The Hotel Crandon Robbed in the Night

Hello Forest County Residents!

I am so excited for the The Hotel Crandon’s 85th Anniversary celebration tomorrow! I cannot wait to take a step back in time to 1930 with amazing food, drinks, and music. For anyone that is a fan of this blog, the event will be filled with local history memorabilia and displays. In honor of the event I will detailing the story of the robbery that took place at The Hotel Crandon in December of 1936.

According to the Rhinelander Daily News, Kenneth Fannin, the night clerk of the hotel was in the basement at 4 am when he heard noises upstairs. First he went into the office but realized the noise was coming from the tavern, so he grabbed a revolver from the desk drawer and made his way into the bar. When he got there the room was empty but the back door was wide open. Fannin looked outside to investigate and spied an Oldsmobile sedan trying to make a getaway. The wheels were slipping and the driver was having a hard time moving so Fannin fired at the side window of the car. The wheels of the sedan finally gained traction and sped away. The sheriff, Jess Ramsdell, followed the car to Langlade County where Antigo policemen took over but were unsuccessful at stopping the thieves. The outlaws outpaced the officers going 80 miles per hour fleeing south. The Hotel Crandon lost $125 dollars cash and three slot machines from the tavern. The men were most likely never apprehended because there was not any license plate to identify the car (Rhinelander Daily News).

Hotel Buildings 2

The Sad End of Minnie the Pet Deer

Hello Forest County Residents!

When browsing through the old Forest Republican newspaper I noticed the unusual obituary for Minne the deer. The residents of Forest County must have adored this deer because the story took up three columns of the front page, in comparison with the obituaries of human beings in the newspaper only receiving a paragraph.  Minnie the deer resided in the game refuge in Argonne her entire life. The beginning of her life was marked with tragedy. In the very first days of her life her mother was killed by a violating hunter who took her hind quarters. Baby Minnie was found huddled against the remains of her mother by Warden Bert Nixon. Nixon carried the fawn in his backpack over 10 miles and then drove another 20 before he reached the Warden Headquarters. Warden Charles Otto and Walter Sebastian fed Minnie milk every day and she grew into a normal adult deer. Walter became especially attached to Minnie and she eventually took up residence in his cabin and slept with him in his bed. The article goes on to describe several stories of Minnie’s cleverness and bravery. She would evade photographers through her stealth and she once beat up two wolf hounds with her hooves. The article describes in detail all the offspring she had over the years, 16 in total. Minnie met her end when she was nine years old on a foggy July night. A car was parked in the darkness, which she approached because she was used to human beings. The person in the car then shot her in the head and left her body to be found. The murderer was believed to have been charged with hunting out of season and killed Minnie out of retaliation (Forest Republican 2/27/41).


This story reveals several things. There was an active game refuge in Argonne that was run by very dedicated game wardens. There were many violations of hunting laws and it was difficult to catch the perpetrators. Forest County residents have always loved having pet deer as evidenced by the current deer park located next to the Forest County Courthouse.


Hotel Crandon Sold First Legal Beer After Prohibtion

Hello Forest County Residents!

For the next few weeks I will be featuring stories about The Hotel Crandon to prepare everyone for the big event on February 21st. I encourage everyone to purchase tickets at the library for:”Take a Step back in Time: The Hotel Crandon’s 85th Anniversary”. There will be authentic 1930’s food, drinks, music, costumes, and historical tours of the basement. All the proceeds from the event will be given to  the Crandon Public Library.

When The Hotel Crandon first opened its doors the selling alcohol was illegal in the United States of America. For over three years this business functioned as a coffee shop and restaurant rather than a bar. But when the 21st Amendment was enacted in December of 1933 two business owners in Crandon were ready for the tavern business. Art McMillion, owner of The Crandon Hotel, and Tom Fannin filed their applications for tavern licenses which were received by the City Council.

Tom Fannin was quoted by the Forest Republican saying “I will have real beer about tomorrow noon. I will have all the popular brands of bottle beer and it will sell for 10 cents a glass or 20 cents a bottle” (Forest Republican).

