Forest County Historic School Communities

The Forest County Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., our parent organization, is excited to have received a Wisconsin Humanities Recovery Grant. Our project, Developing a sense of place in Forest County school communities, supports Wisconsin Humanities’ mission to strengthen the roots of community life through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination.

The grant will allow us to hire THREE educators over the summer to scan and catalog historic photos and documents related to Forest County historic schools!

This is a great opportunity for history teachers but we are opening this opportunity up to any educator in Forest County and here’s why:

Local history is about using a ​place-based approach to education. It can be incorporated into almost any subject area. This opportunity is about using your community’s history to engage and inspire students to learn and connect to this place we call home.

If this sounds like something you are interested in participating in, please email

Kentucky Heritage is celebrated far and wide

“It seems no matter where a Kentuckian moves, the proud heritage of his state goes with him and is passed from generation to generation.” –Louie B. Nunn, Governor, State of Kentucky, to Red Ravens Color Guard, December 1970.

Tomorrow, July 24, 2021, marks an important day in Crandon history. It is the 50th anniversary of the celebration we call Kentuck Days.

Crandon Homemakers Club sets the bar high

The first Kentucky Day celebrated in Crandon would not have happened if not for the community minded women of the Crandon Homemakers Club. The intention of the original event was to “meet old friends and make new ones!” and was organized as a mid-winter event on March 11, 1971 at the V.F.W. Hall in Crandon.

The Crandon Homemakers Club, part of a larger organization of Homemakers clubs in the region, were organized by the Area Extension Home Economist program of Cooperative Extension of the University of Wisconsin. Homemaker clubs were meant to help improve the lives of women and families living in rural areas by fostering relationships, building community and offering creative educational opportunities.

By all accounts this first Kentucky Day celebration was a complete success. Recently uncovered scrapbooks discovered in a filing cabinet in the Forest County courthouse tell the story of a well-organized, well attended event. An undated article from the Forest Republican reported that “Kentucky Day at Crandon is the kind of event that should be continued as an annual observance”. Photos from the event focus on the crowds and the organizers of the event, as well as the biscuits, corn bread and beans served “Kentucky style”.

Celebrating Kentucky Heritage

The short-term and long-term results of this community event are many. Shortly after the first official Kentucky Day, Representative Joseph Jones of Milwaukee and a son of a Kentucky emigrant himself, adopted a resolution in the state legislature honoring Kentuckians and the cause of celebrating their heritage.

The Younger Generation of Kentucks

While the ladies of the Crandon Homemakers Club were successfully planning Kentucky Day, another group of younger residents were also celebrating their heritage as members of the Red Ravens Color Guard.

Thanks to a donation to the Crandon Area Historical Society by former Red Raven Christine Abney Kincaid, we know that in January of 1970 a group of young women and girls from the Crandon area joined together to form the Red Ravens Color Guard that traveled together and marched in various parades througout the area flying flags and their own Red Ravens banner. The Red Ravens were not affiliated with the Crandon school but rather were formed as an independent organization that raised funds for their own use. According to literature accompanying Kincaid’s donation, “the response to the organization was so great, the unit had to be split into two units.”

Red Ravens 1 called themselves the “Kentucks” due to many of the girls having Kentucky ancestry that included great-grandparents who were from or still were in Kentucky. To honor this heritage, members of the Red Ravens 1 chose to include the Kentucky state flag as part of their performances. In 1970, Tom Pieper, Director of the Red Ravens Color Guard wrote to the Kentucky Governor’s office asking permission to carry the state flag and to use the word “Kentucks” as their official nickname. Governor Louie B. Nunn replied in a letter dated December 1, 1970 that he would “consider it an honor for the girls in your color guard to carry the Kentucky State flag” and “It seems no matter where a Kentuckian moves, the proud heritage of his state goes with him and is passed from generation to generation.”

Kentucky Heritage Today

Fifty years later the celebration of Crandon’s Kentuck heritage continues. Many Crandon people can still trace their ancestry back to Kentucky with some still sharing their treasured recipes of biscuits, corn bread and beans with their own grandchildren. Dedicated members of the Crandon Area Historical Society will be front and center in the Courthouse square tomorrow celebrating this unique celebration of both heritage and history. We encourage all to stop by our booth to share your own Kentuck heritage story or to learn more about this place we call home.

