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Welcome to the EHF Blog

Welcome to the Ephraim Historical Foundation’s brand new blog. We thought it would be fun to publish little snippets of information every so often to keep you abreast of upcoming pleasures, events, and happenings, and to remind you of stories from Ephraim’s past. There is so much history in our little village, and since we love every single bit of it, we simply have to share it.

I remember that when I was a little girl, the “old timers” would talk about past happenings with great pleasure and interest, but I didn’t give it much thought.

Store Summer exterior

Anderson Store

As I got older, I began to realize the value of old stories, often repeated, and I began to store them in my own memory bank. Now I am fast approaching “old timer” status, certainly “long timer” status.

Here are a few things from my memory bank:

Did you know that: at one time there were three general stores in our little Ephraim?

That after finally getting one sawmill, there were suddenly five of them?

That our post office is currently occupying its sixth location, and that the first one was just a metal box on a shelf in the bedroom of a private home?

People often ask if we have written it all down, or recorded it. The blog will be our answer to that. Jotting down some stories for you to read will provide something of a local historical journal and may cause some of you to recall stories as well! Please let us know when that happens, as we hope to have guest bloggers occasionally to keep things fresh. Send an email to EHF Marketing and Volunteer Director Emily Irwin at eirwin@ephraim.org.  We will move from one topic to another, and from one time period to another to keep interesting.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Carey

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Annual Cemetery Walk – September 11, 2017

Karen Ekberg as Ida Seiler Sohns

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to visit with someone who lived on this earth 100 to 150 years ago?  If you come to the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery on September 11, you will have the opportunity to do just that.  For the last several years the Ephraim Historical Foundation, in conjunction with the Ephraim Moravian Church, has presented a cemetery walk called the “DEARLY DEPARTED.”

Each year several people agree to enact the part of a specific person from Ephraim’s past, while wearing appropriate costuming.  An effort is made to portray both men and women, and to choose personalities who have been gone from Ephraim for various lengths of time.

One of the first characters to be portrayed was Ole Larson who aided Reverend Iverson in the choosing of the land which became the village of Ephraim.

In order to give you a hint of what you might expect when you attend this event next week, we reprint here some of the words spoken by a participant a year ago, Charlotte Amundson.

My name is Charlotte Marie Amundson, and I was born right here in Ephraim, on Jan. 22, 1865.

Although my father, Hans Jorgen Amundson, was born in Norway, he and my mother Anna immigrated to America…actually TO EPHRAIM…in 1854. At the time, father was a lot older than Ephraim was! This village was only one year old in 1854!

My oldest brother, Anton, was born one year after they came to Ephraim, and he was only the second baby to be born in Ephraim! Altogether, there were 6 children in our family, and we were all taught to work hard on the land my father had purchased in the north of Ephraim.

You know that most Norwegians are wonderful fishermen, and father knew he could make a living in that way.  He also wanted to have a farm, to feed his family, and he did, but it was hard work for him to get the land ready for growing anything.  You know, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of rocks in every acre of soil in Door County! As we children were growing up, we had to pick rocks every spring to get the ground ready to plant.  It seemed the rocks grew faster than any crop! Eventually, we had cherry trees, apple trees, and we grew potatoes, corn, and hay as well.

Charlotte Amundson

Our parents taught us everything they could about fishing, farming and keeping house, because they knew that one day we would be expected to do it ourselves. They also made sure we attended the Ephraim Moravian Church, and we all studied our catechism, and were confirmed in the church.

Julia and I did more work inside with mother, and the boys did more work outdoors with father. They all became expert fishermen. However, I could work in the garden, and care for the animals, and hold my own working alongside the men if needed. People often mentioned they were surprised that I was so handy, because I was rather a tiny person. 

One thing I really enjoyed doing was baking cookies, and I baked all my life. Even when I had grown old, I always had cookies in the jar. You never knew when someone might drop in to visit! The neighbor children were frequent visitors to my kitchen.

