Old Timers' Night - February 13, 1912 - Five Pioneers' Reminiscences







BURLINGTON SINCE 1850 - William Meadows' Reminiscences

At "Old Timers' Night" held by the Burlington Business Mens Association on February 13, 1912, four of Burlington's early settlers read papers on their experiences and on Burlington's early days. The following paper was read by William Meadows, who was the first of the four speakers.

William Meadows was born in England in 1833 and came to America with his parents in 1842. The family settled in Oswego County, New York, and remained there until coming to Wisconsin and Burlington in 1849 and 1850. Mr. Meadows later lived on a farm in the town of Lyons before moving into Burlington in 1897. In 1898, Mr. Meadows built a brick house on Edward Street where he and his wife, the former Anna Armstrong, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1909. Mrs. Meadows died in February 1912; Mr. Meadows, in April 1920.

Starting as a farmer, Mr. Meadows later was engaged in running a threshing machine and in buying wool for the eastern market, becoming one of the largest wool dealers in Walworth County. In 1887, he bought an interest in the Burlington Brick & Tile factory and for 32 years, until 1919, he was its secretary, treasurer, and general manager.

Mr. Meadows was active in politics, being elected chairman of the Town of Lyons three different times. He also served as school board treasurer and as a member and chairman of the Walworth County board. In 1880 he was elected assemblyman from Walworth County. After moving to Burlington, he served as second ward alderman and first city council president, being elected when Burlington first became a city in 1900.

I first set foot in Burlington in the spring of 1850--being then 16 years old. My father had come here the previous fall, and had written home directing me to start as soon as the lakes were open. I started from Utica, N. Y., in April 1850 and traveled by rail to Buffalo--the terminus at that time. From Buffalo I came by boat to Detroit, Michigan, and from Detroit to New Buffalo, Michigan, by rail, which was as far as that road extended. At New Buffalo I took a lighter tug-boat to Chicago, and from there came up the lake past Waukegan, Southport (now Kenosha), and Racine to Milwaukee. From Milwaukee I traveled by stage through Hale's Corners, Muskego Center, and Mukwonago to East Troy in Walworth county. There were no railroads in operation in Wisconsin at that time to my knowledge.

On arriving at East Troy I found awaiting me a letter from home, stating that father had arrived there the day I left, and, finding I had gone west, a family consultation was immediately held, the result of which was that I was directed to go to Burlington, Wisconsin, see a James Catton who had a farm for sale, and secure and purchase the same, which I did--having in my pocket $650 in currency when I left home.

I bought a yoke of cattle for $60 and a cast iron plow (the only kind then in use) for $8.00. I also hired a man--Mr. Montgomery by name--a married man living over the store now occupied by J. G. Mathews [at what is now 120 E. Chestnut Street], for $12 a month and board himself, as I knew absolutely nothing of driving cattle, handling a plow, or in fact any other department of farm work, having between the intervals of going to school always worked in a cotton factory belonging to my father, who followed that occupation during his entire lifetime, up to the time of his arrival in Wisconsin. He came from Bolton, Lancashire, England, to America in 1842, and, as I said before, first came to Wisconsin in the fall of 1849.

Our nearest neighbor between our place and Burlington was David Bushnell on the Burlington and Kenosha road [now Highway 142]. Our farm was on the site now occupied by the ice houses on Norton's lake, and covered an area of 120 acres--25 of which were in the lake. The present owner of the land is Mr. Schmidtkamp. [The farm, known as the former Koenen property, is where the new high school, the wellness center, and other facilities have been built.]

Father's object in choosing that locality was to be near a woolen mill which Mr. Catton contemplated building. He had built the dam the previous year, and the mill was erected in 1850 but was never to the best of my knowledge used for its original purpose, being converted into a grist mill.

The railroad from Racine, known as the Racine & Mississippi Railroad [which later became part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad], was built 4 years later, and about this time we sold out to the railroad for $32 per acre--exactly twice the amount we had paid for the farm--receiving in addition $650 damages from the company. We then moved to a farm 3 miles west of Burlington, on the Burlington and Lyons road [now Highway 36], and from there to Burlington, which has been my home city for a period totaling 62 years this coming April. Burlington was then merely a village of from 500 to 600 inhabitants.

