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Herald receives 100-year-old atlas

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Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Mary Duerkop developed a fondness for Pierce County.

"She loved history and she loved Pierce County," said son Larry.

Added Bill, another son: "When we would go on rides (in the county), she'd point out everything. Who lived where and what they did."

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When Mary died in 2006, Larry and Bill, along with their sister Patty, were going through her mother's belongings and found a Pierce County Atlas that was dated from 1908.

"We wanted to have our mother's memory preserved," Larry said, as the trio stopped by the Herald office to donate the atlas to the Herald.

According to Larry, the atlas was done by Lewis Bitzner (1876-1964), their step-grandfather who was a surveyor for Pierce County during that era. It is worth noting that Bitzner was a surveyor due to the fact he lost an eye at 17 courtesy of a fireworks accident. He later contracted Parkinson's, which caused his hands to shake so bad that sometimes Mary had to do the traces. Larry showed some of those traces that were done on onionskin or goatskin.

The beginning pages of the atlas show a map of all the landowners for each town and village in the county at the time.

That's only the beginning. What's noteworthy is its condition. The colors used for the Wisconsin and United States maps are about as perfect as can be after 100 years.

The atlas then shows photos of significant people in the county at the time, along with noteworthy houses and buildings.

Then, to top it off, there's a digest of the system of civil government and a chronological arrangement of ancient, medieval and modern history up until 1908.

Mary (Dougherty) Duerkop was born in 1922 in Ellsworth and graduated from Plum City High School. She was 83 when she died. At the time of her death, she was survived by five daughters, three sons, 18 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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