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Historic essay contest winners honored today

May 11, 2009
By Serra Muscatello Staff Writer

NEW ULM - Every year people who have an interest in Brown County history have a golden opportunity to research and write about it for the Kitty Lieb Historic Essay contest sponsored by the Brown County Historical Society.

The annual contest was named after the late New Ulm resident, Hildegard 'Kitty' Lieb, who died in 1999.

"It's a way to recognize Kitty," said Darla Gebhard, research librarian at the Brown County Historical Society, "She was a quiet woman. She must have had an interest in history. She was a woman who wanted to do good things for the community and she was able to do that with her estate. They keep her name and her memory alive."

Article Photos

Photo by Serra Muscatello

Two essay writers who sent in entries for the Kitty Lieb Historic Essay Contest are pictured here: Steve Waldschmidt, (left) is the second place winner and Richard Runck is the third place winner. The first place winner was John Isch (not pictured).

Gebhard said that someone recently called in to say they had a painting done by Kitty Lieb.

"We were just stunned," said Gebhard.

Bob Burgess, who is the director of the Brown County Historical Society said there were five good, strong essays submitted in this year for the contest.

Fact Box

If You Go:

What: Kitty Lieb Historic Essay Reception

When: 6-7 p.m. Monday, May 11, (6:30 p.m presentation of essay awards)

Where: Bessie G. Church, Museum Annex, 12 N. Broadway

"We want to stimulate an interest in Brown County History," said "We've got a nice group of writers surrounding us - we just need to engage them. We encourage them to step forward with ideas."

This year's essay winners include: first place to John Isch, (New Ulm) with the essay called "Divine Retribution," an analysis of the 1862 Conflict, the Turners and the long-lasting influence of the early history on the city of New Ulm.

Second place to Steve Waldschmidt (New Ulm) with the essay, "The Bard of the Bass Horn and the Daddy of the Concertina." It examines the music careers of Whoopee John Wilfahrt and Harold Loeffelmacher.

Third place to Richard Runck (New Ulm) "How a Band Defended the Road to New Ulm." It describes the role of the settler of Milford Township in warning that Indians were about to attack New Ulm in August 1862.

The two honorable mentions were essays by Don Brand (New Ulm) "New Ulm's ties to Dakota Uprising and Das Varusschlacht," and Renee Wendinger (Sleepy Eye) "Ben and Frank."

"Hundreds of people have said they want to write essays. These are the ones who have actually done it ... stepped forward and gone the distance. " said Burgess.

Steve Waldschmidt, a student at Martin Luther College studying to be a pastor who is originally from Milwaukee, Wis., said it took him about three weeks to write his essay.

"When I started researching I discovered there was a lot of history of polka here," said Waldschmidt, "I didn't know this city is the polka capital of the nation."

A list of topics is provided for essay writers or people can choose their own topic to write about.

"It's interesting to see the different topics and stories they research," said Gebhard, "They're a joy to read. They (the essays) supplement our research library."

Several essays have been added to the Brown County Historical Society's website for the everyone to read, said Gebhard.



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