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Post 124 History

 
History of New Holstein Post 124

Like every veteran's organization throughout the world, New Holstein's American Legion Post 124, Department of Wisconsin, had for its basic purpose a common interest born of experience coming out of World War I.

These veterans felt the need of banding together for their own good, to promote the welfare of their hospitalized mates and care of their widows and orphans. In addition, the fellow­ship gained from regular meetings was most helpful in pro­moting a better understanding of the place the veteran was to occupy in his community.

With this feeling and desire as a starting point, a group of World War I veterans assembled July 2, 1919, "pursuant to no­tice by circular letter to all ex-servicemen of the Village and Town of New Holstein and vicinity at the Calumet Club rooms in this city for the purpose of establishing a local post of the American War Veterans of Calumet County."

Officers of this organization elected at the first meeting were as follows: Chairman-Harry C. Hass; Secretary-Edward J. Schaar; Sgt.-at-Arms-Victor Bock; Finance Committee-Ray Pfeiffer, G. J. Hipke, Dr. F. M. Strobel.

... However,·on October 13, 1919, the group at a regularly as­sembled meeting "moved to disband the American War Vet­erans of Calumet County and join the American Legion, De­portment of Wisconsin and unanimously voted the name of the new organization would officially be, "New Holstein American Legion Post. Officers of the post were as follows: Commander -Harry C. Hass; Adjutant-Edward J. Schaar; Finance Offcer-Roy Pfeiffer; Master-at-Arms-Victor Bock; Vice Comman­der-Waiter Taylor; Historian-Robert Heiner; Chaplain-Arno Hennings.

One of the memorable items of business transacted occurred Dec. 8, 1919 when the Post voted unanimously to donate $10 to a fund being raised in Wisconsin for prosecution of the I. W. W. activities in the case then being conducted at Centralia, Washington, to fight un-Americanism. Thus the post took its stand in support of the government's effort to make America for Americans and back up the peace they fought so hard to se­cure.

March 14, 1921 the Post made application for its perman­ent charter.

On Oct. 10, 1921 the post approved for applica­tion of women for the organization of an American Legion Auiliary.

April 14, 1924 the post completed the erection of a public flag pole at Market Square and followed with suitable dedica­tion ceremonies.

Dec. 14, 1925 the wrangling over changing the post's name was brought to a head by a vote. Sixteen members were present and to make the change required a two-thirds majorty favoring the move. However, the vote was defeated 13 to 3.

Oct. 13, 1926 the first Armistice Day program was held. Also during that year the post got behind the Boy Scout movement. Talk of securing the old city firehouse for a meeting place was also turned down in that year.

Oct. 21, 1929 it was decided to eliminate the Armistice Day program with the exception of the firing squad salute to fallen comrades.

During World War I the Civic Club of the city secured a large service flag with stars representative of men from this com­munity serving their country. This flag was accepted Dec. 1936 from the late Mrs. George L. Leverenz and the post made custodian of the historic relic.

March 4, 1937 the post purchased two bubbler fountains to be placed in convenient sections of the city, donating same after the common council agreed to maintain same.

May, 1941 all members of the post assembled at special meeting and filled out formal registration papers for home de­fense, in case of war or a national emergency, subject to call for limited duty.

Nov. 6, 1941 Post by unanimous resolution forwarded to state and national headquarters and the President of the United States declared in part, "that we are opposed to any expedition­ary force of American soldiers being sent into combat on any foreign soil. We are 100 percent for Americanism and 100 per cent for defense of our country to ward off invasion, but we do not want a repeat performance of 1918."

May 11, 1942 Post voted unanimously to approve a nation­al charter change to make it possible for all American Legion posts to accept as members, veterans of World War II.

Sept. 3, 1942, the post gave up its pride and joy, an old field piece that had decorated the entrance to Civic Park. The gun was donated to the scrap drive. It weighed 4190 pounds and the money for its sale, $24, was donated to the County War Chest drive.

Nov. 5, 1942 Legion members participated in a county­ wide blackout, the only one held here during the World War II.

