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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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 “before” photo shows deep staining by black mold.
The cleaning chemical quickly attacks the harmful growths.
After a few minutes, the stone turns a brown-orange.
After treatment, the stone has an orange hue, which will fade with time
Nearly two years later, the stone looks almost flawless.
The video below shows how this monument looked as it was given a final rinse:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
“Go ahead, read it!” she said, turning her head with tears in her eyes. And so I did.
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.
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.”
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 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 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.”
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 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.
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.
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.)
Firefighters battled fire, smoke and bitter cold weather. (The Capital Times/Dave Sandell)
It took more than five hours to contain the blaze. (Wisconsin State Journal/Edwin Stein)
A snorkel truck was used in the dramatic rescue of Margaret McGonigle, owner of the drug store building, who was trapped on the roof. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)
Fire crews from Sun Prairie, DeForest, Stoughton and Marshall battled the blaze. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)
Shelby Beers behind the counter of the Crosse and Cross Drugstore, circa 1920s. (Sun Prairie Public Museum photo)
For years, Father Alfred Kunz said the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Michael Catholic Church in the village of Dane, northwest of Madison. On Saturday, 20 years after the priest was brutally murdered in the adjoining parish school, a Solemn Requiem Mass was said for his soul at St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church.
Several dozen people attended the Latin Requiem Mass for Fr. Kunz, held in the beautiful St. Mary church west of Madison. It had every bit of the sacred reverence that Kunz brought to the Latin Masses he celebrated at St. Michael’s in Dane. Standing in stark contrast to the beauty of the incense, bells and Gregorian chant was the fact that Fr. Kunz’s killer has not been brought to justice.
Father John Zuhlsdorf reminded those in attendance that a Requiem Mass is not a celebration of life, but a funeral Mass for the souls of the dead. He urged the faithful to think of their own deaths, and to pray that they not die without benefit of the sacraments, including anointing of the sick. Dying without the sacraments, known as an “unprovided death,” is a truly frightful thing, Zuhlsdorf said. He prayed that God would admit Fr. Kunz into the Beatific Vision of Heaven. (The photo atop this article shows Fr. Zuhlsdorf blessing the catafalque, which serves as a stand-in for the casket in Requiem Masses where the body of the deceased is not present.)
In the narthex of St. Mary’s stood an easel with a framed photograph of Fr. Kunz, inscribed with the words Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It was a testament to Kunz’s 42 years of service as a Catholic priest in Cassville, Waunakee, Monroe and the village of Dane. It also spoke of the wounds left behind by such a violent death, perpetrated on a holy man dedicated to serving others.
On March 4, 1998, Kunz’s body was discovered in a school hallway by a teacher arriving for the workday. Kunz’s throat had been cut, causing him to bleed to death from a severed carotid artery. The edged weapon used to cut his throat was never found. Police said the killer might have discarded a knife or weapon that was a treasured possession; something he carried every day. Kunz’s body was found face down, at the foot of a statue of St. Michael the Archangel.
The ensuing investigation is said to be the most expansive, and expensive, in Dane County history. Yet no arrests have been made. On the 20th anniversary of Kunz’s murder, the Dane County Sheriff’s Department has begun releasing new details on the case in hopes someone will come forward with a tip that could break the case open. The department started posting details to a Facebook page set up in Fr. Kunz’s name. Some of the posts were written in first person, as if Fr. Kunz were speaking. After a few days, Facebook removed the page and all related content, with no explanation.
Father Kunz was last heard from at 10:23 p.m. on March 3, 1998, when he made a telephone call to a priest friend. Earlier that evening, Kunz attended the taping of a radio program, “Our Catholic Family,” with his friend, Fr. Charles Fiore. After being dropped off at St. Michael’s about 10 p.m., Kunz eventually returned to his living quarters in the school. The perpetrator, laying in wait, might have gained access through a window in Kunz’s apartment. Police said Kunz defended himself and tried to fend off the attack. Kunz was a former Golden Gloves boxer, in good physical shape despite his 67 years. Here is how the sheriff’s department described what happened:
Inside the school hallway, upon inserting my key into the lock of my private quarters and opening the door, it was then that the killer made his move. I saw and confronted the killer; I wasn’t afraid of him. He attacked, but we both landed some punches. The killer then attacked me with a weapon, and then pulled out a knife. I was knocked to my knees, and the killer then slashed my neck, which caused the fatal loss of blood.
