Restoring Grandpa’s Handmade Nativity Scene

In the winter of 1966 or 1967, a young father designed and hand-crafted an outdoor nativity scene to decorate the family home in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. David D. Hanneman (1933-2007) painted the set freehand and put it on display just under the garage window of his home on Wisconsin Avenue. The nativity scene was a fixture at the home … Continue reading Restoring Grandpa’s Handmade Nativity Scene

A Look Back at the ‘Plainfield Butcher,’ Grave Robber Ed Gein

While scanning my grandfather’s old slide collection, I came across two stray images from 1957 marked “Gein’s House.” I couldn’t get the slides on the scanner bed fast enough. It turns out the photos were indeed of the ramshackle farm house of the notorious killer and grave robber, Ed Gein. For Carl F. Hanneman, the trip … Continue reading A Look Back at the ‘Plainfield Butcher,’ Grave Robber Ed Gein

Rare 1911 Manual Shows Teacher’s Look at Life at Vesper Graded School

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 … Continue reading Rare 1911 Manual Shows Teacher’s Look at Life at Vesper Graded School

The Treutel Family: From Königstädten to Wisconsin

They were craftsmen — blacksmiths, tailors, chandlers, carpenters — the clan of Treutels who came to Wisconsin from the Darmstadt area of Germany starting in 1849. The Johann Adam Treutel family left the village of Königstädten between 1849 and 1854 and headed for America. They were part of a huge wave of German emigrants that changed … Continue reading The Treutel Family: From Königstädten to Wisconsin

Losing Our Home: ‘Goodbye’ Was the Very Hardest Word

This was a day I’d long dreaded. I knew it was coming, and prepared for it the best I could. But I feared it still, because I did not have an answer for the question it posed. How do I — how could I — say goodbye to our family home? I walked through the … Continue reading Losing Our Home: ‘Goodbye’ Was the Very Hardest Word