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.
As he prepared his six-seat Beechcraft C35 Bonanza airplane for takeoff, Richard E. Rickman asked airport manager John Stedman if he should take the most direct route, across expansive Lake Michigan to Detroit. Stedman cautioned against it, telling the pilot to fly east across Wisconsin to the lake, then hug the shore and make his way over to Michigan. This approach would presumably be safer, and provide great views for Rickman, his wife and four children.
It was just after the dinner hour on Labor Day 1960. The Rickman family packed themselves into the aircraft at Alexander Field in Wisconsin Rapids, ready to make the flight home to Detroit. The family had been to Drummond, Wis., to visit Helen Rickman’s parents, then flew to the Rapids to visit other relatives.
Richard, the son of a longtime shoe-store proprietor, grew up in Wisconsin Rapids. He was a descendant of pioneer resident Matthias Hanneman, who came to Wisconsin in 1866 from Pomerania. A factory representative for the Ogden Manufacturing Co., Rickman married the former Helen Anderson in December 1949 and they later moved to Michigan. Their first child, Richard Edward, was born in Lansing in May 1953. Robert John was born in Lansing in March 1955. Catherine Helen was born in Detroit in June 1956; and Patricia Ann joined the family in Detroit in September 1957.
The final day of the Rickmans’ visit was spent at the airfield. Rickman gave plane rides to his sister, Elvira Pluke, her husband Nolan and their five children. Rickman primarily used the single-engine aircraft for business trips. The family had recently flown to California in the plane, and then used it for the Labor Day weekend visit.
The wheels of the Beechcraft left the ground of Alexander Field at 6:30 p.m. The Rickman family flew along the western shore of Lake Michigan. They were treated to an incredible view of the Chicago skyline as the aircraft flew less an a mile offshore. The first sign of trouble came near 7:30 p.m., when Rickman issued distress calls that were heard by ships and aircraft as far north as Milwaukee. Rickman radioed Meigs Field in downtown Chicago and asked permission to make an emergency landing because the plane’s engine was cutting out.
Officials at Meigs Field gave Rickman permission for an emergency landing. He veered the aircraft out over the lake and circled to attempt a landing. Witnesses at nearby Oak Street Beach saw sparks trailing from the airplane. The 185-horsepower Continental engine caught fire and became enveloped in smoke. Suddenly, the 25-foot-long airplane turned straight down and plunged headlong into the lake. Hundreds of horrified beach-goers saw a blinding explosion as the plane hit the water.
William J. Cempleman saw the fiery crash from aboard the yacht Playtime. “The whole lake looked afire. Flames soared twenty-five to thirty feet,” Cempleman said. “When we got to the scene, a big circle of water was flaming. All we could see was an airplane wheel floating.” As the Playtime circled the crash site, Cempleman saw the charred body of little Catherine Rickman, 4, floating about 15 feet from the flames. Newspapers across America later published a dramatic Associated Press photograph of a police marine officer carrying the lifeless body of Catherine to shore. Resuscitation efforts failed.
Police and Coast Guard vessels searched the waters off Oak Street Beach into the night. Divers used underwater lights to aid in the search, but found no trace of the aircraft or the other members of the Rickman family. Divers resume the search on September 6, but did not locate the wreckage or the other victims until September 7. Diver Jeff Daxe, a commercial pilot, was the first to reach the bodies. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that one body was found 50 feet from the fuselage, while the other four were inside the wreckage. After the victims were recovered and taken to Burnham Harbor, it was discovered that Richard Rickman’s watch stopped at 7:38 p.m.
The impact sheared off both wings, but only one was found. The engine and propeller were found some distance from the rest of the wreckage in about 30 feet of water. Two weeks after the crash, the Civil Aeronautics Board issued a preliminary opinion that engine failure had caused the crash. In late October the CAB confirmed that opinion, but said the engine would be sent back to the manufacturer for testing. It’s unknown if that ever happened.
