Sunday, October 14, 2018

Furniture, Coffins, Undertakers and Algoma


When John Hughes'* daughter Elizabeth Van Deuser died, she made history. Elizabeth, the wife of Horace Van Deuser, was the first white person to die in what became Algoma. The year was 1852 when the place was called Wolf River. Elizabeth was thought to have been buried along the river. During the next few years, the few who died were buried at what is approximately 5th and State Streets, however those bodies were exhumed a few years later and moved to Defaut Cemetery, the first section of what became the Evergreens.

In the early days of the community, when folks died, their families built simple box coffins and prepared their bodies to meet the Lord. Then came the undertakers and finally today’s traditions.

In his 1980 Inventing the American Way of Death, 1830-1920, J.J. Farrell writes that most died at home during those years, and funerals and burials were handled by family and neighbors. After a death, the women were responsible for preparing the body for burial while the men built a plain wood coffin or, perhaps, bought one from a local carpenter. The men dug the grave and often made a headstone.

What is today known as a wake was traditionally held in the home. During the 1800s a lack of scientific knowledge often made it difficult to know if one was dead or in a deep sleep. Following the presumed death, the body was closely observed for three days to make certain the person was truly dead and did not awake from a deep sleep. Thus, the term “wake.”

As cities swelled with rural populations seeking employment, space became a premium and often there was no room for a wake in the households of the working man. Embalming became popular, offering expanded roles for undertakers. Farrell writes that cities meant longer distances were traveled from the home to the cemetery, necessitating someone do the organizing and seeing that all formalities were followed. In efforts to portray a more professional image, the term “funeral director” came into vogue sometime after 1900. As the years went on, the funeral directors assumed duties previously held by family and clergy. It was also said that when funeral homes proved the services, the words “living room” came into being because the in-home parlor was no longer used to display the dead. Funeral homes were known as funeral parlors as recently as a generation or two ago.

Deceased loved ones have always mourned, although until the last 70 or so years, there was a mourning period when family members did not engage in social pursuits that could be construed as fun. Some wore black clothing, or at least a black armband, to indicate there had been a death in the family. At the time of the Civil War, a widow was expected to observe a 2 or 2 ½ year mourning period for her husband. In some places it was customary to shroud mirrors and stop clocks while one was lying in state.

The practice of embalming caught on during the Civil War era. Touted mainly for men of higher ranks, embalming was advertised as a way of preserving the body to appear as if one was sleeping. Developments in photographic technology brought gave rise to photos of the deceased. It was not unusual to have pictures taken of the deceased lying in the coffin surrounded by flowers. Small children were often held in the mother’s arms for such a photograph. Others appeared to be sleeping
Hair watch fob, ca. 1854
in a child-sized chair or perambulator. Many families saved locks of hair to be made into such wearable items as rings and watch fobs, but the hair was also made into flowers and decorative items placed in a glassed shadow box. The floral tributes of today had their roots in the flowers, rose petals and other fragrances that were thought to minimize the odors of deterioration.

While it seems like a stretch of the imagination at first glance, Ahnapee, as other places, had a connection between death and furniture stores, and even harness makers. In the early days of furniture construction, it followed that coffins be built in furniture manufacturies and sold by furniture stores. Most of the coffins sold in Ahnapee/Algoma were made in town and advertised in the paper. In the early days, the coffin was usually set up in the parlor of the family of the deceased where much of the funeral took place. Often the wake was followed by a service at church, although such services were also held within the home.

It is thought Franz Schubich was Ahnapee’s first professional undertaker. His Steele Street furniture and undertaking establishment was an outgrowth of the Paarmann furniture business just west of the southwest corner of 4th and Steele. Schubich’s long-time business gave rise to what became Haucke’s and then Schinderle’s today. Another of the early businessman with undertaking in connection with his furniture business was M.A. McCune who was advertising as early as 1884.

Both Frank Jirtle and William Krueger ran harness shops in the 200 and 300 blocks, respectively, of Steele Street and were advertising coffins before 1900. On November 11, 1901, the Record announced that Chilton parties were considering opening a new furniture store in Algoma. Anton Egerce and Hugh Eldridge said if they did decide to open in the city, they planned to purchase the undertaking and furniture business of Perlewitz Bros., conducted by William Krueger**, and the undertaking business of Frank G. Jirtle. Their plans included opening in the Charles building on the southwest corner of 1st and Steele, however for some reason the men decided against the Algoma purchase. It was John Perry who went forward.

John Perry’s 1902 store at the northwest corner of 4th and State was one of the businesses advertising coffins. Perry concluded a deal with F.G. Jirtle for the purchase of his undertaking business, also purchasing the undertaking and furniture business of the Perlewitz Bros. Perlewitz’ were best known for their blacksmithing, and wagon and carriage making, while Jirtle was known for his harness making. It was Perry’s intention to leave his grocery and dry goods business to devote himself to his new pursuits. In the early 1900s, Perry’s ad included something new - services offered by a woman.

The Fremont Street property older Algoma residents remember as Weisner-Massart Funeral Home was owned by Mathias Melchior – of the shoemaking family - in 1895. Ten years later, Henry J. Wunderlich built a home on the site, and in 1907 Mary Parker was living there. Joseph Wodsedalek owned the property until June 1934 when Merlyn Foley bought it and remodeled the building for use as a funeral home which opened in August that year. After he died in April 1935, his widow Agnes, a licensed embalmer and funeral director, became the owner of the Foley Funeral Home, assisted by Harry Kinnard, also a licensed funeral director. After Kinnard was called to military service, Mrs. Foley announced in April 1942 that she would be assisted by Elmer Monard of Luxemburg. About six months later, William Weier of Oconto joined the company which became Foley-Weier Funeral Home.

Weier wasn’t there for long and early in March 1944, Nelson Massart of Weisner-Massart of Casco announced taking over the Foley Funeral Home, saying all Weisner-Massart funerals would be conducted from Algoma because of the fire that destroyed the firm’s Casco furniture store and funeral parlors nearly 10 months earlier.

Following Harry Kinnard's 1946 military discharge, he returned to the funeral home. His newspaper advertising promised that he’d be there at all times, and offered 24-hour ambulance service. A few months later, in August, Kewaunee County real estate transfers indicate that Community State Bank officer X.H. Naze, guardian, sold the funeral home to Pauline Weisner and Nelson Massart who owned it until 1955 when Massart became the sole owner of the property. In 2000, Weisner-Massart built a new facility at 1617 Flora Ave.


Schinderle Funeral Home has its roots in the business originating in 1878 with Edward Franz Schubich. Schubich began business in the Paarmann Cottage and relocated a few years later, in 1881, to the McDonald building at the southwest corner of 2nd and Steele. A few years later Schubich moved to the Toebe building at the northeast corner of 2nd and S. Water St., the street which later became Navarino. The location served as Schubich’s undertaking parlors for years, however he also conducted his business in the Swaty building in the triangle of Block 6, and in the Danek building on Steele..

