A Good Man Goes Home to Heaven: Ron LaCanne

I remember well the first and last times I saw my father-in-law, Ron LaCanne.

In the nearly 25 years between these two events, I came to respect and love this man, whose story late in life became one of remarkable faith. I was incredibly moved by his quiet and steady faith in Christ and his hope of attaining glory in Heaven after his earthly journey, which ended earlier today at age 74.

It was such a long road away from the day I first met him. That was in early 1990, when I stopped at the LaCanne home on North Wisconsin Street in Racine to pick up his daughter Sue for a date. I was more than a bit nervous, because I had been told he was not fond of newspaper reporters. At the time, I was a reporter at The Journal Times, Racine’s daily newspaper. I sat on the couch and we chatted about the story I’d worked on that day, dealing with a Caledonia teenager who killed a dog, reportedly due to listening to heavy metal music. Somehow I survived the discussion and made a decent first impression on the man I would come to spend countless hours with over the next nearly 25 years.

Ron in his favorite spot, working the grill.
Ron in his favorite spot, working the grill.

My final and lasting impressions of him came in a series of visits this summer at the LaCanne apartment in Racine. Ron was thin, frail and dying from cancer. And although we’d been estranged in recent years, this time I was not nervous to visit. I presented him with a very special Rosary given to me by Catholic filmmaker Steve Ray. The Rosary had been placed on nearly a dozen sites in the Holy Land. This included Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion of Christ. He picked up the Rosary and felt the intricate carvings, then carefully laid it back in its olive wood box. I didn’t fully understand how much this touched him until a while later when the fire alarm went off in the apartment complex. He struggled to stand up from his recliner and grabbed two things: a hand-carved “comfort cross” given to him by a priest friend, and that Rosary. I struggled to hold back tears as my mother-in-law Eileen helped him out the door.

Two weeks later I visited again. This time he was confined to bed and drifted in and out of consciousness. We still had a nice talk, recalling stories and memories from across the years. I told him that many people were praying for him on his journey and that God would remain very close to him. “I sure hope so,” he said, squeezing my hand. A few minutes later, this solemn moment was replaced by laughter and joy. I told him that our oldest daughter Samantha was going to a concert that night. “A concert?” he said. He swung his hands out into the air and started singing the Alleluia Chorus from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. We laughed at the joy and spontaneity of it. It seemed so appropriate, and so very beautiful. Wow.

Samantha, Stevie and Ruby with Gramps.
Samantha, Stevie and Ruby with Gramps.

Several times we sat alone and talked about his final days on earth. He spoke freely and with stark honesty about his impending death. I encouraged him not to be afraid, since all of those who love him have complete faith that Jesus will not forsake him. “I’m not afraid to die,” he said. Then he asked me to do him a favor. “Can you help me identify the gentleman sitting on the couch over there?” There was no one on the couch. And since Ron had lost his sight over the past year, he would not have seen anyone there in the first place. But I could tell he was seeing something profound, even if it was beyond my vision. “Describe him to me,” I said. The visitor had dark hair and wore a cap. His expression was calm, peaceful and friendly. “He has been sitting there for the past two days,” Ron said. We talked a little more, and I suggested his visitor was a guardian angel sent by God to protect and comfort him. The idea was not foreign to me, as I’ve read a number of accounts by hospice workers of dying patients seeing angels.

We were on guard for weeks expecting Ron’s death, but he wasn’t about to follow any script. Just when we feared the worst, he would rally and have a great day or two. I recall one day pulling up to the apartment center and seeing him sitting outside in the sunshine, facing Lake Michigan. I asked him how he felt. “Doing great,” he said. “I feel really good.” On another visit, after listening to a preseason Packers game, we talked again about death and dying. “The time is near,” he said. I thanked him for the incredible witness he was providing to his grandchildren (and all of us). The Cross is heavy, and he knew it. But in his final months, weeks and days, he found peace. And now he is at peace.

I’ve always believed life is well-reflected in pictures, both on paper and ink and in the mind’s imagination. Many images of Ron come to me as I recall the last 25 years. Let me share just a few.

