“The victory is not always with the strong.” Thus was the conclusion of the editors of the Ahdahwagam yearbook at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School, in recounting the 1914 performance of the school’s debate team versus nearby Marshfield.
The young men were fully prepared and valiently presented their assigned negative proposition. The question at hand, the editors reasoned, simply lent itself more easily to the affirmative: “Resolved, that the policy of fixing a minimum wage by state boards is desirable.” Marshfield won the judges’ nod on this day. “It was merely on of those times when fortune turns her wheel, then closes her eyes, letting it stay where it may.”
The young men pictured in the image, the yearbook stated, were among the very best the school had developed. Participants in forensics tended to also be those involved in other worthy extracurricular pursuits, such as athletics, music and culture. “This is what every well-organized high school should stand for,” the yearbook read, “and we are proud of the boys who represented us in debate.” Indeed, several of them went on to serve their country as soldiers in World War I. The debate team lineup:
It was a basketball season for the ages at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School. After a 14-1 season, the team stormed into the 14th annual Wisconsin state basketball tournament held March 20-22, 1918 at Lawrence College in Appleton. By defeating Columbus (32-25), Marinette (34-25) and Wausau (27-15), Grand Rapids secured its first Wisconsin state championship. Three Rapids players made the All-State team.
In the team photo, back row:
William Smith (1900-1991)
Arthur H. Plahmer (1899-1984)
Coach Elmer J. Abrahamson (1891-1978)
Roy T. “Cap” Normington (1899-1960)
Raymond A. “Jock” Johnston (1900-1977)
In the front row:
Arthur “Worry” Kluge (1898-1974)
Stanley S. “Pudge” Stark (1900-1979)
Walter F. “Kaiser” Fritz (1898-1964)
Stark was the team captain and scoring champion with 205 points. He was named a forward on the All-State team. The other All-State honorees were Plahmer (center) and Smith (guard). The only defeat of the season came at the hands of Nekoosa during sectionals play. The season high score was achieved January 18, 1918 with a 64-12 drubbing of Wautoma. A week later, that same Wautoma team nearly knocked off Rapids before falling 18-16.
The irony of the 1917-1918 season is that the school year started with no basketball coach on the payroll at Lincoln High School. In short order, the services of Elmer J. Abrahamson were secured for the season. A 1915 graduate of Lawrence College, Abrahamson was a star college athlete in basketball, track and the pentathlon. Abrahamson only stayed for the championship season. He went on to a long teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He died in 1978.
“Stentorian Voice.” Of all the notations in the Mauston High School yearbooks of David D. Hanneman, those two words truly stand out. In the “Report of Condition of the Students of Mauston High School” in 1950, David Hanneman’s asset is listed as “stentorian voice.” Not a common adjective, “stentorian” means “of powerful voice.” It can also mean “booming” and “loud.” No doubt the years 1947-51 were stentorian years for Hanneman, for he and his singing buddies at MHS earned accolades and medals for their singing.
Mauston High School at the time was known for its quality vocal and instrumental music programs. The boys’ double quartet or octette was among the highest profile examples of that quality. The barbershop group regularly competed at the state level in competition sponsored by the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA).
The group included Hanneman and Roger Quick at second bass, Bob Jagoe and Dick Shaw at first bass, Clayton “Ty” Fieneand Bob Beck at first tenor, and Alan Banks and Arthur Volling at second tenor. Self-dubbed the “State Men” for annual appearances in competition, the group had its own cartoon likeness drawn into the Mauston High School yearbook, The Hammer.
In the many WSMA competitions, David Hanneman also sang bass solos, duets and mixed quartets and double quartets. According to one of the judge’s score cards, a Mauston quartet was rated “excellent” for tone, “good” for intonation and “good” for technique. Another judge rated Hanneman “excellent” for his bass solo and noted “maturity of quality” as his greatest singing asset. Hanneman kept the dozens of medals he won at these competitions for many decades after high school.
Singing wasn’t Hanneman’s only musical interest, however. He played the trumpet for a time and was in the Mauston public school band. He appeared in numerous parades playing the bass drum for the band.
