Polk County Historical Society

Polk County Historical Society The Museum is open Thurs - Mon, Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day weekend. Hours are 12-4. Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.
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The Polk County Museum is housed in the old county courthouse. The Courthouse was building in 1899 and was used as the Courthouse until 1975. There are three stories of exhibits and displays to enjoy at the Court House and something for almost any interest!

Mission: The Polk County Historical Society is preserving the past for future generations by establishing a unique and enduring collection of Polk County History, shared with the public through educational programs and exhibits

Operating as usual

The Polk County Historical Society (PCHS) is seeking an Executive Director with organizational and leadership skills as ...
11/18/2020

The Polk County Historical Society (PCHS) is seeking an Executive Director with organizational and leadership skills as its leader and primary representative. For more information on this position and how to apply, check out our website: https://www.polkcountymuseum.org/director-search

Today we honor our Polk County Veterans, both past and present. 🇺🇸 Thank you for your service to our country! Visit the ...
11/11/2020

Today we honor our Polk County Veterans, both past and present. 🇺🇸 Thank you for your service to our country! Visit the Wisconsin virtual Veterans Day observation at https://dva.wi.gov/Pages/VeteransDay.aspx

Pictured the first group of WWI volunteers in Polk County, Wisconsin. (Ca. 1917)

Looking for something to do while you wait for poll results? Test your knowledge on these history and Constitution quest...
11/03/2020

Looking for something to do while you wait for poll results? Test your knowledge on these history and Constitution questions (Circa 1894)! These U.S. Constitution and Constitution of Wisconsin questions were part of the teacher training for a Wisconsin Common School Diploma. Ed Husband earned his Wisconsin Common School Diploma from District 2 in the Town of Balsam Lake on the 21st of March, 1896. The course of study in the Common Schools at this time included: Reading, Spelling, Orthoepy, English Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography, Writing, US History, the Constitutions of the United States and Wisconsin, Physiology and Hygiene. E. E. Husband went on to teach for about five years for District 2 in the town of Balsam Lake in Polk County.

Happy Halloween from all of us at the Polk County Historical Society. We would like to thank the Unity Junior Class of 2...
10/31/2020

Happy Halloween from all of us at the Polk County Historical Society. We would like to thank the Unity Junior Class of 2018 and 2019 for participating in the past trick-or-treating events at the Museum. With great sadness, due to the pandemic, we will not be hosting the event this year. Here are a few pictures from the President of the PCHS from 2018 and 2019

Halloween 1975 - A unique black pumpkin for Halloween is on display at the Unity grade school in Balsam Lake. Viewing th...
10/30/2020

Halloween 1975 - A unique black pumpkin for Halloween is on display at the Unity grade school in Balsam Lake. Viewing the witchy head is Stephanie Lewis, seven year old second grader who is the daughter of Mrs. Linda Lewis of rural Balsam Lake. Mrs. Lewis teaches special students at the Unity center in Centuria. The pumpkin was decorated by the Balsam Lake school secretary Mrs. Orpha Hansen.

Nine disguised persons joined in the fun at the Centuria Nursing Home Halloween party, Friday afternoon, Oct. 31, 1975. Several of the ladies are members of the Centuria Jolly Circle Club and have volunteered on frequent occasions to help at the home when parties are held. Pictured from left to right are: Alice Dahlstrom of Centuria, Lydia McLeod, Alice Morris, Marie Nelson, Sharon Peters, Edna O’Connor, Ollie Swenson and Theresa Denn.

Balsam Lake was getting geared up for Hallowe’en in 1921. A Hallowe’en Masquerade Dance was held at the Balsam Beach Pav...
10/29/2020

Balsam Lake was getting geared up for Hallowe’en in 1921. A Hallowe’en Masquerade Dance was held at the Balsam Beach Pavilion. Music by a 5-piece orchestra, prizes for best dressed, horns, hats and confetti along with lunch and refreshments were offered.