I remember the early afternoon of October 5, 2002. It was a very difficult day. I was driving Ron back to Racine from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa. A short time before, his oldest son, Patrick, had died at the too-young age of 37. Ron exhaled loudly and struggled to find some words. “I’ll tell you, Joe, this is so hard. So hard. No one should have to experience the death of their child.” So very true. We drove and recalled favorite memories of Patrick. By the end of that drive, we both better understood the impact Pat had made on the family. It continues to this day. I can only imagine the embrace the two shared at their reunion earlier today!

Ron LaCanne holds his first grandchild, Stevie, on January 21, 1992.
Ron LaCanne holds his first grandchild, Stevie, on January 21, 1992.

My mind rolls back to January 1992, when a well-dressed Ron stopped at St. Luke’s Hospital in Racine. He was on his way to his job at S.C. Johnson Wax, but had to stop first for some quality time with his first grandson, Stephen Patrick Hanneman. The photo my wife Sue snapped that morning tells of the joy and pride of a new grandpa. That day Ron earned the moniker he later awarded himself: “Gramps.” Gramps. He wore that title as well as anyone could, loving his five grandchildren like no one else.

Everyone always enjoyed July 4 at the LaCanne residence. While the grandkids were little, Ron went all out with a fireworks show as good as you’d see at the lakefront in Milwaukee or Racine. There were toy soldiers launched 100 feet in the air, returned to earth via parachute. And the Titanic, a huge brick of sound and color that should have come with its own fire department. On one occasion, one of the fireworks tipped over, firing projectiles across the gathered relatives. We all dove for cover under tables. “Incoming!” Over the years, Ron gave up the fireworks duty, but none of us could ever match those incredible displays.

Ron with grandchildren Samantha, Ruby, Josh and Geoffrey.
Ron with grandchildren Samantha, Ruby, Josh and Geoffrey.

Speaking of displays, Ron was also the master of Christmas decorating. He always got two trees, one for the living room and one for the basement. His main tree was usually the tallest, fattest one on the lot, which he covered every square inch with ornaments, lights and beads. The rest of the house was festooned with lighted villages, Santa statues and a Nativity set that could reside at the Vatican. One year after a few seasons of collecting ceramic lighted Norman Rockwell houses, we put up an entire village on an expansive shelf space over our front door. After plugging it in, I danced down the upstairs hallway, singing, “Ron LaCanne, eat my dust!” Silly to be sure, but in a way, it was my own tribute to the master.

Every year, Ron played Santa at the LaCanne Christmas eve party. This was an event attended by dozens of family members. The food was diverse and plentiful, half the punch was spiked and the kids were all antsy in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. About 9 p.m., Ron would slip out of the living room, duck into a phone booth and emerge as Santa, always coming in through the front door. It was tradition that “Santa” would pick up the youngest grandchild for a photo. This often lead to either wide-eyed amazement or quivering tears. This was all followed by an orgy of gift opening for the kids. One year, an eagle-eyed granddaughter Samantha noticed that Grandpa was gone for a while, and when he returned, his hair was wet and he wore different shoes. Hmmmm. Another year, after Ron had retired from being Santa, youngest grandchild Josh LaCanne was determined to let Santa know the best gifts should be for him and not his brother, Geoffrey. When the red-clad bearded one (played by Ron’s son Chris) appeared at the party, young Josh got wide eyed and shouted, “Brother wants rocks!”

Ron and Eileen during an outing with Samantha and Stevie.
Ron and Eileen during an outing with Samantha and Stevie.

Ron and Eileen were always faithful attendees at the grandkids’ activities. Countless soccer games on chilly, windswept fields in Franksville, Christmas concerts, track meets, graduations. Ron was there with either a video camera or a still camera. Over the years he took thousands of photos and hours of video, often making commemorative books that he would present at birthdays or Christmas. I recall a time seeing a video that showed the family watching videos of the grandkids. Life imitates art.

As time went on and events in the world became more troubling, Ron decided he wanted his grandchildren to know about a simpler time, when right and wrong were easy to spot and traditional values where championed. So he started writing, tales of his childhood growing up as a Catholic boy in Racine. Stories, anecdotes and just things he wanted the kids to know, they were all included in this growing 100-page tome of Ronaldian wisdom. Occasionally he would share bits and pieces. What a gift these writings will be to his grandchildren and their children. I hope one day to be able to digitize them and format them into a book.