The economic and industrial conditions of that day are hardly realizable by those acquainted only with present-day conditions. Money brought from 12% to 50% interest on loans extending over not more than 60 days and, as in most pioneer states, there were very few farms not covered by heavy mortgages. It was stated that the number of farms unencumbered by debt between Burlington and Kenosha could be enumerated on the fingers of one hand. Settlers, after taking up land, soon found their small capital swallowed up just as has been the experience of many since in Kansas and Dakota and other western states.

The following incident will give some idea of the difficulties under which some of the amateur farmers who constituted the majority of the settlers struggled.

We had run short of groceries and money being an almost unheard of commodity, we cast about for something to sell. Finally it was decided that I should go to town and try to sell some wood, which at that time was about the same thing as trying to sell gravel stones. However, I did find a merchant who consented to take half-a-cord in trade, and returned home with the good news.

Then my father, my two brothers and I set out to cut that half-cord of wood with one axe which we used in turn, and accomplished the feat after a hard day's work, and loaded it on the cart. After breaking the axle twice, we finally got to town where I had been commissioned by my mother to get some tea and some "baccy" for father in exchange for the wood. The wood was valued at 75 cents a cord and after unloading it, I enquired the price of tea. Tea, I was informed, was $1.50 a pound, so I brought home a quarter of a pound of tea as the proceeds of a hard day's work by four men.

The merchant referred to was the grandfather of the present Meinhardt family, and his place of business occupied a piece of ground about 12 feet front by 24 feet deep, on the site of the present Bank of Burlington [northeast corner of Chestnut and Pine Streets]. The grocery store was about 8 x 12 feet and the living rooms were in the rear.

We were not the only ones who had hardships to face in those days. As I sit in my office and watch the stream of automobiles and buggies that pass and repass, my mind turns to the very different styles of vehicles in use 60 years ago. Then the most stylish turnout was a truck-wagon with wheels of solid wood, having holes bored through the center for the axles--the floor of the wagon consisting of rough slabs of wood. It was also not unusual to see grist being conveyed to the mill on a stoneboat--in most cases simply a crotch of a tree with slabs of wood laid across and held down by pegs driven through holes. To this was harnessed a yoke or perhaps two yoke of oxen, which were driven by the grandfathers of the present generation clad in a blue shirt, a pair of pantaloons reaching halfway to the ankle, and a straw hat minus the rim, and armed with a 10 or 12 foot whipstock having a lash of equal length attached. The man who first aspired to the ownership of a modern wagon was quite a figure in the community, and was always willing to oblige his neighbors by letting out the wagon for trips to Racine or Kenosha at 25 cents per day or 50 cents for the round trip.

All members of the household helped alike in the farm work. Corn planting was far from the simple job it is at present. We had to travel each row twice in cultivating, with a yoke of oxen and a small plow that turned over an 8 inch furrow, one person driving and another holding the plow, and we hoed it twice afterwards.

The securing of our simple pleasures also involved a certain amount of work and effort. On the morning of the 4th of July, it was quite a common sight to see all the boys of the neighborhood making a bee line for town, loaded with eggs or butter to use in trade for the necessary combustibles. Eggs were valued in trade at 5 cents a dozen, butter at 7 cents a pound, and firecrackers at 12 cents a package. I can remember on one such occasion a boy whom we know now as Mr. Cunningham, one of the directors and a stockholder in the Bank of Burlington, also a heavy taxpayer, had as his stock in trade two dozen eggs, which brought him 10 cents. Considering the price of firecrackers, you can readily see that Mr. Cunningham's credit failed to carry him as far as a full package. The principal ceremony of the day consisted in firing off a solitary cannon, and the firecrackers were touched off one at a time, and made to last as long as possible. Such a thing as exploding a whole bunch of crackers at once was an undreamt of extravagance, and when the day closed, all retired after what was regarded as a good day's fun with as keen a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction as the boy of the present day experiences after spending $20 or $25. In fact I believe our satisfaction was greater because of the fact that all our pleasure had been secured by hard individual effort.

