Awards 2006

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by

Oconto County Historical Society Awards

Annual Meeting of the Society

Recipient Information

November 9, 2006


The President’s Award – for preservation of Oconto County buildings, constructions, or sites

The congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hayes began in 1875 when Pastor Peter Dicke from the Cecil area started to conduct services in the home of Herman Yakel.  These irregular visits continued until August 2, 1886 when 40 acres were purchased from the Oconto Company near the center of the Town of How. The price of the land was $100.00.  In November of 1887 a new wooden church building was dedicated.  The congregation continued to be served by visiting pastors until 1899 when Rev. F. Uplegger, who had served Gillett, accepted the call to be the first resident pastor at Hayes.  By the time he left in 1903, a parsonage had been built, and the administration of the congregation had been organized.  On November 13th, 1904 a new brick church was dedicated.  The old log building was moved and used as a school until 1913 when it was replaced by a brick building.  Between 1926 and 1936 the buildings were electrified, a basement was built under the church, and a gold cross replaced the wrought iron cross on the spire.  In 1957 the ceiling of the church was replaced.  In 1963 a lighted cross replaced the gold cross on the steeple.  A major renovation project was completed in 1965, with a rededication service held on May 9.  Other than general maintenance little has changed since then.  The congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary in the 1904 brick building in November 2004.  We are happy to present this award to St. John’s Lutheran Church of Hayes for the preservation of their church building.  Accepting the award are Cathy and Ruben Rakow.


The George E. Hall Award – for documentation of Oconto County history

Though Monette Reinhard has not yet had her Pensaukee material published, she has gathered and documented enough material to fill 600 pages, and worked hard at documenting the Arndt Pensaukee sawmill, which in April of 2006 finally earned National Historic Register status as the first documented, sustained and commercial sawmill in all of Wisconsin territory back in 1827. 

Monette earned her MA in history at Eau Claire this past May, and had to put aside her Pensaukee book for a Civil and Indian wars nonfiction saga that she’s now finishing, with hopes to get back to Pensaukee soon.  There are currently three magazines considering Arndt related material.

She began researching Pensaukee in 1998 as part of Abrams history.  Abrams history wasn’t exciting enough alone, she says and didn’t expect to find much at Pensaukee either, but at least it has water.  With co-researcher Dick Doeren, she discovered Pensaukee really did have exciting history, although Dick’s known it all along.  And with the help of Pete Stark, Ellis Mercier, a lot of volunteers, a dig at the Arndt sawmill site, and the archives at Eau Claire, she finally had enough to prove Arndt’s location – and start to change the history books. 

We are pleased to present the George E. Hall Award to Monette Reinhard.


The Kay Stewart Award – for lifetime achievement in family history

Genealogy is a never-ending and addictive endeavor.  This year we are pleased that two families have taken the time and effort to research their Oconto County ancestors.

Sharon Hahn donated to the Oconto County Historical Society several documents about the Lee family genealogy.  Wilbur and Mary Lee settled in Oconto in 1883.  Wilbur organized the area’s first company of volunteer militia and led them in action in the Spanish American War in 1898, the Mexican Border Skirmish in 1916, and World War I.  He retired from the military as a brigadier general in 1926.  He served as Oconto’s mayor from 1896-1898.  He started the Lee photo studio on Park Avenue which his daughters ran during his absences.  When he retired from that business it continued to be operated by his son, William Morgan Lee as the Morgan Lee Studio until 1970.  The house still stands.  Sharon was unable to be here.  She sent the following comments. 

I am deeply honored that you want to award me for my contribution.  I will treasure that for years to come.” 

Gene Heezen has been interested in the Oconto County Historical Society for many years.  In the past he donated a framed document explaining the odd circumstances surrounding an ancestor’s military service in both the Union and Confederate armies.  Recently he donated a complete set of genealogy documents covering three branches of his family from Oconto County; the Simon, Holl, and Guelker families.  The three binders of information plus a collection of postcards sent between his relatives were donated to the Oconto County Genealogical Society to be included in the genealogy room of the Suring library.  Gene was unable to be here.  He sent the following comments. 

“You do me peacock proud and I graciously accept the Kay Stewart award for achievement in family history.  And I gratefully thank the OCHS for this honor.  My mother’s side of the family peopled Oconto County and I have fond memories of Chute Pond, Berry Lake, Burnt Dam, Gillett, Suring, and the train rides from Green Bay. I especially remember my uncle Matt running out of the house and dancing on the porch of Forest Home Farm up there in Underhill. He had just heard the news on the radio that World War II was over.  Now he could take the battery out of the radio and put it back into the car and go to town to celebrate.  I was also at Grandma’s in 1948 when they got electricity.  No more going to bed with the chickens and Uncle Matt did not have to lug the car battery into the house anymore.”


Volunteer of the Year Award

Maintaining the property and artifacts of the Beyer Home Museum takes a lot of time, effort, and people.  On occasion it takes particular expertise.  We have had the good fortune to have several people qualified to help us in specialty areas.

Our first recipient is Lee Rockwell.  Lee used his skill with woodworking to turn the spindles of the porch railing.  This was no small task as there are 80 spindles on the porches.  Lee not only had the ability to craft them but volunteered his many hours to complete them.  We are very grateful to him and are pleased to award him the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Another area that is difficult to find experts in is horse drawn vehicles.  The Historical Society owns a water wagon that has been restored.  When it came to actually trying to hitch horses to it Dave and Larry Westenberg stepped in.  They fashioned the hitch, then harnessed their horses to it and drove the wagon in the Copper Fest Parade.  We would not have been able to exhibit the restored wagon to the public in such a way without their help.  We are honored to present these Volunteer of the Year Awards to Dave and Larry Westenberg.