Finally, Justice for Jane Doe. Rest in Peace, Peggy.

More than 20 years after she was laid to rest as Jane Doe, an Illinois woman found murdered in Racine County has been identified and her alleged killer was arrested in Florida. Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling announced that deputies arrested a former Illinois nurse and charged her with murdering 23-year-old Peggy Lynn Johnson of McHenry, Ill.

“She suffered from significant injuries and had been brutalized by many means over a long period of time,” Schmaling said at a news conference on Nov. 8. From Fox6 Milwaukee:

RACINE — Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Friday, Nov. 8 revealed the identity of the young woman whose brutally abused body was found in a cornfield in the Town of Raymond in 1999. Jane Doe has been identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson.

Linda Laroche, 64, has been taken into custody in connection with her death. She is facing one count of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of hiding a corpse.

“This is a day of mixed emotions, ladies and gentlemen,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “We are very proud today by the fact that we can finally offer some closure and some peace.”

More of the heartbreaking detail from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“In September Racine County sheriff’s investigators received a tip that LaRoche, who was living in Cape Coral, had been telling people that she killed a woman when she was living in Illinois with her then-husband and three of her five children.

After LaRoche met Johnson, who was a senior in high school at the time, she took her in because she was homeless, under an agreement that Johnson would act as a nanny and housekeeper in exchange for living with the family.

Now grown, LaRoche’s children told investigators that their mother was very abusive toward Johnson, who was forced to stay and sleep in a crawl space beneath their home.

LaRoche’s ex-husband confirmed the abuse, describing LaRoche as a “force to be reckoned with.”

LaRoche is being held by the Lee County, Fla., sheriff’s office on a $1 million bond, based on an arrest warrant filed in Racine County Circuit Court.

Peggy_Childhood
Peggy Lynn Johnson, murder victim (1976-1999). Racine County Sheriff’s Office Photo.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Racine County, Peggy suffered horrific abuse over an extended period of time. Her nose was broken. She had chemical-type burns over a 25 percent of her body. She had eight fractured ribs, which the medical examiner said were created after death. Four lacerations showed blunt trauma to the head. She had a penetrating wound to the left ear. The throat and upper chest areas showed evidence of burns or scald injuries. Her lower lip was split open on both ends. A number of the injuries were inflicted shortly before death.

“Laroche was verbally and emotionally cruel to Peggy, at times screaming at her like an animal,” the criminal complaint said. LaRoche’s children provided detectives with this information: “One recalled Laroche stabbing at Peggy’s head with a pitchfork, one recalled Laroche slapping Peggy in the head and face. They all recalled seeing Peggy with injuries and one even asked Peggy what had happened to her after noticing a black eye. Peggy told the child, who was then an adult, that Laroche had punched her.”

The details are horrifying and sickening. Read the criminal complaint here.

DianeColligan
Diane M. (Colligan) Schroeder, mother of Peggy Johnson, died in 1994.

Peggy was born on March 4, 1976 in Woodstock, Ill., according to online family trees at Ancestry.com. Her mother, Diane M. (Colligan) Schroeder, was a graduate of Marengo Community High School in McHenry County, Ill. Her high school yearbook photo shows a striking resemblance to her daughter. Diane died on Nov. 26, 1994 in Harvard, Ill., at age 41. She was employed at a nursing home at the time of her death. She had a son (half-brother to Peggy), Jesse A. Schroeder, who died in June 1998 at age 18. After her mother’s death, Peggy ended up homeless, which is why she crossed paths with the nurse LaRoche.

We wrote about this case in July 2015 when “Jane Doe” was re-interred at Holy Family Catholic Cemetery in Caledonia, Wis. At the time I was director of Racine Catholic Cemeteries. Jane was initially buried at the cemetery in October 1999, but had been disinterred in 2013 for forensic testing at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. Sheriff’s deputies served as pall bearers that day as Peggy was reburied in a donated casket and cemetery vault.

Solemn Procession
Investigator Tracy Hintz (center) was on the case for more than 16 years.

LaRoche has waived extradition to Wisconsin and will face one count of first-degree intentional homicide and a felony charge of hiding a corpse. If she is indeed guilty of the charges, she shall also face the Just Judge. May God have mercy on her soul; the very mercy she denied to an innocent homeless woman who turned to her for help.

