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Colfax Sesquicentennial Kickoff held July 17

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The Colfax Sesquicentennial Kickoff event in Tower Park was attended by about 150 people.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, presented the parade grand marshals Ray and Marlene Johnson and Melvina Evenson.

“This is not just an historical event. This is a celebration of the Colfax businesses, residents and the surrounding communities. They have all supported this wonderful village over the years while all sharing the same common goals as our founder J.D. Simons once shared. A place for business, a place for family, and a place for growth. Yes, 150 years is a great milestone. And we have come a long way. But just as important, we have a long way to go to make sure we last another 150 years. All of us here today show that we as a community can come together to honor, celebrate and reflect on our heritage. We must stay together as well and embrace what the future has in store. This year marks 150 years that our founder J.D. Simons’ vision had become a reality. Throughout the next few days that the Colfax Commercial Club has worked endlessly to plan, solicit, and incorporate activities for all of our family, friends, and neighbors. On behalf of the village and on behalf of the Colfax Commercial Club we want to say thank you for all the support you have given Colfax over the years and hope you enjoy the festivities!” Gunnufson said.

State Senator Terry Moulton read a proclamation from Governor Walker:

“Whereas residents of Colfax are celebrating their 150th anniversary on Thursday, July 17. And whereas Colfax was first settled by John D. Simons in 1864, and early residents planted rutabagas, which did so well, the settlement was often referred to as Beggie Town or Begga Town. And whereas according to the Dunn County Historical Society, in 1868 Colfax was named for Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, who was the speaker of House of U.S. Representatives at the time and who was elected as vice-president that year with president Ulysses S. Grant. And whereas the village of Colfax was incorporated in 1904 and perhaps the most noteworthy event in its history was a tornado which struck on June 4, 1958, one of the deadliest in Wisconsin’s history, which killed 19 people, while destroying half the village and doing $2 million in damage. And whereas Colfax was able to rebound, rebuild and is home to approximately 1,160 people. And whereas Colfax is home to the Colfax Railroad Museum, which houses railroad equipment which has serviced the western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota region and has a large collection of lanterns, railroad china and the nation’s largest railroad paperweight collection. Now therefore, I, Scott Walker, governor of the state of Wisconsin, commend the citizens of Colfax for celebrating their 150th anniversary and wish them continued success in the future.”

Senator Moulton went on to say, “On behalf of the entire Wisconsin state senate, all of my colleagues in the Senate wish congratulations to the community of Colfax,” Moulton said.

State Representative Tom Larson presented an American flag.

“Happy Birthday, Colfax! You’re not the only one that old. When I was 16 years old, I was here also, and I won a contest for the youngest one to have a beard (during the Colfax Centennial). It wasn’t much of a beard. It was about as long as this one is now (Larson has grown a beard), but it was blond and you couldn’t see it. When I was on the stage, somebody yelled out, ‘where’s the beard?’ But anyhow, I got the 20 bucks,” he said.

Larson presented a flag that was donated by Congressman Ron Kind and had been flown over the capital in Washington D.C.

The certificate with the flag read,  “this is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown over the United States capital on June 24 at the request of the Honorable Ron Kind, a member of Congress. This flag was flown in honor of the 150th anniversary of the village of Colfax, Wisconsin.”

Mark Johnson read a message from President Barack Obama.

“I send greetings as you mark the sesquicentennial of the village of Colfax, Wisconsin. Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have joined in the common purpose to create a better future for one another. In 1864, the founders of Colfax carried this tradition forward by developing a hopeful community on the banks of the Red Cedar River. In generations since, Colfax has woven its thread into the fabric of our nation, and bore witness to significant events to the life of our country. Together, America weathered the Great Depression and two World Wars … throughout our nation’s journey, your community has played a role in taking our shared history and making our union what it is today. In the decades to come, our country must continue to join together in times of trial and triumph and extend opportunity to anyone willing to work hard and to pursue great understanding among all people. As we move forward, let us draw strength from our forebears and strive to build an ever-brighter tomorrow. Congratulations on this special milestone. As you reflect on 150 years of Colfax history, I hope you take pride in your village’s unique legacy and find continued success in the years ahead. Signed, ‘Barack Obama.’”

Mark Mosey, Colfax High School biology teacher and National Honor Society advisor, along with members of the Colfax High School National Honor Society, presented the time capsule for the Sesquicentennial.

A committee of National Honor Society members was formed to work on the time capsule that included Zach Meyers, Isaac Lee and Hunter Lieffort, along with another member who could not attend the Kickoff.

The time capsule includes a DVD of pictures of Colfax in 2014 taken from Troy Knutson’s Book, “Looking Through the Lens,” a flyer from Kyle’s Market to show grocery prices, a compact energy-saving fluorescent light bulb, a cell phone, a sample of Tainter Lake water to make a comparison to see if it is still as green, a Colfax Vikings tee-shirt, a copy of the Colfax Messenger containing stories and pictures about the June 27 tornado, a 2014-2015 telephone book of the Colfax area, and a schedule of the Sesquicentennial celebration.

The time capsule contains several other items as well, but a truck driving past Tower Park on Main Street at the time drowned out what was being said.

After a “wire locate” has been done on Tower Park, the time capsule will be buried somewhere in the park.

It is intended that the time capsule be opened in 50 years during the 200th Bicentennial Anniversary of Colfax.