About Walworth County Historical Society

The mission of the Walworth County Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the rich history of Walworth County, the State of Wisconsin and the United States.
Walworth County Historical Society

The Walworth County Historical Society (WCHS) is a major research and exhibition center open to the public. Under the auspices of the WCHS include the following: The Doris Reinke Research Center, Paul and Katharine Schmidt Library, Genealogy Center, Walworth County Veterans Museum, Webster House Museum, Boyd Carriage Barn, and two buildings located within the Walworth County Fairgrounds:  the Sharon Town Hall and Blooming Prairie Schoolhouse. Our mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit artifacts, archival materials, and photographs of the cultural, social, and political history of the people and communities of Walworth County, WI.

Through education, research, and public exhibits, the WCHS serves the local, state, and national communities of visitors, students, and scholars. The varied collections within the WCHS are used to form the basis of understanding ofpast and present issues of our community, and to meet the challenges of the future. The WCHS will accomplish our mission through education and outreach programs, and through cooperative efforts with other local organizations.

Our Story

Since 1904

The Walworth County Historical Society was incorporated August 29, 1904. Since its incorporation, the Walworth County Historical Society has been an affiliate of the Wisconsin State Historical Society.

In its 1906 report to the State Historical Society it was stated that the Walworth County historical Society held “a great collection of books, pamphlets, circulars, maps, charts, diagrams, pictures, autograph letters, and relics of real interest.”

Excerpt from History of Walworth County Wisconsin by Albert Clayton Beckwith

The Walworth County Historical Society was incorporated August 29, 1904, by ten members of the Old Settlers’ Society. It was not attempted, as in other years, to arouse the indifferent, nor to assemble unknown friends of such a movement. Mr. Page said to a friend, “Let us act at once.” Eight more friends were ready for instant action, and the dream or hope of 1846 became a reality. Nine of these movers were named in the first officer list, which is yet unchanged (except as to treasurer) by election, resignation, removal, or death; and the tenth lies in a soldier’s grave. In its first report, in September, 1904, to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, to which the county society is auxiliary, was shown a list of twenty members. Pursuant to provisions of chapter 650, statutes of 1907, a room in the basement of the county court building, well warmed and lighted and accessible, was in that year placed at the society’s service for storage of its bulkier collections. About two hundred feet of shelving is crowded with its variously valuable printed matter. How this society sees the task it has undertaken may be judged, perhaps, from the following extract from its report for 1906:

“This body is made up of intelligent members, who are therefore capable of doing some useful work, and who. by the fact of their membership, may be presumed to be willing so to contribute to the society’s objects. To find and take some working part, greal or small, is to assure and increase each one’s permanent interest in the institution we have founded. We have taken the first step, which costs; and movement forward at some fair rate, and continuously, is but a just expectation. Neither one nor a hundred willing minds and hands can do all that has been too long left undone; but we can gather no inconsiderable fraction of the records and memories of the past and the passing, and can move onward with the ceaselessly coming.

“A great collection of books, pamphlets, circulars, maps, charts, diagrams, pictures, autograph letters, and relics of real interest is very desirable; but such matter will accumulate with comparatively little effort. The most important division of our work—one that may yet give some distinction to our society—is what each member or his friends may contribute: Manuscript accounts of early arriving families; of the earlier social life; of long-gone relatives and esteemed friends; of pioneer road-making; of abandoned highways; of the growth of villages; of church building; of earlier schools; of business development, and changes therein; of the decay of certain industries and the causes thereof; of crops, greatly above or below the average; of changes in the county landscape arising from known causes; of earlier caucuses, conventions, and public meetings; of various phases of public opinion; of early mail communication; of wayside taverns; of stage routes; of past generations—how they lived, how employed and amused themselves; where men and families came from, and whither they went for greener graves: of epidemic diseases and other notable calamities; of the personal appearance and distinctive qualities of men in public service, and similarly of lawyers, physicians, and clergymen; of personal service in war; of local geographical names now disused or not found on maps—in short, of things the like of which we miss in the meager details of the histories of our ancestral Eastern towns, and which will be valuable in many ways to coming generations, since they will show how men, women and children of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth centuries lived, thought and acted.”

Founding Member List

Adkins, Henry De Lafayette, Elkhorn 1904
*Beckwith, Albert Clayton, Elkhorn 1904
Beckwith, Edward Seymour (died), Elkhorn 1904
Bill, Dr. Benjamin Jephthah, Genoa Junction 1910
Bradley, Henry (died), Elkhorn 1908
*Bradley, William Mallory, Salt Lake City 1905
Brett, James Elverton, Springfield 1905
Carswell, Orland, Elkhorn 1904
Child, William, Lafayette 1906
Cook, Daniel Seymour, Whitewater 1911
Derthick, Edna Lorene, Elkhorn 1908
*Douglass, Carlos Stewart, Fontana 1910
Eames, Francis Havilah, Elkhorn 1904