Ron was always willing to help out with a project. In 2007, after my father died of lung cancer, he helped me install a new floor in the upstairs hallway at my parents’ home in Sun Prairie. During my Dad’s illness, his little dog Chewy didn’t get as much attention and didn’t get put out as often. The result was he used the baseboards and the carpet for a bathroom. It was awful work pulling out the carpet, only to realize the baseboard, plaster and parts of the subfloor were contaminated. We worked for two days, first removing the mess, then treating the walls and subfloor with pure bleach to neutralize the smell. My eyes are still burning. When we were done, my Mom had a new wood floor and no more doggie smell.

We all gathered for a portrait at Nicholson's in 2000.
We all gathered for a portrait at Nicholson’s in 2000.

When I was running my own marketing business, I tapped Ron’s business expertise and we worked together on some major projects for my client, Volvo Construction Equipment. I hired Ron to help me evaluate company financials, stock reports, annual reports and other business intelligence on prospective customers for Volvo. His analysis and detailed input allowed me to present market studies that were so well-received I still hear compliments about them, nearly a decade later. 

I could go on for pages, but time is fleeting.  Ron lived a very full 74 years. He gave much of his time, from his days in the U.S. Army, to volunteering in the community to groups such as the Opportunity Center and United Way. He rose high in the ranks at one of America’s great brand companies, SC Johnson Wax. But it was and is his family that was the love of his life. On Sunday evenings when everyone gathered in the living room after another of Eileen’s great dinners, Ron would pat his stomach and look around the room. “Mi familia!” he would say. Nothing can top having your family surrounding you. How he loved his wife Eileen, daughter Sue, sons Patrick and Chris (and wife Elise); and his grandkids, Stevie, Samantha, Ruby, Geoffrey and Josh.

My thoughts return to the man with the Rosary, clutching it and the Cross like an anchor during a time of fear and uncertainty. This will be Ron’s everlasting lesson and legacy. To carry the Cross through good and bad times in life, maintaining the hope of things unseen. As his life came to a close, Ron returned to his roots and his embraced his Catholic faith. It was his comfort and salvation. To use a phrase from his ancestors’ native tongue, La fede mi da vita: Faith gives me life.

And so it has.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

 

(To see additional photos, visit Ron’s photo memorial gallery. Photo selection by Samantha J. Hanneman.)

Everyone Loves a Parade

Few things in the American experience are held so dear by so many as the parade. From the smallest rural towns to the heart of New York City, Americans have long held celebrations by parade.

Members of the American Legion prepare to march in a parade in Mauston, circa 1942.
Members of the American Legion prepare to march in a parade in Mauston, circa 1942.

Reasons for parades are as varied as the communities in which they take place. Perhaps the most widely celebrated type of parade is the Independence Day or July 4 parade. New York has its St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Left Coast has its parades of bacchanalia and pride. America’s heartland gathers for high school homecomings, Memorial Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and special-themed parades such as the old Circus World parade in Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Dells marching band parades down State Street in Mauston, circa 1942.
The Wisconsin Dells marching band parades down State Street in Mauston, circa 1942.

High school and college marching bands are a frequent source of parade entertainment. Other favorite parade participants include brigades of toddlers on tricycles, doll buggies pushed by little girls and the myriad parade floats and displays honoring the nation’s military.

Parades have long been used as a way to project military might, such as the goose-stepping Nazis of Germany or the show of ballistic missiles in Communist Russia. In America, ticker-tape parades became a favorite way to welcome home troops and war heroes such as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Admiral Chester Nimitz. The original ticker-tape parade was held in New York to celebrate dedication of the Statue of Liberty. A memorable parade in summer 1969 honored the Apollo 11 astronauts.

View other parade images from our collection:

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Maps Show Detail of Old Mauston Brewery

Newly digitized Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Mauston, Wisconsin, provide more detail of the sprawling Mauston Brewery complex that once covered much of the land at the corner of Morris and Winsor streets along the Lemonweir River.

We previously wrote about the Mauston Brewery as detailed in a book by Mauston native Richard D. Rossin Jr. The Wisconsin Historical Society recently digitized hundreds of maps from the Sanborn Map Company that show intricate detail of the brewery complex. “Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are meticulously detailed, large-scale lithographed, color-keyed street maps,” the Wisconsin Historical Society wrote on its web site. “Sanborn Maps helped insurance agents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries determine the degree of fire hazard associated with a particular property.”

