Awards 2010

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by

Oconto County Historical Society Awards

Annual Meeting of the Society

Recipient Information

November 4, 2010


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

The George E. Hall Award is presented for documentation of Oconto County history.  Bestowing this honor may seem to imply that some sort of media has been produced, such as a book or video.  However, recognizing groups for longevity also fits in this category.  The presence of an organization in Oconto County for a long period of time creates its own history by being a part of the lives of its citizens.  In addition to that there are also records and pictures that document that history.  The two recipients of this year’s Hall Award are just such groups.

From the time of the first settlers the Oconto community relied on volunteer firefighters.  In 1869 two wardens were appointed to oversee fire safety.  In 1872 the first fire station was built, with a second built in 1873.  When Engine House No. 1 ironically burned in 1890 the first City Hall was built and included a new Engine House.  Then in 1910 the City Council organized a police and fire commission, appointing the first Fire Chief, Bert Harris.  He was joined by eight other men to form the first regular fire department.  It is the anniversary of this date that we celebrate this year, acknowledging 100 years of service to the city of Oconto.  The department relocated once to Main Street and then to its current location on Main Street in 1985.  They have two pumpers, a ladder truck, rescue vehicle, boat, three ambulances, and various other pieces of equipment.  Today the Fire Department is staffed with one Chief, two Lieutenants, five firefighters, and thirteen paid-on-call members.  The new Chief, Jack Mlnarik, is here to accept the George E. Hall Award recognizing the contribution of the Oconto Fire Department to Oconto’s history.

In early days the Catholics living in and around Stiles were served as a mission by priests from surrounding communities.  However, in 1882 the owner of the lumber mill, Anson Eldred, himself an Episcopalian, donated land to the parish.  By 1885 a church was established and a building built to provide a spiritual home for the early settlers, with Rev. Hoogstoel as the first resident priest.  Since there were a lot of Irish in the congregation St. Patrick’s was chosen as the name.  In the next several years updates were made as well as an addition built.  By the late 1890s they also served missions in Oconto Falls and Gillett.  Even though the lumber mill closed in 1912 the community continued and the church presently maintains a congregation of 200 families.  The priest serves St. Patrick’s, Holy Trinity in Oconto, and St. Anthony’s in Oconto Falls.  A life-long member of the congregation, David Truckey, is here to accept the George E. Hall Award recognizing the place St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has in the history of Oconto County.