Historical Society

Pie on the Porch 2017

We have had a great start to Pie on the Porch this year!  We love our new location and the Karner family from Crescent Moon has been more than welcoming to us. In addition to our move in front of their store at 537 N Main, we have other news as well.  Thanks to a grant from 4Imprint we have new aprons with our Morgan House logo on them. Board members also received t-shirts. Come check us out!! Barb Herzog donated a new tent so we can use the other one for shade.  Jeanne Tondryk helped us with our first Strawberry Shortcake Day on July 1 in memory of John Allen from Allenville Farm. Thanks to Allenville Farms for those wonderful sweet strawberries and Pick & Save for donating the whipped topping! Allenville Farm has a booth right next to us so it was a great partnership. We sold over 50 delicious strawberry shortcakes in addition to pie!  This year we are also offering some new items to our menu such as decaf coffee, sugar-free lemonade, and bottled water.  Our Pie on the Porch volunteers have been awesome!!  We have had over 20 volunteers this year, many of them volunteering for the first time. They all said they want to come back because it is so much fun!  It’s not too late to help out by volunteering or making a pie.  Please let Brittany Martinez (brittanymartinez54@gmail.com) know if you would like to volunteer and let Lisa Zwickey (lzwickey@gmail.com) know if you can bake a pie.  No need to make a long-term commitment.  You can volunteer or bake as often as you would like.  It is a fun and rewarding atmosphere in which to work!  All profits this year will receive matching funds from the Kuenzl foundation and go toward preserving the Morgan House.

 

Christmas Open House

 

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Come visit the beautiful and elegant John R. Morgan House decorated for Christmas. This 1884 Queen Anne style home is a time capsule of a bygone era of Oshkosh. Come learn about the home, the Morgans and their lumber company and how the Winnebago County Historical and Archaeological Society maintains the house. You can enjoy refreshments, entertainment, socializing and take home a small gift ! The house is open 3-8 pm and is free to the public.

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Winnebago County Historical & Archaeological Society
234 Church Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Remembering Omro’s Blue Bell School Part II.

The kids recalled having to do chores like bringing the cows in from the pasture, bringing the milk cans in, getting the feed down and scraping the barn floor before starting their mile long walk to school. Once at school, more chores were to be handed out. Clapping erasers, raising the flag, carry water in from the well, fill the coal bucket and more.

Another student remembers his family operating a farm near the school. Her parents would grow huge crops of watermelons and one day they brought a wagon load of melons to the school for the kids to enjoy.Girls wore dresses mostly made of material from feed sacks, commonly used during and after World War II.Many of the boys wore patched bib overalls. It was explained that patches were ok as long as the clothes were clean.

Bernie Egan remembers bringing his lunch to school. “We often brought a potato and a cup of soup. We’d put both just inside the door of the old coal stove and for lunch we had a baked potato and a cup of hot soup!” Others who were students then remember the wonderful smell of baked potatoes filling the classroom. Elizabeth Egan Amend even commented, “we would bring a large piece of butter to put on it. Those were the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten”.

Before the bell rang everyone had to make it to the outdoor toilets. Two outhouses were located at the school,one on each side the building. During the winter months, the students would come in from recess and place their wet mittens on top of the stove to dry. Sometimes you could smell them getting too hot!Illness and disease was a big issue in those early years. In 1931, the school closed for four weeks because of Infantile Paralysis. And in 1934 the school was closed for one week due to a measles outbreak.

Volunteer Today!

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Get involved with a great organization! We have several committees to choose from to volunteer in. All of them help to fulfill our society’s mission to promote and preserve local history. Contact us today to get involved and volunteer!

Email- WinnebagoHistoricalSociety@gmail.com

Call (920) 267-8007

Remembering Omro’s Blue Bell School Part I

By WCHAS President, Randy Domer

Blue Bell School

Blue Bell School

Less than a century ago, one-room schoolhouses were numerous in rural areas and Winnebago County certainly had its share. Although now vacant, many still stand as a reminder to the days when they provided a much-needed service to folks living well outside our cities, towns and villages. Farm communities relied on these small but important institutions to educate their children during a time when transportation was in its early stages, particularly in the undeveloped, rural areas.  One such school was located just outside Omro near the intersection of what today is County Trunk E and Highway 116.  

The Blue Bell School was built in 1866 and opened its doors to the first class that fall.  It’s originally proposed name was “Bell School”, but that couldn’t be used because Winnebago County already had another Bell School located in the western part of the township.

Local historian and resident of nearby Pickett, Bernie Egan, remembers attending class at Blue Bell School in the 1940s. His father, Gerald, recalls riding his horse to school each day, then slapping it on the rump sending it back home alone. It also was common back then for school to close for one day to allow students and their families to attend the Winnebago County Fair.

In 2010, a committee of folks from the Omro area who attended this school published their remembrances. You can find their stories in the book “BLUE BELL SCHOOL – Memories of a one-room country school”. Some of those remembrances will be included in future newsletters.

Records indicate the site on which the school was built, rented for $1.  It was eventually purchased for the sum of $30. In 1869, another quarter of an acre of land was purchased for $25; added as the playground.  Teachers the first year included Mrs. Tuttle (14 days), C.H. Marshall (3 months) and Miss Luther who taught summer classes.

The community worked to furnish and make improvements to the school; a well was dug by hand and purchases made of new desks, curtains, a flag with staff, blackboard, bookcase, and fencing for the schoolyard.  In 1929, the bell used to start the school day and call the kids in from recess was added.

Over the years, there were occasions when there weren’t enough students to hold class.  When this occurred, what students there were, attended classes at Omro and Waukau schools. Due to low enrollment, the school actually closed in 1906 and reopened in 1918.

Class sizes at Blue Bell School varied from year to year, averaging between six and eleven students until 1931, when enrollment rose to seventeen and then twenty-four for the next term. Classes were taught through the 8th grade level. Many grades only had one pupil so some lessons were combined.