On March 3, 1998, someone in the St. Michael school office overheard Fr. Kunz having a heated phone conversation, the sheriff’s department said. Kunz told the caller he could not see them that day. “Furthermore, I don’t think we have anything else to talk about,” Kunz said.
A criminal profile of the murderer suggested he not only knew Fr. Kunz, he was likely familiar with the layout of the church and the school. A former FBI profiler said the killer was most likely surprised by the amount of blood that resulted from the attack. The perpetrator left the school that night covered in blood. He might have been in an altered state of mind that night, and has lived in with regret, and denial, ever since. Details of the crime indicated a “very strong personal motive,” according to then Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin.
The sheriff’s department said large amounts of parish money had been moved from account to account prior to the murder. Some “very large checks” were also cut. The week before the murder, collection money was missing from the St. Michael’s sacristy. Four months before the murder, Fr. Kunz told a friend: “Please, please pray for me.”
The murder case exposed biases and hostility in the media and community against the Traditional Latin Mass that Kunz so loved and revered. The TLM is the Catholic liturgy as it has been celebrated for millennia. Fr. Kunz regularly said the Latin Mass, although he also celebrated the Novus Ordo, or new order of the Mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Catholics from around Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois drove to St. Michael’s in Dane to participate in the 10 a.m. Sunday Latin Masses offered by Fr. Kunz. This was years before Pope Benedict XVI issued his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which stated priests around the world can offer the Latin Mass without permission from a bishop.
One investigator remarked in 1999 that “people have described Kunz’s followers as cult-like.” This attitude smears traditional-minded Catholics and suggests they are followers of a priest instead of Jesus Christ in his Catholic Church. Latin Mass participants were described in media stories as “extremely conservative,” even rigid or at the fringe of Catholic life. Prior to Vatican II in the 1960s, the Latin Mass was simply Catholic, celebrated in the same way around the world. A profile of the Kunz case published in Las Vegas Weekly magazine in 2002 said the Latin Mass “seems to a visiting outsider like a postcard from some musty, long-forgotten time.”
From Devout Catholic Family
Alfred J. Kunz was born on April 15, 1930 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. He was one of eight children of Alfred J. and Helen T. Kunz. His father emigrated from Switzerland in 1914. His mother was born in Michigan, although her parents came to America from Baden and Württemberg, Germany. Alfred Kunz Sr. was a cheesemaker. He established his own business, the Fairview Cheese Factory, near Stitzer in the Town of Liberty. The Kunz family was devoutly Catholic, attending daily Mass at St. Mary’s in Fennimore. The senior Kunz died on March 3, 1965, exactly 33 years before the attack that ended his son’s life. Mrs. Kunz died in January 1993 at age 98.
A young Alfred heard a calling to the priesthood after suffering a nearly fatal bout of appendicitis at age 10. As he regained consciousness from surgery, he told his mother, “I want to be a priest.” In 1944, Fr. Kunz entered Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, for a 12-year course of study. At the time, it was the only seminary in the United States under direct supervision of the Vatican. In November 1950, Kunz was featured in an essay in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, pictured serving Mass for Msgr. Gilbert Schmenck, procurator of Pontifical College. Kunz was ordained a priest at Pontifical College upon his graduation on May 26, 1956. According to his cemetery monument, he also held a canon law degree. He said his first Mass on June 3, 1956 at St. Mary Catholic Church in Fennimore. Fr. Kunz served at parishes in Cassville and Waunakee before becoming assistant pastor at St. Victor’s Catholic Church in Monroe. In June 1967, Bishop Cletus O’Donnell named him pastor of St. Michael’s in the village of Dane.
On a very stormy day in April 1965, Fr. Kunz had a brush with death just outside Monroe. As he was leaving town in his automobile, a tornado blew across the road, spinning his car around. When the winds had passed, Fr. Kunz’s car was pointed back toward Monroe. “I saw the light,” he told The Milwaukee Journal, “so I returned.” The storms that day did damage across a wide swath of southern Wisconsin.
Fr. Kunz became known as a faithful and tireless defender of the truth of the Catholic faith. This in and of itself would have been unremarkable in another period of history when modernism didn’t have such a hold on an increasingly secular society. He was a vocal opponent of abortion and promoter of the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death. He once held a funeral for an aborted child at St. Michael’s, burying the baby at the foot of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He preached the truth about the sinful vice of sodomy and spoke against no-fault divorce. His introduction of the Latin Mass at St. Michael’s rankled some people, even though the Novus Ordo Mass was offered as well. He said Mass for the school children every weekday. Three times a week those 8 a.m. Masses were in Latin.
