Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Treading Aong Angel Paths" by Robert G. Ruetz


"Treading Along Angel Paths" by Robert G. Ruetz, is a book written about the story of Lieutenant Hubert M. Miller (1918-1943) who was born in the Town of Somers.  It is a book that gives an appropriate memorial to a life of his accomplishments.  He was killed in action in World War II while a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces' 325th Fighter Group, 318th Fighter Squadron.  He died in Sardinia on July 22, 1943. 
The book, now out of print and not available, was provided by Lynn Thompson Powell, for the purpose of sharing Chapter 1 as it relates to Hubert M. Miller's early life in Somers Township.  We hope you enjoy Chapter 1.
Jackie Nelson

1920 U.S. Federal Census - Miller's lived in Somers Township
Mike (also known as Frank Michael) Miller, born about 1878 in Germany
Margaret (also known as Margaret Ruetz Miller), born about 1880 in Germany
Children:
Louis Miller, son, born about 1912-1913 in Wisconsin
Hedwig Miller, daughter, born about 1914 in Wisconsin
Clement Miller, son, born about 1915 in Wisconsin
Anthony Miller, son, born about 1917 in Wisconsin
Hubert Miller, son, born about 1918-1919 in Wisconsin













 

 
















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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thompson Apple Orchard

More information on the Thompson family on my Oakwood Cemetery website.


Thompson-Marken Orchard
End of old barn
William Thompson and Richard Marken, partners
1944
(Source:  original photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)

 

Thompson Apple Orchard
Somers Township, Kenosha County
North side of Highway E just west of Wood Road
Currently University of Wisconsin-Parkside property.
The area where the house and barns are located is currently a prairie restoration area.
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)

 

Thompson Apple Orchard
Somers Township, Kenosha County
North side of Highway E just west of Wood Road
Currently University of Wisconsin-Parkside property.
This view shows Highway JR to the right leading to Petrifying Springs Park.
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)



Thompson Apple Orchard
Somers Township, Kenosha County
North side of Highway E just west of Wood Road
Currently University of Wisconsin-Parkside property.
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)



Thompson Apple Orchard, 1954
(Source:  original photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)


Hunting on the edge of the northside of Thompson Apple Orchard
Richard Thomson (about 10 years old) 1937
Irving Meurer
Uncle Joe Meurer
?
William E. Thompson
(Source:  original photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)



Partial 1927 Map of Somers Township
Black line in the center represents Highway E.
The H.C. (Harry Charles) and W.E. (William Eugene) Thompson parcels shows 51 acres.
The clearing on the aerial photo above shows the cleared land boundary line with the neighbor to the north.
In this map you can see the properties that were acquired by the University of Wisconsin.




Thompson Orchard and other land purchased for UW-Parkside:  472 acres purchased and the remaining 222 acres in doubt

In 1967, not all property owners agreed to sell their land for the Parkside campus. About 305 acres were purchased and the Kenosha County Board approved the transfer of these properties to the University. The land to be turned over were the following owners: Elmer Anderson, Lee Brown, Richard Hanke, Theodore Hoffman, Patrick Knapp, Joseph Kremis, Robert Larsen, Lucy Lichter, Norbert Lichter, Lillian Pratzer, John Rider, Carl Ruffalo, Walter Smolenski, the Thompson estate, and James White.
 
 Owners who accepted offers from the County but sales were not yet finalized were: Wildred Lauer, Leveret Leet, Pearl Swenson, the George Thomas estate, and the Wood Road School owned by the Kenosha United School District. These properties totaled about 167 acres.
 
Jurisdictional offers, the prelude to condemnation by the County, were sent out to the owners of about 107 acres.  There are:  Anne Berg, Marie Chubrillo, William Fink, Jospeh Ours, Merlyn Smith, Henry Sublisky, John Sublisky, Arthur Swartz, the Harold Swartz estate, the John Swartz estate, Ida Walker, and Robert Walker.  Title reports needed to prepare jurisdictional offers were prepared for Edward Lichter and the Frank Lichter properties which total about 115 acres.
 
 

William E. Thompson, Orchardist
William E. Thompson was a prominent Somers farmer, vegetable grower, orchardist, and civic leader.  He was born in Somers, Wisconsin on August 13, 1886, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Norman E. Thompson.  He attended high school in Racine and graduated from the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture in 1909.

On March 25, 1920 he married Miss Laura Jensen.  At his death he was survived by his widow and two sons, Charles W. (see bio below) and Richard L., both of Somers; two daughters, Mrs. Frank (Jean) Mattausch, Bremerton, Washington, and Mrs. John P. (Lucille) Conde, Cleveland, Ohio; and one brother, Harry of Somers, Wisconsin.
 
He retired from the Thompson Orchard and Strawberry Farm on Somers Road (Highway E) in 1956, but had maintained his residence there.  He operated the orchard for  more than 30 years in partnership with Richard Markem before Marken's retirement.  The orchard was then managed by his son, Charles Thompson.
 
Mr. Thompson was honored in 1944 as one of the five outstanding Wisconsinites who have enriched rural life in the state.  He was presented a certificate in Madison at the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture.  Among his many civic activities have been membership on the County Park Commission for the past 17 years; secretary of the County Farm Bureau, Director of the Kenosha County Herd Improvement Association, Member of the Management Committee of the Vegetable Growers Association, Director and Vice President of the Kenosha Milk Producers Association, Member of the Kenosha County and State Land Use Planning Committee, and Member of the State Citizen's Service Advisory Committee.
 
