The Heritage Center Elevator Will Be Built!

Thanks to Many Generous Donors   (Click to view)



Currently, the Adams County Heritage Center’s rear facade looks like this with a 2nd story doorway opening onto a balcony landing.  Previously, there were stairs leading from the landing to the parking lot below.





A rough artist’s concept of how the rear Heritage Center facade will appear with the 16 by 32 foot addition containing the elevator.  The 1st floor entry will be in the same relative position as the current entry.  Current 2nd story windows will be moved out to the addition.





Cut-away view of the addition showing where the elevator will be.  The 2nd story doorway will become an interior door opening onto an elevator lobby.  Stairs will wrap around the elevator.  Some elements in the picture have changed since the drawing was made.







The 2nd story door from inside the Heritage Center, looking outside.











Where the landing is now will be an inside elevator lobby.









The 2nd story northeast exhibit room will show the history of Adams County from prehistoric times through settlement, development and progression to the present.






The 2nd story southeast exhibit room will celebrate the professional, recreational and cultural life of Adams County.






More of the 2nd story southeast exhibit room.








More of the 2nd story southeast exhibit room.






The 2nd story south-middle exhibit room will feature Adams County military.







The 2nd story southwest exhibit room is already in use housing archives and providing work space for cataloging and filing.







The 2nd story northwest exhibit room will continue to be a work room, and may be used to teach lost arts such as tatting and chair caning.







The 2nd story north-middle exhibit room will be an audio visual room where videos or Power Point presentations of the history of Adams County may be shown.







For reference, this is the current front view of the Heritage Center.








In this picture of the current back view of the Heritage Center, the new addition will come out to about the front of the parked car.






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Society Annual Meeting Tuesday, May 8th

The annual meeting of the Adams County Historical Society will take place on Tuesday May 8 at 5:00 pm at the Heritage Center in Friendship. Following the meeting at 7:00 pm we will have a special program featuring historian and author Peter Shrake discussing his book, The Silver Man, The Life and Times of Indian Agent John Kinzie


Currently an archivist at Circus World Museum and formerly the Executive Director of the Sauk County Historical Society, Shrake earned a Masters of Arts in history from UW-Eau Claire and a Master of Library and Information Studies at the UW-Madison.

He has long been interested in the pre-Settlement history of central Wisconsin. That interest has resulted in his book The Silver Man, The Life and Times of Indian Agent John Kinzie. Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, it chronicles Kinzie’s life, focusing on the 1820s-30s when he served as agent to the Ho-Chunk at Fort Winnebago, near what is now Portage. These were turbulent times in central Wisconsin, marked by the conflict between the United States and both the Sauk and Ho-Chunk people. After leaving Fort Winnebago in 1833, Kinzie became one of the founders of the city of Chicago where a street in the heart of the city bears his name.

Students of Wisconsin history have long been familiar with the journal written by Kinzie’s wife, Juliette. Her book, Wau-Bun is an informative and entertaining first-hand account of life on the frontier in Wisconsin.

Shrake’s book brings some overdue attention to her husband, who played a key role in forming the relations between the early settlers of our state and the native people who preceded them.

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“Friendship, Wisconsin – A History” Now on Sale



Local author Dennis McFarlin’s  newly published book Friendship, Wisconsin – A History is now available for sale at the Adams County Historical Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts at 311 Main Street, Friendship, Wisconsin.

The two volume Friendship, Wisconsin – A History chronicles the history of a small village in central Wisconsin. Dennis M. McFarlin grew up in Friendship and experienced first-hand life in the village for fifty years. McFarlin’s discussion of the book should be of interest to students of history, genealogists, and particularly to those persons who live in Friendship today or grew up in the village or its surrounds.


The book is 934 pages, with 600 photographs and images.  Because the book is intended as a research source, the author has provided over 10,000 endnotes to guide the reader to additional resources.  An extensive index is provided.

Volume One of the book presents a history of the village through subject categories, such a education, health care, government, lifestyle,  and the early geologic history of the area.

Volume Two of the book presents a history of the village through a block-by-block review of the businesses that operated in the village from its inception in 1856.




