November 2 – “The Last Bookseller” part 2 with Gary Goodman

Gary Goodman returns to launch the paperback version of his book “The Last Bookseller!” Many remember his store St. Croix Antiquarian Books in Stillwater, a mainstay on Main Street for 27 years. Gary will present on the book and tell stories about the wild world of buying and selling used and rare books.

November 1, 2023 – “Images of America: Forest Lake” with Justin Brink

Like so many of the places that lined the route from St. Paul to Duluth, Forest Lake came of age as a railroad town and was first incorporated as a township in 1874. Situated on a lake by the same name, it soon became known as a resort town where many residents from the Twin Cities could leave their cares behind for some fishing and sunbathing. Because of its secluded nature, it also attracted well-known gangsters of the era. Minnesota native George “Bugs” Moran had a hideout near the lake, as did the Ma Barker gang. As the resort traffic dried up, progress soon took over, and with it came residential development and downtown revitalization. Today, Forest Lake’s population has increased nearly twentyfold and continues to attract visitors to its pristine lakes.

September 19, 2023 – A.W.A. Tag Team Mayhem! with George Schire

On this visit to the Washington County Heritage Center, wrestling historian and author George Schire discusses all of the incredible tag team combinations that made the A.W.A. one of the greatest promotions for three decades. Which team was the best? As Schire shares his stories, your mind will be in the ring, wrestling to decide the answer. Join us for this Time Machine trip back to when Tag Teams ruled!

September 14, 2023 – White Bear’s Notorious Gangsters with Sara Hanson

The White Bear area was a haven for the 1920s and ‘30s era gangsters who wanted to get away from it all. Join us to learn some gangster lingo while you hear the tales of infamous visitors such as Ma Barker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis and Baby Face Nelson. Presented by White Bear Lake Area Historical Society’s Executive Director Sara Hanson. Learn more about the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society on their website,

August 10, 2023 – Photography in the St. Croix Valley and Around the World with Rhett Arens

Rhett Arens is a photographer who has had the good fortune to travel extensively, visiting 60+ countries over the last thirty years. Rhett finds that photography often triggers a give-and-take moment when strangers meet. It becomes an opportunity to exchange stories and find common ground. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Travel + Leisure, Taproot, The Golfers Journal, Fifty Grande, Lake Superior Magazine, Islands, The Whitefish Review, Boundary Waters Journal and more.

August 2, 2023 – The Lure of the Pearl Button with Robyn Stoller

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, more than a lumber boom was occurring in the St. Croix River valley. A pearl button boom was also underway, employing thousands of ‘clammers’ and button factory workers who labored in the business of making buttons and decorative elements for jewelry and watches. The pearl button industry was short-lived. Advances in plastics technology and mussel over-harvesting led to its early demise but its history is amazing and includes unique stories of locals ‘making it big’ during the pearl button boom.

May 2, 2023 – Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling 3.0 with George Schire

Our favorite wrestling historian and author George Schire is BACK for part 3 of Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling! Check out George’s previous talks too! 

April 27, 2023 – Oldest Twin Cities: A Guide to Historic Treasures with Julie Jo Severson

While blending old-world history with modern-day relevance, local author Julie Jo Severson explores hidden and legendary gems throughout the region she’s called home most of her life in her new local guidebook Oldest Twin Cities: A Guide to Historic Treasures

April 13, 2023 – Seeing Minnesota History Through the Life of Charles A. Lindbergh with Chris Gehrz

Prof. Chris Gehrz, author of a new biography of Charles A. Lindbergh, presents on the life story of a particularly famous Minnesotan to shed light on important themes in the state’s history, including the frontier, religion, eugenics, isolationism, and environmental protection. 

April 4, 2023 – Surviving the Holocaust: Journey to a New World — Why the Jews? with Ken Engel

Ken Engel’s parents survived the Holocaust. As a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas/Tolerance Minnesota, the JCRC Middle East Speakers Bureau, and other platforms, he’s given hundreds of presentations to school, college, municipal, synagogue, church, military, educator, industry and private groups, clubs and organizations about the Holocaust, his parents’ experiences during World War II, Israel, Judaism, and related subjects. He’s trained thousands of survivors, children and grandchildren of survivors, community activists and lay members on how to effectively and comfortably share their individual stories with a wide range of audiences.

March 30, 2023 – Winter’s Children: A Celebration of Nordic Skiing with Ryan Rodgers

Author Ryan Rodgers presents on his book “Winter’s Children: A Celebration of Nordic Skiing,” the story of Nordic skiing in the Midwest—its origins and history, its star athletes and races, and its place in the region’s social fabric and the nation’s winter recreation.

March 21, 2023 – Stillwater’s Infamous Madam with Tom Simonet

Nina Clifford’s brothel in St. Paul

WCHS Treasurer Tom Simonet gave a talk about Stillwater’s most infamous lady of the night Nellie “Red Nell” Mandeville. Red Nell became a businesswoman of sorts, hiring other area women to entertain male residents and visitors. Red Nell’s appearance on the Police Register became as predicable as the sun setting. From August 1882 through July 1883, Nell was arrested ten times!