March 4, 1943 Lawrence Pfeiffer was welcomed home as first returning veteran of both wars, navy in World War I and army in World War II. 

May 6, 1943 Post started all out efforts to enroll World War II veterans in membership.

May 4, 1944 as a community emergency measure and to be of further service here the post voted to create a blood bank by a II members having their blood typed and recorded at the ofice of Dr. A. C. Engel.

Dec. 7, 1944 Post voted its unanimous approval of the Na­tional department's plan of one year universal military training.

Nov. 1, 1945 Post presented the New Holstein Reporter with citation from the Wisconsin Department for "aiding in promo­tion of Americanism, good citizenship, and sending its weekly publication to service men from this community during the war."

The membership of the Post for the fiscal year of 1947 was reported at 197 as compared to 33 when the Post was first or­ganized.

1948-lt was during this year that the Post started inves­tigating permanent housing facilities. The Turner hall was looked into as a meeting place along with the West End Schoolhouse. 1948 marked the 100th birthday of our community and the American Legion took an active part in the commemoration of this event. -The first Soap box derby was conducted as a part of the Centennial program and proved to be of interest to all the children. Junior Baseball, sponsored by the post, was made a part of our annual activities.

1949-Unanimous approval was given towards sponsoring an outstanding student from the High School to attend Badger Boys' State which is held each year in Ripon. The annual mem­bership dues were raised by Department headquarters in Septem­ber which forced the post to do likewise.

1950-Uniforms for the Junior baseball team were purchased by the post. The honor roll board was decommisioned this year as a part of the Memorial Day services. The annual poultry and ham card parties were begun during this period in order to raise more money for the purpose of securing housing. The Halloween and Christmas parties for the children of the com­munity continued to be an active formality of the post. 

1951-The Women's Relief Corp., because of their disbandonment, presented a large flag to the post. The post also made an all out effort to sell flags to business establishments and private citizens. Bowling tournaments for Legionnaires continued to draw from four to seven teams each year since the tournaments were inaugurated in 1946. The Marytown Vet­erans put on a home talent play which was sponsored by the post. Legion members also presented a home talent play which proved to be a success. Trees were supplied by the city and post members agreed to do the planting around the Athletic field. This attraction, together with a well developed field, resulted in one of the finest playgrounds in this area.

1952-Wisconsin Department Headquarters presented New Holstein Post 124 with an Americanism citation in recognition of the programs conducted by the Post on Memorial Day, Arm­istice Day, and for sponsoring a student to Badger Boys State. In cooperation with the American Legion Auxiliary, the post assisted financially towards providing all overseas servicemen with the New Holstein Reporter. 1952 marked the beginning of the American Legion Picnic, an event that has been contin­ued annually. The picnic is the outstanding affair of the year and has helped tremendously towards the goal of our own home. The firing squad purchased additional rifles for their use at Military funerals, special events, and parades. Contributions during 1952 were extended to the Department Hospitals and also towards the U. S. O. which was once again put into opera­tion for Korean veterans.

1953-The big objective for 1953 was a fund raising drive, and perhaps the most successful drive in the history of the Le­gion was the public Auction conducted in June of this year. Donations of automobiles, furniture housewares, tools, clothing and merchandise were sold to the public A legal trust was in­stalled whereby any monies earmarked for a Memorial Building could not be expended elsewhere. The entire proceeds of the Auction were placed in the building fund. Upon the proclama­tion of our Mayor, the post declared October 3rd as Richard Bong Day. Donations were secured for a Memorial to Richard Bong. As a part of this year's Memorial Day exercises, an honor program was developed for the returning Korean veterans. 

1954-This year was highlighted by the ground breaking ceremonies of our Legion Memorial building.  Construction was begun and the realization of many years began to materialize. The building was near completion by the end of the year. The post went on record of being in favor of a hospital in this area. Other activities throughout the year included the Alice in Dairy­land program and parade in which the post and firing squad took an active part. The Children's American Heritage program was also adopted in 1954 and pamphlets were distributed to all schools. The American Legion medal was again awarded to an outstanding student at the graduation exercises. Dedica­tion plans for the Memorial building were beginning to formu­late.  

 

The Story of The American Legion Memorial Building

This is the story of New Holstein Post 124, the American Legion, in its efforts to build a home of its own. It involved a full year of toil and sweat, sacrifice and patience, inter­ mingled with the pride of accomplishment and the comradeship of working together. Without the cooperation of the real workers of Post 124, the businessmen of New Holstein, and all who gave generously of time, labor, materials or money, this story would not have been written. To them, this story is dedicated.

To begin, one must go back many years, 1926 to be exact.

The World War I veterans, who organized the post, considered purchasing the old City firehouse, but the time was not as yet ripe. Nor was it to be ripe after World War II, when various schools, which had closed up, could have been bought. Buying the Turner Hall was brought up perennially. Over the years, the Calumet Club had served very well as the meeting place, but it could not be considered permanent and Legion pro­perty was scattered across the town. Membership was increasing every year and it became apparent that a home of our own was the goal set by many Legionnaires.

In the late forties, soap-box derbies and other fund-raising events were held. Together with a small "nest-egg" accumu­lated by World War I members, a little over $1000 was held in reserve by 1950. Our first annual picnic in 1952 showed a profit of around $900. Then in June, 1953, a community auction of articles donated by citizens and merchants, added another $3000.  Later that month, our second picnic netted $1450. This all gave added impetus to our "owning a home of our own" idea. Then, thanks to some far-visioned legion­naires, these funds were to be protected and ear-marked epressly for building or buying. An Amendment to the Post By-laws was adopted in July, creating a Trust Fund and direct­ed by a committee of three, one of which is elected annually. In September 1953, the Trust Fund financial report showed a total of $6283.93.

A Building Committee had been appointed the previous year to investigate available buildings, but nothing definite had been found. In the fall of 1953, a questionnaire card was sent to members to poll a preference as to whether a new buiId­ing should be built, an old building purchased, or to purchase smaller accommodations, such as a home. A meeting hall with a private bar was favored. Uppermost in everyone's mind, at the time was the Turner Hall. This place was available and well within our means. However, after having an inspection made by the Industrial Commission, it was found that many expensive changes had to be made to comply with the regulations of a public building. All members had an opportunity to see and inspect the Turner Hall in January 1954. From that time on the trend was definitely toward building. A delegation of five members made a tour of newly built Legion buildings, visiting Port Washington, Cedarburg, and Grafton. Many ideas and information relative to building were brought back which played an important part in our final plans.

In February 1954, tentative floor plans were presented, but other places in town were still being considered. It was at this time that the site we now own was offered to the post, at no cost, by a fellow Legionnaire.

The building committee now became busy and an architect was engaged to draw up tentative floor plans. These were presented in April. Approval was given by the members and detailed plans were ordered. On May 6, 1954, at a regular meeting, which was given a ten-day notice of what was to take place, the Post adopted the following motions: That the site offered be accepted; that the plans for the new building be accepted and construction begun; and that the structure be named "American Legion Memorial Building". The plans were approved by the Industrial Commission and a sketch of the completed building was made by the architect for display.

Soon after, a building permit was obtained, top soil re­moved, trees cleared away, and trenches dug. Evenings and Saturdays found many of the members helping with the work, intent on cutting the cost. Since rock ledge appeared from two to four feet below the ground, some blasting had to ,be done for sewage and water pipes. 

By the end of July, the front section foundation forms had been built and poured, center partition footings dug by hand and poured. Then came the bock section and the filling of sand. Huge mounds of cement blocks were hauled in and on Aug. 9, two masons began the work. The following Saturday a mason bee was held. Nearly all of the masons in the area worked shoulder to shoulder, donating a day's labor, and by­standers were amazed at the progress made that day.

There were many delays in August, due to rain, but by September 23 block laying was completed. That Saturday a carpenter bee was organized; they too donating their time. Par­titions, joists and roof boards went up rapidly.