Fr. Kunz worked hard to ensure that St. Michael’s Catholic Church was rebuilt in the 1970s after it was destroyed by fire. He handled maintenance tasks at the church and school, and even mowed the grass at the cemetery. He took no parish salary and drove a well worn Volkswagen in order to save money. His presence at monthly fish fry fund-raisers was almost legendary. He slaved in the hot kitchen to make sure enough food was available to serve all comers.
The case of Fr. Kunz has at times been dominated by conspiracy theories and harsh assessments of the murdered priest. Because he was an exorcist, some contend Kunz was killed by Luciferians, or someone under Satan’s influence. The sheriff’s department contends Fr. Kunz had “intimate” relationships with women in his parish, although it has never provided details or indicated the source of this information. One former St. Michael parishioner questioned by the sheriff’s department said she felt Fr. Kunz’s name was dragged through the mud with such unsubstantiated allegations.
In a social media dispatch on the case, the sheriff’s department said, “Father Kunz taught that sending children to public school was a mortal sin. Father Kunz didn’t like his teachers socializing with the parishioners. Could someone have disagreed with Father Kunz’s views?” There was no source information offered on the claim that Fr. Kunz taught that going to public school was a mortal sin. The department also said Fr. Kunz was viewed as “very controlling; he had disbanded the church council and didn’t have a finance committee.” Police now say former St. Michael Catholic School Principal Maureen O’Leary was uncooperative during the investigation, even though she and Fr. Kunz were close. O’Leary suggested that the Dane County Sheriff’s Department should call off the the investigation and mark it “unsolved,” police said. “Could something she knew have been a motive for the killer?” the sheriff’s department asked on Facebook March 7, 2018.
Kunz’s friend Fr. Fiore was an early critic of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy and covered up by U.S. bishops. Fr. Kunz was a canon-law adviser to The Roman Catholic Faithful, a now-defunct nonprofit group dedicated to exposing sexual misconduct among priests and bishops. Because of this, some believe Kunz might have been killed to keep him from identifying priests or bishops who sexually abused boys or teenagers. Kunz was said to be helping Fiore prepare a report on sexual abuse by clergy, for delivery to Pope John Paul II. Father Malachi Martin said he believed Kunz’s killing was a “deliberate attempt by those who hated what he represented and what he was doing, to silence and disable him permanently.”
A tribute written on the 10th anniversary of his murder described Fr. Kunz as “completely faithful to Christ and the sacraments.” Written by Toby Westerman of Tradition in Action, the tribute continued:
“Like Christ the High Priest, he poured himself out for the love of God and the good of souls. In the words of his close friend and one of the founders of the pro-life movement in the United States, the late Fr. Charles Fiore, ‘in the end Fr. Kunz even poured out his own blood for Jesus and His flock.’ “
An appearance Fr. Kunz made at a public memorial service in 1967 seems in retrospect almost prophetic. Kunz was among five clergy members who spoke words of comfort at Juda High School for nine seniors killed when a plane crashed into the motel where they were staying on a class trip. More than 1,500 people attended the service in the Green County community, located between Monroe and Brodhead. Fr. Kunz spoke of the hope for the Christian dead, reading words from St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.
“We who live, who survive to the Lord’s coming, will in no way have an advantage over those who have fallen asleep. …The dead in Christ will first rise.”
At the conclusion of the March 3, 2018 Solemn Requiem Mass for Fr. Kunz, the faithful spilled into the narthex of St. Mary’s. They shared memories of Father Al, and wondered aloud if his murder will ever be solved. They spoke most of his love for the Traditional Latin Mass, and how his work helped lay the foundation for traditional Masses now said at St. Mary and other parishes across Wisconsin. Father Al would have been very much at home here in Pine Bluff. On this sunny March day in 2018, in fact, he was at home. ♦
—This article was updated at 9:07 p.m. and 11:26 a.m. CST March 7, 2018, 11:00 a.m. CST March 6, 2018, and at 9:35 p.m. CST March 4, 2018, with new case details from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department.
Anyone with information on the murder of Fr. Kunz should contact the Dane County Sheriff’s Department tips line, 608-284-6900, or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. The department set up a Facebook page in Fr. Kunz’s name, but Facebook has removed the page. The Fr. Kunz Twitter page is still being used by the department to share information on the case. Use the hashtag #whokilledfatherkunz.