Friendship, Wisconsin – A History is available by mail.

Send $65 plus $10 shipping and handling to Adams County Historical Society, PO BOX 264, Friendship, WI 53934 along with your shipping address.


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Local History Books on Sale in Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts shop.

The books listed below are in stock and on sale at the Adams County Historical Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts shop, 311 Main Street, Friendship, Wisconsin. 
The books are also available by mail; send remittance with name and address to Adams county Historical Society, PO Box 264, Friendship, WI 53934.  Add $5  per individual book for shipping and handling.  (Add $10 for the two volume “Friendship Wisconsin – a History”)


“A-F SPEEDWAY, STEEL FENDERS-GOLDEN MEMORIES” A DVD Hosted by Bill Holland with film, interviews, stories from the History of A-F Speedway. A wonderful combination! $30.00


“ADAMS COUNTY AT WAR” by Gordon K. Klaus. This book contains the Civil War letters that Adams County native Pvt./Capt. Charles Bassett wrote home while serving with Co. E, 16th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Included is a roster of Company E’s original members. $15.00

“FRIENDSHIP WISCONSIN – A HISTORY”  by Dennis M. McFarlin. A two volume set presenting the history of a small village in Adams County in central Wisconsin. Volume One of the book presents the history of the village through subject categories, such as education, health care, government, lifestyle, and the early geologic history of the area. Volume Two presents a block-by-block review of the businesses that operated in the village from its inception in 1856.   Having 934 pages, with 600 photos and images 10,000 endnotes, it is meant as a research source. The Book store price is $65.00.

FROM PAST TO PRESENT” A comprehensive history of Adams County by Michael Goc. $20.00


“GRANDMA ‘D’ “  by M. Delores Maynard Cherveny. A new book by 96 year old author describing a life well lived. $15.00

“GROWING UP POOR” by Joseph Soulak. (Memories of Wisconsin life in the central Wisconsin Railroad town of Adams.) $5.00

HERO OF THE RED RIVERThe life and times of Joseph Bailey by Michael J. Goc. A Collections of letters discovered in an old Wisconsin Dells building was the catalyst for this history of Colonel Joseph Bailey who owned a small farm in southern Adams county. His friend, a local attorney who stayed behind after Joseph entered the Civil War had saved them and gives an eye opening portrait of a man who accomplished much in his military career. $12.00

“K” A GIRLS LIFE IN FRIENDSHIP DURING 1905 & 1906. by Sharon Hart Addy for the Adams County Historical Society about young Katherine McGowan who became a teacher and Supervising Teacher overseeing the many schools in this rural county. $10.00

“LOOKING BACK” by Walter J. Kappel. The middle son of Austrian immigrants tells of his life from 1914 through WWII.  $10.00

” MURDER IN ADAMS COUNTY” by Merlyn Ruphus. The notoriety of Adams County as ‘The Murder Capital of the United States’ is documented in this fascinating book. $20.00

“NEW CHESTER” by Barbara Morgan (A history of this small community and the surrounding country) $8.00

“POWER IN MANY HANDS” by Michael Goc. Tells the story of Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative and of the communities it serves in twelve central Wisconsin counties. The beginnings of local REA services. $20.00

 “ROCHE-A-CRI TO TRINITY” (The History of Trinity Lutheran Church in Arkdale, WI.) $10.00

“THE HISTORY OF A-F SPEEDWAY” by Matt McLaughlin (Well documented history of a Adams County favorite. Many wild characters and even wilder racing!) $30.00

“THE TANGNEY & DAY FAMILIES OF ADAMS COUNTY, WISCONSIN by Linda Berg Stafford. Winner of the 1994 Family History Book Award from the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society and State Historical Society of Wisconsin. A beautifully executed genealogy of two branches of the Tangney family spanning 6 generations, and eleven generations of the Day family. (We have received multiple copies of this book to be used for fundraising. In most cases our society has received only 1 or 2 copies of family genealogies which we hold in our archives for research.) $25.00

