Our Story

The history of the Princeton Historical Society

Share your memories and stories for posterity

As part of its commitment to collect family histories, local folklore, and the stories of Princeton citizens, the Princeton Historical Society (PHS) and Princeton Public Library invite residents to share their experiences at several events. These sharing sessions will be recorded for posterity. Participants are encouraged to bring written notes and photos. PHS President Mike Goulet said, “The goal is to capture the stories of the people and the community while the stories are still around to be collected.” PHS member Vickie Wielgosh added, “It’s like saving lives by saving people’s stories. So many families that I’ve spoken with in the last ten years don’t believe that their family story is relevant. That’s off the mark. Our stories are our roots and history as a community.”
“Interest is increasing again,” continued Wielgosh. “DNA tests provided by places like Ancestry.com have started opening people’s eyes. Now everyone wants to know more
about their ancestors because they believe their descendants will want to know.”
The stories will be collected with video and audio equipment. A series of more than thirty prompts will be provided with questions like “What were your favorite stories as a child?” or “How did your parents pick your name?” or contributors can just tell the stories they want to tell. All information collected will be securely stored on the PHS computer system.
Families are encouraged to come in together and chat. Organization members, even those not still in existence, are encouraged to come in together and share the history of the
group. Sessions can last as long as two hours and no reservations are necessary but if you would like to reserve a spot contact the Princeton Public Library at 920-295-6777.
The stories collected will not be used to make money and will be accessible to the public at the Folklore Museum. Wielgosh said, “We are looking for folklore stories and giving credence to a life lived. We are collecting memories, not fact checking.”
Library Director Laura Skalitzky said, “For some people stories are the best access to history. Some people keep artifacts, history presents us with a list of dates, and personal stories fill in the blanks and add emotion.”

Summer Events 2023

The Princeton Historical Society has resumed Saturday hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Folklore Museum to help educate visitors to Princeton about the city’s history. Meanwhile, they
are fundraising for phase two of the museum’s renovation.
You can contribute to this renovation by checking out the historical society’s new website, http://princetonwihistoricalsociety.org/, and contributing to their ongoing building and development campaign.
The Princeton Historical Society will also be hosting an event “What’s Hot-What’s Not” on Saturday, August 26 from 1 to 5 p.m. The event will include dinner, live music and will also have three antique appraisers on hand.
Ticket holding participants will have the opportunity to have two items appraised or items can be appraised for $5 per item. The event will be held at the always delicious Knickerbocker Landing Saloon and Eatery. Tickets may be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/bdeez5yr. Don’t wait, seating is limited. All proceeds from this event will benefit phase two of the renovation of the Folklore
Museum.

Get Princeton and Sturgeon Celebration merchandise, support Historical Society

The Princeton Historical Society has been busy this winter. Not only have they been working on Phase 2 of the renovation of the Folklore Museum, but they have also been creating Princeton themed merchandise. Sample items will be available for purchase at the Princeton Public Library during the April 22 Sturgeon Celebration and at the Folklore Museum after that. The Princeton Historical Society will be selling large 20 oz stainless steel etched tumblers for $25, small 12 oz wine stainless steel etched tumblers for $20, etched beer and wine glasses for $10, Can koozies for $4, and freeze pop holders with freeze pop for $4.
Creator and historical society member Chris Goulet said, “I received a Silhouette vinyl cutter for Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed using it to make these items! Using the design program on the Silhouette, Vickie Wielgosh and I created all of the designs that you see.”
“For the stainless powder coated tumblers, glass beer and wine glasses, and all stainless cups, I print out a design on permanent vinyl, weed out the design to create a stencil, then put the stencil on the cup.”
“For the powder coated tumblers, I add Citristrip Paint remover and heat to the stencil to take off the powder paint coating to reveal the stainless underneath. For the glass cups, I use Armor Etch to etch the glass. For the all-stainless cups, I use ferric chloride to etch the design.”
“After a given amount of time, I wipe off the etching product, wash the cup off in the sink, and remove the stencil to reveal the finished etched design. For the cup koozies and the freeze pop holders, I print out words or designs on heat treat vinyl, weed out the part of the vinyl design that I don’t want, then use a heat press to iron the vinyl onto the item.”
“Our family has always wished that there was more Princeton merchandise to purchase in town.
Many members of the Historical Society are very creative and crafty. We put our heads together to come up with items that we could create and sell out of the Folklore Museum.”
“With the Sturgeon Celebration coming up on April 22, we decided to create designs that include sturgeon. As people started to see our tumblers they began asking if they could purchase one.
This is when we decided to start making more of our items and to start selling them at the library during the Sturgeon Celebration.”
“We will have a good amount of stock on hand, but will also take orders for particular cup styles, colors, and etched designs. We will be happy to take orders for any of our items that we sell out if and people would like. We are also willing to work with any Princeton shop owners or
organizations to create custom merchandise for their shop or event moving forward.” If you are interested in purchasing or having merchandise created contact Chris Goulet at princetonhistsociety@gmail.com.