The fire map shows two Mauston Brewery buildings near the home at 22 Morris.
The 1894 fire map shows two Mauston Brewery buildings near the home at 22 Morris.

The old Hanneman home at 22 Morris Street was built around 1893 by Charles F. Miller, owner of the Mauston Brewery. Many of the details he put in the home — stained glass, hand-carved woodwork — remain to this day. The Sanborn maps show that the land around the home once included a bottling works and another out building related to the brewery. It is interesting that Morris Street is incorrectly labeled as Main Street on the 1894 version of the Sanborn map. By 1909, the bottling building near the Miller home was gone.

Across Winsor Street, the map shows a malt kiln, mash kettles, a well, a granary, an ice house and other outbuildings. The map notes that the buildings area heated by a wood stove, and a brewery employee sleeps in the building. The 1909 version of the Sanborn map shows addition of a second ice house on the shore of the Lemonweir River. Brewery workers cut ice blocks on the river in the winter, then moved them on a slide to the ice house.

The 1909 version of the map shows a second ice house near the river.
The 1909 version of the map shows a second ice house near the river.

Charles Miller died in 1907, ending that family’s involvement in the brewery. Charles Ellison continued operating the brewery. By 1916, the brewery had ceased operation, according to Rossin’s book. A pickle factory started operation on the property, but it burned to the ground in 1922. Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. bought the land and built a brick ranch home in 1928.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

From the Mulde to Milwaukee: Krosch Family Journey to America

The spring of 1854 must have seemed full of promise for the Johann Friedrich Krosch family. After 55 years growing up and raising a family in the Kingdom of Saxony, Frederick Krosch prepared to leave his home at Jessnitz and set out for America. Two of his sons, William, 29, and Karl, 30, came to Wisconsin in 1850, and now it was time to join them.

So in May 1854 the Krosch family left their hometown along the Mulde River and began the long journey to America. When the sailing ship Bertha left the Port of Bremen around June 12, there were six Kroschs among the 218 passengers onboard: Frederick, wife Christiana, 53, sons Augustus Frederick, 20; Reinhold, 16; and Gustav, 11; and daughter Henrietta, 16.

August F. Krosch
August F. Krosch

Officially known as the Barque Bertha, the ship was a multi-mast sailing vessel. It was very likely a rough journey, with the ship both dependent on, and at the mercy of, the North Atlantic winds. The Krosch family started the voyage in steerage, the least comfortable part of the ship.

During the journey passengers noticed a shark following the ship for days, according to family stories passed down through generations. This was most upsetting, since a shark following a vessel was believed to signal impending death on board. Old sailors’ lore held that sharks had the ability to sense if someone on board was near death.

At one point severe storm blew up and damaged the ship’s rigging. The carpenter aboard the Bertha refused to scale the mast to make repairs. So Augustus Krosch hoisted himself up and fixed the mast, allowing the Bertha to be back underway. Shortly after, the Krosch family was moved from steerage to a cabin for the rest of the journey. Augustus and Reinhold then got jobs working as carpenters aboard the Bertha.

The family sold everything to make the journey to America. The Krosch men kept their money in money belts worn under their clothing. Although the belts painfully chafed the skin, no one dared remove them for fear of being robbed.

Portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany.
Portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany.

Brisk trade winds pushed the ship backward, delaying arrival in New York by a week. About two-thirds of the way across, the Bertha encountered “large quantities” of ice, according to voyage record filed in New York by the ship’s master, named Klamp.

On Thursday, July 20, 1854, the Bertha arrived at the Port of New York after 40 days at sea. The Kroschs then traveled to Chicago, likely by steamboat and railroad. Hotel accommodations in Chicago were scarce, so the family took the only room they could find. But an infestation of bedbugs forced them to flee the hotel for a livery stable, where they spent the night.

From there they likely rode the train to Milwaukee, and then continued on until reaching East Troy in Walworth County, where Karl and William were living. Frederick purchased land in nearby Mukwonago and started a farm. His daughter, Henrietta, met and married a blacksmith named Philipp Treutel. They first established their home in Mukwonago and later moved to North Prairie.

Frederick Krosch is buried in Oak Knoll Cemetery at Mukwonago, Wisconsin.
Frederick Krosch is buried in Oak Knoll Cemetery at Mukwonago, Wisconsin.