We are pleased to announce that the Ledger Publications, Inc. has donated their bound newspaper editions and early print...
10/22/2020

We are pleased to announce that the Ledger Publications, Inc. has donated their bound newspaper editions and early printing equipment to the Polk County Historical Society. This is truly a historic treasure for our community. Read all about the history of the Polk County Ledger in our October newsletter, The Chronicler, on our website. https://www.polkcountymuseum.org/newsletter

Dear Editor: Allow me a little space in your valuable paper for a purpose that is worthy the consideration, I think. It ...
10/17/2020

Dear Editor: Allow me a little space in your valuable paper for a purpose that is worthy the consideration, I think. It has been the writer’s pleasure to spend a few days in this thriving little burg on the “SOO” line, called Milltown. It is not the largest town in the county, but it is the busiest little town down the pike and is, as you know, located in the center of some of the best lands in Polk county, inhabited by the county’s best farmers, especially in regards to the management of dairy farms. . . . Last week the creamery here made 98 tubs of butter or an average of 16 per day, and during the summer months the daily output is about twenty-five tubs. The patrons are all forty or eighty acre farmers, and judging by their homes, I would say they all live on Easy street. It is a pleasure for a tenderfoot like myself to spend a few hours in this town and watch the jam around the creamery in the morning. Very little milk is brought, but the cream is coming in from all directions.
Yours very truly, J. D. Rice
(The Enterprise. Luck, Wisconsin - December 23, 1909)

75 years ago today, WWII officially ended. Today we remember our Polk County WWII veterans and give thanks for their ser...
09/02/2020

75 years ago today, WWII officially ended. Today we remember our Polk County WWII veterans and give thanks for their service!

After 125 years, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a Polk County institution - the Ledger Newspapers (Polk...
08/27/2020

After 125 years, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a Polk County institution - the Ledger Newspapers (Polk County Ledger Press, St. Croix Falls Standard Press and Luck Enterprise Press). The Ledger Newspapers have been a source of history and Polk County news for generations.

We have a strong history with the Polk County Ledger, as one of our five original founders of the Polk County Historical Society, E. E. Husband, was the Editor of the Polk County Ledger in 1907. He donated many historic Polk County items that remain in our collection today, including bound copies of the Polk County Press (Ledger) dating back to 1875.

Thank you to the staff of the Ledger Newspapers for your many years of service to our community. You will truly be missed!

08/26/2020

The Polk County and Luck Historical Societies are outside the Polk County Museum to ring the bell and celebrate 100 years of Women’s Suffrage!

100 years ago today, the 19th Amendment became law and cities across the United States celebrated by ringing bells and whistles at noon. This historic moment was made possible by the many different women’s rights groups that had been working for this since 1846.

It is important to note that the women’s suffrage movement did not give the right to vote for everyone. The law said women could not be excluded from the polls because of their sex, but it did not guarantee the ballot. Citizenship laws, poll taxes, threats and violence barred African American, Latina, Native American, Asian American, immigrant and poor women from voting.

Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, on June 10, 1919.

Check out the Wisconsin Historical Society’s web page to learn more about the history of Wisconsin Women & Voting - https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS16052

#WomensVote100 #wivotesforwomen #bighistoryishappening #historicalsociety #polkcountywi #luckwi #womensuffrage

Celebrating aviation history in Polk County!
08/19/2020

Celebrating aviation history in Polk County!

1883 Wisconsin State Fair Ticket ~ from the Charles E. Mears collection. In 1872, Charles E. Mears, a civil war veteran,...
08/02/2020

1883 Wisconsin State Fair Ticket ~ from the Charles E. Mears collection. In 1872, Charles E. Mears, a civil war veteran, took ownership of the Polk County Press located in Osceola, Wisconsin. The Polk County Press, originally operated by Sam S. Fifield, was the voice of Northern Wisconsin at the time. The paper advocated for the rich resources of the county, inducing immigration and capital into the valley. The Press also became the leading advocate of Republicanism for the northern tier of counties forming the frontier district of Wisconsin. Many artifacts in the Mears Collection contain press passes and tickets to statewide and national events, including the Republican National Conventions of 1880, 1884, and 1888.

There’s a lot of entertainment at the Polk County Fair - 1928!
08/02/2020

There’s a lot of entertainment at the Polk County Fair - 1928!

Advertisement from the 1923 Polk County Fair. “It’s your Duty ~ It’s your Fair!”
07/31/2020

Advertisement from the 1923 Polk County Fair. “It’s your Duty ~ It’s your Fair!”