The unlimited schooling now at the disposal of every boy and girl was still in the future at that time. During the working season, as I said before, every member of the family old enough worked in the fields from sunrise until sunset. School was open only during the winter months, and the teachers were generally young men appointed by the town superintendent at a salary of from $7 to $8 a month, and boarded round amongst the different families in rotation. Each teacher had to be his own janitor after traveling through the snow to school in the morning. Going to school in those days was quite a rest from the long summer's work. There are living in this town, at this day, men and women who have worked behind my threshing machine at 50 cents a day, and it has often occurred to me to wonder if the young men and boys have any conception of the struggles and hardships undergone by their parents and grandparents, to place at their disposal the many privileges and advantages they find on every hand today.

Women and girls were often to be seen walking a distance of 4 or 5 miles to town, carrying the farm produce of butter and eggs to use in trade. When the burden got too heavy, a short rest would be taken at one of the houses by the roadside, and the journey resumed until town was reached. Cash was paid for grain at the lake ports; oats brought 10, 15, or 20 cents per bushel, barley 30 or 35 cents, and wheat from 40 to 50 cents a bushel. Consequently this product was always carried to Racine or Kenosha, to pay off the more pressing debts, by the grandfathers of the young men and boys who, now-a-days, find any means of conveyance short of an automobile too slow for them.

Speaking of walking recalls to my mind one Sunday in the summer of 1852, when I was working for Aaron Leach, of Brighton, for $13 a month. (Mr. McCanna is not aware of the fact that I have worked an entire summer on Edgewood Farm, now owned by him, for N. R. Norton, father of George Norton, at $7 a month, and was perfectly satisfied with the wages.) On the occasion referred to, some Burlington friends of mine walked out to Brighton to pay me a visit. They were Robert Wheeler and Miss Mary Ann Norris, afterwards Mrs. Robert Wheeler, Benjamin Fox and Miss Mary Ann Wheeler, afterwards Mrs. Benjamin Fox, and Andrew Patterson and Miss Anna Wilson, later Mrs. Andrew Patterson.

Immediately after their arrival, about 9 or 10 o'clock, I asked Mr. Leach for the use of his horses and wagon to attend church, some 3 miles distant, and he very readily gave his consent. Can you imagine the pride and pleasure we took in driving to church in a lumber-box wagon, without springs and with boards laid across for seats--it being equal to the best conveyance then in use in the township? To show that our addition to the congregation was highly appreciated, the minister, Rev. Thomas Lister, extended a very cordial invitation for dinner to our entire party, which we gladly accepted. After returning to Mr. Leach's and having supper in the log house (about 19 out of 20 of the houses of that day were built of logs), seated on benches around a bare board table, the callers walked back to their respective homes. How would the young people of today feel after walking fully 8 miles or more to attend church?

I have not dwelt much on the growth of Burlington, and as I have already occupied sufficient of your time, I shall just make mention of the fact that the most valuable piece of property in Burlington, at that time, was the grist mill owned by Perkins & Pitkin, which was running at its utmost capacity, day and night, 7 days in the week, and drawing customers from a radius of 10 or 15 miles. Men bringing their grist had to wait 2 days or more before returning with the flour. The property was then rumored to be worth $50,000, and it is now practically a ruin.

At the same time there was a small machine shop on the site of the present Wagner Bros. machine shop. It was owned by A. Zwiebel, the father of the present Zwiebel Bros., who is still living. He worked in partnership with Hobart Wagner.

I shall leave the history of Burlington in particular and the story of its growth to those who follow.

And now, my young friends and associates, the particular incidents I have related here are intended for your special benefit, that you may be able to form some estimate of the kind of men and women your immediate ancestors were, and learn to govern yourselves accordingly, and fit yourselves to assist in the continuous advancement of civilization in the future.

