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Women's History Month: Mildred Hollman Smith

Monday, March 25, 2019
“Seize your opportunities,” Mildred Smith (1893-1996) would always say. She lived by these words to make her city a better place. Mildred saw a need for environmental reform in Green Bay. She helped create the Green Bay Air Pollution Department and served on the Mayor’s Committee for a Cleaner Green Bay. This work led to Green Bay receiving the All-American City Award in 1965. She was one of 20 women invited to the Beautification Conference in Washington, D.C.


Mildred was also active in the League of Women Voters, the YWCA, and on the board of the Family Service Agency. She even served for 40 years on the Tank Cottage Board. Mildred worked tirelessly to make Green Bay a better place for all of its residents.


Lisa Kain
Curator

Women's History Month: Elizabeth Baird

Monday, March 11, 2019
Elizabeth BairdElizabeth moved to rough and tumble Green Bay in 1824, right after she married Henry Baird at age 14. When she moved here she did not speak English very well, which made it difficult to talk to her new neighbors. In addition to language barriers, her husband, the lawyer, bought a farm thinking he could manage both businesses. He couldn’t. Elizabeth ran the farm and raised their four daughters. She also helped out at her husband’s law office. She would translate at the office and even recorded deed records. Elizabeth spoke fluent Ottawa, French, and English.

Not only did Elizabeth serve her family, she also served the community. After the Peshtigo Fire in 1871, she spearheaded the relief effort. Items for the victims poured in from across the country and Elizabeth dispersed the gifts. She also wrote a history of Green Bay during her lifetime. Her stories depict daily happenings, special events, and historically significant moments. These serve as a wealth of information for researchers today.


Lisa Kain
Curator 

Women's History Month: Deborah Beaumont Martin

Thursday, February 28, 2019
On the shelves in every historic institution in Brown County sits a two volume, 900 page historic work called “History of Brown County.” Published in 1913, this compilation of historic data was the result of hard work that Deborah Martin was only paid $150 to complete.

Historian Glenn Toule said it best after Deborah’s passing, “it is in the field of history that Miss Martin made her greatest contribution to Green Bay and Brown County.” Thanks to her diligence and work, the history you see around you has been preserved for us and future generations.

Deborah's fascination with the community and the people who made it led her to work as a librarian and historian for more than 30 years. She ran the Kellogg Public Library at a time before women could even vote.


Deborah was also instrumental in creating a public museum. She was part of the Green Bay Art Club that started the Green Bay Public Museum (now the Neville). At the time of her death she was the President of the Board of Directors for the Museum Corporation. We are grateful to Deborah and women like her who kept history alive for generations to come.

Lisa Kain
Curator

African American Civil War Veteran Makes His Home in De Pere

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Image courtesy of the De Pere Historical Society

Henry Sink was born into slavery in 1830 in Batesville, Alabama. He escaped slavery through unknown means and by 1864 he and his young family had made their way to Northeast Wisconsin. Sink served in the Union Army during the Civil War. It was the only time he spent away from Wisconsin, with the exception of some time spent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


Though African Americans in nineteenth century Wisconsin faced racism, they persevered and made lives for themselves here. Henry worked in Fond du Lac, Green Bay, and De Pere as a factory fireman, day laborer, and sailor. He learned to read and write here. Henry and his wife were recognized by the Brown County Democrat as “leaders of De Pere’s colored population.” He was a member of the De Pere post of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for Union veterans.



From the Neville Public Museum Collection
The Civil War abolished slavery but discrimination and racism continued. In 1900 Henry Sink purchased a home in De Pere, to the unremarkable notice of the local paper. However, Henry would not have been welcome as a De Pere homeowner in subsequent decades, when the gains made by African Americans during Reconstruction faced backlash across the nation.


In 1928 in De Pere, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross less than a half mile north of where Henry had owned his home. In 1948, less than a half mile south of his home, a new De Pere subdivision barred African American (and Jewish) home ownership. Northeast Wisconsin’s African American population plummeted in the early decades of the twentieth century.







Content courtesy of Victoria B. Tashjian, Ph.D.



Top 5 Moments at the Museum in 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018
On October 26th, the exact anniversary of Brown County becoming the first county west of Lake Michigan, the county threw a birthday bash at the museum. More than 1,000 people joined us for the festivities. The day was full of family fun, cake, performances, and history. The party concluded with a dazzling laser light show projected on the museum!


2. Estamos Aqui wins National and State Awards 
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) awarded the Neville the Award of Merit for Estamos Aquí (“We are Here”). The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is one of the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. The exhibit was also awarded the Museum Exhibit Award from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Estamos Aquí invited visitors to connect with the growing Latino communities that have made this region their home. The exhibit, which closed in May 2018, highlighted how these Latino populations are making positive contributions to the cultural, economic, and educational landscape of our region. 





A rare and large Civil War Era flag was conserved specially for display in the exhibit Our Brown County this year. This flag has been at the museum since 1934, and 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. You can see it for yourself in person until September 2019!