Historical society 2021 summer intern Isak Drangstveit and his grandfather Pete Davison pose with the Red Raven Color Guard flag donated to the Historical Society in 2015 by Christine Abney Kincaid.

Were you a member of the Red Ravens Color Guard or have pictures and/or memorabilia of the organization? The Crandon Area Historical society would love to hear from you. Contact us at or better yet join us in celebrating our history by becoming a member of our organization.

Crandon Area Historical Society to Host Digital Readiness Fair!

Join the Crandon Area Historical Society and other local history practitioners this summer at our virtual Digital Readiness Fair! This free, half-day event offers a mix of activities and learning opportunities, and showcases digitization work from around the state. Hear from local history practitioners and how they have tackled digitization projects, including challenges, successes, and lessons learned along the way. We’re excited for attendees to connect with each other and form their own communities of practice. Participants will also learn more about our ongoing participation in statewide digital readiness work, Recollection Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Local History Affiliates program.

Individuals are able to attend this digital readiness fair virtually or in-person on Friday, July 16, 2021 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  The full schedule of events and registration information is available online at  Registration is required for the free event.  Individuals wishing to attend the in-person event are invited to the Argonne Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation.  The virtual event will be broadcast live from 9:00 – Noon at the Argonne Town hall and will feature speakers from the Forest History Association, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum.

The Crandon Area Historical Society is one of four digital fairs scheduled this summer.  Other digital events include the Appleton Public Library’s fair on June 29, Pioneer Village in Barron County on August 3rd and the Kenosha County Historical Society on August 18th.  Information about the four Digital Readiness Fairs can be found at

About Building a Digital Readiness Community of Practice in Wisconsin

This NHPRC-funded project supports “digital readiness” in small and under-resourced local historical societies and historic preservation organizations across Wisconsin. Through workshops, presentations at statewide Digital Readiness Fairs, consultations, and development of learning resources, this community-driven initiative will create and grow a community of practice that provides the knowledge, tools and community support to digitize, manage, and provide online public access to local historical records. For more information, visit

This event is funded through an Archives Collaboratives Implementation Grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the granting arm of the National Archives.

Membership now available online

Its name may say “historical,” but the Crandon Area Historical Society is taking advantage of current trends to allow secure and convenient technology for its Membership Campaign. For the first time since the Society was established, individuals and businesses may now join the society or renew their memberships online.

To use the online payment feature from the Society’s website,, go to the “Membership” page, scroll down and click on the appropriate “Membership” of “Donate” button. Individuals can renew memberships or become a new member using a major credit card or an existing PayPal account.

The Society’s Board of Directors thanks residents and businesses who have supported the historical society in the past.   Annual membership dues enable the Society to maintain its Historic Carter House Museum, present educational programs, and grow and maintain its archives, which contains well over 1,000 items pertaining to the history of Forest County. 

To stay current on the activities and programs of the historical society, please visit our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Tired of staying in? Looking for something to do this summer?  The Crandon Historical Society after careful consideration has decided to reopen the Carter House Museum, located on the corner of Hazeldell and Jackson streets for public viewing.

The Carter House dates back to the year 1902. It has been used as a church, hall and mission.  In 1920 it was sold to Henry Carter and remained in the Carter family until 1994 when it was purchased by the historical society.

Discover what life was like during the 1900’s.  Come see the old school room. Learn about the making of maple syrup and moonshine.  Displays are ever-changing and are sure to bring back memories for the young at heart and a chance for kids to learn what it was like in the “olden days”.

The museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Due to the pandemic, hand sanitizer and masks will be available. Social distancing is required and admittance will be limited.

Stories from Metonga : Part 6

I hope you are enjoying these stories of Metonga as much as I enjoy writing them. I apologize for the brief break over the past two weeks, but somehow the Metonga stories ended up at the bottom of my to-do list. The good news is that the Metonga series was pushed to the bottom due to some other really important historical happenings in Forest County we’ve been working on! More about this soon – but until then, enjoy the photos below.

Our next stop in the “Lakeland Series” from March of 1887, is what the author of the newspaper column referred to as “Echo Bay”.