There are tentative plans to disinter Peggy’s body so she can be buried near her mother and grandparents (Ellis J. Colligan and Zella M. Colligan Parker) at Highland Garden of Memories cemetery in Belvidere, Ill.

Click here to watch a soloist sing Amazing Grace at the committal service for Peggy on July 21, 2015.

IMG_2622sm
My cemetery grounds crew did a nice job sodding and finishing Jane’s grave after her re-interment.

Photo Post: Battle for a Rebound at Mauston

A reader flipping through the pages of the La Crosse Tribune on March 4, 1950 might just have missed a great sports action photo buried on Page 10, the back cover. It’s a great photo because it shows real action — and it doesn’t hurt that one of the key players is David D. Hanneman of Mauston High School.

Allan Wheeler grabs a rebound from Dave Hanneman of Mauston.

March 1950 was high school basketball tournament time. Mauston High School was one of the host venues for sub-regional tournament play for Wisconsin’s public schools. The action photo was actually from March 3, 1950, the second day of the sub-regionals; a game in which Mauston knocked off Hillsboro 45-37. In the photo, Hillsboro center Allan Wheeler grabs a rebound over the outstretched arm of Hanneman, wearing No. 24 for the Mauston Bluegold. Although he did not score in the contest, Hanneman, the Mauston center, held the prolific scorer Wheeler to just 9 points. Just a day prior, Wheeler scored 22 points in Hillsboro’s loss to La Crosse Central.

Mauston ended its season after going 1-1 at the sub-regional tournament. In the first game on March 2, Tomah stormed back from an 11-point deficit to clip Mauston 40-36. Tomah won the sub-regional title the next day by whipping La Crosse Central 67-47.

The photo appeared in the March 4, 1950 issue of the La Crosse Tribune.

Dad played three seasons of basketball for Mauston High School between 1948 and 1951. He was also a three-year letterman in football, helping Mauston to a conference championship in the fall of 1947.

A few other basketball photos from Dad’s Mauston years are below:

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Story of Adam J. Treutel Just Became Clearer

We know that Johann Adam Treutel and the former Katharina Geier had eight children who came to America between 1849 and 1854. We’ve now learned more about the life and death of their oldest child, Adam John Treutel (1821-1900).

Thanks to the recent work of a volunteer at the grave database FindAGrave.com, we now know that Adam and eight relatives are buried at Union Cemetery on North Teutonia Avenue in Milwaukee. Also buried at this cemetery are his wife, Anna Maria (Zang) Treutel (1825-1872) and four of their children.

According to Milwaukee County death records, Adam John Treutel died on July 23, 1900. That’s exactly 77 years to the day before the death of our own Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman. (My Dad descends from Johann Adam Treutel this way: Philipp Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman.) We searched The Milwaukee Journal for that entire week in 1900 but could find no obituary or death notice. Adam Treutel had lived in Milwaukee for at least 45 years before his death.

Adam Treutel declared intent to become a U.S citizen in 1853.

As far as we know, Adam was the firstborn of Johann Adam and Katherina Treutel. He was born Nov. 21, 1821 in or near Königstädten, Hesse-Dartmstadt, Germany. He was baptized three days later in Königstädten. We have not located emigration records, except for a reference in the Hessiches Archiv, which said he emigrated to America in May 1849. Adam consistently indicated on the U.S. Census that he came to America in 1849 and settled in New York City. On June 10, 1853, he filed his declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen. His naturalization was finalized on July 11, 1855 in Superior Court of the City of New York.

Adam Treutel’s naturalization was finalized in July 1855.

Adam married Anna Maria Zang, also a native of Hesse-Darmstadt. She died in Milwaukee on Feb. 29, 1872 and is also buried at Union Cemetery. Their firstborn, Lisette, was born in New York in April 1853. Their second child, Margaretha, was born July 21, 1854 in New York. Adam’s parents and some of his siblings arrived in America in July 1854 and proceeded to Milwaukee. Adam and his family followed in short order. The 1857 Milwaukee City Directory lists Adam as a tallow chandler; someone who made candles and soap from animal fat. Over the years, he was also a tailor (1879) and railroad laborer (1865). His longtime home was at 791 7th Street in Milwaukee. His son Adam Jr. became a lithographer and some of his daughters were dressmakers.