The six members of the Rickman family were memorialized at a funeral service on Saturday, September 10, 1960 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Rapids. They were buried at Forest Hill Cemetery.
Richard Edwin Rickman was born on April 27, 1926, the youngest child of Edwin and Renata (Rathke) Rickman. Edwin John Rickman was the son of Christian Wilhelm Ludwig Theodor and Amelia Bertha Emilie Auguste (Hannemann) Rickman. Amelia’s father was August Friedrich Hanneman, the son of family patriarch Matthias Hannemann. Richard Rickman graduated from Lincoln High School in 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in July 1943. He served more than three years in the Navy during World War II and was discharged as an ensign in September 1960. He graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in business administration.
As a boy, I often got to travel with my Dad on his sales routes across Wisconsin to sell veterinary pharmaceuticals and supplies. One of his routes took him to Wausau, so we got to pay a visit to Hanneman’s Rock and Gift Shop, run by my great uncle and aunt, Wilbert G. and Irma Hanneman. Visits to the shop always resulted in getting to pick out something made from the most exquisite polished rocks and colorful crystals.
Over the years, I developed a nice collection of treasures from the rock shop. I came to believe that Uncle Wilbert (nicknamed “Wib”) had made a career out of selling rocks and crystals. Actually, he and Aunt Irma took it up as a post-retirement labor of love after Wib’s long career in banking. They sold gifts from the shop in their home at 130 Ninth Avenue in Wausau in the 1960s and early 1970s, but also attended craft shows and other events to peddle their intricately patterned wares.
In December 1966, the Wausau Daily Herald-Record ran a photo page featuring the Hannemans and their rock shop. “What looks like an uninteresting rock to the average person may send a rock-hound into a joyous orbit,” read one of the captions. The photo showed Wib using a diamond saw to slice Australian red rhodonite into slabs. Another photo showed polished slabs of Brazilian agate, which were later used to make cuff links, ring settings and other items.
Although Wib and Irma used tumblers to polish many of the smaller rocks, much of the rock polishing was done by hand “to better control the final results,” the newspaper wrote. The craft has its aim to “unmask the beauty in the stones.”
Wilbert G. Hanneman was born May 1, 1899 in Merrill, Wisconsin, the third of five boys born to Charles and Rosina Hanneman. He was the older brother of my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman. In June 1923, Wib married Irma Pagels and the couple moved to Wausau. Wib had a long career working for the Citizens State Bank and Trust Co., from which he retired in 1964. Wib was a graduate of the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wib overcame a bout of polio that left him with a pronounced limp. Late in life he suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his beloved cigars. Wib and Irma celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1973. Carl, who was the best man, attended the anniversary doings. The couple had two children, Richard D. Hanneman and Lynn (Hanneman) Swanson Zarnke. Wib died in 1987 and Irma died in 1996.
(This post has been updated with the full newspaper page image)
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 in those early years, but eventually was put in storage and forgotten.
Forty years later, after David Hanneman died, the badly weathered Nativity figures were rescued from a trash can in the garage. Over the next 18 months they were restored to almost original condition and put on display in the Village of Mount Pleasant.
The original backers and braces were removed from the cutout figures of St. Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. New 1-inch-thick plywood backers were crafted with a jigsaw, then glued to the figures and anchored with wood screws. Heavy L-shape stabilizing braces were screwed into the backers to give the figures sufficient weight to withstand winter winds.
Samantha J. Hanneman, David Hanneman’s granddaughter, did most of the paint restoration work. With a special set of art brushes, she applied metallic gold and flat black paint to maintain the original look. Touch up paint was applied sparingly to the faces and hands of the figures to keep the hand-drawn details.
The newly restored Nativity scene was put on display at the Hanneman home in Racine County in December 2008, making the old tradition new again for another generation. The crèche was displayed for several years, but had to again be put in storage when we lost our home. Now the figures again wait patiently to have a new home where their warm glow will fill the Christmas night.
