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Hop Growing in Sauk County

Did you know that Wisconsin’s proud brewing traditions were at one time centered here in Sauk County Wisconsin?

The conditions of soil and climate were found to be well adapted to the growing and curing of an excellent quality of hops, and Sauk County soon was among the leading counties of the West in acreage and production.

Hop farm in Sauk County

Pioneers in the industry had demonstrated that hops could be raised at a profit, and when prices suddenly went up, there was a rush into the business In 1866 and 1867, more than sixty per cent of the farmers in the townships of Greenfield, Baraboo, Fairfield, Delton, Dellona, Reedsburg, and Winfield had hop yards, while other townships in the county were extensively engaged in the industry. Many who owned no land rented from two to ten acres, and started to make a fortune.

The sale of hop roots became an important addition to the hop raiser’s revenue, as seed roots were very much in demand.

Competition in buying was intense, and buyers drove through the county bidding on the hop holdings of farmers. When a man had “sold his hops” he was viewed as ready to pay the bills that for months had been accumulating, unpaid.  

Few farmers were really enriched by the cultivation of hops, but, hops made it possible to erect buildings for hop-houses, and, though not well suited to other uses, such as stables or granaries, some still stand as reminders of the days when hop farmers were rich, or thought themselves so.

Disaster came almost as immediately as the craze started. In 1868, when, partly from over production, and partly from destruction of the hops by insects, prices fell markedly. Some were able to sell their crops for what they could get, but many growers held out, hoping for better prices next year. By then, the bottom dropped completely out of the market. 

Harvested Hops

The “hop-crash” brought widespread disaster. Even the women, who had picked the majority of the hops, were not paid for their hard, back-breaking services. Merchants, blacksmiths, carpenters, doctors, and even lawyers, had charges upon their books that they could not collect. 

 

Due to the honesty, industry, and thrift of the Sauk County farmers of the time, within ten or fifteen years, the “hop-crash” was almost completely overcome, and exists today only in the memory of the older inhabitants of Sauk County.

Taken from “The Hop Days in Sauk County”
By Hon. John M. True
January 25, 1908

Most Famous Ringling Performers Ever?

Most Famous Ringling Performers Ever?

Undoubtedly two of the most famous — and most tragic — circus aerialists, were Lillian Leitzel (1892 – 1931) and Alfredo Codona (1893 – 1937).  One of the rooms at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast is even named after the couple.

Lillian Lietzel

 

Leitzel, one of the early stars of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in the 1920s, was best known for a feat called the one-arm plange, or swing-over, in which she would perform a nearly vertical rotation while hanging from a ring by only one arm.

Leitzel grew up amid a well-knownEuropean circus family. Her mother and two aunts travelled throughout Europe with their trapeze act known as the Leamy Ladies; and her uncle, Adolph Pelikan, was a popular circus clown.

 

The Leamy Ladies performed on both sides of the Atlantic, but upon their return to Europe in 1911, Leitzel decided to stay behind. In 1914, Leitzel joined the Ringling Bros. Circus and, within five years, became the undisputed star. While swinging high over their heads, the audience would keep count of her rotations. Her record was 249 revolutions, an incredible feat, considering that each time Leitzel would complete a swing-over, her shoulder became partially dislocated, then snapped back into place.

When not performing, Leitzel had a reputation as a prima donna, unpredictable and demanding, and, was the first circus performer provided her own private Pullman rail car, complete with baby grand piano

Alfredo Cordona

 

In 1917, the Flying Codonas also joined the Ringling Bros. Circus, where Leitzel was already a star. Alfredo Codona also came from a circus family. His father, Eduardo, owned and operated a small circus in southern Mexico, and several family members performed as aerialists. When Alfredo’s father retired, the Flying Codonas changed their name to the Three Codonas, including Alfredo, Lalo, and their sister, Victoria. Later, when Victoria quit the act, she was replaced by Vera Bruce.

In 1928, Leitzel married Alfredo Codona of the Flying Codonas, a stylish and graceful performer known for his daring triple somersault.