Schubich, in 1916, leased, and then purchased, the Busch-Cohen building, on the south side of Steele between 3rd and 4th. The store later became Haucke’s furniture store, but Clarence Haucke operated his funeral home from 800 4th Street. With the exception from about 1900 when Franz Schubich died to Carl F. Schubich's sale to Clarence Haucke, the Schubich name was synonymous with funerals in Ahnapee/Algoma. Haucke Funeral Home was sold to William Schinderle in January 1967 when the new Haucke-Schinderle Funeral Home opened in the 1600 block of Jefferson Street. Although the business changed ownership in the last 140 years, Schinderele’s is Kewaunee County’s longest continuously operated funeral business.

Schubich, Haucke, Krueger, Weisner-Massart and other undertakers operated furniture stores in connection with the funeral business. I40 years ago most of Ahnapee’s furniture was made by hand, although chairs generally came from factories.

William G. Malcore’s undertaking business was a bit different than the others, however. By 1927 Malcore was operating a music store with an undertaking establishment in connection. In October his newspaper advertising said he was a licensed embalmer located in the Guth Music Store building where he was also a dealer in pianos, phonographs and radios.  Malcore listed his phone number – 443 - saying it was answered 24 hours a day. Twenty years earlier, Schubich also provided a telephone number in his ads.

John Cepek seemed to restrict himself to his undertaking business, at least in his newspaper ads. He provided a funeral car. When William Duescher opened an undertaking establishment in 1931, he rented the LuMaye building on the south side of Steele Street in the space previously occupied by the A & P grocery. Duescher didn’t remain in Algoma long. Leo Wochos, of Denmark, Wisconsin, arrived in June 1932 and moved into the flat above the funeral home William Duescher established the year before. Following his graduation from the undertaking and embalming school in Chicago, Wochos worked in Chicago and Milwaukee for some time.

Duescher and Wochos never had Algoma furniture stores. Neither does Schinderele. Wesiner-Massart has one in Algoma today, and has been operating a furniture store in Casco for over 100 years. But, they aren’t building their own furniture and they aren’t building coffins either.

*John Hughes was one of the three “founding fathers” of what became Algoma.


**William Krueger conducted the furniture and undertaking business for Paul Gablowsky & Co., Perlewitz Bros. and John Perry, respectively.



Sources: Ahnapee Records/Algoma Record/Algoma Record Herald; Commercial History of Algoma, Wisconsin Vol. 2, c. 2012; Inventing the American Way of Death1830-1920, J.J. Farrell, c. 1980.

Graphics are from Ahnapee Record/Algoma Record Herald. The photo is the blogger's.



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Ahnapee: Shifting Sands, the Limestone and the Harbor


Algoma's iconic lighthouse is almost the tip of the iceberg.
Harbor stories began 75 years before its construction, but oh the stories it could tell!

t was not long after first settlement in 1851 that the harbor in what is now Algoma became an issue.

The river's mouth - the pier area - was the busiest part of the small community, however it took five years for the first pier to be built. Businessman David Youngs built it on the north side of the river in 1856 so boats did not have to cross the ever-shifting sand bar at the mouth, which was not where it is today.

The Wolf – now called Ahnapee – River entered Lake Michigan east of the Harbor Inn of today. From that point, the river turned south for a few hundred feet, connecting to the channel residents now know. It was years later that the U.S. Engineers “straightened” the channel. In January 1860 residents of Ahnapee, as Wolf River was renamed in 1859, established a committee tasked with making plans for a harbor and estimating costs. The decision to build a 200' pier for protection at the mouth of the river was made at a well-attended community meeting. Attendees envisioned building the pier by subscription with the community doing its own work.

Kewaunee Enterprise was organized in September 1859. In 1860, Ahnapee had yet to have its own newspaper, relying on meeting notices being published by the Enterprise. However, the Enterprise failed to publish the harbor meeting announcement, felt by some due to hostility regarding Ahnapee's success. Editor Garland responded by saying his paper would "cheerfully publish" Ahnapee matters if such information was provided. Such sparring continued in the years to come.

The Enterprise did, however, carry the news in February 1860 when it reported Ahnapee's piers would be extended into the lake 360' on the south side of the river and 240' on the north, thus improving protection. Additionally, the piers would be a great help to farmers who could produce more hay since the shifting sands at the mouth would not back up water in the river. Two months later the Enterprise was extolling the virtues of Ahnapee, saying it was a small village that built a pier independent of government assistance. By then Youngs sold the pier to Charles Griswold Boalt, a man reportedly arriving in town with $400,000 in his pocket. Youngs associated in the forwarding business with Boalt and Boalt's partner Edward Decker until 1872. The Enterprise did not mention C.G. Boalt's wealth, but it did comment on the unusual facilities for a smart thriving town.

A month following the first harbor meeting, project leadership was named: David Youngs was chosen president while A.D. Eveland and the two Halls, Abraham and Simon, were named directors. George Elliot was the clerk and J.M. Parker was named treasurer. Twenty-three hundred dollars was raised to extend the piers. This time the Enterprise said the protected harbor would benefit up-river settlers, enabling them to cut more logs, again because water would not back up as it did with the constantly shifting sand.

During February 1860, Mathias Simon wrote to tell Edward Decker in Kewaunee that Ahnapee was going ahead with harbor development and had spikes out. Following the spring ice break-up, about 500 piles were driven, and they were still being driven when the Civil War stopped all activity.

Sometime following the close of the Civil War, Governor Lucius Fairchild, realizing the Republican party could not go on forever promising veterans’ benefits, changed his cause to internal improvements, including railroads and river and harbor improvements along Lake Michigan.

Years after harbor development was interrupted by the Civil War, Congress authorized the expenditure of $1000 for a survey of the Ahnapee harbor. A correspondent for the Milwaukee Sentinel advocated the Ahnapee harbor as early as  October 1867 when he wrote that the harbor provided good lee and good anchorage. It was pointed out that reefs jutted out from both north and south points in the lake, which make it a "good lee in all winds." The correspondent had called for the necessity for refuge points along the lake. Racine Journal ran a supportive article on the appropriation for the Ahnapee harbor in March 1871 saying there was no point on the lake at which there was a more needed harbor. The Journal said river sand and "secretions" did not wash into the lake as they did in most harbors, and the inner harbor provided six miles of slow moving water for ships of light draft. There was enough timber and stone in the area to do the job and since the public had voted to tax themselves, public action needed to be considered. The Journal continued saying that in terms of refuge, the harbor would pay for itself yearly in the marine disasters it prevented. Ahnapee’s harbor was looking like a “go.

