190816_hwopinion_krebs

Elizabeth Krebs

Executive Director/Curator

Today many of the pranks of children’s summer break is coming to a close. As children return to school for the year and we embark on many of the time-honored traditions of fall, let’s takes a stroll back in time. Did you know that Hiawatha is often fondly referred to as the oldest Halloween Frolic in the Nation? Since Oct. 31, 1914, this has been a tradition in Hiawatha.

What you may or may not have known about the Halloween Frolic. Did you know that one woman is mainly responsible for this honored tradition? Elizabeth Oehmer (later, Krebs) is born on Nov. 14, 1848, in Canton, Berne, Switzerland. In the fall of 1855, her family will immigrate to America, and the family will take up residence in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Sadly this story is filled with some tragedy, and at age 13, Elizabeth is an orphan. Little details surrounding the events and life while Elizabeth is orphaned, to my knowledge exist. Indeed this may attribute to why there are few photos in existence of a young Elizabeth. On Feb. 21, 1870, Elizabeth will marry John Krebs, and they will have four children. John and Elizabeth Kreb’s children were John Jr., Lottie, Emma, and Louise.

Did you know that Elizabeth always demonstrated interest and love for gardening and will frequently voice her concerns in the Hiawatha World? Elizabeth’s comments will generally speak of her concern over flowers and the courthouse gardens. Elizabeth Krebs will also be responsible for the establishment of the Hiawatha Garden Club.

It’s 1914, and Elizabeth Krebs has a dilemma! It is Halloween, and the children of Hiawatha tend to be pranksters around Halloween. Elizabeth does not want her beloved gardens to be the focal point for the Halloween pranks. Elizabeth thinks and proposes a solution for these pranksters. Hence, the idea of a Halloween Frolic begins with a proposal that might engage the children. Elizabeth Krebs designs a party for the children. The townspeople of Hiawatha think that this idea is ridiculous and that it will not solve the problem.

The night of the Halloween frolic will arrive, and Elizabeth and the people of the town will wait with great anticipation of whether the frolic will be a success or a complete flop! Much to the people of Hiawatha’s surprise Elizabeth Krebs solution is a triumphant success! Over the years additions to the frolic celebration are incorporated endearing the frolic closer to the hearts of the townspeople. As always, there is so much more to the story! Find it! Be sure to stop by and share with me what you discover. #HistoryMysteries

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