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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. Jim Crow laws and racism were most evident in the South but still occurred in some places in the North. 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

Native American Heritage 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

Women of Brown County: Alydia Braskamp

Monday, March 19, 2018

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 as the Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing (now Bellin College). She eventually established the Baby Health Center which provided care for infants and advice for the 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.  

Women of Brown County: Syble Hopp

Monday, March 12, 2018
Syble interviewed for a teaching position with 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 deserve 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

Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill

Monday, March 05, 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.
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.
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.

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

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