I never married.  I was perfectly happy living near Anton and working on our family farm, and keeping busy with church work. I was a member of the Ladies Aid Society, and the Willing Workers, so I saw local friends often

We hope this blog information will whet your appetite to learn more about Ephraim’s ancestors. Please come to the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery, on the corner of Norway Street and Willow Street, on Monday, September 11.  There will be two performance times, one at 1:00 p.m., the other at 2:30 p.m.

There will be 6 Dearly Departed folks there to talk about their lives:  Helen Hoeppner Sohns, Warren Davis Sr., Hulda Seiler Knudson, Peter Weborg, Petie Borg Wilson, and Hollis Wilson.

Parking is available at the Ephraim Moravian Church, on Moravia Street. The event is free, although donations are appreciated. We will hold the Cemetery walk, rain or shine!

What Makes An Artifact?

EHF garment collections storage

In a previous blog post, I talked about how an artifact in the EHF collection is cataloged.  Today, I’ll share how the photograph from your great-grandmother’s photo album or the washtub in your neighbor’s attic can become part of the Ephraim Historical Foundation collections.

It’s important to note that the EHF cannot accept all the items that are suggested.  Part of our mission is to preserve the artifacts in the collection, which requires time, space, and funds.  To keep those artifacts safe for future generations, we sometimes have to make tough decisions about what we can and cannot accept.  Here are a few reasons an item may not be accepted into the EHF collection.

Sometimes, an item is in extremely poor condition, or we may already have multiple copies of similar items in better condition.  In other cases, it may not be a good fit for our mission, which is focused on Ephraim’s history.  In these instances, it may be a piece that would fit better at another museum or historical society.

So what happens when you are interested in donating an object to the EHF?  First, we recommend contacting us online through this form, which provides some basic information about the item.  Photographs are always appreciated.  That information is then given to our Archives and Collections Administration Committee, who decides whether or not to accept the piece based on the EHF Collections Management Policy.  Because we need to get formal approval from the Committee, leaving items at the EHF Office (without first contacting staff) is not a good way to donate.

If the piece is accepted for the EHF collections, the donor fills out paperwork to give the EHF sole custody of the object.  Once an item is part of the collection, it may be used in exhibits, social media posts, publications, and more!  Questions about donating an artifact?  Click here to learn more.

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

Wisconsin 101

We often talk about Wisconsin, Door County, and Ephraim history in terms of image and text-based artifacts, like photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, and postcards.  A project called Wisconsin 101: Our History in Objects is sharing Wisconsin history in a different way – through three-dimensional artifacts.  Specifically, it focuses on objects which tell distinctly Wisconsin stories, like the Babcock Butterfat Tester or Old Abe, the Live War Eagle.  Anyone can propose an object to be included on the Wisconsin 101 website, with object categories like Arts & Leisure, Education, and Transportation.

When selecting an object to submit from the EHF collections, our biggest challenge was answering the question, “Which objects tell compelling stories about Door County’s history?”  While every artifact in the collection has a story to tell, we needed to find an object that shares something unique to Door County, but with statewide significance.  After much discussion, we settled on this Cherryland t-shirt.

What stories can this t-shirt tell?  First, it represents Door County’s agricultural history.  With a landscape ill-suited to most crops, early grower Joseph Zettel found unexpected success with cherries, and a new industry was born in the county.  At its peak in the 1950s, Door County produced up to 50 million pounds of cherries.

With the dramatic increase in production, local labor simply could not keep up, leading to the growth of migrant labor in the cherry industry.  Workers came from a variety of places, including Texas, Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados, and even German POWs during WWII.

A third story this t-shirt tells is the growth of Cherryland and cherry tourism.  As cherry production grew, the desire to capitalize on the county’s new reputation resulted in marketing campaigns, festivals, and slogans with a cherry theme.  Today, cherries still make up an important part of Door County tourism.

You can read more about the Cherryland t-shirt and the stories it shares about Door County’s cherry history at www.wi101.org/objects/cherryland-t-shirt.