Both Kewaunee Enterprise and Door County Advocate watched the goings-on in Ahnapee with interest. In September 1870 both papers knew there was a fair probability that the government would aid local residents in improving the harbor.

It was Congress that provided for the harbor’s survey, completed by Civil Assistant Capt. Miller of the U.S. Engineer Corp. Most necessary was a harbor of safety – and possibly two – between Manitowoc and Baileys Harbor. Michigan’s improved harbors were spaced about every 15 miles of shoreline, accomplished with public money. While Michigan’s harbors were close, Wisconsin appropriations were made for harbors to be about every 25 miles from Manitowoc to Chicago. Manitowoc to Baileys Harbor is about 82 miles, and in 1870, there were no harbors of refuge.

At the harbor planning meeting on February 5, 1870, residents felt harbor improvements would make it practical for rafts and schooners to be floated out into the lake.  It was said vessels with ordinary drafts would be able to get cargo into the river. Townsfolk knew in 1870 that although the harbor gave protection, the river was a problem. The town wanted a protective pier and moved to secure government appropriations by asking the Legislature to authorize $20,000 in improvement bonds payable in one, two or three years. The $20,000 harbor improvement tax levy was voted in overwhelmingly, 262 - 23, at a town meeting in April.

The point at which the Ahnapee River enters the lake now is about midway between the two pies. Making improvement feasible was that the river was navigable about 8 miles from the lake and that there was sufficient water about a mile from the mouth to float the largest class of lake vessels. Due to water depth, because the lake bottom drops so fast, piers shorter than average would be in order. The bottom of the lake was composed of clay so once dredged, the shifting sands wouldn’t soon obstruct the channel. Shifting sands were felt to be the curse of Lake Michigan harbors.

Captain Miller, of the U.S. Engineers, completed a preliminary government survey for Ahnapee’s north pier project in late August 1870. Harbor Commissioner Casgrain said the outside approaches to the mouth made it one of the best points on the lake. Soundings showed a 14-foot water depth just one hundred feet from shore. The channel inside was deep, wide and easily improved, except for a rocky ledge limestone obstruction about three blocks from the mouth. Townsfolk already knew that was going to be difficult. The obstruction was about four rods wide, going from bank to bank, covered by about 6’ of water. If the appropriation were to be made, the village would be required to remove the limestone.

1870 U. s. Engineers Map. The old pier is near the bottom of the map. Broken lines indicate proposed piers.

The $20,000 residents voted on is an amount that seems almost staggering when one considers the population and what money meant.  That 20 thousand would be about $340,000 today, a sum today’s Council would carefully consider. At any rate, some felt the money was a paltry sum for such work. As the other papers saw it, the location, advantages and natural adaption made it certain that the government would lend a hand.

When Casgrain made the survey, he was tasked with not only surveying the river, but all approaches to it. Soundings had to be made upriver for three miles. The lake was surveyed from north and south boundaries of the village from the shore out 30’ into the water.  The project included plans for construction and cost estimates. Casgrain was impressed with what he found.

But, there was more to come. Dealing with the limestone ridge was worse than anybody thought and it was felt the $20,000 could be used for the project. However, a special election was called on October 8 to vote on a $2,000 tax for drilling and blasting through the rock west of the bridge.

The limestone outcropping inside the mouth was especially serious when the water was low. The channel needed to be at least 12' deep, 150' wide and 700' long. Because the limestone made it impractical to have a harbor inside the river, the decision was made to submit an outer harbor project. By 1870, it was more than shifting sands. Driftwood, sawdust and refuse also often blocked the entrance to the channel. Depths varied making dredging a necessity. Cost of this March 1871 project was estimated at $25,000.

The Record told readers to "look to the future." If the town was to offer vessels shelter, it needed to open the channel. The editors continued by saying the government had spent large sums and citizens should do their part to ensure growth and prosperity. The Sturgeon Bay Expositor was not so positive. Its editor said he was glad not to own land in Ahnapee because of the $700 debt for fire equipment, the thousands spent for the harbor, and the big splurge for the schoolhouse. 


1885 U.S. Engineers Map with the Completed Work in Ahnapee Harbor
By 1885, much of the work was completed and the U.S. Engineers put out another map illustrating the new piers and the change in the river's course when the sand bar was dug out. The work was done, and yet Ahnapee was plagued with on-going harbor problems.


Note: Ahnepee became Ahnapee in 1873. Kewaunee Enterprize was renamed Enterprise in 1865. The most widely used spellings for each are used in this blog post.

Sources: An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River? c. 2001; Ahnapee Record/Algoma Record Herald; Kewaunee Enterprise; Sturgeon Bay Advocate; Sturgeon Bay Expositor; Decker Files found in the Area Archives at UW-Green Bay.
Painting is copyrighted and used with permission of NL Johnson Art.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ahnapee: Almost a Harbor of Refuge


Algoma, 1990s

It was not long after first settlement in 1851 that the harbor in what is now Algoma became an issue.

The river's mouth - the pier area - was the busiest part of the small community, however it took five years for the first pier to be built. In 1856 businessman David Youngs built it on the north side of the river so boats did not have to cross the ever-shifting sand bar at the mouth.

The Wolf – now called Ahnapee – River entered Lake Michigan east of the Harbor Inn. From that point, the river turned south for a few hundred feet, connecting to the channel residents know today. It was years later that the U.S. Engineers “straightened” the channel. In January 1860 residents of Ahnapee, as Wolf River was renamed in 1859, established a committee tasked with making plans for a harbor and estimating costs. The decision to build a 200' pier for protection at the mouth of the river was made at a well-attended community meeting. Attendees envisioned building the pier by subscription with the community doing its own work.

Kewaunee Enterprise was organized in September 1859. In 1860, Ahnepee had yet to have its own newspaper, relying on meeting notices being published by the Enterprise. However, the Enterprise failed to publish the harbor meeting announcement, felt by some due to hostility regarding Ahnapee's success. Editor Garland responded by saying his paper would "cheerfully publish" Ahnepee matters if such information was provided. In the years to come, the sparring kept up.

The Enterprise did, however, carry the news in February 1860 when it reported Ahnepee's piers would be extended into the lake 360' on the south side of the river and 240' on the north, thus improving protection. Additionally, the piers would be a great help to farmers who could produce more hay since the shifting sands at the mouth would not back up water in the river. Two months later the Enterprise was extolling the virtues of Ahnepee, saying it was a small village that built a pier independent of government assistance. By then Youngs sold the pier to Charles Griswold Boalt, a man reportedly arriving in town with $400,000 in his pocket. Youngs associated in the forwarding business with Boalt and Boalt's partner Edward Decker until 1872. The Enterprise did not mention C.G. Boalt's wealth, but it did comment on the unusual facilities for a smart thriving town.