Polk County Fair - 1918! For the next few days we will be looking at the rich history of the Polk County Fair. The fair ...
07/30/2020

Polk County Fair - 1918! For the next few days we will be looking at the rich history of the Polk County Fair. The fair originated in 1861 on the East Farmington school grounds. The “Little Red Schoolhouse” now used for historical displays was originally the East Farmington school, and it was used at the earliest fairs for the secretary’s office and for exhibits. It was later moved to the current fair grounds and preserved by the Polk County Historical Society. The fair was relocated to St. Croix Falls in 1894. This 1918 advertisement for the fair is from our archives in the Polk County Ledger - June 27, 1918.

⚾️ Take me out to the ballgame! July 27, 1913 - Milltown vs Balsam Lake
07/27/2020

⚾️ Take me out to the ballgame! July 27, 1913 - Milltown vs Balsam Lake

🌽 Is the corn ready yet?  Can you identify these farmers in Balsam Lake, early 1900’s?
07/17/2020

🌽 Is the corn ready yet? Can you identify these farmers in Balsam Lake, early 1900’s?

Up until 1910, in the town of Milltown, the only way of getting messages to loved ones was through letters or telegraphs...
07/08/2020

Up until 1910, in the town of Milltown, the only way of getting messages to loved ones was through letters or telegraphs. ln April of 1908, a committee was formed in Milltown to see if there would be interest in establishing a telephone company. The first telephone office was in a room at Jens Laursen’s residence, being rented to the telephone company for $10.00 per month. Jennie Nelson was hired as the first operator and worked 12 ½ hour days at $25.00 a month. John Aleve was hired to work on construction of the plant. He was paid $1.50 per day. In 1913, the Milltown Telephone Company building was constructed. During this time, Tony Holm was the repair man for the telephone company.

When first created, the telephone service was not the same as we use today. It was a party line service and people were limited to speaking for 5 minutes at a time. There were 8 to 10 people per party line. Each line had its own number, and each member on the line had their own “ring”. A ring of 2212, would be two long, one short, and one long, and so forth. When the operator at the office put a call through and rang the number, everyone’s phone on that line rang. It wasn’t long before people memorized the “rings” of the other members on their party line. If you heard that someone was calling your neighbor, and you were curious about who might be calling and why, you could pick up your own phone receiver and “listen in” on the conversation. This was called “rubber necking”.

The telephone operators worked long hours. At night, if the switchboard was quiet, the operator could pull out a daybed and lie down and take a nap. But, if the ringers began to ring, she would have to get up to connect the calls.

The telephone company continued on for some years with this type of service. Then during the 1960’s the old crank phones were replaced with dial phones. However, most people still continued on with party lines. During the 1970’s, the phone cables were buried, the old telephone poles were taken down and everyone had a private line.

Pictured above: Jennie Nelson? and Nora Hermanson (Source: Polk County Museum)

Story Source: Milltown, Wisconsin: Celebrating 100 Years (1910-2010), Milltown Historical Committee

Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July! Balsam Lake parade Circa 1918. Do you have 4th of July Freedom Festival parade...
07/04/2020

Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July! Balsam Lake parade Circa 1918. Do you have 4th of July Freedom Festival parade pictures? Send them to us with any descriptions. We would like to add them to our archives! Polkcountymuseum.org

Looking back at history with newspaper articles from our archives (The Polk County Ledger, June 27, 1918) 🇺🇸It’s a 4th o...
07/03/2020

Looking back at history with newspaper articles from our archives (The Polk County Ledger, June 27, 1918)
🇺🇸It’s a 4th of July Family Picnic in Centuria and Balsam Lake. The Pioneer Store (established by JW Park from our last post) is offering all the fixings for a picnic basket! All proceeds from the picnic were benefiting the Red Cross, as the country was in the midst of World War I at this time. Mentions of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic did not appear in the Polk County Ledger until the second wave, between October and December of that year.
As a non-profit organization, the Polk County Historical Society relies on grants, donations and memberships to maintain our archives for future generations. You can help us by making a donation or joining our 2020 membership ($15 for individuals and $25 for families). Visit our website for more information https://www.polkcountymuseum.org/donation.

