Stories of Metonga : Part 1

Good afternoon Crandon residents. Last week I presented at a History On-Tap Program at the Hotel Crandon to a crowd of about 85 people. Afterwards, I received a few different requests to share my power-point presentation and while I am willing to do that, I also am planning to post the material online in hopes that others will find their way to it. (Local history is much more fun and exciting if it is shared!) Publishing my research on this site will also allow people to post comments about the presentation and hopefully, we will continue to learn from each other about our county and its heritage.

What’s in a Name?

When Forest County officially became a county by an Act of the Legislature in 1885, the lake that we now know as Metonga, was called Sand Lake.  And in truth, the lake today is still called by that name.  The definition of Sand Lake is in fact the Indian name “Mitaawangaa”, or as the English spell it, Metonga.

In fact, only a few short months after the county was established, the editor of the Forest Leaves published a description of the lake known as Metonga.

Additional research from The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary defines the word “sandy” as “mitaawangaa”

Another source document that was beneficial in determining the origin of the Lake’s name was provided by the Forest County Potawatomi Library and Cultural Center. In September of 1941, Mrs. Wm. Tahwah of Wabeno provided the following list of names of Forest County Lakes and their meanings:

source: Forest County Potawatomi Library collection

Page 1 of Forest Leaves, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Thursday, August 6th, 1885

Lake Cisco?

Lake Metonga residents might also be suprised to learn that they were at one time destined to live on a lake named after a the fish Cisco, also known as Lake Herring.  

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisco_(fish)#/media/File:Cisco.jpg


The Forest County Spy, published in Pelican Lake, Wisconsin on Tuesday, May 26th, 1885

The Forest Leaves, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Thursday, August 27th, 1885

Calling the lake by its Indian name caught on, and very soon there was no doubt the lake would be called Metonga.

However, its possible that not everyone agreed to have the name returned to its proper Indian title. As you can see from this 1906 Crandon map that hangs in the Forest County Courthouse Treasurer’s office, the name Sand Lake stuck around for some time.

Next week we will begin our tour around Lake Metonga courtesy of a March 1887 newspaper article. Don’t forget to leave your comments and share some of your local history related to Lake Metonga.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy this valentine themed photo from our archives!

A photograph that appeared in the February 24, 1983 edition on page 1. The caption reads: Through their Valentine fund-raising effort, the residents at Crandon Health Care Center were able to contribute a check in the amount of $219.55 to the American Heart Association. Support of reaching their goal of $200 never lost momentum and was surpassed two days before their target date of February 14. Shown presenting the check to Rev. Jim Newman, 1983 Heart chairman in the City of Crandon, is resident co-chairperson Alice Henrich, along with Administrator Jim Mueller.

Walk and Talk Script: Crandon Arcade

This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause, and Rachelle Cappel. Joe and Dort Keller were portrayed by Rob Keller and Tia Poe.

Joe:  Good evening.  My name is Joe Keller, Jr. and this is my dear wife Dort.  We are the proud owners of the Crandon Arcade.  I actually bought the Crandon Arcade back in 1961 with my first wife Margaret Greene Keller.  Together my wife Margaret and I ran the Crandon Arcade, including the bowling alleys, bar and restaurant while at the same time raising our twin boys Bob and Bill and daughter Deb.  Unfortunately, our family suffered a tragic loss when my dear Margaret passed away in 1963. 

Dort:  Yes, that was a tragic loss for your family Joe dear.  I too had lost my first husband Archie Wickham in 1956.  We had five children:  Johann, Jim, John, Harold and Marie.    It was a sad time for our family.  Luckily I had a large family for support the years after he did. The whole Gretzinger family helped me out.  Each one of my 6 brothers and sisters helped out the years after Archie died.    Anyways…Joe and I both being widows decided to marry in 1964 and we’ve been happily married since.

Source: Forest Republican. 08 SEP 1904. p8. Retrieved from http://crandonpublicwi.advantage-preservation.com

Joe:  Honestly, part of the reason we’ve been so happy together is this here building, the Arcade.   You see, there’s not always been a lot of things to do in Crandon.  We don’t have a community band anymore, the theaters are gone and the Opera House burned in 1912.  But through all of that, Crandon people have enjoyed bowling.  Yes sir!  There have been people bowling in Crandon since 1904!  That’s even before this old courthouse was built. 

Dort:  Yes Joe, but they’ve only being bowling here at this location since about 1920.  Before that they were bowling in Jim McMillian’s bowling alley.  I think it might have been located on Lake avenue.  Frank Granger and James Duff took it over in in 1907 and added a restaurant too.    

