Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Thursday, October 30, 2014

St. Mary's Church Fire

February 8, 1883 Oshkosh Northwestern
The above news item details the church fire for the first St. Mary's Church.  It was the demise of this church that led to building the structure we all know today. 
We've talked before about this, to include this blog post from 2013 which featured a photo of the original church and school:
But once again, this was one of those "found" items, while looking for something else.  (I love when that happens!)  And not to keep begrudging the journalism of the day, but I find it curious how the article just refers to it as the "German Catholic Church," not even by name. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pinder Cabinet Portraits

Photographs from the studio of W. H. Pinder, circa 1880s. 
In the 19th century, photographers tended to be an itinerant lot, moving from town to town to maintain business.  W. H. Pinder was a photographer in Menasha for a time, but a news article from the December 23, 1890 Oshkosh Northwestern revealed that he had since moved from Menasha to Freeport, Illinois.  The presumption is that his time in Menasha had passed. 
The portrait above is of the Peter Jensen family.  The lone woman at the top of the blog post is unknown. 
Photography in the 19th century was constantly evolving- from glass plates to tintypes to ever larger images on photographic paper.  The format of the above photographs was called a "cabinet card."  This was a larger, more refined version of an earlier format called the "carte de visite" or, CDV, which had replaced the tintype.  By the early 1880s it had nearly replaced all CDVs, and was the dominant portrait format until the end of the century.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Becher Electric

October 25, 1967 Appleton Post-Crescent
Despite what we'd view today as political incorrectness, I'll bet this promotion was, nevertheless, a big success.  And while I'm not sure what discounted pumpkin pies were doing at an appliance store (maybe it was a part of the whole Fall theme), that 40 pound box of detergent had to be a nice bonus. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Industrial Atmosphere

This 1924 photo of the recently completed Washington Street bridge seems to highlight the city's pollution problem, courtesy of the many mills and factories lining the Fox River.  We touched upon this back in 2013 when we reviewed the bridge's dedication in 1920.   At the time, there was a news item about a petition being presented to the common council protesting the atmospheric conditions.  Apparently, four years later, little had been done.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Menasha Girls Are....


August 21, 1886 Oshkosh Northwestern
Partisan comments from a local newspaper; very nice.  But wait!  What was that last part?!  Readers, take caution.   While I'm not exactly sure what that meant 128 years ago, I'm hoping the author meant "tomboys."  Today, that could mean something else entirely!   Ah, the evolution of language. 

Happy weekend! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I found this page in the 1923 version of The Nicolet, Menasha High's yearbook.  I was taken by the phrase, "civic biology," which aroused my curiosity. 
As it turns out, "civic biology" was the shorthand term for a curriculum based on A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, a biology textbook written by George William Hunter, published in 1914. From what I've read, it was a nationally known book, used in school districts all over the country in the early 20th century. 

It is the book which Tennessee required high school teachers to use and is best known for its section about evolution that was ruled by a local court to be in violation of the state Butler Act.  The Butler Act was a Tennessee law which prohibited public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man's origin. It was for teaching from this textbook that John T. Scopes was brought to trial in Dayton, Tennessee in the famous Scopes "Monkey" Trial pitting William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow.

If things had been different and Menashans had been a bit more intolerant, who knows?  We might have been thrust into the national spotlight instead of the small town of Dayton, Tennessee.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1st National

With the news that the old First National Bank is to come down, I thought this photo was timely.  Most of us think of the four columned bank when we picture the First National.  But this building preceded it in 1887 and has resided next to the more familiar columned version ever since its 1916 debut. 

Notice the second floor office of J.M. Pleasants, attorney.  He was the brother of yesterday's subject, Ellen Lee Pleasants Banta. 

 June 30, 1887 Oshkosh Northwestern