Big Little Books Delivered Pint-Size Childhood Adventures

For a child growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, big adventure often came in small packages. Like many boys his age, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007) was an avid collector of Big Little Books. These chunky mini-books allowed adventure-seeking children to follow the action of Buck Rogers, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Tarzan and other characters. All for 10 cents a book.

The original Big Little Books concept was pioneered by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. Whitman was a subsidiary of Western Publishing, the creator of the famous Little Golden Books (think Poky Little Puppy). Big Little Books were roughly 3¾ inches wide by 4½ inches high. Thickness varied by page count. For example, the 1934 Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express had 380 pages and was 1¼ inches thick. The layout was one of the classic features of Big Little Books. Each page spread had text on the left side and a black-and-white illustration on the right. 

Big Little Books had text on the left-facing pages and illustrations on the right pages.
Big Little Books had text on the left-facing pages and illustrations on the right pages.

Whitman Publishing came out with its first Big Little Book in 1932, The Adventures of Dick Tracy. Soon after, Whitman had titles with comic strip characters like Wash Tubbs, as well as a range of Walt Disney titles. The 1934 series alone included titles such as Chester Gump Finds the Hidden Treasure, Buck Rogers in the City Below the Sea, Reg’lar Fellers, Betty Boop in Snow White, Kayo and Moon Mullins, Mickey Mouse in Blaggard Castle and Dick Tracy and the Stolen Bonds. 

Most of the books had hard covers, although my Dad had one Buck Rogers title that was softcover and in a slightly smaller format (only 4¼ inches high). This book had no page numbers. The inside back cover spread was a two-page ad for Cocomalt drink mix. The 1935 Tom Mix and Tony Jr. in Terror Trail was a larger format (4 5/8 by 5¼ inches) and featured real photographs inside.

My Grandmother Ruby V. Hanneman wrote an inscription on the inside cover for my Dad's 8th birthday in 1941.
Ruby V. Hanneman wrote an inscription on the inside cover for my Dad’s 8th birthday.

For my Dad’s 8th birthday, he received a copy of the 1941 Tarzan the Untamed by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Ever the historian, my Grandma Ruby V. Hanneman wrote the particulars down in blue pencil on the inside front cover: “David Dion Hanneman, March 27, 1941, for 8th birthday, from Dad, Mother, Lavonne and Donn.” This title was from the Better Little Books series, also published by Whitman. In addition to the story and illustrations, it had a flip-book feature that showed an animation as the reader flipped the pages through his thumb and forefinger.

Titles in the 1941 Better Little Books series included Big Chief Wahoo and the Magic Lamp, Mickey Mouse on Sky Island, Popeye and a Sock for Susan’s Sake, G-Man and the Gun Runners, Dick Tracy and his G-Men, Red Barry Undercover Man, Ellery Queen and the Adventure of the Last Man’s Club, Inspector Charlie Chan Solves a New Mystery and others. By the time he was in high school, my Dad stopped adding to his collection. But they clearly held a special place in his heart, since he kept and safeguarded them for more than 50 years before passing them on.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Wedding Wednesday: Big 1913 Wisconsin Party

Judging by the turnout, the marriage of Joseph John Mras and Mary V. Sternot of the Town of Sigel in Wood County, Wisconsin, was the celebration of the year in 1913. The pair were married by the Rev. John Willitzer on October 21. The group portrait was taken outside the Sigel home of the bride’s parents, Jacob and Josephine Sternot. The reception had a big turnout from Sigel and the nearby village of Vesper.

Groom Joseph Mras and bride Mary Sternot are flanked by flower girls Ruby V. Treutel (right) and Gladys Cole. Back row (left to right) includes Anton Sternot, unidentified woman, Joe Pyrch, Anna Sternot, John Sternot and another unidentified woman.
Groom Joseph Mras and bride Mary Sternot are flanked by flower girls Ruby V. Treutel (left) and Gladys Cole. Back row (left to right) includes Joseph Sternot, Josie Leu, John Pyrch, Anna Sternot, John Yeske and Mary Billiet.

As with other large-group photos in our collection, it is fun to look for details in the sea of faces. Standing just right of center is my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman, who was a flower girl at the wedding. The bride and groom are tucked away in the upper right corner, looking a bit weary. The entertainers are in center front, one with a fiddle, one with an accordion and a third holding a pitcher of beer. Three things seem to link the men in the photo: hats, beer and cigars. Some things never change.