Historical Society raises $1800 with meat raffle

BeerBellys teamed up with the Princeton Historical Society on Saturday, February 25 to hold a meat raffle and more in support of Phase 2 of the Folklore Museum renovation. Vickie Wielgosh is the Chairwoman of this project. Wielgosh said, “The raffle was more successful than we could have expected with a total of $1800.00 raised. We raised $700.00 from the basket raffles and $1100.00 from the meat raffles. That means with the matching grant from the Princeton Chamber of Commerce we actually gained $3600.00.”
“We certainly would do it again. There isn’t a more fun way to raise funds. Great company, great food, and drinks, and almost no work,” said Wielgosh. BeerBellys was packed, a regular said that he had never seen so many people there on a Saturday afternoon. They were serving lasagna and there were snowmobilers stopping in regularly. Wielgosh continued, “The Princeton Historical Society has a really big thank you first to BeerBelly’s for running the raffles as well as donating gift certificates to raffle off. Even though they probably run a meat raffle every month they have it down pat and there’s a lot that goes into it.”
“Matt and his crew get the crowd revved up and excited to open their wallets. Thank you to the Jim Hebbe family, John and Barb Bednarek, Donna Prachel, Mark Kramer, Chris and Jim Frasier, and Vickie Wielgosh for creating such beautiful items to raffle off. And of course, to all
the folks that attended. If they didn’t open their wallets wide, it certainly wouldn’t have been the success it was.“ The funds will go to the revitalization of Phase 2 of the Folklore Museum. We are now starting to raise the floor in the truck dock area to the level of the rest of the museum with matching wood planks.”
“An exit door, outdoor ramp and area dedicated to volunteers (past and present) on the Highway
23 entrance is being designed with installation coming soon so watch for our progress as you drive or walk by. After the floor is raised then the rest of the stud work will get done. More updates are coming soon.”
“I want to thank everyone who is responding to our call for help to finish this most wonderful museum to secure our history,” concluded Wielgosh. Contact Vickie Wielgosh, Princeton Historical Society Renovation Chairwoman at 920-291-5434 or Vickie.wielgosh@yahoo.com to
find out how you can contribute.

