Village Of Sheboygan Falls Platted In 1837; First Named Rochester
The village of Sheboygan Falls received an independent organization in 1854. In the spring of 1837, R. B. Marcy and Silas Stedman platted the land about the falls into village lots, under the name of Rochester. In 1846, David Giddings, B. C. Trowbridge, S. Stedman and Albert Ramserill, owners of the village of Rochester, re-platted with additional grounds, which became the recognized plat of the village. In 1850, by act of the legislature, the name was changed from Rochester to that of Sheboygan Falls.
On May 1, 1834 (?), the first charter election was held. The total number of votes cast was forty-seven and the following officers were chosen: President, John Keller; trustees, George Trombull, A. Skinner, J. E. Thomas, and W. D. Kirkland; treasurer, H. S. March; clerk, William H. Cole; and marshal, William C. Eastwood.
The first post office at Sheboygan Falls, which properly may be said to have been the first post office in the county, was established in 1837 with George Babcock as first postmaster. A post office had been established at Sheboygan in 1836, but was temporarily abandoned the following year when all the families, with the exception of the postmaster's left that port in the spring of 1837. The office was then established at Sheboygan Falls, mail being received by carrier on the regular route between Milwaukee and Green Bay. The first mail carrier, named Griswold, grew tired of the job and committed suicide by hanging himself in 1837.
The postmasters who have served in that office since it was established, in regular order of their succession, were: Charles D. Cole; W. H. Prentice; L. M. Marsh; J. E. Thomas; Col. S. B. Stedman; James T. Bridgeman (second term); Charles A. Spencer; Joseph Osthelder, Sr.; Ben Heald; J. B. Ogle; B. H. Sanford; George A. Robbins; George Wildermuth; Dr. C. W. Pfeiffer; and Dr. R. M. Nichols, incumbent.
In 1913 the post office was changed from third to second class.
Unfortunately, a few years ago one of the most interesting old landmarks in Sheboygan county was torn away and demolished. This was an old frame cabin which stood on the hill on the east side of the river a short distance north of the interurban tracks, and which was the first school house built in Sheboygan county. In this small building, Horace Rublee taught the first class of children, and until the district was organized several years later, some of the most prominent men in the later life of the community received their early educational training in this school house.
Another old landmark still stands near the east limits of the city at what was commonly called the Junction. This dwelling house was erected during the pioneer days for William Sully. At the present time it is occupied by Ben Huele and his family.
The beautiful home of Abner O. Heald, situated on the north side of the main traveled highway to Plymouth, is a picturesque reminder of earlier days in Sheboygan Falls. This very unusual dwelling, with its spacious grounds, its broad stone wall which extends along the entire road frontage of the lot, and the inviting landscape gardening, was the original home of Samuel Rounseville, former nurseryman and prominent resident of the village.
The brown-colored frame house which stands at the top of the hill directly north of the interurban station, now occupied by Charles F. Heald, was originally owned and occupied by John Sully and his family.
The greatest interest surrounding the former industrial life of the village up to 1883, was the old Col. Stedman mill, the first to be erected in the vicinity. This sawmill was completed in the winter of 1836, and from that time until it was washed away in the flood of 1883, many of the most important manufacturing industries of Sheboygan Falls were housed in this building at one time or another.
About 1859, E. Quinlan rented a portion of the building and began manufacturing rakes. Later George W. Arnold became associated with Quinlan, but within a short time afterward Arnold withdrew and Quinlan again became sole owner of the business. In 1871 George Spratt bought out Quinlan and carried on the business until the old landmark was washed away. Mr. Spratt then for a short time after the flood carried on the business in the building now occupied by the Fessler's store, and in 1864 (Is this date right ?? - K.R.) moved the rake manufacturing business to the city of Sheboygan.
In was in this building that George Mattoon, founder of the present Northern Furniture company of Sheboygan, and his brother, Obed, started in the furniture business. They made chair spindles for a few years and after George Mattoon moved to Sheboygan, his brother Obed established a retail furniture store on the ground floor of the three-story frame building located at the corner of Monroe and Water streets. While Mattoon was in the Stedman mill the boiler exploded with terrific force, causing considerable damage. Charles Mar (??), employed in the factory, had his boots completely blown off his feet by the concussion, but otherwise escaped uninjured.
Taylor Brothers also occupied part of this old mill as a sash, door and blind factory. Immediately after the flood, Taylor Bros. continued their business in a building on Water street, on the east side of the river near the site of the present oil filling station, until the building was destroyed by fire in 1884.
