Plymouth Last Survivor
Pfeifer's Drug Store - First In Plymouth
Above is a picture of Charles Pfeifer's Drug Store, established by Mr. Dreher and said to have been the first drug store in Plymouth. The building is located at the corner of East Mill and Caroline street.
Mr. Pfeifer is seen standing at the left in picture and his son Fred J., now a physician at New London is leaning against the door. The woman seated at left on the bench is the wife of Dr. A. W. Kratsch of Milwaukee and the other woman is Mrs. Pfeifer. Sitting between the two women is Mr. and Mrs. Peifer's youngest daughter, Fulda, and the other little girl is their daughter Wera. The man standing at right of bench is Adam Heeb and the boy is Mr. and Mrs. Pfeifer's son, Edward.
G. W. Zerler (There is a picture here of G.W. Zerler)
G. W. Zerler is the last survivor of Plymouth's earliest business men.
He was born in Germany in 1848, and when seven years of age came to this country with his parents, who arrived in Sheboygan in 1855 and remained for three years before removing to Plymouth. During the three years' residence of this family in Sheboygan, Mr. Zerler's father was employed as a tailor in the shop then conducted by John Drew on Pennsylvania avenue.
G. W. Zerler started his business in 1865 when he accepted a job as clerk in Smith & Elwell's general store.
The business was started in 1853 by H. N. Smith in a small frame building which was then located on a lot across the street directly south of the present brewery on Main street. The foundation of this building was covered when the railroad was graded through Plymouth. A few years after Mr. Smith started this business he was joined by his brother P. H. Smith, who arrived in 1855. The brothers then moved into a long frame building on the south side of East Mill street a short distance west of the flour mill.
A few years later Mr. Elwell bought an interest in the store and the business was carried on under the firm name of Smith & Elwell until 1866, when H. H. Huson bought the latter's share in the store. In 1872 the firm purchased the store across the street, which had been established three years prior by G. W. Barnard, and Mr. Zerler was placed in charge of this store.
One year later the two stocks were consolidated and Mr. Zerler bought an interest in the business which was then conducted under the firm name of Smith, Huson & Zerler. In 1880 Smith sold his interest to his partners and the firm name was changed from Smith, Huson & Zerler, to that of Huson & Zerler. Mr. Huson died in January 1914, and the following August, Mr. Zerler disposed of the business and retired from active life as a merchant.
When the Hub Club was organized in 1870, Mr. Zerler became a charter member and remained with the organization as an officer in some capacity until it was disbanded in 1890.
The Hub Club was organized as a literary society and won an enviable reputation by the excellent dramatic performances which the organization gave at regular intervals. When the Lyceum hall was opened the Hub club gave the initial performance, which was largely attended, many people coming from Sheboygan and other points to attend the entertainment.
One of the main objectives of the Hub club was to establish a free public library, and to this end, all the proceeds of the entertainments were spent in purchasing books until over 800 volumes had been acquired. These books were placed in several different places until the Woman's Relief Corps took an interest in the matter and established a free reading room in the business district of the city.
During all the intervening years, Mr. Zerler endeavored to crystallize sentiment in favor of a public library, and when an opportunity was presented to obtain aid from the Carnegie fund, he co-operated with the Woman's club of Plymouth, and money was raised which was added to the funds held by the Hub club and a lot was purchased for a site. While the committee in charge endeavored to get $15,000 from the Carnegie Fund, only $10,000 was allotted for the purpose. This donation, however, was found adequate, and by strict economy and proper administration of building operations, the present library building was completed at a cost of $9,999.20.
When the free public library was completed, the Hub club turned over the more than 800 books, many of which are still in good condition, to the institution.
For fifty-seven years, therefore, Mr. Zerler has been actively identified with this laudable movement. During all these years, he has been an officer of some kind, first of the Hub club and after the library was completed, as a member of the board of directors of that institution.
Mr. Zerler resides in the spacious cream-colored brick house which he had erected many years ago upon a beautiful site, situated at the top of the hill on the south side of the river, on what is now known as Eastern avenue.
Despite his years, he is still active and takes a keen interest in all matters relating to the community, state and national welfare. He devotes considerable time to reading books which he finds at the public library that he labored so long and faithfully to help establish in Plymouth.
There are two wonderful pictures on page 22 of the April 29, 1927 issue of the Sheboygan Press. The people named in the pictures are:
(original photo through courtesy of Charles Pfeifer, Plymouth, Wis.)
The original of the above picture was taken at Bocki's garden on Center avenue, Sheboygan, and shows a group of men who were members of the Plymouth Gesang Verein, Carl Freiberg, Director.
Front row: reading from left to right - William Schwartz, B. Berger, Bud Voigt, John Pflugrad, H. Boecher, Carl Freiberg, W. Zerler, John Schwartz, and Gus Moeller.
Back row, reading from left to right - W. Breitung, Fritz Worbes, G. Schierstedt, Herman Maether, Carl Krumrey, Gus Karpe, H. Luehrs, Carl Schwartz, and Robert Scheibe.
The Plymouth Gesang Verein was organized about the year 1858, and among its active members were the men appearing in the above picture.
The Second Picture includes the following names:
(photo through the courtesy of Charles Pfeifer, Plymouth, Wis.)
The original of the above picture was taken in the yard of Anton Schreiner's home in Plymouth. Standing, reading from left to right are:
The late P. K. Wheeler, Two men from Milwaukee, Henry Wheeler, and another man from Milwaukee. The mascot at right is Robert BADE.
Seated reading from left to right are: Anton Schreiner, Mrs. Schreiner, and two ladies and one man from Milwaukee. Lying down is Herman Bade and the man lying prone another Milwaukee man.
Copyright 1997 - 2005 by Debie Blindauer
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