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first Nativity crib or crèche on Christmas Eve 1223 in Greccio, Italy. St. Francis was eager to make the birth of Christ something tangible for the faithful. He had a manger built, brought animals to be part of the set, and had Holy Mass said before this representation of the birth of Christ. After the preparations were finished, St. Francis and some of his followers went to the crèche for the Mass. After a short prayer by Francis, a vision of the Christ child appeared on the hay.The miracle stirred the animals and greatly moved the faithful who witnessed it.
As kids growing up in Sun Prairie, any time we ventured into the back room of our basement we were likely to hear a voice from upstairs shout, “Don’t you go near those windows!” Of course we knew what that meant: the antique stained-glass behemoths covered in blankets in the farthest reaches of the basement, next to the furnace. I never gave a great deal of thought to them, until one day in 2006 when my father was dying of cancer.
Founded in 1912, St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison always had a chapel as part of its facilities. In 1926, a new, ornate chapel was built as part of an expansion of St. Mary’s. The chapel had 10 window frames, each with two beautiful arched stained-glass windows that rose 20 feet from eye level to midway up the wall. In between each were two Stations of the Cross. The windows remained part of the chapel until 1973, when that section of the building was razed to make way for a new hospital wing on Mills Street. My Dad obtained two of the windows, a total of four panels, carrying them home in blankets to rest for more than three decades.
When Dad was being treated for lung cancer at St. Mary’s in the fall of 2006, he got an inspiration to give those windows back to St. Mary’s. He asked for my help in doing some research, but he was so impatient he wheeled himself down to the administrative offices to talk to someone about it. That someone, vice president Barbara K. Miller, was enthralled with the idea, but it was her last day on the job before retiring. She promised to get the ball rolling on the donation. “I want these windows to come home to St. Mary’s,” he told her.
Dad was a little worried that his donation wouldn’t get done. The idea occupied his mind more than anything else in November 2006. He knew his time with us was short. He told the story and his idea to his physician, Dr. Gregory Motl. Dad made Dr. Motl promise that if he didn’t survive the cancer, the donation would be completed. Motl grasped Dad’s hand and said reassuringly, “I will Dave. I will.”
To say the hospital embraced Dad’s idea would be an understatement. His timing was perfect, since St. Mary’s was planning a $182 million expansion that would add a new east wing with operating rooms, a cardiac center, outpatient offices, patient rooms and more. St. Mary’s was looking for ways to tie the new facility to the hospital’s heritage. The architects designed special spaces for each of the four window sections. St. Mary’s had a new internal champion for the windows, Steve Sparks, public relations director.
After months of planning, St. Mary’s was finally ready to take possession of the windows. On March 22, 2007, Sparks and workmen came to Sun Prairie to transport the windows. He snapped some photos of Mom and Dad with a window section. Dad looked pale and drawn, but I know he appreciated the milestone that day represented. “It was humbling for me,” Sparks recounted later. “This gift demonstrated exceptional courage and generosity. It is an experience I won’t forget.”
Tears were shed that afternoon as the windows were lovingly carried outside. It was the first daylight to penetrate the stained glass in more than three decades. For Dad, it was the accomplishment of a mission of giving. His part was finished; now St. Mary’s would take over. Not two weeks later, Dad was admitted to St. Mary’s and then discharged to HospiceCare Inc., where he died on April 14, 2007.
In early December 2007, Mom and I were invited to the dedication day at the new St. Mary’s east wing. We attended a luncheon and heard very kind words about Dad from Dr. Frank Byrne, president of St. Mary’s Hospital. They were similar to what Dr. Byrne wrote right after Dad’s death. “It is clear from Dave’s accomplishments that dedication to community was always a part of his priorities,” Byrne wrote, “and we will all benefit from that dedication for years to come. At this sad time, we hope it will be a reminder that though life may seem short, the contributions made by one individual have a significant impact in building a future for us all.”