The young people of today constitute the world of tomorrow, and the man who can best and most effectually overcome the difficulties he meets with in his everyday work, is the man who as a boy has learned to tackle his smaller but none the less vital problems with an indomitable will and a spirit that admits of no defeat. The young man or boy who takes up his first job with the intention of making good at that job, rather than merely to fill up his time between paydays, is certain to finish high in the esteem of his fellow men, and to leave behind him accomplishments worthy of notice provided he sticks to his intention.

The American boy of today has unlimited possibilities for advancement, and no restrictions that he cannot overcome by himself. A noted professor in Oxford university, England, on being appealed to by his students, to settle an argument as to what constituted a good education, replied that with a thorough knowledge of the four elemental branches--reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling--a man was well equipped to start out in life and had no one but himself to blame if he failed. I therefore believe I am not making any overstatement when I say that you may count yourselves richly supplied, when, in addition to these, you have gained a working knowledge of banking, foreign exchange, and common law at any of the numerous business colleges now within easy reach of every young man.

You have more freedom of action and more opportunity to develop your latent powers than the Prince of Wales in England. That young man is destined to fill the English throne, and from the day of his birth all his training is applied with that particular end in view. All his day's work is mapped out for him in advance--so many hours for study and so many hours for recreation--and should it so happen that he is not fitted by nature or inclination for the position to which he is born, he cannot renounce his birthright and take up something more congenial. It merely means that he must apply himself so much more diligently for the work he has to perform.

With you, my young friends, it is different; you have all the professions and all the opportunities in the world to choose from. You can rise to any height or sink to any depth, and the final achievement--whether it spell success or failure--is the measure of the man. Do not imagine that poverty or want of means at the outset is by any means a serious handicap. On the contrary, if I were set to pick out of a crowd of boys those most likely to succeed in life, I should choose the barefoot boys--the poorly clad--in other words, those who have known deprivation and want, those who have always had to hustle for a living, in preference to those brought up with every want satisfied and all their powers of achievement and self-preservation atrophied from want of use.

The world is full of instances proving that the sons of the rich men who start out in life with every equipment in the line of education, and lavishly supplied with money they have never earned, very rarely arrive at distinction.

My advice to you in closing, my young friends, is to go into whatever business you undertake with those two vital points in mind--to give to that business the best that's in you and to stick to it. Stick-to-it-tiveness is half the secret of success and the other half is application. Keep these points in mind and you'll certainly come out pretty near the top of the heap.


WHEN I CAME TO BURLINGTON IN 1852 - by Francis Reuschlein

Mr. Reuschlein was born in Baden, Germany, February 8, 1834, and died in Burlington on April 24, 1913. He opened a book, stationery, tobacco, and liquor store near the Chestnut Street bend in 1861, and later moved his variety store to the corner of Pine and Chestnut Streets, where Zumpano's Restaurant now is. He also conducted an insurance and real estate business, closing out his variety store about 1893.

Mr. Reuschlein served as Burlington town and village clerk for 20 years, as postmaster for 4 years, and as a justice of the peace. He was also an assemblyman from this district for one term, 1892-94. Mr. Reuschlein, who possessed a beautiful singing voice, was a charter member of the Teutonia Society, a German singing and dramatic group, serving as its president for 25 consecutive years and also as vice president for a number of years. He was active in the choir at St. Mary's, being at one time the choirmaster; and in his day, he was one of the best German comedians in the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I came here in the year 1852. When we left Germany, our intentions were to come to Burlington, Wisconsin, as my father had two brothers and a sister living near here. So we came to Milwaukee in June. The families stayed there while my father and uncle, Mr. Prailes, walked to Burlington in order to see if they could rent rooms and bring their families here to locate. They found a farmer who was willing to take a load of wheat into Milwaukee and bring the families out on his return.

It was night as we came--first to Waterford and then to Rochester. It appeared to me at that time that Rochester was a little larger than Waterford. Then we came to Burlington and Burlington looked to be just a little bit larger than Rochester. The business places in Rochester, also the houses, were closer together, more compact, whereas in Burlington there was more space between the houses, the latter covering more territory.

