On Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors to the Wade House historic site in Greenbush will have the opportunity to discover 19 local history organizations from four counties with hosted displays in the new Visitor Center. The event will also include two presentations by Jessica Michna, as Mary Todd Lincoln; two private collections rarely seen on public display; and period music by Matt Harvey, Carol Jensen and Danny Ognavic. Food will be available on site.
Area historical organizations focus on a wide range of activities from collecting, preserving our local heritage and educating the families of today and the future. A few have been serving their communities since the 1920s while others have been organized in more recent decades. Local historical societies serve an important role in every community to help each new generation connect to the past. These are the organizations that will be hosting displays at the Local History Expo this year:
Area historical groups taking part in the historical day include
- Centreville Settlement
-Fond du Lac County Historical Society
-Kiel Area Historical Society
-Malone Area Heritage Museum        
-New Holstein Historical Society
-Sheboygan County Historical Research Center
-Sheboygan County Historical Society and Museum
-Wade House Historic Site       
-Wisconsin’s Ethnic Settlement Trail

Jessica Michna, as Mary Todd Lincoln, will present a program at 10:45 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. inside the entrance to the Carriage Museum. She will also travel to the Wade House to visit casually with guests and museum staff and volunteers. Michna is a professional actress with a deep interest in history. She has become widely known for her riveting portrayals of First Ladies. Her performances are compelling and emotionally enthralling. Audiences laugh along with her humorous anecdotes. They share in her tears as she relates how the horrors of war have impacted families.
Period music of Matt Harvey and Carol Jensen will be featured near the entrance to the Visitor Center. Danny Ognavic will provide period music in the lower concourse of the Visitor Center and exhibit hall.
The two private collections will be on display both Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22. Each of these men have been filling their “spare time” for decades in building tabletop models of historic machines and important historic buildings of the region.
Charlie Bauer, local historian and artisan from Newton, Wisconsin, exhibits his 1/12 scale replicas of historic buildings including Elm Grove School, gristmill, Bonde’s General Store, O’Neil’s gambrel dairy barn, Kewaunee octagon dairy barn, blacksmith shop, circus wagon, Hetzel’s summer kitchen, Cleveland octagonal dance hall, stump extractor, Cedarburg Covered Bridge and Yankee barn with a staved silo.
Bauer started his hobby more than twenty-two years ago with the building of his grandfather’s wheat barn. Throughout the years, Bauer has seen buildings destroyed in the name of progress, which ignited his passion for preserving the past. He selects a project, visits the building site to take measurements, and does research on the method of construction. With his investigations, Bauer is able to create the buildings as close to the original as possible.
Most models take more than a year to build. With great attention to detail, the cut-away models allow visitors to see inside the buildings, which also display artifacts depicting the use of the buildings. This is only the second time the entire collection has been available for public display.
Ralph Heideman, of Hingham, Wisconsin, has made historic tabletop model engines and machinery for more than 40 years. In the early 1960s he went to a night vocational school to learn how to run a metal lathe. He soon bought his own lathe and started to make working model steam engines. In addition to 33 model steam engines, he has made a running 1/6 scale Case steam engine, 1/6 scale running Oil Pull, 1/6 scale running Case thresher and a variety of other one and two cylinder engines. He uses compressed air to run the engines.
This year he has made a stationary pea-viner. He built it from memory of how it was on his father’s farm in the 1950s. These pea-viner machines are long gone. In the 1940s the German prisoner of war men worked at the viners. Heideman remembers, “I was always around these machines, and when the viners were idle, I would crawl in the machine to figure out how they operated.”
The new Wade House Visitor Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum is located at W7965 State Highway 23.  The Wade House Historic Site will be open 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, May 21 and from 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday, May 22. Admission is as follows:  adults - $11; students/seniors - $9.25; children (5-17 years) - $5.50; Children under 5 – FREE; Family (2 adults & children through age 17 - $30.  For more information, please call 920-526-3271.

Wade House is one of 12 Wisconsin Historical Society historic sites and museums. For more information visit wadehouse.org.