We still have some important Treutel family questions that need answers. Johann Adam Treutel, the family patriarch, died in Milwaukee in 1859, but we have no record of his death or burial. There is a good chance whatever cemetery in which he was buried has been moved in the years since. We also don’t know the burial place of the one Treutel brother who went south, Johann Peter Treutel. We know he lived in Louisiana and Alabama and fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. We’ve located information on all of his children, but still hope to find out more about his life.

Since we’re always keeping track, here is a list of the children of Johann Adam Treutel (1800-1859) and Elizabetha Katharina Geier (1800-1886):

  • Adam John Treutel (1821-1900) Milwaukee
  • John Treutel (1831-1908) West Bend, Wis.
  • Philipp Treutel (1833-1891) North Prairie, Wis.
  • Twin Baby Boy (1833-1833) Burial Uknown
  • Sebastian Treutel (1834-1876) West Bend, Wis.
  • Peter Treutel (1837-unknown)
  • Anna Margaretha (Treutel) Bredel (1839-1898) Milwaukee
  • Henry Treutel (1841-1907) West Bend, Wis.

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Good Evidence of the Value of Cleaning Cemetery Headstones

Over the past several years, I’ve done restoration and cleaning of many grave monuments across Wisconsin. Since the special chemicals used to clean the monuments can take a month or more to  take full effect, I don’t often see the final, final product. So I was very impressed with a photograph of the monument of my great-grandmother, Mary Helen (Ladick) Treutel, sent by a dear cousin, Shirley (Ladick) Oleson.

I treated and cleaned this stone at St. James Catholic Cemetery in Vesper, Wis., in the summer of 2017. Mary Treutel’s monument was badly stained by black mold, which was even more apparent on the white stone surface. During the cleaning process, this became apparent with the many color changes caused by the cleaning chemicals. Many people don’t realize that mold, lichens and other growths are very harmful to the often-delicate headstones.

Before cleaning: black mold deeply stained this monument.

When I last saw this headstone in August 2017, it still had a bit of an orange glow. The D/2 cleaning chemical (the only one approved for use at Arlington National Cemetery) continues to work with rain and sun for three to four weeks. You can see the progression in the photo gallery below:

 

 

The video below shows how this monument looked as it was given a final rinse:

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Remembering Lt. Edmund R. Collins, 100 Years Later

The rectangular grave stone sits quietly among thousands of others at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin. Its granite lettering pays tribute to the man who lies beneath it, but his real story has never been fully told. Lt. Edmund Richard Collins was a young lawyer and Knight of Columbus who went to war in 1917 as a leader of men. He returned home 100 years ago in a casket, a war hero with the distinction of being among the first U.S. soldiers to engage Communist Russians on the battlefield.

Most people do not know that an expeditionary force of American and Allied troops were diverted from World War I’s European theater and sent to North Russia and Siberia to fight the Bolsheviki, the Red Communist Russians who seized power during the Russian Revolution. It became known as the Polar Bear Expedition.

The grave of Lt. Edmund R. Collins at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Racine.

American and Allied troops landed in August 1918 at Archangel, a key port on the White Sea in the northern part of European Russia. The Allies were commanded by British Maj. Gen. Edmond Ironside. When Allied forces took Archangel, the Bolsheviki fled south. Over the next nine months, American troops faced brutal conditions such as minus-20 degrees Farenheit temperatures and chest-high snow. Troops moved on foot and equipment moved via sled or sleigh. Before the winter set in, commanders urgently requested 1,000 pairs of skis, 5,500 pairs of snow shoes, and 7,500 pairs of moccasins to aid the men in advancing on the battlefield. Other requested equipment included 50 long cross saws and tongs for obtaining ice blocks for drinking water, and 100 sledges with dogs and harnesses.

Just as the Armistice ended World War I in Europe on Nov. 11, 1918, the action in North Russia was just getting started. The U.S. Army’s 339th Infantry Regiment brought more than 4,000 soldiers to the many battlefields across North Russia. They fought an enemy that was often well entrenched; defended by batteries of machine guns. The Bolsheviki used the deep snow as cover. U.S. patrols reported Bolsheviki suddenly emerging from massive snow banks to open fire on Allied troops or take prisoners.