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

Greta Anderson’s Flag

The fully unfurled flag

As work on the upcoming EHF exhibit continues, we faced the challenge of displaying Greta Anderson’s flag.  Greta, an early Ephraim resident who married Aslag Anderson, sewed this 35-star flag during the Civil War.  Her cousin, Torger Torgersen, was in the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment and is one of the soldiers featured in the new exhibit.

Greta’s flag, at over 150 years old, is delicate and was obviously flown at some point.  There are some tears and damage due to age.  Perhaps the biggest obstacle is size: the flag is 7.5 feet wide by 12 feet long.  Despite the display challenges, the flag needed to be included in the exhibit.  It tells an important story about Ephraim during the Civil War and about Greta Anderson. Read More

When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Ephraim’s Civil War Stories

Andrew

Andrew Anderson

The 2017 Anderson Barn Museum exhibit tells the stories of eight Civil War soldiers with connections to Ephraim.  Some enlisted from Ephraim or the surrounding area, and others came here later in life.  The exhibit will focus on Andrew Anderson, Goodlet Goodletson, Michael Kalmbach, Christian “Charley” Morbeck, Carl Nelson, Tallack Tallackson, Torger Torgersen, and Henry Sherman Vail.

Though each of the eight soldiers has a unique story, there are shared experiences in their lives.  All eight men enlisted voluntarily, and seven of the eight joined in the same year, 1862.  Four of the eight joined the same company and regiment, Company F of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Seven of the eight were immigrants: six from Norway and one from Germany.  And three of the eight did not survive the Civil War. Read More

Making a Custom Dress Form

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Dress form base

PVC pipe with drilled holes

One of the challenges in displaying garments from the EHF collection is changes in body shapes and sizes over the years.  Many of the dresses in our collection come from a time when women wore corsets and other complex undergarments to fit into smaller clothing.  The EHF’s dress forms are a standard size for modern clothing, but are too large in the hips and waist for clothing like Munda Anderson’s 1880s dress.  Miss Munda’s waist was around 22 inches, or about a size 0 in today’s clothing.  In fact, her dress is too small to even fit on our child’s dress form.  Archival forms can cost thousands of dollars, so we needed to find a different way to display our smaller garments.  Thanks to Dave, our dedicated handyman, we came up with a great solution.  In this blog, we’ll show you how we made a dress form with minimal materials and cost. Read More

Miss Munda’s Dress

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Miss Munda in the dress on her 80th birthday

Winter is the perfect time for working in the Archives and the EHF staff started an important collections project last week—cleaning Munda Anderson’s dress.  Miss Munda helped run the store for many years and is an important figure in the Anderson Store’s history.  She made this cotton dress in the mid-1880s and even wore it for her 80th birthday in 1949.  The dress has been on display for many years and is an important artifact in sharing the history of the Andersons and the store. Read More

A Shoe Collection

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Shoes in the Anderson Store Museum

If you’ve ever visited the Anderson Store Museum, you’ve likely noticed the display of shoes in the back corner.  These shoes were once available for purchase in the Store and vary widely in type and style.  This winter, the EHF staff decided to undertake a big project: inventorying the shoe collection which, at last count, consisted of 173 shoes (81 pairs and 11 single shoes).

We began by collecting all the shoes from the Anderson Store and bringing them to the EHF offices.  Here is the process that each shoe or pair of shoes will undergo to be properly documented and cleaned. Read More

Log Cabins in Ephraim…and the World

The Goodletson Cabin (photo by Tad Dukehart)

The Goodletson Cabin (photo by Tad Dukehart)

Because Ephraim was settled a long time ago, (in 1853), we are sometimes surprised to discover that there are still some very old log cabins in our little town.  With all the modern building going on, who would want such an old dwelling? The answer is MANY people. There are old buildings that have been wonderfully refurbished, as well as brand-new-but-made-to-look-old cabins. Read More

Copyright Ephraim Historical Foundation, Inc., 2015. The Ephraim Historical Foundation and the Ephraim Foundation Heritage Fund are both 501(c)3 organizations. Donations to these organizations are tax-deductible.