“TO THE LAST BIRD by Evalyn Attoe Blumer & Jerry W. Carlton (a saga of generations of the bird family as it progressed westward eventually settling in central Wisconsin, describing their involvement in the development of the new city of Madison and constructing it’s new capitol building) $7.50

“TWO FATHERS, ONE WAR” by Marcia L Pollock Wysocky. A daughter’s story of her natural father and step father one in the European theater and the other in the Pacific theater of World War II. $25.00

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Cemetery Tour 2017

Adams County Historical Society’s 2017 Cemetery Tour

What stories were told at the Adams County Historical Society’s “Cemetery Tour 2017”.  Since 2003 members of the society have told the stories of the deceased at Adams County cemeteries.  This year’s tour included the deceased’s stories at Colburn/Leola, Pine Grove and New Chester Cemeteries.

The tour traveled to the Colburn/Leola Cemetery to visit the graves of two 19th century farm families: Benjamin and Nellie Graves and Daniel and Mary Booth told by the spirits of Nellie and Mary.  We are also visited with the spirits of Archie and Jessie Gear; Archie was a farmer and longtime president of the Waushara Elect Co-op.  We heard the spirit of Carrie Holcomb Graves tell the story of Marmaduke Graves, her young son who left home to join the CCC and didn’t come back.

At the Pine Grove Cemetery we visited with family members who told us the stories of Hryhory and Olga Nenja, who came to the United States from the Ukraine by way of Germany in World War II; of Frank and Geraldine Hesler and their farming family; and of Frank Frazer who perfected the art of Spencerian penmanship.  We also visited with the spirit of John Osborn who died in a tragic train-automobile accident with three of his children.

At New Chester Cemetery we visited with the spirits of Carrie McClyman, beloved county school teacher of the 1890s; with W. Jackson Bell, self-taught electrical and telephone engineer of the 1900s; with Andrew J. McClyman, founder and longtime president of the Adams-Marquette Elect Co-op. And with the family of Joey Baggs who talked about Joey and the many members of the Baggs family in the area.

Please remember to join us for “Cemetery Tour 2018” on September 29, 2018


Dmytro Nenja (Nenia) tells the stories of Hryhory & Olga Nenia. — at Pine Grove Cemetery.

June Hesler tells the story of Spencerian penmanship teacher Frank Frazer. — at Pine Grove Cemetery.


June Hesler tells the story of the John & Barbara Hesler family. — at Pine Grove Cemetery.

Mike & Sharon Hartz tell the stories of Archie & Jessie Gear. — at Colburn Leola Cemetery.

Hope Eggersdorf, as Carrie Holcomb Graves tells the story of Marmaduke “Duke” Graves. — at Colburn/Leola Cemetery.

Sandy Pheiffer & Pat Sorenson as Mary & Nellie tell the stories of Mary & Daniel Booth and Nellie & Benjamin Graves. — at Colburn/Leola Cemetery .

Michael Goc, Pat Sorenson, Sandy Pheiffer and Hariet Dehlinger do a last minute prep for their “spirit” roles. — at McGowan House Museum.

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Raise the Elevator

Elevator 002

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ACHS Meetings

The Adams County Historical Society Board of Directors meets except as noted elsewhere at 5:00 pm on the second Tuesday of January, March, April, June, July, September, October and December at the Adams County Heritage Center, 311 Main Street, Friendship, WI.  Meetings are open to the public

ACHS Membership Meetings are held at the same time and place as the Directors meetings on the second Tuesday of February, August and November.

The ACHS Annual Meeting and election of officers is held at the same time and place as the Directors meeting on the second Tuesday of May.

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McGowan House Tours

The McGowan House is now closed for the season.  Tours may still be arranged by appointment.  To make an appointment, stop in at the Adams County Heritage Center at 311 Main Street in Friendship during open hours, or call 608-339-7733, 608-339-6867 or 608-339-2199.

The McGowan House will re-open for tours starting in May 2018 and continue through September 2018.  Regular tours will conducted on Saturday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm;  other times by appointment.  Family and group tours can be arranged in the off season.

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