Old Sale Barn Fire at Rotary Gardens Site

When did the old cattle barn burn down? Located on the current site of Rotary Gardens, a woman remembered the barn fire and was hoping to find an article in The Janesville Gazette. A guidebook at Rotary Gardens dated the fire of the auction barn in the late 1930s. "Lillian" felt certain it happened after 1939. Reference librarians checked available sources for information, with no success.
Our Local History Database had related information about the Janesville Livestock Exchange sales pavilion in another location, Beloit Avenue, but no mention of a fire at what is now Rotary Gardens.
The library's AccessNewspaperArchive database, available at Badgerlink.net, provided two clues. An article from The Sheboygan Press dated June 1, 1932, explained that "plans are under way to establish the Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market in Janesville". An article from The Janesville Gazette, dated February 17, 1968, had this headline: "Cattle Sales Barn Leased by Norwood". It announced the sale barn went out of business, and the structure at 1901 Beloit Avenue would be converted to a warehouse facility for Norwood Mills. The article included this tidbit: 'In May 1940, the property [at 1901 Beloit Avenue] was taken over by Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market Inc., owned by Dr. R.H. Bussewitz, Walter Gasper and Robert Morton".
Could May, 1940, be the correct time frame for the fire at the Rotary Gardens site?
We contacted the Rock County Historical Society archives for help.
Their Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the years 1926-1944 included this message printed on the map, with a mark on the spot of the current Rotary Gardens site: "May 1944 - Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market Sales Barn".
Could May, 1944, be the time frame for the fire?
Our older Janesville City Directories list the address for the Wisconsin Dairy Cattle Market as 915 S. Main Street from 1934 through 1941. The 1943 directory lists their new address: RD3, PO Box 172 - which is the 1901 Beloit Avenue site.
Reference librarians decided to search our Janesville Gazette microfilm, starting with May, 1944. We found this article in the Monday, May 15th issue, on page one:
(Click to enlarge) It continues on page nine:
We were unable to reach "Lillian" by phone, and had planned to mail the article to her. She happened to stop by the desk the very next day!
We're so glad Lillian asked the question.....she was right about the date. We'll share this with the Rock County Historical Society and Rotary Gardens, and add it to our local history files.
12/22/2011 posted by sb

Salute to Rock County Vietnam War Soldiers

This past Veterans Day ceremony at Traxler Park in Janesville included a special exhibit.

Pat Riley, of VietNam Veterans of America, Rock County Chapter 236, compiled a list of names of Rock County VietNam veterans killed during the war. Pat's goal was to locate an obituary for each soldier. Pat contacted reference librarians at Hedberg Public Libraryfor help. The AccessNewspaperArchive database, available at Badgerlink.net, was used to find many obituaries from area newspapers. Pat also searched microfilm for The Janesville Gazette, here at the library. Obituaries for most of the 40 men were found, copied, and displayed at Traxler Park. A photograph of this display from November 11, 2011, can be found online at The Gazette's web site.

Here is Pat's list of Rock County servicemen killed in VietNam during the war:

Timothy Agard, Vincent Agius, Thomas Becker, Leslie Bellrichard, Glen Bjerke, Nolan Black, Edwin Brown, Jerald Bulin, John DeBock, James Donstad, Donald Downing, David Drought, John Fiedler, Harry Geary, Willard Godfrey, William Grudzinski, Alvin Halverson, David Hellenbrand, John Kessinger, Earl Knutson, William Martin, Robert McCartney, James McConnell, Jeffrey Mead, Michael Nielson, Timothy Norman, Carl Oldfield, Melvin Rimel, Elwood Roehl, Harry Warren Schneider, William Schneider, Gerald Schultz, Mike Schumacher, Richard Stindl, Leonard Tauschek, Earnest Tews, Thomas Vail, Ralph Wixson, and Dennis Wood.

Copies of the obituaries found are being added to the library's local history collection.

posted 11/21/2011 by sb

Elvis Carbon Copy

Library staff had a poignant interaction with the former fiancee of Clark Duller (aka Clark Dullere), a Janesville teenager from the late 1950s who bore a striking resemblance to "The King," Elvis Presley. Dianne and her cousin came in to the library to see if there was a way they could look at past newspaper articles about Clark. The Oooos and Ahhhs that emanated from our microfilm room got the attention of a reference librarian, who realized a search could also be conducted on the database Access Newspaper Archive, available through the state website Badgerlink.net. Once his name was entered, we discovered an article published on April 13, 1957, about his strong resemblance to Presley that Dianne and her cousin had found on the film.

They were at the reference desk when we discovered another article, dated Good Friday, April 4, 1958, with the headline "Janesville Motorcycle Rider Killed". Dianne said she was secretly engaged to Clark Duller, who at the time of the crash was seventeen and Dianne was sixteen.

We also found a longer article that included his obituary in the Janesville Daily Gazette dated April 5, 1958. Clark was on his way to see her when his motorcycle went off County Trunk M near Evansville. With tears in her eyes, Dianne thanked us and said "You never forget your first love."

Anyone who would like to share information, recollections, or memories about this story, please contact the staff at the Hedberg Public Library at 608-758-6581.
posted 10/14/2011 by DM

Rock Aqua Jays Celebrate 50 Years!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Rock Aqua Jays amateur ski team. Join in the celebration as they played host and placed first at the National Ski Show August 12-14, 2011, at Traxler Park, along the Rock River. You can also read The Janesville Gazette's special section to "Celebrate 50 Years!"

click article to enlarge
--first 'Aquacade' held Sunday, August 10, 1958

The history of the Rock Aqua Jays mentions the annual "Aquacades" held on the Rock River, and sponsored by The Janesville Gazette and WCLO. The "Aquacades" would become the Rock Aqua Jays, and the rest, as they say, 'is history'. Our Access NewspaperArchive database of historical newspaper articles includes these two stories. The first aquacade occured on Sunday, August 10, 1958.

click article to enlarge

The library has an extensive file of newspaper clippings and pamphlets about the Rock Aqua Jays, and some are featured in the display case outside of The Janesville Room of the library during August 2011.

Contact the Reference Desk for more information.

posted 8/18/2011 by sb

Fireman Finnane in Fatal Fire in 1959

click photo to enlarge

The Janesville Fire Department has had two firefighters die while fighting fires in the last 82 years. The last time was over fifty years ago.

On November 11, 1959, William Finnane died after a wall collapsed on several firefighters in a fire at the Schlueter Company, 112 E. Centerway. On March 2, 1925, Ed Lichtfus fell from a roof while fighting a blaze at 410 S. Locust St.

This photograph of firefighters placing a wreath on the grave at William Finnane's funeral is from
"Century of Stories: a 100-year Reflection of Janesville and Surrounding Communities", p. 129. See also entry for 11-11-1959 on page 131.

According to our Local History Database
, the June 21, 2007 issue of The Janesville Gazette has the story on page 7A. Visit our Local History web page or Ask a Librarian for assistance.

Janesville's Past, our online collection of photographs, includes older photographs of other disasters in Janesville's history.

posted by sb 7/12/2011

Civil War Veterans of Rock County, Wisconsin

April 12, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the U.S. Civil War. The Janesville Gazette's Anna Marie Lux tells the story of a Rock County Civil War soldier, Henry Allyn of Shopiere. Just twenty years old, he was one of more than 2,800 Rock County men who served between 1861 and 1865. He left Janesville by train in the spring of 1861. He wounded his foot and turned 21 in the First Battle of Bull Run. In August 1962 he survived the Second Battle of Bull Run, or Second Manassas, where more than 25,000 died. See The Janesville Gazette of April 12, 2011, page 1A.

Henry kept a journal, and in early September 1962 he mailed it to his family. On September 17, 1862, he was shot in the hip while fighting at Antietam. Before his death, he wrote a letter home dated September 28, 1862. He died of his wounds October 3, 1862.

Some of Allyn's journal is copied in this pamphlet at the library.

The Rock County Historical Society has more of this journal.

Another book, There Stands "Old Rock": Rock County, Wisconsin and the War to Preserve the Union, by Thomas W. Walterman, tells the story of Civil War soldiers of Rock County.

In proportion to its population, Rock County sent a larger number of men to the Union Army than any other county in Wisconsin.

Hedberg Public Library has other books and photos relating to the Civil War.

Contact the Reference Desk at 608-758-6581 or referencedesk@hedbergpubliclibrary.org for more information.

posted 5/11/2011 by sb