What really happened in Hortonville
BY SKYLAR PEITSCH
8th grade, NCSS
On Jan. 23, my teacher Mrs. Higgins and I took a trip to good ol’ Hortonville. I am working on National History Day, and my topic is the Hortonville teacher strike which took place March 18, 1974. The teachers went on strike because they wanted a higher pay increase, and the school board wouldn’t/couldn’t give it to them.
We tried to contact the Hortonville Historical Society, and ended up talking with the lady who runs it, Joan Docktor and her daughter, Elizabeth Docktor. They invited us to their home to tell us about the event. They were alive, and lived right across from the school when the strike…well…struck! Joan told us all about how scary it was because it seemed like the whole town was involved and she said you could see the hate on everyone’s faces. It wasn’t even safe for kids to go to school. She talked about how the strike divided the entire town.
We saw pictures in newspapers she had of people walking up and down the sidewalks yelling and carrying signs stating what they wanted to change. She said that local people who weren’t teachers gathered in groups in a local bar to form vigilante groups and discuss the strikes. She also told us about how she didn’t even want to look out her front window. She told us how people knocked on her door and asked if they could set up chairs in her driveway to watch the striking teachers because they were fascinated by the conflict. Police officers were there to control the scene. Teachers from other towns came in to help show their support for the strikers.
Elizabeth said she wasn’t even allowed to play outside because the strike was too intense; that there was even a gun reported on the grounds. Some say it was a hunter who accidentally forgot to take his gun out of his truck; others say that he brandished the gun in a threatening way.
They both showed us many newspapers from the time of the strikes, and they were all so helpful. We got to copy a bunch of articles and pictures and even take home two newspapers that they had doubles of! This type of primary source research will help me prove my thesis with my NHD project. I can’t wait to keep working on it. I would like to thank both of them again for all of the amazing primary sources they gave and everything they did for us.