Tag Archives: Wood County

Photo Detective: Baby Russell Robert Cole

Sometimes the smallest details can result in a breakthrough discovery. Such was the case in identifying the adorable little face of an unknown baby in our photo archive. Many times I passed over the photo of the tyke leaning on a small wooden chair. His face was distinctive. He looked, well, familiar. Who was he?

During a recent perusal of the photo library, I had an overwhelming sense that I’d seen this baby before. He had facial features similar to members of the Harry V. Cole family of Nekoosa, Wisconsin. Harry and Anna Cole were my father’s great uncle and aunt. Their daughter Gladys was an attendant in my grandparents wedding in 1925. Dad spoke often of the Hanneman family visits to the Coles in Nekoosa, especially of the rousing games of sheepshead played between my Grandpa Carl and Harry Cole. I recalled a Cole family portrait published in a book somewhere, and this baby looked like the one in the book.

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This photo from the collection of Bonnie (Treutel) Young shows a toddler of similar age to the one in the History of Wood County book.

After rummaging around, I found a PDF copy of History of Wood County, Wisconsin, a mammoth 1,000-page tome published in 1923 by H.C. Cooper Jr. & Company. There it was on Page 551, Harry and Anna Cole with four children. Wow, the baby looked so similar to the one in my scanned photograph. As I stared at the book page (which was pixelated and poor quality due to the extreme file compression of the PDF), it dawned on me that not only was it the same baby, it was the exact same photo! Except there was no wooden chair and no grass in the background.

Now why would the book publisher cut the baby from another photo and superimpose him onto the family portrait? Obviously, there was a story behind it. So I dove into my Family Tree Maker software to see what I could learn about the Coles and their children. Among the Cole progeny were a boy named Russell Robert and a slightly younger boy named Robert Russell. This was already confusing. Russell Robert was born in 1920 and died in January 1922. The book History of Wood County (Page 550) mentioned that Russell was the youngest Cole child and that he died.

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The hands, face and expression of the baby in the family portrait (top) are identical to the larger photograph with the baby near the chair. It is the same image. Baby Russell was superimposed on the family portrait for the history book because he had recently died.

I dug through the first few pages of the book and saw that it was published in April 1923. That was a little more than a year after Russell died, and six months before Robert was born. So the baby in the photos had to be Russell. Based on all of the evidence, it appeared the book publisher cut an outline of Russell from the photo with the chair and grass, and superimposed it on the family portrait. It is safe to assume the family sat for the portrait not long after baby Russell died.

I ran a search on Newspapers.com and found a short article on Russell’s death from the January 25, 1922 issue of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:

YOUNG NEKOOSA LAD DIED ON SATURDAY
Russell, the two year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cole of Nekoosa passed away Saturday after a prolonged illness of pneumonia.

Funeral services were held at the home Monday morning, Rev. C.A. O’Neil officiating. Interment was made in Forest Hill cemetery at Wisconsin Rapids. Mr. and Mrs. Cole have the sympathy of the entire community.

The following relatives from out of town attended the funeral: Mrs. M.J. Cole, Fond du Lac; Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Cole, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Treutel, Mr. and Mrs. John Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Goldammer and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ladick of Vesper.

Another photo mystery solved. The creative book production people at the H.C. Cooper Jr. company found a fitting, and convincing, way to memorialize a young life taken too soon.

©2017 The Hanneman Archive

 

Audio Memories: Vesper and Arpin, Wisconsin in the 1930s and 1940s

In an effort to put my family history audio recordings to better use, we’re adding a new post category: audio history. In this inaugural audio clip, my Dad shares recollections of childhood visits to Vesper and Arpin, Wisconsin. The Hanneman family from Mauston often visited Dad’s maternal grandfather, Walter Treutel (1879-1948), in Vesper. A short distance away was the home of Aunt Emma (Treutel) Carlin (1877-1948). Listen carefully for the description of dinner preparation in Arpin, where Uncle Oscar Treutel lopped a few heads off to get things started. This was recorded in November 2006, just as Dad started treatment for the cancer that would end his life five months later.