Forest Republican. March 1887.

When I started this research project, I was bound and determined to find a map and/or another resources that positively identified the area known as Echo Bay.  Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find any other reference to “Echo Bay” in print.  However, based on the newspaper article in its entirety, the area known as Echo Bay has been identified as the area we now commonly call Glen Park.   

In fact, the area more than likely has been called Glen Park since shortly after this article was published in March of 1887.  Glen Park, on the North Shore of Lake Metonga, was purchased by one of Crandon’s earliest pioneers, Sam Shaw and eventually platted in the Register of Deeds office as the Glen Park addition.  

The history of Metonga and Samuel Shaw are intertwined so I feel its important to give you a brief description of what  some refer to as the “father of Crandon”.    Sam Shaw’s obituary, published on March 9, 1917, in the Forest Republican defined him as the “founder of our town” and states that “his faith in Forest county was unbounded and is justified by the gains he has made from his investment of early days”.  The Antigo newspaper took a more conservative approach and pointed to not only Samuel Shaw’s friends but also his enemies.  It’s important to point out that numerous Forest County debates, including the fate of our current courthouse and fairgrounds, are the direct result of Sam Shaw’s knowledge of property law.  

Forest Republican. March 9, 1917
Antigo Journal, March 1917

According to a April 1975, Forest Republican article Samuel Shaw’s first house in Crandon was a log building that stood on the same property on which his bigger house was built later.  It is possible that these cabins, which eventually became part of the Lake Metonga Camp, were Shaw’s original log cabins. 

Crandon Area Historical Society collection
Crandon Area Historical Society collection
Glen Park Hotel. Crandon Area Historical Society collection.

Samuel Shaw’s Glen Park, a a total of 170 acres of land and his residence, was sold to Dr. and Mrs. C.O. Decker in 1910 for $22,400.  The Decker’s re-named the resort complex “Lake Metonga Camp” in 1922.

Forest Republican. March 3, 1922.

Numerous photos of Lake Metonga Camp exist in our collection.

Dr. Decker passed away in 1934 and his obituary lists the Lake Metonga Camp as the largest resort in Forest county.  Mrs. Decker continued to operate the resort until 1941 when she sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Ludwig who operated it as the Lake Metonga Lodge.   

Lake Metonga Lodge changed hands again from the Ludwigs to a partnership that included Rosa Ammer (who later owned the Crandon Arcade), Archie Orlebeck and Tony Paris, and then finally to the Keeler’s when it become Keeler’s Resort in 1946.

Stories of Metonga : Part 5

Good morning folks. Sorry for the bit of delay this week. It’s been a bit busy here – I have been planning for additional History on Tap programs, planning for the Historical Society’s annual meeting and working on lesson plans for the upcoming Centennial Club. (Stay tuned on details for all of these!)

This week’s visit to Metonga begins at the North End of Metonga “where the banks are high, in most place being about 20 feet above the lake level”.

Forest Republican. March 3, 1887

The Historical Society has quite a few photos of the North End of Lake Metonga in its collection.

Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. ID 23404-20
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection.
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. City Hall 1148-1.

The City Hall photo collection photo, pinpoints the location of the original homestead of C.T.H Riggs, one of Crandon’s earliest businessmen. A biographical sketch of C.T.H. is not necessary as his obituary, published on June 10, 1926 in the Forest Republican, paints a picture of a dedicated father, teacher and Crandon booster. A photograph of Mr. Riggs can be found in the City of Crandon first Council meeting. He is identified as the bearded gentleman sitting in the front row with his hand on the Mayor’s desk. It was Mr. Riggs’ daughter Melvina, a school teacher, who conducted the early Crandon history project mentioned in blog post #3. I believe descendents of C.T.H. Riggs still own the Lake Metonga property identified above.

Forest Republican. June 10, 1926.

Crandon Hospital on North End of Metonga

One of the most interesting photos of the “North End” is a photo that includes the Crandon Hospital on the banks of Metonga. A close up photo of the Crandon Hospital can also be found in the Historical Society’s collection which includes 12-page promotional brochure.  The publication date of this brochure is unknown, however, many of its photos are also reproduced in the 1907 Forest Republican.

