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What's This Thing? Artifact Spotlight

Apr. 18, 2023 4:15 pm

Why is there a ledge on the inside of this cup?

It's a mustache guard! Mustaches became trendy in the 19th century, which lead to extensive grooming and mustache care. Men used mustache wax, mustache brushes, mustache combs, and mustache scissors to shape and maintain their preferred style. Some even dyed their mustaches.

All of these products did not fare well when mixed with the heat and steam from tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. Mustache wax would melt. Dye would drip. Tea and coffee could stain facial hair. Mustaches would be complete disasters. Mustache guards like this one protected a man's mustache, while allowing him to still enjoy tea time.

This earthenware mustache cup was donated in 1937 by Mrs. Sophia Thelen. It is one of several mustache cups in the Neville's collection.
The mustache cup was invented in the mid 19th century by English potter Harvey Adams. It soon spread across Europe and over to North America. Mustache cups were originally sold individually, often ordered as gifts. However, by the end of the 19th century, mustache cups were typically included with full tableware sets. Most, like the cup pictured, are right-handed. However left-handed mustache cups were also created, supposedly ordered for Civil War soldiers who could no longer use their right hand.

As mustaches went out of fashion around the time of World War I, so did the need for mustache cups.

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The Diary of Adam Martin

Aug. 24, 2022 2:00 pm

This diary belonged to Adam Martin, who wrote in it from 1770 to 1780. Adam Martin was born on August 27th, 1739 in Sturbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts Bay Colony, to Aaron Martin and Sarah Newell. Adam married Abigail Cheney in Sturbridge on December 19th, 1762. Adam and Abigail had five daughters and at least one son.

Adam joined the military in 1775 and was a captain in the Revolutionary War, first in Col. Ebenezer Learned's 14th Massachusetts Bay Provincial Regiment in 1775, then in Col. Timothy Bigelow's 15th Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Army in 1777.

Adam and Abigail's son Walter became a brigadier general in the War of 1812, established the village of Martinsburg in New York in 1803, and served in the New York State Senate. Walter's son Morgan Lewis Martin is someone Green Bay history buffs are more familiar with. In addition to building Hazelwood Historic House and serving as a Brown County judge, Morgan L. Martin was a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Wisconsin Territory during the 29th U.S. Congress and served in the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly.

Morgan Lewis Martin

One of Adam and Abigail's daughters is also of note in Wisconsin history. Sarah Martin married Hon. Chillus Doty and had several children, including James Duane Doty. James was crucial to the development of the Wisconsin Territory and was even largely responsible for the selection of Madison as the capital. He lived in Green Bay for some time, and went on to become a district judge, a member of the Michigan Territorial Council, the Wisconsin Territory's congressional delegate, governor of the Wisconsin Territory, delegate to the First Wisconsin Constitutional Convention, member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Utah Territory, and finally, Governor of the Utah Territory.

Photo courtesy of Neenah Historical Society

James Duane Doty's home was located on what is now known as Doty Island (between Neenah and Menasha). The home fell into disrepair over the years, so a replica was built in 1948. The replica is now on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Doty's Cabin is in Doty Park on the southeast riverfront of Doty Island. It is open to visitors in the summer.

Marin Kniskern

Digitization and Research Technician

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Native American Heritage Month: Ada Deer

Nov. 19, 2021 4:22 pm

Ada Deer was born in Keshena, WI as a member of the Menominee Tribe in 1935. She lived most of her first eighteen years of life on the Menominee Indian Reservation in a cabin without electricity or running water.  Her mother instilled in her a drive and passion to be a strong advocate for Native American rights. Ada was the first Menominee to earn an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and the first Native American to receive a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University.

She went on to become the first woman chair for the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin. She played a major role in the Menominee Restoration Act of 1972, which officially returned the Menominee Reservation to federally recognized status. She acted as a spokesperson in Washington, D.C. and lobbied to return federal recognition and protection to the tribe.

She was then elected chairperson of the Menominee Restoration committee and had the task of making the transition back to reservation status. There were many frustrations during the process. Eventually in 1976, the tribal roles were validated, and an electorate was created to vote on a constitution and bylaws. Soon after this process, Ada resigned.

Ada later went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin and eventually worked as a legislative liaison for the Native American Rights Fund in Washington, D.C. She became the first American Indian to run for statewide office in Wisconsin as Secretary of State. In 1993, Ada became the first Native American woman to be appointed assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She helped set federal policy for more than 550 federally recognized tribes while in office.