David got his love of song from his mother, Ruby V. Hanneman. As a youngster, Ruby often performed onstage at theaters in Wisconsin Rapids. The Hanneman home in Mauston had a beautiful pump organ and a Victrola record player with a large collection of music. Later in life he appeared in a number of community musicals and sang in the choir at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. His deep voice could carry the entire parish in song, with enough volume to almost lift the church off its foundations.
United States Marine Cpl. Almeron A. Freeman was scheduled to finish his three-year military service in just a matter of months. After nearly 1½ years in Korea with the 1st Marine Division, Freeman was headed for California aboard a U.S. Navy transport in March 1955. He never made it home. The Douglas R6D airplane slammed into a mountain peak on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. All 66 aboard were killed.
My father, David D. Hanneman, played football with Freeman at Mauston High School. Although Freeman was a year behind Dad in school, he was the same age. Freeman played left guard and wore No. 64 during the 1950 season. Dad played left tackle and wore No. 66. They were both muscular and athletic. Freeman’s death left a deep impression on Dad. In 2006, when planning the Mauston High School Class of 1951’s 55th reunion, Dad made sure Freeman’s photo was included in the program.
Freeman enlisted in the Marine Corps on August 27, 1952, directly after his graduation from Mauston High School. He was an infantry rifleman with the First Marine Division. He landed for duty in Korea just four months after an armistice ended Korean War combat and began a tense “peace” along the 38th Parallel.
At the end of his tour, he flew from South Korea to Tokyo, then to Hickam Field on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Just after 6 p.m. on March 21, 1955, Freeman was onboard a U.S. Navy R6D transport that left Hickam for Travis Air Force Base in California. Some 3½ hours into the flight, the plane developed radio problems and turned back for Oahu. Just after 2 a.m. on March 22, the plane was seen roaring low over the Navy’s Lualualei ammunition depot. Marine Pfc. Joseph T. Price, on guard duty at Lualualei, said the pilot turned on the landing lights and discovered the plane was headed straight into the Wai’ane Mountains. At the last second, the plane made a hard right, but slammed into the mountain about 200 feet below the tip of Pali Kea Peak. The explosion “lit up like daylight for about a minute,” Price said.
The resulting fire was so hot that it took rescuers nearly two hours to get close enough to confirm there were no survivors. The 66 killed included nine Navy crewmen and 57 passengers: 17 U.S. Air Force, four Navy, 12 Marines, 22 U.S. Army and two civilians (a mother and her baby daughter). It was the worst air disaster in Hawaii’s history. The U.S. Military Air Transportation System, which operated the flight, had flown 1.12 million passengers and crossed the Pacific nearly 42,000 times between January 1951 and March 1955 with no fatalities. The crash was caused by crew error. The plane was 8 miles off course when it struck the mountain.
Almeron Arthur Freeman was born February 3, 1933 in Dresbach Township, Minnesota, the son of Irvin M. Freeman and the former Lilah Jenks. Prior to 1940, the family moved from Houston County, Minnesota to Mauston. Irvin worked as a service station attendant. In addition to being a starting guard on the football team, Almeron was a member of the highly rated Mauston boxing team.
He came from a proud family military tradition. His great-grandfather and namesake, Almeron Augustus Freeman, served in the Civil War with the 1st Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery. The battery served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and General Ulysses S. Grant at the battle of Vicksburg, the battle of Port Gibson and later in defense of New Orleans. The elder Freeman later married and became a river pilot moving lumber on the waterways of Wisconsin.
Marine Cpl. Freeman was buried May 17, 1955 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Due to the nature of the crash and fire, the remains of 40 service members were buried in a group grave site containing nine caskets. A memorial service for Freeman was held at Mauston High School on May 15, 1955.
The tragedy of the March 1955 air crash extended beyond the immediate victims and their families. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marion “Billy” Shackleford was scheduled to be on that flight, but because he forgot his travel papers, he was denied boarding. He was spared the fate of the 66 crash victims and returned home to Alabama to report for a new assignment. On April 19, 1955, the car he was driving was hit head-on by a Trailways Bus. He was killed instantly. His father, working on a nearby construction job, witnessed the accident. Like Freeman, Sgt. Shackleford was the great-grandson of a Civil War veteran.
