Historic musical family visits roots in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Historic musical family visits roots in Wausau


A family with a rich musical history in central Wisconsin is going back to its roots. The Winningers lived here in Wausau and even performed at the historic Grand Theater close to a century ago.

"You just kind of feel like you're back in time," said Frank Winninger.

The Winningers aren't calling this a family reunion, because most of them have never met, until now.

"This is kind of our roots, so we figured why not return to the scene of the crime," Frank Winninger told Newsline 9.

The original clan came to the United States from Austria and eventually to central Wisconsin. Almost immediately, music took center stage in their lives.

"They performed at the Grand in the winter and then they had a tent that traveled around, through Wisconsin and throughout the upper Midwest," said Frank Winninger.

To celebrate their history the family headed to two places they had deep connections with. To kick things off the Bettgen Funeral Home in Schofield. It was one of the first homes for the family in the Wausau area.

"It's fun to be together and compare the accuracy on the family tree and kind of just walk down the same roads and memory lane. That's really important," said Frank Winninger.

"For me, it's kind of magical to think about the fact that they walked on these floors and were in this space. It's kind of cosmic. It's sort of bringing the circle around again," said Jean Johnstad, formally Jean Winninger.

Then, it was on to to the Grand Theater, where the Winningers of today stood on the same stage their ancestors did in the 1920s.

"The music is just always something that's been an enriching part of my life," said Jean Johnstad.

To this day, music still runs in the family. Many of the Winningers told me it's something that's always played a big role in their lives and will continue to for generations to come.

More than twenty members of the Winninger family traveled from all over the country to take part in the event.

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