Bill Dexter, age 82, rural historian from Gleason, will be recognized by the Merrill Historical Society (MHS) on Saturday, Aug. 19, as part of Local History Week, MHS president Bea Lebal announced. Dexter, a lifelong resident of Gleason, was a cattle breeder, tavern owner, musician, videographer, and Lincoln County Circuit Court bailiff, though his true passion was uncovering and preserving the history of rural Lincoln County. For years he scoured yard sales, flea markets, antique stores, and any place old photographs, albums or movies might appear, and purchased these to help make sense of the early history he had heard about while growing up.
As a videographer, Dexter compiled these into historical videos in order to share the early stories. Some of his videos are:
•Heineman (the town destroyed in a 1910 forest fire)
•The Gleason Line (history of the railroads radiating from Gleason)
•Logging Yesterday and Today
•Lincoln County Fair, 1939
•Lincoln County Courthouse, 1998
After local schooling, Dexter enlisted in the U.S. Navy for four years. He and his wife Arlene, who passed away several years ago, have one son Scott (Tammy), and three grandchildren.
Dexter’s photos and albums will be on display at MHS on Saturday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and at 2 p.m. a recognition ceremony in his honor will occur. Dexter is expected to travel from Sheboygan (where he is currently recuperating from health issues) with his son to be in attendance.
He has stated his wishes that his collections be shared with MHS to reach the widest possible audience.