The Stedman mill was located on the south side of the street at the (?) approach to the new bridge. It was a two-story frame building, typical of early days, mounted upright log supports which rested upon the rock foundation of the river bed. Elsewhere in this historical number of The Press may be found a picture of this mill showing the original dam and other buildings which stood in proximity.
It is interesting to not that the present Brickner Woolen Mills were started in the old Stedman mill in 1861. The company was originally known as the Sheboygan Falls Woolen Mills and was established by William Prentice. Later it was known as Prentice & Farnsworth, then Prentice & Heald and after that as Brickner & Heald. In 1872 Brickner became sole owner of the mills.
Among the old landmarks located along the east side of the river is the three-story frame building directly north of the present interurban station, in which Mattoon had his furniture store. The hall on the upper floor of this building was used by practically every leading lodge of Sheboygan Falls. It was here that the first temperance society in Wisconsin was organized on September 30, 1847. The name of this society was the "Sons of Temperance No. 1" and the charter was obtained from New York. The organization was succeeded by the Sheboygan Falls Lodge of Good Templars No. 1. Later the society was called the "Alliance Lodge of Good Templars."
St. John's Lodge No. 24, of Masons, also met in this hall for some time. This lodge was organized on September 6, 1849, with a membership of ten. The first officers were: Harrison Hobart, W. M.; L.W. Davis, S. W.; L. B. Brainard, J. W.; V. Young, S.; William Trowbridge, T.; G. H. Smith, S. D.; (?) Roberts, J. D.; and Thomas I. Graham, Tiler.
The large frame building on Water street directly south of the building just mentioned, known as Temperance House, was the second frame building erected in Sheboygan Falls. Dr. Shepherd, Sr., occupied the building for a number of years, as did C. D. Cole and his family. Later it was occupied by the Vincent family. Despite its age, the building is still in a fine state of preservation.
The building at the east approach to the bridge, for many years occupied by the News plant, was originally known as Stedman hall. For many years this was the most popular public meeting place in Sheboygan Falls. At one time a man named BLOM occupied a portion of the building and manufactured chairs.
The hotel located on Monroe street opposite the railway station was built by Col. Thorpe, and since his time has been under several different managements and known under many different names. When the first county fair was held at Sheboygan Falls, fruit, vegetables and other articles were exhibited in this hotel, while the livestock was exhibited at Free hall at the top of the hill north of the interurban station.
Free Hall was erected in the (??)'s and for many years was a popular meeting place for the inhabitants of that locality. During the Civil war the hall was utilized for drilling men before they went to the front. The hall was later converted into living quarters and since then has been used for dwelling purposes.
The foregoing information and that which is to follow was furnished by William P. Bryant and (?). C. Katzback, both prominent residents of Sheboygan Falls. The former was born in Racine in July, 1847, and came with his parents to Sheboygan Falls in September, (????). From 1875 to 1892 he taught in the schools throughout the county, but during the last few years he made his home in Milwaukee.
The first night after their arrival at the Falls, the Bryant family obtained lodgings at a hotel then conducted by a Mrs. Knowles. This hotel was located near the junction of the Milwaukee road and the Dye road, and at this junction, Mr. Bryant said, there was a guide post on which was printed "Milwaukee 54 miles - Green Bay 60 miles."
In 1869 Mr. Bryant broke his left leg in two places and his right leg in one place, both between the knees and hips, when a horse he was riding became frightened and ran away. The sulkey in which Mr. Bryant was riding struck a bump in the road and he was thrown against a tree, sustaining the injuries which caused a permanent partial disability.
W. C. Kutzback, who operates a custom tailoring shop on Broadway north of the railroad tracks, is a son of August F. Kutzback, who was a pioneer tailor of Sheboygan Falls. The father came to the Falls in the early 50's and in 1866 formed a partnership with E. Roitsch and established a custom tailoring shop on the east side of Broadway north of the railroad tracks. Later this building was moved across the street where it stands at the present time. William C. learned his trade as a tailor in a shop other then his father's and in 1879 established a business of his own which he has continued ever since.
