INTRODUCTION

The Wisconsin Veterans Home, located in the tiny village of King, Wisconsin, stretches along the eastern shore of rainbow lake of the Chain O' Lakes. It is a remarkable facility with a rich and fascinating history. Established following the Civil War for the sole purpose of caring for needy veterans and their wives and widows, it as survived the test of time and now provides care for veterans of all wars and their wives. Even as the twenty-first century approaches, it remains a one-of-a-kind institution. Perhaps the most exceptional facet of the Home's continuing existance is its proven adaptability. At one time, the streets of the Home were lined with small wood-frame dormitories. As Jack Welch told me, "With the old buildings, it was just like a Hollywood set. I'd never seen anything like it. It was quite unique." During this time, the Home's primary function was as a retirement community. Since then, the wood-frame buildings have been replaced with large brick and stone buildings designed for nursing care. I was amazed to discover that the Home had in its possession of old photographs depicting life in years past at the Home. Many of the photographs featured the old wood-frame buildings, but were simply gathering dust on the floor of time. I have chosen many of these photographs, plus som of my own, to fill the pages that follow. They bring alive the Home's engrossing story. The most rewarding part of preparing this work came from talking with folks about their recollections from their days at the Home. Many whom I chatted with were former employees who continued their association with the Home after their working years, either as volunteers or as members. My time spent listening to these people reminisce was an experience I will cherish. Most of their memories were fond, and we shared some happy moments discussing the Veterans Home that they remembered. On several occasions, I witnessed eyes glaze over and lips curve slightly upward as the people shared their tales and anecdotes. I decided that the only way to really present the bygone years at the home was to include direct quotations from those I interviewed. Granted, historical accuracy is a bit questionable when relying on memories of events which took place years ago. However, I have only included quotations that I believe to be accurate. Furthurmore, I concluded that the personal flavor added by the quotations merited their inclusion. This work is divided into five sections. "Part I: A Brief History of the Wisconsin Veterans Home" is intended as a brief overview for the reader. "Part II: Buildings of the Past at the Wisconsin Veterans Home" discusses each of the major buildings of the past in-depth. The buildings are arranged roughly in the order in which they were constructed. "Part III: Life at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Years Past" investigates the ways of life of members and employees of the past. Significant people and events are described, as well. "Part IV: Buildings at the Wisconsin Veterans Home Today" involves the history of existant buildings on the grounds of the Home. The people whom they are named after are portrayed, and the buildings are organized chronologically based on years of construction. "Part V: Life at the Wisconsin Veterans Home Today" is meant to preserve what life at the Home is like now. In addition to modern photographs, some historical ones are also displayed in this section. They are meant to show traditions from earlier days which persist today. I feel the most satisfation from having been able to record the memories of the people I talked to. Sometimes we do not realize what priceless resources people are. All individuals offer something unique, and once they are gone, so much is lost I am privileged to have been able to chronicle a fraction of the recollections of some people associated with the Home. I would like to present a brief profile of each so that the reader can comprehend the varied roles each played at the Home: Arlin Barden worked at the Home from the age of 21 until the age of 67. After World War II, he became a member of the Home's inaugural fire department. He then worked his way up in stature, holding various positions until becomin business manager in 1961. He was appointed acting commandant in 1665 and then became commandant in 1967. He served as the Home's leader until 1984. Currently residing in Waupaca, he and his wife still volunteer at the Home. Agnes Dagnan has been a lifelong resident of King. She spent time as a child visiting the Home and was friends with many Civil War veterans. She started working at the Home during John Turner's incumbency as commandant. She has held an assortment of jobs at the Home. She has been a dishwasher, a dining room worker, a kitchen helper, a matron, and a housekeeper. She retired more than twenty years ago and then dedicated herself to volunteering. Adelyn Danielson worked as a secretary for Commandants William Holden, Carl Brosius, and Gilman Stordock and for Business Manager Leo Jackson. She now lives in Waupaca. Minnie Danielson has lived near the Home most of her life. She worked in the dining room, in laundry, and in housekeeping. She now resides in Olson Hall as a member. Ron Danielson worked at the Home farm as a child, evidence that he is a native of the King area. As an adult, he held various jobs, including storekeeper of hte Home's comissary. He now resides in Olson Hall with his wife, Minnie. John Miller lived off of King Road and did volunteer work for the Home. He is now a member living in MacArthur Home. Gary Peterson came to work for the Home on December 28, 1947 as a fireman. He had lived in the area before that time, however. He retired in 1984 as purchasing agent. He now lives near the Home. Irene Rogers has lived in the Waupaca area since the age of four. She is ht eowner of the Vernae Beauty Salon in Waupaca. She came to the Home to fix the women's hair before the days of beauty shops located on the grounds. With no equipment, she had to fix the hair in hoppers used for laundry. Dorothy Rueckert is a seasoned member of the Home, having lived there since 1964. She originally resided in a cottage, but them moved to Burns-Clemens Hall. Recently, she began living in Ainsworth Hall. She started the Home's first sewing room in a cottage. She still works in the current sewing room in Marden Center. Carl Strassburg, a retired Waupaca assistant superintendent of schols served as general chairman of the King Centennial Committee in 1987. The committee was in charge of coordinating special events during the centennial year. The committe also did research pertaining to the history of the Home. Jack Welch brought his family to the Home in 1967. He replaced Arlin Barden as business manager during the height of the Home's building program, influencing many important decisions during that crucial time in the history of the Home. He now lives in Waupaca and visits the Home frequently. Kathy Welch is the wife of Jack Welch. Her family resided in a Home cottage, thus enabling her to be an active participant in Home affairs. She now volunteers at the Home.