ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — The village of Ashwaubenon is turning 150 years old this week and residents are celebrating with community events going on all week long. The village has over a century of rich history behind it, and no one knows that history better than the Ashwaubenon Historical Society.
It began as a private non-profit organization in 1971, dedicated to preserving and documenting the village's past and present. Their Ashwaubenon Museum of History and Culture is a collection of items that encapsulate the village's history - from its Native American roots, to it's start as a farming community, to its transformation into the bustling suburb of Green Bay that it is today. Today the group has around 50 members, all volunteers who give their time to upkeep the museum.
“We went from farmland to Oneida street, we went from Cormier horse racing to Capital Park," said Annette Aubinger, the president of the Ashwaubenon Historical Society.
Most of the items in the museum were donated by Ashwaubenon residents who gave away some of their most treasured personal keepsakes for others to enjoy. One example is the museum's "Wall of Heroes", which displays photos of Ashwaubenon veterans, accompanied by several uniforms that were donated to the museum.
One Ashwaubenon native who made a donation to the museum is Peggy Wellens. She taught in the Ashwaubenon school district for over 30 years. In the 1970s she began teaching at Cormier School, where she herself had attended school in the 1950s.
It was there that she inherited a desk that had a special significance to her.
“This desk goes back to my childhood," Wellens said. "When I was a student at Cormier in the 50s, this belonged to the principal. Everyone loved the principal. He was very personable to the kids."
That principal was Loy Zambrowicz, who began as principal of the school in 1950 and retired as superintendent in 1967.
“I caught my eye on this one, I knew whose desk that was," Wellens said. "I remember it well because whenever I'd look in the office it was an impressive, big, shiny mahogany desk."
When Wellens eventually retired, she took the desk home with her before deciding to repurpose it by donating it to the museum. She says she loves coming back to see the desk, which is now part of an entire exhibit dedicated to the Cormier School.
"I love being here, the school is my favorite place," Wellens said.
Members of the Ashwaubenon Historical Society encourage everyone to talk to their families about their history. Like Wellens, you could leave your mark for future generations to see.
“I’m encouraging everybody to get stories to go with their family history and if you have stories that go with the history of Ashwaubenon, please tell us. We are more than welcome to hear it," Aubinger said.
If you'd like to learn more about Ashwaubenon's history, the Ashwuabenon Historical Society will host an open house at the museum on August 11th from 4:30 to 6 p.m. To see a full list of the events happening for Ashwaubenon's 150th anniversary, you can visit ashwaubenon.gov/150.