A month following the first harbor meeting, project leadership was named: David Youngs was chosen president while A.D. Eveland and the two Halls, Abraham and Simon, were named directors. George Elliot was the clerk and J.M. Parker was named treasurer. Twenty-three hundred dollars was raised to extend the piers. This time the Enterprise said the protected harbor would benefit up-river settlers, enabling them to cut more logs, again because water would not back up as it did with the constantly shifting sand.

During February 1860, Mathias Simon wrote to tell Edward Decker in Kewaunee that Ahnapee was going ahead with harbor development and had spikes out. Following the spring ice break-up, about 500 piles were driven, and they were still being driven when the Civil War stopped all activity.

Sometime following the close of the Civil War, Governor Lucius Fairchild, realizing the Republican party could not go on forever promising veterans’ benefits, changed his cause to internal improvements, including railroads and river and harbor improvements along Lake Michigan among other public works.

U.S Engineers; map, 1870; the river is shown entering the lake north of the proposed north pier.
Years after harbor development was interrupted by the Civil War, Congress authorized the expenditure of $1000 for a survey of the Ahnapee harbor. A correspondent for the Milwaukee Sentinel advocated the Ahnapee harbor as early as October 1867 when he wrote that the harbor provided good lee and good anchorage. It was pointed out that reefs jut out from both north and south points in the lake, which make it a "good lee in all winds." The correspondent had called for the necessity for refuge points along the lake. The Racine Journal ran a supportive article on the appropriation for the Ahnapee harbor in March 1871. It said there was no point on the lake at which there was a more needed harbor. The Journal said river sand and "secretions" did not wash into the lake as they did in most harbors, and the inner harbor provided six miles of slow moving water for ships of light draft. There was enough timber and stone in the area to do the job and since the public had voted to tax themselves, public action should be considered. The Journal continued saying that in terms of refuge, the harbor would pay for itself yearly in the marine disasters it prevented. Ahnnpee’s harbor was looking like a “go."

Both Kewaunee Enterprise and Door County Advocate watched the goings-on in Ahnepee with interest. In September 1870 both papers knew there was a fair probability that the government would aid local residents in improving the harbor.

The 1883 Birdseye map shows the piers and new entrance to the river while also showing a
part of the old part of the river, from the entrance,before being straightened.
It was Congress that provided for the harbor’s survey, completed by Civil Assistant Capt. Miller of the U.S. Engineer Corp. Most necessary was a harbor of safety – and possibly two – between Manitowoc and Baileys Harbor. Michigan’s improved harbors were spaced about every 15 miles of shoreline. It was accomplished with public money. While Michigan’s harbors were close, appropriations were made for harbors to be about every 25 miles from Manitowoc to Chicago. Manitowoc to Baileys Harbor is about 82 miles, and in 1870, there were no harbors of refuge.

At the harbor planning meeting on February 5, 1870, residents felt harbor improvements would make it practical for rafts and schooners to be floated out into the lake.  It was said vessels with ordinary drafts would be able to get cargo into the river. Townsfolk knew in 1870 that although the harbor gave protection, the river was a problem. The town wanted a protective pier and moved to secure government appropriations by asking the Legislature to authorize $20,000 in improvement bonds payable in one, two or three years. The $20,000 harbor improvement tax levy was voted in overwhelmingly, 262 - 23, at a town meeting in April.

Captain Miller, of the U.S. Engineers, completed a preliminary government survey for Ahnepee’s north pier project in late August 1870. Harbor Commissioner Casgrain said the outside approaches to the mouth made it one of the best points on the lake. Soundings showed a 14-foot water depth just one hundred feet from shore. The channel inside was deep, wide and easily improved, with the exception of a rocky ledge limestone obstruction about three blocks from the mouth. Townsfolk already knew that was going to be difficult. The obstruction was about four rods wide, going from bank to bank, covered by about 6’ of water. If the appropriation were to be made, the village would be required to remove the limestone. It was felt the $20,000 could be used for the project.  A special election was called on October 8 to vote on a $2000 tax for drilling and blasting through the rock west of the bridge.

The limestone outcropping inside the mouth was especially serious when the water was low. The channel needed to be at least 12' deep, 150' wide and 700' long. Because the limestone made it impractical to have a harbor inside the river, the decision was made to submit an outer harbor project. By 1870, it was more than shifting sands. Driftwood, sawdust and refuse also often blocked the entrance to the channel. Depths varied making dredging a necessity. Cost of this March 1871 project was estimated at $25,000.

The Record told readers to "look to the future." If the town was to offer vessels shelter, it needed to open the channel. The editors continued by saying the government had spent large sums and citizens should do their part to ensure growth and prosperity. The Sturgeon Bay Expositor was not so positive. Its editor said he was glad not to own land in Ahnapee because of the $700 debt for fire equipment, the thousands spent for the harbor and the big splurge for the schoolhouse. 

Ahnapee’s problems continued.

Note: During the period of this article, the place that is now Algoma was "Ahnepee." It was in 1873 when the small community received its village charter that there was a spelling change to "Ahnapee." More on that can be found in an earlier blog about the community's various names. The paper known as the Kewaunee Enterprise for more than 100 years, was Kewaunee Enterprize from its founding in 1859 to 1865. The spelling changed during the years the above article covers. Spellings in the article for both the the place that became Algoma and the newspaper are the most widely used.

Sources: Ahnapee Record; An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River?, c. 2001; Door County Advocate, Kewaunee Enterprize/Enterprise.

Kannerwurf, Sharpe, Johnson Postcard Collection; U.S. Engineers' map 1870; 1883 Birdseye Map of Ahnapee.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ahnapee/Algoma and the Village Blacksmith

Blacksmith at the William McKinley Museum, Canton, Ohio

“Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village blacksmith stands,” Longfellow wrote that in 1842, a time when communities all over the U.S. were dependent on horses and blacksmiths. Blacksmiths were essential, and highly esteemed members of the community. Their skills were not only important to thriving villages and fledgling hamlets that depended on the smiths to shoe horses, fashion hames and whipple trees, but, in just a few years, to Kewaunee County, which, as the rest of the country, needed all sorts of forged goods. Where blacksmiths and wagon-making businesses once dotted the landscape, we find gas stations, one-stops and hardware stores.

Longfellow wrote that the smithy was a mighty man with large, sinewy hands who had arm muscles as strong as iron bands. His description portraying blacksmiths as compassionate, spiritual and almost larger than life failed to tell of the dirt, grime, burns and injuries in a smithy. Blacksmiths were hard- working men.

John Roberts appeared in Ahnapee about 1860. His blacksmith shop was one of Ahnapee’s first. Roberts located in various places around town, including near the northwest corner of 4th and Steele and, in July 1907, on 2nd and South Water, now Navarino, Street. Storm and Bro. wagon and sleigh shop was operating in 1873 in what had been Roberts’ 4th Street shop. Roberts made news during the blasting of the limestone ridge in the river during 1879, but not because he had anything to do with it. A stone weighing about 5# was blasted so high that when it came down, it made a sizable hole as it went through the roof of his 2nd and South Water Street shop. Luckily, his was a two-story building, and that second floor prevented an employee from being severely injured by the stone.