Sending you a postcard from Balsam Lake!  ~ Circa 1907The Park family has a rich history on Balsam Lake. Ira H. Park (fr...
07/01/2020

Sending you a postcard from Balsam Lake! ~ Circa 1907
The Park family has a rich history on Balsam Lake. Ira H. Park (from the postcard)was the son of one of Balsam Lake’s premier businessmen, John Wesley Park (known as JW Park). JW Park was born in Ohio in 1840. He came to Balsam Lake in May 1881 and negotiated for the mill property. He returned in August with his family; his wife, Philora, two sons, Alba and Ira, and two daughters, Ollie and Ella. Mr. Park borrowed $4,000 to make major investments in Balsam Lake. These included a saw mill, a grist mill, the Pioneer Store with post office, the water power and extensive land areas. Park was also the prime mover in getting the county seat moved to Balsam Lake from Osceola in 1898. JW Park even donated the ground for the town hall, jail and courthouse - where the Polk County Museum currently resides.
The saw mill and grist mill have both been dismantled and about the only reminder of the Park regime is Park Drive which runs along the lakeshore for over a mile and is now populated by cabins and cottages. This drive was not laid out until after Mr. Park’s death on June 12, 1926. It was turned over to the village by members of the second generation Park family.

A little historical perspective on the Spanish Influenza of 1918, which seems to have hit the Polk County area in Octobe...
06/18/2020

A little historical perspective on the Spanish Influenza of 1918, which seems to have hit the Polk County area in October, November and December of 1918. Not only were people dealing with the 1918 flu epidemic at this time, but also the end of World War I and the aftermath of the Clouquet-Moose Lake fire in Northern Minnesota, which burned 1,500 square miles on October 12, 1918.

Come visit our updated, vintage garden! ❤️Thank you to our volunteer, Pamm Torrance, and the Village of Balsam Lake for ...
06/16/2020

Come visit our updated, vintage garden! ❤️Thank you to our volunteer, Pamm Torrance, and the Village of Balsam Lake for donating your time and materials to make our museum garden so special!

Kassidy Koeppen from Clayton High School is the recipient of our 2020 Polk County Historical Society Scholarship!  Each ...
06/12/2020

Kassidy Koeppen from Clayton High School is the recipient of our 2020 Polk County Historical Society Scholarship! Each year the PCHS conducts an essay contest to award a $1,000 scholarship to Polk County high school seniors. This year’s essay was about creating and designing a new display case for the Polk County Museum. Kassidy’s essay described a display celebrating the churches and places of worship in Polk County. Congratulations, Kassidy, and best of luck at UW-Eau Claire next year!

Our museum remains closed to the public during the COVID-19 crisis and will not be opening during this Memorial Day week...
05/21/2020

Our museum remains closed to the public during the COVID-19 crisis and will not be opening during this Memorial Day weekend. However, we continue to share our collection and stories virtually on our website (polkcountymuseum.org)!

05/08/2020
Circus World

😄So much fun! 👏 Thank you, Circus World, for entertaining us while museums are sharing their collections online! Stay safe ~ Be well!

Sing along with this iconic sound of music song. Expertly played on a myriad of instruments by Dave Saloutos and Larry Stout. #circusworld #baraboounited #doreme #bighistoryishappeningnow

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!  Thank you to all the Polk County Teachers who are going above and beyond to educate our...
05/05/2020
The Polk County Normal School — Polk County Historical Society & Museum

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Thank you to all the Polk County Teachers who are going above and beyond to educate our students this school year! Click below to read about the Polk County Normal School, the teacher training school and its graduating Class of 1919!

May 4 - 8, 2020 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Today we honor and respect our teachers more than ever! During this school year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when teachers have to remotely educate their students online and school closings have resulted in cancelled graduations ceremonies, we thought to b

Wow!  Over $260,000 raised for St. Croix Valley non-profits with 5 more hours to donate!  Thank you for your historic do...
04/28/2020

Wow! Over $260,000 raised for St. Croix Valley non-profits with 5 more hours to donate! Thank you for your historic donations to our community! www.givebigscv.org You can also join the Polk County Historical Society through GiveBIG! 2020 Annual Membership - $15 Individual, $25 Family www.givebigscv.org/organization/Polk-County-Museum

Tuesday, April 28th is GiveBIG, an online fundraiser for area non-profits.  Due to the COVID-19 crisis, your help is nee...
04/27/2020

Tuesday, April 28th is GiveBIG, an online fundraiser for area non-profits. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, your help is needed more than ever. This has been a fundraising event for us over the past several years, but this year we are not asking for money for ourselves. We wanted to highlight the Polk County non-profit organizations that are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis in our area. If you need help during this time, they may be able to provide resources for you and your family. If you are able to give, they can use your assistance as the need is great and funds are limited.

