Written by Mrs. Joseph (Dorothy A.) Meyer June 1, 1982
On the 24th day of November, 1965, a small committee of local and area people met in the Orville Meistad barber shop to propose names of ten members to a Board of Directors. Those nominated on that day were people the committee felt would be interested in future of a local area Historical Society. They were Harold Kruse, Orville Meistad, Wesley Sale, Steve Koch, Carl Bladeau, Gertrude Werth, Leonard Harms, Gordon Emery, James West, and Harry Hearn.

A location was one of the first items of business. Six different parcels of land were looked at, prices received, until the site we now have was decided upon and purchased. There were 52 acres of land with three groves of trees purchased from Elmer Radke for the sum of $4,500.00 in 1966.

At first, four meetings were held each year with annual dues of $5.00 A list of Charter Members remained open until 1967, with a total membership of 225. Orville Meistad was President, Wesley Sale, Vice President, Steve Koch, Secretary, and Gordon Emery, Treasurer.

By-Laws were drawn up and passed at the March meeting in 1966, and a Charter was received. Very few changes have been made since that time. In 1966 the Society had a booth at the Reedsburg Home Show and money was was borrowed from The Farmers and Merchants Bank to conduct business. That same year, the Society received tax exempt status. The first log house was received from the Lake Redstone Corporation.

In 1967 new officers were elected. They were: President, Wesley Sale, Vice President,Erwin Dreifke, Secretary, Bernice Gade, and Treasurer Eldora Meyer. The first Barbeque was held May 30, 1967, with entertainment from a group of talented people, an auction and a bake sale. During that year, a log building was received from Leland and later, one from the Oetzman family. The Society had a float in the 4th of July parade. A well was drilled on the site that same year and $420.00 was collected for the well fund.

In 1968, much work was done on the log buildings. A beef Barbeque with 2000 ears of sweet corn donated by the Reedsburg Foods was served and a horse show was held. A stand was set up to sell pop and Dixie cups. In 1968, it was moved to increase the Board of Directors from 11 to 20. A grill for the Barbeque pit was built. With many artifacts coming in, records for a permanent history were started. Thoughts for a Museum building were taking shape.

In 1969, the Society made plans to participate in the Reedsburg Bicentennial. Five memberships to the Society were given away at the annual meeting. A beef Barbeque an Art Show, and a white elephant sale were held. The Willow Township log church was moved to the site. A 200 pound steer was raffled off along with other prizes that included an electric blender and $15.00 worth of groceries. Bicentennial displays were placed in store windows. The Barbeque pit was completed. A "Be A Square and Buy A Square" Building Fund for a 5,000 square foot building was started. A campaign to collect $5,000 for this metal building was really in all of the member's minds.

In 1970, a chicken Barbeque was held In May. A display was presented at the Home Industry Show. The Knights of Columbus joined the Society in putting on the 4th of July Barbeque held at Webb Park. By August 5th, 1970 there was a total of $3,500.00 in the building fund for the Museum Building. It was built that fall . Five gum vendors were received and placed about town. One report told of collecting $31.00 at one time. It was Bernice Gade who kept the containers filled with gum.

In 1971, a chicken Barbeque was held in May as we11 as a White Elephant sale. Then again on the 4th of July, there were two days of serving Bar-B-Qed chicken jointly with the Knights of Columbus. A dusk to dawn light was erected at the site. The three rooms in the Museum Building were prepared for displaying household items which are now found in the Claridge House. The Drug Store and Camera Shop were constructed. A guestbook was purchased on September l2, 1971 for the first Open House date to be held. Lights were installed in the Museum building.

August 19, 1972, the Reedsburg Area Historical Society entertained the Southwest Regional Convention. Again, the Memorial Day Butter Festival Barbeque dinners were held. A mobile home was placed on the property for security purposes and a sewage system was constructed.

During the year 1973, a small log house was built from the logs cut from the pine trees on the property to be used on a float for the 4th of July parade. A roof was built over the Barbeque pit. A two day Barbeque serving was again held with the K.C's . The Tuckertown Church gave the altar, pulpit, and the baptismal font to be placed in the church. The pump house was built. The two story log house was to be used for a library. Displays were placed in store windows for the 125 year celebration in the city and the 100rdth anniversary of the Fire Department. The Society's float won first place in the 4th of July parade, but took only third at Wonewoc. The Church roof was shingles and a blacksmith shop built. Wes Sale resigned as President after serving well for six years. Mrs. Bernice Gade became President. The other officers remained except Ena Moll became Secretary. Many visitors came to the Museum that year, including school children, woman's clubs and others. The church was dedicated in 1973. 3000 pine trees were ordered from the Conservation Department.