A studio photo of the wedding party provides additional details on the big day. Ruby Treutel and (we believe) her cousin Gladys Cole were the flower girls, while one brother and one sister of the bride were also in the wedding party.

Joe and Mary Mras had three children, Clarence, Earl and William. Joe was a crane operator for 31 years for the Frank Garber Iron & Metal Co. in Wisconsin Rapids. He retired in 1959. Joe died on April 10, 1961. Mary died September 20, 1977. Their son Clarence was killed in an auto accident in September 1956. Earl died October 18, 2001. William died February 18, 1997.

— This post has been updated with corrected identifications on the wedding portrait.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Fred Hannemann’s Terror-Filled 1863 Ship Voyage to America

Leaving the family homeland to make a trans-Atlantic trip and emigrate to America would be an intimidating prospect under the best circumstances. When Michael Friedrich Ferdinand Hannemann brought his pregnant wife Mina and infant son Albert aboard the ship John Bertram in Hamburg, Germany in April 1863, he likely had no idea the horror they would face during 46 days at sea.

Fred Hannemann, as he was known to family and friends, was not the first in the family to leave Pomerania for Wisconsin. At least two sisters were already in central Wisconsin, so Fred may have heard stories from them about their travels to the American Midwest. But that likely would not have prepared him for the life-threatening conditions the 336 passengers faced en route to New York. One of the middle children of Matthias and Maria Caroline Hannemann of Meesow, Kreis Regenwalde, Pomerania, Fred was among at least eight children in the clan who would come to America between 1861 and 1882.

The John Bertram was a 1,060-ton clipper ship built in just 90 days in Boston in 1850 and placed into service in January 1851. At 180 feet long, the ship was initially employed to shuttle cargo from Boston around Cape Horn to San Francisco. It was later sold and pressed into service moving emigrants and cargo from Europe to America. Between 1860 and 1869, nearly 2,100 people were carried from Europe and elsewhere to America aboard the John Bertram.

About 10 days into the journey, the John Bertram encountered a violent gale that ripped at the sails and caused the ship to pitch up and down in the massive ocean swells. The winds raged at the ship for 48 hours, tossing drinking water casks overboard and destroying the storm sails. Conditions below deck were likely horrific, with the violent rocking causing seasickness and injuries. On deck, conditions were worse. Four crewmen were lost overboard and eight others were disabled. Once the storm passed, the ship was leaking badly, making it difficult to keep under sail. Mina Hanneman no doubt had to struggle to care for young Albert Hannemann, 1, in the chaos. The former Johanna Wilhelmine Florentine Glebke was nearly seven months pregnant during the voyage.

On May 4, still three weeks from docking in New York, the John Bertram hit dense fog and became trapped in a massive ice floe. For four days, the ship was surrounded by ice that scraped the planks of the hull and ripped at the cutwater. Four other ships in the area became snared in the ice. Eventually the clipper broke free, but had to steer 3 degrees to the east in order to escape the ice fields.

The trip took its toll. Eight infants died during the trip, although two babies were born. Along with the crewmen who were washed overboard, 12 people lost their lives. Thankfully, Fred, Mina and Albert Hannemann made it safely to Castle Garden in New York. Once they reached the Town of Grand Rapids in Wood County, Wis., they settled into farming. Eventually, seven children were born into the home, as yet another branch of the Hannemann family tree took root in central Wisconsin.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Third Grade in 1910

We only have two photographs that show Carl F. Hanneman at school, and both appear to be from the same year. In the first, Carl is the second pupil in the second row at a school in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. Wearing a tie and cardigan sweater, Carl is one of a half-dozen or so boys in the class. The clock reads 11:59, so the class photo was scheduled just before the lunch break. It is a well-kept and neatly appointed classroom. The girl sitting in front of Carl could easily be mistaken for his future bride, Ruby V. Treutel, although she went to school in nearby Vesper.

Carl F. Hanneman is third from the left in the first row. The photo was taken circa 1910.
Carl F. Hanneman is third from the left in the first row. The photo was taken circa 1910.

