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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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This article was contributed by Kay Reitberger

Sheboygan Press - April 29, 1927

Howards Grove

Build Log Schoolhouse

According to Mr. OETLING, the first schoolhouse was built of logs and stood on the west side of the Green Bay road near the site upon which his dwelling house now stands. The first teacher was Miss Eva ATWOOD who lived in Sheboygan Falls. Soon after the log schoolhouse was built, the increased number of children made it necessary to provide a larger building, and to provide this accommodation the present frame schoolhouse was erected across the road, a few rods south of where the original building stood.

At the present time the town of Herman has three district and four joint district schools having a total enrollment of 591 pupils.

All former histories regarding the first schoolhouse in the town of Herman are, therefore, inaccurate. It has been repeatedly stated that the first class was taught in a part of the OETLING home.

Later another schoolhouse was erected on the green Bay road at the north end of the village of Howards Grove. This building was destroyed by fire, but immediately rebuilt. In 1918 the present grade and High school building was erected on the east side of the road, directly opposite the former schoolhouse.

The first general store in Howards Grove was started by William KASTNER in the building now occupied by Henry HALLWACHS.

Sawmill Explosion Fatal

The first sawmill in the village was owned and operated by Joseph KESSBERG and was located on the east side of the river a short distance south of the barn on the Henry DREYER farm. Later Adolph HOECKNER bought this mill and carried on the business for a number of years. A boiler exploded in this mill, resulting in the death of one man who was injured by the blast. The building was torn down many years ago.

About the same period a Mr. BECKFIELD, F. STOCK and a Mr. SCHNEIDER, formed a partnership and started a sawmill which they erected on the west side of the river near the bridge on the Calumet road. This mill was destroyed by fire about seventy years ago.

When the first settlers arrived in the town of Herman where Howards Grove is now situated, they were confronted with a vast forest of luxuriant pine, which stood in such number that it was impossible for an ordinary wagon to pass between the trunks of the trees. Therefore it was natural that lumber and wood should form the leading industry during the transitory period when the forest was being cleared and the land made ready for agricultural purposes. During the first few years following the earliest settlement of the town, many sawmills and gristmills were started along the Pigeon river, nearly from the head of the stream to where it empties into Lake Michigan.

A man named BRUHN started a sawmill about seventy-five years ago one mile south of the present village of Millersville. The first spring after the mill was erected, back-water inundated the land for quite a distance north of the dam. A few settlers living along the river, becoming enraged, attacked the dam one night and released the water. To reach the dam, the men were forced to invade one of the family living rooms, a trespass which resulted in a legal action and a consequent payment of fines. The dam was never rebuilt and the BRUHN mill shared the fate of other similar mills and went into oblivion.

Origin Of Frome Business

A Mr. STAMM, many years ago, started a gristmill which was burned to the ground about sixty years ago. Mr. STAMM then formed a partnership with a man named SCHRAG and together they built a sawmill, which was later purchased by August FROME.

In 1875, William HALLWACHS who previously had been associated with Henry G. MUELLER in a sawmill at Millersville, came to Howards Grove and entered into a partnership with Mr. FROME. A few years later, Mr. FROME purchased HALLWACHS interest in the mill and carried on the business alone up to the time of his death. Reinhold, son of August FROME, then took charge of the mill and carried on the business until 1901 when a new company was organized under the name of R. J. FROME Manufacturing company, and the business was resumed with Reinhold FROME in charge.

Since that time, increasing business necessitated the building of additions to the original mill. For the past several years the company has specialized in the manufacturing of cheese boxes which are sold mostly direct to cheese factories and delivered in motor trucks owned by the company.

In 1858 Ernst W. SCHLICHTING established a hotel in the village which, later, was known as the Washington House. SCHLICHTING owned an entire section of land extending south from the village of Howards Grove to Millersville, and because of the dense growth of pine trees in this section, Mr. SCHLICHTING was called the "Busch Koenig." His tavern became popular on account of the chicken dinners which were served during the early years.