By the year 1974, we had out own Barbeque and in June of that year, an old-fashioned ice cream social was held on the grounds. The Rural School known as the Country Farm School was moved to the site. The church was the scene of the first wedding held on the Museum grounds. Two Quickie Wash buildings became the property of the Society. The first pruning of the pine trees was done and lumber was sold. A gun cabinet was built in the Museum building. A covered wagon as built to be used in parades. 2000 pine trees were ordered for spring planting. A decision to have the Museum open for visitors on the second and fourth Sundays as made. A calendar of names of Board Members and other members was drawn up to take turns serving as host and hostesses.

During the year of 1975, artifacts belonging to the Old Settlers Association were loaned to the Historical Society. We went on record as a classified non-profit organization, thus there were no taxes to be paid. New officers elected that year were Bernice Gade, President, Erwin Dreifke, Vice President, Ruth Wirth, secretary, and Eldora Meyer, Treasurer.

In 1976 we were involved in Bicentennial plans. The Federated Woman's Club of Reedsburg donated a Bicentennial Flag, the American Legion gave American Flag and Joe and Dorothy Meyer donated the Flag Pole. A special flag raising ceremony was held with a program in the church followed by an ice cream social. Twenty five acres of land was rented for corn planting for the sum of $250.00 a year. Two hundred pine trees and later eight hundred more were planted to increase the acreage of a fine forest. We entered the 4th of July parade with a float depicting Betsy Ross sewing on the original 13 star Flag. Work was being done on a fence for the cemetery next to the church. The Society participated in the 4th of July style show which was part of the Bicentennial celebration. The Community Action Council with headquarters in Wisconsin Dells, provided three men and two women for clean-up work and to assist in the library.

The year 1977 was another busy year for the Society. The annual chicken Barbeque and an ice cream social was held, at which time the mortgage was burned. The school house received a new coat of paint. The Area Ministerial Association held a service in observance of Flag Day in the preserved Willow Church. The Society was written up in the July 31, 1977 Edition of the Chicago Tribune. A Claire Briggs wayside marker was granted by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Division of Historical Sites, to be placed near the area site on Highway 33. On the 100 anniversary of Claire Briggs which was August 5, 1975, Claire Briggs Day was declared. Gifts of Briggs Family by Mrs. Clare Metzger and Mrs. Sarah Lewis, daughters of Mr. Briggs, were received.

In the year of 1978, the annual chicken Barbeque was held followed later by an ice cream social. A float entered in the June Butter Festival, representing The Revolutionary War Era was easily declared a first prize winner. A new power saw as purchased to be used for tree trimming in the forest.

The big project of 1979, was the construction of the second Museum building known better as the Claridge House. Nearly 1000 gathered for the annual Chicken Barbeque. The grove as used for family reunions and church services were held in the Church. Several groups held picnics in the grove. A sign as erected at the entrance to the grounds as a memorial. to President Bernice Gade who had passed away. She had served faithfully as an officer for a total of ten years.

In 1980, Diane Kamps was elected President. Erwin Dreifke, Vice President, Lillian Wolter served as secretary during the illness of Ruth Wirth and Eldora Meyer remained as Treasurer. Three rooms were completed in the Claridge House and plans were made for a Claire Briggs display room. Hilbert Kleeber, another loyal and faithful Board member passed away. A memorial fund of $175.00 was received. Three drawer file has been purchased in his memory . In August 1980, Dr. Harold Kleeber was elected President and Dorothy Meyer was elected Secretary following the resignation of Ruth Wirth. We received "Old Betsy" the Reedsburg Fire Department truck, as well as the horse drawn cart. A 13 star flag was received, and placed in the Claridge House building.

In 1981 The Historical Society had a display at the Old Settlers meeting. Over 1000 were served at the annual chicken Barbeque. It was the largest we have had attend since we began serving, the first in 1967. A 50 year old fire engine was presented to the Society by the LaValle Fire Department. The Museum site was used as bike-hike check point for area young people for the proceeds to go to the retarded citizens of Sauk County. A gift of $25.00 was given to the Reedsburg Fire Department Emergency Fund. The Museum site as a setting for a film made by the CF Industries Inc. in 1981. The CF Industries Inc. is made up of 18 member Co-Operatives. The scene showed fertilization techniques used in the 1880's. An 1858 quilt was received. The pump house was rebuilt. A tobacco planter was added to the collection.