The second photo was taken outdoors at an entrance to the school.  Carl is third from the left in the first row. At the time, the Hannemans lived on Baker Street in Grand Rapids, so the Howe School would have been the closest public school. But the building in the photo does not match exterior details of the Howe School, so it’s unclear where Carl spent his elementary school years.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

The History of Pharmacy by Artist Robert Thom

During his nearly six decades as a pharmacist, Carl F. Hanneman got to know a lot of people. He forged good relationships with the many sales reps who called on him at the Mauston Drug Store. Some came to dinner at the Hanneman home, and a few even stayed at the house while in town. One of the long-lasting perks he received from Parke, Davis and Company was a stunning set of lithographs depicting the history of pharmacy. More than 30 prints still exist from Carl’s 1950s collection.

Parke-Davis commissioned artist Robert Thom to produce 40 illustrations for the series, “A History of Pharmacy in Pictures.” Each print came with a history article that explained the depicted scene and its place in history. Launched in 1957, the series was developed in cooperation with the Institute for the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin. Druggists were encouraged to display the artwork in their stores.

The series depicted such early topics as scientist Galen in the second century to later developments such as chemotherapy, antibiotics and pharmaceutical research. Parke Davis also commissioned Thom to paint a series of illustrations on the history of medicine. Thom (1915-1979) was well known as an illustrator of historical subjects, including great moments in baseball and the history of Illinois and Michigan.

The paintings from Carl Hanneman’s collection are in the gallery below, including the explanatory text from each image.

— This post has been updated with additional Thom paintings.

Eye on the Past: Vesper Village Gathering

It seems the entire village of Vesper, Wisconsin came out for a banquet or other big event, and stayed for a photograph. The image appears to date to about 1913 or 1914. The large crowd spilled out of the village hall for a photograph. What was the occasion? A wedding? A dance? It is fun to imagine. The portrait was taken by Moore Photo of nearby Grand Rapids (now called Wisconsin Rapids).

What makes this image especially interesting is to zoom in and look at the details. See the little girl with the Dixie Queen plug cut tobacco lunch box? It’s strange to imagine a lunch tin with smoking tobacco advertised on the side, but this was before the age of comic books or movie stars. Lunch pails with tobacco ads were common.

In the front at left/center left is my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman, who appears to be about 10 years old. That would date the photo to 1914. In the sea of men back near the stairs appears to be Ruby’s father, Walter Treutel. He is sporting a mustache, which is something I’ve not seen in any family photos.

On the building next to the window is a large thermometer with the name “Hlasatel” on it. That was the name of a Bohemian/Czech newspaper. Vesper had a large population from Bohemia, including the family of my great-grandmother, Mary (Ladick) Treutel. Her parents emigrated from Bilina in what is now the Czech Republic.

Three Generations of Knights of Columbus

For 80 years, there has been a member of the Hanneman family in the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal and charitable organization. The line of service runs from Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982), who joined in 1934, to his son David D. Hanneman (1933-2007), who joined in 1953, to his son Joe Hanneman, who joined the order in April 2007.

The three generations share other things in common with respect to the K of C, based in New Haven, Connecticut, with more than 14,000 local councils across America. All three have been members of the Fourth Degree, which focuses on patriotism and love of country. All three served in the Fourth Degree Color Corps and Honor Guard. The Honor Guard, wearing tuxedos, colored capes, ceremonial swords and plumed chapeaux, is a ceremonial presence at Masses, funeral wakes, Flag Day ceremonies and other events. Joe Hanneman served on the Honor Guard for the installation of Archbishop Jerome Listecki in Milwaukee. Carl joined the Fourth Degree in the late 1930s or early 1940s, judging by the group portrait of his exemplification class. David joined in 1973 and Joe joined in 2008.

Carl F. Hanneman (left section, second row, second from center aisle), joined the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Exact date of this photo is unknown.
Carl F. Hanneman (left section, second row, second from center aisle), joined the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Exact date of this photo is unknown.

All three also served as Grand Knight of their respective local K of C council. The Grand Knight is leader of the local council. Carl Hanneman was Grand Knight of Solomon Juneau Council 2770 in Mauston, Wisconsin in the late 1960s. David Hanneman was Grand Knight of Holy Family Council 4879 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, from 2001 to 2003. Joe Hanneman was Grand Knight of Msgr. Stanley B. Witkowiak Council 697 in Racine in 2010 and 2011.

Altar server Joe Hanneman with his father David D. Hanneman (at right) and Bill Dziadosz.
Altar server Joe Hanneman with his father David D. Hanneman (at right) and Bill Dziadosz.

