Awards 2012

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by

Oconto County Historical Society Awards

Annual Meeting of the Society

Recipient Information

November 15, 2012


The President’s Award – for preservation ofOcontoCounty buildings, constructions, or sites


Mark and Cindy Rost have owned their farm for 26 years.  That’s quite a length of time these days.  But that’s not the half of it.  Technically, it’s about the sixth of it.  Their farm has actually been in the Rost family for 156 years and 5 generations.  Mark’s great-great-grandfather, Moritz Rost, and his brother, Fred, first immigrated to Milwaukee.  They stayed there for several years farming, logging, and trapping.  Then they headed north and eventually found themselves in Little Suamico.  In 1856 they bought over 300 acres and set to work on a variety of enterprises.  They started with a tannery.  After Fred moved on, Moritz turned his efforts to commercial fishing, cutting marsh hay to sell, trapping, and a new endeavor, butchering.  It was Moritz’ son, Carl, who first developed the land for farming.  He also raised the house on a foundation and added to it, as well as erecting outbuildings.  That house is the one that each succeeding generation has raised families in, and that Mark and Cindy still live in.   Their daughters, the 6th generation, are farming with them.  In 1969 Mark’s father, Robert, received the Century Farm Certificate from the Wisconsin State Fair.  In 2009 Mark and Cindy received the Sesquicentennial Farm Certificate from the Wisconsin State Fair.  We are pleased to add to those honors with the Oconto County Historical Society’s President’s Award to Mark & Cindy Rost.



The George E. Hall Award – for documentation ofOcontoCounty history


Phyllis Duschene has many connections to many people.

She is the daughter of the late Ethel Lorang Smith and Louis Smith.

She is the wife of the late Tom Duschene.

She is the beloved mother to her children, Mary Ann, Barbara, Mike, Annette and John Duschene.

She is the grandmother to 10 grandchildren.

She is the great grandmother to 6.

She is an active volunteer at Oconto Nursing Home facilities for 28 years.

She is a devoted and faithful member of Holy Trinity Parish.

She is a true friend and kind-hearted soul to the elderly of Oconto.

She was a store owner, operating the Pot Pourri Boutique onMain Streetin Oconto for a number of years.

And now we add author to her list of credentials.


     Phyllis was born, raised and educated in Oconto and has a deep love for “Jab Switch”, her hometown. To her friends and to some community people she is affectionately known as Phiddy. When she is introduced to strangers as Phiddy, some people assume Phiddy is her given name. She even receives mail addressed to Phiddy Duschene. When people meet Phiddy for a first time, they may feel like strangers at first, and after a short visit with her, they walk away no longer a stranger, but as a friend. Phiddy’s smile and kind manner are endearing qualities she possesses. Sometimes she is referred to as Phid, Phoebe, Sweebee—all affectionate nicknames this talented and creative lady answers to.


     Phiddy is an accomplished writer as this can be attested to by the dozens of cards and notes she sends out to people each month. Her sense of humor and clever, witty writing style, make getting a card or note from her a real treat. Her notes and cards put a smile on one’s face and a warm feeling in one’s heart.


     For more than 50 years, Phiddy collected nicknames (aka monikers) of people from Oconto.

     Phiddy says, “The nicknames were household names and commonly used. Some are descriptive, others complimentary, some silly, and others downright insulting. I collected them with malice toward none. The book of Oconto nicknames is dedicated to those blessed with a sense of humor. The compilation of nicknames was not an overnight venture. The idea was there, but it took about fifteen years to execute the plan. I’d pass a house and think, “so and so lives there; I must add his or her name to my nickname journal. I received telephone calls asking, “Do you have so and so’s nickname?” I found some of the nicknames in the OcontoHigh Schoolyearbooks, the OKATO, others in the obituary section of the local newspaper, THE OCONTO COUNTY REPORTER, and some on gravestone markers in cemeteries. My collection grew and grew and grew.”


     In December, 2011, the book, JABSWITCH MONIKERS, 3rd edition, A Collection by Phyllis “Phid” Duschene appeared in print. The book is 33 pages in length.


     Tonight we present the 2012 George E. Hall Award for documentation of Oconto County History to Phyllis “Phiddy” Duschene.



Volunteer of the Year Award


You may remember last year’s awards when we honored Amber Van Den Heuvel for her bike route project.  Do you remember, though, that her mother, Cordula Van Den Heuvel, was heavily involved with it, too?  But that’s only part of her volunteer efforts.  Cordula has been very interested in the Copper Culture Historical Association for a number of years.  She brings many good ideas to the committee and helps implement them.  She has often been a guide and this summer coordinated the guide schedule.  This spring she helped paint the window trim and clean the museum to be ready for the season, and was involved in the re-dedication ceremony in June.  When the alarm is triggered for whatever reason, Cordula is the one who comes to check it out.  Last winter she organized the bonfire and hot chocolate for the candlelight walk.  Her family sponsors one of the park trail clean-up signs and she is often seen checking the trail and picking up litter.  She did an outstanding job of designing two of the interpretive nature signs for the trail and is working on more.  Cordula represents what volunteerism is about.  We are happy to present Cordula with the Volunteer of the Year Award.