Eye on the Past: Carl’s New Model T

 

Carl F. Hanneman has that thrilled schoolboy look on his face in this vintage photograph from about 1925. And why not? It appears he is posing next to his new purchase: a Ford Model T, which came in any color a customer wanted “as long as it’s black.” Although there is no snow on the ground, the Ford is outfitted for inclement weather with a pretty nice canopy.

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Carl’s first job as a licensed pharmacist made front-page news in the Feb. 14, 1925 issue of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. The paper incorrectly stated his middle initial.

 

We don’t have any notes that went with this image, so we will have to surmise some things to gain the proper context. Based on Carl’s apparent age and his natty threads, it would be safe to assume if he indeed purchased this auto, it was after he landed his first post-graduation job at the Whitrock & Wolt pharmacy in Wisconsin Rapids. That event made front-page news in February 1925.

After Carl married his longtime sweetheart, Ruby V. Treutel, in July 1925, a Model T was visible in photos from their honeymoon near Hayward, Wisconsin. That does not appear to be the same automobile as the one pictured above and below. So some mystery remains surrounding Carl’s early vehicular habits. If only we could still ask him about it.

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Eye on the Past: Farmer Ruby at Green Acres

The look on Ruby V. Hanneman’s face in this classic photo says it all. “I have NO idea how to run this rig!” This image was scanned from a Kodachrome slide taken by Ruby’s husband, Carl F. Hanneman. The year is about 1958.

Ruby Hanneman Tractor
Ruby Hanneman does not seem quite ready to hit the fields on this Oliver 99 diesel tractor.

Judging by the other slides in the batch, the Hanneman family was attending a wedding in the Wausau or Wisconsin Rapids areas when this photo was taken.

According to a variety of equipment-collector blogs we sampled, the Oliver 99 diesel tractor was produced from 1955 to 1958. The color slide film really brings out the brilliance of the green paint. Well done, Grandma Ruby! Now get down before you hurt someone.

©2016 The Hanneman Archive

Marquette Mystery: Where Did Carl Hanneman Study Pharmacy?

For most of his adult life, Carl F. Hanneman said he studied pharmacy at Marquette University in Milwaukee, securing the academic knowledge required to pass the state of Wisconsin pharmacy board exam. Even his obituary in the May 30, 1982 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal stated, “He was a graduate pharmacist of Marquette University.”

Now, more than 90 years after Hanneman’s days of youth in Milwaukee, a question has been raised about where he studied to prepare for his nearly 60-year career as a pharmacist. As The Hanneman Archive was preparing to donate Carl’s student notebooks, study guides and formulary books from his days at Marquette, staff at the university’s archives said they could not find him in an initial search of the graduate database.

Carl F. Hanneman at Solomon Juneau Park in Milwaukee in 1924.
Carl F. Hanneman at Solomon Juneau Park in Milwaukee in 1924.

The College of Pharmacy at Marquette was disbanded in 1918, as World War I decimated the ranks of students and faculty alike. The plan was to re-establish the pharmacy program after the war, but those plans were never realized and Marquette never again had a pharmacy degree program. So what to make of Carl’s story and his history? We can assume he did not fabricate it, since he was licensed in Wisconsin for 57 years. So, what to do when presented with a mystery? We dug into it.

Some facts in our favorite pharmacist’s story are well-established. Carl Henry Frank Hanneman was born on October 28, 1901 in Grand Rapids, Wood County, Wisconsin (the city’s name was changed to Wisconsin Rapids in 1920). He was the youngest of five children of Charles and Rosine (Osterman) Hanneman. (We related elsewhere on this site some of the confusion surrounding his birth when he sought a copy of his original birth certificate in 1946).

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Charles Hanneman emigrated from Pomerania to Wisconsin in November 1882.

His father Charles, whose full name is Carl Frederick Christian Hanneman, emigrated to Wisconsin in November 1882 from county Regenwalde in the Baltic Duchy of Pomerania (now in Poland and Germany). His mother was native to Wood County, Wisconsin. The senior Hanneman toiled at manual labor. He started as a saw mill worker and later became a farm hand for his brother William at the dawn of the 20th century. Charles worked on the 1908 construction of the sewer system in Grand Rapids, earning 17.5 cents per hour. He later worked in a paper mill. Young Carl had a good role model for hard work.