Artifact request from the Princeton Historical Society

Vickie Wielgosh, Princeton Historical Society Phase 2 Renovation Chairwoman has a solid plan
for moving forward with the Phase 2 renovation of the Folklore Museum as well as three concept
drawings prepared by artist, Mary Lind.
The portion of the building being remodeled for Phase 2 will contain exhibits on local municipalities, arts and entertainment, service organizations, emergency services, manufacturing, agriculture, communications, and churches. Wielgosh is looking for stories, history, and Princeton artifacts for all of these aspects of the community.
For example, Wielgosh said, “We are looking for anything that has to do with the old theater, billboards, fliers, or that kind of stuff. We are looking for artifacts and fliers from old bands that used to be in town. We are looking for new things from our current artisans from blown glass to
blacksmithing to our hidden artisans. We hope to showcase current artists.”
“We are researching the service organizations that have been in town. Some of them are very difficult. If they have any kind of specific names or emblems. We want to use organization emblems and showcase that and their stories. We want to showcase why they are a service,
organization how long they have been around and what they have contributed.”
“In manufacturing, we want to go from the beginning, the coopers, and blacksmiths to TTI and Whimsy Mountain. We are looking for their stories and artifacts from them, for example the overall factory that was here, whatever you’re manufacturing. We want to know if we are
missing something.”
“In the Agriculture section we are featuring the farms that have been in the family for over one hundred years. We are hoping to learn the stories from the families that have 100 year farms. For communications we are looking for an old wooden wall phone up to modern phones, a switchboard, letter writing tools like a quill and inkwell, and post office supplies.”
“We are also looking for a stained glass window for our church section. We are specifically looking for antiques, not replicas, and artifacts that are specific to Princeton.”
Wielgosh has also drawn up a volunteer and supply request list. She would love to have volunteers donate hours to hang and finish drywall, hang insulation, rewire antique lighting to use in displays, document artifacts, clean artifacts, and the museum. floor sand with a stand-up
sander, build custom cabinetry, and docent on Saturdays from April through October.
Supplies can also be donated, or the cost of the supplies can be donated. Here is a list of current needs with estimated cost. Two streetlamp poles and top assembly to light Princeton original Acorn streetlamp shades (2 fittings – $513.76, 2 light poles – $406.76), drywall – $900.00,
outdoor double door – $850.00, insulation – $2,500.00, box car siding for ceiling $3,500.00, floor sander rental $175.00, 11×14 acrylic picture frames – 4/$63.95 (we need as many as 48), 4 step folding ladder with wheels 350 lb. capacity – $280.00, laser projector, cables, screen remote control – $1,000.00, 40 padded folding chairs – $50.00 each, metal storage shelving t; $150.00 each, 3 digital electronic hygrometers for measuring humidity – $300.00 each, sponsor monthly internet service, a computer for visitors for research – $2,000.00, 6 wall hanging flip
books – $250.00 each.
“This is a short list of building supplies to finish the last half of the folklore museum. Our current estimate to build Phase 2 is approx. $90,000.00 with $30,000.00 in hand and about $20,000.00 in comparable volunteer hours so we still need $40,000.00 to finish this project,” concluded Wielgosh. Contact Vickie Wielgosh, Princeton Historical Society Renovation Chairwoman at 920-291-5434 or Vickie.wielgosh@yahoo.com to find out how you can contribute.

Historical Society looking for matching donations for Phase 2 renovations

The Princeton Historical Society is steaming ahead on Phase 2 of the renovation of the Folklore
Museum. The Princeton Chamber of Commerce pledged to match up to $5000 in donations to
the Phase 2 renovation fund to help speed things along so the group can reach their goal of
opening the second half of the museum for the public during the 175th celebration.
Jim Frasier, Museum Director, said at this point, “our fundraising doesn’t tie into anything in
particular. Our main focus is to get this job done and get it done well. We have very excellent
retired builders that are coming in and spending days here as a donation and for the love of the
museum. This museum means a lot to people, and we are hoping to raise approximately $40,000
more to complete the project.”
One way that people can contribute to the Phase 2 renovation fund is to attend the Beerbellys
Meat Raffle being held on Saturday, February 25 at 1:30 p.m. If you are interested in
contributing money, skills, or artifacts to Phase 2 renovation contact the Princeton Historical
Society at princetonhistsociety@gmail.com or 920-295-9008. You may also contact Vickie
Wielgosh at 920-291-5434.

A recent election of board members at the Princeton Historical Society has resulted in Mike
Goulet as President, Jim Frasier as Vice President and Museum Director, Chris Frasier as
Treasurer, Laura Skalitzky as Secretary, and Vickie Wielgosh as Phase 2 Renovation Chairwoman. Goulet said, “It is nice to have a great group of dedicated people. I’ve only been a member for two years and they have been keeping this historical society going over the years. It is so nice to be involved with such dedicated people to tell the history of Princeton.”
“I really appreciate the support of the community and the chamber to help us fund the renovation. It’s great to have the support of those in the PHS but to have the support of the entire community to help make a museum for the City of Princeton.”
One excellent resource available to Jim Frasier as he and Wielgosh plan out the renovations has been the digitized newspaper archives made available this past year by a combined effort from many people and organizations.
Princeton had six newspapers over the years. The digitized scans include editions from the Green Lake County Democrat 1879-1885, the Princeton Republic 1867-1937, the Princeton Republic-Star 1905-1906, the Princeton Star 1902-1905, the Princeton Times 1935-1937, and the
Princeton Times-Republic 1937-1993. To see them, go https://archives.winnefox.org.