4. Bob Mann’s Family Joins us for Delay of Game Opening
The family of Packers receiver and first African American to play for the team, Bob Mann, traveled to Green Bay to be at the opening of the exhibit Delay of Game: Experiences of African American Players in Titletown. Recruited in 1950, Mann joined the team just four years after Kenny Washington signed to the Rams in 1946 (One year before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers). Mann’s daughters Marjorie and Marilyn, along with his wife Vera, also loaned artifacts for the exhibit. Delay of Game is open through March 10, 2019!




5. Morbid Curiosities
Morbid Curiosities returned in 2018 for its third year. This year 300 guests explored artifacts connected to big moments in world history. A game of Clue in Our Brown County added to the Halloween fun! If you missed it this year make sure to get tickets early for next year’s Morbid Curiosities!


Lisa Kain
Curator

Women's History Month: Irene (Metoxen) Moore

Monday, November 19, 2018
Irene (Metoxen) Moore (1903-1976) was not a typical farmer’s wife. She worked tirelessly on the farm, as a mother, and for her community. In 1963, Irene ran for chairman on the Oneida Tribal Council and won.She was Oneida’s first woman elected to Tribal Chairperson.


Irene was focused on creating better quality of life on the reservation. She did this by working on several projects including the Oneida Housing Authority, Oneida Community Area 4-H Club, and by encouraging people to pursue college degrees. Housing, education, and tribal government all improved after she was elected. Irene is remembered as a patient, respectful, and hard-working woman who had a lasting effect on the Oneida Nation.

One of her many projects was to create the Oneida Housing Authority. When she took public office, housing on the reservation was in a poor state of affairs. Many homes in the 1960s did not have indoor plumbing or electricity. The quality of life for her neighbors was unacceptable. Irene spent an enormous amount of effort to start the Authority to fix the situation. By creating the Oneida Housing Authority she opened the door for Federal Grant Funds that improved the lives of the people living on the reservation.

Lisa Kain
Curator

Native American Heritage Month: Rev. Cornelius Hill

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Rev. Cornelius Hill (1834-1907) is one of the most prominent figures in the Oneida Nation’s history. He is known not only for the titles he held (Chief and Reverend), but for the work he did in his community. Cornelius became Chief of the Bear Clan when he was only 13 years old but did not join the council until he was 18. Chief Hill was the last bloodline Chief of the Oneida.

In the early 1800s, the Oneida were moved to this part of the country from New York. After the Civil War, talks of movement began again with the U.S. government wanting the Oneida to move farther west past the Mississippi River. Cornelius, as a leader and council member, spoke out against this in 1864. “Progress is our motto, you who labor to deprive us of the small spot of God’s footstool will labor in vain. We will not sign your treaty; no amount of money can tempt us to sell our people…” – Rev. Cornelius Hill

In 1895, he became the first Oneida Deacon in the Episcopal Church. He also studied to become ordained and finally met that goal in 1903 at the age of 69. Cornelius is most often remembered as a strong-willed and reserved leader who was not afraid to fight for what he felt was best for the Oneida people.

Lisa Kain
Curator

Keen Bloomfield, Julia. The Oneidas, 1909.
Herbert S. Lewis, ed. Oneida Lives: Long-Lost Voices of the Wisconsin Oneidas, 2005.
Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, 2001.

Native American Heritage Month: Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill

Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Sometimes people have a calling to do something great, something that leaves a legacy. Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill had that inner voice telling her to serve and so she did. Her work and determination to help others affected both those treated by her and by all of those around her. Dr. Hill’s renowned service and intriguing story gave her not only a special spot in Green Bay history, but also a rightful place among some of the most influential people of Brown County.

Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill was born in New Jersey in 1876 to a Mohawk mother and a Quaker physician. She earned her M.D. at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania while keeping her ties to her Native American roots. She eventually established her own medical practice in Philadelphia. She provided care at the Lincoln Institute where she met Anna Hill, an Oneida girl from Brown County. Then she met Anna’s brother, Charles, a student at the Carlisle Indian School. They married in 1905 and the newly wed Charles and Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill moved back to Charles’ home in Oneida.
 Rosa Hill and Sue Cook stand by Rosa's grandmother's head stone. The two plan to enter nurses' training after graduation in June, they will follow in the footsteps of Rosa's grandmother, Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill.
At first Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill played the expected role of farmhouse wife. She gave up her practice until she realized the medical needs of the people in her new home. She knew providing medical care was something worthwhile and worked with native medicine men. Dr. Hill was able to blend her medical practices with the tribal practices. This way, rich cultural aspects were combined with innovative technology to provide the best care possible. She had a “kitchen clinic” for many years. It was open from 7am to 10pm every day and all were welcome. Dr. Hill became known by the name Yo-da-gent, meaning “she who serves” in Oneida. * Her understanding of culture, tolerance, and willingness to serve all who needed is something we can all admire.