Carl attended public schools, graduating from Lincoln High School in 1921. He was a smart young man, with equal talents at science and art. Shortly after high school, he began work as an apprentice at the well-known Sam Church drug store. A spark was lit. Carl felt a calling. Carl’s apprenticeship at the Church drug store lasted nearly five years. We believe the person who told Carl about Marquette University was Mark C. Whitrock, a 1913 Marquette pharmacy graduate and pharmacist at Sam Church. Nearly 10 years Carl’s senior, Whitrock was also a member of the Wisconsin Rapids city council.

Carl Hanneman studies in the mid-1920s.
Carl Hanneman studies in the mid-1920s.

Among Carl’s Marquette papers is a pharmacy course notebook originally belonging to Whitrock. It is from a theoretical pharmacy course taught by Dr. Hugh C. Russell, a physician and professor in Marquette’s College of Pharmacy. Whitrock gave the book to Carl to help him prepare to study for work as a druggist. What to do, since the pharmacy degree program at Marquette was no more? With some help from the Marquette University Archives and Carl’s own writings, we found the answer.

Marquette's short course in pharmacy proved popular in the mid-1920s.
Marquette’s short course in pharmacy proved popular in the mid-1920s.

In 1923, Marquette began offering a “short course” in pharmacy under the auspices of the College of Dentistry. The school newspaper, the Marquette Tribune, said the course was “not part of the regular curriculum of the university.” What? The courses in chemistry, organic chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacognosy, toxicology and drug identification were rigorous. They were taught by the aforementioned Dr. Russell and Professor Frederick C. Mayer, both former deans of the Marquette College of Pharmacy. The two-semester program was designed for young men and women with pharmacy experience, in preparation to pass the state exams.

Carl studied under two former deans of the Marquette College of Pharmacy.
Carl studied under two former deans of the Marquette College of Pharmacy.

Carl enrolled in the pharmacy short course in the winter of 1924. We know he paid tuition (he referenced in later writings having to save before enrolling at Marquette). He lived in the 700 block of 37th Street in Milwaukee, just west of the Marquette campus. We have a number of photos of his fiancee, Ruby Treutel, visiting him at Solomon Juneau Park in Milwaukee in 1924.

The books Carl left behind contain hundreds of pages of meticulous notes on chemistry, pharmacy and related subjects. Two of the books have Marquette pennant stickers on the front. Carl’s pocket-size copy of the Guide to the Organic Drugs of the United States Pharmacopœia has a Marquette University seal on the cover. His exam book shows he scored an 82 percent on one test in 1924. The test was corrected by someone identified only as “A. Mankowski.” So far, we have not identified that person further.

Carl's organic drugs guide from his days at Marquette University.
Carl’s organic drugs guide from his days at Marquette University.

It seems odd that Marquette would offer such a program but not count it as official curriculum. The university offered certification programs in other subjects. We have no paper certificate or other document showing Carl matriculated from the pharmacy short course, but we will ask Marquette to check its records thoroughly. Otherwise, Carl and many others like him from the 1920s would be Marquette orphans, educated by the university but not claimed as students or course graduates.

Carl traveled to Madison on January 24, 1925 for the state Board of Pharmacy examination. He was one of 105 applicants seeking licensure as either a registered pharmacist or assistant registered pharmacist. Carl was among 76 people who passed the exam that day. On January 30, the Wisconsin State Board of Pharmacy issued him certificate No. 3252 as a registered assistant pharmacist. With his credentials in hand, he returned home to Wisconsin Rapids. Mark Whitrock hired him as a druggist for the brand new Whitrock & Wolt pharmacy on Grand Avenue.

Carl Hanneman's graduation and first job made front-page news in Wisconsin Rapids.
Carl Hanneman’s graduation and first job made front-page news in Wisconsin Rapids. The newspaper got his middle initial wrong.

Six months later in nearby Vesper, Carl married his longtime sweetheart, Ruby Viola Treutel. After working at the Whitrock pharmacy much of 1925, Carl and Ruby moved to Janesville. Carl took a druggist job with the McCue & Buss Drug Co. in downtown Janesville. After about six months, Carl and his now-pregnant wife moved to Fond du Lac, where Carl started work for Fred Staeben at the Staeben Drug Co. Just weeks later, they welcomed their first child, Donn Gene Hanneman.