Joe:  That’s true Dort.  But they’ve been bowling!  This building was built in about 1920 when Walt and Blanche Carter owned it. You know Walt, he’s the son of Henry and Etta Carter who live over near the Carter Garage.  They bought the Patterson building and the McClinchy building that were located right here.  Patterson was the guy who two fake legs but he managed to get around his pool hall just fine.  Walter and his wife Blanche must have turned those two buildings into this one.  That may explain why the basement of the Arcade looks like it does with tunnels and separate rooms.  The Carter’s sold the bowling alley to a German girl named Rosa Ammer, in 1947.  Oh, she was a tough one that Rosa.  High school boys would give her a hard time in her restaurant and she’d chase them out and send them packing. 

Dort:  Are you sure that was Rosa?  I recall Ula Plummer running the Arcade restaurant for awhile.  Either way, you are now the owner and while it does take up a lot of your time, you sure do enjoy spending time up here with the bowlers. 

Joe:  Yes I do enjoy it.  Even if some of those bowlers try to talk to me about City politics.  Back in 1961 when I was the Crandon City Clerk and in 1964 when I was president of the Crandon Chamber of Commerce, I had to make sure politics didn’t interfere with me running the bar. 

Dort:  You did a good job, honey. And the Arcade is more than just a bar.  According to the Green Bay paper it’s a restaurant with atmosphere!   Ernie Wilson’s giant murals painted on the alleys sure do attract tourists.  They sure do seem to like the murals that feature racoons climbing trees, deer bounding from the forest and that darn bear fighting over the beaver dam.

Joe:  Oh, dear.  Look at the time.  Its time for us to get back to our bowlers and let these fine people move along to their next stop. 

Walk and Talk Script : Dr. Rathert

This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause and Rachelle Cappel. Dr. Burton Rathert was portrayed by Luke Bukovic.

Good evening.  How’s everyone feeling today?  My name is Dr. Burton Rathert and I’m assuming you’re here because you’re not feeling your best.   I’ll just need you to jump up here on this kitchen table and we’ll take a look.

Oh, you’re not here for a check-up?  Well, in that case let’s just relax and I’ll tell you a little bit about my time here in Crandon.

I started my practice in Crandon right after WW2.  My father’s second wife, Dora VanDoren, had family living in Crandon while I attended medical school in the early 1920’s.  I graduated in 1926 from UW-Madison and married my first wife Phyllis in Minneapolis in 1928. Sadly that marriage was a short one and I found myself practicing medicine in Kansas in 1930’s and married my wife Susan in Kansas in 1938.  During world war II my family and I transferred to Seattle, Washington where I worked for the Boeing company.

While we were in Seattle, my wife and decided to return to Wisconsin to raise our family.  I was fortunate to be offered a position with Dr. G.W. Ison.  Dr Ison himself built this building after he moved here in 1915. His dear sister Mrs. Kendall had been very ill the summer before and was being treated by Dr. Decker and Dr. Diamond but wanted her brother to consult on the case as well.  Doc Ison was impressed by the potential he saw in Crandon and moved his family here the following year. 

Doc Ison passed away only a few years after I joined his practice. In 1952 to be exact.  I continued to see patients in the upstairs clinic while the new Dr., Dr. Moffet opened his office above the Rexall drug store. 

Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette. 12 OCT 1950. p 24. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com

The 1950’s were a busy time for a Dr. in Crandon.  Lots of babies being born, families needing doctoring and new public health laws being put in place.  Both Dr. Moffett and myself kept busy and no one seemed to complain that our offices were located up long flights of stairs.  Not even the pregnant ladies or my elderly patients.  But I myself was not getting any younger.  In 1960 Rudy Augustine added offices in the back onto the original G.W. Ison building which allowed me to see patients on the first floor.

I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the residents of Crandon.  In 1972, the community of Crandon got together and created “Dr Rathert Day”  Oh, that was a fun day.  There were Dr. Rathert day bumper stickers and “I’m a Dr. Rathert baby” buttons for sale at Harry’s Red Owl store. A photo display was put together that featured many pictures of babies that I delivered.  My good friend Ken Conway also arranged to have a recliner chair delivered to my home during the event and I recall sitting in it the first time was a treat. 

However, the best gift were the words from the Mole Lake tribe.  Charles McGeshick while presenting me with a ceremonial headdress said “I am here to speak for the people of the Mole Lake reservation.  We came here as one, to give our thanks, to a man who has devoted his life to helping people in sickness and health.  To him it has made no difference what color you were, or where you came from.  He was always there, even when you couldn’t make it to his office, he’d somehow always made it to your home, sometime staying overnight, sleeping at the foot of your bed, reassuring you you’d make it through the night, but he never complained.” 