March 8, 2023 – Native American Mounds with Jon Quijano

Jon Quijano is an award-winning history documentary writer. His latest field research is taking place here in the St. Croix River Valley, gathering knowledge about the peoples who have called the valley home for thousands of years. This is a talk on his findings and his research process on a work in progress.

February 16, 2023 – Found in the water: the John Jeremy story with Brent Peterson

Over the course of history, families develop special skills such as blacksmithing, gold & silver smiths, plus many other occupations that are handed down through the generations. One family in Stillwater had a very unique talent that went through three generations until it was no longer used, and that was of finding of drowning victims. Learn about John Jeremy’s highly unusual employment with WCHS Executive Director Brent Peterson!

January 25, 2023 – Buried Secrets: Looking for Frank and Ida with writer Anne Hanson

When Anne Hanson’s dad first asked her to investigate the secret past of his parents, little did she know what she was getting into. For two decades, despite all her digging, she failed to unearth even the tiniest speck of evidence that the families of her grandparents, Frank and Ida Hanson, had ever existed. If her quest were a detective novel, its title would have been, “The Case of the Missing Ancestors.” Finally, Anne unearthed her grandparents’ true identities and the secrets they took their graves. Journeying into an early twentieth century drama of pain and heartache, she solved a mystery from an era when a young couple, thwarted by social conventions, could simply vanish and create new lives. They radically altered their family destiny, with aftereffects that reverberated for generations. Yet “Buried Secrets: Looking for Frank and Ida” is, ultimately, a love story. When she learned the truth of her grandparents’ past, Anne comprehended the true depth of their love. Buried Secrets also illuminates the love between a dad and the daughter who gave him answers he had longed for his entire life.

January 18, 2023 – “How Fur Traders Shaped Minnesota, Literally!” with Herb Reckinger Jr.

Herb Reckinger Jr. of the South Washington Heritage Society gives a talk about fur trading and the North West Company. Why does Minnesota’s northeastern border slant down? NWC was responsible for defining Minnesota’s current day border as well as exploration and settlement of Canada/northern parts of the United States. Additionally, Herb will give details on the fierce competition between NWC and their rivals, Hudson’s Bay Company.

October 27, 2022 – “The World’s Greatest Show”: The Ringling Brothers Story with curator Jennifer Cronk

Lions, tigers, bears, and…Washington County? Find out what the connection is between the St. Croix Valley and the big top with a presentation by Jennifer Cronk, curator of Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Sons of an itinerant harness maker, the Ringling Bros. learned a lot about perseverance during their childhoods in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They developed a love of entertaining and ambitiously formed a circus in 1884. Learn how self-discipline and determination helped the Ringling Bros. succeed beyond their wildest dreams while bringing The World’s Greatest Show to the masses. Cover photo credit: Circus World Museum/Wisconsin Historical Society

October 4, 2022 – Minnesota’s Headline Murders! 1900-1919 with Patrick L. Shannon Part 2

Author Patrick L. Shannon is BACK with more the juicy details on the most famous murders in Minnesota via his book “Minnesota’s Headline Murders! 1900-1919.”

September 7, 2022 – Schaar’s Bluff County Park and Geological History of Washington County with Herb Reckinger

Herb Reckinger, Jr. from the South Washington Heritage Society presented on the history of Schaar’s Bluff County Park (located in Dakota County west of Hastings). Reckinger has done impressive research on the geological elements that characterize the area. What does Schaar’s Bluff have to do with us? Everything! From the park overlook, there is one of the finest views from that end of Washington County- the Mississippi River, Spring Lake, Cottage Grove and the Grey Cloud Islands. Remember- the bedrock is the same in all parts of our county. We have many fine features that are not repeated elsewhere. Herb presented on the Mississippi River Commission maps of the 1890s, the bedrock geology of our area, and the glaciers that made all of this happen. Questions? Herb can be reached at

August 24, 2022 – Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling Part 2 with George Schire

Author and wrestling historian George Schire is BACK with more Minnesota wrestling stories! New topics are covered, and be sure to check out his first video as well on our page.

August 9, 2022 – “The Last Bookseller” with Gary Goodman

Gary Goodman has been a used and rare book dealer in Minnesota for nearly forty years. He co-founded St. Croix Antiquarian Booksellers and the Stillwater Book Center in Stillwater, Minnesota–a town that became known as the First Booktown in North America in the mid-1990s. He is the co-author of The Stillwater Booktown Times and The Secret History of Golf in Scotland.

Learn more at Gary’s website:

August 2, 2022 – “In the Beginning there was a Chapel” with Mark Labine

June 28, 2022 – Minnesota in the Minors with Stew Thornley and Taylor Simons

Baseball historian and author Stew Thornley discussed his brand-new book “Minor Treasures: Diamond Gems from the Glory Days of Minnesota Baseball.” Co-author and collector Taylor Simons presented pieces from his extensive collection of Minnesota Minor League Baseball memorabilia.

June 22, 2022 – “French Fur Trade” with Greg Cash

Greg Cash discussed the French Fur Trade in Minnesota, from the arrival of Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre Esprit Radisson in Minnesota in the mid-1600s to the establishment of la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson (Hudson’s Bay Company) in 1670 and la Compagnie Nord-Ouest (Northwest Company) in 1789 to the building of Fort Snelling and creation of the Indian agency to control the region’s fur trade in the early 1800s and the establishment of the American Fur Company which controlled regional trading in furs by 1823. Greg Cash is on the French American Heritage Foundation of Minnesota board of directors.

June 2, 2022 – Bison Reintroduction program at Belwin Conservancy with Lynette Anderson

Interpretive Naturalist/Restoration Specialist Lynette Anderson from Belwin Conservancy speaks on the bison reintroduction program at Belwin.

At Belwin Conservancy, American bison (Bison bison) play an important role in the health of the prairie. Since 2008, a herd of juvenile males from Northstar Bison has taken up summer residence at one of our tallgrass prairie restorations. Their presence has been transformative.

Today, the balance and abundance of wildlife, grasses, and flowers on Belwin’s bison prairie is second to none, thanks to this majestic creature. Belwin Restoration Specialist Lynette Anderson explains: “their grazing patterns promote the growth of different flowers, which brings in different insects, which bring in different birds, and so on and so forth. And that’s the importance of disturbance on a prairie: to keep this vital, dynamic, beautiful habitat going.” – Belwin Conservatory

May 24, 2022 – The Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods with Jeff Forester

Forests have changed a lot due to human activity dating back thousands of years. Author Jeff Forester presents on the effects that fire (natural and prescribed) has had on Minnesota forests throughout history.

May 10, 2022 – Textile conservation and mounting the costume gallery at the Washington County Heritage Center with Jennifer L. Cruise

What is conservation? What do textile conservators do? The founder and director of Textilis Conservation Jennifer L. Cruise, Ph.D., M.A. Cons does a talk and gallery chat about her textile work at the Heritage Center. The beautifully dressed mannequins in the “The Sixties: Fashion & The Frontier” exhibit is Jennifer’s work!

April 27, 2022 – Red River Métis with Fritz Anderson

Fritz Anderson presents on the Red River Métis. Anderson writes, “The Red River Métis is a community of the Minnesota’s early settlers of Minnesota that came from the OTHER direction of many settlers of the day. Early Minnesotan history had many settlers that came from the Northwest, rather than the East.  This intriguing group came from the Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and what is now Southern Manitoba.  The Métis were an entirely new society that were of Native and White ancestry but subscribed to being neither. A new people that were distinctive in American history as being the only example of a new culture with a unique language and strong social identity that arose from a combination of many peoples.”

April 20, 2022 – “A Bag for a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag” with Marcia G. Anderson

Marcia G. Anderson presents on her book, “A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag.” Bandolier bags, or gashkibidaaganag—the large, heavily beaded shoulder bags made and worn by several North American Indian tribes around the Great Lakes—are prized cultural icons here and around the world. From the 1870s to the present day, Ojibwe bead artists of Minnesota have been especially well known for their lively, creative designs. Neighboring Dakota people would trade a pony for a beautiful beaded bag.

April 5, 2022 – “Ambulance Man” with Brian Casey

Author Brian Casey presents on his book “Ambulance Man,” a memoir about his career as a paramedic and EMT, including his time working in Stillwater. “A behind-the-scenes ride that is sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, but always heartfelt.”

For more information, visit

March 29, 2022 – “Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling: From Verne Gagne to the Road Warriors” with George Schire

Author and wrestling expert George Schire led a rousing discussion about Minnesota’s most famous wrestlers from Verne Gagne and the Road Warriors.

March 22, 2022 – “Minnesota’s Headline Murders! 1900-1919” with Patrick L. Shannon

Author Patrick L. Shannon tells all the juicy details on the most famous murders in Minnesota via his book “Minnesota’s Headline Murders! 1900-1919.”

February 15, 2022 – ““Shanty Boys: The Lumbermen of the Upper Midwest 1830-1940” with Author Ryan Gale and Musician Brian Miller

*The beginning of the video is slightly cut off. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Author Ryan Gale discussed everything from logs to legacies in a presentation on his brand-new book, Shanty Boys: The Lumbermen of the Upper Midwest 1830-1940. Additionally, musician Brian Miller performed lumberjack songs and the history behind the tunes.

February 8, 2022 – Brent Peterson on Bud Fowler and the 1884 Stillwater Baseball Team

WCHS Executive Director Brent Peterson presented on legendary baseball pitcher Bud Fowler and 1884 Stillwater Baseball team.

The slides are difficult to see on the video recording. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please view the slides at the link below. 

Presentation Slides:
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