Fellows, Theodore A. (died), Genoa Junction 1910
Flanders, Joseph Taylor (died), Lyons 1909
Frater, George William, Elkhorn 1907
Goff, Sidney Clayton, Elkhorn 1908
Harrington, Grant Dean, Elkhorn 1910
*Isham, Fred Willard, Elkhorn 1904
Isham, Ruth Eliza (Wales), Elkhorn 1904
Kellogg, George Olney, Elkhorn 1905
*Kinne, Dr. Edward, Elkhorn 1904
Larnard, Ira Pratt, Delavan 1911
Lean, Frank William, Lagrange 1905
Lyon, Jay Forrest, Elkhorn 1904
Meacham, William Pitt (died), Troy 1911

Morgan, Theron Rufus (died), Elkhorn 1905
Morrison, Smith Baker, Elkhorn 1906
Page, Jaw Wright, Elkhorn 1904
Rockwell, Le Grand, Elkhorn 1906
Skiff, Benjamin Franklin, Elkhorn 1904
Skiff, Iris Emeline (Stowe), Elkhorn 1904
Snyder, Clifford Francis, Munich 1906
*Snyder, John Henry, Jr., Elkhorn 1904
Sprague, Edward Harvey, Elkhorn 1904
Thomas, Katherine Wentworth, Elkhorn 1904
*Wales, Charles Marshall, New York 1904
*West, Walter Aaron, Elkhorn 1904

*Denote members of the State Society.

Officers, 1904-1911: Beckwith, president: Lyon, vice-president; J. H. Snyder, secretary; Kinne, corresponding secretary; Eames, librarian; Carswell, treasurer; Page, F. W. Isham and Sprague, executive committee.

Mr. Morgan died September 28, 1905; E. S. Beckwith, May 28, 1909; Henry Bradley, August 17, 1909; Captain Fellows died Fehruary 10, 1912; Mr. Flanders, December 16, 1909. 

We remember special friends who have passed. They will be greatly missed.

Doris Marie Reinke January 12, 1922 - January 12, 2018

Doris Marie Reinke January 12, 1922 - January 12, 2018

Past President

Miss Doris Marie Reinke, age 96 of Elkhorn, WI, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 12, 2018 at Tender Reflections in Elkhorn, WI. She was born January 12, 1922 in Racine, WI, the only child of the late Otto W. and Louise A. (Goehring) Reinke. Doris graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1943 from UW-M and her Master’s degree in 1967 from UW-W. Doris taught Kindergarten and Second Grade in the Elkhorn Area School District for 40 years, from 1943 to 1983. She wrote “Webster Notes” a weekly column for the Elkhorn Independent and a monthly column for The Week. Doris authored A Bit of History – Walworth County Historical Society Legacy. She was a member of Sugar Creek Lutheran Church and Elkhorn Women’s Club. She served as a member and was a past President of the Walworth County Historical Society. Doris was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa and served as state president 1968-70. Doris volunteered at the Webster House museum and the Elkhorn Food Pantry. She enjoyed reading, baseball, bird watching, traveling and fishing. Doris was an avid Chicago Cubs fan. Doris is survived by her loving friends and neighbors.(from her obituary which was prepared by the Haase-Lockwood & Associates Funeral Homes and Crematory)

Merrybell Seeber July 20, 1926 - December 19, 2013

Merrybell Seeber July 20, 1926 - December 19, 2013

Member of the Board of Directors

Merrybell Seeber, age 87 of Delavan, WI, passed away peacefully at her home with her family by her side on Thursday, December 19, 2013 resulting of Breast Cancer. She was born July 20, 1926, the daughter of Ernest and Violet Cooper. Merrybell was a 1945 graduate of Whitewater College High School. She was united in marriage to Robert Seeber on October 23, 1946. He preceded her in death on October 22, 1995. Merrybell was a member of the Delavan United Methodist Church; Walworth County Historical Society, Delavan Historical Society, and Whitewater Historical Society. She also belonged to the Union Maine Historical Society, Friends of Aram Public Library, American Legion Auxiliary, Charter member of Daughters of Union Veterans Tent 23, past member of Harvard Moose, 25 year member of R.S.V.P.-Volunteer Connections. Merrybell truly enjoyed volunteering, her biggest joy was her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Merrybell is survived by her three sons, Robert (Sue), Kenneth, and Ronald (Kris), one daughter, Roberta (Gary) Wright, six grandchildren, William (Chris) Seeber, Michael Seeber, Rodney (Tammy) Wright, Rhonda Wright, Shawn Seeber, Stacy Seeber, seven great-grandchildren, Andrew, Brandon, Dakotah, Colton, Tyler, Corey, and Jermey, her sister, Margaret Legois, and her sisters-in-law, Donna Cloute and Ruth Seeber. She is further survived by several nieces and nephews, dancing companion Don Teske, and several dear pen pals. Merrybell was preceded in death by her husband, her sister and brother-in-law Marjery and John Love, her brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Shirley Cooper, and her brothers-in-law, Maynard Eide, Claude Legois, Raymond, Lawrence, and William (Bud) Seeber.(from her obituary which was prepared by the Monroe Funeral Home of Delavan)


(262) 723-7848


1pm to 4pm

Wednesday & Thursdays

Walworth County Historical Society


9 South Broad Street

PO Box 273

Elkhorn, WI 53121