The Black River Falls Public Library-Jackson County History Room will host Jeff Kannel, author of Make Way for Liberty: Wisconsin African Americans in the Civil War. The presentation will be in the library’s Program Room on Monday, October 4 at 2 p.m. 

Based on ten years of research, the book documents the stories of nearly 700 African American men who served with the union Army and Navy representing Wisconsin in the Civil War. Information was gathered from more than 20 libraries and museums in Wisconsin and the National Archives. Kannel’s research brought him to the Jackson County History Room, where he found two men with connections to Black River Falls. African American Civil War veterans are buried in at least 31 Wisconsin counties, reflecting their rural and small-town origins in the state.

Kannel’s book received the 2021 Book of Merit Award from the Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators. 

Questions regarding the presentation may be directed to Historian Mary Woods at m.woods@wrlsweb.org or 715-284-4112 Ext 3.    

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The Changing Landscapes of Wisconsin: A Digital Archive of Historic Aerial Photographs can be accessed here: https://search.library.wisc.edu/digital/AAerialWI

A wonderful, rare donation to the Jackson County History Room

There never seems to be an end to donations to the Black River Falls Public Library-Jackson County History Room, and sometimes they are “never seen before” items.  Recently Historian Mary Woods received this booklet on Vaudreuil from researcher Sandra Lawrence of California.  Sandra utilized the History Room when gathering information on her ancestors who settled in Black River Falls; Ingeborg and Elias, children of John Larsen Kvernstuen and Ingeborg Pedersdatter Gullord.  Several other family members settled in Coon Prairie in 1851.  The family connected to the Levis Family.  The family history can be found in Lawrence’s book, The Miller’s Cottage that is available in the Jackson County History Room.   

Vaudreuil was a settlement, compromising of about 3,000 acres, about one mile east of Black River Falls lying on the south bank of Levis Creek.  Developed in the early 1900’s, it was the idea of E. J. Vaudreuil to build a packing plant which would grow its own raw materials without recourse to outside supplies. The land was surveyed and platted into 100 blocks.  It was laid out for business and residential, business streets along with a block plant, sash and door factory, schoolhouse, a general store, and about a dozen homes.  The booklet contains a map of the proposed settlement.  Vaudreuil’s dream never became a reality.  For more information on Vaudreuil make a visit to the Black River Falls Public Library-Jackson County History Room and read about the short-lived community. 

Memorial Cards:

A Unique Resource Found in the Jackson County History Room

Most researchers will agree that each Library/History Room has a unique resource for those seeking family information. A resource unique to the Black River Falls Public library-Jackson County History Room are Memorial Cards. Today, researchers will find over 3,400 donated Memorial Cards to review and copy for their family histories.

Historian Mary I. Murray Woods states that the project began when she became historian in December 1994. Mary’s father, William Murray, had a large collection of Memorial Cards, and the family did not know what to do with them. Mary found the perfect home for the cards – the Jackson County History Room.

A former volunteer in the History Room, Donna Rousey, began indexing the cards. Being she was active in the Alma Center Cemetery and worked closely with area funeral directors she was given Memorial Cards for many of the area funerals. Throughout the years, the collection grew as families, aware of the History Room’s Memorial Card Collection, gave cards they found when cleaning out a loved one’s home or closing out an estate. 

Recently Volunteer Trudy Rosenbaum Arrington put all the card names on a database for researchers to search by name. Woods stated, “Trudy is a wonderful volunteer and having this project on a database is a great resource for History Room visitors.”  Woods adds, “Memorial Cards contain information that can be helpful in many ways, such as the names of pallbearers who may not be relatives, but friends and neighbors. These friends and neighbors may offer a personal story or life experience of the deceased which again, adds to the family’s history.”   

Those interested in searching the Memorial Cards database, may contact Historian Woods by email at m.woods@wrlsweb.org or by visiting the Black River Falls Public Library-Jackson County History Room, 222 Fillmore Street, Black River Falls, WI  54615.  Mary may also be reached by calling, 715-284-4112 Ext 3.  The History Room is open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment.     

Family Histories

The Jackson County History Room has over 200 family histories that contain a wealth of information. According to Historian Mary Woods, most of the family histories are from researchers who have utilized the Room for their research, and when their research was compiled, shared a copy of their work. Woods added that these histories, along with the hundreds of biographical files available to researchers, makes the History Room the perfect place for researchers. You may now search the listing of family histories by going to the library’s main menu, then go to the History Room tab and then to local research. There you will find the family names listed alphabetical. The list includes the family name, author, and date of publication. The histories cannot be checked out, but Woods notes that she certainly is available to answer questions regarding a specific book.  Pictured are  Woods, left, and History Room Volunteer, Grace Nordahl, who worked to organize the family histories. Questions regarding the collection may be obtained by contacting Woods at 715-285-4112 #3 or email: m.woods@wrlsweb.org. History Room hours are M-T-W, from 11 am – 4:30 pm, or by appointment.