The Three Codonas appeared in a short film titled “Swing High” (1931), which was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Short Subject. Alfredo Codona also performed most of the aerial stunts for the early “Tarzan” films starring Johnny Weissmuller in the early 1930s.

Leitzel and Codona shared similar temperaments, and their tumultuous marriage featured numerous arguments, public shouting matches, breakups and reconciliations. In addition to their combustible personalities, both craved the spotlight and attention they received, and often scheduled performances during their winter breaks from the circus. During one of these performances in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1931, one of the brass connections on Leitzel’s rope broke, and she fell 45 feet onto a concrete floor, suffering severe injuries.

Codona rushed to Copenhagen, but Leitzel insisted that her injuries weren’t serious, so Codona returned to Berlin to finish his engagement.

Two days later, only a few hours after Codona left her side, Lietzel died.

Codona was devastated by Leitzel’s death.

Desperate to find comfort after his loss, Codona married Vera Bruce in September 1932. Alfredo continued to perform his trapeze act, but became increasingly reckless, and was seriously injured in a fall in 1933, ending his career.

Vera Bruce filed for divorce in 1937. While in Bruce’s attorney’s office discussing the divorce proceedings, Codona asked to speak to his wife in private. After the attorney left the room, Codona locked the door, pulled a pistol from his coat pocket, and shot his wife four times, then shot himself once in the head. Codona died instantly, and Bruce died the next day.

So, ends the sad story of Lillian Leitzel and Alfredo Codona ….

Edited from http://www.cemeteryguide.com/codonaleitzel.html

Baraboo Cocoa Crawl 2019

Second annual Cocoa Crawl 2019

Purchase your $2 tickets to Delectable Drinks and Family Fun!
This is a BRING YOUR OWN MUG EVENT! Or you can purchase a souvenir unbreakable cocoa mug at Becka Kates for $7.95.

Join us at the second annual Baraboo Cocoa Crawl on Saturday, January 26th, 2019 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm! Sample delicious and unique flavors of hot chocolate & other treats at two dozen area businesses – stops will offer hot chocolate OR another sweet treat such as a cookie AND a salty snacks and water to help your palate survive!

$2.00 Admission
Tickets are available for purchase at Bekah Kate’s (Kitchen, Kids and Home) at 117 3rd Street in Downtown Baraboo, and online at https://ringlinghousebnb.com/event/baraboo-cocoa-crawl-2019

On January 25 or January 26, bring your online receipt or ticket to Bekah Kate’s to exchange it for your cocoa stop punch card (required at each stop) and map. Turn your punch card in at the last stop for a chance to win one of two gift baskets, valued at over $100 each, containing items from participating business. A total of 400 tickets are being sold so buy now! 

Stops to be announced shortly!

Sponsored by Downtown Baraboo, Inc., Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce, Ringling House Bed & Breakfast, Bekah Kate’s, ReMax Grand and Gem City Creations.

Friends of the Charles & Henry Ringling Estate

Henry Ringling

Charles Ringling

The Friends of the Charles & Henry Ringling Estate, is a nonprofit group established to improve and protect the Ringling estate off Eighth Street in Baraboo.   The estate that sits on the corner 8th and Ash St. is the only home built and lived in  by two separate Ringling Brothers of circus fame.   The one-acre estate includes the main house, which operates as a bed-and-breakfast; the carriage house; a cottage; and a barn.

The first fund raiser for the non-profit called “Phantom Carnival” is being set up in a carriage house behind the bed-and-breakfast, and will expand to cover part of the lawn out back. Where once circus impresarios’ horses whinnied, this fall visitors will shriek.

The non-profit hopes to run the haunted house for two years, then convert the carriage house into an event center. This will require replacing the 1901 building’s original wiring, and adding bathrooms and a kitchen.

The Ringling home and surrounding property was owned by the circus family for a century before Koehler and Hearley bought it in 2015 and opened their bed-and-breakfast. The Colonial Revival home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Koehler and Hearley have become active participants in local affairs, helping to launch events such as the downtown Cocoa Crawl and First Night celebration. Their short-term goal in hosting a haunted house for young adults is to create an entertaining Halloween event: Their long-term goal is to create a place for all types of community events.

 

Cocoa Crawl – sold out

Delectable Drinks and Family Fun!    We are officially sold out of tickets already this year!

Join us at the first annual Baraboo Cocoa Crawl on Saturday, February 17th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm! Sample delicious and unique flavors of hot chocolate at area businesses – no two stops will be alike.

The Ringling House Bed & Breakfast will be participating in this event and will be using the Ringling Families “French Hot Cocoa” recipe.  It is hot cocoa made from scratch, the old fashioned way.   We will also have some marshmallows and toothpicks that the kids can eat and play around with!  We will be one of the first stops, where you can pick up your cup, map, and ticket (for online purchasers).  So make us one of your first stops of the day!

Print your name and phone number on the back of your ticket, and turn it in at the last cocoa stop for a chance to win a gift basket worth over $300.00.

*****Online ticket purchasers******
To get started on the day of event, bring your online receipt and exchange it for your ticket, map, and cup at one of these four sites:

New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm
Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, Baraboo, WI
Ringling House Bed & Breakfast
Circus World Museum

Print your name and phone number on the back of your ticket, and turn it in at the last cocoa stop for a chance to win a gift basket worth over $300.00.

Stops include:
New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm
Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, Baraboo, WI
Ringling House Bed & Breakfast
Circus World Museum
Baraboo RE/MAX Grand
Just Imagine Toys
Devils Lake Lavender (Devils Lake Bistro)
Countryside Refind
Bunbury & Associates Realtors
Ya Ya Bear
Paint On The Wall, Art Life Studio
Bekah Kate’s (Kitchen, Kids and Home)
Lillian Verrall
Neat-O’s Bake Shoppe
Recycled Sally’s Women and Kids

Sponsored in part by the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Baraboo, Inc.

Gas Lighting in the Victorian Age

Gas-or Electric-or Both?  How homes were “lit” in the Victorian Age.

When we give tours of the Charles Ringling Home on 8th and Ash streets in Baraboo, we always like to point out the modern conveniences that were incorporated into Charles’ (and later Henry’s) state of the art home. This home had most, if not all of the features we now take for granted in the 21st century. Even though the home had indoor plumbing, indoor heating, electricity, an intercom system, a fire suppression system and an elevator, I’d like to focus on an earlier type of illumination that was built into the Ringling home—gas lighting.

When commercial gas became available in the early 19th century, a new way of lighting was available for the first time. Although municipal water and sewer service was also available at the time, it took many years to implement, and often residential and commercial gas service was available first.

The gas that was used to light spaces during the Gaslight era was coal gas. It was similar to natural gas, and was manufactured by heating coal in an oven that was sealed to keep oxygen out. The gas was purified, filtered and pressurized which was then piped to homes, businesses and even street lights!

In the late 19th and early 20th century, electricity gradually replaced gas as the source of lighting, and a period of dual-fuel (gas and electric) fixtures were developed over a period of about 20 years as part of the transition.

What were the requirements for installation of these unique hybrid fixtures?

Well, the most important one was that the actual lighted bowl had to be kept a safe distance away from any materials that it might ignite. The second reason was that the gas to the fixture was turned on and off with a valve, or valves, that were built into it. Because the flame had to be lit after the gas was turned on, the fixture had to be easy to reach — either from the floor or with the use of a small step-stool.  

The way you can tell the real from the fake, if you see any of these fixtures in a Victorian era home, will be as hanging fixtures or wall sconces. They will have open bowls, usually made of glass and hold the lighted mantle and a light bulb in separate holders. The open bowl was needed to allow the products of the combustion to escape and also directed most of the light upward.

We actually have one of these dual-fuel fixtures in the library of the Ringling Home that has survived and is hanging in its original location!

Next time you are in the area, please check our tour times, or better yet, reserve a room at this historic home! A full house tour is included with all reservations.

 

Source material from “The Spruce” by Bill Lewis, 02/15/2017

https://www.thespruce.com/the-gaslight-era-2175011

The Houses that George Built—an Isenberg Retrospect

A few years ago, Margie Isenberg Abel stopped in Baraboo on a trip through Wisconsin, and that trip piqued her interest about her family’s links to Sauk County history. She knew of local kin Jim Isenberg (who is a second cousin), and wanted to learn more. With help from author Jerry Apps, a local Ringling historian, Abel contacted relatives of George Isenberg in Germany. She learned that three of seven Isenberg brothers left the family carpentry business to come to America. Two of the brothers, George and Carl, started Isenberg Brothers in Sauk City before moving to Baraboo. Here they built several landmark structures that, despite being built more than a century ago, remain vibrant institutions.

Then about 2 years ago, The Isenberg great-granddaughters returned for a week to Baraboo, intent on researching the indelible imprint the Isenberg buildings left on Baraboo. They came from Kansas and New Hampshire to see the Baraboo Library, the Al. Ringling Mansion, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast and the Van Orden Mansion – all built by their Isenberg ancestors.

“They were unbelievable mansions for that time,” said Margie Isenberg Abel, the chief family researcher.

They compared notes with Executive Director Paul Wolter of the Sauk County Historical Society, about the construction company run by their great-grandfather and his brother George.

“They were, bar none, the premier builders of Sauk County,” Wolter said.

 

There were seven sons and three daughters in the Isenberg family. George, being the youngest son, was educated in Germany, and as a youth was apprenticed to the trade of carpenter. In 1885, he immigrated to the United States, and once arriving in Sauk County, he eventually took up residence in Baraboo, where he lived without interruption-although in the interest of his business affairs, he resided for short periods at other places. For three or four years he was employed as a carpenter by his brother Karl, with whom he eventually formed a partnership, and the firm of Isenberg Brothers grew to be one of the leading contracting and building concerns in this part of the state. During this time the brothers erected many of the largest buildings in Baraboo, including all the Ringling buildings, and in 1912 George Isenberg went to Florida, where he erected the winter home for Charles and Edith Ringling.

 

Margie Isenberg Abel of Kansas, Ann Isenberg of New Hampshire and Carol Isenberg Dillon of Kansas, sitting on the stirs of the Van Orden Mansion, one the homes constructed by Carl and George Isenberg.

 

 

 

Thanks to Ben Bromley of the Baraboo news Republic and the Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society for Information in the preparation of this piece.

Greenhouse

Greenhouse in Charles Ringling Estate in Baraboo, WI

Greenhouse in Charles Ringling Estate in Baraboo, WI

The Charles Ringling Estate was pretty high tech in it’s time, it was made to be a self sustaining estate.   It had a barn with a chicken coop, carriage house for carriages and horses, an underground cistern system that collected water from the gutters of all the buildings, and a green house.  Now this cistern system fed water to the fire suppression system in the house, the outdoor fountain, the horses in the barn, and the plants in the greenhouse.  Yesterday, as we were cleaning out the greenhouse, we found out how high tech this estate was for its time.  The greenhouse was heated by a radiator system.   Not only was the greenhouse heated, but the tables that held the plants were heated from below so the plants would survive the cold wisconsin winters!   As history buffs, these things just amaze us! Hope you enjoy us sharing this with you!

"Radiant" heated greenhouse tables.

“Radiant” heated greenhouse tables.

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Start of radiator lines inside the Charles Ringling Estates Greenhouse in Baraboo, WI.

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End of radiator lines in the greenhouse

Phox Video

Check out this new video, done by the Grand Marshals of the coming Circus Parade this Saturday in Baraboo:   Baraboo’s own folk music group PHOX!     All video work was done in the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast!

We LOVE the video, very creative!  Thank you PHOX, Jordan Jensen, Zach Johnston, Michael Doyle Olson & Nanci Caflish!

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