Palmyra Historical Society Newsletter


Palmyra Historical Society Newsletter
Palmyra Historical Society Newsletter
Spring, 2014
Securing Our Place in History
Editor: Tom Stanley Website: E-mail: [email protected]
On Saturday, December 7, the Historical
Society played its accustomed major role
in bringing in the Yuletide season to nearly one hundred residents of Palmyra.
With Christmas carols sung in the frigid
air, the lighting of the giant blue spruce in
the front yard of the Carlin House, and
inside conversation and refreshments, it
was a successful evening for the whole
Mr. and Mrs. Santa
Inside the toasty Turner Museum, Mr. and
Mrs. Santa were on hand to greet the children, and fourteen exhibitors displayed
and interpreted some of their favorite collections. Continued on page 2.
Spotlight on John and Peggy Hooper… .2
Our Greatest Hits……………… ………6
Thanks to Our Donors…..…………….. 7
Past Perfect Progress Update…. ……….7
More Christmas Tree and Santa Pictures.8
Cookies and Hot Chocolate
MARCHING FROM ZION, the Exemplary Lives of
John and Peggy Hooper
Recently a couple (Marcia Vallee and John Irek) stopped by the Turner Museum with a question for
the historical society. They had purchased a house on Hooper Road near Highway E north of the village that had formerly been the Zion School. In the process of remodeling, the couple had discovered
an old blackboard with children’s names on it that had evidently been used in school days gone by.
They asked if we would like to have it. Since one of our chief goals as a historical society is to preserve the past, we jumped at the chance. You will eventually see the blackboard in the museum as
part of our Palmyra Schools exhibit. The Zion school served students between 1869 and 1959.
We got to thinking: What was it like to have attended a one room school? Were there people still
living in our area who had attended the Zion School? Could someone tell us what effect the school
had on his/her life?
Actually, board emeritus member, now interim president, Terry Tutton, knew someone, and it was
that knowledge that led us north on highway 26 toward Johnson Creek on a cold morning in March,
2013 to visit John Hooper and his wife Peggy.
Terry told me that he and John were old
childhood friends whose parents frequently visited each other’s homes during their
growing-up years in the 40’s and 50’s.
Terry attended school in town while John
went to the Zion School, at the time one of
Continued on page 3
President: Terry Tutton
Vice President: Tom Rauschke
Secretary: Loraine Reich
Treasurer: Doris Marsh
Betty Betenz (Emeritus)
Marcy Hansen
Carol Kaufman
Leo Manogue
Phil Rouu
Barb Sekula
Tom Stanley
Dale Drigot
Cindy Holcomb
Mary Tiller (Gardner)
Kathy Weiss
Our “Collections from the Community” numbered 14 this year and featured a wide variety of
interesting favorites from ten different collectors.
Included were Julie Drigot (“N Scale Engines,”)
Donna Fanshaw (“Snow People,”) Sandra Kapela
(“Over 50 Dayton Department Store Santa Bears,”)
Mary Klug (“Mostly Little Houses,”) Leo
Manogue (“Old Keys,” “Trap Tags,” “Hunting
Equipment,” “Watch Fobs and More,”) Judith Moldanhauer (“Biederman Collectable Ornaments,”)
Tom Rauschke (Hand Crafted Wooden Pins,”) Phil
Roou (“Knives,”) Dave Turner (“Harbor Lights
Model Lighthouses,”) Kaaren Wiken (“Largest and
Only Collection of Connie Gumper Tapes,” “Wise
Continued on page 6. More pictures on page 8
Julie Drigot’s Engines
Sandra Kapela’s Bears
eight county schools that fed into Palmyra
High School, where both graduated in 1954.
It also turned out, to my astonishment, that
John Hooper is the older brother of Jerry Hooper who is married to my cousin Carol Bea
(Thayer) Hooper. Though I had never met John
I have known Jerry for more than forty years.
Jerry and Carol now live in Australia.