It was a tiny photograph, not much larger than an oversized postage stamp. It showed two boys, identified on the back as Bob Firlus and Sam Kaufman. Of course I was very familiar with Bob, my Dad’s lifelong friend from Mauston, Wisconsin. But Sam did not ring a bell. However, his presence in my Dad’s photo collection meant that he was a friend and likely a frequent guest at the home of my grandparents on Morris Street in Mauston. I wondered, what became of Sam?
The photo detective in me kicked into high gear. My first check was with Mr. Firlus, who had some distinct and humorous early memories of Sam:
They had a nice house on Tremont Street. One day Sammy and I walked out to Coon Rock Bluff a few miles west of Mauston. We were near the bluff and Sammy said that he had to take a pee but he asked me not to tell his dad because his dad told him he should not pee outdoors.
Ah, the troubles of youth! What a great story! Bob said he believed Sam had moved to Pennsylvania after leaving Mauston. I next dug out some of my Dad’s yearbooks and found Sam pictured with my Dad’s Mauston Grade School class in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was one of the tallest boys in class, so was usually found in the back row. In the 1939 class photo, he was standing directly to my Dad’s right.
I checked the U.S. Census and military records on Ancestry.com and found Sam’s father, Albert Ross Kaufman, a doctor at Mauston’s Hess Memorial Clinic. The elder Kaufman’s 1942 draft card showed he was 46 and living with his family at 214 Tremont Street in Mauston. That was fairly close to the Hess clinic, but not so close to the Hanneman house. So what was his connection to that photo taken on Morris Street? I looked up Sam’s mother, Ardis, and discovered her maiden name was Hess. OK, now we’re making progress. Hess was a very prominent name in Mauston, largely due to Dr. James Samuel Hess Sr., a pioneer doctor and founder of the hospital and clinic. Interestingly, Bob Firlus said he had recently thought about Sam and the name Ardis came to mind, although Bob hadn’t recalled that was Sam’s mother’s name.
Turns out that Dr. Ardis (Hess) Kaufman (also a physician) was the daughter of Dr. J.S. Hess Sr. and Maude (Robinson) Hess. She was the sister of Dr. J.S. Hess Jr., who lived directly across the street from the Hannemans. Dr. Sam, as the junior Hess was known, took over for his father at the hospital and clinic. That explained why Sammy was a frequent neighborhood visitor. My grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, worked for Dr. Sam running the pharmacy attached to the Hess clinic. So it made sense that Bob Firlus and my Dad were buddies of Sam Kaufman. I dug into my photo archives and found another shot that appears to show Sam outside the Hess home around 1942.
Now that I had a good sense of Sam’s history in Mauston, I wanted to figure out where he went and what happened in his life. Again, Ancestry.com was a crucial source. I found listings for Dr. Albert R. Kaufman under city directories in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Based on that, I ran search engine queries and located an obituary for Sam Kaufman. I reacted with sadness, since I always hope in doing this work to find a living person to track down. Sam died in October 2008 of lung cancer. Same cause as my Dad, and about 18 months later. From the obituary, it was clear Sam had lived an exemplary life.
The obituary described Sam’s college education, his longtime service in the U.S. Army, his 1957 marriage to Margaret “Meg” Floyd, and his career switch from salesman to high school teacher. He had a long teaching career at Baldwin High School in suburban Pittsburgh. The couple had two sons, James and Steve. From checking those names with search engines, it appears Steve has had a long career as an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh.
Even after I finished most of my research, Sam’s name stuck in my head. There was some other clue I was missing. Dad, could you give me some help here? Then it hit me. I vaguely recalled that Sammy accompanied my Dad’s family on one of their vacation trips to the Dakotas. But how to find the photo amidst the thousands in the archive? On this day, I had some help from above. The first archive box I opened had the photo for which I searched. The caption read: “Sammy Kaufman on right, David Hanneman on left.” It was in my Grandma Ruby’s handwriting.
It took a few days of work, but with a little effort I went from a tiny photo print with lots of questions to a decent understanding of Sam Kaufman and his life in and beyond Mauston. Well done, Sam, and thank you.
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.