The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal and charitable organization founded in 1882 by Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being considered at the Vatican. The Knights operate under the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. Knights raise money and volunteer for a wide range of causes, from pro-life programs such as crisis pregnancy centers, to programs providing free wheelchairs to the disabled, to grants to local programs that support the mentally retarded. The K of C and local councils have provided more than 500 ultrasound machines to crisis pregnancy centers.

David D. Hanneman was part of a large class that became Fourth Degree Sir Knights on April 14, 1973 in Madison.
David D. Hanneman was part of a large class that became Fourth Degree Sir Knights on April 14, 1973 in Madison.

Knights provide free coats to needy children each winter. They run a variety of athletic events, including Punt, Pass and Kick, and a basketball free-throw competition. Knights also support and promote vocations to the priesthood, sponsoring seminarians and providing other material support for those studying for the priesthood. In 2013, Knights provided a record amount of charity, with over $170 million raised and 70.5 million hours of voluntary service provided. In 2014, the K of C provided more than $2 million to help persecuted Christians from Iraq and other Mideast countries being targeted by ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Boy Scouts participate in a flag retirement ceremony run by the Knights in Racine. Speaking at the podium is Deputy Grand Knight Joe Hanneman.
Boy Scouts participate in a flag retirement ceremony run by Assembly 1207, the Fourth Degree Knights in Racine. Speaking at the podium is Deputy Grand Knight Joe Hanneman.

The Fourth Degree of the Knights is especially dedicated to patriotism and the idea that love of God and love of country go hand in hand. The Fourth Degree was founded in 1900 to combat the prejudiced notion that Catholics were not loyal Americans and could not be trusted in public office or with civic responsibility. The Fourth Degree provides free flags for schools and nonprofit organizations, supports veterans’ organizations,  provides material needs to local veterans’ hospitals, and sends faith materials and other assistance to members of the military serving overseas.

Sir Knight Joe Hanneman (left) in an honor guard at St. Rita Catholic Church in Racine.

Famous Knights include Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the Catholic Church’s all-time great authors and communicators; former Green Bay Packers coaching legend Vince Lombardi; baseball’s Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth; Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito; Ray Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican; Cardinal Francis George, former archbishop of Chicago; Saint Rafael Guizar Valencia; and six martyrs of the Cristero War in Mexico: Father Luis Bátis Sáinz, Father José María Robles Hurtado, Father Mateo Correa Magallanes, Father Miguel de la Mora, Father Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán and Father Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero. The K of C operates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.

A number of other members of the extended Hanneman family have been members of the Knights of Columbus: Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (my grandfather), Earl J. Mulqueen Jr., Donn G. Hanneman, longtime Wisconsin Rapids building inspector Arthur J. Hanneman, and former state representative Arthur Treutel.

— This post has been updated with a date correction and two new photographs.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Erinnerung An Den Tag Der Confirmation

“Memory of the Day of Confirmation.” Those German words are written in ornate lettering across a beautiful certificate commemorating the confirmation of Karl (we know him as Carl) Hanneman on June 11, 1916. The roughly 11×17 inch document, found among the papers and photographs of David D. Hanneman, is remarkably well preserved and speaks to a time before Carl’s conversion to Catholicism. The certificate is written entirely in German and reads:

“Karl Hanneman received instruction in the Word of God on 11 June 1916 in the First Moravian Church, Grand Rapids, Wis.” At the bottom of the certificate it reads: Gottes Furcht is aller Weisheit Anfang, which roughly means “All Wisdom Begins with Fear of God.” The document was signed by the Rev C.A. Meilicke.

The confirmation certificate for Carl F. Hanneman from the First Moravian Church.
The confirmation certificate for Carl F. Hanneman from the First Moravian Church.

We know Carl’s father, Charles Hanneman, was raised as a Lutheran, as were most of the Hannemans. The marriage certificate for Charles and Rosine Hanneman (nee: Ostermann) only says their wedding was a “Divine Service” and does not indicate a church. In 1907, Charles and Rosine and their four sons joined the First Moravian Church of Wisconsin Rapids, a congregation of some 450 people in a brick church on First Avenue South.

The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations and traces its roots to the 1450s in Bohemia and Moravia. The area is now part of the modern day Czech Republic. It is possible the family’s connection to the Moravian Church came from Rosine (Ostermann) Hanneman, whose father emigrated from Saxony in what is now eastern Germany.

