World War 1 Centennial Programs

April 6, 2017 would be the centennial of the U.S. Declaration of War against Germany. Tim Siebert, President of the Society, and Sue Koehl, a Life member, teamed up to form the Centennial Committee. In the early part of 2014 they began working on a major presentation based on "Portage County in World War I". Their efforts resulted in the very successful April 6-7, 2017 events.

Sue Koehl would write: "The April 6 and 7 kickoff events honoring Portage County’s role in World War One were a wonderful celebration of the efforts of our veterans and the local community supporting their efforts. Just like in 1917, it took a whole community to pull off all of these events and we are grateful for all the support and assistance with these events, from working behind the scenes to being on stage. Community support from all over Portage County made these events a reality. Thank you Portage County!

The book series on the Portage County story will continue with several books in process. Check out the titles we have in publication.

The six building museum exhibit at Heritage Park will open Memorial Day weekend and we hope you will visit the park this summer to learn more about the Portage County story. More details later in the newsletter. Like other parts of this project, many hands from all over the community were involved with this exhibit; building the trench, crafting mannequins to fit the World War One era uniforms, sewing curtains to enhance the exhibit space, arranging and displaying artifacts and writing display panels and finishing a grand display space (and beautiful bathroom) in the barn. Truly your PCHS community and friends have created an exhibit to be proud of.

Through this project, PCHS has connected with people from all over Portage County and from around the country and these connections are strengthening our research data base. Through the expertise of Paul Valasek, our Polish Army speaker in October, we have been able to help people get connected to stories about their family history and through them we have strengthened our knowledge of Portage County’s role in the Polish Army.

In our research on Vice Admiral Grant, not only did we locate his family to bring them into our PCHS family and celebrate the Admiral’s role in shaping the modern navy, but we made new connections. We met Beatrice Danielski, whose husband Emil served on the DD-649 USS Albert Grant during its last mission in World War 2, serving as an escort ship with General MacArthur’s campaign to Japan. Beatrice is 93 years old and a lifelong resident of Stevens Point and shared her husband’s memorabilia with us. Thanks to the research efforts of Jerry Rohlinger, we learned about the book DD-649 USS Albert W. Grant, co-authored by Elaine Dorland, which is a history of the service of the ship named in honor of Admiral Grant. Tim secured permission for the Society to print this book so it is available as part of the World War One book series. Tim also received the flag which was flown over the ship (and lowered) when President Roosevelt passed away in office. Thank you Elaine, another member of our extended PCHS family.

This project has created connections that we couldn’t dream of when the project kicked off in 2014 and we are excited to see what other connections we will make during the course of the exhibition. Thank you for your support of this project!"

Centennial Events



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