Historical Society seeks donations to complete Phase 2 of museum renovation

The Princeton Historical Society is leaping into the New Year with Phase 2 of their renovations of the Folklore Museum, 630 West Water Street. Phase 1 has been completed and exhibited and the group hopes to get the work of Phase 2 accomplished by the 175th celebration of the City of Princeton in late July.
The group has a floor plan and has started basic construction in the rear half of the building. Vickie Wielgosh of the historical society described her version of the completed project, “We hope that visitors will feel like they are walking down little city streets. You won’t be able to see
the new adventure that waits for you around each corner.”
“We had approximately $20,000 left over from the Phase 1 renovations but we expect Phase II renovations to cost at least $70,000 and that’s a conservative cost estimate because of inflation. We are concerned that our costs may reach as high as $90,000.”
Wielgosh is not fazed by this challenge though. She said, “We started Phase 1 with less than $300 and the donations grew to allow completion. We are hoping the community will continue to back us financially through the completion of Phase 2.”
“The signs are good, since we have just received an anonymous donation of $10,000 putting our current savings at $30,000. But it is important to remember that we also have to maintain the Folklore and Stonehouse museums and that averages about $7000 a year for utilities and
operating costs.”

“Read all about it” on the new Princeton Historical Society website

The Princeton Public Library, 424 West Water Street hosted two learning sessions, one at 2 p.m. and one at 6 p.m., on Monday, December 12 to teach anyone who is interested how to use the new historic Princeton newspaper archives. This event provided the opportunity for a major
partner in this endeavor, the Princeton Historical Society, to announce the launch of their new website.
Princeton Historical Society’s new website, http://princetonwihistoricalsociety.org/ has a link to
the digitized newspapers as does the Princeton Public Library website. Here is a tiny url: https://tinyurl.com/2t6kk9yj. This link will take you to a page that will allow you to browse
Princeton newspapers including:
– Green Lake County Democrat 1879-1885
– Princeton Republic 1867-1937
– Princeton Republic-Star 1905-1906
– Princeton Star 1902-1905
– Princeton Times 1935-1937
– Princeton Times-Republic 1937-1993
This resource is free on the internet and available to anyone to use without a library card. The browse page allows interested individuals to browse old Princeton newspapers but the host of this digital resource, the Winnefox Library System, provides a rather strong search
engine.
By clicking on the tab ‘simple search’ researchers can search the newspaper archives by word, year, month, and date. There is also a means to search particular fields, and if you click on the box with the plus sign, you can deepen your search by using ‘and’ to add multiple search terms, ‘or’ to provide synonyms for your search term, ‘not’ to eliminate
items not relevant to your search, and ‘near’ to search for terms that are printed close to each other.

Search results are sortable by relevance, title, and publication date. Once a particular newspaper is chosen, the website provides the searcher with the options to select text for transcription, rotate the file, and zoom in and out.
This resource is the result of a huge collaborative effort. The Princeton Historical Society provided the newspapers in the form of 81 reels of microfilm. The digitization was made
possible with contributions from the Princeton Historical Society, the Princeton Public Library, the Caestecker Library’s Tom Gnewuch Memorial Fund, a Wisconsin Humanities grant, and the Winnefox Library System. The total cost was $17,000 and this process took
over a year to complete. The entire project was headed up by Library Director Laura Skalitzky who is offering free
printouts of the newspaper from the day you were born for a limited time. Check out the Princeton newspaper archives on the Princeton Public Library website or the new
Princeton Historical Society website.

Princeton Historical Society begins phase 2 of museum renovation

The Princeton Historical Society launched phase 2 of their renovation of the Folklore Museum, 630 West Water Street during their dinner and speaker event on Friday, August 26. Vickie Wielgosh announced that evening, “We are here for two reasons, to hear a great speaker and to launch fundraising for phase 2 of the renovation of the Folklore Museum.”
Wielgosh pointed to a display board that showed the plans for the final placement of artifacts in the back half of the Folklore Museum which was just recently cleared of an antique proof press and all the typeset to facilitate the improvements. The press is being stored in donated space at the American House but will be featured prominently in the finished display.
Wielgosh shared her vision for the future renovations with Berlin Journal Newspapers. She said, “We want to create a space of discovery for visitors. Instead of a straight walkway, we will be creating a meandering path that brings to mind window shopping on an old time main street.”
“The idea for a wandering path became necessary when we determined we would have to incorporate three structural supports in the center of the space that is being renovated. But the maze-like pathways allow us to incorporate more surface areas and allow us to create more visual displays.”

