Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Many Wisconsinites are familiar with the state’s largest and oldest veteran’s home in King, Wisconsin, located outside Waupaca, but few may know about its roots.

Learn about the early days of this important state resource during the January History at Home program at the Fond du Lac Public Library.

On Thursday, Jan. 11, Dr. Steven T. Sheehan, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh-Fox Cities, will recall the founding of the Veteran’s Home in King during the 6 p.m. program in the library’s McLane Room.

Wisconsin’s chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the nation’s largest organization of Civil War veterans, established the Wisconsin Veterans’ Home just outside Waupaca in 1887. They hoped to create a true and honorable home for aging and indigent veterans and their wives and widows. 

GAR members believed that the presence of women residents, something unique to the Wisconsin facility at the time, would ensure moral probity and a truly “home-like” atmosphere. This presentation explores the founding of the Wisconsin Veterans Home and its early years of operation.

Today, all Wisconsin veterans homes provide 24-hour skilled nursing care. The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King is a long term and rehabilitative care facility caring for veterans, a veteran's spouse, the surviving spouse of a veteran, ​and Gold Star Parents (parents who have lost a son or daughter in combat).

Sheehan’s presentation will kick off the 2024 season for History at Home. Other programs planned in the series this year include:

  • Feb. 8: The History of Lakeside Park
  • Mar. 14: The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in Wisconsin
  • April 11: Lisle Lester, early Fond du Lac resident & women's rights pioneer
  • May 9: Finding Fond du Lac’s soldiers - Identifying remains of soldiers who died abroad
  • June 13: The History of Wisconsin's KKK
  • July 11: The History of the Oakfield Speedway
  • Aug. 8: Early Fond du Lac sheriffs
  • Sept. 12: Singer Al Jarreau & his connection to Fond du Lac County
  • Oct. 10: Pier Cemetery
  • Nov. 14: Tribal History of the Ho-Chunk Nation

History at Home programs focus on stories about the area's past every month. Programs are held on the second Thursday of every month at 6 pm in the McLane Room. The programs are free; no registration is necessary to attend. Those who are unable to attend in person may watch live via Facebook at facebook.com/FDLPL. Many History at Home programs also are captured on video and shared on the library's YouTube channel.