Tag Archives: Wood County

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.

 

Eye on the Past: Wash Tub Baby 1933

This photograph has perplexed me for years. A baby in a diaper, lying on a pillow inside a steel wash tub. I strongly suspect this is my father, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007). The image raises many questions but provides no answers.

A strange place for a nap, circa 1933.
A strange place for a nap. This might be David D. Hanneman in the summer of 1933.

Why stick a baby in a wash tub? Was this the poor family’s playpen? The Depression-era bassinette? A brutal pre-Dr. Spock time-out? Freshly picked from the vine? In this day and age, such a photo might get you a visit from Child Services. I’m guessing my Grandma Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977) just thought it made a cute photo. She was known to dote on her “little Davey.”

If this was Dad in the tub, the photo was likely taken in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, where he was born in March 1933. The family did not move to Mauston until early 1936. Usually I can confirm my Dad’s ID in photos by the ears, but they are not visible in this image.

My memories of such a steel container at the house in Mauston had nothing to do with babies. I recall bluegill, sunfish and bass in such a tub, waiting for Grandpa Carl’s skilled fillet knife. Or the tub filled with ice and bottles of orange and grape soda (known as “pop” by some of you). But no babies.

This one is destined to remain a mystery. I’m sure it would tickle my grandma to know it was a conversation piece some 80 years later, and that no one called Child Services.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Walter Treutel Family 1918

A simple family snapshot taken around 1918 is the only photograph we have showing Walter Treutel and his wife Mary (Ladick) Treutel together. Taken at the Treutel home in the village of Vesper, Wisconsin, the photo shows a teenaged Ruby along with younger siblings Marvin, 2, and Nina, 4. Elaine Treutel would come along in 1920. Baby Gordon Treutel died in 1910.

Walter was a rural route postal carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, while Mary tended to the family home on Anderton Avenue. The couple were married on December 29, 1902 in Vesper. Walter had recently relocated to Vesper from North Prairie in Waukesha County. Our Grandma Ruby Viola (Treutel) Hanneman was their first child, born June 22, 1904. Ruby was born at 1 p.m., delivered by Dr. F.A. Goedecke.

We learned recently that Mary’s nickname was Molly. That factoid came from none other than cousin Mary “Mollisu” Clark, the daughter of Elaine (Treutel) Clark and Max Clark.

Mrs. Treutel died at just 42 years old in January 1925. She had an operation in nearby Marshfield, but a post-operative infection claimed her life on January 31. She did not live to see her daughter Ruby get married that summer, and she did not get to see her other three children grow into adulthood.

The uncropped version of the photo shows Ruby V. Treutel standing at rear. Mary and Walter Treutel are seated. In front are Marvin and Nina Treutel.
The uncropped version of the photo shows Ruby V. Treutel standing at rear. Mary and Walter Treutel are seated. In front are Marvin and Nina Treutel.

Eye on the Past: Foresters Drill Team

Eight uniformed, ax-wielding men and their sword-bearing commander grace this photograph from Vesper, Wisconsin, circa 1910. The men were Foresters, a ceremonial drill team from a fraternal group called the Modern Woodmen of America. The Woodmen organization dates to the 1880s. It was formed to provide financial relief when the family breadwinner died. Drill teams would participate in parades and at other public functions to promote the group and show patriotism.

At farthest left in the photo is Walter Treutel (1879-1948), father of our Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977). The fourth man from the left is Orville Carlin (1874-1934), Ruby’s uncle. Walter was the longtime rural-route postal carrier in Vesper. Orville operated a butcher shop and meat market at Vesper before moving his business to nearby Arpin. He was the husband of Walter’s sister, Emma (Treutel) Carlin (1877-1962).

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Frank Hanneman, Frontier Hunter

The more than century-old photo shows a stoic, proud young man wearing an ammunition belt and holding a shotgun in his right hand. At his feet lays a loyal hunting dog, seemingly tired from a day in the field. The young man is identified in the corner of the photo as Frank Hanneman, age 14. That dates the photo to 1909 or 1910.

The paper-mounted and framed portait, in nearly perfect condition, survived all of these years in the possession of Carl F. Hanneman, Frank’s brother, and later in the collection of David D. Hanneman, Carl’s son. It is one of the oldest existing photos of a Hanneman from Wood County, Wisconsin.

Frank Hanneman, 14, posed for this photo around 1910.
Frank Hanneman, 14, posed for this photo around 1910.

What do we know about this young hunter? Frank Herman Albert Hanneman was born July 7, 1895 near Grand Rapids, Wisconsin, the son of Charles and Rosine Hanneman. In his early years the family lived and worked on the farm of his uncle, William Hanneman, in the Town of Grand Rapids in Wood County. The 1900 U.S. Census lists Charles Hanneman, 33, as a farm laborer on the farm of William Hanneman. By 1905 the Charles Hanneman family moved to Baker Street in Wisconsin Rapids when Charles got work at the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co.

The Hanneman boys enjoyed the great outdoors of central Wisconsin. We might assume by the photo, Frank enjoyed hunting birds. We have plenty of photos of a young Carl Hanneman fishing. On June 11, 1916, Frank married Irma Wilhelmine Louise Staffeld, and the couple took up residence on Baker Street in Wisconsin Rapids – a block away from his parents. The couple had five children between 1916 and 1929: Dorothy, Marjorie, Robert, Elizabeth and Joyce. Like his father, Frank had a long career working at Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co.

