Flash of the pastThey trace their roots back to Canada, Czecholslovakia, Nassau and Germany. Some came to work, others to play. But they shared one thing in common – these pioneers chose to make the Gordon-Wascott area home.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
They trace their roots back to Canada, Czecholslovakia, Nassau and Germany. Some came to work, others to play. But they shared one thing in common – these pioneers chose to make the Gordon-Wascott area home.
In their own words, 88 families take readers “Back the Road A Bit” with pictures and stories of life in the small, intertwined communities. The family histories, compiled by residents Nancy Hasbrouck, Claudia Postl, and Mike and Bette Balcsik, have been flying off the shelf at the Gordon-Wascott Historical Society. Since they went on sale July 4, the first printing of 150 books has sold, and a second 150 have arrived from Silver-Tonsberg Printing in Superior. Copies have been sent as far away as Florida, Washington, New Mexico and New Hampshire.
“It’s a great book,” said Karen Benson, treasurer of the historical society. “I can’t put it down. I’m finding out who’s related to who and the hardships they went through.”
The three-year project was even an eye-opener for the four residents who compiled it.
“I never realized how many families were related to each other,” said Hasbrouck.
Postl likened it to piecing together a “jigsaw puzzle.” Like quilt squares, each story has its own texture. Some are narratives, others are more like lists. Some dwell on the past while others skip ahead to the current generation. From Aaberg-Williams to Youngquist, each is as unique as the person who wrote it.
“The families are the authors,” Postl said.
“They all have a part in it,” Balcsik said.
Readers will learn the name of the first white child born in Gordon, how much the area logging camps paid workers in 1881 and who started the Buckhorn fish fry. There’s the story of a boy whose mother chucked his first manuscript – “Gordon Place,” based on “Peyton Place” – down the outhouse hole and the young man who fixed a ladder up to his sweetheart’s window so they could elope. That’s just the first 50 pages of the nearly 500-page book.
“It covers all kinds of territory,” said Pat Finstad, curator for the Gordon-Wascott Historical Society museum.
The books were slated to be released prior to Gordon’s sesquicentennial and Wascott’s centennial, both will be celebrated in 2010.
“It’s a good way to celebrate both of them,” Hasbrouck said. But she wished more families had gotten involved.
For a time it looked like the book would be pretty thin. When the call went out for stories three years ago, response was slow. All compilers asked for was one page of history and one picture per family.
“We weren’t getting them,” Postl said.
So they leaned on historical society archives — in particular, the pictures.
“We’ve got lot of eighth grade graduation pictures, high school graduations, sports, community functions …” Hasbrouck said. “We tried to get everyone in the book some way.”
“I did several families strictly out of scrapbooks,” Balcsik said.
After 319 pages of family histories, the book includes these pictures as well as articles culled from former area history books and papers like “The Plowboy.”
Putting the book together was a time to remember and connect.
“Growing up it was so neat,” Hasbrouck said. “The people were so friendly and always trying to do things for each other.”
Despite the many hours that went into it, the four said putting the book together was fun. Some days after the project had been put away, the quartet would play a game of smear to unwind. They are already thinking about future projects, either a recipe book or a continuation of the histories, “The Rest of the Story.”
Now is a time to celebrate a job well done and keep copies in stock at the museum. Relatives have given the book two thumbs up.
“I got a call from my son in Oklahoma,” Hasbrouck said. “He was so tickled with it.”
“Several people said when they started reading it they couldn’t put it down,” Hasbrouck said.
Many people are ordering numerous copies for their children and grandchildren. Whether they still live in the area or not, they want to pass its history down to the next generation.
To purchase copies of the book, visit the Gordon-Wascott Historical Society museum in downtown Gordon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday. For more information, call the historical society at (715) 376-4249 or Hasbrouck at (715) 376-4234.