Terry and I carried on the interview with John
and Peggy around the kitchen table with the
aroma of freshly-baked muffins and coffee in
the air and the brilliant sun reflecting off the
snow through the window. Terry had told me
on the drive that the Hoopers had served as
missionaries in Africa, so I wasn’t surprised at
the line of African carvings and clay figurines
stretched out atop the kitchen cabinets. John’s
speech marked him as a man from Wisconsin
but Peggy’s soft drawl made it apparent that
she had not grown up among the hills of the
Kettle Moraine.
In this convivial setting, here is some of what
we learned about John, his school and his life
after Zion.
Education: Zion School, Palmyra High
School and UW-Madison
John (John W. Hooper) attended the school for
all eight of his elementary grades as did older
sibling Joan and younger sibling Jerry. His father, John T. (Jack) Hooper, had also gone there
as did all of his siblings. In fact, the rosters
from the school over several years show a great
number of Hoopers. It was, after all, on Hooper Road. John usually walked to and from
school from the family farm, about a mile each
way, on level ground both ways, he admitted.
At its meeting on February 15, the board approved
board member and past president Dave Turner’s
request for a one year leave of absence.
There was only one teacher in the room at any
one time but in his eight years of residency he
had three different teachers, Mrs. Hackett,
Miss Calder and Mrs. Congdon.
In those days the teachers, almost always
young women, were in charge of everything
including the stove, coal-burning in John’s
day, and oil-burning when Jerry came through
five years behind John. The outhouse was
located a suitable distance from the school
There were usually somewhat over twenty
students in the school. John said he was one of
two in his grade. Sometimes there may have
been an empty grade with no students. The
teacher usually taught a subject to a grade, or
combined grades, at a table in front while the
others “did their homework” at their seats.
Sometimes older kids helped younger ones.
John remembered few discipline problems
inside the school, although he said an occasional skirmish between boys broke out outside during recess.
Most days John brought a sack lunch. In a
later e-mail to me, his brother Jerry said that
he and the other boys always ate their lunches
up in the trees, crossing from tree to tree “like
a bunch of monkeys.”
Once or twice a year the school held “box supper” socials for the entire community. Whole
families attended these events that John
thought encouraged unity and spirit in the
community and school. The women and girls
brought the supper, and the men and boys bid
on it, sharing the supper with the women or
girl who brought it. The adult boxes were auctioned separately from the children’s.
One can imagine that the natural features
around the school, farm fields, prairie, and
forests would have provided a rich environment in which to grow up. John said the activity he most remembers was sledding down
slippery Hooper Road in the winter in the days
before road plowing, salting and sanding were
less developed than today.
John confessed that in these years he was not
as interested in his studies as in sports and he
looked forward to attending Palmyra High
School. He said the big school, with its class
changes each period and his first male teacher,
Mr. Giese who taught biology, was a little
daunting at first. Later, in what was likely a
time honored ritual each fall, he joined his
buddies to check out the incoming kids from
the rural schools as they first arrived at the big
Jerry sent me pictures of a desk from Zion
school that he acquired when the school was
sold that now sits in his living room in Australia. One picture shows the initials “JH” clearly
scratched into the top. It could have been Jack,
John, Joan or Jerry himself but Jerry jokingly
says he has always blamed John, “even though
he is probably the least likely to have done it.”
Belgian Congo. Early on he met a young
woman from the West Texas town of
Lamesa who had met a Congolese family
who encouraged her to come to the Congo.
That was Peggy, who knew of the special
program because her older sister had gone
to Cuba the preceding year as a specialterm missionary. Following her graduation
from McMurry College in Abilene, Texas,
she left for the Congo a year before John.
She was one of three missionaries in Lubumbashi (formerly Elizabethville) to meet
a plane that happened to be carrying,
among others, a young man from Wisconsin with a degree in agricultural education.
Of course that was John. In 1960, as singles, they witnessed the difficult birth of
the new nation of the Congo (later Zaire,
currently the Democratic Republic of the
Congo) that emerged from the old Belgian
colony. Later they returned to the United
States and married in Lamesa in 1962.