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.
There he was, front and center in the photograph, holding the championship trophy. My Dad, David D. Hanneman and his 8th grade Mauston teammates had just won the 12-team basketball tournament held at Wonewoc in the spring of 1947. It was no small feat, considering the competition from Camp Douglas, Cazenovia, Elroy, Kendall, Lavalle, Necedah, New Lisbon, Ontario, Reedsburg, Union Center and Wonewoc.
The championship team photo includes, rear, left to right: Coach Bob Erickson, Bill Cowan, Morris Murray, Bernard Pelton, Gaylord Nichols, Tom Rowe and Coach Doug McKenzie. Front row, left to right includes: Harold Webster, Bob Firlus, David Hanneman, Bob Beck, Bob Randall and Whitey Post. Although the photo does not show jersey numbers, Dave wore No. 1 that day.
Occasionally prints of this photo will appear on eBay, erroneously listing the team as from Wonewoc. That is understandable given how the photo was hand labeled, but to be clear, the winners were from Mauston.
When was the last time your visit to the Cineplex included live entertainment? (The bratty 5-year-old in front of you throwing popcorn at his brother does not count.) The movie theater was once about much more than movies, and the price of admission included live performances, newsreels, comedy shorts and more. For years our own Ruby V. Hanneman was a featured performer at some of Wisconsin Rapids finest cinemas, and her name appeared in ads right alongside Silent Era stars of the day like Neal Hart, Ricardo Cortez,Doris Kenyon and Jack Holt.
Ruby often appeared at theIdeal Theatre at 220 E. Grand Ave., Wisconsin Rapids. She sang a “musical novelty” at two shows on Halloween night 1925. The main attraction was The Thundering Herd, a movie based on the 1925 novel by Zane Grey. (Zane Grey happened to be a favorite author of Carl F. Hanneman and his son David, but we digress.) Seats that night were just 10 cents or 25 cents, half off the typical ticket prices.
On Thanksgiving 1925, Ruby sang for the audience at Paramount Pictures In the Name of Love, starring Ricardo Cortez and Greta Nissen. Ruby sang two numbers, “Lonesome, That’s All,” and “In the Garden of Tomorrow.” The 15 cent and 35 cent admission also included the Wisconsin Rapids Quintette, newsreels and a Will Rogers comedy.
Ruby got perhaps her most prominent billing for the October 17, 1925 showing ofThe Spaniard. Her name was most prominent in the ad in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.“Added Attraction, Mrs. Ruby Hanneman in a Musical Novelty,Please, the ad read. On Aug. 25, 1925 she appeared at the New Palace Theater singing, “I Wonder What’s Become of Sally.” The feature film that night was Born Rich starring Bert Lytell and Claire Windsor.
By the time she starred at the New Palace and the Ideal, Ruby was a veteran singer. According to the April 4, 1921 edition of the Daily Tribune,Ruby Treutel “brought down the applause of the house time after time” for her performance in the play “The Fire Prince” at Daly’s Theater. Ruby was 17 at the time.
When she graduated from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids in 1922, Ruby had years of experience in music and drama. She played the female lead in the operetta Sylvia during her senior year. She was also president of the Glee Club. Under her senior class portrait in the yearbook The Ahdawagam read the motto, “Music hath charms and so does she.”
School must have seemed just a bit smaller when Oscar Treutel went back for a visit on August 24, 1942. In the 1880s, Oscar was a student at “Allen School” in Joint District No. 3 in the Town of Genesee in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Let’s hope Oscar wasn’t returning for a spelling lesson, since the building has Genesee misspelled as “Genneese.” Perhaps the building lettering was a class project.
The school was in the southwest corner of the town on the E. Allen property, near the Saylesville Mill Pond. We should distinguish this one-room school from the Ethan Allen School for Boys, a reformatory in nearby Delafield that operated from 1959-2011.
Oscar traveled to school from the Treutel home in nearby North Prairie. He was the fifth child of Philipp and Henrietta Treutel, born Oct. 9, 1874 in Waukesha County. He moved with his family to Vesper in Wood County just after the turn of the century. He spent his sunset years in nearby Arpin. He died in 1967 at age 92.