Community Referral Agency is a non-profit shelter committed to keeping Survivors of violence and their children together and safe. Our advocates are passionate about helping families in need and will assist you every step of the way.https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Community-Referral-Agency

The Salvation Army’s Serenity Home Shelter helps people in need of utility and rent assistance. Financial donations also help with the backpack program, which provides over 300 backpacks each week filled with food for school children in need of nutritional resources in their homes. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Serenity-Home

Polk County Interfaith Caregivers help with shopping for essentials, errands, grocery deliveries and friendly phone visits in our community. Donations appreciated to coordinate these services and provide them at no cost for seniors, adults with disabilities and their family caregivers. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Interfaithpolk

Mental Health Task Force of Polk County will use dollars for the provision of mental health training in alternative formats, including virtual. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Mental-Health-Task-Force-Of-Polk-County

Western Wisconsin Health’s We Care Program. When a patient or community member (in any part of the medical center) is identified with a need for food, our staff will provide that individual with a recyclable grocery bag containing proteins, fruit cups and vegetables for a few meals along with resources around our community to connect with for additional assistance. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Baldwin-Area-Medical-Center

Community Homestead All Give Big Funds raised this year will go to provide donation boxes of organic food for people who need it. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Community-Homestead

The mission of West CAP is to take action against poverty by developing the social and economic assets of low-income families and their communities and by working to create a more just and sustainable society. https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/West-Central-Wisconsin-Community-Action-Agency

Polk County Historical Society - For those of you who are asking what you can do for us during this time, we ask that you consider becoming a part of our family through annual membership ($15.00 - Individual, $25.00 - Family). Memberships provide significant financial support for our museum operations and allows us to offer FREE admission into the museum Click on our website https://www.polkcountymuseum.org/donation for more information about membership or check out our GiveBIG page - https://www.givebigscv.org/organization/Polk-County-Museum

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120 Main St
Balsam Lake, WI
54810

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Does anyone know where I can find information about Rock Creek Church? It was located in or around Centuria/Eureka, WI. I don't think it exists any more. I would love to learn more about its history. I am also interested if any records ( baptismal, confirmation, marriage, etc) have been saved from this Church? Any info would be appreciated! Thank you.
Does anyone know if the Amery Free Press archives are online and viewable anywhere? I see this online: "Amery Free Press-Amery, WI; 1891 to date." But I don't see where they are anywhere. Thanks.
St. Croix National Scenic Riverwayis organizing a Hands on History Day for the summer of 2020. We are looking for volunteers who can demonstrate historical skills-blacksmithing, flintknapping, etc. for Riverway visitors. If anyone out there would be interested in participating please respond.
Does anyone know anything about the Sunny Slope School? I recently found this in a book belonging to Bertilda Felland, who was my grandfather’s aunt.
The article front, center of this picture is of my uncle, Fred Hacken. I am looking for any way to get a copy from microfiche as this original is very fragile. The newspaper is the Wiconsin Edition of the St Paul Sunday Pioneer Press, St. Paul Dispatch from Sunday July 15, 1951. I have tried the St Paul library with no luck. Does the Polk County Historical Society know if any exist?
Even in winter she’s beautiful
Sunrise on frosty morning
Good morning
Love this place
Thanks to the Polk County Historical Society for having me present "A Modern Pirate Story" last Thursday night, October 11th. I enjoyed the attentiveness and interaction of the attendees and look forward to further involvement with the Society. What a wonderful group of people!
Hi - I thought I would share this newspaper article found in my great grandfather's (Pete Erickson) belongings. Pete has written on this newspaper article "Old Rock Creek Church" taken 100 years ago. This church was by Centuria. I don't think this church exists anymore. The only person I can identify is my 2x great grandfather, Gustav Erickson, born 1871-1956 who is the third man from the right sitting. Maybe someone else will recognize someone so I thought I would share
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