As a couple they studied French in Grenoble, France and religious education at Garrett Seminary in Evanston, Illinois and also
returned home several times for leave and
for the birth of the first of their four children, Tom b. 1967. Daughter Ann b. 1968
was their only child born in Africa, at the
Roan Antelope Hospital in Luanshya,
Northern Rhodesia (currently Zambia).
Daughters Susan b. 1971 and Karen b.
1976 were born after they returned home
to the farm in Wisconsin.
The Rest of the Story: Into Africa
After graduating from Palmyra High School,
John went on to the University of Wisconsin in
Madison and earned a degree in agricultural
education in 1958. While attending a Wesley
Foundation (Methodist Youth Group) activity
in Madison, he picked up a recruitment flyer
for becoming a missionary overseas. After
completing negotiations with his draft board,
John applied, was accepted and traveled to the
John and Peggy c. 1962
For the first year of their return, the Methodist mission in the resource-rich province of Katanga (now
Shaba) called Mulungwishi ( us.html) was their home. This was
the station where John had spent his three year term. John taught mathematics, coached basketball and
soccer, and helped local farmers. Peggy worked with women and girls and taught English. Much of
their interaction with their students was in French which is the official language of the Congo, and Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, that they learned in-country. Their work was both religious and
educational. But, since neither was a pastor, they did little actual preaching but often translated for
church preachers who visited for short periods. John once had the great honor of translating for Dr. E.
Stanley Jones, perhaps the most famous American evangelist of the era, who had done most of his work
in India and the United States. They greatly admired Dr. Jones, who in contrast to some of the visitors,
had “a message for common people and about common things which can apply anywhere in the world.”
According to Peggy “Dr. Jones was greatly loved by the Africans.”
Mulungwishi (the African name for the mission) is located about one hundred miles northwest of the
provincial capital of Lubumbashi in an open savannah area with hills and forests nearby. The mission
dates back to 1920 and is still in operation today, with a university level school added which includes
colleges of theological studies, education and information technology.
The secondary school where the couple worked, served students who had passed an entrance exam and
had to keep up their grades to remain. The Hoopers agreed that “most of them wanted to do well and
worked hard.”
They lived in a “small but comfortable house” and generally felt safe from the political and ethnic turmoil that rocked the Congo during the early years of independence and continues today. The one exception occurred before their marriage when they fled the country at the time of independence, fearing
that their presence might spark reprisals against church members accused of aiding foreigners. But after an “extended vacation” in Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) they were
able to return to the mission.
Mulunguishi today
The remainder of their time (about seven more years) was spent at
a mission station far from the cities of southern Katanga. This
mission was called Mwajinga, near the Katanga town of Sandoa.
Travel was sometimes almost impossible in the rainy season, but
the Missionary Aviation Fellowship was available for emergencies and was a real blessing. At Mwajinga, John was director of a
newly established technical and agricultural school, training
young farmers and mechanics to serve their own communities.
Peggy worked with women and taught bookkeeping as well as
caring for their two young children.
Out of Africa
In 1971 John and Peggy came home to the Hooper family farm near the Zion School where they farmed
the land. In 1997 they returned to Africa for a year as part of an international relief effort in Kenya.
Then it was back to Wisconsin briefly before moving to Virginia for four years to help take care of Peggy’s ailing mother before she died. Finally they came back to Wisconsin. They chose Johnson Creek
because they wanted “at least fifteen acres and an old house that could be replaced if necessary.” Since
their oldest son Tom and family live in the house near the school, they wanted to be “within easy driving distance but not next door.” It also helped that there was an outbuilding near the house that John
can use for puttering.
Son Tom rents out the farmland and raises sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas on a portion of the land. His
main occupation is that of a vocal music teacher at Carroll College and he has several other jobs in addition to home-schooling his children. Ann, the next in line, lives in Oregon where she is a homemaker
and her husband is a forest ranger. Susan lives in Virginia where she is Health Coordinator for the Bedford Office of Lutheran Family Services. The youngest child, Karen, died tragically of diabetes in 1998
while a student at UW-Whitewater. There are six grandchildren, five boys and one girl, three in Oregon
and three on the Hooper farm.