"I knew that when I became the Assistant Secretary, that I would have a hard time. All the "-isms" were immediately against me from day one: sexism, racism, elitism, classism. Women have their [proper place] in society and being American Indian was another whole thing. I plowed ahead anyway but it was very hard, it was an ordeal everyday, and it was a lot of physical strength and psychological strength and endurance and I did as much as I could despite all the "isms" and the barriers that people put up to prevent me from doing things."

Segment from "Interview with Ada Deer." Interviewed by Robert Lange Wisconsin State Historical Society.

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Local Protests of the Kent State Shootings

May 3, 2021 10:55 am

Richard 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.

Students march across the Claude Allouez Bridge from De Pere to 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.

A group of protesters sit in demonstration outside a federal building in 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

Demonstrators march in downtown Green Bay

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Apr. 30, 2021 12:19 pm

One of the things we are excited about for the Generations Gallery going forward is that the space allows us to make changes and rotate artifacts.  The exhibit opened in August 2020, and we are excited to share we opened our first new rotation last week! 

The first rendition of the Art section featured Nature in Art.  Now we are rotating in Portraits.  These depictions of people from all different time periods and backgrounds are all from the Neville Public Museum's collection.  You might even recognize a few artist or sitters.  Here are 5 things you want to look for!



George Catlin

George Catlin (1796-1872), well-known for his paintings of Native Americans, drew a series of self-portraits in 1821. They found their way to Green Bay through his nephew, Theodore Burr Catlin.

George Catlin did the self-portraits at night, before a mirror, simulating facial expressions of various emotions. The drawings all have similar facial outlines and hairlines; the eyes and mouth, however, differ with the feelings he portrayed.

Soon after, Catlin began a journey crossing the United States from the Great Lakes to the Rockies and into the southwest Mexican territory. He visited more than 45 Native American tribes between 1830 and 1836 and created more than 600 portraits of Native American life. He spent part of 1836 in the area he referred to as Ouisconsin, painting the Menominee, Winnebago, and Chippewa tribes. He briefly stopped in Green Bay during that same year.

The drawings were given to Theodore Catlin in 1839, when he was in New York studying art with his uncle George. The younger Catlin and his family settled in Green Bay sometime before the Civil War. After returning from military service in the 1870s, Theodore opened a shop, "Fresco and Ornamental Painter." It was located on North Washington Street, over Cook's Marine Saloon.

Theodore's business did not go well, and he either sold or traded the Catlin drawings to Robert Cook, the Saloon's owner. They hung behind the bar for decades-subjects of curiosity and frequent toasts. After Robert Cook's death, they became the property of his son, James. In 1919, James gave the drawings to the Green Bay Public Museum, now the Neville Public Museum. 

Sleeping Ariadne

John Vanderlyn

The American painter John Vanderlyn painted a full-length image of Ariadne while studying painting in Paris in 1814.  Vanderlyn was an acclaimed artist in Paris, a friend of Vice President Aaron Burr, and known in New York for portraits of Andrew Jackson and James Monroe, but he never met with popular success for his images of Greek and Roman history and myth.  After his return to America in 1815, Vanderlyn exhibited his Ariadne Asleep on the Isle of Naxos to a storm of criticism, as the work was the first important painting of a nude woman in the history of American art.  Angry, Vanderlyn replied that Ariadne represented the grand tradition of European art and literature. 

In classical Greek myth, Ariadne was the daughter of the king of Crete.  Ariadne fell in love with the Greek hero, Theseus, who came to Crete on a quest to kill the Minotaur, a monster the Cretan king kept in a famous maze, called the Labyrinth.  Ariadne helped Theseus kill the Minotaur, and the two escaped to the island of Naxos, where Theseus abandoned her.  Bacchus, the Greek God of Love and Wine discovered Ariadne, asleep, rescued and later married her.  The lovely heroine, Ariadne, was a popular subject in European painting from the time of the Renaissance. 

This painting of Ariadne differs from the 1814 painting.  In the original, the young woman is shown full-length, sleeping in a meadow, and Theseus' ship is seen sailing away in the distance.  Purchased by Green Bay's Morgan L. Martin sometime in the 1830s, this version hung at Martin's home, Hazelwood, throughout his lifetime.  Perhaps Martin, who also chose the Greek Revival architectural style for Hazelwood, agreed with the artist that the painting symbolized the type of culture and learning Martin believed desirable for Green Bay. 