William Krosch settled near the village of Eagle, and married Christiana Naumann in 1857. “My father’s farm was only 80 acres. It was mostly woodland, so he worked very hard to clear some for farming,” wrote Amelia Krosch Richardson in a 1940 memoir. “There was but my brother Will and myself at that time. We had a sister, Ida, who died when she was four years old of diphtheria and one baby sister that did not live. Both are buried near our home in Wisconsin.” The story of Ida Krosch was chronicled in an earlier article.

On November 5, 1855, Frederick Krosch (1799-1876) filed his declaration of intent to become a U.S. Citizen.
On November 5, 1855, Frederick Krosch (1799-1876) filed his declaration of intent to become a U.S. Citizen.

Eventually, William, Augustus and Gustave Krosch moved west and settled around Blue Earth, Minnesota. After Frederick Krosch died in 1877, his wife Christiana moved to Minnesota, where she died in 1881. Reinhold and Karl stayed on their farms near Lake Beulah in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

FAMILY LINE: John Frederick Krosch >> Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.

Photos with That Memorable Something

Sometimes a photograph will strike you in a certain way that makes it memorable. It has some intangible quality that makes it almost timeless. Of the thousands of images in our library, a handful qualify for this kind of distinction. Not for their physical clarity or skill of the photographer, but that certain look. You might describe it just a bit like looking at a Rockwell painting, or a black and white photograph by Ansel Adams.

This image has a Little Rascals look and feel to it. Toddler Elaine Treutel and the family dog on her tricycle, circa 1922.
This image has a Little Rascals look and feel to it. Toddler Elaine Treutel and the family dog on her tricycle, circa 1922.

View the whole collection in the gallery below:

 

1926 Fire Destroyed St. James Rectory at Vesper

A fire in April 1926 at the parish priest’s residence in Vesper, Wisconsin, spread so fast that the building was reduced to its foundation before firefighters arrived.

Rev. Charles W. Gille
Rev. Charles W. Gille

Fire broke out in the rectory of St. James Catholic Church on Monday, April 19, 1926. Calls went to the Wisconsin Rapids fire department, but its firemen were all out battling grass fires. Villagers were on their own.

Belongings from the burning home can be seen in the foreground.
Belongings from the burning home can be seen in the foreground.

Neighbors rushed into the burning building to pull out as much as possible before the home was lost to the flames. It’s not known if the parish priest, Rev. Charles W. Gille, was at home when the fire broke out. Within a matter of minutes, the home was, as firefighters say, “totally involved.” The buckets of water thrown at it were of no use. By the time firemen from Marshfield arrived, it was too late.

As the fire reduces the home to its foundation, a man is seen tossing water on the roof of a nearby building.
As the fire reduces the home to its foundation, a man is seen tossing water on the roof of a nearby building.

The former residence of the Henry Stahl family on Benson Avenue was purchased by the St. James parish in 1919 to serve as a home for the parish priest. The loss from the fire was estimated at more than $4,000. The photos were taken by Carl F. Hanneman, whose father-in-law, Walter Treutel, lived just down the block from the fire scene.

This double exposure appears to show a man walking through the remains of the fire.
This double exposure appears to show a man walking through the remains of the fire.

Neighborhood Cowboys of 1930 Wisconsin Rapids

Even in the late 1920s, it was a time-honored tradition for the neighborhood boys to dress up as their favorite cowboy hero. The priceless image above shows a group of youthful cowpokes hard at play on Wisconsin Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids. The smallest cowpoke in front is Donn G. Hanneman, and judging by his spiffy cowboy getup, it might have been sometime near his August birthday.

Youth flocked to see their hero Tom Mix and his steed, Tony the Wonder Horse.
Youth flocked to see their hero Tom Mix and his steed, Tony the Wonder Horse.

So just which movie stars would these boys (and one perplexed young lady) be imitating while hard at play? The photo dates to around 1930, so it was well before the days of Red Ryder played by Red Barry and Rocky Lane, and long before the Lone Ranger. But no worries, the cowboy genre was well established at the movie house by such stars as Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix and even a very young John Wayne. These tykes might have gone off to see Fred Thompson in The Two-Gun Man or John Wayne in The Big Trail. It was still a few years before Gene Autry would be the star of In Old Santa Fe.

A bit older Donn Hanneman in his latest cowboy getup, circa 1933.
A bit older Donn Hanneman in his latest cowboy getup, circa 1933.

