Historical documents and photographs are the heart of any good family archive. The Hanneman Archive is already well-populated with more than 700 photographic images. Now we have added a documents section featuring a variety of declarations from our collection. Examples include ship registries, church death records written in German, draft cards, professional certifications and more. The page is among the links at the top of our home page.
The gallery will be expanded frequently. For until it is shared, a document is but a mere sheet of paper.
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.
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 Trailwas a larger format (4 5/8 by 5¼ inches) and featured real photographs inside.
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.
The tiny village of Vesper in Wood County, Wisconsin engendered such good feelings among its early residents that someone penned a tribute song to the village along the Hemlock Creek. The Hemlock Creek runs from just north of Arpin and flows south to the Wood County line. It includes more than 80 miles of streams.
From the ashes of a massive sawmill fire in 1894, Vesper became a prosperous farming and manufacturing village 10 miles northeast of Wisconsin Rapids. Many of our relatives found work here and raised families. The village had a number of factories, general stores, a meat market, a locally owned bank, blacksmith shops, a community theater, a roller rink and more.
On warm summer days in the early 1900s, folks came from miles around to gather at the bandstand in Cameron Park. They enjoyed a variety of live music by the Vesper Cornet Band and other area musicians. It is not surprising such a place would win the hearts of its 300 residents.
We don’t know the author of the Vesper song, or even the musical score. But its lyrics tell a story of how the pioneer residents believed in their little community on the winding creek. And if you need confirmation that it is a genuine Wisconsin song, just look at the pronunciation of the word “creek.” Or is that “crick?”
Vesper, Wisconsin on the Hemlock Creek
1) You can rave about your cities with their glitter and their show,
And the interesting places where people like to go
But to come to solid comfort we can show you all a trick,
Where? Vesper, Wisconsin on the Hemlock Creek
Vesper for mine, yes it’s Vesper for mine,
She isn’t very big, but she’s the best on the line,
They can travel where they want to
But we’ll try our best to stick,
Where? Vesper, Wisconsin, on the Hemlock Creek.
2) It’s the home of dandy people and their children not a few,
It’s the home of cheese and butter and a big condensery, too,
They make drainage tile and silos, have a band and park that’re slick
Where? Vesper, Wisconsin, on the Hemlock Creek.
3) Now the people are so busy that it keeps them on the go,
So they haven’t got a bit of time to stop and watch her grow,
It’s the town where things are doing and we aim to do them quick,
Where? Vesper, Wisconsin, on the Hemlock Creek.
4) To each stranger who is seeking for a place to build his roost,
We extend an invitation to the town for which we boost,
We’ll be glad to have you with us and we know you’ll want to stick,
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.
My grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, was a pharmacist for nearly 60 years. One of the treasures he left behind was a portable pharmacist’s kit in a leather satchel. The many glass vials are still filled with various pills and powders he dispensed to patients at pharmacies in Fond du Lac, Janesville, Wisconsin Rapids, Mauston and Sun Prairie. The oldest of the prescription vials dates to 1926.