We’ve noted elsewhere on this blog the photography skills of Carl F. Hanneman, but lately we’ve discovered that he and his brother Wilbert G. Hanneman had talents with freehand illustration. Working on the yearbook at Lincoln High School in Grand Rapids, Wis., the brothers served almost as dueling artists.
Judging by the line drawings each made in high school and in years after, both men had artistic abilities. Wilbert (1899-1987) first served as an artist and editor for the Ahdawagam yearbook. Ahdawagam is an Indian word that refers to the “two-sided rapids” along the Wisconsin River. The yearbook was first published in 1916. Wilbert graduated from Lincoln in 1918, and Carl followed in 1921. Both Carl (1901-1982) and Wilbert drew the illustrations for the yearbook’s section pages, such as Alumni and Sports, and the various class sections.
Wilbert drew a stunning likeness based on Carl’s high school graduation picture. The latest example of hand illustrations we could find is from 1945, showing a U.S. service member next to the saying, “Keep off the Lifeline.” The Navy serviceman in the illustration bears a striking resemblance to Carl. His son Donn G. Hanneman (1926-2014) served aboard the USS Hoggatt Bay during World War II.
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)
It wasn’t such a curious hobby, collecting rocks, but more in how it was done. Ruby Viola (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977), simply could not resist picking rocks up off the ground wherever she went. And judging by the facial expressions of those around her, it became somewhat of a family joke.
Rock collecting was certainly a Hanneman tradition. Uncle Wilbert G. Hanneman (1899-1987) had a rock shop up in Wausau, from which many a Hanneman child procured varieties of colorful, polished rocks. I have a bag of them to this day. Ruby liked to get her collectibles the old fashioned way, by finding them. She’d bend down to grab the most interesting or unusual ones, and husband Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) was often nearby to capture the moment on film.
The best examples of this hobby (or habit) came on a family trip from Mauston, Wisconsin, to Williston, South Dakota in 1947. After getting caught all bent over on several photographic occasions, Ruby and the kids shot back. They put their heads together and gave old Carl Hanneman a two-cheek salute.