I got up next morning and went out into the street to take a look at Burlington by day light. Behold, as I looked down the street there stood a cow, and beside the cow sat a man wearing a stove pipe hat milking the cow. I was afterwards told it was Dr. Dyer (Dr. Edward G. Dyer). As I looked on the other side of the street there stood another cow with a stove pipe sitting beside it; this was Mr. Lyon (William P. Lyon), who was afterwards Judge Lyon of the supreme court.

Now, when you consider that in Germany, where I came from, the milking was done entirely by women--I hardly ever saw a man milking in Germany, except when the women had babies--you can imagine my feelings. The men, of course, were so awkward in milking that the cow would upset the milk pail.

The postoffice kept by Bliss was at that time up stairs in the building that is now owned by Mrs. A. Reuschlein (on corner of Chestnut St. and Milwaukee Ave. where Johnson Bank is now located). There was a stairway leading from the outside and in the room was a table and on this table was a box three feet square with some pigeon holes and a glass front. It contained about twelve newspapers and twelve or fifteen letters.

The doctors at that time were Dr. Dyer, Dr. Lewis (William Lewis), and Dr. Kords (Frederick Kords). There were no drug stores; they carried their drug stores with them--pills, powders, etc. This, I think, is all they carried as there was no particular sickness at that time. Operations and appendicitis were things unknown, as the people were all healthy.

At that time there were four lawyers and three doctors. Now we have about eight or nine doctors, and only three lawyers. That shows that our farmers have become civilized, as most of the law suits at that time were among the farmers.

There were a great many more farmers then than now. The farms would average 40 acres, 20 acres and some less, and the population in the country was then greater than it now is.



Paper read at the "Old Timers' Night" of the Burlington Business Mens Association held on February 13, 1912.

Charles G. Foltz was born in West Winfield, Herkimer County, New York, in September 1837, the oldest of the six children of Rev. Benjamin Foltz and his first wife, Jane (Harwood) Foltz. The family moved to Ohio in 1846 and came to Wisconsin in 1849, settling first in Emerald Grove in Rock County and then in Allen's Grove in Walworth County. They moved to Burlington in 1854, where Rev. Foltz became pastor of what was then the Presbyterian church.

In November 1856, Rev. Foltz purchased a small established business, which was the beginning of the dry goods and clothing business, which the Foltz family, including Charles G., and later his son, Ernest H., conducted until 1927.

Charles G. Foltz was one of the charter members of Burlington's Plymouth Congregational church, which was organized in 1858; and he served as church clerk for many years. He was also active in Burlington's school affairs, serving as trustee on the school board for many years and as treasurer during the building of the Conkey Street High School (now Cooper School), which opened in 1897. His wife, Mary Ann Chandler, was a teacher in Burlington before their marriage in 1861.

Foltz died in Burlington on July 22, 1921, at age 83.

My first glimpse of Burlington was in June, 1854. I had walked more than twenty miles that day, driving the family cow to our new home. The sun was around the bend in Chestnut street, and the village and its beautiful surroundings of rivers, hills and groves were spread out before me. Tired and footsore as I was, I was rejoiced to have my lot cast in so goodly a home. I felt sure I had reached a desirable haven.

Burlington was then in its boyhood. Seventeen or eighteen years before, the first pioneers had come to the fork of the rivers and erected their cabins and log houses. There had been rapid growth, so rapid that in 1854 it was quite a village, and had developed manufacturing and commercial interests to quite an extent. A healthy and robust growth, so that, to use a figurative phrase, Burlington was "handsome as a boy," and with the passing years has retained this reputation.

The village then and for many years after, was under the town government. Surveys had been made, streets and roads laid out that met the requirements for many years. In this work there were controversies and conflicts at times that account in part for the crooks in some of our streets. Silas Peck and Mr. Perkins (who owned adjoining sections) had different views as to platting--so that to thwart the purpose of one the other would put up a building to head off a street. A cobblestone house erected where the Christien shoe store is [now 161 Chestnut Street], was the cause of the bend in Chestnut street.

