Q. Steve, when we talked in early 2018, you had just started your position as director of development for the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. What have you been doing?
A. Most of my activities have centered around enhancing the center’s visibility and finances. This has involved establishing dialogues with businesses and corporations, writing grants, overseeing the annual campaign and membership drive, and hosting a few new events to showcase how vital and fun the center is for researchers and people who love history. It has been a very fun and exciting 15 months.
Q. I understand that the Center has started a few new media projects. What are they?
A. We have started exploring using radio and videos to promote the center’s collections, activities, and events. This past March we started airing two-minute spots about unusual aspects of Sheboygan County history on WLKN FM 98.1. The program is called, “History & You,” and airs Monday mornings around 8:10 a.m. We discuss all sorts of fascinating history. These programs will also be made available on the center’s upgraded and expanded website, which we unveiled last month.
Q. You mentioned videos. What will they be about?
A. We are exploring the possibility of making videos that will showcase items in collections we house. We have so many wonderful documents and photographs that chronicle the history of Sheboygan County. Videos that are creative and educational could be a great tool for teaching local history.
Q. The center has also started offering motor coach tours, right?
A. Yes, we offered the first one last fall, which was very successful. It was a four-day tour of Springfield, Illinois, to see sites associated with Abraham Lincoln, which included his home, tomb, church, New Salem Village, Old State Capitol, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and Illinois State Museum. The bus trip was an outgrowth of the center’s annual “Lincoln Seminar,” which I have been teaching for the past six years.
Q. Is there a bus trip this year?
A. The people who traveled to Springfield last autumn asked for another Lincoln-themed excursion. So, we will be going to Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky to see the sites of Lincoln’s youth, October 14-17. These include the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial, Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Lincoln Homestead State Park, Mary Lincoln’s childhood home in Lexington, Henry Clay’s estate, Ashland. There will be visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, as well as a performance of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” at the Derby Dinner Playhouse.
Q. How do people make reservations?
A. People should contact Personalized Tours 920-528-7600. Mention the “Abraham Lincoln Heritage Trail” tour.
Q. Are there any other new programs scheduled for 2019?
A. The center is also offering a new educational series called “Taproom History.” The series consists of three programs that discuss edgy and fun history topics. All of them are taking place at The Fat Cow Pub & Eatery in Sheboygan Falls.
The first program on March 14 drew 61 people, who came to hear about “Sheboygan County Vice: Brothels in the 1920s & 1930s.” The next one, “Sheboygan County Vice: Bootlegging,” was on May 16.
The final offering will be an examination of the alleged mummy of John Wilkes Booth, and his possible escape after he assassinated Lincoln. It will appeal to all conspiracy theorists.
Q. Wow! Are these programs free?
A. The programs are all free to the general public.
They take place at The Fat Cow at 6:30 pm. There are food and drink specials for those attending.
We received a great response to the first program and look forward to larger crowds for the next two.
I would tell people to come early. We were stuffed with people. There’s nothing like having a drink while learning about brothels and bootlegging.