When we walked into the atrium and first saw one of the window sections, it was enough to bring tears. There it was, set into the wall and brilliantly backlit in a way that brought out the green, red and amber hues of the glass. It was, as designed by the architects, a welcoming beacon for everyone visiting St. Mary’s. Mom posed next to the window, and even did an impromptu interview with Madison’s Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Herald. The three other window sections were placed on different floors of the east wing. One is in a waiting room. The others are in prominent spots.
The story of these chapel windows gives testimony that beauty can emerge from the depths of the darkest tragedies. Dad kept the windows safe for 35 years, and he got them safely home to St. Mary’s just weeks before he, too, made it home.
This post has been updated with additional window photos.
When David D. Hanneman was elected mayor of the city of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in April 2003, it continued a Hanneman family tradition that stretches back more than 400 years to the county Regenwalde in the Baltic Duchy of Pomerania. Hanneman’s election as mayor on April 1, 2003 capped his nearly 40-year public service career — and put him in good family company.
The Hanneman family from Kellner, Wisconsin — from which David Hanneman descends — traces its roots to Pomerania, a picturesque land of Germanic peoples that dates to the 1300s. His earliest known ancestor, Matthias Hannemann, was from the village of Zeitlitz in the kreis, or county, of Regenwalde. Regenwalde means “woods of the Rega River,” referring to the picturesque waterway that ambles 100 miles through the county and empties into the Baltic Sea. This area has long been known for agriculture, fishing and forests, and it bears strong geomorphic similarities to the state of Wisconsin. The village of Zeitlitz covered about 2,200 acres and had approximately 100 households.
Records trace the Hannemann (the original spelling had two ‘n’s at the end) family back at least to 1582 in Zeitlitz. The Hannemanns made up one of the predominant families in Zeitlitz, based on the number of entries found in the Lutheran church register. Many church records were destroyed in a fire in Stramehl in 1720, but the register from 1582 survived. At that time, there were a number of Hannemann families in Zeitlitz, and they owned some of the larger farms in the village. One of these men, likely the eldest brother, held the title of schulze, or mayor of Zeitlitz. Being the schulze was unlike the elected political position of mayor found in modern-day American communities. It was an inherited job, and the duties centered on making sure work was performed equitably in the village, and that the taxes of grain, goods or money were collected for the estate owner. The term schulze can have various related meanings, including “village headman,” mayor or even constable.
As farmers, the Hannemanns were also involved in providing financial support for the local minister and the church. Each tenant farmer paid his taxes in measurements of grain. The unnamed mayor Hannemann and Peter Hannemann were each responsible for taxes on two Hufen in Zeitlitz in the year 1582. A Hufe was the amount of land needed to sustain a family. There could have been more Hannemann families living on those four Hufen, but the church records only listed the major land tenants who paid taxes.
In the nearby village of Groß Raddow (about 6 miles from Zeitlitz), the Hannemann family had a similar history. A tax list from 1666 includes the names of Tews Hannemann (the schulze, or village mayor), Heinrich Hannemann, Chim Hannemann and Peter Hannemann. For at least several generations, it appears the Hannemann family inherited and passed on the office of mayor in Groß Raddow. In 1717, Hans Hannemann was the mayor, so we believe Hans is a descendant of Tews Hannemann.
The Matthias Hannemann family began emigrating to Wisconsin in 1861. Matthias left his home in 1866 and came to Wisconsin through Quebec. The family settled in and around Kellner, a tiny hamlet that straddles the Wood-Portage county line southeast of Wisconsin Rapids. At one time, the Hannemanns owned and farmed more than 1,000 acres in Wood and Portage counties. David’s great-grandfather, Christian Hanneman (Matthias’ son) was the last of this clan to come to America in November 1882.
Dave Hanneman (1933-2007) was first elected to public office on April 2, 1968 when he became Fourth Ward alderman in Sun Prairie. He served only one term as alderman, but stayed active in city politics, pushing the city to upgrade its sewer system to prevent backups into residential homes. He again ran successfully for alderman in 1988 and stayed on the Sun Prairie City Council until 1996, when he was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. He held that post until being elected Sun Prairie mayor in 2003.