A French-designed 155-mm long gun used in the North Russia campaign.

Allied troops fought and died in places with names like Obozerskaya, Chinova, Onega and Bolshie Ozerka (also spelled Bolshie Ozerki). Collins led his men in some of the fiercest fighting of the North Russia campaign. On March 17, 1919, Collins and some 30 men and one Lewis gun left Chekuevo and a traveled all night to reach Chinova. They advanced toward Bolshie Ozerka and had come within 1 verst (about two-thirds of a mile) of that place when they were fired upon by five or six machine guns at once. “It was only through the enemy’s high shooting that the whole detachment was able to slowly withdraw, crawling through the deep snow,” wrote Lt. Col. N.A. Lawrie in his battle summary.

On March 23, 1919, Collins led a detachment that engaged the enemy at Bolshie Ozerka. His men covered a front of about 300 yards, most of which ran through the woods. During the battle, the Bolsheviki laid down heavy machine gun fire, striking Lt. Collins and a sergeant from Company H of the 339th Infantry. Collins was shot through the lungs, while his compatriot suffered wounds to the shoulders and arms. Another lieutenant took command and advanced the troops 500 yards under heavy fire in waist-deep snow. The Allies returned heavy fire and held their ground for five hours until reinforcements arrived, according to a summary written by Capt. Richard W. Ballensinger of the 339th Infantry.

Troops and material were often moved by sled, pulled by horses or reindeer.

Badly wounded, Collins was evacuated to a dressing station. On March 24 he was being transported toward the hospital at Chekuevo. “He died from the effects of his wounds before he reached this station,” Ballensinger wrote. “I consider it my duty, since the weather permitted, to send his body at once to Archangel.” Lt. Edmund Richard Collins would be forever 28.

“Officers and men in this engagement did extremely well under trying conditions. I am sorry that I am forced to report the loss of a good officer.” –Capt. Richard W. Ballensinger

Collins was one of nearly 100 Americans killed as a result of combat before the campaign ended in May 1919. The men, who had been buried in various places around North Russia, were retrieved and sent to Archangel for transport home to the United States. Word of his son’s death reached Dr. William P. Collins in Racine over the weekend of April 5, 1919. The Racine Journal-News account said Collins died on March 29, five days after being shot. However, battlefield records indicate he died March 24, the same day he was wounded. The family would have to wait seven months for Collins’ body to return home for a funeral and final burial.

Page 1 of the Racine Journal-News from April 7, 1919.

Dr. Collins would have his heart broken again in November 1919, when a series of mistakes resulted in the wrong body being sent to Racine for burial. More than 100 soldiers’ bodies were aboard the Army transport Lake Daraga when it docked at Hoboken, N.J. on Nov. 12, 1919. Collins’ body arrived at the train station in Racine just before midnight on Nov. 19, surprisingly without military escort. When Collins’ casket was opened the next day, a mistake became immediately apparent. The man in the casket was much taller than Collins and was balding. Collins had a full head of hair. The man’s dog tag read, “Charles O’Dial 2021851.” It was the wrong body. Reports came in of incorrect soldier bodies being received in several other cities. Collins’ funeral was postponed.

In Carlisle, Indiana, the funeral and burial of Odial had already taken place. The body was exhumed and discovered to be that of Frank Sapp of Summitville, Indiana. A frantic Dr. Collins wired military officials in Washington. “Body sent to me belonged at Carlisle, Ind. Body exhumed at Carlisle at my request belonged at Summitville, Ind. Body exhumed at Summitville on my request was not right body,” Collins wrote. “All bodies so far proved to be misplaced. Is it not time to get busy?”

The Racine Journal-News announced the good news on Nov. 25, 1919.

The War Department issued a statement that did little to clear the air, blaming the mistakes on a rush to load the ships when pulling out of Archangel. In the end, Dr. Collins was the one to solve the mess after obtaining a list of the bodies on the ship and the numbered caskets. As it turned out, Collins’ body was still in Hoboken. On Nov. 25, the body was finally shipped via rail to Racine.

The tragedy took on another sad dimension when it was learned the officer who accompanied what was thought to be Collins’ body was killed in an auto crash in Chicago on Nov. 19, 1919. Further muddying an already confused story, the Chicago Tribune reported the dead man was Raymond R. Collins, the brother of Lt. Edmund R. Collins. However, according to U.S. Census records, Edmund Collins had no brother named Raymond, nor a brother who served in WWI.