In a state where the one-room schoolhouse was quite the norm in the early 1900s, tiny Vesper, Wis., boasted an impressive two-story brick school building that was the center of learning for area children for decades.
Built in 1906 just off of Main Street in Vesper, the Vesper Graded School was home to students of District No. 1, Town of Hansen. We get an interesting look at life inside the school from a teacher’s record book covering the years 1911-1917. The “Welch’s System Attendance, Classification, Gradation and Close Supervision” book belonged to Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman, who attended Vesper school starting in 1913 and later taught at the school.
The detailed notes in the book make one thing very clear: the teacher had her hands full each school year. Not only did one woman handle teaching duties for lower and upper grades, but she had to manage the building and contend with a cranky, bulky coal furnace each winter.
During the years covered in the record book, Vesper had three teachers: Mabelle Rowland in 1911-1912, Ella H. Hessler from 1912-13 to 1914-15, and Sara Icke in 1915-16 and 1916-17. Teachers were paid between $50 and $60 per month. Ruby’s uncle, Henry Treutel, served on the school board in early years (his son Harold attended classes during that time). In the late 1920s, another uncle, Charles Treutel, was also on the board.
It seems the biggest challenge for the teachers was not in the classroom but the furnace room. The coal-fired furnace often belched smoke and gases into the clean-air intake and into the classrooms. “Before you begin school learn how to manage the drafts of furnace and cold air shafts,” wrote Mabelle Rowland in her 1912 “Teacher’s Report to Successor.” “The inspector is very critical on this work.” Teacher Ella Hessler wrote one year later: “The furnace needs repair. The smoke enters the fresh air. The furnace work in cold weather is too heavy for a woman.” Similar notations were made in subsequent years.
The school typically served from 25 to 40 students per term. Primary grades were on one level and upper grades on the other. The teacher staggered the subjects so she could get lessons started for one group and then move to the other.Classes started at 9 a.m. and students were dismissed for the day at 4 p.m. Course work included arithmetic, history, language, reading, grammar, physiology, domestic science for girls, manual training for boys, civics and geography.
Some of the children walked to school from homes nearby in the village, while others came in from the countryside. Tardiness was common, due to distance walked, duties at home or a pokey walking pace. In 1911-1912, Alfred and Agnes Peterson were the brother-sister tardiness champs with 20 and 17 instances, respectively. Clara Zieher had 18 tardy notations, followed by Erma Dassow with 15 (her brother Elmer had just 4). Absence from school was also common due to illness or duties helping at home. On occasion a student or two left school for a month or two to perform farm work. Arnold Conklin had best attendance in 1911-1912, only missing one day out of 180.
The book tracked each student’s attendance and progress on a range of subjects. Teachers made notations for some students that ranged from “fair worker,’“weak eyes” and “slow” to “hard worker,” “irregular and very nervous,” and “dull.”
In the 1911-1912 school year, the school library had a mere 50 volumes. The school invested in books each year, and by June 1917 the library’s holdings included 144 books. For obvious reasons, the boys’ and girls’ out buildings regularly needed repairs and painting. The number of trees on school grounds that were in “thrifty condition” ranged from four to seven.
Ruby Treutel enrolled at Vesper Graded School in November 1913, when she was 10. There was some indication she had attended a parochial school prior to that. During her first year, Ruby missed 21.5 days and was tardy six times. Her cousin Harold Treutel had a mere three sick days. Ruby received good grades for the term: orthography, 91; reading, 95; writing, 90; arithmetic, 70; grammar, 89; geography, 83; and constitutions, 90. During the 1914-1915 school year, Ruby was out sick 20 days, but she still maintained As and Bs in all of her subjects.
During the 1915-1916 term, Ruby excelled in all of her courses, scoring solid ‘A’s in orthography, reading, grammar, U.S. history and physiology. Her lowest grade was a ‘B’ in geography and arithmetic.
Harold Treutel graduated from Vesper Graded School in 1917 and enrolled at Lincoln High School in Grand Rapids.Ruby graduated from Vesper in 1918, also enrolling at Lincoln High School. That may be where she first met Carl F. Hanneman, whom she would marry in July 1925.