“Dave was involved in the growth of Sun Prairie and believed in progress for the community. He worked and helped champion the Highway 151/County Highway C project, which included working with the state Department of Transportation,” said Bill Clausius, who served on the city council and county board with Hanneman. “Dave was involved with the West Side Plan, which brought the Sun Prairie Community together to envision the future of the West Side. Dave supported and worked to begin the West Side Community Service Building. This facility includes a west side location for police, fire and EMS. His vision was to provide essential services to Sun Prairie residents and to shorten response times in case of an emergency.”
Clausius continued: “In 2003, Sun Prairie won the ‘Champions of Industry’ Award of Excellence as one of the best managed small cities in America. Dave personally raised $32,000 in donations from area businesses to fund production of a video featuring Sun Prairie, and highlighting Sun Prairie’s achievements.”
I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, October 31 was a date we looked forward to. Whether we got to buy a costume at the dime store or made our own, it was always an exciting night.
One of my most vivid Halloween memories was documented in my book, The Journey Home. I recall Dad tearing out the front door in his sock feet. I wondered what was happening. We figured it out a few minutes later when he dragged two teenagers into the front door and made them apologize for smashing our lit pumpkins. He then turned them over to Sun Prairie police.
We had one sad Halloween when my brother David fell into the neighbors tree well and spilled all of his candy. We all shared to make up for it. Another year, we went across town to “trick or treat” at a few houses of family friends. At one door, I was shocked that the lady who answered called me by name. “How does she know me with this costume on?” I wondered. My brother chimed in, “You forgot to put your mask down.” D’oh!
Perhaps the most fun we had was creating our own costumes. Lighting the end of a cork on fire, then using the charred remains to paint black whiskers on our faces. Stuffing pillows up an oversized shirt helped complete the hobo look.
It wasn’t until toward the end of my trick-or-treating days that the scare over supposed razor blades in candy apples occurred. Hospitals offered to X-ray candy bags to check for pins or razor blades. That made me wonder if the candy would then glow? Ah, as it turned out the whole thing was a fraud that took on the sheen of urban legend.
Once I had my own children, Halloween took on a new dimension. Our firstborn was too shy to go door to door, so we made our main stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eventually, Halloween became a major event. French onion soup or chili simmered in a crock pot while we took the kids around the neighborhood collecting goodies. Then we retreated into the warmth of the house for good food, warm apple cider and pie. The kids also ate candy.
With the more recent controversies claiming Halloween as un-Christian or even satanic, it was refreshing to read this article on About.com regarding the Catholic roots of Halloween.
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.
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.
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.
David D. Hanneman prepares to ride a horse in a Mauston parade, circa 1942.
David D. Hanneman (at right) and other boy scouts before a parade in Mauston in the early 1940s.
Mauston Boy Scouts enter the parade line, circa 1943. The town’s military honor roll can be seen on the side of the building.
A marching band in downtown Mauston in the late 1960s.
A fire truck heads down the parade route in Mauston in the late 1960s.
Residents of Mauston, Wis., mill about the downtown area during a parade or community festival in the mid-1940s. Smith’s IGA market is visible across the street.
David D. Hanneman (1933-2007), a member of the Mauston High School Marching Band, poses outside his Mauston home in 1948. Hanneman, who later in life became mayor of Sun Prairie, Wis., played bass drum and trumpet.
The Mauston High School Marching Band performs in a parade in downtown Portage, Wis., ca. 1948. In the foreground is bass drummer David D. Hanneman (1933-2007) of Mauston.
Sun Prairie Mayor David D. Hanneman waits to enter the parade route in Sun Prairie, circa 2003.
Sun Prairie Mayor David D. Hanneman rides in a local parade, circa 2004.
David D. Hanneman in what appears to be a drum and bugle corps uniform, circa 1948.
The Mauston High School Band after leaving the football field during a homecoming game in the 1940s.