Oshkosh Student at 2017 National History Day Contest

Hello, my name is Michelle Lokken. This past school year I was a senior at Oshkosh North High School. Recently, on June 11th-15th, I went to the University of Maryland to compete in the national level contest for National History Day. I presented my documentary on the Oshkosh Woodworkers’ Strike of 1898.

National History Day is an academic enrichment program dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of history. This program is structured as a tiered contest containing regional, state and national levels. To compete in this contest, middle and high school students make a project on any historical topic of their choice. The project can be a paper, website, documentary, performance, or an exhibit.  Even though the topics can vary, all projects must connect back to an annual theme. This year’s theme was “Taking a Stand.” In Wisconsin, nearly 10,000 students made projects but only 36 advanced to the national level. My project won at state, qualifying me to go to the National Contest in Maryland.

Even though it’s called National History Day it is really more like history year. I first became interested in the Oshkosh Woodworkers’ Strike during my junior year (2015-2016), when my English teacher assigned an Oshkosh research paper. My security job at the Paine Art Center already had me interested in learning more about the Paine Lumber Company’s history. The Woodworkers’ Strike was an appealing topic because of my fascination with both the Paine and labor history. When the paper was done, I still wanted to know more. At the end of my junior year, I noticed that the National History Day theme for my senior year would be “Taking a Stand”.  I immediately knew that the Oshkosh Woodworkers’ Strike of 1898 would be the perfect topic. Then, in October of 2016, I got to work preparing a documentary for the regional contest in February.  My documentary was successful at the regional level which qualified me for the state competition in April. Between competing, participants are allowed to make improvements, of which I did. At the state competition, my documentary was again successful making me a Wisconsin finalist for the national contest.

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Nationals was an amazing experience. I enjoyed meeting students from across the country that had a similar interest in history. Having a local topic I was unsure how my documentary would rank against my competition. Many competing documentaries covered national or international topics. My project was received well by the judges. With 99 competitors, in the category of individual documentary, in the high school division, I made it to the finals round. Out of 100 entries, I made the top ten and ended up ranking 5th in the nation.  

Being selected to go to the contest was a great honor and I wanted to pursue this opportunity.  Since my travel and lodging expenses were not provided for, I reached out to the community to seek sponsorships. Fortunately, The Winnebago County Historical and Archeological Society sponsored me. Their generous donation helped pay for gasoline and lodging fees that it took to make going to nationals possible. I am so grateful and honored to have been sponsored by an organization that cherishes the history of Winnebago County. Truly Winnebago County has the utmost fascinating history. If you are interested in watching my documentary you can find it with this link https://youtu.be/-jMJAmRqMRM

2017 Museum Season Begins


Mark your calendars! The Winnebago County Historical & Archaeological Society‘s summer schedule begins this Saturday, June 3. The historic John R. Morgan residence at 234 Church Avenue in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, will be open from 10am to 1pm every Saturday until the end of September. You can also stop by our Pie on the Porch bistro at the Oshkosh Saturday Farmer’s Market on Main Street in Oshkosh to buy a delicious slice of pie. All proceeds go to the society’s operating fund. Your support is appreciated!

If you haven’t been to the Morgan House you are missing out! This beautiful home was owned by one of Oshkosh’s pioneer lumber families. The Morgan family owned a sawmill along the Fox River for over a century. The house was acquired by the WCHAS in 1987 from Miss Constance Misky, who once lived in the home and ran a cosmetology school on the first floor. Since 1987 the society has beautifully maintained the property and furnished the home to reflect the living standards of the Morgan’s stature. When it was built in 1884, the Morgan’s had the most “modern” conveniences a homeowner could have in the city at that time. There was running water, both hot and cold, to several of the rooms in the house. The home was heated by steam heat, and electric bells were installed to summon servants and butlers to the Morgans’ every need.

While none of the furnishings on display are original to the Morgan family, you will see the original handcrafted wood decorations and original wallpapers that have adorned this beautiful Queen Anne style home since the day it was built. It is truly a treasure from Oshkosh’s lumbering heyday.

Tours of the house are always free to the public, but the society welcomes and appreciates donations which help to preserve this beautiful treasure. If you are unable to come see the home during open hours on Saturday, please call or send an email to set up an appointment to get a tour on a day that works for you.

Have you visited the Morgan House before?! Comment below to share your experience!

MH Fundraiser Off To A Fast Start


WCHAS launched a formal fundraiser in December to create a dedicated fund to support the preservation of the historic Morgan House.  We are pleased to report that through March 2017 $8,925 in donations have been received.  This brings us to 25.5 % of our goal of raising $35,000.  Our friends at the Kuenzl Foundation are supporting our efforts with a dollar-for-dollar match.  If we fully achieve our goal, WCHAS will have an account with $70,000 dedicated solely to the maintenance and preservation of the Morgan House. Some of the major expenses we will face in the near future include a new roof and driveway.  Additionally, as we found out in late 2015-16, unanticipated repairs can be significant.  Over $32,000 in unexpected costly repairs were performed during that time.  We are working to get ahead of things by thoughtful planning and taking positive preemptive measures with challenges we will certainly face.  WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

If you’d like to support our effort, your tax-deductible donation can be sent to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation by filling out the Donation Form. We cannot do this without your help. As always, your support to preserve local history is greatly appreciated.


 Pie on the Porch Finds New Location


Last year Pie on the Porch underwent some changes at the Farmers Market when we lost our “home front” in the building on Merritt and Main. With the help of several volunteers, we managed to cart our supplies and pie slices from Raulf Place to the corner every Saturday. Thanks to all who helped in that effort! We had to do away with table service last year as well. Obviously, this was less than an ideal setting.

So we sought out a new location for this year in hope of finding a more permanent home. The Karners owners of Crescent Moon Antiques and Salvage came to our rescue and welcomed the opportunity to be our new host location! Thank you, J. and Julie Karner! They are located at 537 N. Main St. We will be able to go back to the table service our patrons have asked for. We will still serve hot coffee, lemonade, bottled water and of course, those delicious home made slices of pie!

We are always looking for more pie bakers! If you can bake a pie to donate, please contact one of our co-chairs (Greg Bellmer or Patti Yana) listed below and we will put you on our call list. You can donate a pie weekly, monthly, or as often as you’d like. All types and flavors of pie are welcome!

We also need volunteers to help us set up the booth, cut pies, serve tables, work in the booth, and to tear down the booth. You can volunteer two hours or all morning; every week, once a month, or as often as you’d like. Helping at Pie on the Porch is a fun and rewarding experience! If you are interested in being a volunteer please contact one of the co-chairs below and we will get you set up on our volunteer schedule.

If you can help out or have any questions or suggestions, please give one of our Pie on the Porch co-chairs a call.

Greg Bellmer – gbellmer1@yahoo.com or (920) 290-4182
Patti Yana – pattiyana54@gmail.com or (920) 582-9616

Our Pie on the Porch motto is “We’re glad you’re here!” Please consider helping us out. Thank you!!!