MG personal collection.
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. 2014.02.09
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. 2014.02.09
Page 8 of The Forest Republican, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Friday, August 23rd, 1907

The location of the original Crandon Hospital building was recently brought to my attention by local resident Stacey Karcz. Last summer, prior to the digitization of the Forest Republican newspapers, Stacey brought me a copy of a 1907 newspaper article that was included in paperwork associated with her house on Lake Metonga. According to Stacy, the original Crandon Hospital building was moved across an icey Lake Metonga to the east shore a few years ago with her family still owning the residence. The article, not only has a great photo of the house, but also provides information about the illustrated book now in the Society’s possession.

Source: Stacy Kracz, clipping. Forest Republican July 19,1907

Photo mystery Solved

Those of you that attended the Metonga Presentation at the Crandon Hotel, may remember that during the presentation I also showed a photo from the M.S. Barker collection that raised questions about the original location of the Crandon Hospital. The photo, labeled “M.S. Barker home”, seems to show the same building including the same flag pole, as the Crandon Hospital photos. Zooming in you can see the same latticework and the same front porch. Yet, we know from Metonga research that M.S. Barker’s home was on the West side of Lake Metonga. Or so we thought! It appears that M.S. Barker owned not only West shore property, but he also owned North end property. According to the June 14, 1907 Forest Republican, Drs. Murphy & McCarty rented the Miles Barker house and grounds on “Lake avenue near the Lake shore” for hospital purposes. Mystery solved! We also now know that the building known as the Crandon Hospital was not built for purposes of a hospital but originally as a residence and that it was built prior to 1907. Excellent information for the current owners of the property.

Miles Barker home. Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. 2019073104a
Forest Republican. June 14, 1907.

That’s all for this week. Next week’s tour will take us to Echo Bay on Lake Metonga which, according to research, is now most commonly known as Glen Park.

Stories of Metonga : Part 4

Hello again folks! I’m back with another installment of the blog series titled “Stories of Metonga”. I hope you are enjoying these mini-history lessons. I know I am. I’m also working to develop my Fall programming schedule for Extension which includes local history classes and family history classes. Stay tuned for more details!

The last Metonga blog post provided a glimpse of how our earliest pioneers made their way via the County Road to Crandon and Metonga. Today we’ll actually get a glimpse of both Metonga and Crandon Lake Avenue as our earliest settlers saw it.

If we continue on our path of following the March 1887 Forest Republican article, we are now on paragraph three which begins “an opening in the forest…”

[Source: Crandon Area Historical Society photograph collection. 20160219]
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. AS000018.

Crandon’s earliest pioneers took great pride in photographing Lake Metonga from not only East Hill and from the roof of the Courthouse as the above pictures show, and they also took great pride in photographing Metonga from Lake Avenue. Early newspapers describe the work involved in clearing the forest from the courthouse square and the “lake road”. In November of 1886, the Forest Republican reported that “Lake Avenue is now open full width to Lake Metonga.  A great improvement”  Early photographers took advantage of this photo opportunity as the following photos show while standing on the roof of what is now the Subway building.

Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. lfk00132.
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. lkf000025.
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. 2019060101.

Next week we will continue our series focusing on the north end of Metonga where the “banks are high”. Enjoy the photos! [Extra credit points to the readers who find the dog sleeping on the sidewalk and the little boy taking a break]

It is an amazing time to be a local history researcher!

Exciting news for those of you interested in researching either your Forest County family tree or the history of our county! The State Historical has recently announced a third-wave of a digitization grant which enables them to add to their holdings in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America digital newspaper repository.

Not having been to the Chronicling America site in awhile, I decide to jump over and take a look at what Wisconsin papers were freely available and keyword searchable. Turns out that the 2nd wave of the grant allowed the state of Wisconsin to digitize four years worth of Wabeno newspaper the Northern Wisconsin Advertiser!

Currently the online holdings cover the years 1899-1902 but hopefully additional scans will be added soon. Please note that if you need additional Wabeno research, the Crandon Public Library does offer all of the Wabeno newspapers on microfilm.

Happy Searching!

P.S. Here’s a quick link to a Wisconsin Historical Society research guide on using the website Chronicling America.

If you’re looking for direct link to the Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, click here.