When the wooden covered bridge was built over Cedar Creek in 1876, memories of the Civil War were still fresh and the main modes of transportation were horses and oxen pulling buggies or wagons. The clip-clop of hooves and the rolling thunder of wooden wheels have long since faded, but Wisconsin’s last covered bridge still stands proud at age 140.
Located on a scenic route some 20 miles north of Milwaukee, the beautiful span no longer carries vehicle traffic but is still a boon to pedestrian traffic and those armed with cameras. It has served as the backdrop for countless photos over the years. It is such an important landmark to nearby Cedarburg, Covered Bridge Park was built around it and a historic marker from the Wisconsin Historical Society was placed nearby.
Our look at this magnificent bridge goes back to late June 1941. Pictured are Nina (Treutel) Wilson (center) and her daughter, Laurni Lee. Nina is the sister of my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman. I believe the photograph was taken by Emma (Treutel) Carlin, who at the time was working at the Washington County Asylum in West Bend. In her scrapbook, Emma kept a July 1941 news clipping on the bridge from The Milwaukee Journal. Across the top of the page, she wrote, “I rode over this bridge June 30, 1941.”
The Milwaukee Journal article bid poetic tribute to the old bridge:
“Grayed with the snows and suns of many years, it might tell a hundred tales to the traveler who would stop and bend a sympathetic ear. …Leaning under the weight of its years, this friendly bridge (it has no name) still creaks and rumbles heartily and bears its passing burdens of farmers and curious visitors as trustily as the day its last dowels and wedges were driven tight.”
At that time, the bridge still carried live traffic, although only vehicles weighing 3 tons or less. It was built with just enough height to accommodate a wagonload of hay. The structure was welcome shelter in summer and winter for horses and drivers alike. The bridge is 12 feet wide and 120 feet long. Its construction has been described as a masterpiece, using lattice trusses with interlaced 3-by-10-inch planks. It is held together with 2 inch hardwood dowels. Its road surface is covered with 3-inch planks. A concrete support was added beneath the midway point in 1927 to help the bridge support motorized vehicles.
Wisconsin once had dozens of covered bridges. The last one to be demolished (in 1935) spanned the Wisconsin River at Boscobel. But the folks of Ozaukee County worked hard to ensure their covered bridge would be maintained for future generations. It was taken out of active service in 1962, as another bridge was built over Cedar Creek to handle vehicle traffic. In May 1965, the state historical marker was installed next to the bridge.
It seems the story of Charles Grinolds and his new bride, Margaret, got noticed across the pond in Great Britain. The former Margaret Eley was native to England. We’ll let Carl F. Hanneman of the Wisconsin State Journal tell the story from the June 30, 1946 issue:
Journal Story on Mauston Welcome to GI Bride Moves British Paper to Congratulatory Ending
MAUSTON, Wis. — Mrs. Charles Grinolds, British war bride, and The Wisconsin State Journal’s account of her welcome at Mauston last winter, received considerable attention in the British press. The comment of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express, published May 16, follows:
“In pondering Mr. Churchill’s suggestions that America and Britain should think about setting up house together in the political sphere, it is not entirely impertinent to think of the tens of thousands of British girls and American boys who have had the same idea in the domestic realm.
They and their relatives must be more than a little tired of the jokes on this topic and while it is true that an international marriage has special problems, it must be remembered that two out of every 10 all-British marriages are now providing work for the matrimonial courts, divorce courts or solicitors’ offices, and there is no evidence that the proportion of unsuccessful British-American marriages is as high as that.
The great majority which turn out most happily do not usually make news, so we are pleased to mention the happy welcome which was given to Mrs. Charles Grinolds (nee Margaret Eley), only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. Eley of Ashwell, when she arrived at her new home at Mauston, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
With her husband, former Staff Sgt. C. Grinolds, and Charles Victor Jr., who was born after his father left England last July, Mrs. Grinolds arrived at her new hometown at 4 a.m. but found crowds and (Wisconsin State Journal) photographers awaiting to welcome her, a repeat performance of what had already happened at Chicago.
It was at Chicago that Margaret had a big surprise. While she was following the military policeman assigned to her at the railroad station, a civilian came up and took the baby from her arms. She was frightened at first, but then realized that the young man was no stranger. It was her husband, whom she had not expected would meet her at Chicago and whom she had never before seen in civilian clothes.
