Western Wisconsin Camp Association, Inc., NSAC

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A Brief History of Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp


Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp...Unity Park

This is a photograph from the archives of Judith Ulch who is researching the history of the Camp.This photo, circa 1916, shows our Camp when it was still known as Unity Park. The tents are all set up for the summer gathering where cabins 4-11 are presently located. Tents rented for $3.00 per week. Many people arrived by the frequent trains that stopped in Wonewoc. Although the Camp was not incorporated until 1901, John L. Potter began teaching Spiritualism in 1874 in an old school house in Wonewoc, located in the lumberyard. In 1900, that old school was moved to the Camp.


John L. Potter, lecturer, Wonewoc, was a native of Massachusetts, born in 1836, where he received a good common school education, and in 1854 commenced lecturing on Spiritualism, and followed the same in the New England States until 1861, when he came West, lecturing in Iowa until 1868, since which time he has been following his profession in Wisconsin, living at Wonewoc since June, 1875. He takes no interest in politics, more than to perform his right as a citizen. Source: History of Northern Wisconsin. Publisher: Western Historical Co., Chicago 1881. p. 393

The chapel in its glory when it was first built
The chapel in its glory when it was first built, 1925!

The old dining hall which was basically a tent with screened in windows. How quaint!

The old storage building still in use today. It was built as a storm shelter, too.

The first office building which is now the Angel House.

Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp 1945

Dining Hall, late 1940s


The first Spiritualists arrived in Wonewoc in 1874, most of them from New York, and organized the Joint Stock Spiritualist Association. By 1880 the Spiritualists had a well-organized society and had acquired Wonewoc's first frame school building which was built in 1857. John L. Potter was the regular lecturer, and according to the Wonewoc Enterprise, he lectured each week. The Camp hosted dances, potluck dinners, concerts, and all kinds of activities widely attended by the townspeople.
In 1893, the JSSA bought a piece of land (24x30 rods) on the bluffs overlooking Wonewoc, where the Camp stands today. Western Wisconsin Camp Association organized on April 24, 1902, and held its first Camp Meeting from July 12-28, 1893. The second Camp Meeting was held August 13-27, 1903.
Dr. C.W. Sanderson was elected President, and incorporated the Camp as Western Wisconsin Camp Association, on July 25, 1910. The Camp purchased an addition 8x20 rods of land, adjoining the first on the south side of Camp in 1914. More land was purchased in 1915 which added 5x30 rods of land. The same year the Auditorium was enlarged at a cost of $507.44.
To make easier access for Camp visitors, the Camp purchased a five-rod strip of land which connected it to the highway in 1918. Finally, in 1919, the purchase of 22 acres of land enlarged the Camp to its present size.
In 1921 the fireproof storage house was erected and still stands today as our storage building for furniture, linens, and books. An automated water system was constructed with a new well-house in 1924, at a total cost of $644. As the construction moved along, the Andrew Jackson House and Library was built at a cost of $1500. Two years later, the kitchen and dining room was built by Jacob and Henry Beebe Matteson. Jacob's wife, Cora "Ella" LaValle Matteson was a minister on the grounds for years.
In 1950 the Camp moved into a more modern age when the bathroom and shower building was constructed, costing the Camp $6500. Before that outhouses were used during the day and chamber pots were used in the cabins at night. The Secretary worked out of a tent until 1958 when the new office building was constructed. In the 1930s-1940s, the Secretary sat in a "booth" which was 4'x4' to schedule readings and greet guests.
The cabins were supplied with cold running water in 1979 and each one had a sink installed in it. In 1987, the sewer was laid for a new motel which was first proposed as a 12-unit structure, however, the next year it was built with six units.
Since 1874, Camp Wonewoc has embraced people and given them a place to come for healing. Renovations are on-going, and we are writing more Camp history every day. Come be a part of our history, our healing, and our activities.

The Feight Family at Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp in 1912

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Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp
PO Box 187; 304 Hill Street
Wonewoc, Wisconsin 53968
(608) 464-7770
Website Design by:
Judy Ulch.
Contact her at judithulch@yahoo.com
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