THE HISTORY AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE HERMITAGE CONSERVATION CLUB
The Hermitage Conservation Club was founded on April 21, 1936 by a group of Elkhart Lake
area residents interested in the preservation of the Sheboygan Marsh. Originally established as
the Charles Broughton Club, it was later changed to the Sheboygan Marsh Club and then the
Hermitage Conservation Club with Hermitage being derived from John Sexton, an early
Sheboygan county pioneer known as the “Hermit.”
The first president was Terrett Arndt. The original intention of the club was to build a
clubhouse on the Sexton property where the present public recreational area is now located at
the Sheboygan Marsh. After Mr. Broughton donated the land, public opinion was that the
building should be constructed with public funds rather than by a private club. The club then
abandoned its plans for construction of a clubhouse at that site.
Primary effort of the club in these early years was concentrating on restoring the marsh to a
hunter and fisherman’s paradise. Meetings were held each month at Feldman’s Tavern in
Elkhart Lake and later at the Sheboygan Marsh after the public facilities were built. One of the
primary projects, the planting of duck food in the marsh, was inaugurated and annually
Interesting sidelights from past minutes of the club show that Walter Henschel saw a deer on
his farm on March 2, 1945. On January 4, 1946 Jerry Stauss gave a report on the aspects of bow
hunting. In June, 1950 the club bought a fox hound and offered a bounty of $2.00 on old fox
and $1.00 on pups to members of the organization. In April of 1955 Pinky Karsted reported that
trappers caught 99 Opossums in the marsh.
On September 22 nd , 1946, several thousand people attended the public picnic sponsored by the
Hermitage Club at the Sheboygan Marsh. There were no speeches and the picnickers spent the
entire day enjoying the many concessions and wandering about the beautiful area. Someone
referred to it in having said, “Plenty to eat and had the feeling of the old-time pre-war picnics
for which Sheboygan County is famous.”
In August 1952, the club purchased seven lots on Elkhart Lake just north of the present boat
landing with the intention of building a clubhouse and installing a public boat landing. Several
property owners on the lake opposed the opening of the lake to the public and were successful
in obtaining a court injunction prohibiting the club from using the property for public access.
Later on the Sheboygan County Conservation Association (SCCA) was successful in obtaining a
public access to the lake adjacent to the club property. Throughout the 1950’s, the club held
Gala Events at the marsh to raise money for Conservation Projects. In quite contrast to club
banquets in future years, highlights from these Gala Events featured Professional Male and
Female wresting with an occasional Midget wresting match to make things interesting!!
In January 1965 the club purchased 108 acres adjoining the Sheboygan River north of Elkhart
Lake from Tony and Erma Becker. This is part of the current property today, the balance being
purchase in the 1980’s. At that time the club maintained this area as a public hunting and
fishing grounds, open to the public free of charge. At the original time of purchase, there was
an agreement put in place by the town that the town would put in a public road and maintain
it for the existing boat landing to remain, this agreement is still upheld today. The clubhouse
was constructed in 1970. Since that time the grounds have still been maintained as hunting,
fishing and recreational land but has since been open for only private use for members. In
front of the clubhouse stands a stone that is dedicated to the past and deceased members as
well as a flag pole that was donated by the Kiel Fire Department, to which the original displayed
flag was donated by the Kiel V.F.W. Post 6707. Over the years two additions have been added
to the original clubhouse.
Each fall since 1947 pheasants raised in conjunction with the SCCA are released on the property
for membership hunting. The boat landing on the Sheboygan River remains available to the
public. Camping was offered at a nominal fee on the property for many years but has since
The 1980’s brought a new decade of projects for the Club. A wild game cook book was
published to raise funds in 1981. This helped to fund the planting of 500-1,000 trees on the
property yearly, the planting of 3 acres of corn for game feed, the planting of 250 bass in 1981
and 1982, planting of 2,000 – 3,000 catfish in the Sheboygan River, and the sponsoring of Ducks
Unlimited. During that time the club also sponsored a 2-Day gathering for the National
Retriever Association which drew participants and their retrievers from all over the country.
A trap range is open to the public on various nights for league shooting as well as some
Saturdays for Open Shooting. The Club had traps installed in 1992 and began hosting league
shooting. An interesting newspaper article from August 22 nd , 1996 describes how long time
Club member Mike Kienbaum was the first to shoot a perfect 300 of 300 score during Summer
Trap League, bettering the previously held high score of fellow member Dennis Schneider who
had a 299 of 300 targets, a score that many club members thought would stand for a long time.
The club has been a member of the SCCA since May 1945 and supported the many conservation
projects sponsored by the association. Each year The Hermitage Conservation Club sponsors
hunter safety courses for the youth in the area as well as hosts educational programs such as
Learn To Hunt Turkey Programs, a multitude of classes and seminars put on by Camp Y-Koda
and host local 4H Meetings and projects. The club has spent many years participating in the
Trees for Tomorrow Program as well.
Starting in 1997 the Hermitage Club began holding a yearly banquet in efforts to raise money
for conservation efforts. This yearly banquet still takes place the first Saturday of March to this
day. While wrestling may not be part of the festivities anymore, the banquet features a sit-
down dinner accompanied by many raffles, prizes, auctions and games that ensure a fun night
for all who attend.
In 2019 the Club voted to build a 3D Archery course on the Club grounds. With the help of the
SCCA, funds were raised and along with work from club members a course was built. The
course features a 9 station layout giving archers many different presentations to challenge
themselves. The course was laid out with expansion in mind and the option to add more in the
future. Archery Leagues and Day Shoots were also added to the many events at the club.