Amanda’s Weekly Archival Discovery

Hello Forest County Residents!

Today I will be working on a new display for the case located at the front of the Crandon Public Library. The February display reveals the identity of the mystery object from last month’s display so you really need to come check it out! The display also illuminates the amazing life of Ernest Wilson, who donated the mystery object to the library.

Ernest Wilson was born on January 1st, 1914 in New Auburn, Wisconsin to a divorced mother who was forced to place her children in an orphanage located in Sparta, Wisconsin. To help produce an income Ernest was sent to work at local farms. At the age of 10 people began to proclaim that Ernest was a prodigy due to his ability to sketch the likeness of any person, and his aptitude for musical instruments. In 1924, Ernest put on a musical show for the governor of Wisconsin and during the Depression he earned money and gained fame by traveling all around North America performing.  In 1935, Ernest met Max Scharf, the champion trick fiddler, and they teamed up to play daily on the radio as well as weekends for the W.L.S. Barn Dance in Chicago as the Whoopee Cowboys. Ernest married his partner’s daughter Nina Scharf of Crandon in 1935. They had five children together: Bert, Glen, Linda, Karl, and Julie. Over his illustrious career Ernest won several awards including:  National Champion Yodeling contest, National Championship for the one man band, and won Senior Citizen of the Year at the Wisconsin State Fair. Upon his retirement Ernest settled in Crandon to focus on his art and to operate a sign shop. He would still perform at local events and would entertain the residents at the nursing home. Ernest Wilson passed away in 1995 in Minnesota but he is buried at the Lakeside Cemetery. Ernest’s ancestors still reside in Crandon and his art can be seen decorating the walls of the Forest County Courthouse. The drum from his one man band is exhibited at the Forest County Historical and Genealogical Society. If you have a memory or photo of Ernest Wilson or Max Scharf feel free to share!

Ernest Wilson performing as a one man band
Ernest Wilson performing as a one man band

2 thoughts on “Amanda’s Weekly Archival Discovery”

  1. We own the Hotel Crandon. I found some old pictures that were painted by Ernie Wilson in the basement of the Hotel this Summer. If you would like to display them, you can borrow them. They would need to be cleaned up and are pretty big. Let me know.

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