[Contributor's note: Another explanation, offered by Francis Meurer and Don Reed in their 1991 book, "Burlington, Wisconsin - The First 150+ Years," was that the "bend" where the Peck portion of Chestnut Street meets the Perkins portion was probably a compromise since the original plats of their adjoining quarter sections, which the two men recorded together in 1839, showed the familiar bend in Chestnut Street, but no similar "bends" in Washington or Jefferson Streets which also crossed the boundary separating the two quarter sections.]

When the Spring Prairie road [now West Chestnut Street and Highway 11] was laid out, the supervisors favored its running direct into town over the steep hill on Ephraim Perkins' land [where Hillcrest Bed & Breakfast is now located], contending it was shorter than to run it around the base of the hill. Mr. Perkins was strongly opposed to this plan and carried the point by saying, "I do not find the bale of a kettle measures any more lying down than standing up."

The growth of the village was slow for three decades. In the residence portion there were many blocks with few if any buildings. Corn fields, orchards and pasture land existed that are now covered with houses.

The manufacturing and commercial interests also were of slow growth. I will speak briefly of those that existed in the fifties. Ephraim Perkins, to whose enterprise and shrewdness the village was indebted for much of its development, had several years before been "gathered to his Father," and his son, Pliny M., reigned in his stead. He was the manufacturing magnate of that time, as well as a large land owner. He owned and operated the quite extensive woolen mills, the excellence of its cashmeres, tweeds, flannels and yarns being known far and near. Quite a large custom business was done for the farmers -- carding their wool into rolls for the thrifty housewives to use in their domestic manufactures. Mr. Perkins also owned and operated one of the two flour and grist mills then here. The other was Scott's mill, down near the Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul bridge.

Quite an extensive milling business was done at that time -- the farmers bringing in large grists, some coming a long distance and waiting their turn, after staying over night. Their patronage of the taverns, as they were usually called, and stores made them quite important factors of the business of the place.

Another important manufacturing plant was the Sawyer & Barns plow shop. Some can still remember the excellence of their plows. Wagons were made by McCumber & Williams, George Stohr, John Edmunds and others. Two foundries and repair shops were operated by Wagner & Zwiebel, and, if I remember right, as early as this period, a brewery by Jacob Muth. Several blacksmith shops were run by Jacob Wambold, William Rein, Frederick Keuper and others; tin shops; boot and shoe shops by Simon Kempf, Frank Schemmer, T. J. Thompson; harness shop by Milo T. Hayes, about cover the list of manufactures. Now most of these lines have ceased to be made here. The mammoth trust industries have driven the smaller out of existence.

Most of the mercantile business places were on the corner of Geneva and Chestnut and Pine and Chestnut streets[Geneva is now Milwaukee ave.]. Orson Sheldon was the leading merchant. He, as well as the other dealers, kept a general variety, forerunners of the modern department stores.

Many important articles at that time are almost unknown to this generation. Fish oil, Camphene Burning fluid and candles were sold for lighting purposes. In the drug department of Sheldon's store were some small bottles labeled "Petroleum or Rock Oil, for external use as a remedy for cuts and burns" -- all that then was known of kerosene. Yellow sugar in mammoth hogsheads, loaf sugar in conical shaped loafs, grain cradles, flails, etc. Nearly all wants could be supplied from one store -- from a silk dress and bonnet to axle grease and tar. Butter, eggs, tallow, rags, hides, etc., were taken in barter.

Besides the Sheldon store, the firms of Gammel & Phelps and Mr. Clark, dealers in general merchandise, such as dry goods, groceries, etc., were located on the corner of the same streets, one in the building now owned by Mrs. August Reuschlein [where Johnson Bank is now located], the other in the building that is now occupied by Miller & Voelker's millinery store [where Chocolate City Travel was located]. On the corner of Pine and Chestnut streets were the drug store of Dr. William Lewis, grocery of W. C. Grassie, and later the toy and variety store of Francis Reuschlein, which was the store of the most attraction to the children of that day.

