Shelly Birkelo" />

Exhibit opens at Rock County Historical Society

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, July 5, 2012

— Sgt. David C. Mossner’s Purple Heart hangs from a purple ribbon in a glass case at the Rock County Historical Society.

His Bronze Star Medal dangles nearby from a V-shaped red, white and blue cloth.

Both were awarded posthumously to Mossner, who served five months during the Vietnam War before he was killed in action.

A letter from Maj. Gen. Kenneth G. Wickham to his Janesville parents reads:

“The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deepest regret that your son, Sgt. David C. Mossner, was killed in action in Vietnam on 1 June 1970. He was on a combat operation when a bobby trap detonated. Please accept my deepest sympathy. This confirms personal notification made by a Representative of the Secretary of Army.”

The items are displayed in the historical society’s new exhibit “Life in Historical Rock County.” It opens today and features uniforms and other memorabilia from all aspects of life for Rock County residents, said Rachel Wedeward, intern.

“The exhibit allows us to reflect back on history and respect where we come from and especially to appreciate those who have served in the military,’’ she said, while putting the finishing touches on the exhibit Monday.

Local residents loaned some of the uniforms and accompanying pieces to the historical society specifically for this five-month exhibit. Others pieces came from the Luther Valley Historical Society in Footville. Most are parts of historical society’s own collection, Wedeward said.

To Wedeward, the most interesting is the Masonic Temple uniform worn by John E. Dickinson, Janesville.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she said of the knee-length black coat with velvet buttons and black matching trousers.

Rounding out the early 1900s uniform is a red Tripoli Masonic Shriners hat with jeweled lettering and a black tassel.

The fraternal organization display case also features Knights of Pythias velvet cuff links and items from the Grand Army of the Republic, United Commercial Travelers and Women Relief Corps.

A 1924 black and white portrait of Edward Lichtfus hangs next to a firefighter’s uniform.

“He was the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in Janesville,” Wedeward said.

The display across the room has a pair of fire department boots and police badges, keys and handcuffs, plus an aluminum plate once used to serve prisoners at the Rock County Jail.

Black and white photos from 1908 and 1938 capture employees working at Colvin Bakery.

Memorabilia from other Rock County businesses include bars of soap from the then new Myers Hotel, the Monterey Hotel and Hotel London.

“I couldn’t believe they still smelled,” Wedeward said.


Last updated: 5:01 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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