Bigger surprises were to come.
This is what happened to Margaret at Mauston, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:
‘Thrilled with a surprise house new and completely furnished, Mrs. Grinolds found it furnished even to pictures and books, and in the basement were 187 quarts of fruit, 30 quarts of canned chicken and other canned goods. On the table in a modernistic kitchen was a large angel food cake with the inscription ‘Welcome,’ while the percolator was sputtering its tune upon a recently installed new electric range.
‘Nice work, Margaret.’ ”
After publishing the original blog post on this subject in 2015, I received correspondence from Nigel Reed, a nephew of the couple from the Eley side of the family. Nigel supplied a digital copy of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express with the May 1946 Grinolds story. That, in turn, led me to discover two additional articles written by my grandfather Carl in 1946. The first is detailed above. The other appeared in The Wisconsin State Journal February 18, 1946, the day before Mrs. Grinolds reached Mauston and saw her new home:
Furnished Bungalow Awaits English Bride of Area Man
By Carl F. Hanneman
State Journal Correspondent
MAUSTON — A completely furnished five-room modern bungalow is waiting in Mauston for Mrs. Helen Margaret Grinolds as a surprise for the English war bride, wife of Staff Sgt. Charles Grinolds, Mauston.
Mrs. Grinolds was among the hundreds of war brides scheduled to arrive in New York last weekend on the Santa Paula, and was to come directly to Mauston with their son, Charles Victor, who was born July 29, 1945, after his father left England for home.
She was to arrive in Mauston late today.
Sgt. Grinolds entered service in February 1942 and left for England in September 1942. He was stationed in England for 33 months and returned home in July 1945. He was discharged that September.
The couple was married in St. Mary’s church at Ashwell, England, and theirs was the first Anglo-American wedding performed in Ashwell during the war. Mrs. Grinolds is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.V. (Harold Victor) Eley, Ashwell, and she has one brother, Antone, 16. •
My original post had details on Charles, his military history and his untimely death in 1950. But with the help of Mr. Reed and some additional digging, we can put more details to this heartwarming love story.
Charles Dockstader Grinolds died on Sunday, July 30, 1950 at his Mauston home of a heart ailment. He was just 36. By that time, he and Margaret had three sons: Charles Victor, who had celebrated his 5th birthday the day before his father’s death; Anthony Basil, 3; and Stephen McClellan, 1. After suffering such a devastating loss, Mrs. Grinolds took her sons and returned to England and the support of her family. They came back to the United States in August 1951 aboard the ship Queen Mary.
Mrs. Grinolds married William Osborne in Mauston on March 30, 1952. The couple moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1965. She died September 5, 1972 in Colorado Springs.
The three sons of Charles and Margaret Grinolds all had military careers like their father. Charles V. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and in Iraq. He died on June 10, 2006. Stephen M. Grinolds served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1967-1972. He died on December 23, 2005. Anthony B. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in England. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.
By any standard, it was a pretty smooth sales job. In early December 1920, little Nina Treutel of Vesper, Wisconsin, was writing one of her regular letters to her Aunt Emma (Treutel) Carlin. After some regular business, the 6-year-old slipped in a postscript in hopes it would help her obtain a treasured toy doll.
“Oh! Yes Aunt Emma I have 23¢ cents all saved up ready for that dolly,” Nina wrote. (A cute aside: the cents sign was written backwards.) “Just think Aunt Emma, Uncle Oscar said I could have it for $1.50¢.” (Backwards dollar and cents signs.)
One can just imagine in that little girl’s mind, Aunt Emma was just waiting to learn of the 23 cents to seal the whole deal. Maybe even in time for Christmas 1920! It reminds me of the 1983 film, A Christmas Story,in which a young boy works on his own marketing pitch to obtain a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Set in the 1940s in small-town Indiana, much of the plot revolves around little Ralphie’s efforts to get that rifle for Christmas only to be told by various adults, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
In the film, Ralphie gets his rifle, but we don’t know if Nina ever got that cherished dolly. It’s logical to assume she not only wrote her letter of suggestion, but perhaps augmented it with some face-to-face discussion with dear Aunt Emma and her brother, Uncle Oscar Treutel. You will get good odds if, like me, you believe Nina got her dolly.