The corner where the Florence block -- the Wien store -- now is [later occupied by Kessler's Five and Dime, Cannella Response Television, and others], was vacant until Mr. Peck [another source says Hiram A. Sheldon] built a frame building early in the sixties, and opened a hardware store. His successors in the occupancy of this building were Sheldon & Conkey, Anthony Meinhardt and Theodore Riel, general merchants. Mr. Peck's house was about one hundred feet from this corner. From his house to Jefferson street was all vacant. The block from Washington to Jefferson street, Mr. Peck donated for a park, but as the town did nothing to improve it, but rather seemed to turn down the gift, it reverted to his heirs after twenty years.

Henry Neuhaus was the jeweler of the early years, owning and located in the building adjoining the Meinhardt bank [now Chase Bank of which the Neuhaus building is a part]. Francis Meinhardt, Sr., had a store where the Bank of Burlington now is [on corner now occupied by May's Insurance]. The building was small, one story, but it was wonderful the great variety of merchandise it contained. It used to be a common saying that you could not call for anything but he had it, which was tested one time when a stranger to its resources accepted a wager that he could. They went over to the store, and he asked for goose yokes. The old gentleman fumbled over some dusty packages on the top shelf and, sure enough, produced them.

All the banking business of the town for years was in the second story of the building now known as the Meinhardt bank [now Chase Bank]. Caleb P. Barns was president, vice-president and director -- he was the "whole thing" -- as the boys would say, he was "it." He was so genial and jocular that a borrower would feel that he was granted quite a favor in securing a loan at 12 percent, and I believe the interest was deducted in advance. Most of the banking business was done in Racine.

I remember that a temperance lodge I belonged to used this second story for a while, and at one time had public installation of officers, followed by a social and oyster supper. The young folks (I was young then) proposed to have something else -- a dance to end the festivities. The older ones said "No." The young people insisted, and formed on for a quadrille, when the opposition removed the chairs and put out the lights. They failed in their purpose -- the dance went on, and in the next issue of the weekly paper was a notice of it in Brewer Muth's ad:

It was a bright, moonshiny night,
The Templars of Honor they had a big fight.
And the cause I will tell you without any fear --
They drank something stronger than Muth's lager beer

Rather a hard knock on the Templar's lodge.

But, to return from this digression to business and its locations: Between the corners I have described there were a few scattered buildings, one story, small, little better than shacks, except Klingele's saloon, grocery and dwelling, built of brick, located where C. G. Foltz Co. now holds forth [now the site of Delights gift & candy shop and other businesses and organizations], and the Haman saloon, also a brick building [thought to be where Gingham Dog Antiques No. 2 was later located], where its owner met a tragic death. The hotels at this time were the Aikin [Aiken]House, on the corner where the Jones House stands [now the site of Coach's Bar & Grill]; the Fox River Hotel, that was near the Fox river bridge [on Jefferson st.], W. H. Addington, proprietor (by the way, the road ran straight down from one to the other across Peck's land), and the Kossuth House, kept by a Mr. Wetroth, if I remember right.

A large tree stood about where Johnson & Rittman are now [now site of Gingham Dog Antiques], and a big wood pump and watering trough between it and the hotel [now Coach's Bar & Grill]. The shade of this spreading tree made this spot a favorite resort for the village idlers and those who were on the lookout for a horse trade. I remember hearing of one that occurred. A traveler came to the Aikin [Aiken] House riding a good horse, jaded out, and lame for the time. Anxious to continue his journey, as his business was pressing, he made a trade for one, little better than a crowbait, whose owner was willing to let it go as an accommodation or special favor to help the stranger on his way. As he rode off, watched by those who had been drawn there to see the trade, Ephraim Perkins remarked, "Friendship, pure friendship."

Another source of interest that centered around this corner was the morning departure of the stage, with its passengers and mail for Racine and other places. As John Emmerich, with the winding of horn and cracking of whip, dashed down to the bridge and out of town behind his four-horse team, he was a veritable Jehu "driving furiously." watched by many a boy as long as he was in sight, whose highest ambition was to fill his place. When the railroad came, his occupation, like Othello's, was gone, or at least reduced to short drives carrying the mail to Honey Creek, etc. During the war, terrible reports of defeats would be in circulation at these points, away from the railroad, that would not be known here until he on his return would report them as the latest over the grapevine dispatch.