In 1982 the local Aid Association for Lutherans took as their project the wiring of the Claridge Building for electricity. Books from the Dr. Rouse estate were received for the Library. The annual Chicken Barbeque was again held in May.

1983 - The construction of another pole shed was discussed at the first meeting in March and different suppliers were being considered for the job. The LaValle Fire Department donated some smoke masks to go with the fire truck. The annual meeting took place on April 20 and was chaired by Board President, Dr. Harold Kleeber. He stressed the need for members to become more involved in the work that needed to be done at the site and asked for volunteers to signup on a work sheet that circulated among the attendees. Guest speaker was Robert Whitty, President of the School District. He spoke about the history of the school system in Reedsburg which had recently converted to a Common School District. Jon Vriesacker played several musical selections on the violin. Bill Schutte and Dave Burmester presented a 45 minute video about the history of Loganville which included footage filmed at the Pioneer Village. The Chicken barbeque served over 800 guests. Many items were donated to the museum throughout the year.

1984 - The annual meeting was held on April 25 at the Recreation Center. Members of the local Toastmaster's Club were in attendance. Larry Durand talked about the history of the Toastmaster's Club and also suggested a plaque providing the history of the Huntley Hotel and one about the area country schools. Lorena Groener and Ruth Roever each gave a short speech and Dave Dobson concluded the presentation with a talk about the importance of preserving history and ended by saying "The city of Reedsburg owes the members of the Historical Society gratitude and much credit for the work accomplished." Membership in the Society was reported to be 124 paid members, including 30 life memberships and 145 were not current with their dues. The chicken barbeque ticket prices were raised to $3.75 from last year's $3.50 price (chicken was purchased for $.71 per pound) and they served 1,000 chicken halves before running out. Laverne Kruse was elected president of the Society when Harold Kleeber declined to serve again. The rest of the Board remained as is with Erwin Dreifke, Vice President, Dorothy Meyer; Secretary, and Eldora Meyer as Treasurer. The Ted Sanders Estate bequeathed $7,508.53 to the Historical Society. It was estimated that 3,000 people visited the museum and Log Village during the 1984 season.

1985 - Bids were reviewed for the construction of a new machine shed to house the larger artifacts, machines and vehicles. Bids were submitted by Wisconsin Pole Barn, Hartje Constructio, Kenneth Koenecke, Lehn Construction, F&M Pole Construction, Morton Construction and Wicks. Due to the variety of options, the Board narrowed their desires down to more specific criteria and asked the bidders to resubmit their quotes based on the new requirements. A later vote awarded the contract to Koenecke Construction who had the winning bid of $11,600. The building was formally dedicated in a ceremony on Sunday, October 6 at 1:30 in the afternoon. It was named the Ted Sander Building. Becker Forest Products of Necedah were awarded the bid of $15 per full cord of pulp wood and $13 per cord for the jack pine removal. The Knights of Columbus were selected to run the chicken barbeque this year. Merriwell and Emelia Huebing spoke at the annual meeting where they displayed period guns as well as 3 colonial era costumes that were made by the Huebings as they explained what it was like to be an early settler. The chicken barbeque served a total of 1,025 meals. was estimated there were 3,400 visitors to the property during the 1985 season.

1986 -The Knights of Columbus agreed to operate the annual chicken barbecue for $500, the same as the previous year. 1,100 chicken halves were ordered for the event. New lights were installed in the Sanders building. President Laverne Kruse opened the annual meeting on April 23 and thanked all those who worked at the site the previous year. Paul Newcomb displayed miniature models of buildings he built from cardboard. Many additional items were accepted by the museum this year including an old thrashing machine. 5,000 3 year old pine trees were ordered from the WCC for planting next Spring.

1987 - A report was given regarding last year's chicken barbecue noting that 1,356 people were served. Based on that number, 1,300 chicken halves and 120 chicken portions were ordered for this year's event. It was also noted that some of the highlights of the previous year included improvements to some of the cabins and the site grounds, selected thinning of trees as well as the planting of 5,000 trees. Two more log cabins were moved to the grounds and a new toilet was installed. St. John's Ladies Aid purchased several picnic tables for the Society with a grant presented by the Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL). The barbecue report stated that 1,037 adults and 138 children's plates were served and the gross receipts came in at $5,133.15. The new cedar block punchin floor was completed in the Kruse building.