Thain and Elliot were partners in 1874, however by November 13, 1884 J.H. Thain and J.R. Curie formed a blacksmith and wagon business on Fremont. John Johnson, another 4th St. blacksmith, bought out Louey Mason, the wagon maker who was associated with him in 1879. The men had worked together for about a year. Earlier in the year, Johnson and Mason’s facility burned down in a fire appearing to be arson. When the Kewaunee Enterprise reported the fire, the paper opined that it was set by an enemy of Mr. Johnson who did more work than any blacksmith in town and that he had just paid for his new shop. Was the fire indeed arson? The building and tools were insured for $800, however insurance fell far short of the loss. Johnson moved equipment from his 3rd Street shop on the northwest corner of 3rd and Fremont and used his rebuilt shop as the wagon shop.

Mikkleson blacksmith site
Boeder Mikkleson was a west side smith. April 1893 saw Mikkleson building a new blacksmith and wagon shop just east of the northeast corner of Navarino and Mill on property purchased from Michael Melchior. Charles Bastar opened his blacksmith shop in 1880 on his premises in “Slab Town,” as the area around the mill on the South Branch was called.  The Ahnapee Record called Bastar’s blacksmith and wagon shop “first class. Bastar had been located in part of the
Bastar's shop
foundry building at 6th and Fremont. It was there that Hamachek’s electric light plant had its start. Bastar later relocated to the northeast corner of Mill and Navarino, the site Boeder Mikkleson once owned. Mikkleson seemed to move around. He was renting Wenzel Blahnik’s blacksmith shop in 1898. Wenzel Blahnik sold his shop to his brother Frank in 1902.  John Teich bought it in 1906, but then leased it to William Bohne the same year.

Another early resident - Christian Knospe - opened a blacksmith shop in 1865 on the east side of 4th on the approximate site of today’s LCL Printing Co. George Doerfler and Simon Pies were operating their shop in 1873 on 4th on the site that several years later became Knospe’s, just north of the present Walters’ Hardware.

John Kumbalek and Simon Pies began their smithy on South Water, now Navarino Street, and relocated a year later to the Danek building on south side of Steele, today the site of Harmann’s Studio. Frank Jirtle married Kumbalek’s daughter and took over the business. Jirtle also leased the east portion of Henry Baumann’s building during the 1880’s.  By then Mr. Jirtle was in the harness business.

Former government employee John Utnehmer announced in August 1880 that he would do blacksmithing. His shop was located on the flats on the north side of the river, the area east of what was Sunrise Cove in 2018. For a time in 1884, Utnehmer ran a shop on the east side of South Water with Simon Pies. Utnehmer also worked for other village blacksmiths.

Welniak's 4th Street blacksmith shop
The Record found it newsworthy when Welniak & Son put in a new shoeing floor in 1897 and in 1904 when Walter Knospe began using a windmill. Perlewitz Blacksmith Shop installed electric blowers in the forge in 1916. That was a big labor saver. Perlewitz’ new drill was another newsworthy event that year.

On December 19, 1928 Algoma Record Herald carried an article about Perlewitz Wagon Works saying the company had just completed 50 years in business. Perlewitz shoed horses for 15 cents in 1878. By 1928, the price had increased to $2.00. First class wagons sold for $42 in 1878. If one could be found in 1928, the buyer paid $85. The civic minded Perlewitz Brothers’ best years were between 1890 and 1910 when two blacksmiths and several wagon makers were employed. The years 1927 and 1928 saw only one wagon sold each year. Perlewitz’s promoted the community, contributed to the dredging project, assisted in establishing the grain market, assisted in financing the merchants’ dock and much more.

Sam Noetzel and Henry Muench appear as neither wagon makers nor blacksmiths in Ahnapee’s history, yet, following his arrival in Ahnapee, Henry Perlewitz worked as a wagon maker for each. The Perlewitz brothers built a 16’ x 24’ facility on the site of Urbanek’s South Water Street barn in 1878, and then bought out Pies and Utnehmer. In mid-July 1922 Lorenz Perlewitz’ old barn, a “State Street landmark,” was removed when a new paint shop was under construction.  

Charles Zapetal operated his harness shop in the Schubich building on the northeast corner of 2nd and Navarino near the 2nd Street Bridge, and John Madden took charge of Welniak’s 4th Street blacksmith shop in 1913. It was a time when Algoma was beginning to see autos on the road, although as most knew, such contraptions would never replace the horse. For awhile, they did not.

By 1923 as autos were becoming more prevalent, William Bohne announced his new blacksmithing location in Fred Braun’s State Street building. August Zimmermann, formerly at Rankin, relocated his blacksmith and horse shoeing equipment to Algoma in 1933 and opened a shop in the Empey building near the steam laundry. Autos and trucks were all over, but horses were still seen on the streets of Algoma.

Dependence on the horse finally came to an end in Algoma in late October 1941 when long-time drayman Louis Kammer ended his business. Draying thrived at the turn of the century but as vehicles replaced horses, it was no longer profitable. Kammer continued his career, however it was in trucking for the Ahnapee and Western Railroad. Kammer entered the draying business in 1913 and then bought out the Hilton Fuel and Transfer on March 27, 1916. In the early 1920s, Kammer had as many as 8 horses and 4 men in his employ. He noted that during the “last war,” (World War l) hay was $35/ton and oats cost $1.35/bushel. Now there was the cost of gasoline. Before Kammer entered the business, it was Henry Haucke who took over William Torge’s draying operation thus meeting the needs of residents.

When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem about the village blacksmith, he wrote about an indispensable member of the community. The clang of the hammer on the anvil told about life as did the school and church bells. As the horse was replaced by the automobile and blacksmiths faded into existence, a generation or two of grade school kids memorized the poem, which by then was nostalgic. Even the nostalgia has faded away.

Sources: Algoma Record Herald; An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River?, c. 2001; Cox-Nell House Histories, found at Algoma Public Library; Commercial History of Algoma, Wisconsin. Vols. 1 & 2; Here Comes the Mail, Post Offices of Kewaunee County; The Village Blacksmith, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Photos from Algoma Record Herald, Kannerwurf, Sharpe, Johnson Collection, and blogger's collection.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Where in the World is San Sauveur?