The first foundry in Sheboygan Falls was built in 1846 by Horace Trowbridge on the north side of the street at the west approach to the new wagon bridge. For many years this was the only foundry in all the region between Milwaukee and Green Bay. In 1850 a brick building replaced the former frame structure which was destroyed by fire. When the business was resumed after the fire, a new firm was organized known as Trowbridge, Rogers & Co., and the name of the foundry changed to that of the "Phoenix Iron Works." In 1856, however, Rogers sold out his interest to Louis Pierce and the company was then known as Trowbridge & Co. Pierce did not remain in the company long before he traded his interest for a farm and withdrew from the Phoenix Iron Works.
In 1875 C. E. Sanford bought the foundry and carried on the business under the name of Phoenix Iron Works, manufacturing principally water wheels, which were sold under the trade name "Walsh Turbine." During the recent years the building has been owned and occupied as a warehouse by Brickner Woolen Mills.
In 1848 A. P. Lyman, who opened a general store two years previous in the building now occupied by Fessler's store, began operating the Rock Mills, which were located near what is known as the second dam. At that period there were three different mills located near this site with water rights to this power. A flimsy wagon bridge was constructed across the river at this dam, leading from the mills up the incline to the main traveled highway at the top of the hill. In 1857 Mr. Lyman had this mill thoroughly repaired and greatly increased the capacity of his grist and flour grinding.
This mill was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on several occasions. Bray, Robinson & Co. operated it as a flouring mill for some time after which it was taken over by Heald, Reysen & Co. A. Henry succeeded the latter firm, and during his ownership it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt by him. In 1897 R. H. Thomas bought the property and the following year reopened the flouring-mill, which he continued to operate until 1913, when he disposed of it to W. O. Dassow who, five years later, sold the property to E. Gonzenbach. The latter changed the name to that of Falls Roller Mills. A few years later the Wisconsin Power & Light company acquired possession of the property and recently converted the building into an automatic hydroelectric station.
On March 7, 1849, Fidelity Lodge No. 34, I.O.O.F. was organized, and in 1871 was re-organized with N. P. Hotchkiss as Noble Grand. In 1879 the lodge hall and building in which it was located on Pine street was destroyed by fire which had its origin in the rear of Dr. Shepherd's drug store, which occupied the ground floor. This fire spread to the building at the corner and this too, was destroyed in the conflagration. The Odd Fellows immediately rebuilt, and John Never, who had a tailor shop across the street on Broadway, had the two story building constructed which is now occupied by his son Henry.
About 1850, Joseph Richardson started a custom saw-mill west of the city limits, manufacturing cheese boxes, patent farm gates and woodwork of nearly every description. Mr. Richardson came to Sheboygan Falls in 1845, and with his sons, William H. and Egbert, formed a company known for many years as J. Richardson & Sons. Since 1876 the business has been carried on under the firm name of Richardson Bros. In 1857 a lathmill was attached to the original building, and in 1864 a circular saw with a cutting capacity of 1,000 feet an hour was installed. Four years later a planing mill was put in place, and in 1870 the saw-mill department was entirely rebuilt.
The first newspaper in the village was called the Free Press which was started in 1851 with J. A. Smith proprietor and editor. About a year after it was started the plant was moved to Fond du Lac where it was later converted into a daily known as the Daily Commonwealth. In 1926 this newspaper was merged with the Fond du Lac Reporter.
The Herald was started in 1868 by Littlefield & Connor. Soon afterward, it was purchased by Charles S. McCausland who had his office for a time in the Sheboygan Falls hotel on the east side of the river. The printing presses and equipment were later moved to the top floor of a frame building on the east side of Broadway just north of the railroad tracks. When this building was burned, the publishing of the Herald was continued at Sheboygan where, after changing ownership several times it was purchased by the late Otto Gaffron, of Plymouth. In January, 1927, the name was amalgamated with that of the Review and Reporter and is now owned and published by H. W. Quirt who purchased the plant from Mrs. Gaffron in July, 1926.
The Sheboygan County News was started in the city of Sheboygan in 1876 and two years later in May, was moved to Sheboygan Falls where it was published by F. J. Mills, Sr. In September, 1878, John E. Thomas became proprietor and he was succeeded by his son, the late William C. Thomas, who conducted the paper in connection with the official organ of the dairy interests of the state. After the death of Mr. Thomas, which occurred in January, 1925, L. E. and R. A. Perry purchased the entire printing plant and now are owners and publishers of the Daily Market Reporter, and also the Sheboygan County News.
In 1842, C. D. Cole started a saw-mill and grist-mill on the east side of the river south of the old Stedman mill. A rude set of stone had already been in operation in the Stedman mill, but after Cole started milling the stones in the Stedman mill were removed.
