Kinne-Englehart Post 204 Wisconsin American Legion, Ellsworth, WI, was chartered "Eldon C. Kinne, Post 204" in 1921. Eldon C. Kinne was a World War I soldier killed in action. George Devine was the firts commander (1921-22). On March 27, 1944, Eldon C. Kinne, POst 204, was rechartered to what it is today, "Kinne-Engelhart, Post 204" named after Virgil Engelhart. Engelhart was a World War II sailor, who died when the rescue ship he was on (after his ship was sunk), also sunk.
Legion members met at the Old Fireman's Opera House. The Opera house later burned in a spectacular fire. They met at the Moody Baker Building, which is currently Bo Jo's Floral. They also met at the old fire hall and other palces, as they were available.
The current building was originally a horse barn that the County wanted to get rid of. They give it to the Legion Post. In anticipation of soldiers returning from WWII, the post decided to upgrade the building. In 1943, they put a basement under the building and generally spruced up the building. The upgraded building was occupied in 1944. Ben Wieberdink, an East Ellsworth barber, was commander in 1943, and John Steen, a former farmer, was commander in 1944.
In 1955, Walter Huber, convinced the 652 Engineering Company of the US Army Reserves, to relocate to Ellsworth. The Reservists met at the legion hall. Their heavy equipment was stored at Huber's farm. Post 204 purchased the Hines Transfer building in 1957.
Many Legion members contributed $100 apiece towards the down payment, then waited 10-12 years for repayment. The compound was expanded with the purchase of the local John Deere dealership property. The 652nd Engineering Company has rented the property from Post 204 ever since. The WWI and WWII veterans worked very hard to pay for the property, with various fundraisers. The property was paid off January 23, 1969.
Over the years, many members have served two consecutive years as commander. Two current members, Bernard Meacham (1960 & 1989) and Clarence Hofmeister (1975 & 1979), were the only members to serve non-consecutive terms as commander. Paul Lund (1964) and Delores Lund (1983) are the only husband and wife who have served as commanders. Delores is the only female commander, SO FAR.
The last 10th District Fall Conference held at Kinne-Engelhart, Post 204 was October of 1956. Delbert Helmueller was the commander. The Post also the 10th District Spring Conference in April, 1989. Bernard Meacham was commander.
Kinne-Engelhart Post 204, gives two scholarships per year, co-sponsors Boy Scout Troop 138 with the Ellsworth Fire Department, sponsors a boy to Badger Boy's State, organizes Memorial Day and Veteran's Day events, supports the Ellsworth Community School District, through contributions to the Ellsworth Community School District Foundation, Inc. and contributes to many other causes local, state and national.
-By Jerry Christiansen, Post 204 Historian