During this month a financial drive was begun to secure additional funds. Three groups were solicited, namely: Legion members, private citizens of both rural and city, and business and factories. A comprehensive mailing list was prepared, form letters printed with a return card and envelop enclosed. Contributions were entirely voluntary and ranged from one dollar to one thousand dollars. Each donation was duly acknowledged and appreciated. Up to the present time $6697.50 has been donated.

Hired carpenters and volunteer legionnaires continued their work throughout September and October. Steel joists and decking arrived and were hoisted up with ropes by legionnaires and the welding job donated by two local business men. Then the roofers went to work, insulating and laying the roofing materials. By November 1, concrete floors were poured in the office, toilets, furnace room, and porch. The following Saturday, floors were poured in the vestibule, barroom, cloak room, kit­chen, and storage room. Masons came back to complete the chimney above the roof line, and none too soon, as the days were growing colder and heat would soon be needed. Another warm Saturday allowed our crews to do one coat of outside painting and priming. Then came the plasterers to finish the walls of the toilets and the kitchen. The windows were all in place but doorways had to be boarded up and work went on, installing wiring and heating units. By the end of December, now having light and heat, our volunteers primed the inside walls, following with several coats of color. Most every night the place would be lit up, even if only one or two showed up. Legionnaires and some donated labor installed acoustical tile in the front section and by February we began laying floor tile. A fellow legionnaire, being a carpenter and cabinet-maker, built a beautiful bar and back-bar. Toilet and electrical fix­tures were also being installed in February and the end of the month saw the front section about completed. Another Legion­naire built the kitchen cabinets and yet another, a painter, did all the woodwork staining and varnishing in his spare time.

The month of March found us installing doors and hard­ware, being assisted by volunteer carpenters. Next we moved into the large meeting hall with paint, ceiling tile, and floor tile. This was all finished by the end of April. 

At a meeting in April a motion was adopted to mortgage the building for $10,ooo as funds had become exhausted. 

There were innumerable odds and ends to finish during the month of May and with enthusiasm running low, things moved rather slowly.  It had been a long job and with gardening, etc. requiring attention but members were busy elsewhereDuring June and July work groups again became busy, setting up a flag pole which was donated by a legionnaire, pouring sidewalks, and doing some belated landscaping.

In summing up, it needs be said, that a project of this na­ture undertaken by a group who are willing to give freely of their time and effort and see it through is indeed praise­ worthy but by the same token, each and everyone who partici­pated, has gained something too. They have added a structure to our city that will edure through the years and be a means of better serving the Commnunity, State, and Nation. 

On July 2010 Post124 created its first web site.

 

Supplementary Notes of Interest

In front of the Memorial Building majestically stands a flagpole. Near its base is a small bronze plate, bearing the inscription:

In Memory of:

Pfc. Michael E. Cooley, USMC Born June 17, 1934 Killed in Korea, Dec. 15, 1952

This pole, together with a large flag, was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Everett Cooley. The flag will be unfurled on all the days that flags should be displayed outdoors.

Near the entrance of the building, two bronze plaques are securely mortared to the wall. The large plaque carries the lettering: "American Legion Post 124". The smaller is inscribed with the following:

"This Building is dedicated in Memory of our comrades of this community who gave their lives in defense of the United States of America.

 August 21, 1955 American Legion Post 124

These fine plaques were the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schildhauer. They will serve as a constant reminder of the purpose for which the building is dedicated.

The Memorial Building is centrally located in New Hol­stein on a choice lot. The T-shaped building, whose front section measures 30 ft. by 50 ft., and hall in the rear, which is also 30 ft. by 50 ft., fit well on this lot. A narrow strip of land be­hind the building borders an alley, and will be used for park­ing.

This fine lot was donated by Mr. Adolph Langenfeld.

To publicly acknowledge in this booklet, each gift or dona­tion of money, furniture, or fixture would be too lengthy. How­ever, wherever possible, these items were labeled with the don­ors name and displayed during the Dedication and Open House that followed. If, through some oversight, some things were missed upon, it was unintentional and we are sorry.

 This is an condensed version of our post history, a more complete version is contained in a booklet available at the post.

 

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