Mr. Cole had several sons who later were identified with the development of Sheboygan Falls and also the city of Sheboygan. One son, husband of Mrs. Helen Brainard Cole, of Sheboygan, died during the first year of the Civil war.
In 1844, A. T. Littlefield and Jonathan Leighton built a double saw-mill on the west side of the river on a site now occupied by the Brickner Woolen Mills. The former mill was built on a wager in six weeks. Fifty hands were employed in the Littlefield & Leighton mill for some time.
James R. Cole, for a few years rented a portion of the old Stedman mill and engaged in the making of sash, doors and blinds.
About the same period Little & Relfe/Reife ? manufactured wooden pumps in a building located on what, in recent years, has been known as the Meyer estate. This is situated on Maple street about one block west of the White Wagon Works.
The first tannery was built by J. D. Gould in 1855. It was located on the west side of the river north of the lower dam. While Gould operated the tannery, he also established a retail shoe store on Broadway in a building located on the site now occupied by L. F. Dean & Son, undertakers. During the Civil war period, Mr. Gould moved his shoe stock to the building located a the southwest corner of Broadway and Pine street. He was one of only two subscribers who received a daily newspaper at that time, and each morning residents of the village gathered in his store to hear the latest from the front.
In 1866 Charles S. Weisse, Sr., purchased this tannery from Mr. Gould and the former was succeeded by his sons, Charles H. and Louis A. The former was killed on October 8, 1919, when a portion of a brick wall fell upon him after the tannery had been destroyed by fire.
Charles H. Weisse, before his death, was a prominent democrat in Wisconsin politics, and for eight years represented this district in Congress, being the only democrat from this section of the state to be elected to the sixtieth Congress.
The tannery was rebuilt by Louis Weisse, brother of Charles H., and carried on by him and his two sons until 1925 when the tannery was closed. At this time, the building is unoccupied.
In 1865, the Riverside Woolen Mills were started by Hills & Clark. They carried on the business until 1875, when the property was taken over by the German Bank of Sheboygan, which, the year previous, had established a branch at the Falls with John C. Fairweather as cashier. A deal was then entered into whereby the firm of O. Treadwell & Co. continued the business. For a few years the mills were carried on under this management, employing about forty hands making shawls exclusively. At the request of the late J. H. Mead, then head of the German Bank, G. H. Brickner, son of the late G. H. Brickner, bought the interest which the bank held in the property and became the sole owner.
Since it was first erected in 1865, several additions have been made to the building, which is now occupied by the White Wagon Works.
In 1854, William Servis began manufacturing carriages and wagons. He steadily enlarged the business with a brick block and several other buildings used for manufacturing purposes. The work of this factory was awarded first premiums at six consecutive state fairs and also at the world fair held at Chicago in 1893. After Mr. Servis died the building was idle for a few years when M. McKinnon & Son occupied it for the manufacture of curd agitators and other cheese factory equipment. After carrying on this business for about five years, McKinnon sold his patents to Stoelting Bros. of Kiel and closed the Sheboygan Falls factory. The building is now owned by the city and occupied as the city hall and the fire department.
The Congregational church was organized with thirteen members on June 12, 1847. The first pastor was the Rev. Mr. Hiram Marsh, and the first meeting was held in the old district school house on Broadway at the foot of Pine street. The edifice was dedicated in the fall of 1854. After the congregation disbanded, the property was purchased by the Evangelical Lutheran congregation and used by it as a house of worship until the present new modern edifice was completed. When building operations started, the old Congregational church building was moved off the site and now is situated on the west side of Buffalo street north of the railroad tracks, where it is occupied by the Farmers Equity society of Sheboygan county. The building is now owned by R. H. Thomas.
In 1853, Carl Osthelder started a brewery on the site now occupied by the Falls Brick & Tile company. Mr. Osthelder died in 1863, and after the Civil war his son, Joseph, returned to the Falls and carried on the business which his father had established. He discontinued the brewery in 1874 and opened a saloon downtown, which was later carried on by his son, Louis G. Osthelder.
During the early 60's, W. D. Kirkland had a cooperage on the east side of the river south of the new bridge and opposite the old Prentice woolen mill. This building still stands on its original site, the ground floor being occupied as a garage and the upper floor as living quarters.
