Handmade ornaments, Christmas Seals and old newspaper ads were among the items on display during the Fremont Area Historical Society’s holiday open house.
The open house was held on Nov. 23, in the Beaver Dam School Museum.
It was held on the same day as the annual Christmas tree lighting.
This year’s tree lighting at Wolf River Crossing Park honored the Sasse family.
In the historical society’s new museum, visitors saw Christmas trees decorated with ornaments made by students from Fremont Elementary School and other area schools.
The ornaments were from 2000, the first year of the community’s tree lighting, through 2011.
The open house also included a display about Christmas Seals, as well as ads and articles from old Weyauwega Chronicles, dating from 1877 to the 1960s.
Elsie Mae Yohr, a member of the Fremont Area Historical Society, explained how some of the items came to be part of the display.
Five years ago, old Weyauwega Chronicles were set to be discarded when Yohr, Darlene Ryan and Lillian Hildebrand rescued them.
“There were 30 years of newspapers,” Yohr said.
The newspapers were taken to the Wisconsin Historical Society, where they were copied on microfiche for area libraries.
During that process, Ryan decided she wanted to record birth announcements, marriages and obituaries.
Clipping that information out of the newspapers became Yohr’s duty.
As Yohr did so, she came across the front pages of the newspaper’s Christmas editions.
She began saving those, too.
In addition, she noticed articles about the Christmas Seal crusade against tuberculosis.
“That is how I got interested in the Christmas Seals,” she said of that part of the recent display.
Yohr remembers selling them as a child and found several articles in old issues of the Weyauwega Chronicle about how the annual campaign came to be.
Einar Holboll, a Danish postmaster, was the man who first conceived the idea of a Christmas seal to raise funds to fight tuberculosis.
His seal was sold in Denmark in 1904 and was the forerunner of the seals which later went on sale all over the world.
In 1907, tuberculosis sanatoriums were springing up around the country. Most were makeshift and could only care for a few patients at a time.
One of them was in Delaware and was in need of financial assistance.
Joseph Wales was one of the doctors serving the hospital, and he decided to ask his cousin, Emily Bissell, if she might be able to raise money as she had fundraising experience.
She remembered reading a magazine article about how money had been raised in Denmark to care for needy children with tuberculosis.
Bissell, the secretary of the Delaware Red Cross, thought a stamp could be created in the United States, much like the one in Denmark.
She sketched a rough design of a cross centered in a half wreath of holly above the words “Merry Christmas.”
The seals were sold for a penny each, with the first seals sold on Dec. 7, 1907. The campaign raised more than $3,000.
The following year, the sale of the Christmas Seals was a nationwide campaign.
Today, the Seals received in the mail are from the American Lung Association, and Yohr continues to support the cause.
“As a little girl, I had to go out and sell Christmas Seals,” she said. “The Tuberculosis Association sent them to the school superintendent, who passed them out to the schools in the district.”
She remembers how the child who sold the most Seals received a prize.
As she was preparing for the open house and came across the articles which explained how the campaign began, it brought back childhood memories for her.
“TB was a big thing,” Yohr said.
She remembers how her sister, Adeline, spent a year working at the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Milwaukee for her clinicals as a nursing student.
“It was just something, all my life,” Yohr said.
Today, cases of tuberculosis are coming back as people choose to not have their chidlren vaccinated, she said.
The American Lung Association is among the organizations Yohr always supports.
“I put them (Christmas Seals) on every Christmas card,” she said.