On July 14, 1947, Frank suffered a heart attack at home, and died shortly after arriving at Riverview Hospital. He was 52. His brother, Carl, was vacationing with his family in North Dakota, but returned for the funeral before rejoining the family vacation.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

 

Eye on the Past: 1914 Wisconsin Debate Team

“The victory is not always with the strong.” Thus was the conclusion of the editors of the Ahdahwagam yearbook at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School, in recounting the 1914 performance of the school’s debate team versus nearby Marshfield.

The best Lincoln High School had to offer.
The debate team represented the best Lincoln High School had to offer.

The young men were fully prepared and valiently presented their assigned negative proposition. The question at hand, the editors reasoned, simply lent itself more easily to the affirmative: “Resolved, that the policy of fixing a minimum wage by state boards is desirable.” Marshfield won the judges’ nod on this day. “It was merely on of those times when fortune turns her wheel, then closes her eyes, letting it stay where it may.”

The young men pictured in the image, the yearbook stated, were among the very best the school had developed. Participants in forensics tended to also be those involved in other worthy extracurricular pursuits, such as athletics, music and culture. “This is what every well-organized high school should stand for,” the yearbook read, “and we are proud of the boys who represented us in debate.” Indeed, several of them went on to serve their country as soldiers in World War I. The debate team lineup:

Top Row
  • Carlton Frederick Stamm (1896-1988)
  • Leon Francis Foley (1894-1978)
  • Karl L. Zimmerman
Middle Row
  • Victor A. Bornick (1893-1954)
  • Bert W. Wells (coach, 1887-1969)
  • Myron D. Hill (1896-1957)
Bottom Row
  • Charles Harold Babcock (1895-1971)
  • Raymond Cole Mullen (1895-1944)
  • Neil Edward Nash (1894-1976)

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Grand Rapids Nabs 1918 Basketball Championship

It was a basketball season for the ages at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School. After a 14-1 season, the team stormed into the 14th annual Wisconsin state basketball tournament held March 20-22, 1918 at Lawrence College in Appleton. By defeating Columbus (32-25), Marinette (34-25) and Wausau (27-15), Grand Rapids secured its first Wisconsin state championship. Three Rapids players made the All-State team.

Three members of the squad were named All-State after winning the championship.
Three members of the squad were named All-State after winning the championship.
In the team photo, back row:
  • William Smith (1900-1991)
  • Arthur H. Plahmer (1899-1984)
  • Coach Elmer J. Abrahamson (1891-1978)
  • Roy T. “Cap” Normington (1899-1960)
  • Raymond A. “Jock” Johnston (1900-1977)
In the front row:
  • Arthur “Worry” Kluge (1898-1974)
  • Stanley S. “Pudge” Stark (1900-1979)
  • Walter F. “Kaiser” Fritz (1898-1964)

Stark was the team captain and scoring champion with 205 points. He was named a forward on the All-State team. The other All-State honorees were Plahmer (center) and Smith (guard). The only defeat of the season came at the hands of Nekoosa during sectionals play. The season high score was achieved January 18, 1918 with a 64-12 drubbing of Wautoma. A week later, that same Wautoma team nearly knocked off Rapids before falling 18-16.

The irony of the 1917-1918 season is that the school year started with  no basketball coach on the payroll at Lincoln High School. In short order, the services of Elmer J. Abrahamson were secured for the season. A 1915 graduate of Lawrence College, Abrahamson was a star college athlete in basketball, track and the pentathlon. Abrahamson only stayed for the championship season. He went on to a long teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He died in 1978.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: State Bank of Vesper 1912

This photograph from my Grandmother Ruby V. Hanneman shows the interior of the State Bank of Vesper in the village of Vesper, Wisconsin, circa 1912. Scrawled on the back of the photo in pencil is the following notation: “First Vesper Bank. Jones Cashier, Martin President, Oliver V-P.”

George E. Martin was president of the State Bank of Vesper, chartered in December 1911 with capitalization of $10,000. Owen Oliver was vice president and Burton Jones was cashier. It is not clear if these are the three gentlemen shown in the photo. The bank made slow progress at first. A new management team was put in place in 1913, with Vesper hardware merchant George H. Horn serving as president, farmer Arthur P. Bean vice president and Fred Ellsworth cashier. According to the 1923 History of Wood County, Ellsworth sold his share in 1919 to three investors from Wisconsin Rapids. The bank subsequently grew from $55,000 in deposits to $140,000 and was considered one of the strongest country banks in the area.

Grandma Ruby (maiden name Treutel) grew up in Vesper. Her father Walter Treutel was a longtime postal carrier. Several uncles operated a butcher shop, general store and blacksmith/carpentry shop in the village. Her aunt Emma was postmistress for nearly a decade.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Eye on the Past: Kodachrome Trio 1956

There are several great things about this image of my Dad and his two siblings, taken in 1956 at Nekoosa, Wisconsin. The colors from the Kodachrome slide film are vivid, from the blue sky to the slicked-back black hair. The clothes are natty and the hairstyles are so 1950s. Right to left are Donn Gene Hanneman (1926-2014), Lavonne (Hanneman) Wellman (1937-1986), and my Dad, David D. Hanneman (1933-2014).

The photo was taken at the home of the trio’s uncle and aunt, Marvin and Mabel Treutel. The occasion was a Treutel family reunion. Their mother and my grandmother, Ruby V. Hanneman (1904-1977), was a Treutel before marrying Grandpa Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1922). It’s sad to think all three of them are gone, but I find comfort in the hope they are together in Heaven.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive