Douglas County Past: Pilot survives Superior plane crash; Solon Springs statue unveiled

Headlines from Douglas County's past.

Douglas County Past graphic
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune
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July 1, 1947

City gives taverns placards to warn minors of new law

Listen: Railroad route unlocks Douglas County history

If minors take the chance of frequenting a tavern against city law and are arrested, they won’t be able to say that there wasn’t any notice in the tavern to warn against their being in there.

Placards, lettered in black on a white background, and 11 x 14 inches in size, have been printed for the city and have been distributed free of charge to all tavernkeepers of the 98 establishments licensed at present for operation in the city for placing in a conspicuous spot.

The “news” for minors reads: “If you are under 21 it is unlawful for you to enter these premises unless accompanied by a guardian, and it is unlawful to misrepresent your age for the purpose of entering the tavern or for asking or obtaining intoxicating liquor or beer.


If caught, the minors, upon conviction, can be fined a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $100 or 30 days in jail or both.

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Heard at public gatherings in this area on several occasions has been the Bennett girls chorus, pictured above. Members include, left to right, front row, Eileen Ahlberg, Cecilia Garay, Delores Bruland, Betty Lou Bruland and Joanne Peterson; second row, Mary Lou Carlson, Lorraine Anderson, Marilyn Bruland, Doraine Anlerson, Mary Sterling and Joanne Ahlberg; third row, Myrtle Carlson, LaVerne Dondineau, Nancy Danielson, Mrs. Pauline Limpach, school principal and director of the group, Jacquelyn Dondineau and Eleanor Ostman. July 2, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

July 1, 1997

Local WITC gets new leader

Jan Brill of Superior has been named the new campus administrator for the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, it was announced this morning.

Brill, who begins July 21, will replace Dick Parish, who left the post several years ago. She is the third campus administrator for the Superior campus.

July 2, 1997

Children’s home reunion planned Friday at Fairlawn

On Friday, the Douglas County Historical Society plans its second Fairlawn Children’s Home Reunion at Fairlawn Mansion and Museum in Superior. Everyone who lived at Fairlawn as a resident or employee when Fairlawn was a children’s home from 1920 to 1962 is invited to attend free of charge.


The events of the day include continuous guided tours of the public and non-public areas, where children’s home residents have so many memories.

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Pictured are some of the children who resided at Fairlawn Mansion in the 1920s when the mansion was used as a children’s home. July 2, 1997 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Van Rossem wins council toss-up

Richard Van Rossem won a count toss Tuesday night to become Superior’s 5th District city councilor. In a voice vote after the toss, the council appointed Van Rossem.

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Tim Gohl, 11, helps Danielle Stratton, 4, lock up her bicycle before summer school at Blaine Elementary School this morning. July 2, 1997 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

The coin-toss proposal, a rare turn of events, came from the two finalists, Van Rossem and Frank Plato, near the end of the Superior City Council meeting. They had agreed between themselves that the loser of the coin toss would withdraw, leaving a cleaner slate for the council vote.

The council had become deadlocked in their votes and had scheduled a special meeting in two weeks to attempt to settle the issue.

In their first vote, the councilors narrowed the field of four applicants — James Lanswick, Mary Drobot, Plato and Van Rossem — to two. Four votes later, they were still unable to decide between Van Rossem and Plato, with a 4-3 result each time either for one or the other.

Fifth District councilor David Frank resigned in June.

July 3, 1947


Eddy Bakery completing alterations

A six-month improvement program, involving the purchase and installation of a great deal of expensive machinery, which will triple the operating capacity, will be completed this week at the Eddy Bakery, Winter Street and Ogden Avenue.

Included among the equipment installed is an Oliver cake-wrapping machine, capable of wrapping one cake every three seconds; a Glen cake-making machine which can mix 700 cakes at one time; an AMF oven, which can bake 3,600 pounds of bread per hour, and is the largest one in Wisconsin; an “18-rack,” known as Pfening proofbox, by which 2,500 loaves of bread can be raised at one time, and a 12,000 gallon fuel oil tank installed underground, for the purpose of storing the oil supply for heating the ovens.

Dave Erickson, town of Superior, left, and Hans Schallermeier, Superior, right, view the wreckage of the Superior Aero plane, piloted by Charles Willits, 24, YMCA, which Thursday morning crashed practically in the back yard of Erickson’s farm just off county trunk C, three-fourths of a mile east of Greenwood cemetery. Willis was seriously injured in the accident and the plane was demolished. July 3, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Superior pilot escapes death in plane crash

Low flying in an Aeronca champion single-wing plane over Dave Erickson’s farm, three-fourths of a mile straight east of Greenwood Cemetery adjacent to county trunk “C” shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday resulted in the crash of the ship, and serious injuries to Charles Willits, 24, YMCA, operator of the Superior Aero, a flight school at the Richard Ira Bong municipal airport.

Willits, who was flying alone, was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital and is suffering from a compound fracture of the right leg, severe head lacerations, lacerations of the left hand, and shock. Hospital attendants said his condition is “fair.”

Witnessing the accident were Lew and William Koenen, town of Oakland, who were driving on county trunk C en route to the Great Lakes Coal and Dock company in Superior where they are doing work for Roland C. Buck, Inc., engineers.

The Superior Aero now has three Aeroncas left, one “Chief” and two training ships.

July 2, 1997

Mid-season championships Friday at Superior track

Fourth of July racing at the Superior Speedway will be highlighted by the Bud Light sponsored Mid-Season Championships.

Point leaders going into Friday night’s racing are Tim McMann in the WISSOTA late models, Darrell Nelson in the WISSOTA modified, Mike Willie in the WISSOTA super stocks and John Hunker in the WISSOTA street stocks.

Peter Weeks, No. 3, of the Cardinals, charges toward home plate as White Sox catcher Andy Lisdahl waits for a throw Monday night at the Superior Babe Ruth Field during 14-15-year-old Babe Ruth action. July 1, 1997 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Statue dedication planned in Solon

A tribute to Wisconsin Native American history will be dedicated this weekend in Solon Springs.

The statue of an Ojibwe scout will be unveiled Saturday during a ceremony 10 a.m. at the Solon Springs Wayside, located on State Highway 53 across from the airport.

The statue is dedicated to the scouts who led explorers into this area in 1680.

European explorers were led north along the Mississippi River to the St. Croix River and then to Solon Springs, said Tony Jelich, who researched the history for and designed the statue. The statue overlooks the site where the river begins.

A committee raised funding for the statue through donations. Working with members of the St. Croix High School welding class, Jelich created the metal statue.

The dedication will start with a speech by Frank Giesen of Solon Springs. An Ojibwe elder will give a brief account of the history behind the statue, while Gus Le Mieux of Superior, a World War I veteran, does the unveiling.

Mary Ann Lord Walt, one of the project’s Native American advisors, will conclude the dedication with a statement about the Chippewa people.

With the announcement made recently that registration of all automatic firing guns is necessary, and must be accomplished by contacting the Internal Revenue office in the U.S. Post Office building in Superior, two Superior policemen are shown here illustrating the type of firearms that must be registered. The patrolmen examining machine guns are Reed Vanderweker, left, and Marcus Erickson, right. The national firearms act requires registration of machine guns, submachine guns, machine pistols or any other firearm which fires more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger. July 1, 1947
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

July 4, 1947

Scrap metal dealer sells $50 auto part for 20 cents

An illustration of interpretation of values was given in municipal court Thursday when in a petty larceny arraignment the story was unfolded of the sale of a scrap metal dealer of an automobile part for 20 cents, that had an actual value of $50.

Aaron M. Seligman, 69, of 330 Tower Avenue, dealer in scrap metal, was given a suspended sentence of $50 fine or 60-day jail term when he pleaded guilty to a charge of petty larceny. Seligman told the court he picked up the auto part lying beside a garage owned by Curtis Beebe, 1923 Butler Avenue, and thought it had been discarded. He sold the part for 20 cents.

Meanwhile Beebe, who was repairing his car, had left the part beside the garage momentarily while he made a business trip downtown. Coming back he found the article missing, and notified police of its disappearance.

He has the part back now and the car is in running order.

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The crack drill team of the auxiliary of the Superior Eagles Aerie 80 took first honors during the convention of the Wisconsin FOE last week at Eau Claire. The team, captained by Mrs. Ellen Hurlbut, is shown above as follows: Front row, left to right, Catherine Turner, Dyr Meta Rutherford, Mary Dean Johnson, Grace Matthews, Mrs. Hurlbut, Dorothy Schnieble, Mildred Gerzic and Lillian Allen; second row, left to right, Agnes Erickson, Nora Micken, Helen Doran, Claire Danielson, Daisy Aaker, Elainie Dandrea, Goldie Gregg, Helen Fulmoy, Dorothy Haworth and Fern Somerville. Drummer is Harry Deroo. July 1, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram
The “long and short of it” attracted considerable attention when Eagles of Wisconsin met at Eau Claire for the state convention. Diminutive Barney Tollers of Superior was considerably dwarfed by the tall man from Madison, M.W. Kleinfeldt. Tollers stands at 4 feet 5 inches. His opponent for height here is 6 feet 7 inches. July 2, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram
Eli Dansereau, Superior, waits to get his driver’s license picture taken by Keith Moreland of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Superior. Superior will be one of the first sites in Wisconsin to try new computer-printed driver’s licenses. July 1, 1997 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Articles and pictures courtesy of retired librarian Judy Aunet with Superior Public Library.

Explore local history with Archive Dive:
Garden clubs helped Superior blossom
Garden clubs bloomed in Superior for many decades, not only beautifying the city, but affecting change. Even today, their plantings and their footprints can be found in Superior. The clubs usually consisted of a group of ladies who would get together and work on gardens in their area. It was a social outlet, where they bonded over gardening and would take care of community gardens in public places.

“It always seemed like they were doing something for someone else, for the betterment of the community,” said local historian and retired librarian Teddie Merenok.

Meronek has studied their impact on the community, which ran actively from the 1920’s through the 1990s. In this month’s episode of Archive Dive, Meronek shares the origins of the first garden club in Superior. The Superior Garden Club, later known as the Central Garden Club, was organized in 1926 by sisters Mabel Stratton and Faith Kennedy. Their passion for gardening came from their father, Robert Kelly, the manager of The Land and River Improvement Company.

It turns out, Mabel and Faith weren’t the only ones passionate about gardening. They were going to cap their enrollment at 30, but everyone in town wanted to belong to it. By 1939, Superior had the largest garden club in the state, with almost 300 people. Eventually the club would be broken down into auxiliaries, sometimes along neighborhood lines. Other garden clubs formed and would spread throughout Douglas County.

“They just loved these flowers, loved gardening and just wanted everyone to enjoy it as much as they did,” said Meronek.

Club members learned landscaping, held flower shows and events, sponsored school clubs, and were ahead of their time in promoting planting gardens that would attract bees, birds and wildlife. The clubs also kept their notebooks, addresses, newspaper clippings and pictures in scrapbooks as colorful as the gardens that they tended.

New episodes of Archive Dive are published monthly. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have an idea for a topic you’d like to see covered, email Maria Lockwood at
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