April 28, 2017
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Mary Disch and her daughter, also named Mary, designed and sewed this quilt in 1898. It bears the great slogans of the day: "Free Cuba!" "Remember the Maine!" It is the Artifact of the Month for February at the Kenosha History Center. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Artifact of the Month: ‘Remember the Maine!’ quilt


A “Remember the Maine!” quilt from 1898 is the Artifact of the Month for February at the Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Place.

The armored cruiser USS Maine exploded and sank in a harbor in Havana, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1898, killing 261 of the 355 on board. Cuba was revolting against Spanish rule at the time, and tensions between Spain and the U.S. were high.

The sinking — and inflammatory articles published in newspapers published by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer — fueled furor against Spain (even though the explosion was later determined to be accidental, not an attack by Spain), which erupted in the slogan “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” President William McKinley eventually asked Congress to declare war on Spain.

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History Center Artifact of the Month: Boyd’s Battery


The second half of the 19th Century was an era of electrical marvels.

Inventors like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse pushed technology to unprecedented extremes. It was also a time of quack medicine, which was quick to appropriate the marvels of technology to make a quick buck.

100 years ago: The creation of Nash Motors Co.


One hundred years ago this year, two guys named Charlie met at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago to hammer out a deal. The outcome was part of automotive history — and Kenosha history, too.

Charles Jeffery had been at the helm of Jeffery Motors since the death of his father, Thomas, six years prior.

Artifact of the Month: Santa activity book


A copy of “Santa’s Big Surprise Book,” an activity book for children, is the December Artifact of the Month at Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Place.

Illustrated by James & Jonathan Inc, and published by Samuel Lowe publishing house in Kenosha in 1958, the activity book included sections for coloring, a cut-out nativity scene with angel and lambs, cut-out ornaments, mazes, connect-the-dots and a Santa Claus paper doll with stickers to decorate it.

Kenosha curmudgeon erected blasphemous monuments


Kenoshan Lewis Knapp never could have used Twitter. The 140-character limit would have driven the poor man crazy.

But unlike many Twitter users, Knapp never hid behind a wall of anonymity.

Kenosha History Center Director Don Shepard retires


After nearly 31 years working at the Kenosha County Historical Society Museum and the Kenosha History Center, Executive Director Don Shepard is history.

Shepard, 72, is retiring Dec. 2 but his telling of Kenosha stories through the exhibits at the museum will live on in people’s memories.

Archival Revival: Ruth Harman and Amelia Earhart


There are times in our lives when we cross paths with greatness. Sometimes we know it and other times we don’t.

Kenosha pilot Ruth Harman was certainly well aware of it when she became friends with famous aviator Amelia Earhart. Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928 and the first woman to cross the Pacific in 1935.

Archival Revival: A look at the old north side of town


Editor’s Note: This story has been edited from its original version

The talk about the lack of a Starbucks on the north side of Kenosha in a recent Curious Kenosha feature in the Kenosha News got me thinking about what it once meant to live on the old north side of Kenosha.

Archival Revival: First women elected in Kenosha County


No matters who wins this presidential election, the dreams ignited by Hillary Clinton’s candidacy will be far-reaching.

Clinton certainly isn’t the first woman to run for president, but she is the first to be nominated by a major political party.

Artifact of the Month: Lincoln funeral procession items


A pair of gloves and rosette worn at Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in Chicago on May 1-2, 1865, is the November Artifact of the Month at Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Place.

Kenoshan and veteran William Shepherd had been in Chicago at the time of the funeral procession and brought home the items.

Archival Revival: George “Rube” Waddell


Twenty-seven days. That’s how long baseball wonder George “Rube” Waddell lived in Kenosha in 1901.

Before he left town, he had locals cheering him in the stands. His fans had no idea that someday Waddell would be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and be part of the Chicago Cubs’ history.

Archival Revival: Tyson Sporting Goods


If you grew up in Kenosha before the 1980s, chances are the name Tyson brings good memories to light.

Tyson’s Sporting Goods Store at 6201 14th Ave. was the place to go if you needed your tennis racket restrung, a new baseball glove or your bicycle fixed. Your dad went there to buy ammo for his deer rifle and nab a new minnow bucket in the spring. And mom bought her new bowling shoes from a display there.

Archival Revival: The sinking of the SS Senator


October 1929 is best remembered in our nation for Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, the day the stock market crashed beginning the Great Depression.

But on Lake Michigan, the last 10 days of October 1929 are also remembered for a trifecta of fateful ship sinkings that still haunts us today:

Archival Revival: Royal visit to Kenosha in 1927


Under a bright October sky, the 2:21 train rolled into the North Shore station.

Every eye on the crowded platform fell on the special parlor car at the end of the train. Amid the fanfare of trumpets from the Nash Band, a very tall, pleasant-looking man in a buff-colored suit stepped onto the platform.

Political campaigns dirty then and now


Many people believe the recent chicanery in the election cycle is unprecedented.

One only has to look in the exhibit case at the Kenosha History Center and learn the truth: the 1860 presidential election was on par with today’s events.

Archival Revival: Safe Harbor Humane Society


Local history research is usually a crap shoot: You never know if you will find supporting evidence to fill in the gaps on the documentation you have.

In the case of Safe Harbor/Kenosha County Humane Society, the single documentation was the incorporation papers, dated Jan. 8, 1916.

Archival Revival: White Sox played Kenosha sandlot team


Last fall I wrote about the Chicago Cubs visiting Kenosha for a game against a local team after the Cubbies won the 1908 World Series.

It turns out that the game wasn’t an anomaly.

Archival Revival: One-of-a-kind Nash here a few more weeks


If you haven’t seen the 1929 Nash Victoria Opera Coupe at the Kenosha History Center, you better get a move on, as the antique auto leaves the floor of the Rambler Gallery at the end this month.

That’s when the “Back to the ’20s” exhibit will be dismantled and Steve Steranka, of Ontario, Canada, takes his car home.

Archival Revival: Polar Bear Perrin


With Lake Michigan surface temperatures around 79 degrees, August always brings me pleasant memories of splashing on the beach of Simmons Island when I was a kid.

It was never as warm as Paddock or Silver lakes, but it was within bike riding distance of my house.

Archival Revival: Fair fiascoes from the past


Last week’s Kenosha County Fair was a great success, pulling in thousands of visitors to see the animals, 4-H projects and tractor pulls.

Now that the crowds have left the Wilmot fairgrounds in care of the cleanup crew, it’s probably safe to write about a pair of fair fiascoes from the ancient past.

Archival Revival: Crossing the county with valuable cargo


In the dark of the night, two men on horseback rode through the woods of Paris township headed east. Silently, stealthily they moved, watching for any signs of others along the way.

The pair carried heavy bags tied up securely, making their trek on this summer’s night in 1854 particularly edgy, for in those bags was gold — more gold that either of them had ever seen.

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