Rev. John S. Landowski (Ancestry/Sara Ward)

The city of Racine was finally able to say goodbye to its fallen hero on Nov. 28, 1919. His funeral Mass was held at St. Patrick Catholic Church. “When the flag was sent to north Russia, Lieut. Collins unhesitatingly followed, and heroically gave up his life for his country,” said Father John Landowski, chaplain of the 339th Infantry Regiment. “When he was sent out on a hazardous expedition, he hesitated not, for he fully realized that the lives of his men depended on him. He recognized in that order, which proved fatal in the end, the call of the Most High. He fell in service, fell as a martyr of his land.”

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Location Discovered for Hanneman’s Standard Service Station

Back in 1951, David D. Hanneman owned and managed a Standard Oil service station in his hometown, Mauston, Wisconsin. When I wrote about that back in 2014, a few readers raised questions about where the station was actually located. We finally have the answer — and it’s different than any of the locations suggested earlier.

David D. Hanneman stands outside his Standard Oil station in Mauston in 1951.

Mauston-based author and historian Richard Rossin Jr. says the Standard station was at 241 W. State Street in Mauston, at the corner of West State Street and Beach Street. It is not far from the current Hatch Public Library. The neighborhood along Mauston’s main drive looked a little different back then. To the left (or west) of the station, there are large trees in the 1951 photos. The lot immediately adjacent to the station was later cleared. That site contained an IGA grocery store at one time and is now home to a CarQuest auto parts store.

“As that station was just down the street from my boyhood home, it was a favorite hangout for me when I was young,” Rossin said. “It was Larry’s Mobil in the late 1970s. Jim Bires ran it from 1982 to 1988. Soon after that, it became a laundromat, and still is today. It’s a real treat for me to see such an early view of the place.” Rossin said in 1965, the business was called Slim’s Mobil, which it remained until Larry Dyal took it over in the 1970s.

Rossin estimated the original Standard station was built in the late 1940s. The situate the corner of State and Beach streets earlier housed a small gasoline filling station, according to a May 1926 Sanborn fire insurance map (see below). Sanborn maps from 1894 and 1909 show no structures on the site. The brick rooming house behind the filling station was shown on all three Sanborn maps. That home is still there today.

A 1926  fire map shows a small filling station at the corner of West State and Beach streets.

A quick look at Google Maps shows the former service station building is still there, now called Golden Eagle Laundry. Rossin said the original laundromat owners added onto the service station building, so it’s the same structure as the one shown in the 1951 photos.

This 2016 Google Maps street-view image shows what used to be Hanneman’s Standard station in Mauston. (Screen capture of Google Maps)

The West State Street location meant Dad probably walked to work. The Hanneman homestead at 22 Morris Street was just a few blocks up State and then a turn northeast onto Morris. I distinctly remember the IGA grocery store in the 200 block of West State Street. I recall going there with my Grandpa Carl Hanneman in the early 1970s — probably sent there by Grandma Ruby to grab a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs. Now I know the building next to it was my Dad’s old service station.

The Hanneman house in Mauston, circa 1959. The little brown blur in the lower part of the photo is my parents’ dog, Cookie.

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

A Poem for Mary on Mother’s Day

My mother walked into the family room, looking almost sheepish, and said, “I want to show you something.” She was almost beaming as she got out a yellowed sheet of paper, folded into four panels, with a hand-written title on the cover: To Mary. It was evident that this paper, whatever it contained, was precious to her.

She held the document up to her heart and explained that my father had written it for her many years ago. She wanted me to know that they did have their moments of closeness that superseded any of the difficulties during nearly 50 years of marriage. And now, a couple of years removed from Dad’s 2007 death from lung cancer, Mom truly treasured a poem he penned back in the 1960s.

Poem
The paper was weathered, but the words were as impactful as the day they were written.

“Go ahead, read it!” she said, turning her head with tears in her eyes. And so I did.

To Mary

It has oft been said, “Please do not grieve.”

‘Tis far better to give than to receive.

And at this time of love and of cheer,

I think of all about me here.

The loving family with which I’m blest,

And know within, I’m not a guest.

That all about me is real and true,

That what I have is because of you.