He was also a Director of the Racine-Kenosha Beet Association in 1910 when he pioneered a relationship between growers and processors, which gained wide acceptance. He was Director of the Kenosha County Relief organization in 1934-1935 when the county was beset by a drought.  He has been a prominent 4-H club leader, and during World War II was a member of the Kenosha County Machinery Rationing committee.
(Source:  William E. Thompson obituary and various other news articles)
 
 
 

University of Wisconsin Class of 1090
William E. Thompson, Town of Somers, Kenosha County
William E. Thompson - Thompson Apple Orchard property
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)

 
 
Charles William Thompson
son of William E. and Laura Jensen Thompson

Charles William Thompson
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)

Charles Thompson was born December 11, 1922 in the Town of Somers and died on September 30, 2013 at the age of 90.  Charles was raised in Somers, Wisconsin on what is now the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus.  His passions were traveling, dancing, golfing, and flying.  He attended primary grades at Somers Wood Road School and graduated from Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1941.

He joined the US Army after Pearl Harbor and served in the 71st Division, training first with the mule pack mountain troops at Camp Carson in Colorado (his mule's name was "Harry James"); then when the 71st Division was converted to a mechanized unit, he served as a mechanic with an artillery liaison spotter aircraft unit that flew L-4s (Piper Cubs).  In early 1945, the 71st Division was deployed to France and entered combat after the Battle of the Bulge, where he served in Patton's 3rd Army and participated in the liberation of Gunskirchen Concentration Camp.  Upon his discharge from the Army in 1946, he entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduating with a degree in Horticulture in 1948.  Charles returned to Kenosha to work with his father and his father's partner at Thompson-Markin Orchard.  At the farm, Charles started raising pick-your-own strawberries in the early 1950's with great success, eventually acquiring the orchard that was renamed Thompson Orchard & Strawberry Farm.

The pick-your-own strawberries concept was initiated when the Orchard and Strawberry Farm were located in Somers on Highway E.  During a heat wave one summer, the farm had trouble getting workers to pick the berries.  Srawberries are a highly perishable crop and must be picked quickly.  Charles went to the local Kenosha radio station and put a call out for people to come out and pick their own strawberries.  From then on, this method of selling berries became popular.

On February 4, 1950 Charles married Marilyn (Raithel) Thompson of St. Louis, Missouri.  They had four children:  Susan, Jeffrey, Nancy and Gary.  In the 1950's, as a member of the Wood Road School Board and its representative to the County School Board, Charles was instrumental in developing the plans that resulted in the consolidation of Kenosha County's rural schools.  In the 1960's, he was a member of the search committee charged with identifying land for a UW campus in southeast Wisconsin.  His participation on the search committee was bitter-sweet.  Because the orchard was past its prime, the Thompsons were given bare land prices for their farm, and the family relocated to its present location in Bristol on Highway 50 in 1968.  The Board of Regents selected the Thompson Orchard and Strawberry Farm as part of the site for the UW-Parkside campus and the property was condemned for the new campus.

Charles and Marilyn relocated to Bristol in 1968 and established the Thompson Strawberry Farm which is currently operated by his son, Jeffrey and grandson, Scott.

Charles was a founding member and past president of the North American Strawberry Growers Association (NASGA) and he and Marilyn became goodwill ambassadors for American strawberry growers sharing their knowledge and expertise through trips to East Asia, Central America and Europe, hosting numerous foreign visitors on their Bristol strawberry farm.  He was an active member of the Somers United Church of Christ and subsequently the Racine Unitarian Church.

An avid aviator since 1940, he was a member of local Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 117 and the Kenosha Flying Sportsmen Club.  He was also a member of the Moose, the Danish Brotherhood and the Kenosha County Farm bureau.
(Source:  Celebrating the Life of Charles W. Thompson, October 20, 2013 and various other news articles).

Thompson, Jean


Jean Elaine Thompson, daughter of William E. Thompson
Somers, Wisconsin
See history of N.E. Thompson for more family information.


Jean Thompson
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)







Milwaukee County Hospital Class of January 1945
Jean Thompson, Row II
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)



1st Lt, Jean Elaine Thompson of  Somers, Wisconsin
(Source:  photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)


(Source:  copy of article courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)
Click on article for larger viewing.



(Source:  copy of article  courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)
Click on image for larger viewing.



(Source:  copy of article and original announcement courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)
Click on image for larger viewing.



(Source:  copy of article courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)
Click on article for larger viewing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"A Petunia in the Onion Patch" by Rose Lotz


A Petunia in the Onion Patch is how Rose Lotz describes her own life, a story of courage and joy in the face of a childhood illness and resulting paralysis that would bring bitterness and depression to many.  Rose Lotz was born and raised with six brothers on a 100 acre produce farm in Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin.  The Lotz family has a long history in the Town of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin and this book is included in this Somers Pioneer History website for its historical documentation.
(Source: The original book, A Petunia in the Onion Patch was provided by Lynn Thompson Powell.  See the Weyres family for more information.)













































































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