Projects to be proud of

It’s not every day when we see a whole group of smiling young gentleman walk in the front door of our showroom, looking for information for a project they want to complete in their local high school Civics class. They had a clear vision in their minds and were all chirping around our reception desk with more information or ideas of what to incorporate or remember about the project concept. Essentially their plan was to take a little used triangle of land called Fassbender Park in downtown Kaukauna, WI and make it a place where people want to gather for special folk music concerts or photos or just to hang out on a nice day. It was an ambitious plan that included many basalt stone benches, large blocks of limestone (as impromptu seating and to create a tiered amphitheater on that sloped land), paver bricks, twinkling artificial trees that would make it a romantic special place to go at night and lastly a life size statue of Electa Quinney that would commemorate the first public school teacher in Wisconsin. 

Per Wikipedia, Electa Quinney was a Mohican born around 1798 to 1802 (different publications mention different years) all the way over in New York, and that was where she received her education and taught at her first school for 6 years. Then, after traveling here to Wisconsin with her family in 1827, she settled in Statesburg WI, became a member of the Community and established the First Wisconsin Public school there, where she taught as many as 40-50 children. Though most of her students were Indian, they studied in English and she used standard texts to teach arithmetic, geography, language, oration, penmanship and spelling. Quinney died in 1885 in Stockbridge, Wisconsin. She is buried in the Stockbridge Indian Cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, though her stone is missing. Posthumously, the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee was named in her honor.

Since she was born so long ago, it was difficult to find many photos of her, to base our statue from. Honestly, this is the only photo we ever found, of what she looked like at 60 years old. Therefore, since we were going to make a life size standing statue of her, we used other photos of Native Women in that same time frame, to come up with a design for her dress, blouse, shawl and the motif on that shawl – as seen from the back of the statue.

So, the first task was to make a full size clay model of the statue, to confirm that it was appropriately designed before they started carving the huge block of Absolute Black Granite her image. Therefore, we went through several iterations of that clay model over a couple of weeks, as it was hard to tell with only the one black / white photo exactly how the eyebrows / cheekbones/lips looked from the side view. So, I’m sure we took a little artistic license, but we did the best we could with the information we could find.

Then the school kids had decided the majority of the statue should be honed – which makes it more of a dark charcoal color, while the round pedestal underneath her would be polished / shiny – to make the sandblasted name, dates, and short descriptions to the side of that visually stand out more. (And since it takes such a long time for special order projects like this to come to fruition, meanwhile the original young gentlemen had moved on from the class (and some had even graduated high school during this time frame), so a group of young ladies look over the reins to bring the project to a close.)


So, after many months of waiting for the statue to arrive, it was finally time for the Grand Opening of the park on 10/15/2020 and all the various contractors / donors were invited to share in the celebration. It was a lot of fun to attend this event, and see some of those sameoriginal young gentlemen, back from college to share the story of the start of this project. The following are some of the photos from that day.

I hope members of her tribe also enjoyed seeing this commemoration of Electa as well and felt pride in her history / significance in our great state of Wisconsin!