Wisconsin Hometown Stories highlights history of Oshkosh

Abby Vandermolen

UW Oshkosh’s History Club hosted Wisconsin Hometown Stories, a popular series on Wisconsin Public Television, for an early screening of the new Oshkosh episode to provide students with a history of the city. Vice President of the History Club Abigail Martin said that the chairman of the history department Stephen Kercher asked the History Club to sponsor the event. Martin said this event was an exciting way for students, particularly history majors and minors, to get background on the city of Oshkosh. “The goal of the club’s participation was to help advertise the event while encouraging students, especially history majors and minors to attend,” Martin said. “It’s quite exciting that students and staff of UWO were able to attend the sneak peak of the program.” According to Hestad, the complete history of Oshkosh cannot be fully provided in an hour, but the episode highlights the main events of Oshkosh’s history. “This is a broad sweep of the history, so we do have to leave a few things out,” Hestad said. History Club President Devin Venden said series producer David Hestad has been learning Wisconsin’s stories since he was in college. “Hestad started out writing about agriculture at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and he’s been working on many of those stories ever since,” Venden said. Hestad said each episode of Wisconsin Hometown Stories takes an unkown amount of time to make, so there is not a set time to when each episode is released. “Wisconsin Hometown Stories is a series of programs we roll out really slowly because they take a long time to make,” Hestad said. Hestad said the producers of each episode set up a meeting with local schools so teachers can work the video into their lesson plans. “We work with local schools and they form a group of local teachers and they look at the content and develop a curriculum for it to be used at the schools,” Hestad said. Hestad said this episode is the seventh location the WHS team has produced. The others included, La Crosse, Janesville, Green Bay, Manitowoc/Two Rivers, Juneau County and Wausau. The episode starts off by introducing the Native American population that was here before the settlers, the Menominee tribe. David Grignon of the Menominee nation speaks in the film about the history of his people and their time after the settlers came to the Oshkosh area. According to Grignon, just as much as the fish are a part of the culture of Oshkosh, they started off in the lore of the Menominee. “Sturgeon is sacred to the Menominee people,” Grignon said. “They are in our origin story.” The video also displayed interviews with some of Oshkosh’s local historians as well as Oshkosh Public Museum employees. Oshkosh Public Museum Archivist Scott Cross informed viewers about how Oshkosh was created. “Oshkosh was created because Winnebago County needed a post office,” Cross said. “There were 15 votes for the name Oshkosh. Majority won, and Oshkosh was born.” The episode airs on April 20 at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television, and it is also available online at WPT.org.