Memories of Bjِrklunden

Six people in the audience for Mark Breseman’s presentation on the history of Björklunden shared memories of their own or family members’ employment on the Boyntons’ estate.

Nancy Barnowsky Goss was just 13 years old in 1963 when she was hired as the last maid at Björklunden. She lived nearby and usually walked home through the woods after work, but occasionally stayed in the maids’ quarters at the house. Her job on Wednesday mornings was to arrange bouquets for the chapel. She remembers that the Boyntons “dressed to the nines” for dinner on Thursday nights and held hands as they blew out the candles in a large candelabra on the table.

Faye Flaeschel Blue’s parents, Peter and Martha Peil Flaeschel, were the original caretakers on the estate from 1930 to 1942. After a new baby was born to the family, Winifred came to their home and told Faye’s father she “didn’t want a caretaker who continued to have children.” He took this to mean he was fired, so he left and became a farmer and Watkins salesman. He was upset that she didn’t give him a copy of the book she wrote about the building of the chapel.

Ruth Newman Stretch’s grandmother, Eva DeJardine Hugenroth from Jacksonport, was the Boyntons’ head cook for many years. She spent Thursdays and Sunday afternoons, her days off, with Ruth’s family in Ellison Bay. When the Boyntons left in October, Eva took the Greyhound bus back to California to spend the winter with her other children.

Barbara Henquinet Prigge’s three older sisters were maids for the Boyntons in the 1940s and her father, Nels Henquinet, helped build the chapel and built a replica of it that’s in the historical museum in Sturgeon Bay. Her uncle and aunt, Milt and Helen Henquinet, were the second caretakers of the Boyntons’ property. Barbara recalls that she thought it was an adventure to help her aunt do the Boyntons’ laundry.

Lynne Mattke and Suzanne Bauldry are granddaughters of Hedwig Henrich Peil, who was Winifred’s gardener and one of just two employees mentioned by name in Winifred’s book, Faith Builds a Chapel. Lynne remembers that Winifred came to pick Hedwig up at 8 am each day, and sometimes when Lynne was a very little girl, she got to go along. Her grandmother used to pull her around the estate in a cart.

Suzanne’s husband, Gene Bauldry, was called early one morning to help the Björklunden caretaker repair the floor in the lodge kitchen in time for a dinner party that night. She spoke for many when she expressed her thanks to Lawrence University for maintaining the property that so many people in the community helped to develop. “How many small towns,” she said, “have someone come in who really wants to be a part of the community and takes such wonderful care of this jewel of a place?”