Daily you give these gifts of love,

Of which I am recipient of.

And I wonder in my small way,

‘Dear Lord, how can I ever repay?’

This woman who is always ready,

to wipe a nose or wind a teddy?

Who at this time bears the gift of gifts,

A child of God sleeps within her midst.

A child who needs loving care,

To grow strong, to know what’s right and fair.

These few reasons and so many more,

Make it easy to see why I adore.

This woman, who is my wife,

Who will share with me throughout my life,

All the joys and troubles that we will face,

And put them in their proper place.

So I offer my gift at this time to you,

My deepest love, which indeed is not new. 

Needless to say, I was very touched. My father, despite his tremendous gifts in public speaking and dealing with people, found it difficult to express thoughts in writing. So this definitely came from the heart. Whenever he had a speech to give or a presentation before the Sun Prairie City Council or the Dane County Board of Supervisors, Dad wrote out a draft and Mom helped him polish it with structure and grammar. She was always the reading teacher!

I was tickled that she not only saved the poem, but seemed to get the same thrill as I’m sure she did upon first receiving it four decades earlier. This was a softer side of Mom we didn’t always see growing up, but which became a central part of her as the autumn years turned to winter. I photographed the card and gave it back to Mom, who put it away again for safekeeping.

I thought of the poem again shortly after Mom died in late December 2018. I was given the black-and-white photo atop this story to scan for Mom’s memorial video. I was struck by how young my parents looked, probably shortly after being married in August 1958. It was easy to see the sentiments of the poem in this photograph.

Dad, thank you for writing something that Mom treasured her entire adult life. And Mom, thanks for sharing it, and showing a side of you that you tried to keep hidden. As we observe the first Mother’s Day without you, we are heartened by the thought of you two, together in the company of the angels and saints. Happy Mother’s Day.

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Funeral Homily: “Hope Does Not Disappoint”

This homily was delivered on Jan. 5, 2019, during the Mass of Christian Burial for Mary K. Hanneman. Below the homily is a video of Msgr. Moellenberndt and the Rite of Committal at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Cemetery. Msgr. Duane also gave a wonderful homily at the funeral Mass for David D. Hanneman in April 2007.

By Monsignor Duane Moellenberndt

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die.  Tell me what lies on the other side.”  Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know…”  “You don’t know?  You are a Christian man and don’t know what’s on the other side?” the man said to the doctor.  The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining and so the doctor opened the door.  A dog sprang into the room and leaped on the doctor with an eager show of gladness.  Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog?  He didn’t know what was on the other side of the door.  He knew nothing except that his master was here.  And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.  I know little of what is on the other side of death.  However, I do know one thing…I know my Master is there and that is enough.”

Mary chose the Gospel for her funeral — John 1: 1-14, also known as the “Last Gospel.”

I think Mary who certainly loved dogs most especially her companion of 10 years Chewy would relate to this story.  In the nursing home Mary even had treats in her room for dogs that would be brought to visit patients.   As a woman of faith, I believe that when the door opened to eternity for Mary on December 26th that Mary believed with all her heart that her Master Jesus Christ would be on the other side.  Our faith promises this to be true.  How happy Mary must now be to live in the Presence of the Lord reunited with Dave and all those who preceded her into eternity.  The Gospel I just proclaimed was Mary’s favorite.  In fact, she called it her “Confirmation of Faith.”  The Gospel began, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…All things came to be through him.”  It is this Eternal Word, this eternal God whom Mary met face to face on the 26th of December.  What an awesome encounter.   Joe wrote that Mary in her final earthly hour opened her eyes.  She lifted her head, looked at something.  Mary tried to speak.  Mary had a sense of awe on her face.  Mary we did believe at that point glimpse heaven—she was entering eternity.  Certainly after the last difficult years it was time for Mary to find peace, health and eternal happiness.  Thus we believe has happened for Mary.  As the Book of Ecclesiastes our first reading said, “There is an appointed time for everything…a time to be born, and a time to die.”

Mary with her beloved companion Chewie (or Chewy), a faithful Yorkshire terrier.