The first frame school house was erected on the east side of Broadway directly south of the Brickner Woolen Mills office. It was a two-story building in which the majority of men and women prominent in building up the community attended school. When a more commodious school house was erected this old landmark was moved on a lot now occupied by the post office, but later was removed across the street where it is now occupied by the Fricke garage.
During the earlier days, a long frame building stood on the west side of Broadway, extending from Pine street north. During the 50's this rookery was occupied by Mose and John Keller, tinsmiths, Marsh's drug store and Joern's flour and feed store. When the present two-story modern brick block was erected, this building was moved on Buffalo street immediately north of the railroad tracks where it is occupied by a wagon shop and also as a harness shop. This building now stands adjacent to the old Congregational church building.
On the site of the present Henry Never clothing store, Archibald Skinner and his son, in 1854, occupied a frame building, which burned in 1879, as a general merchandise store. Later John Sully, a pioneer settler of Sheboygan Falls, occupied the same building; but in the spring of 185? he moved his entire stock of merchandise into what was then called Cole's store on the east side of the river. This is the three story building at the corner of Water and Monroe streets, many years ago owned and occupied by C. D. Cole, first merchant in Sheboygan county.
In 1859, John Bryant, father of William F. Bryant and grandfather of J. L. Bryant, photographer at Sheboygan, opened a jewelry store on the west side of Broadway directly south of the present State Bank, A few years later Mr. Bryant retired from the business.
It may be well to mention at this time that Frederick Joerns, who occupied one section of the old rookery south of the building in which Mr. Bryant had his jewelry store, in January, 1856, moved his entire stock of merchandise from the Falls to Winooski. At one time M. P. Roberts had a drug store and Nicholaus Bogk had a general store in this same building.
On the east side of Broadway extending from the railroad tracks north to the present Weisse tannery, were several frame buildings, all of which were destroyed in 1868 by one of the most disastrous fire in the history of the village. This conflagration consumed George Wood's harness shop, Morgan's paint shop, Gould's shoe store, Dick Dennett's saloon, Charles Chamberlain's billiard hall and a three-story frame building which was located near the railroad tracks.
Other serious fires which occurred at the Falls, in addition to those already mentioned in this review, were: Hill & Clark's hub & spoke factory in 1865; the Skinner fire in the same year; Joseph Osthelder's brewery in 1869; Owen Sprague's fanning-mill and pump factory, located on the east side of the river near the railway station, in 1875; Henry Dicke's brewery, at the north end of the village near the present ice houses, in 1877; the Odd Fellows block on Pine street in 1879; and G. H. Brickner's gristmill in 1880. The Brickner gristmill was then being operated by J. H. Reysen, and was destroyed by fire after having been struck by lightning. The building was located on the east side of the river opposite the present Brickner Woolen Mills.
Charles and Louis Trowbridge, up to about 1862, occupied a small section of the ground floor in the Guyette House as a jewelry store. Soon after the Indian scare, Charles Trowbridge opened a watch repairing and jewelry store in the city of Sheboygan.
Before the Civil war, and before the Guyette House was built, John Christian conducted a general store in an old frame building which stood on the site.
On the opposite side of the street, north of the present city hall, was an old hostelry conducted by a man named Arnoldi who at one time was proprietor of the Washington House in Sheboygan. Louis Ballschmider bought this property and about thirty-four years ago had the present City Hotel erected on the premises.
Directly south of the Servis carriage and wagon shop was H. Benedict's blacksmith shop. This building was then owned by Mrs. John Hauenstein, and was torn down when the old frame school house was moved on the lot. South of this blacksmith shop was H. Schuman's wagon shop, which was established in 1869. Mr. Schuman worked principally on orders. After the death of Mr. Servis, Benedict and Schuman entered into a partnership and carried on the business on a larger scale in the two-story brick building now occupied by the Dean undertaking parlors.
William Kutzback originally occupied a frame building that formerly stood on the site of the present Brickner Woolen Mills office, where he conducted a custom tailoring shop for a few years before moving to his present quarters on the east side of Broadway near the post office. John Never, father of Henry, also occupied the same building before he had a brick block constructed at the southwest corner of Broadway and Pine streets. Near the former frame building was another in which Henry Bogk conducted a meat market for a few years.
After A. P. Lyman vacated the building now occupied by Fessler's store the first tenant of which there is an authentic record was E. F. Bond, who later entered into partnership with J. J. Zufelt in the hub and spoke factory on Buffalo street between Pine and Bridge streets.
