Awards 2004

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by

Oconto County Historical Society Awards

Annual Meeting of the Society

Recipient Information

November 18, 2004


George E. Hall Award for documentation of Oconto County history

Joe Reinhard is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and has been the course manager at Sandalwood Golf Course since 1975.  He was elected town chairman of Abrams in 2001.  Joe is very fond of old things and of history.  When the township had to tear down the old town hall in Abrams and build a new one, he and a planning committee chose a design to look like the old town hall.   Then he set out to collect photos of Abrams as it was in the ‘old days’ to hang in the new town hall, to turn it into a museum of sorts in tribute to the town’s history.  This is the project we are awarding him for today, his preservation of Abrams’ history in the form of photographs in the town hall of Abrams.  Abrams does not have a museum but with his guidance, the town hall now has the museum touch.  We are pleased to present this award to Joe Reinhard.

Vern Mortier, as a member of the Oconto County Genealogical Society, has taken the group’s project of transcribing the county cemeteries very seriously.  Although 12 cemeteries had been completed over the last few years, he took it upon himself to really make some headway.  Starting in August he took his little chair, lots of notebooks, and several pens and transcribed 27 of the other 39 cemeteries.  He used 6 notebooks and 2 pens in Evergreen Cemetery alone.  Without his help it would have taken several more years to complete this project.  We show our appreciation to Vern by presenting this award to him.

Jake and Connie Jacobs are also members of the Oconto County Genealogical Society.  They have been invaluable in producing our newsletter and maintaining our website.  They have taken the information that Vern has provided, those the Society transcribed, as well as the cemeteries they transcribed themselves, typed the information into the computer, proofread and verified with other records, walked the cemeteries to double check, made corrections, and put them on the website.  At this time all county cemeteries have been transcribed.  A search engine has been provided on the OCGS web site for an ancestor search of all cemeteries under OCGS control. The 12 done by others are not included in the global search at this time.  Eventually, those will be redone and be available for search also.  They have gone to each cemetery (multiple times) and recorded the GPS coordinates, taken pictures, and entered the data on the web.  They have compiled a 4 volume hard copy of the cemeteries and it will be located in the new Suring Library Family History Room.  Jake and Connie certainly deserve an award for documentation of Oconto County history.


President’s Award for preservation of Oconto County buildings 

The President’s Award for commercial property preservation this year is presented to Brett Zahn for Zahn’s Garage in Gillett.  In 1928 Louis Zahn moved to Gillett from his Underhill farm and purchased the Ed Neuman garage on Railroad Street.  Louis not only ran the service garage with the only gas pumps in town but he also sold Fordson tractors and Pontiac automobiles.  In the 1930s Louis would move on to sell Allis Chalmers tractors and swapped his Pontiac franchise for Chrysler-Plymouth.  Louis operated his business with son Raymond at this location until 1949 when they moved to a larger vacant Ford dealer building at 137 South Lake Avenue where it has remained.  Through the years two more generations of Zahn’s would work at the garage.  In 1957 after an Honorable Discharge from the Army, Nolan Zahn returned to Gillett to work with his father and grandfather.  In 1986, after graduating from Lawrence University Brett Zahn joined his father Nolan in the family business and is the present owner of Zahn’s Automotive.  Times have changed over the 76 years the Zahn’s have been doing business.  Louis passed away in 1960, Ray in 1983, and Nolan in 1998.  The Allis Chalmer and Chrysler Franchises are also gone but not Zahn’s garage.  They now offer a full service shop and a line of quality used cars.  The building has also changed over the years.  Gone are the glass garage doors and gas pumps.  The service windows have been down-sized and a fresh coat of paint added here and there through the years.  Despite these changes the building remains pretty much intact from its original design.  The showroom windows still glisten in the sun as they did in 1949.  We are happy Brett continues to preserve this family and area historic building. 

The President’s Award for residential property is presented to Clement Brazeau for the Brazeau family home in Oconto.  The property at 403 Brazeau Avenue was purchased by Clement’s grandfather, L. W., in 1899 and a large home was built.  L.W. and his wife, Octavia raised 12 children there.  Clement’s father, Clement E. Brazeau was the twelfth child.   He and his wife Bonnie raised 10 children in the house.  As you can see, it was good that it was a large house.  It now has passed to Clement.  The house has undergone some modifications since its construction; the addition of a porch, elimination of stairs on the south side, and conversions in the 1930s to accommodate tourists.  In the 1980s major interior remodeling was undertaken, replacing the steam heating, the double hung windows with custom built thermo-pane windows and insulation.  No one remember the original color of the home, but during the recent repainting they discovered significant patches of red paint and surmise that at one time it was brightly painted.  They recently painted the home to highlight the unique features of its Victorian design.    We are happy Clement continues to preserve this family and area historic building.  His brother Jim, who helped with much of the preservation, is accepting the award for Clement.


Kay Stewart Award for achievement in documentation of family history

Mildred Johnson’s grandfather, Adam Kalbes immigrated with his oldest son to the Town of Brazeau in Oconto County in 1902.  Two years later he was able to send for his wife and six other children.  One more was born here.  It has taken the last three years of gathering information from family members, and one year of organizing and writing, but Mildred has been able to print the 77 page first volume of the Kalbes family history.  She has more information that will detail other branches of the family in volume 2.  In August a family reunion was held, gathering 103 people from across the country on the 100th anniversary of the family settling in Wisconsin.  We want to honor Mildred for documenting the history of her family and a family that has been in the county for over 100 years.


Volunteer of the Year Award

Brian Rice has made himself available to help in a number of OCHS projects during 2004.  In particular he assisted Board Members Don Bartels and Karl Ballestad in construction of the Barber Shop exhibit.

Mitch Van Hulle is being honored for always being available to paint when we need it.  He painted the front room in the Annex quickly and expertly.  When asked to paint the new gift shop he not only did it quickly but donated his labor.  It is very nice to know we have people with skills that will help when needed.

Jim LaCourciere has been on hand to help in a variety of ways this year.  He helped moving items around the property when exhibits were changed, and especially helped by wallpapering, with Pat Hansen, the dining room in the Beyer Home.  We want to extend our appreciation to both of them for their many hours of work to help improve the museum.


Duane Ebert Award for recognition of historic preservation efforts.

Charles J. Lingelbach was born in Oconto, 1917, son of Charles and Martha Schedler Lingelbach.  Both the Lingelbach and Schedler families were early Oconto business owners.  Charles Sr. was head of the Oconto Brewery and Martha Schedler’s father owned the Schedler House, an early hostelry on Oconto’s Main Street.  Charles uncle, Frank Lingelbach, married Mildred Beyer, from the Beyer Home Museum family.  Charles earned a degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1939, using that degree to work in the brewing industry and at the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton.  He then started his own printing company.  One way that he maintained ties with Oconto was by printing the Oconto High School yearbook, the OKATO.

Charles Lingelbach is being honored because of his deep interest in the objectives and encouragement of the society.  He gave stock to the Society to start the OCHS Endowment Fund, and financially supported a number of Society projects and endeavors.  Charles served on the Board of Directors and remains a valued resource person for the Society. 

Charles is unable to attend tonight.  Duane Ebert is accepting the award for him.