So here’s a tip of our 40-gallon hat to all of the aspiring cowboys of that era, with their chaps, shiny lawman’s badge, wooden gun and all the swagger a 5-year-old could muster. Let’s ride!

Carl F. Hanneman’s Contribution to Public Television’s Wisconsin Hometown Stories

People often talk about getting 15 minutes of fame. For the late Carl F. Hanneman, it was closer to 15 seconds in a new Wisconsin Public Television documentary on Juneau County, Wisconsin.

Carl F. Hanneman filed this story with the Wisconsin State Journal on December 8, 1942.
Carl F. Hanneman filed this story with the Wisconsin State Journal on December 8, 1942.

The hourlong documentary, produced as part of Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin Hometown Stories series, includes a section on the death of Governor-elect Orland S. Loomis of Mauston. Loomis died on December 7, 1942 after suffering a series of heart attacks. He was to be sworn into office in January 1943. As a local correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal, Hanneman filed a story on December 8 detailing Mauston’s grief at the loss of their hometown hero. His news clipping was used as a graphic during the Loomis portion of the documentary.

Carl’s ties to Loomis went beyond the 1942 political obituary. On election night, November 3, 1942, he was one of the only photographers at Loomis’ home as the election results came in and Loomis was declared the winner over Gov. Julius P. Heil. Carl’s news photo ran above the fold on Page 1 of the State Journal on November 4, 1942.

Hanneman's election-night photo taken at Loomis' home in Mauston ran on Page 1 of the Wisconsin State Journal.
Hanneman’s election-night photo taken at Loomis’ home in Mauston ran on Page 1 of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Hanneman (1901-1982) had known Loomis since about 1936, when Carl came to Mauston from Wisconsin Rapids to be a pharmacist for Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. He sought Loomis’ help in 1937 in obtaining his full licensure as a registered pharmacist (an upgrade from his existing license as an assistant pharmacist). At the time, Loomis was Wisconsin’s attorney general. Hanneman also worked to help elect Loomis as attorney general and governor. In recognition of his efforts, Loomis gave Hanneman a large pastel painting that once hung in his office at the state Capitol in Madison. The large-format pastel, weighing some 100 pounds in its hand-carved ornate frame, hung in the Hanneman home in Mauston and later in the home of Sun Prairie Mayor David D. Hanneman, Carl’s son.

Orland S. Loomis gave this painting to Carl F. Hanneman for his help on the gubernatorial election in 1942.
Orland S. Loomis gave this painting to Carl F. Hanneman for his help on the gubernatorial election in 1942. It still hangs in the home of the late David D. Hanneman.

The fascinating Wisconsin Hometown Stories documentary, which first aired in April 2014 and is now available on DVD, covers much more than Loomis and his political career. It traces Juneau County’s history from its early days, when towns like Mauston sprung up around grist mills on the Lemonweir River. It details the county’s cranberry farms, the massive Necedah Wildlife Refuge, the heritage of the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Indians, creation of the huge manmade Petenwell Lake, and development of National Guard bases including Camp Williams and Volk Field.

Carl F. Hanneman befriended a young Tommy Thompson in 1966 when Thompson first ran for office.
Carl F. Hanneman befriended a young Tommy Thompson in 1966 when Thompson first ran for state office.

A prominent section of the documentary focuses on former Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson of Elroy. Thompson takes viewers on a tour of southern Juneau County where he grew up, including an old gas and grocery run by his father. Thompson served as Wisconsin’s 42nd governor from 1987 to 2001.

When he first ran for Wisconsin State Assembly in 1966, Thompson stopped in Mauston and met a pharmacist named Carl Hanneman. Carl was so impressed with the young lawyer from Elroy that he closed up shop for the afternoon and took Thompson all over Mauston, introducing him to other businessmen. From that day on, Hanneman always referred to him as “my friend Tommy Thompson.” It was a kindness Thompson never forgot.

Somehow the story of Carl’s early politicking for Thompson got left out of the Wisconsin Public Television documentary. Well, there’s only so much you can fit into an hour of television.

–The DVD version of the documentary can be purchased for $16.95 from Wisconsin Public Television. Wisconsin Hometown Stories is a joint project of WPT and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

– Read Hanneman’s 1942 Wisconsin State Journal article.