It was in the Zufelt factory that E. B. Garton, prominent toy manufacturer, of Sheboygan, first found employment after he arrived here from Canada in the fall of 1864. The Zufelt factory has since been divided and remodeled to accommodate the purposes of various kinds of business enterprises. Henry Groh's hardware store is located in a section of the old hub and spoke factory. The store is located on the north side of Pine street east of Buffalo street.
West of the City Hall, on Buffalo street, is a two-story frame building used for residence purposes. This building originally stood on the fair grounds when the county fairs were held at the Falls. For years it was utilized as the exhibit hall at the county fairs. When the city purchased the building it was moved to the present site where it was later re-modeled and converted into living apartments.
In referring to the old building which formerly stood on the site where John Never erected the brick store in 1882, several interesting historical incidents were inadvertently omitted. For a few years the old building was occupied by David Giddings and his family, sometime after Mr. Giddings was married to Deacon Trowbridge's daughter in 1842. In 1864, it was occupied by Horniman and CO., as a general store. The silent partner of the firm was Lewis Pierce who later purchased an interest with Horace Trowbridge in the foundry. A detailed history of Lewis Pierce appears in a review of the history of the town of Lima, where he owned and operated a flouring mill for a number of years.
From Broadway, extending west on Pine street, the early business establishments were as follows:
On the south side of the street was the Wisconsin Hotel, now occupied as a furniture store by A. E. Rauschert. This hotel at different times was conducted by Ostrom; N. D. Brown; and later by Louis Walter.
West of the hotel was Mrs. H. (?). Martin's millinery shop. This building was torn down and the building now occupied by O. H. Hertzberg was erected upon the grounds.
William Sully occupied the building in which L. L. Lindner now has his shoe store.
A man named Wedephol had a boot and shoe store on the site now occupied by Schlichting's grocery store at the northwest corner of Pine and Buffalo streets.
The Franklin House, now owned and conducted by L. P. Cahill, is an old landmark in that section of the city. Near this hotel was a bakery owned and operated by a man named Aderhold.
A Mr. Chamberlain, father of A. (?). Chamberlain, who is one of the only three who survived the terrible calamity when the steamer Sea Bird was burned on Thursday, April 9, 1868, on Lake Michigan off Waukegan, Ill., many years ago erected the building on the south side of Pine street now occupied by the Falls Mercantile company. The was a hall on the second floor of this building which for many years was used as a meeting place by the Episcopal congregation and other societies.
The building directly east of the Falls Mercantile company store was originally built and owned by T. (?). Brush, and since his death has changed ownership several times.
The first Episcopal service of which there is a record was held in "Free Hall," located on the east side of the river, on the first Sunday after Easter, in the spring of 18?4. Later the place of holding services was changed to the old school house, and then to Chamberlain's hall. The cornerstone for the church edifice was laid by Bishop Kemper on June 8, 1869, and the first service held in it on January 16, 1870. The Rev. H. Stan(?) is the present vicar.
Mose Guyett came to Sheboygan Falls in 1861, and for a number of years thereafter conducted the Sheboygan Falls Hotel, located on the east side of the river opposite the railway station; but in 1868 he bought of Frohne the Falls Inn, located on the west side of Broadway directly north of the railroad tracks. This building was razed about three years ago and an oil filling station occupies the grounds.
During the early 50's, A. B. Hough and W. W. Harris operated a sash, door and blind factory; but in May, 1855, they dissolved the partnership. Lewis and Harris then carried on the business in a new factory which was built near the railway station.
In 1854, D. J. George began manufacturing wooden pumps and clothes reels, which he continued for several years.
One of the outstanding dwelling houses on the west side of the river is the cream-colored brick which was erected for William Prentice during the early days of the village history. Otto B. Weisse now lives in the house which stands at the southwest corner of Pine and Detroit streets.
Among the later factories established at the Falls was a foundry built for Demand and Robert Huyck in 1881. The firm did all kinds of iron work. The original building, which stands west of the present railway station, is now used as a woodshed.
While sinking a well on Harley Gidding's farm in the spring of 1881, water was reached at a depth of 1,200 feet which showed marked medicinal qualities. The discharge filled a four inch pipe. This well was located on the present Pinehurst farm and later was plugged to prevent the overflow on adjacent land.
Mr. Bryant states that during the peak of milling activities at the Falls, logs covered the Sheboygan river from bank to bank all the way from Sheboygan Falls to the junction of the Mullet river, a distance of several miles.