Art McMillion said “I expect to have real beer on sale at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. Besides Miller, Blatz, Oshksoh and Manitowoc bottle beer, keg beer will also be on tap for patrons. We will have to get 20 cents a bottle” (Forest Republican). The business men expected a rush of business with the first legal beer in years but promised to have enough beer to satisfy everyone’s thirst (Forest Republican).

This is just another reason that The Crandon Hotel is a historic landmark and an iconic piece of Forest County history. The sale of legal alcohol was a big deal in Forest County because many residents had been making and selling illegal spirits for years. It was way for people to make a living during the depression. But it was dangerous business because a person could be arrested and the stills could be destroyed. Not to mention the dangers of selling to gangters in the larger cities like Milwaukee and Chicago.

The Hotel Crandon  1932
The Hotel Crandon



First Consolidated School in the State


Hello Forest County Residents!

Below I have attached a brief history of the Argonne School written by Nona Sears. The Argonne School holds the title of the first consolidated school in the state. The town officials closed the rural schools in the area and bussed in the children using horse drawn  buses. This allowed them to have a high school, to hire several teachers, and have competitive sports teams.


Government Officials Visit Crandon

Leut. Governor Connor at 1907 Forest County Fair (courtesy of Camp 5)
Leut. Governor Connor at 1907 Forest County Fair (courtesy of Camp 5)

Hello Forest County Residents!

This Monday, January 26th from 1:00-3:00 pm, the Crandon Public Library will be hosting a public listening session featuring three Northern Wisconsin Legislators. Although we do not have many high ranking government officials make the trip to the North Woods it has happened in the past. During the 1907 Forest County Fair Lieut-Governor, W.D. Connor and Congressman, E.A. Morse made their way to Crandon. They spent their time getting to know the members of the community and viewing the exhibits of vegetable and agricultural products.

They were surprised that ” the backwoods county of Wisconsin should have an exhibition of products surpassing the old counties of the southern and central part of the state” (Forest Republican 1907).

Both of the men addressed the crowds at the fair so that Forest County residents could become acquainted their political views. Mr. Morse was an advocate for manual training schools and he was impressed by the Crandon High School. Connor’s goal was to try to eliminate some of the tensions between the warring factions of Crandon and Laona. The author of the newspaper article believed he was successful in his endeavors” (Forest Republican 1907).

The community members were not allowed to direct questions towards the government officials in 1907 but we have the opportunity to do so today.I urge everyone to share your concerns and opinions with the legislators at the Crandon Public Library.

Historical Ties to Upcoming Library Events

Hello Forest County Residents!

In honor of National Pie Day on January 23rd the Crandon Public Library will be raffling off a homemade cherry pie. For every dollar you donate your name is entered into a raffle and at the end of the day you could go home with a delicious dessert!

When I think of homemade pies my great grandmother Mildred Wendy Champine Kurth comes to mind. She made fabulous apple pies and I will share her recipe with you. I imagine that she perfected her baking abilities serving large crowds for most of her life. Mildred’s first husband, Harry Champine,  managed lumber camps in Central Wisconsin as well as Alvin from at least 1910-1927. Mildred would travel with her husband and do the cooking for the entire logging camp.  When Mildred was married a second time to Wallace Kurth and living in Crandon she spent many years as the head cook at The Hotel Crandon (Champine 2012). I have been told that she was very serious about her job and often frightened the waitresses with her strict running of the kitchen. To learn more about the history of The Hotel Crandon attend the Crandon Public Library fundraiser February 21st. You will step back in time to the day that The Hotel Crandon opened its doors in 1930 with authentic food, drinks, music, and tours of the basement. Tickets will be available soon.

Grandma Millie Kurth’s Apple Pie

Pie Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

7 tbsp lard

1/4 cup water

Mix lard with flour and salt with your hands than add water a little at a time. Press into pie pan. Makes a double crust.


6 cups sliced, peeled apples (about 6 medium apples)

2 tbsp orange juice

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp flour

1tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp milk

Heat oven to 400 F. Toss apples and orange juice in large bowl. Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Toss with apples until coated. Spoon into unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter. Brush top with milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover top with sheet of foil to present overbrowning. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 10-20 minutes longer or until apples are tender. Cool pie at room temperature.