Finding the area of Kewaunee County once called San Sauveur is indeed a challenge today. The settlement was one of many originating with the Belgian immigrants to Kewaunee, Door and Brown Counties in the mid-1850s. The largest concentration of Walloon immigrants came from the region around Grez-Doiceau in Brabant, Belgium and settled in the tri-county area where, in Kewaunee County, they founded such settlements as Walhain, Rosiere, Tonet, Thiry Daems and San Sauveur. Populated by those named LeCaptain, Alberts, Flavion, Ferron, DeGrave, Moens, Moreau, Fabry nd more, their descendants are still found in Red River and throughout Kewaunee and Door Counties.

Door County historian Hjlamar Holand says the place was first called St. Savior, however newspapers and other articles refer to the community as San Sauver, San Savior. San Sauveir, San Sauvuer and perhaps others.

San Sauveur never had a “downtown” such as the nearby hamlets of Lincoln and Thiry Daems, but if there would have been one, it surely would have straddled the Lincoln-Red River town lines, the northwestern corner of Section 19 and the southwestern corner of Section 13 of the towns, respectively, the locations of a cheese factory and church.

Lincoln Farmers’ Cheese Factory was nearly on the town line on its Red River side, about a half mile north of the tiny village of Lincoln, from its founding in 1923 to closing in 1989 when it was affiliated with the National Farmers Organization, or NFO. There was an earlier factory about which little is known.

By 1925 Wisconsin cheese inspectors identified the newly constructed Lincoln Farmers as a model factory. Whey was stored in tanks above the boiler room ensuring there were no frozen pumps during the winter simply because there were none. The plant’s 65 patrons were able to drive to a hose and thus fill up without finding frozen whey in winter or flies in summer. And, dirt was not a factor. Cheese makers Peter Sticka and William Vlies lived with their families in on-site housing offered by the brick duplex that matched the factory.

At the time, there were many who felt the high quality cheese produced at the plant was a no-brainer. After all, its milk came from some of the well-kept farms around. Henry LeCaptain, for instance, had a herd of Holsteins in a stanchioned barn with a concrete floor. His cows had water in easy reach. Besides that, LeCaptain had electricity. His brother Joseph LeCaptain, who served as Red River town clerk, was another Holstein farmer.

Charlie Alberts was one on the cutting edge in his advocacy for wooden silos, although not all agreed with him. He felt silage froze fast in concrete silos while there were others who thought any kind of silo was bunk and that contents were certain to be detrimental to cows. Charlie’s brother Jule’s herd included Guernseys with the popular Holsteins. Jule even had running water in the barn. Another Alberts – Moses – was known for his clean, white, dustless, neat-as-a-pin barn with all the necessary cow equipment. His farm was called one of Red River’s model farms. It boasted a concrete stable with a mow above it, a stone hog building at the rear of the barn and a machine shed with a blacksmith shop. Louis Moreau was another of the Holstein milkers.

William Flavion bought pure-bred Guernseys as the foundation of his herd. Hubert DeGrave also raised Guernseys in his refurbished barn that was complete with stanchions and water cups. Peter Moens lived across the road and often worked in company with DeGrave. Emil Fabry’s farm was near San Sauveur School. He and son William continued to grow the farm on the land purchased in 1856 by Emil’s father. Fabry was another with a full set of blacksmithing equipment.

Red River didn’t forget its children and in 1925 planned to build a new school to replace the original San Sauveur School. The district hoped to attach to nearby Lincoln and build a graded school, but that did not happen and a new, rural one-room District #5 school was built. Years later, the school even had a hot lunch program. District #5 children were offered educational enrichment in bus trips to places such as Milwaukee, but that came later.

San Sauveur pupils began attending Casco Graded School when some grades were absorbed during the 1960s. That followed the selected grades’ absorption at both Fayette and Lincoln. With that consolidation, San Suaveur School faded into history. Several years later both Red River and Lincoln were two of the Kewaunee County towns that joined in the creation of the Luxemburg-Casco School District.

Gospel of Truth Hall, also called both San Sauvior and Lincoln Presbyterian Church, had its beginnings in 1920 as the Plymouth Brethren Church on the corner of today’s Townline and Martin Roads. What prompted the location of the church? Was it the proximity of the old cheese factory and the possible location of a much older store? Or, was it something else? There were Catholic churches in nearby Lincoln and Thiry Daems

Peter (Pierre Joseph) Houart was an early San Sauveur businessman who had other interests in Red River, in Ahnapee,* and was also in the lumbering and flouring business in Door Co. with George Bottkol of Bottkolville.* Houart was born in Belgium and married Mary (Marie) Noel there just before immigration. Mary’s brother, Amand Noel, joined Peter in a general merchandise store that opened in 1860. The men operated their San Sauveur store until 1881 when Houart bought out his brother-in-law.

Houart owned property in Sections 7 and 18 in the Town of Lincoln. The 1876 Kewaunee County Plat Map shows Noels and Houarts owning much of the western halves of both sections.  It shows additionally that Catherine Noel was the owner of the NE ¼ of Section 24 in the Town of Red River, immediately to the west of what would become church property years later. It seems logical that the store would have been in Lincoln’s Section 18 because of property ownership, however “store” does not appear in that area on the 1876 map.

Also fading into memory is the church, however the cemetery remains as a testament to those who lived in the area. The cheese factory is long gone but the rich farmland remains. San Sauveur Kermis isn’t like it was when it was celebrated at Gigot’s Hall in Lincoln, but Belgian pie, cheese curds, booyah and beer are still popular. Gigot’s hall has become history, but Joe Rouer’s isn’t far.

Finding San Sauveur might be a challenge, but it is still there.

------
Notes:  Wisconsin Historical Collections gives St. Peter/St. Pierre in business with Mr. Noel. It is most likely that St. Savior and Peter Houart were confused.

*Ahnapee was renamed Algoma in 1897 and Bottkolville was renamed Euren, reflecting the Bottkols’ ancestral home near Trier, Germany.

Photos of the cows were found online from Hoard’s Dairymen.

Sources: Algoma Record Herald; An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River? c. 2001; Cox-Nell House Histories, c. 2013; History of Commercial Development in the Youngs and Steele Plat and Other Selected Properties in Algoma , Wisconsin, c. 2006; History of Door County, Wisconsin, The County Beautiful, Hjalmar R. Holand, c. 1917; Wisconsin Historical Collections, V 13; Wisconsin 1901-02 Gazetteer; Wisconsin: Its Story and Biography, c. 1914





Friday, April 20, 2018

Clyde Station: A Moment in Time

1912 Plat Map showing Clyde Station and the railroad

Clyde Station is another of the Kewaunee County places that has found its way into the more forgotten annals of history. It was the only stop on the Kewaunee, Green Bay and Western Railroad between Kewaunee and Casco Junction. It was a place where passengers could catch the train and, between 1891 and the beginning of RFD in Kewaunee County  on November 30, 1904, mail for Ryan and Slovan was dropped off and picked up there.