A Hook and Ladder company was organized in 1867 with Charles Osthelder foreman. A hand engine was bought and an engine company organized in 1869 with Charles Miller as foreman. This engine house was located at Broadway opposite the present Evangelical Lutheran church building. A volunteer company of fifty men was organized in 1816.
At that time there were only thirty-six hydrants in the city. When the city dug the present two wells and piped the entire city, the hand-pump was sold, and in 1923 a combines hose and chemical motor-driven truck was purchased and the number of hydrants was increased to fifty-eight. J. P. Schneider was appointed fire chief, which position he still holds in the department.
Reviewing the history of Sheboygan Falls the present generation must be deeply impressed by the intrepidity and the hardiness of its pioneers who penetrated the wilderness of luxuriant pines and carved the site for the beautiful city that lies in the peaceful valley through which, serpent-like, the Sheboygan river wends its way toward Lake Michigan.
Standing upon the prominence known as Thomas Hill and looking southward over the undulating farm lands which reach as far as the eye may see, the spectator gazed in admiration at the picturesqueness of the panorama which is presented. It is not difficult to visualize the beauty with which nature clothed this particular spot. In fancy, the mind pictures the majestic pines which towered high and, with spreading branches that intertwined, formed nature's own canopy over the wide expanse of territory.
Indeed, it is an inspiring site, on a perfect day, to stand on an advantageous point at the top of the hill and, in contemplation, follow the winding course of the river from the point where it enters the city from the west to where it disappears from sight, a long distance east of the city limits; and then to meditate and try to visualize the same region as it actually appeared when Col. Stedman and a few other sturdy pioneers arrived and began cutting down the trees and converting the logs into lumber with which the first dwelling houses were built in that Section.
Ninety years is not long in the history of time, yet there is not one single person living today who can distinctly remember the circumstances connected with the first few years of pioneer settlement in Sheboygan Falls. All that is known today has been handed down by someone who long since has passed away.
Doubtless, the earliest settlers at the Falls did not realize that some day a thriving little city would eventually be built upon and around the place where they erected saw-mills; but they could not have selected a more inviting site for such a purpose. That Sheboygan Falls did not become the metropolis of the county is due to the fact that transportation was the important factor in the development of an industrial community. Before railroads were extended through the county, water was the only means of transportation and consequently it was a natural result that the leading city was built along the shore of Lake Michigan.
The comparatively short distance between the two places prevented the village of Sheboygan Falls from keeping pace with that of Sheboygan. The lack of natural transportation facilities, therefore, retarded the growth of the village of Sheboygan Falls.
The advent of the Sheboygan and Mississippi railroad caused a temporary increased business activity in the village; but for many years thereafter the population remained approximately the same. The few small chair factories in and near the village gradually were removed to the city of Sheboygan, and after the timber had been cut off the lumber industry entirely ceased in that locality. The mills which for many years previous had been the scene of great activity, were converted to other purposes after the hum of the saws were stilled forever.
While the lumber industry is now but history, Sheboygan Falls still may boast of having many manufacturing plants, more then the average city of the same class contains. Prominent among these is the Brickner Woolen Mills, which, in point of continuous years of operation, has an enviable record. The White Wagon Works and the Jenkins Machine company, the latter occupying the building formerly owned by the Falls Motor corporation, are both manufacturing industries of unusual size and importance.
The city has excellent educational facilities and houses for religious worship. A review of these will be found in this historical number of the Press, under proper classification.
In addition to the grade and high schools, the Sheboygan County Rural Normal school is located at Sheboygan Falls. The building was started in 1923 and dedicated with impressive ceremonies on Wednesday of the first week in December, 1924, with Oscar Huhn of Sheboygan president of the board. This school was the first in the state of Wisconsin to be put on a post-graduate basis. All persons of good character who have completed four years of high school work, or its equivalent, are admitted to the one-year course, which is the only course offered by the institution. No tuition is charged students from Sheboygan county. Tuition of students from other counties is paid by the county from which the students come.
The city of Sheboygan Falls was incorporated by act of legislation on October 27, 1913, and at the first election H. E. Boldt was elected mayor and Ober Chaplin as city clerk.
