Mary Jane Herber - Brown County Historical Society
Mary Jane Herber from the Brown County Historical Society, is no stranger to the history of this area. Her love of history started at age 18 and that was something like . . . well, many years ago. As with all of her presentations, Mary Jane started with a slide of a map from 1821, which shows the French influence in the area. Lots were narrow and long and all had river frontage on the narrow side. St. John the Evangelist Church is an example of the French influence in this area.
The Northwest Ordinance, also known as the Freedom Ordinance, was an act of Congress creating the Northwest Territory in 1787. This important piece of legislation established the precedent which enabled the United States to expand westward by the admission of new states, rather than by the expansion of existing states. The Northwest Ordinance states were Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
There is a small dotted line on the second map Mary Jane distributed (from 1821) pinpointing Portage, WI, and at that time the speck of land at Portage was the only slice of land that separated Green Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. A canal built at Portage rectified that.
Mary Jane’s presentation was made up of a number of slides featuring historical markers scattered throughout Brown County. They provided an opportunity for her to show her knowledge of the markers and history of the area and for the Shamrockers, many of them natives of the area, to guess (or know) where the markers were located.
The first two historical markers featured on slides were found at Fire Station #1 on the corner of Washington and Adams Streets. The first honored Father Gabriel Richard and Father Stephen Badin and the First Catholic Church in Green Bay; the second was the site of the LaBaye Burial Place, 1720 – 1835. A block from there is another marker on the Cadillac Square Building indicating the site of the Bank of Wisconsin, 1835, the First Bank West of Lake Michigan.
There were marker pictures from Lost Dauphin Park, the First Court House in Wisconsin, and the Mueller-Wright Greek Revival House in Wrightstown. Greek revival architecture was a popular style of architecture in the 1800s.
Old St. Mary’s Church in DePere was featured as an example of why you should never sandblast brick. “Never, never, sandblast brick!” Mary Jane said and said again as she sighed over the poor outcome of the sandblasted church pictured on her slide.
The historical pictures from the old post office in DePere are now in the museum. One of the Neville Public Museum’s absolute treasures is the Perrot Ostensorium, regarded as the most significant relic from the 17th century French regime in this area. And, it has stayed in this area.
The statue of Jean Nicolet at Red Banks was paid for by the pennies and nickels of the area’s school children, many of them Shamrockers today. The statue is being moved because of the new highway, but will stay in the Town of Scott and be located at Wequiock Park.
There is a Civil War marker on the east side of the Brown County Court House. Slides were also shown of the markers at the site of Camp Smith at Heritage Hill State Park, of Ashwaubomay Memorial River Park, Blesch Brewery on Green Bay’s west side, and the site of James Duane Doty's first brick house in Wisconsin.
Almost as sinful as sandblasting brick is planting lilac bushes around a historical marker. Mary Jane ended her presentation with a picture of the First Episcopal Mission site in Wisconsin founded in 1827 by Rev. Richard Fish-Cadle at its original location overgrown and invisible because of massive lilac bushes and at its new clearly visible location on Mission Road.
Thank you, Mary Jane, for an interesting and educational program.
Joan Kapp Kreuse.