Carl and Ruby Hanneman were both converts to Catholicism, but we’ll save those stories for another entry.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Rochester Root Beer

Marvin and Mabel Treutel operated a roadside root beer stand near their home on Wilhorn Road in Nekoosa, Wisconsin. Aside from 5-cent Rochester root beers, they served the “Best Roast Beef BBQ.” Pictured behind the counter in this late-1940s photo are Mabel Treutel (left), niece Lavonne Hanneman (center) and Marvin Treutel (right). Out front are daughters Bonnie Treutel (left), and Patricia Treutel (center, holding dog). The woman at right and the little girl at center are unidentified.

Wedding Wednesday: Carl and Ruby Hanneman

Nearly 90 years ago on a summer Tuesday morning, Ruby Viola Treutel and Carl Henry Frank Hanneman joined in marriage at St. James Catholic Church in Vesper, Wisconsin. The marriage, which would live on for more than 50 years and produce three children and 16 grandchildren, was described in detail in a story in the July 15, 1925 edition of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:

TREUTEL-HANNEMAN
One of the prettiest weddings of the summer was solemnized yesterday morning at nine o’clock at St. James church, Vesper, when Miss Ruby Treutel, daughter of Walter Treutel of Vesper, became the bride of Carl F. Hanneman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hanneman of this city. Rev. Father Gille officiated at the nuptial Mass. 

The wedding party of groom Carl Henry Frank Hanneman, 23, and Ruby Viola Treutel, 21. Wedding was July 14, 1925 at St. James Catholic Church, Vesper, Wis.  At front left is flower girl Nina Treutel, 11, sister of the bride. At front right is ring-bearer Elaine Treutel, 5, sister of the bride. Across the back, left to right, are Joe Ladick (bride's cousin), Gladys Cole (bride's cousin), groom Carl Hanneman, bride Ruby V. Hanneman, best man Wendell Miscoll, and maid of honor Esther Allbrecht.
The wedding party of groom Carl Henry Frank Hanneman, 23, and Ruby Viola Treutel, 21. Wedding was July 14, 1925 at St. James Catholic Church, Vesper, Wis. At front left is flower girl Nina Treutel, 11, sister of the bride. At front right is ring-bearer Elaine Treutel, 5, sister of the bride. Across the back, left to right, are Joe Ladick (bride’s cousin), Gladys Cole (bride’s cousin), groom Carl Hanneman, bride Ruby V. Hanneman, best man Wendell Miscoll, and maid of honor Esther Allbrecht.

The church was beautifully decorated with greens and the season’s flowers, making an appropriate setting for the wedding party. Miss Velma Doering of Stratford played the wedding march as the party entered the church and proceeded to the altar. Miss Gladys Cole of Nekoosa, and the groom’s attendant, Joseph Ladick, of Vesper, both cousins of the bride, were followed by two little sisters of the bride, Nina and Elaine, who acted as flower girl and ring bearer. The maid of honor, Miss Esther Albright, came next and was followed by the bride and her father, who gave her away. 

Mr. Hanneman and his best man, Wendell Miscoll, awaited the party at the altar. The bride was very beautiful in her gown of white georgette trimmed with gold lace. She wore a coronet of pearls, with her veil falling from a beaded butterfly. She carried a shower bouquet of pink rose buds. 

Rev. Charles W. Gille of St. James Catholic Church officiated at the wedding.
Rev. Charles W. Gille of St. James Catholic Church officiated at the wedding.

Miss Albright, the maid of honor, was gowned in orchid georgette and carried an arm bouquet of rose. Miss Cole, the bridesmaid, wore a gown of orange georgette, and also carried roses. Nina, the little flower girl, was in a little frock of yellow georgette, and Elaine completed the delightful color ensemble in a dress of pink georgette. She carried the ring in a white lily.

Following the service at the church, the bridal party and relatives came to this city, where the ten-thirty breakfast was served at the Witter Hotel. The bride is a graduate of Lincoln High School and the Stevens Point Normal. Since her graduation from the normal school she has been teaching at Vesper. The groom was graduated from Lincoln High and for some time following was employed at the Church Drug store. He later graduated from the pharmacy department of Marquette University at Milwaukee and is at present holding a position with Whitrock and Wolt.

Following a week’s outing in the northern part of the state, part of the time being spent as guests of Mr. and Mrs. Armand Bauer at their cottage at Hayward, they will return here and for the present make their home with Mr. Treutel at Vesper.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive