John Englesby

Archivist and curator at the DeForest Area Historical Society

Meet John Englesby

How long have you called this area home? I’ve lived my whole life here. My grandfather’s farm was in Vienna, so it’s a connection to my hometown across generations. I’m proud of this area.

Have you always been interested in history? I taught history, and my interest in history expanded with this position. I’ve been affiliated with the historical society for more than three decades, with responsibility for interpreting area history. We have four sites, including the Lyster House, home to the Chamber of Commerce office. It’s been restored to its 1930s beginnings but with a modern office. 

Why is it important to preserve the history of an area? A lot has to do with the ancestry of local families. The first settlers to this area came from Scotland, then England, but the big immigration was Norwegians and Germans. We have outstanding farmland here, some of the best in the country, and that’s a big part of our history too. 

Most interesting thing you’ve discovered in curating items? We have glass plate negatives from photographer Oswald Boehm and we make prints from them, with favorites taken in Vienna where the Yahara River runs through it. It’s interesting to compare to what the landscape looks like today. 

Any insider tips for visitors? Along with visiting our historic sites, be sure to take a look at the gallery in the DeForest library and be sure to look up at the Norwegian architectural touches on the outside of the library.  

Speaking of Norwegian history, what’s your favorite pie at Norske Nook? Banana Cream. They have the best pie in the area. No one can compete with the crust. 

What makes the Yahara River Trail so special? It used to be called “the creek.” The conservancy has done a fantastic job of caring for it for future generations.

Back to the Group

Joleen Stinson

Supervisor with DeForest Parks and Natural Resources

Learn more about Joleen

Vern Meier

Volunteer with the July 4th celebration

Learn more about Vern