I was so honored to accept the honoree headdress of the Chief of the Mole Lake Sokoagon Chippewa Tribe.  Mrs. Dora Ackley, the wife of the late Chief Willard Ackley,  also honored me with an Indian name Mushke – Ke – We – Neh – Nene, which means “man of medicine”.

This honor meant so much to not only me but to my whole family. I was very proud, still am proud, to be one of Crandon’s hometown Doctors.  Downtown businesses like Luigi’s, down the block, have come and gone over the years, but one thing remains true.  The people of Crandon care about each other and that’s what matters most.  Good luck with you tour.  Tell Luigi I said hello.

Walk and Talk Script : Bandstand

This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause, and Rachelle Cappel. Members of the Crandon Band to perform at the event were Ceara McCarthy and Allyson Stepper.

Source: The Forest Echo. 09 OCT 1906. p1. Retrieved from http://crandonpublicwi.advantage-preservation.com

The first community band in Crandon was organized in 1905 and a band stand was built the following summer in 1906 and according to the newspaper at a considerable cost.  The band stand was moved from the courthouse grounds to the fair grounds in 1910 with the Fair Board taking control of it.  In 1912, citizens proposed that the county replace the bands stand but the board rejected that proposition by unanimous vote, instead voting to put a drinking fountain for the public on this spot, as well as a water trough for horses.  Nevertheless, the Crandon Band continued to provide musical entertainment for Crandon at weddings, community celebrations and at our very own opera house.

Back before there were phonographs, radio, television, tape recorders, iphones, and streaming music, the people of Crandon listened to their Saturday night concerts from the band shell located here at the northwest corner of the courthouse square with grateful and uncritical ears. Residents spent their warm summer evenings listening to the band playing the favorite tunes of the day, undoubtedly ending with a rousing rendition of Semper Fidelis as the crowd gathered up their blankets and chairs and prepared to return down darkened streets to their homes.  

History on Tap : Our Living Ancestors

The Crandon Area Historical Society is pleased to announce its Monday, December 3rd “History on Tap” program will feature Wisconsin author and naturalist John Bates beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Hotel Crandon restaurant and bar. The program will feature John’s newest book titled Our Living Ancestors: the History and Ecology of Old-growth Forests in Wisconsin and Where to Find Them.

Old-growth forests touch the soul of many people. Some hear the echoes of Native Americans or the first settlers. Some feel the great age of the trees and revere them, while others feel they are in the presence of an overwhelmingly rare beauty. Still others understand the profound scientific value of old-growth forests as reference systems for what forests can be.

Despite the remarkable emotional appeal and scientific value of old-growth forests, they are rare in Wisconsin. Only 0.3% of Wisconsin’s old-growth forests remain, but these scattered, small parcels still retain their ability to amaze hikers with their size, beauty, and elegance.

Bates, the author of nine books and a contributor to seven others, has worked as a naturalist in Wisconsin’s Northwoods for 29 years. Copies of his book will be on sale after the program and will make the perfect Christmas for many people on your list!

History on Tap is free of charge and is open to all ages. Complimentary snacks will be provided. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for sale. History on Tap is sponsored by the Crandon Area Historical Society and the Hotel Crandon. For more information, please contact Michelle at 715-478-7797.

Historic Walk and Talk a Success!

On Friday, October 26th approximately 120 peopleattended the Crandon Area Historical Society Walk and Talk featuring members of the Crandon School District’s drama team and Crandon High School band. The weather was perfect for a night on the town, and attendees heard stories researched and written by historical society members and student researchers.  A few of the stories got a few laughs, but mostly participants enjoyed listening to the history of our city’s main street including the 1903, 1905 and 1912 fires that destroyed portions of Lake avenue.  A good reminder as to why we support our city fire department! 

Mrs. Alicia Bradley, Drama club adviser, and Mrs. Amy Buckovic, assistant, also dressed the part and encouraged the actors and actresses to speak up as main street traffic was a little nosier than expected.  It is anticipated that the funds raised at the event will be used to purchase portable microphones for future tours. 


Our tour guides for the evening were community members Jill Krueger and Tammy Stroik, dressed as classical 1940’s Crandon Women’s Club members. 

For those of you who may have had a difficult time hearing the stories, or missed the event altogether, will be excited to know that the scripts for the event will be available online soon and printed copies of the scripts will be available at the Crandon Public Library.  Photos of downtown Crandon, including the Opera House fire, can be seen in the windows of the Pioneer Express.  Thanks Mike for sharing these! 

