Did you hear the one about Elkhorn's elk horns?
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The elk horns hanging in the Walworth County Historical Society, shown here with historian Dories Reinke, not only sparked the name Elkhorn, but have a history behind them. Photo by Terry Mayer.
ELKHORN--As they're sorting and sifting through the collection of items they've amassed over the years in preparation for moving to new quarters, members of the Walworth County Historical Society are also reminiscing about the finds.
Society board member Frank Eames has donated personal items, and the society’s collection includes duplicate bound volumes of the Elkhorn Independent, which go back to 1855. And one of the thousands of stories told in those pages concerns the famous elk horns. Here is Eames’ version of that episode:
“Back in the 1930s, one of the founding families had them put on display at city hall, where they remained for a number of years. But one of the last living members wanted to sell them to the city for $100, but our tightwad mayor at the time turned him down. So he went and sold them to Ray Morrissy, who owned a bar in (downtown) Delavan.
“When I got out of the Navy in ’56, a friend always teased us about how the elk horns were hanging in a tavern in Delavan, so me and another buddy investigated how we could get them back. We scouted out the premises and figured one of us would go create a diversion in the alley while the other would go in and walk out the front door with the horns. But we thought we should just ask him before going that far, and Ray said yes.
“But it was under three conditions: He got to become an honorary citizen of Elkhorn, he never wanted to pay a parking ticket and a picture of him giving the horns to our mayor would be published on the front page of the Independent, which did happen. The horns ended up at city hall, which later donated them to the museum.”
See the related story on the Walworth County Historical Society's new home HERE.