In the meantime, after living a love story spanning more than fifty years and three continents, John and
Peggy keep busy working on woodworking and machinery (John) and playing the church organ, volunteering for other church activities, and tutoring for the literacy council (Peggy). They participate in
community events in Palmyra. They live quietly on their eighteen acres, secure in their memories of
having served others in a far off place and the adventures they had when they were young. For John it
had all started at the farm and the Zion School.
This was the first year that our celebration
took place at the conclusion of the Christmas Parade. The tree was lit at approximately 5:45 pm followed by a round of
singing our favorite carols. Nearly 70 people participated in the singing, a good showing on a chilly evening. Cindy Holcomb
and Kathy O’Malley ably led the singing.
Our thanks also go to Richard and Lynn
Marie Ball for serving as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
The event represented a successful collaboration between the Palmyra Chamber of
Commerce, the Palmyra Lionesses and our
historical society.
And thank you to those who shared their
collections with us.
NEXT YEAR; If you have a favorite collection or two, consider displaying them in
our exhibit hall during this event.
In a recent nine month period, 611 persons
“hit” our website. 512 (81.8 %) were first
time visitors; the others had been there before.
They didn’t stay long. The average time
on site was two minutes, one second. The
average number of pages visited was 2.58.
15% used a mobile device to access the
website; the majority found us on their
The City of Milwaukee provided us with
our greatest number of hits with 56.
Don’t forget to use our site for the latest
news and updates:
If you haven’t yet sent in your 2014 membership dues, please use the form below
to bring your membership up to date. Dues are $15 per year. We thank you.
Name: _____________________________________________________________
Address: ___________________________________________________________
City: __________________________ State: _______________ Zip: ___________
Amount Enclosed: $ ____________________Dues: $15 per year_____________
E-mail address: ______________________________________________________
Using extra funds from our “Making our
Past Perfect” campaign, your board has
hired Renae Prell-Mitchell of Whitewater to help us learn the system. Renae
has considerable experience as a nonprofit director and college professor who
is savvy in technology and museum
She has been working to train our board
and volunteers Kathy Weiss, Dale Drigot
and Cindy Holcomb in all aspects of
modernizing our system, keeping track
of our collections and serving the public.
She, and others, will be working at the
museum most Mondays, Tuesdays and
Fridays from 10 am until 4 pm through
the spring season.
Others volunteers are welcome to join in
this exciting effort to upgrade our operation.
Richard and Phyllis Behrens, Jean Cisler, James
Carpenter, Jim & Kay Demler, Bill & Nancy Von
Rohr, John & Peggy Hooper, Palmyra State
Bank, Tom & Sue Stanley, Anthony & Sandra
Kapela, Bob & Cheryl Willson, Doris Jones, Jim
& Judith Moldenhauer, Mike & Nancy Patrick,
Pat Vetense, Robert & Marilyn Rowlands, Carl &
Nancy Thayer, Stanley & Jean Reinholtz, Don &
Jean Poulson, the Kincaid Family
Flare Fredricksen, Larry Tutton
Louise Rusch, Mary Morgan, Vernette Heare,
Jim & Janice Northy, Melvin Story, Doris Jones,
James Omdoll, William & Nancy Von Rohr,
Connie Wilson, Tom Turner, Lucille Pett, Bill &
Diana Thomas, Robert Halser, John Klante, Ruth
Ann Mueller, Ed & Roma Krejci, Dale & Colleen
WHO HELP US SECURE OUR PLACE IN HISTORY. We apologize for inadvertent errors and
Palmyra Historical Society
Main and Third Streets, PO Box 265
Palmyra, WI 53156-0165
A Part of Leo Manogue’s Old Key
Board Members Phil Rouu and Leo
Manogue take a break from the festivities