Little town is site of state’s first — and only — memorial wall honoring Wisconsin’s Iraq War dead
By Barbara Lyon, Editor
Just beyond Dunn County’s western border sits the tiny, unincorporated hamlet of Hersey. To see it today, visitors might find it hard to believe that it was once St. Croix County’s largest town.
According to Hersey Cave bar owner Steve Schreiber, the once-bustling municipality —founded in the late 1800s by lumber baron Hersey Adam — once boasted 10 taverns, a bank, livery stable, cheese factory, churches, grocery store and mercantile exchange.
When the original wood-framed town hall burned down, it was replaced by a brick structure, built in 1872 by Civil War veterans. Almost two years ago, time and the elements took their toll on the venerable building and it was torn down.
But all was not lost. Schreiber, a local history buff who is working on a book about Hersey, salvaged the Menomonie-manufactured bricks and other artifacts.
Faced with a pile of old bricks, he pondered how he could put them to meaningful use.
It occurred to him that Wisconsin has sacrificed more than its share of soldiers in the Iraq War. A memorial wall constructed of old Hersey town hall brick, he thought, would be a fitting way of honoring the state’s fallen soldiers.
“Somebody had to step up and do something — we did,” Schreiber declared.
With the American Legion color guards of Woodville and Spring Valley as well as lifelong Hersey resident Jack Colburn in attendance, ground was broken for the project last spring.
On Sunday, the first phase of the “Remembrance Wall” was dedicated.
When he got the idea, Schreiber said there were 40 candidates for the wall. Since its completion, 63 names have been engraved on its simple granite plaque, supplied to Schreiber by the Veterans Administration. In the interim, three more Wisconsin soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq; their names will be added sometime in the future.
Expected to be completed in spring 2007, two more wings will be constructed to commemorate Wisconsin’s fallen law enforcement officers and fallen bikers.
Schreiber said his only mixed emotion about the project is “if we should contact the families of the soldiers whose names are on the wall.”
In addition to money and labor, Schreiber donated the land on which the “Wall of Remembrance” stands. He and his wife, Christine, plan to build a small house next door.
Schreiber said Hersey Cave patrons and friends who donated time and labor include Troy, Clint, Slippery, Mike, Fadra, Donnie, Shannon, Jeff, Dennis and Tammy.
Business and other sponsors include County Concrete, 3 Guys Granite, Hammond Monument, Ultimate Coating, Stockman Farm Supply, Forgery Excavation, Windy Hill Landscaping and Handyman Service, Hersey Cave Bar, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Center, Gateway Publishing/Woodville Leader, Sun-Argus newspapers and numerous cash donations from individuals.
For more information, contact Schreiber at (715) 772-3403. Donations can be made to “Remembrance Wall” and mailed to 724 292nd Ave., Wilson, WI 54027.