The Kewaunee County Historical Society plans to present a special program featuring author and speaker Rochelle Pennington about the Christmas Tree Ship and Captain Schuenemann at 1 p.m. April 8 at the society’s History Center, 217 Ellis St., Kewaunee.

Pennington’s presentation includes many of the century-old photographs of Captain Herman “Santa” Schuenemann, his family, and his ship that for years carried Christmas trees from the Chicago area north to the Door-Kewaunee peninsula until it sank in Lake Michigan on Nov. 22, 1912.

The program features several artifacts including an axe used to chop down trees, dishes, a medicine bottle, spittoon, clay pipe and an ornament carved from one of the first Christmas trees raised from the ship in 1971 when the shipwreck was discovered, and an actual Christmas tree from the cargo.

Underwater photos of the ship with its trees still visible in the cargo area are also part of the program.

Herman Schuenemann Christmas Tree Ship

The Rouse Simmons, also known as the Christmas Tree Ship, with Capt. Herman Schuenemann inset.

Pennington will discuss many of the little-known facts surrounding the story, including the ship’s mysterious disappearance, clues that washed ashore in the decades following the vessel’s demise, ghost ship sightings of the phantom schooner, and mysterious omens that some believe cursed the ship immediately before it set sail on its final voyage.

A presenter to schools, libraries, historical societies, and diverse other audiences, Pennington has received many invitations to return and speak on further topics, evidence of her popularity as a speaker.

The April 8 presentation will be followed by a free light lunch, refreshments and social.

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