Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Winter 2014-2015 Issue, Volume 98, Number 2

EnlargeAlfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne in one of their gardens at Ten Chimneys.


The featured story in this issue is “The Farm at Ten Chimneys,” by Erika Laabs.

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were legends of the 20th-century theater. Their years on the stage resulted in international fame and Tony award-winning performances. They received Emmy Awards for their television performances and Oscar nominations for their film appearances. Their home in Wisconsin, known as Ten Chimneys, served as their retreat and refuge from the stresses and pressures of their work. The estate also included a working farm. Lunt took an active interest in the business of farming, and the couple enjoyed entertaining guests at Ten Chimneys with dinners prepared by Alfred, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who incorporated produce and other products from their farm.

With the help of Ben Perkins, the farm’s overseer, Ten Chimneys operated while Lunt and Fontanne were traveling. They were able to help their community by providing farm products otherwise difficult to obtain as a result of the rationing system during World War II. Records of the goings-on at the farm and the relationship between Ben Perkins and Alfred Lunt were recorded in letters over the years.

Table of Contents

“‘Awful Calamity!’: The Steamship Atlantic Disaster of 1852”

By Justin Wargo
EnlargeEngraving of the collision between the Atlantic and the Ogsdenburg.

Engraving of the collision between the Atlantic and the Ogsdenburg on August 20, 1852.

On August 20, 1852, the journey of Norwegian immigrants Amund Eidsmoe and Erik Thorstad from Norway to Wisconsin took a turn for the worst. They were traveling aboard the Atlantic, one of the finest steamers that traveled the Great Lakes, but the steamship collided with another ship, the Ogdensburgwhich resulted in the death of an estimated 250 people. Many of those who died were immigrants trapped in the ship’s steerage deck where conditions were poor but fares were affordable. Eidsmoe and Thorstad both survived and eventually made their way to Wisconsin where they started their new lives.

The Atlantic disaster resulted in a court case to determine which ship was responsible for the wreck, a hunt for treasure at the bottom of Lake Erie, and the establishment of benevolent societies in Milwaukee to help survivors of the disaster.

“Commanding a Movement: The Youth Council Commandos’ Quest for Quality Housing” 

By Erica Metcalfe
EnlargeCommandos protest at a fair housing rally in Milwaukee, 1967.

Commandos protest at a fair housing rally in Milwaukee, 1967.

The Commandos of the NAACP Youth Council were at the forefront of the fair housing protests in 1960s Milwaukee. The group was originally formed to provide security for the Youth Council after the Ku Klux Klan bombed Freedom House, headquarters for the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP. They also represented strong African American leadership in the community in contrast to the leadership of the Youth Council’s white adviser, Father James Groppi of St. Boniface Church. The Commandos helped to provide stability to the Youth Council during the fair housing protests and maintained a non-violent philosophy although they made it clear they would defend themselves and Youth Council members if necessary.

After splitting with the NAACP Youth Council after the fair housing protests, the Commandos entered the social service arena to help with inner core projects. They established a work project for inner city youth, helped released convicts find work, provided youth and adult counseling services and formed the Commando Academy, an alternative high school.

“An Eye Open for All That is Beautiful: The Wisconsin Sketches of Franz Hölzlhuber”

EnlargeHölzlhuber’s painting of the Schultz farm near Stevens Point.

Hölzlhuber’s painting of the Schultz farm near Stevens Point.

By John Nondorf

Franz Hölzlhuber spent four years away from his native Austria, living in Milwaukee and traveling throughout the United States. He came to America not as an immigrant but as a traveler seeking adventure and life enriching experiences. Hölzlhuber documented his travels through vivid sketches and journals and through his art, we can see his views of Wisconsin as a place of emerging civilization expanding through the wilderness.

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