The present official family includes the following:
Mayor - William O. Dassow
Clerk - Erhart A. Demand
Common Council - Chas. D. DeLong, president; Richard Friedrichs, August Schueffner and E. A. Krause
Assessor - Owen Minch
Treasurer - P. G. LaChance
Supervisors - First Ward, R. H. Thomas; Second Ward, O. A. Damrow
City Attorney - F. H. Schlichting
Justices of the Peace - Lester C. Weisse and Chas. F. Heald
Chief of Police - E. A. George
Chief of Fire Department - L. P. Schneider
Health Commissioner - Dr. W. M. Sonnenburg
Park Board - Geo. A. Robbins, president; Herbert C. Roska, secretary; John Bauernfeind, W. C. Brickner, Chas. F. Heald, and J. K. Widder
Board of Public Utility Commissioners - J. H. Thomas, president; Guy E. Melendy, secretary; Wm. O. Dassow, A. P. Schneidewind and C. D. DeLong
Supt. of the Water and Light Plants - John Van Ouwerkerk
Sexton - Peter Van Der Weele
The city owns and operates the water system and also the electric lighting system, the electricity used to operate both systems being supplied mainly by the Wisconsin Power and Light company.
The water supply is derived from two artesian wells which are located near the city hall. The water comes from a great depth and is pure and wholesome for drinking purposes.
The first well was drilled in the fall of 1916 to a depth of 421 feet from the surface, the entire distance was drilled through rock. A ten-inch pipe extends for the first 141 feet and an eight-inch pipe extends the remaining 280 feet to bottom of the well. The water from the well is pumped with air pressure into a reservoir at ground level. This reservoir has a capacity of 126,000 gallons and is situated near the city hall. From this reservoir, the water is pumped into a stand-pipe tower located at the top of Thomas Hill on the east side of the river, at an elevation of eighty feet. This water tower has a capacity of 80,000 gallons and stands 144 feet above the station pumping level.
The second well was drilled in 1922. It is located on Adams street in what is known as Cole's Flats. Its entire depth of 115 feet was drilled through solid rock. A 12-inch pipe extend all the way down and water flows constantly at the rate of 110 gallons a minute, into a concrete reservoir having a capacity of 127,000 gallons. The water is pumped from the reservoir to the water tower by means of an automatic electric devise.
There is a static pressure of 62.4 pounds in the downtown section of the city.
The electric lighting system was installed in September, 1916, and this and the water system in common produce fair returns to the city, the rates for both water and light comparing favorably with that charged by other cities of the same class.
In addition to these utilities, the city is served by the Wisconsin Public Service company, of Sheboygan, which, three years ago, extended its supply pipes to that city. The majority of homes in Sheboygan Falls use this gas service.
The city is divided into two wards and has two sewer districts, one on the east and the other on the west side of the river. The sewer system was established in 1916, and covers the entire corporate limits of the city. The system embraces four miles of sewer pipe ranging from eight to twenty inches in diameter. The city has acquired two acres of land, which is conveniently and practically located, and plans are being made for a septic tank and sewage disposal plant on this site.
The city is provided abundantly with excellent streets, at present there being approximately seven miles of concrete pavement within the city limits.
The recreational facilities consist of River Park, which has an area of about six city blocks and is located near the Sheboygan county Normal school. The St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran congregation has a park containing about three and one-half acres, located about one-half mile west of the city limits. A growth of beautiful virgin pine stands on these grounds.
On the east side of the river is an excellent tourist camp site, and nearby is located the government rifle range. This is provided with a 600-yard range and is used by the State Guards in target practice.
The Sheboygan and Fond du Lac railway was opened from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac, through Sheboygan Falls, in 1869, and the electric road from Sheboygan to Sheboygan Falls was placed in operation in 1899. Charles Whitcomb was the first station agent when the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railway company began operating its trains through Sheboygan Falls.
Residents of Sheboygan Falls are endeavoring to establish proof that, at one time, Astor had a trading post below the bridge on the east side of the river where the present Tourist camp site is located. This trading post, however, was doubtless established by Farnsworth, who did considerable trading with the Indians from about 1818 until the business no longer proved profitable in this region.
In this review of the history of Sheboygan Falls no attempt has been made to include all the incidents which happened in that place. A complete history of the village and later the city would fill a large volume. However, very little of the early history has been omitted. Whatever remains outside this review is well known to the present generation and may be obtained with little effort. Doubtless, some names of early business men have been omitted. If so, the omission was not intentional but due to lack of available information.
Copyright 1997 - 2005 by Debie Blindauer
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