“Great Expectations before the Great War”
40 year-old Dept. Commander Herbert S. Siggelko presided over the 1913 Wisconsin Dept. Encampment in Neenah-Menasha. He had been elected the year before at the convention in Antigo. A week after the Encampment, on June 18th, nearly 600 survivors of Wisconsin’s Civil War regiments gathered at Camp Randall. The Sons handled registration at the headquarters tent and joined in impressive ceremonies the following day, dedicating a memorial arch at the entrance to the old training grounds. One of the local brothers sounded reveille and taps each day.
During the years before World War I, the Dept. grew at a phenomenal rate. During DC Siggelko’s term (1912-13), Camps were chartered at Keshena (John Lowe Camp 13), Green Bay (Col. Catlin Camp 3), Kenosha (Gov. Harvey Camp 34), Edward S. Bragg Camp (Fond du Lac).
Herbert Siggelko was born on January 6, 1873, on a farm 2 ½ miles east of McFarland in the town of Blooming Grove. He was the son of John M. and Alice (McFarland) Siggelko. John M. had emigrated from Mecklenburg, Germany, in 1851 and served in Co. D, 9th Wis. Inf. from January 1865 to January 1866.
Herbert attended the country district school, business school and UW. He graduated from UW with special honors and completed a year’s grad work before entering the University Law School. While at the university, he was active in literary societies and was a member of Philomothia while an undergrad and the Forum and the Luther S. Dixon law club while in law school. He taught at Wisconsin Academy and Sheboygan High School before starting his practice.
Madison’s Henry Harnden Camp 2 was a new Camp when Br. Siggelko joined the Sons. At the Dept. level, he served as Dept. counselor in 1906, ‘08, and ’11.
He married Florence Edna Perkins on September 29, 1909. She was eleven years his junior and had been a music teacher at Rochester Academy in Rochester, Wis. She became active in the Auxiliary, despite raising three children: Alice C. (10 Aug 1910 – 26 Feb. 2002) Herbert S. Jr. (12 Nov 1914 – 27 March 1907), and Richard A. (10 Feb. 1918 – 1993). She was a charter member of the Department, when it was chartered in 1914, and served on its first Council.
Br. Siggelko remained active in the Order after his term as Dept. Commander. He served as Camp Organizer in 1914--1916. In the space of those two years alone, 16 camps were chartered and 250 new brothers were mustered-in to the Order. The Department’s membership peaked in 1917 with 1,850 members in 64 Camps.
In 1917, PDC Siggelko was appointed National Counselor by CinC Fred T.J. Johnson and was reappointed the following year by CinC Francis Callahan.
When the 1919 Dept. Encampment was held in Waukesha, Br. Siggelko arranged for moving pictures to be shown as entertainment. Besides the pictures, there was community singing and a four-piece orchestra. The reels presented were: “The Belle of Yorktown,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Wisconsin’s Contribution to the First Ten Thousand.” These were well attended by the GAR and the Allied Orders, and were the climax of the encampment.
Over most of the next 14 years, Br. Siggelko served as his Camp’s Chaplain and as the Dept. Press Correspondent.
He was listed as Camp 2’s Patriotic Instructor in 1938.
On May 26, 1949, the 76-year old brother was lured to a rural area in Juneau County, where he was murdered. A 47-year old ex-convict, who Br. Siggelko represented in an arson case, bludgeoned him to death with a car crank. They allegedly argued over money. His body was found in a wooded area, three miles west of New Lisbon. He was buried in Madison’s Forest Hill Cemetery.
Florence died on December 14, 1957 at age 73 and was buried next to her husband.
Press Forward the Good Work; The History of the Wis. Dept. SUVCW (Vol. 2) by PCinC Stephen Michaels, 1999
Waukesha Daily Freeman, May 27, 1949
Wisconsin State Journal, May 27, 1949