Spoken History: Local History Groups Team Up for Lecture Series

UPDATE: The March 5th lecture has been postponed to March 12 due to weather.

Those interested in learning more about the area’s rich history are invited to attend a new lecture series called “Spoken History,” underway at the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library.

The series is a collaboration between area groups dedicated to the region’s history: North Wood County Historical Society, Marshfield Historic Preservation Association, The City of Marshfield Historic Preservation Committee, Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library, Marshfield Area Genealogy Group and Laird Foundation for Historic Preservation.

The idea for the events grew from the planning for May’s Historic Preservation Month activities, of which many groups are involved. “We were finding it hard to squeeze history-focused programs into a month already packed with school and family events,” said library director Lori Belongia. “We also wondered if we could better serve the community by spreading the interesting history events throughout the year.”

There are multiple benefits to having the groups, who each share a passion for history, work together.

“Working together to plan a year’s worth of programs spreads the planning around, lets us brainstorm a long list of intriguing topics, coordinates activities so they don’t compete with each other, and allows us to tap into the membership of all the organizations as we promote our programs,” said Belongia.

Topics will be decided by each group and will cover a wide range of interest in relation to the area. Each lecture will be held on the first Monday of each month in the evening.

“We hope to provide a series of interesting, thought provoking and informative programs with historic themes,” said Belongia. “By offering them monthly at a predictable time and location, we will encourage people to plan for these outings – maybe a week night getaway, a monthly date night or just an educational outing.”

The March 5 “Wicked Wood County Wisconsin” event will feature freelance journalist and historical columnist Rhonda Whetstone in the J.P Adler Room at 7 p.m. The topic will be on historic Wood County murders, with a reading and Q&A.

Rhonda Whetstone is a freelance journalist and featured historical columnist for Gannett News/USA Today. She has been writing professionally since 1996, but writing for her own enjoyment since first grade.

Her historical columns are Rhonda’s View Rendezvous in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, Portage to the Past in the Stevens Point Journal and Back to the North Wood in the Marshfield News Herald. Rhonda’s previous book, “Saratoga Sands,” is a compilation of the history of the Township of Saratoga, Wood Co., WI, and many of the odd stories which have sprung from those sands.

In Nov/Dec 2017, Rhonda concurrently published a compilation of her columns from Wood Co., Wisconsin and a book of short story fiction. The author also has two other books in the works, one a childhood autobiography about growing up in the 1950s, more along a humorous vein. The other is a compilation of short inspirational writings that she used as “sermonettes” at her church over several years time. The spiritual book will be the next published and will hopefully be out sometime in 2018.

Mother of two, grandmother of three, Rhonda still resides in Saratoga and continues to delve into the past. When not speaking to groups or researching in dusty archives, you can find her following her other loves—genealogy, photography, word games, and spending time with family and friends.