By Christmas 1927, the Hannemans moved back to Wisconsin Rapids. Carl became a druggist for his old employer, Sam Church. He stayed in that job for five years. In March 1933, the family welcomed another son, David Dion. Carl then left the pharmacy world for a sales job with the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. That assignment lasted for several years.

Longtime pharmacist Sam Church hired Carl Hanneman as an apprentice in the early 1920s, then as a druggist in 1927.
Longtime pharmacist Sam Church hired Carl Hanneman as an apprentice in the early 1920s, then as a druggist in 1927.

Pharmacy was his calling, so Carl looked for a chance to retake his place behind the druggist’s counter. In February 1936, Carl was hired by Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. to be an assistant pharmacist at the Mauston Drug Store, which was attached to the Hess Memorial Hospital in Mauston.

We wrote elsewhere on this site of Carl’s heartfelt September 1937 plea for assistance obtaining a full registered pharmacist license. He wrote to Orland S. Loomis, a well-known Mauston attorney and former state senator who was then Wisconsin’s attorney general. Carl regretted not taking the full registered pharmacist exam in 1925. At the time, he was six months short of the five years of apprentice experience required to become a registered pharmacist. Now 12 years later, lacking that higher license, he could not officially manage the Mauston Drug Store because of a quirk in state law regarding small-town pharmacies. The better license would mean better salary, something that became crucial in August 1937 with the birth of the Hannemans’ third child, daughter Lavonne Marie.

We don’t know if Loomis wrote back or helped Carl with his license issues. (Loomis became governor-elect of Wisconsin in 1942, but died before taking office. As a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal, Carl photographed Loomis at the Loomis home in Mauston on election eve in November 1942). Carl became a full registered pharmacist on July 12, 1944. He was among nine people issued new licenses that Wednesday in Madison. He was issued certificate No. 5598 by the Wisconsin State Board of Pharmacy. The certificate was signed by Oscar Rennebohm, a well-known Madison pharmacist who later became Wisconsin’s 32nd governor.

Carl earned his full registered pharmacist license in 1944.
Carl earned his full registered pharmacist license in 1944.

So the mystery is solved. Carl Hanneman did enroll in and complete a short course in pharmacy at Marquette University in 1924. It remains to be seen if Marquette will claim him and his many colleagues who studied in the pharmacy short course in the 1920s. His class notes, study guides and other materials from that time will be donated to the Marquette University Archives later this summer.

©2016 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Youthful Pals and the Model T

I always loved this photo of five young men posing next to a Ford Model T. But the original scan I made of this late 1920s image was covered in little circular stains. I wrote of the efforts to clean the image over at the Treasured Lives blog.

With the photo scrubbed of its imperfections, it can now join the growing online Hanneman photo library. The young man in the center of the photo is my great uncle, Marvin R. Treutel, baby brother of my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman. I presume the automobile that serves as the backdrop belonged to Marvin’s father, Walter Treutel. Unfortunately, I don’t have IDs on the other young men.

Marvin Treutel with sisters Nina Wilson (left) and Ruby V. Hanneman in July 1975.
Marvin Treutel with sisters Nina Wilson (left) and Ruby V. Hanneman in July 1975.

Marvin Raphael Treutel was born on April 13, 1916 in Vesper, a tiny village in Wood County, Wisconsin. He was the second son of Walter and Mary (Ladick) Treutel. (Baby Gordon Treutel died of pneumonia in February 1911.) Marvin attended Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, where he played in the band and  sang in the boys glee club.

Marv married Mabel Martha Neuenfeldt on July 3, 1937. They are mentioned elsewhere on this site, most especially for the Rochester root beer stand the family ran in Nekoosa between 1947 and 1951. The couple had six children. Marv spent more than 25 years working for Nekoosa Papers Inc. before retiring in 1978. Mabel passed away in January 1995. Marvin died in April 2005.

©2016 The Hanneman Archive

Wedding Photo Draws a Following, 90 Years Later

I’m generally not a fan of social media page “likes” or shares or fan praise. While it is one metric of success in the online world, it also can set us up for easy disappointment. That being said, I was quite pleased to see my grandparents’ wedding photo draw such nice comments on an Instagram page dedicated to preserving the stories behind photos.