"White Horse Inn" Popular

About three-quarters of a mile east of the village, on the Calumet road, was another popular hostelry owned and conducted by Peter SCHWEIGHOFEN, father of Mrs. H. SCHLICHTING, Sr., who is still living and who resides with her daughter, Mrs. E. J. SCHENKELBERGER at Sheboygan Falls. Mr. SCHWEIGHOFEN, on account of his jet black beard, was commonly called "Schwartze Peter," meaning Black Peter. His tavern was known as the "White Horse Inn" and this, too, was a popular rendezvous for the hunters and others who frequented that locality.

The Washington House, since Mr. SCHLICHTING's time, has passed into many different hands, and at the present time is owned and is being conducted by August A. JOHANNES, under the name of "JOHANNES Place," while the former White Horse Inn is now occupied as a dwelling house.

In 1853 Louis FREYBERG, grandfather of Albert FREYBERG of Sheboygan, started a blacksmith shop in a building located at the triangle where the Green Bay road intersects with the Calumet road. Next door to the north of FREYBERG was a wagon shop owned and operated by Louis NEUMEISTER, father of Otto C. NEUMEISTER, of Sheboygan. Mr. FREYBERG turned out all the iron work used in the manufacture of carriages and wagons made in the NEUMEISTER shop. Later Mr. FREYBERG came to Sheboygan and started a gristmill near the foot of Pennsylvania avenue.

At the present time the old blacksmith shop is being occupied by L. KARSTEDT as the Triangle Garage, but the former NEUMEISTER shop is vacant.

Conducts Shingle Mill

Just prior to the outbreak of the Civil war, a man named RICHARDSON (no kin to the family of the same name living west of Sheboygan Falls) started a shingle mill in the village, on the west side of the river directly north of the FROME company plant. This mill continued business for a number of years until the pine was all cut down. The old mill building was razed several years ago and the property where it stood is now owned by C. W. ARNOLDI.

About 1860, Edward NEWHOUSE came to the town of Herman as a pack peddler. A few years later he established a general store on the Green Bay road, about one mile north of the village. For many years thereafter NEWHOUSE was one of the leading merchants of Sheboygan county. He owned a vessel which plied on Lake Michigan, transporting wood and other materials from the F. G. LINTZ pier to Milwaukee and Chicago, and bringing back cargoes of merchandise which were hauled to his store near Howards Grove.

The first church to be erected in that locality was of a German Lutheran denomination, about one mile north of the present village. Soon after this was built, another church for another congregation of Lutherans was erected about two miles southwest of Howards Grove. A Mr. DENGEL, who passed away about a year ago, at the age of 91, was the last survivor of the latter congregation.

Two of the oldest dwelling houses which are still occupied in the village, are the cream-colored brick buildings originally constructed for August FROME and Louis NEUMEISTER. The family of the late Reinhold FROME lives in the former, and Jake BERTSCHY and his family live in the other. The father of August H. WITTE did the brick laying for both of these houses. After he gave up working at his trade Mr. WITTE for six consecutive years during the early 80's was in charge of the toll-gate.

First Cheese Factory In '77

The first cheese factory in the village was started in 1877 by J. SCHUMACHER. This factory is now being operated by J. H. SCHAEFER.

One of the first doctors in the village was Dr. BOETTSCHER.

In 1900 August H. WITTE started a general store in the building across the street north of the bank. He states that in 1901 the first automobile which ever appeared in Howards Grove was driven through the village by Hans SATTLER, of Sheboygan. Mr. WITTE was the first to sell gasoline in the village or any point in the county north of Sheboygan. In 1909 he moved his stock of merchandise into the building which he now occupies as a general store.

The village of Howards Grove boasts that it is located in the center of a six-mile radius within which more cheese is produced than in any other similar radius in the country. It is claimed that there are eighteen factories located within six miles of the village, and that practically all the milk produced in that district is received at one of these factories and made into cream cheese.

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