Tammy Konitzer Williams

13 is the newest piece in the exhibit.  It was a part of the 2020 Art Annual, a juried art show hosted by the museum each year.  It represents the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution: Section 1, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."  Section 2, "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

The piece led to many conversations in the 2020 show and the museum staff felt it was important to add to the museum's permanent collection.  While it's not your classic portrait it belongs among the rest as a representation of social issues today. 

King Louis XVI

Artist Unknown

This piece has been in the museum's care for almost 100 years. It's been studied and conserved but still has a few mysteries including who the artist is.  It is alleged to have been painted by the great French artist Jean Auguste D. Ingres. 

The story of the painting goes like this:

In 1848, when Eleazer Williams was returning from a trip east, he stopped overnight at Temperance Inn, Sheboygan.  The next morning, he went to the Sheboygan House and called for this painting, which had been left there addressed to him.  He returned with it to Temperance Inn, where he opened it and told the onlookers it was a portrait of Louis XVI sent to him by the Prince of Joinville.  The picture is painted on wood and was wrapped in the unfolded pages of a French book. 

On his trip east, Williams had collected a great deal of clothing and equipment for the Oneida, and as he traveled in an open wagon over dirt roads, was afraid the painting might be damaged on this trip.  He left it with Cordelis Brown, wife of the innkeeper, with instructions not to let anyone see it and not to give it to anyone without handwritten instructions from him. 

Two years later, Williams went east to Hogansburgh, N.Y., where he died in 1858.  Doubtless he never told anyone where he left the painting as it was never called for and remained in Mrs. Brown's family until 1926. It was then purchased for this Museum from Mrs. Francis Talmadge, Sheboygan, who was the grand-niece of Mrs. Cordelis Brown.

When Mrs. Talmadge was selling it she used an art dealer from New York who alleged the artist may be Jean Auguste D. Ingres.  Ingres painted portraits of French royalty around this time and was inconsistent on how be marked his work. 

Grout Paintings

Two portraits selected about a year ago were somewhat damaged and have been in the collection since the early 1900s.  These paintings of Native American men are signed by F. R. Grout. The notes on the gift receipt indicate that they were found in collection in 1964 but are considered to be part of the Frank J. B. Duchateau collection. We don't know much about the artist or if they were painted from life or something Grout saw somewhere else or read about, but we knew if we wanted to display them they'd need some conservation. Both pieces were extremely dirty and needed cleaning, restoration, and frames. One had evidence of water damage, which was addressed by the conservator.

The Neville Public Museum Foundation was happy to help with this endeavor.  They funded the cleaning, restoration, and framing for the protection of the portraits for years to come. Check out the before and after photos!

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On this Day: President Lincoln Laid to Rest

Apr. 26, 2021 2:50 pm

Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest on April 28, 1865 in Springfield, Illinois. Following his assassination two weeks earlier, his body was laid in state in the nation's capital and was transported to Springfield by train. Lincoln spent time in Wisconsin during his brief military career, serving in the Black Hawk War, and last visited the state in 1859 as a potential presidential candidate.

The Neville Public Museum is proud to hold in our collection a signed photograph of the president and his son Tad, taken in 1864. Lincoln rarely signed photographs, but two signed copies were gifted to the president's secretary Gustav Matile about one year before Lincoln's death. After Lincoln was assassinated, Matile worked as a lawyer in Minnesota and then served as U.S. Court Commissioner for Wisconsin's Eastern District in Green Bay. When Matile died in 1908, he gave the photograph to the Kellogg Public Library, where it was kept until sold to the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society in 2007.

The image was used on popular commemorative cards and prints after Lincoln's death, but the Neville Public Museum holds one of the only two known original prints, and the president's signature makes this photograph exceptionally uncommon.

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Green Bay's Titanic Ties are Unsinkable

Apr. 14, 2021 1:22 pm

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 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,

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.

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Women of Brown County: Syble Hopp

Mar. 30, 2021 11:55 am

Syble interviewed for a teaching position with the Superintendent of Brown County Schools, Joe Donovan, in the 1950s. He knew instantly that she was destined to do more than teach kindergarten. Joe's dream was to create a program for students with special needs, and he knew Syble was the one to do it. Syble's special needs program started with one classroom and grew into its own school, named in her honor.