Saving Family Photos featured this 1925 wedding portrait today, along with the newspaper story published shortly after the marriage of Carl F. Hanneman and Ruby V. Treutel. As of this writing (less than one full day on display), the photo has 1,016 likes. A sampling of the viewer comments:

I have a similar picture of my grandparents. You’ve inspired me to frame it.”

“Wow! Beautiful picture!”

“A true treasure.”

“Stunning photo. Love every detail. A gift for you to have this.”

“Can’t love this enough…still looking for photos of my grandparents weddings.”

“That is now may favorite wedding photo! What a treasure!”

I submitted the photo to Saving Family Photos from Treasured Lives, our sister site. If you are on Instagram, find them @savefamilyphotos. You can also see the gallery on their web site.

©2016 The Hanneman Archive

Dueling Illustrator Brothers: Carl F. and Wilbert G. Hanneman

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.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Entire Richard Rickman Family Killed in 1960 Plane Crash in Chicago

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 Richard E. Rickman family, shown in a 1960 newspaper photograph. Left to right are Richard, 7; Patricia, 3; Richard Sr., 35; Robert, 5; Helen, 34; and Catherine, 4.
The Richard E. Rickman family, shown in a 1960 newspaper photograph. Left to right are Richard, 7; Patricia, 3; Richard Sr., 35; Robert, 5; Helen, 34; and Catherine, 4.

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.

The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune carried the horrifying news on September 6, 1960.
The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune carried the horrifying news on September 6, 1960.

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.

Lifeguard Bill Zimmerman with a door from the doomed Beechcraft C35 Bonanza. (Chicago Tribune)
Lifeguard Bill Zimmerman with a door from the doomed Beechcraft C35 Bonanza piloted by Richard E. Rickman. (Chicago Tribune)

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.

The six members of the Richard E. Rickman family are buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Wisconsin Rapids.
The six members of the Richard E. Rickman family are buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Wisconsin Rapids. (Photo courtesy of Ben Chitek)

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.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Rudolph Grotto Shrine 1958

As many times as I’ve traveled to central Wisconsin, I was not aware of a beautiful, sprawling religious shrine built by a Catholic priest in thanksgiving for having his health restored after a visit to Lourdes, France in the early 1900s. The Rudolph Grotto Gardens near Wisconsin Rapids were the dream fulfilled of Father Philip Wagner, who developed and dedicated the site to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1927.

I learned of Rudolph Grotto Gardens while researching a photo of my grandmother, Ruby V. Hanneman, standing near a statue of St. Philomena in 1958 or 1959. St. Philomena, who was martyred at age 13, is known as the Patroness of the Living Rosary. Her shrine at Rudolph Grotto Gardens was built in 1957 by Edmund Rybicki, Father Wagner’s right-hand man.

The first grotto shrine at the Rudolph site, dedicated to the Our Lady of Lourdes, was completed in 1928. When a young and sick Philip Wagner visited the famous shrine at Lourdes, he promised the Blessed Virgin Mary that if he were healed of his illnesses so he could become a priest, he would build a shrine to her in America. And so he was healed, and was ordained a priest in 1915. He was assigned to St. Philomena Catholic Church in Rudolph in 1917.

Ruby V. Hanneman stands at the St. Philomena shrine in Rudolph in the late 1950s.
Ruby V. Hanneman stands at the St. Philomena shrine in Rudolph in the late 1950s.

Over the years, the site expanded to include the Stations of the Cross, the Ten Commandments, a Last Supper Shrine, A “Wonder Cave” modeled after the catacombs, a Shrine of the Resurrection, a soldier’s monument and more.

Father Wagner and Rybicki labored on the site for decades. After Father Wagner died in 1959, Rybicki became the site caretaker. In 1961, St. Philomena Church was rededicated and renamed St. Philip the Apostle in honor of Father Philip Wagner. The last project at the grotto gardens was finished in 1983. Read more about the site here.

Lavonne Hanneman stands near an arch at the Rudolph Grotto Gardens in 1958 or 1959.
Lavonne Hanneman stands near an arch at the Rudolph Grotto Gardens in 1958 or 1959.
Ruby V. Hanneman at Rudolph Grotto Gardens in 1958 or 1959.
Ruby V. Hanneman at Rudolph Grotto Gardens in 1958 or 1959.