Aunt Emma Carlin was a favorite of all the children in the Treutel/Hanneman families. She was the second-youngest child of Philipp and Henrietta Treuel. Her family moved to Vesper in 1900 after the death of her father. Emma was a prolific letter writer and kept a detailed scrapbook from which this letter came.
Nina Treutel grew up and married Lawrence Wilson. They spent most of their married life in Waukegan, Illinois, for a time operating a small grocery store detailed elsewhere on this blog. She was one of the younger sisters of my grandmother, Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman. Nina died in 2005 in Arizona.
Perhaps the most charming part of that 1920 letter came before the sales pitch for the dolly. “Why didn’t you come down Sunday?” she wrote. “Well I must shut up because pa wants to close his letter with love from mama.”
Oral history is one of the most important arrows in the historian’s quiver. Source documents, photographs, databases and the like offer their own advantages, but audio and/or video interviews deliver information not available with other types of media.
It’s one thing to read about someone and the details of their life. But being able to hear them tell the stories in their own words and voice adds immeasurably to the picture. Hearing the richness of their voice, the style of speaking, the accent; it makes them present in a way not possible with documents. This is why I so strongly recommend families conduct oral history interviews with parents, grandparents and other key relatives. Get the kids involved!
Most people love talking about their experiences growing up, so oftentimes there are no problems getting a willing “victim” to participate. However, sometimes a person is hesitant to be interviewed, especially if the topic…
Some of the most memorable images in our archive are old black-and-white photographs that were hand tinted to add color to parts of or the entire photo. Color film eliminated the novelty of that practice. Today we can do the process in reverse to create special, stunning images from even ordinary color prints.
A couple of years ago, I created a hardcover photo book for my three children, made up largely of black-and-white images with the color “repainted” onto key parts of the subject. This is made refreshingly simple with a very affordable app called ColorStrokes from Macphun Software. Available for iPad, iPhone and the Mac, ColorStrokes makes it fun and easy to “color splash” your photos. You can use the native color of the photos, or create new colors and apply them to the images.
ColorStrokes basically converts your color images to monochrome, then allows you to paint the…
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin —Lillian G. Graef’s infectious smile and carefree demeanor belied the troubles she’d seen in her 19 years. Her 47-year-old mother, Mary, died of tuberculosis in January 1922 when Lillian was just 14. Her sister, Adeline, died in July 1921 of the same disease. The family’s oldest girl, Marie, became a surrogate mother to the rest of the children for a number of years until she too, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and forced into a sanitarium.
A graduate of SS Peter and Paul Catholic School, Lillian had a good job at a Third Street candy shop where she was a popular employee. Her best friend was Frances Platt. From the days they played with dolls together to more recent times when they borrowed each other’s clothes, Lillian and Frances were inseparable. They went to dances and movies together, and spent countless hours at…
Before the Green Bay Packers could conquer the world, first they had to best the state of Wisconsin and parts of Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. In their first two seasons, before joining what later became the National Football League, the Packers battled the Laphams from Milwaukee, the Oshkosh Professionals and the Stambaugh Miners from Michigan.
The 1919 Green Bay Packers, sponsored by the Indian Packing Co. of Green Bay. (Wikipedia)
In their first two seasons, the only team to beat them was a scrappy factory-backed team from Beloit called the Fairies. Make no mistake, the Beloit gridiron 11 was no group of winged waifs with pixie dust and a magic wand. Named for the Fairbanks Morse & Company, the Fairies handed the storied Packers franchise its first-ever loss in the fall of 1919. The game was decided on the last play and nearly caused a riot at Beloit’s Fairbanks-Morse Field.
Nearly 1,100 images can be viewed on the museum’s web site. They were taken by local photographer Tudor Collins. Some of the images appear to be servicemen from other countries, but many if not most of them are of U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines. Collins, himself a petty officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy, had a knack for putting his visitors from America at ease. It shows in the photographs.
New Zealand was a major staging and training area for U.S. forces that later attacked Guadalcanal, Tarawa and other key Japanese-held locations during the Pacific war. It also served as an exotic locale where…