“We also intend to include a large overhead door at the back of the museum to allow easier access for larger artifacts, like the antique proof press, to be moved in and out of displays. In the end, we hope phase 2 will create more of an adventure than a straight walk through a museum.”
The Princeton Historical Society has a large collection of artifacts but is always looking for more donations about Princeton history. Topics of display areas planned for phase 2 include military service, community service, government, manufacturing, agriculture, communications, schools,
churches, and arts and entertainment.
The Princeton Historical Society intends to spend the next two weeks completing the removal of debris and artifacts from the back portion of the Folklore Museum in preparation for the installation of electricity, insulation, and heating and cooling systems. The floor is already installed, and the walls are solid block. Wielgosh said, “We are starting with newer building construction in the back half of the museum. For phase 1 we had to restore a building that was built in the 1800’s, the addition was added in the mid 1900’s and is more intact and workable. And we don’t have to worry about
plumbing.”
The Princeton Historical Society is looking for volunteers for all aspects of phase 2 of the Folklore Museum renovation including clean-up, electrical work, insulation work, building work, and artifact refurbishment and distribution.
“It is my hope that by next summer there will be at least some results of phase 2 to have on display for the 175th celebration of the incorporation of the City of Princeton. It all depends on volunteers and donations,” said Wielgosh.
“This museum is a gift, the Princeton Historical Society has been gifted so much, materials, labor, artifacts. We want to collaborate with the community and give back a wonderful
interactive historic experience at the Folklore Museum. Our goal is to create this and gift the community of Princeton with our results.”

Haunted Wisconsin, great BBQ, and drinks with friends at the Princeton Historical Society event

The Princeton Historical Society’s “Wisconsin’s Most Haunted Locations” event on Friday, August 26 started at 5 p.m. at Knickerbocker Landing Saloon, 609 West Water Street with drinks. However, apparently people were so excited they started showing up at 4:30 p.m.
Dinner followed at around 5 p.m. with a four course meal served up by Who Dat BBQ LLC, and finally around 7:30 p.m. Chad Lewis, author of 25 books, presented “Wisconsin’s Most Haunted Locations.”
Nearly 70 attendees filled the newly remodeled Knickerbocker Saloon for the event. One attendee who came from as far away as Madison said, “I am in Princeton solely for this event. A friend of mine saw it advertised on Facebook and I decided to make an adventure of it.”
Vickie Wielgosh warmed up the crowd by saying, “I want to thank all of you for coming to this event, as well as Knickerbocker Landing, Who Dat BBQ, and the Princeton High School volunteers that made this possible. We are here for two reasons, to see a great speaker, and to
fundraise for phase 2 of the renovation of the Folklore Museum.”
High school volunteers, Lily and Sophie Buslaff served a plated dinner prepared by Who Dat BBQ LLC including a salad, pulled chicken and pork, mac& cheese, jambalaya, corn bread,
and cake.
Rachel Zimmerman, Princeton was especially excited about the guest speaker, Chad Lewis. She said, “I have had one of his books for twenty years. It was one of the first books that I read that really moved me.” Zimmerman took the opportunity to get this book signed as well as purchasing more written by author, Chad Lewis.
Chad Lewis has more than 18 years of research experience into ghosts, vampires, the lochness monster, crop circles, alien abductions, and just plain scary people and places. At
the event, Lewis spoke about weird folklore and anomalies to be found in Wisconsin.
One of the first topics of his presentation was the haunting of the Dartford Cemetery in Green Lake which was featured in one of his earliest books. Often when people read
Lewis’ books, they visit the sites that are mentioned. Visitors to the Dartford cemetery have been so numerous that extra lighting has been installed to prevent naughtiness.

Lewis went on to discuss other cemeteries in Wisconsin, the mysterious balls of light at the Devil’s punch bowl, places people can spend a night in a haunted building in
Wisconsin, and Bloody Bride Bridge near Stevens Point.

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