The mail was the big thing and in May 1892, the Ahnapee Record told readership that mail from the south and west arrived daily in Ahnapee by about 1 PM, thanks to Ted Richmond and his white mule. The morning mail came via train to Clyde and was carried to Casco where Ted picked it up. The paper felt Ted would keep up his exceptional speed until the iron horse replaced his mule. It was only weeks before the railroad entered Ahnapee, but until then the community was served by Ted.

Clyde Station often made news, but not the kind one would think. In late July 1892 Charles Kinstetter’s cow was run over and killed by a Kewaunee, Green Bay and Western train nearing the station. Just about a year later, another cow was killed near the station, but then the paper said the cow was hit by a “wild train.” When Judge C.G. Boalt was making a business trip to Green Bay in August 1894, he missed the train at Ahnapee. Hiring a livery team, Boalt made it to Clyde Station in time to make connections with the west bound Kewaunee train.

It wasn’t only cows the train collided with. During February 1894, it collided with its own equipment. Workmen were on the track using hand cars near the station as suddenly a west bound train was barreling down the track. The workers escaped serious injuries – or perhaps death - by jumping off the hand cars which were badly wrecked in the incident. However, the only damage to the locomotive was to its headlight.

Clyde Station finally got a depot building in 1900. Plans were announced in January that the railroad had determined a site and that erection of a depot similar to the one at Casco Junction would begin soon.

By late March 1904, spring rains were playing havoc with the place when the train from Green Bay was forced to turn around at Casco Junction. Three miles of track were under water following a huge washout and conditions were decidedly unsafe. Kewaunee’s mail did go through, however, as the A & W brought it to Algoma where it was then transported to Kewaunee. As it was, Conductor Walker felt that although conditions were fine near Kewaunee, the outlook was poor beyond. He further felt that when the frost started coming out of the ground, there was going to be trouble at the cranberry marsh. Interestingly, it was another cranberry marsh  between Algoma and Sturgeon Bay that caused the Ahnapee & Western problems.

Just before Christmas 1911, a County Board special committee made up of Frank Kott and John Baumeister met with Casco’s town board for the purposes of supervising contracts for a new bridge to be built across the Kewaunee River at the new Clyde Station in that town.  After receiving bids for the project, they let the contract to Worden Allen Co.* of Milwaukee for $1078.00 and awarded the abutments contract to Wenzel Opicka for $475.00. Casco Town and the County were to furnish the material at a cost of $259.93. Kott and Baumeister recommended that as Chairman and Clerk of the committee, they be authorized to draw and sign an order in favor of the Town of Casco for $906.46. Other towns were also liable for bridge costs.

The train from Kewaunee ran into more washout problems in September 1912 and could not get to its destination. Mr. Hollister, the engineer, had to travel slowly and after passing Clyde Station found the track undermined where, in some places, 3 or 4’ of gravel was washed out. Section crews and Conductor Lake tried making temporary repairs, but eventually, the train needed to return to Kewaunee.

The big news on Christmas Eve 1915 was the man who took “French Leave” of the Kewaunee train near Clyde Station. As it was, former Slovan resident William Bouschek feared the train would not stop at the station when it was urgent that he reach his destination. Bouschek risked death and caused significant problems for the crew. Conductor William Lake was aware of Bouschek’s destination and when he went to tell his passenger, he was unable to find him on the train, which had not stopped between Casco Junction and Clyde Station.  Jerry Robillard, the car inspector on board, noticed the passenger had gone out on the platform in front of the car. That led the crew to think he had fallen from the train. After depositing the other passengers and mail at Kewaunee, the train returned to Clyde to investigate.  Near the station called “Old Clyde,” Bouschek’s footprints were found in the snow. He had apparently jumped off the train, fallen and rolled down the embankment, but he was not found. Because there was no evidence Bouschek had been killed, the train returned to Kewaunee. The conductor said there was no trace of the man. A year earlier there were jokes about the Italian immigrants who were en-route to Kewaunee for work at the Nast Lime Kilns. When the train arrived at Clyde Station, the men were certain the place was the City of Kewaunee and were about to leave the train when the conductor explained. They did get off at Casco Junction though – and had some walking to do.

Then there was a fire, but it was Michael Smithwick’s barn just east of the station.  The barn he was using for storage and a house were deserted that October 1916 day. It was uncertain what caused the barn’s destruction but it was believed the conflagration started with a spark from a train engine.

An ice floe damaged the bridge over the Kewaunee River near the old Clyde Station during flooding the following March. As the southerly approach to the bridge washed away, the bridge fell into the river. Repairs were made to the bridge, and train service was quickly restored.

February 1919 saw those around Clyde signing a petition to keep the depot. There were rumors of closure but the neighbors felt it was a busy place and wanted it to remain. Again in 1923 there were discussions about closing Clyde Station when the railroad applied to the Railroad Commission of Wisconsin for authority to discontinue stopping there. Again the citizens protested as closure would be inconvenient to those who would need to travel to Casco or Kewaunee for train service. The railroad withdrew its request, however the Railroad Commission required that Clyde depot would be cleaned and maintained in the future.

Clyde Station continued to serve until the early 1930s. Eventually the station stood idle and deteriorated, although trains continued to pass by. Late in 1942 Frank Opicka bought an old station car which he used as a shed on his farm. Today most memories of Clyde are those of the pupils at Rosebud School. Clyde Station faded into the past.

Sources: An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River? c. 2001; Here Comes the Mail: Post Offices of Kewaunee County, c. 2010;  History of Commercial Development in Algoma, Wisconsin Vols. 1 & 2, c. 2006 and 2012; Algoma Record Herald files.

Photos: 1912 Plat Map of Kewaunee County and Blogger's postcard collection. 
*Worden-Allen was a Milwaukee company that built other bridges in Kewaunee Co., most notably in the Town of Franklin.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Breezy Knoll: Kewaunee County's First Golf Course


Golf was something for the rich and for big cities. Few folks in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin were familiar with the sport 100 years ago, but when there were rumors of interest, the Record Herald was there with an opinion. The editor was no doubt honest when he said what he knew about golf could be put in a small container, but the paper did opine anyone could play. It wasn’t violent. Age was not a factor, and women could play. In the 1920s, golf was touted as a way to walk and a way to keep the populace away from its fascination with wheels. At the time, it was felt golf would empty the grandstands to fill the playing fields or, in other words, get moving.

Where did golf come from? A Google search takes one back to the Chinese. Sources date U.S. golf to the late 1700s, but the sport really began catching on in the late 1880s. Golf was associated with leisure time in an era where the word “leisure” was virtually unknown. In an agrarian place such as Kewaunee County, if one had that much time, there was obviously work being neglected by one who’d never be accused of hard work! Golf was associated with being “citified,” and “why on earth would anybody chase a little white ball around?” Golf did, however, come to Kewaunee County.

Golf on the Peninsula made news by 1914 when Peninsula Park Superintendent Doolittle was charged with laying out two golf links of 60 acres each, one near Fish Creek and the other near Ephraim. During the late 1920s Baileys Harbor was chosen for a golf course by a Chicago fellow, Peter Collins, who was in the community visiting relatives. The place he chose offered views of both Lake Michigan and Kangaroo Lake. That golf course remains and is Maxwelton Braes. In May 1930, it was announced that 8 holes of the new golf course would open and be available in addition to the original 9 holes, making it Door County’s largest golf course. By then new roads in Peninsula Park offered added convenience to the course there.

In September, Kewaunee jumped on the golf bandwagon, but it was with miniature golf. After being open only a week, the Enterprise told readership that after A.J. Westerbeck completed his course along Highway 17 (now Highway 42) a week earlier, the course was drawing patronage and proving to be a popular pastime. During November the Record Herald wrote that commercial fisherman Frank Chapek started work on his miniature golf course, adjacent to his tourist court along the lake at the bottom of the Lake Street hill. A Clintonville firm was laying out an 18 hole course.

By 1923, papers were encouraging a golf course in Algoma saying many of the “bugs” went to Sturgeon Bay each week, thus Algoma had the nucleus for a golfing organization. The paper said a course would cost a lot of money as did the hospitals to which many contributed weekly. A strange comparison. A few months earlier the paper said Algoma’s cool breezes offered paradise to a fat man golfer. Fat men were congenial, the paper opined, they spent money, did not rush from place to place and, in short, Algoma had much to offer fat golfers. It was another strange comment. E.W. Anderegg, R.P. Birdsall and W. Perry made news in fall 1923 when they went to the Appleton Country Club to spend the day playing golf as guests of Neenah’s Nathan Bergstrom. The paper also noted that of the 1,806 women enrolled in UW winter sports, 30 chose indoor golf.

As area golfing news was being made in 1930, it came from Algoma too. In August Joseph Weber leased 75 acres of his farm at the northern edge of the city. The greens keeper and golf pro at Green Bay’s Oneida Golf Course laid out the new place. The hills, valleys and waterways on the farm made the place perfect. The work went forward in haste and in late September it was announced that 9 holes were seeded and more than a mile and a half of water pipe had been laid. Tees were being built and fairway construction would begin in a week. A power pump located on the river bank provided liberal sprinkling. At the rate the course was being built, the Weber farm no longer looked like a farm. Remodeling the barn as a clubhouse and using the silo as a lookout over the course were in the plans. A circular stairway built into the silo would offer views of the Ahnapee River, Lake Michigan and beauty in every direction. Prospective golfers to the area felt Algoma was going to be a mecca.

Algoma’s Breezy Knoll golf course was the site of Kewaunee County’s first golf tournament. Entries were expected to pass 50 before all the qualifying rounds were played. It was September 1931 and Green Bay pro James Coffeen was in Algoma to bracket players. Prizes included a leather duffel bag, sweater and hose set, wood golf club, golf balls, and a golf bag which was the blind bogey prize. It
wasn’t only the tournament that brought golfers. Thursdays from 8 – 4:00 were designated as Ladies Day. There would be no charge for using the links and arrangements for balls and clubs could be made at the club house. A women’s tournament was also being planned. Algoma’s first tournament showed just how much interest there was in Kewaunee County.

In mid-February 1932 golfers around Algoma were already looking forward to a new season at Breezy Knoll, likely beginning on May 1, or even maybe before. It was a cold May Sunday morning at Breezy Knoll when 30 golfers were out on the course. Executive secretary R.P. Birdsall said the cold weather that year was responsible for a lag of interest but still season ticket sales were progressing. Breezy Knoll was sure to be a popular place.

1930 Kohlbeck's ad
Algoma Record Herald
Improvements accomplished over the 1931 late fall and winter were indications that the course would be one of Northeastern Wisconsin’s finest.  Grounds equipment such as a power mower would keep newly seeded grounds in outstanding condition.  There were new fairway signs and traps. Caddy service was offered. And, rates went down. Yet another fee schedule appeared in the paper the following week. Weekdays and Saturdays remained at 50 cents but Sundays and holidays were reduced to 75 cents. A week later, there was a change in ticket rules. Non-stockholders were charged $10 more seasonally than stockholders and “family” was defined to mean head of house and those under his roof. Stockholders had perks others did not – clubhouse privileges, a bath and locker area.

Ed Anderegg made the paper in July by leading Cowboy Wheeler in a 36 hole match, with 9 left to be played. When the 4-man matches were finished, both Anderegg and Wheeler’s groups tied at 203. Then the 4-man Southpaws led the right-handers. Another Kewaunee County Championship tournament was planned for August.

Breezy Knoll continued to grow and by August 1933, over 1,550 had registered at the club house. It was expected that by the time the season closed, the season would see at least 2,200 golfers. Many were sure to play in the tournament, an event won by Ed Anderegg for the first two years. In order to generate more golf enthusiasm, the 1935 season opened with a “Get Acquainted” tournament that was open to all. Good golfers wouldn’t have advantages over beginners, and anybody could win the prizes. There were twosomes, threesomes and foursomes and the entry fees were just 10 cents for each of the ten weeks of tournament play.

Late in 1936 it was announced that Ed Kabot, pro at the Alpine, had moved his family to Algoma. Ed was the new Kewaunee County Golf course manager. The Weber farm was still being leased with an eye toward its purchase, but a year later a press release told about the Weber farm course being abandoned. Algoma and Kewaunee folks joined those in other parts of the county who were calling for a new course at Alaska on a farm that was part of the Janda property, once owned by John Meyer of Algoma. The location was ideal and the terrain was positive. As early as January 1937, the new course was named Alaska Golf Club.

In June 1938, the Record Herald commended those with the foresight in moving the course to Alaska, a much more centrally located place. The paper felt that over the years, the course would develop into one of the best in “this part of the state, another tangible asset will have been added to the county’s list for citizens to refer to with pride.” By May 1939, Stony Janda, who had engineered many of the changes, was in charge. Pro Don Nelson had joined the Coast Guard. Janda’s changes must have worked as the paper reported that golfers were having a rollicking good time.

If Coast Guardsman Nelson made golf news during the war, it didn’t seem to be reported in the paper, however Yeoman 3-c Richard Cmeyla made some news in August 1942 when he placed second at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, golf course. Cmeyla’s prize was $2 worth of golf balls, a win that some thought was ensured when his folks sent him the golf shoes he used to trek around the Alaska course.

As for the course at Alaska – it is just over 80 years old and remains a popular spot.

Sources: An-An-api-sebe: Where is the River?, c. 2001; Commercial Development of Algoma, Wisconsin, c. 2010 ; Cox-Nell House Histories, c. 2012; Algoma Record Herald. Postcard from the blogger's collection; ads from Algoma Record Herald.