Mary loved to sit in the driveway on a lawn chair or sit on her front porch just talking to people as they went by the family home that Mary so loved.  She loved the visits of the mailman who stopped to see Chewy each day.  It gave Mary an opportunity to talk with the mailman.  Yes, Mary loved people and interacting with people.  We can only imagine her joy in all the new people she is encountering in eternity.  The Book of Ecclesiastes said, “There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens….A time to be silent, and a time to speak.”  Mary knew the importance of speaking and being with people.  People gravitated to Mary because they knew she genuinely had an interest in them and their lives.  That is why every visitor was always welcomed to her home with a bit of tea and bread or some other treat.  Mary made people feel welcome. 

Caring for the family was a joy of Mary’s life.  She showed her love for family in so many ways be that the great birthday meals or special Christmas mornings.  Isn’t it interesting it was on the day after Christmas that Mary died?   When the nurse told Mary that it was almost Christmas, Mary simply smiled and said, “I love Christmas.”  She was here in this life for Christmas but then entered eternity.  In this Christmas season we believe Mary is with the Lord. In this Christmas Season we celebrate Mary’s Mass of Christian Burial.  The Gospel said, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  Mary believed Jesus Christ the Word of God always dwelt with her in this life and now Mary dwells with the Lord in eternity.   How joyous must be Christmas in heaven.

Mary received a snazzy blue pair of sneakers for her 85th birthday from daughter Marghi.
Mary’s colorful sneakers were always a topic of conversation.

Mary had a fun side.  She even one year with a couple of family members toilet-papered a neighbor’s yard on Christmas Eve.  She so loved colorful tennis shoes.  Perhaps that is why she enjoyed the Silver Sneakers exercise group so much.  Her trip to Ireland with her three sisters was a joy for all of them.  Yes, Mary enjoyed life and now we believe that joy is multiplied many times over in eternity.  How happy Mary must be.   As Ecclesiastes said, “There is an appointed time for everything….A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Mary enjoyed cooking and baking.  She always had a sit down dinner.  She enjoyed having people at her home to play cards.  Mary didn’t play cards much but it gave her an opportunity to prepare dinner.  Mary was a gardener.  One of her special treats was her homemade jam that was always present to be enjoyed.  St. Paul wrote to the Romans in our second reading, “Hope does not disappoint.”  Mary was a woman of hope—hope in the promises of the Lord, hope in other people.  It was that hope that led Mary to always think of others before herself.  Mary was all about doing for family and friends to bring them happiness.  I am sure from eternity Mary will continue to pray for us.  Pray for Mary that she pass quickly from Purgatory to the fullness of life with God in heaven.  

Mary was first and foremost an educator.   Reading was a passion of hers.  Mary was a full-time reading specialist here at Sacred Hearts School.  Her career in our school lasted for almost three decades.  As Joe wrote, “She opened the world of books to many hundreds of children.  After retirement Mary continued to tutor students several days a week.  Mary set high standards for her own children and the children she taught.  However, she didn’t ask anyone else to do something she herself wouldn’t do.    However, now this wonderful Irish grandmother has completed her journey.  May she receive the reward of her well-lived life.    As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

On behalf of the Catholic Community of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, we offer to you our sympathy and prayers.  We have remembered you in our Masses and prayers these last days and so we will in the days ahead.  There is a little reflection that goes as follows, “A builder built a temple.  He wrought it with grace and skill; pillars and arches all fashioned to work his will.  Men said, as they saw its beauty, ‘It shall never know decay.  Great is thy skill, O builder:  Thy fame shall endure forever.’   A teacher built a temple with loving and infinite care, planning each arch with patience, laying each stone with prayer.  None praised her unceasing efforts, none knew of her wondrous plan; for the temple the teacher built was unseen by the eyes of man.  Gone is the builder’s temple, crumbled into dust; low lies each stately pillar, food for consuming rust.  But the temple the teacher built will last while the ages roll.  For that beautiful unseen temple is a child’s immortal soul.”  Touching hundreds of “immortal souls” is what Mary did with her life as a teacher.  May she rest in peace.  In the words of our Holy Gospel, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” 

Remembering Mary

Video can convey meaning in a story unlike just about anything. Which is why I created a memorial video dedicated to my late mother for use at the visitation back on Jan. 5, 2019. I’ve done three of these previously and found them to be very cathartic.

One of the opening images of this video, showing Mom as a toddler in a snowsuit, was a gift from Mom. We found the photograph in her nightstand about an hour after she died. It is the first image I’ve seen of her younger than 16.