Mildred Champine at logging camp
Mildred Champine at logging camp


Brutal Winters in Forest County

Hello Forest County Residents,

It is true that the last two years have been the coldest on record in the area but Forest County residents have always had to deal with harsh winters. Here are some of the issues Wabeno community members had to contend with in January of 1920, according to the Northern Wisconsin Advertiser:

  • The passenger train had to be pulled by two engines on account of the cold weather and snow
  • There was a lack of news to write about in the paper due to the cold weather keeping everyone in their houses
  • This winter was known as the “open” winter because it was open at both ends and the cold rushed right through (ha ha).
  • The weather caused the woodpiles to “melt away like ice in a July sun” (Northern Wisconsin Advertiser).
  • On account of the extreme cold, the school being held in the building formerly used by M.J. Dickinson and Company cancelled classes for a day or two.

It appears that no matter the decade, the epic winters of the north cause problems with travel, school closings, and running out of fuel to heat the homes. At least we have snow plows!

Wabeno area known as Padus (courtesy of Wabeno Logging Museum)
Wabeno area known as Padus (courtesy of Wabeno Logging Museum)
Wabeno area known as Padus (courtesy of Wabeno Logging Museum)
Wabeno area known as Padus (courtesy of Wabeno Logging Museum)

Too Much Squirrel Whiskey

Happy New Years Forest County Residents!

This interesting nugget of history technically does not take place in Forest County but is very close by. Around this time of year in 1936 the residents of Florence almost lost their town Christmas tree because of squirrel whiskey. According to the Forest Republican two men living in Florence attempted to cut down the Christmas tree in the center of town with a cross cut saw. They were spotted just in time before the cut the tree all the way through. The men were convicted and made to pay a fine. The tree was propped up again and lit nightly with over 150 colored lights which spread the joy of the holidays around the town. The men supposedly committed the crime because they were hopped up on “squirrel whiskey” which is a type of moonshine that got its name because it makes men crazy and want to climb up trees. Please everyone have fun on New Year’s Eve but drink responsibly and stay away from whiskey of the “squirrel” variety.

Florence County Courthouse (where the tree may have stood)
Florence County Courthouse (where the tree may have stood)


Enjoy the Christmas Gift of Historical Knowledge

Merry Christmas Forest County Residents!

Today I found a few advertisements from the December 1939 Forest Republican newspaper trying to get county residents to spend their Christmas dollars at the local establishments. Many of the gifts for women have not changed over the years such as: perfume or manicure sets. But the majority of the gifts for males features some kind of tobacco product like cigars, pipes, cigarettes, or just plain tobacco. One thing that hasn’t changed is the bombardment of advertisements from stores around the holiday season!

xmas ad 2 xmas ad 3 xmas ad 5 xmas adxmas ad 4

How Argonne Got Its Name

Happy Holidays Forest County Residents!

Many Forest County community members know that Argonne was once known as North Crandon, but few recall the reason for the switch and when the event occurred. According to the recollections of C.H. Marshall the town changed its name in 1921 due to the constant confusion at the post office with the names being so similar. Another factor around 1914 was the petition of a powerful figure in the town, Mr. Mausbaum, who promised to invest a great deal of money into the North Crandon if the town was renamed after his famiy. The board at the time did agree to change the name to Mausbaum, although the votes were very close. The town board agreed to announce the change in two local newspapers for three weeks but that was never done so the new name was not adopted. A few years later the Commerical Men’s Club decided to initiate a naming contest including all the school children. The name Argonne was finally chosen in honor of one of the club member’s sons dying in the Argonne Forest in France during WWI. Although some claim the name was chosen because the Military Road runs through this area. On July 4th of 1921, the townspeople of Argonne made a grand spectacle out of the name changing ceremony. They took the old town sign down and put it in a coffin and had six early settlers act as pall-bearers to carry the sign to its final resting place. It was escorted by a marching band to the area across from what is now Kathy’s bar where they burned and buried the sign. A great speech was given by Ward Wescott, a Crandon lawyer, to mark the momentous occasion. From hence forth the town was known as Argonne.