Starting the program was not an easy task. At the time many students with special needs did not attend school. Syble went door to door to recruit students and meet with parents. She eventually became a leader in Special Needs Education. Syble advocated for her students and other children with special needs, as she believed they deserved the chance to receive an education and the opportunity to have days full of fun and creativity. Her dedication not only touched her students but also the teachers she worked with and mentored. Because of her work, the school is still open today.

In 1975, Syble became ill, which affected the students and the school. She had always been able to attend school events, but when she fell ill she was unable to make the holiday festivities. Instead, the students came to her. More than 60 kids and teachers loaded a bus and went to her home. They set up a tree in her yard and decorated it so she could see it from her window. The students also brought small gifts that they made for her. They left a sign in the yard that read, "We love you more than Christmas" to show how much they appreciated her for her. Syble passed away a few days later.

Syble was a dedicated woman who worked to improve the lives of those that were never given a chance to be educated. Though she may be gone, her compassionate attitude and dedication to her students is left as a legacy at Syble Hopp School.


*Dreamers and Doers: A Project of Green Bay Area Branch American Association of University Women, 1994

*Syble Hopp: A Documentary, Jeffery Slayter

*Green Bay Press Gazette: Love at Christmas, December 24, 1975

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Women of Brown County: Alydia Braskamp

Mar. 23, 2021 11:38 am

What makes someone a hero? Is it their selflessness and empathy? Their instinct to help others? If these are the requirements, Alydia Braskamp exceeded all of these characteristics. She proved her compassion and courage through her service in World War I, working as a nurse under Dr. Bellin, and the creation of the Baby Health Center.

Alydia was born in Alton, Iowa in 1883 and moved to Green Bay in 1917 when she was 34 years old; but she did not stay long. The First World War had started, and she was called away to serve with the Red Cross. Alydia was stationed near Bordeaux, France. As a woman in the early 1900s, Alydia was given work as a nurse in an operating room and with ambulances. She also did some field work and documented the experience through a photo album, which the Neville cares for as part of the Collection.  The photographs show devastating scenes after attacks, the morgue, ceremonies, and life at the base. In France, Alydia assisted the war effort, served those on the battlefront, and documented a critical point in history. She was left with lasting sinus issues caused by sleeping on the dusty ground in France.

After being honorably discharged in 1919, Alydia returned to Green Bay and began working as the Assistant Supervisor of Nurses and Instructor at the Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing (now Bellin College). She eventually established the Baby Health Center which provided care for infants and advice for new mothers in the area.

The hardship and horrors that Alydia saw during the war made her more determined than ever to provide care and courtesy to the people around her. Her dedication on the field in France carried over to her life in Green Bay.  Alydia spent the rest of her life serving the Green Bay area and improving the quality of life for its residents.  She is just one of the many nurses whose dedication and selflessness have helped shape our community. 

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Women's History Month: Helen Ferslev

Mar. 19, 2021 3:14 pm

Helen was a devoted educator, talented artist, and a local history advocate in Green Bay. Helen is particularly important to the Neville because without her we may not be where we are today. In honor of all she's done for our community and the museum we want to share just a few of her accomplishments.

Helen is one of several special women that lived here in Brown County that valued the arts and the preservation of history. Helen's dedication to preservation of history is most evident in her hard work to make our current museum building a reality. Helen served as President of the Neville Public Museum Corporation. Before 1983 the museum sat in a smaller and less conducive building on Jefferson St. Helen fought for a new facility that was eventually supported by the county, the city, and private donors, a true community project. Here is Helen breaking ground with the County Executive, the Mayor, and the Museum Director.

Neville Foundation president, Helen Ferslev, Mayor Samuel Halloin, Brown County Executive Donald Holloway, and Museum Director, James Quinn, break ground in 1981 for a new museum.

We have several artifacts in our collection that reflect Helen's continued dedication to education, local history, and the arts. The collection includes a diary, scrapbooks, and letters from her time in London in 1948 and 1949 when she participated in the Teacher Exchange Program. We also care for awards given to her for her many accomplishments in education and here at the museum. Helen's focus on education and interest in history led her to co-author the text book "It Happened Here" in 1949. We have a copy of it in our research library. Later in life she continued her education by taking different art courses. Works of art she created are also held in our collection.

The museum is thankful for people like Helen that continually support our mission and fight to preserve local history and engage the arts.

Lisa Kain


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