“Memories are time that you borrow, to spend when
you get to tomorrow.”

The Life of Mary K. (Mulqueen) Hanneman, 1932-2018

To watch the video in a larger player, see here.

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Sun Prairie Tragedy Reminds of Massive 1975 Downtown Fire

The huge explosion and fire that leveled numerous buildings in Sun Prairie on July 10 and 11 reminded me of another massive fire in the same area more than 40 years ago. On March 3, 1975, a fast-moving fire destroyed the Schweiger Walgreen Drug Store and Hillenbrand’s shoe store in the 200 block of East Main Street.

The fire alarm was sounded at 1:51 p.m. that day, bringing 33 firemen from the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department to the scene. They were shortly joined by another 25 firefighters and trucks from Stoughton, DeForest and Marshall. The fire was discovered in the basement of the Schweiger Walgreen’s store, 214 E. Main St., and quickly spread to the adjacent Hillenbrand’s and apartments above both buildings. It took more than five hours to fully contain the blaze. The last crews left the scene at around 11 p.m.

IMG_3613
Firefighters battle a blaze at the Schweiger Walgreen Drug Store in Downtown Sun Prairie on March 3, 1975. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)

Margaret McGonigle, 75, became trapped on the roof of the drug store building when the stairs down from her apartment were blocked by fire. She was rescued by the snorkel truck from the Sun Prairie Fire Department, according to the March 6, 1975 issue of the Sun Prairie Star-Countryman. Mrs. McGonigle was the widow of pharmacist John M. McGonigle, whose family owned and operated McGonigle’s Drug Store for more than 50 years before Robert Schweiger purchased it in 1970. She was also postmaster of Sun Prairie for 38 years before retiring in 1966. John McGonigle died in September 1965.

I distinctly recall going downtown with my father to view the aftermath of the fire. I recall the outriggers on the snorkel truck, and large amounts of road salt around the tires of the fire engines. The pharmacy held special memories for us, since my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, was a reserve pharmacist who occasionally worked for McGonigle’s. The Hillenbrand clothing and shoe stores were run by John Hein, a good friend of my parents, and the shoe store was managed by Roger Reichert, also a family friend. Reichert lived above the store and lost all of his belongings in the fire.

IMG_3615
Volunteers move boxes of shoes from the Hillenbrand clothing and shoe store, 206 E. Main St., Sun Prairie. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)

The state fire marshal investigated the blaze, but was unable to determine a cause. Damage to the structures and contents was estimated by Fire Chief Milton Tester at $200,000. Within a week, Schweiger’s opened in temporary quarters on Bristol Street. The buildings were a total loss and had to be demolished.

“Many fine things have been said about our volunteer firemen before. But last week’s fire had to be one of their finest efforts,” read the “Shavings from the Editor’s Pencil” column in the Star-Countryman. “I spent nearly three hours in that biting cold watching those magnificent, heroic firemen work. Not once did I see anyone so much as flinch at going into a burning building or otherwise approaching a dangerous situation.”

Both the 2018 fire that claimed the life of Capt. Cory Barr and the 1975 fire had one thing in common: a pharmacy. The Barr House tavern at the corner of Bristol and Main streets, owned by Capt. Barr and his wife, once housed the Crosse and Crosse Drug Store, according to the Sun Prairie Public Museum. The building dates to the 1890s.

The Schweiger fire was one of three major blazes in Sun Prairie in 1975. On Aug. 10 that year, fire swept through the Moldrem Furniture store at 13 N. Bird St. in the Bird Street Centre. The fire did about $185,000 damage to the 34-year-old business. The store was a total loss. A backdraft blew two firefighters out the front doors of the store. Retiring assistant fire chief Arnie Kleven described the fire as his most frightening in an August 2017 interview with The Star. Kleven said the doors probably saved his life that day. Wiring in the air conditioning system was cited as the cause of the fire.

In July 1975, shorted wiring sparked a major fire in the garage and offices of Bill Gawne Ford Inc., 425 W. Main St. That fire caused an estimated $85,000 damage.

(This post has been updated with details on the Moldrem and Gawne fires.)

©2018 The Hanneman Archive

History Preserved. Lives Treasured.

%d bloggers like this: