Journeys through Crawford County
On our last blog, we were south of Rising Son, going past Fairview, Boma Ridge, and on to Utica Lutheran Church on our drive down Highway 27 from Tomah in Monroe County, where we live, through Vernon County, and entering Crawford County near Rising Sun. We discussed cheese curds from cousin Don Heiar and the 1926 Olson girl murder.
We drive slowly past the Utica Lutheran Church ‘cause that brings back a lot of memories. From our hill pasture on our farm out on Oak Grove Ridge, we could look a bit east of north and see the steeple of Utica. Look to the northwest and we could see the top of the cantilever-style Black Hawk Bridge that carries Highway 82 from Wisconsin across the Mississippi River and into Iowa.
If you were a kid growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, in the heart of Crawford County, you knew that the Catholics went to and were buried at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Seneca. That’s the Church the Scheckel family attended. A walk through the cemetery have engraved names like Garvey, McNamara, Kelly, Bernier, Boland, Crowley, Kane, Finley, Foley, Fitzgibbon, O’Shaughnessy—and that’s just to the letter O. Most all of the old families came from Ireland.
The Utica Lutheran Church is Norwegian Lutheran. Names on the cemetery markers read like: Anderson, Aspenson, Enerson, Gunderson, Monson, Halverson, Hjelle, Knutson- and that is not all the way through the K letters.
Two of my Seneca High School English teachers are buried in Utica Cemetery, Laura Kvigne and Maria Turk. Clara Olson, the murdered young lady, and her parents, Christ and Dina Olson were laid to rest there. Jacob Vedvik and wife, and one of their sons, are buried in Utica Lutheran. We took logs up to Vedvik’s saw mill in Seneca, and brought home boards to make a corn crib and hog house.
In the early 1950s, my parents, Alvin and Martha Scheckel, hired two carpenters, a Tishammer and Quamme, from the Mt. Sterling area, to do some remodeling on the kitchen and dining room of our rambling farm house. Right around 10 o’clock in the morning, they set their tools down, walked up to their pick-up truck, removed a lunch bucket, sat on the running board, and started eating. Me and my brothers Phillip, a year older, and Bob, a year younger, were amazed. Why are they eating dinner at ten in the morning, a whole two hours before we do? (For farm people, dinner is the noon time meal). Dad and Mom soon informed us boys about the Norwegian custom of eating a light snack in mid morning and mid afternoon. Yes, Tishammer and Quamme are both resting in Utica Lutheran Cemetery.
In recent years, my wife, Ann, and I have attended funerals at Utica Lutheran. A Kvigne gentleman plays the organ so beautifully I thought I might hire him for my funeral- decades from now, of course.
Lunch always follows a funeral service. And let me tell you, those gracious white-haired Lutheran ladies are the best cooks in the world. Their pies are to die for!!
In our next blog, we continue our journey down Highway 27 to Mt. Sterling and talk about the spot where McAvery rolled the car over.