Charles died in 1916 leaving Rosa with six children and a mortgaged farm. These circumstances along with the Great Depression led Rosa to pursue a medical license in Wisconsin even though she already had one in Pennsylvania. She had to borrow the $100 to take the Wisconsin Medical License Exam. She passed the exam at the age of 58 and opened a practice in town. She practiced and served there for 12 years.

It is obvious that Dr. Hill had a calling to help others. She was determined to not let the expectations society had of women during that time to distract her from what she wanted to do. She was able to have a family and serve all those who needed help. She eventually had to provide for her family and found a way to do so while providing necessary medical care to others. Her passion, strength, and respect for people of all backgrounds are things we can admire today.

* Dreamers and Doers : A Project of Green Bay Area Branch American Association of University Women, 1994
* Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill Green Bay Public School, https://minokahill.gbaps.org/

Anna Denucci
Intern
St. Norbert College

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Baseball has been America’s pastime since the 1800s and Opening Day remains an annual celebration for many fans across the country. 
The Stiller team playing at the their home field at Bay Beach
Did you know?  Green Bay has its own rich baseball history.  The first club in the area was known as the “Stars” and was organized in 1866.  By the 1920s and 1930s Green Bay had several baseball teams, many of which were connected to well-known local businesses.  Each team had a home field and played on Sunday afternoons.  Games had to be played during the day because electricity wasn’t available at the ballparks.  



One of Green Bay’s teams in the 1920s and 1930s was the Stiller team which was managed, coached, and sponsored by Ernest Stiller (of the Stiller Company).  The Stiller’s star players were the Collard brothers: Arthur (first base), Norb (second base), and Clem (shortstop).  
  This uniform was worn by one of the Collard brothers around 1925 and will be on display in the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County.
Green Bay has remained a baseball city and has been home to many teams like the Green Bay Bluejays, a farm team for the Dodgers in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Green Bay Bullfrogs who have played at Joannes Stadium since 2007.  

Who is Eveline Scheckler?

Monday, March 26, 2018
African American Settlement in Nineteenth Century Brown County
Eveline Scheckler, an African American woman, lived in De Pere from 1848 until her death in 1871. Though it is not widely known today, in the nineteenth century a small but steadily growing population of African Americans made Northeast Wisconsin their home. Eveline was one member of this community. The number of African Americans living here peaked in the 1890s, and plummeted in the early twentieth century. As a historian, this demographic data identifies a story I really want to understand. I began researching the history of African Americans in Northeast Wisconsin in 2011.

Why did Eveline Scheckler Move to De Pere in 1848?

Eveline first appears in the local historical record in 1850. She lived with Rebecca Schell Loy and David Loy, early white De Pere settlers. The Loys preserved their family papers and donated them to the Neville Public Museum. Eveline appears in them regularly, which allows us knowledge of certain aspects of her life.

In Pennsylvania in 1825, Peter Schell, father of Rebecca, took in the orphaned five-year-old Eveline. Eveline and Rebecca grew up together. When Rebecca married and moved to Wisconsin in 1847, Eveline joined her a year later. The Loy papers indicate that in some ways the Loys saw Eveline as family, but the papers also indicate a far more complicated story. In language evoking a very different status, one Loy identified Eveline as “our colored maid.” Eveline lived with the Loys until her death in 1871, cooking for the family and helping to raise their sons.

 Eveline is buried with the Loy Family at Woodlawn Cemetery in Green Bay.
What don’t we know about Eveline Scheckler?
Numerous aspects of Eveline’s life remain unknown. How was she orphaned; why did she land in the Schell home? Who were her parents; what were their lives? Documentation expanding our knowledge of her early life might exist in Pennsylvania, so some of these questions may be answerable. What will probably never be found are sources giving us Eveline’s own telling of her life story. The primary sources we draw upon to understand the past reflect the American history of white supremacy and injustices. The written sources available to us are influenced by many things. Who can read and write, and thus record their experiences and perspectives? What documents are kept; which are discarded? Which make it into archives and are thus available to researchers like me? In short, whose voices get preserved, and whose voices are misrepresented or omitted? As an African American servant in the mid-nineteenth century, Eveline was one of many people who were unlikely to be able to accurately record their own lives. Our knowledge of Eveline Scheckler comes only from the perspective of those who, though they said they loved her, also ascribed her servile status.


Women’s History Month
Aspects of Eveline’s life illustrate broader elements of African American women’s history. Racism limited the jobs open to free African American women, and directed them disproportionately to domestic work. Northeast Wisconsin was no exception to this phenomenon. In a parallel to Eveline’s experience, many other African American women living here in the nineteenth century worked as servants, washerwomen, seamstresses, milliners, and hairdressers. For more on the life of Eveline visit Our Brown County {1818-2018} open through September 2019. 

Victoria B. Tashjian
Professor of History
St. Norbert College

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