued to purchase and collect Stanley’s artwork.
Secrets of Arcimboldo's Reef, Stanley Meltzoff
Which painting in the exhibition is your favorite?
All of the pieces in the exhibition are great but my two favorites are Bluefin Tuna and Ballyhoo and Secrets of Arcimboldo's ReefBluefin and Ballyhoo is one of Stanley’s most powerful works. The painting’s realistic representation of the Bluefin tuna as the apex predator that I know it to be makes it one of my favorites. I also enjoy Secrets of Arcimboldo's Reef because of its sheer beauty. It is a gorgeous representation of marine life and it is the personification of seeing this fish in person.

Why should people in Green Bay come to see Lure of the Ocean?

People should come and see this exhibit because although there are other marine artists, none of them are able to paint these fish as realistically as Stanley Meltzoff.  Meltzoff created his works with such realism that it is as if you are seeing them in their habitat. I understand that, here you are not near the ocean, but people in the area may never have the opportunity to see these fish in real life.  Coming to see Stanley Meltzoff’s work is about as close as you can get.

Bluefin Tuna and Ballyhoo, Stanley Meltzoff


One thing worth repeating is that he is not an artist nor does he consider himself an art specialist.  His is an avid lover of deep sea fishing and marine life.  This is what drew him into Stanely’s work and now he travels sharing these pieces of art with people around the nation.   See the works yourself and explore oceanic life through these inspired pieces.  Lure of the Ocean is open through May 8th.  

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