Overall, the event was a great success with our youth and community members actively learning about what makes Crandon a unique hometown.  For more information about the Crandon Area Historical Society, please contact Michelle Gobert at 715-478-7797. 

Remembering WW1 Soliders: Lynn Paul

The biographical sketch below was part of the Crandon Public Library’s 2016 Cemetery Tour featuring WW1 soldiers laid to rest in the Crandon Lakeside cemetery.  Research for the sketch was conducted by Library staff using original documents and newspaper resources found within our Local History room.  We welcome any additional historic information on our soldiers, including photos.  Please contact us at forestctyhistory@gmail.com to submit this information.  –Thank you.

Hello, my name is Lynn Paul.  I was born on December 2, 1893, in Lincoln County, Wisconsin.  When I was a few years old, my parents, James and Agnes Paul, moved my sisters and I to the town of Prentice, in Price County.  My father was a traveling insurance agent and in 1910 he traveled to Crandon.  He must have liked it here an awful lot because he decided to stay here and raise us kids in Crandon.

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

I was 23 years old when I registered for the draft. I was working in Karlberg’s grocery store in Crandon at that time and was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard.  After I was drafted and trained in the Army I was sent to an artillery camp in France.   While I was at the camp I saw a lot of German prisoners.  They were real young fellows.  Some of them were actually Hamburg University students who really didn’t seem to side with the Kaiser as much as other prisoners did.  I talked to a few prisoners who had lived in the States for awhile but unfortunately our superiors gave us the order forbidding us to talk to them so I never found out if they liked living in Wisconsin.

My buddy “Sloppy Weather George Gifford” came to my camp before his trip to Paris.  I wish George could have been in the artillery unit with Ben Ferguson and I as he was a blame good scout.  We were all proud and glad to fight for Uncle Sam especially after seeing the conditions of France and the Germans.  We were sure the Americans would bring home the bacon because us Sammies showed more pep in a minute than those Germans did in a week. In fact, I told Art Carpenter in a letter I wrote to him that was published in the Forest Republican that if “all the Germans and French are as slow as the ones I seen, it is no wonder that the war was lasting so long. It takes the German prisoners longer to fix a bath house or dig a sewer than it took Forest county to build the court house”

When I got back from the War, I married my girl Adah Moe and become a brother-in-law to Colonel Himes.  Ada and I had three children: two daughters and one son, Mary, Ellen and James. Many of you might recall that I was the owner and operator of Paul’s Grocery Store in town for 43 ½ years. My family and I lived above the store that is now the chiropractor’s office on Main street.  I always had candy to give to kids who came in my store, as well as candy to throw to kids at parades.  People said I was a very nice guy, highly thought of in the community. During the great depression I gave two bags of groceries to 7-year-old Homer Rosa at no charge shortly after his family moved to Crandon and had very little money.  After that, Homer’s mother never shopped for groceries anywhere else.

Crandon Street Scene. Crandon Area Historical Society Archives. Crandon Community Building Collection. 2013.1.1.138-2

I guess my patriotic feelings for our grand country must have made an impression on my own son James because during WWII he enlisted and as part of the 717th Bombardment Squadron and flew combat missions over enemy targets in southern Europe, Germany, Austria, France and in the Balkans.  Our family was devastated when he plane was shot down on February 19, 1945 and he was officially declared “missing in action” 

My wife and I and James sister’s Mary and Ellen had a headstone placed here in our family’s plot in memory of him.  I guess his name is also listed on a plaque in Florence Italy along with the names of the other soldiers missing in action and assumed dead.  We were real proud when the Government awarded Jim with the purple heart for his ultimate service to our country. 

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 June 2019), memorial page for Corp James Lynn Paul (24 Nov 1925–19 Feb 1945), Find A Grave Memorial no. 143606612, citing Crandon Lakeside Cemetery, Crandon, Forest County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Kevin Jackson (contributor 47952677) .

My wife and I spent our last days in Crandon.  I died in 1975 at the age of 81.

Lest We Forget

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”


This morning I spent some time with the 1944 edition of the Forest Republican.  Not a week went by in 1944 that Forest Republican readers were not told about a local boy missing in action, or one that had fought and died for our country.  The clippings below only offer us a glimpse into the lives of these soldiers and does not give justice to their time served, nor their sacrifices given.   It does allow us to pause, remember and to share.

If you are interested in helping us preserve these stories as they deserved to be told, please contact Michelle at the Library.