Who, What, When... Podcast of the Chippewa Valley Museum

Dive into stories that make up the tapestry of the Chippewa Valley. Freshen up on local lore, see things from a new angle, and of course pick up on facts and anecdotes you didn't even know existed.  Seek connection, and be inspired. We share surprising, entertaining, and authentic stories to illuminate Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley for those near and far, and help tell the larger story of America.

Nikki Jackson returns to the podcast and this time is talking about “The Watson Diamonds”. She's a volunteer at the museum who is a dedicated researcher, and she educates us on an intriguing, scandalous Eau Claire story from the late 1800s.

Its a story that has all the trappings of a Lifetime Movie. Powerful local business leaders, missing diamonds and romantic escapades and mystery along the way

April is Hmong Heritage Month which is a great opportunity to talk with Blia Schwahn, who is the coordinator of Hmong relations with the Eau Claire Area School District. Born in Laos, Blia and her family have been entrenched in the area since 1980 when she was 14 years old. She reminds us of the connection between the U.S. and the Hmong peoples. The arduous four-year journey her family and others had to make as refugees before the opportunity to come to our country. Her first memories of landing in America, changing the way she dressed and becoming accustomed to our diet. Surviving discrimination but also the “wins” that accumulated over the years.

"When Rubber Hit the Road”, a documentary about the closing of UniRoyal in the 1992, put together by B.J. and Stephen is the focus of this episode. The two join the podcast to discuss the project, what they’ve learned and why they felt they needed to do it.

We learn how they went about finding materials and using a variety of existing media to tell the story. The benefit to the archives available at both the museum and UWEC. The surprising things they each learned that didn’t expect to.

The documentary will premiere at Pablo Center at the Confluence in downtown Eau Claire on May 3rd, 2024, at 7pm. Learn More

Dustyn Dubuque authored the book “How Newell Burch Survived Andersonville Prison” that takes us on the real life journey of a civil war solider who was incarcerated, and survived one of the most notorious POW camps of the time. It’s a fascinating story that includes battles, medical experimentation and more with details coming from Newell’s own diary. This solider eventually came to Western Wisconsin to live out his remaining years in Menomonie.

The Honorable Tom Barland tells the story of being a child living in Oahu during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tom was 11 years old when the attack happened, and he shares vivid memories of the day. Listening to him will take you back to a pivotal day in world history. He describes what attacking planes looked like down to their paint stripes and markings, and he even had to dodge a flurry of rounds directed at him.

Hear about what the moments and days were like for locals in the immediate aftermath, as well as his eventual evacuation to Eau Claire.

Guy wood continues his discussion on the area's history with avaiation. On this episode he gets into the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. As a former manager of the airport he's got plenty of stories.

• How he came to be manager
• Promoting the first Blue Angels show in the area
• Transitioning the airport from city to county ownership
• Unique snow removal solutions
• Broken runway lights

Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls are in the Chippewa Valley, but they are just a small part of the history. The Chippewa River stretches far north, with tributaries. John discusses the intrinsic connection between what we view as the valley, and the northern communities. How was area was built through this connection and the impact its had on the northern communities

Dorothy Sorlie joins Jodi and Olaf to discuss living through the flood of 1941, growing up in the “bloody eighth and life in general in Eau Claire in the 40s and 50s. She was actually born on the day of the infamous flood in 1941 that occurred on Labor Day of that year. Her parents needed the help of firemen to reach Luther Hospital that day.

• Growing up in the “bloody eighth” in Eau Claire. Why did this area of the city have that nickname.
• The positive changes to her childhood neighborhood she sees now, compared to its dicey past
• The diverse individuals and cultures she was able to interact with growing up and why she doesn’t recall seeing prejudice as a youth.

Olaf and Jodi talk about the archives within the museum. We learn about all that the museum has in its collection which goes far beyond the exhibits the public sees at anytime. Jodi oversees some 21k photos that are in the museum’s collection.

• How will the advent of digital cameras impact collections like this.
• What findings have “wowed” Jodi during her time in the archives?
• The interesting items found researching old newspapers and how easy it is to fall down a rabbit hole.
• Who benefits from the archives and how can individuals/businesses get access?

Nikki Jackson, a volunteer researcher at the museum, joins the podcast to talk about an interesting character from the area’s past. Frederick Bancroft, the Prince of Magicians.

Guy Wood, whose family was instrumental in the stages of aviation in Eau Claire, shares stories about the aviation history in our area. The family played a pivotal role in creating the area’s various airports and eventually bringing passenger service to town. We get a deeper understanding of the timeline of airports and air services in Eau Claire.

Are you familiar with the story of the Eau Claire “Cave Lady”? Following World War I, Maud Phillips (aka Violet Leigh) was a well known figure in town. A popular local poet but a neglectful mother and adulteress who eventually moved her family into a cave off the Eau Claire River. A subsequent insanity trial has become a focal point in local history.

Jane Glenz, the author of a book that explores Maude, the cave and more in her book.
Get the book

Marge Hebbring, a board member at the Chippewa History Center, talks about her own, and the area’s, Native American heritage, and some fun historical information you probably have missed over the years. We learn about the Cadott family and their path to this area and some of the cool stories behind the names of area locations.

Frank Smoot, longtime local historian and the museum developer for the Chippewa Area History Center, visits with Jodi and Olaf. He guides us through a discussion of the heritage of the area’s indigenous populations.

• People have lived in this region for 11, 000 years yet it may be under researched and the reason why is fascinating
• Why the Ojibwa can be considered “immigrants” to Wisconsin?
• The Dakota’s history in the area
• The relationship between various white settler groups and indigenous peoples

On the debut of this new podcast series, Jodi and Olaf from the Museum are joined by Margaret Becher for a conversation about growing up in the area and in the model town of Ojibwa Pre WWII. Margaret’s father was instrumental in the planning of the town.

• Ojibwa was a model town in Sawyer County, what does that mean?
 How did the town develop and the original vision?
 Traveling from Eau Claire to Ojibwa regularly and differences in living arrangements
• What was life like in Ojibwa
 “The Mall” in Ojibwa - The story of the white Train Depot
• What was the highest population the town achieved
• The last time she visited
• What she likes about modern day Eau Claire