John was one of the wits of his time, quick in repartee. At one time he was employed in a livery stable. In the absence of the proprietor, he loaned a buffalo robe that the owner missed on his return, and called on John to account for it. When he told of loaning it, his boss said, "Why didn't you let him have the barn, and be done with it?" John replied, quick as a flash, "I would, but there's such a heavy mortgage on it that he couldn't draw it off."

The erection of the Klingele & Boub stores in 1855 or 1856 was quite a boom. The branch store of Johnson & Wright, of Racine, occupied the building now the Crawford jewelry store. J. S. Crane was their manager, and when B. Foltz & Son bought their stock and commenced business in 1857, he remained with them until 1862.

I have taken too much time in speaking of the manufacturing and commercial interests of these early days. I will try and be more concise in reminiscing upon other subjects. As I spoke of early school matters at the dedication of the Lincoln school last evening, I pass over what I have prepared on the subject. [The school on the corner of Kane and State streets, which now houses the Burlington Area School District's administrative offices, was originally built as the Burlington Union School in 1859, when Abraham Lincoln was first nominated for the presidency. It was remodeled in 1911, the centennial anniversary of Lincoln's birth, and renamed Lincoln School.]

The church buildings then existing were the first Catholic church building [St. Sebastian's], across the street from the present one. It was on quite a knoll, and had a large cross set in the ground near it. The second [now St. Mary's school annex] was commenced in 1855, and seemed such a massive edifice that if anyone had predicted it would be superseded by number three in thirty or thirty-five years, he would have been thought a wild dreamer. Father Wisbauer ministered to the church for forty years or more -- a gentle, good man, beloved by all and mourned by all when he died.

The other churches were the Presbyterian, ministered to by my father [Rev. Benjamin Foltz] and Rev. Philo C. Pettibone. In 1858 this building [a wooden buiding later replaced by the brick building now occupied by the Plymouth Congregational-United Church of Christ] became the property of the Congregational church, Rev. Pettibone being the first pastor. He was a very earnest, devout man, and during the war period manifested his intense loyalty to his country by his stirring addresses. The building now known as the Baptist church [the building on the corner of Jefferson and Kane streets now occupied by the Church of the Nazarene] was at first called the Free or Union church -- built to give a church home to Unitarians, Baptists, Methodists, and perhaps other demoninations. Rev. VanAmarige I remember the most distinctly as preaching there. Both these buildings were erected about 1852.

A brief mention of the legal fraternity. None, whose memory can go back to the years when Lewis Royce was on earth, can forget his fierce pugilistic attitude toward opposing counsel, especially Squire Chapman, of Waterford, -- and how peacefully they would hobnob together after the case was thrashed out. Caleb P. Barns, A. G. Cole, J. Oscar Culver, Charles W. Bennett, William Penn Lyon and John Fox Potter were among the legal lights, and some shone with increasing brilliancy in after years, whose fame extended throughout the state and nation.

The doctors of that period led strenuous lives -- frequent drives into the country by day and night -- no telephones to aid them. To illustrate this strenuous life, I relate an incident in Dr. Dyer's experience -- one of many that might have been given of him and his fellow co-workers in alleviating or curing the ills that flesh is heir to. The good, but at times rather gruff, old doctor had come in late at night from quite a drive, and was in a sound sleep when loud knocking roused him. Putting his head out of the window, he asked in no amiable tone, "Who's there?" The knocker said, "It's Steve Houghton, come out and see my wife, she's awful bad. Come soon as you can, for God's sake." The doctor said, "I can't, Steve, just back from a hard jaunt, can't turn out for another long drive tonight. Get some other doctor, I won't go." And down went the window. Houghton, in his perplexity, thought of Caleb P. Barns. He would get him to go and use his influence a second time with the doctor. So another sound sleeper was aroused, another window raised: "What's wanted?" "O, Barns, go with me to Dyer's; see if you can't persuade him to go out to my poor wife, he's always attended her, no other doctor will do." Mr. Barns, knowing the doctor's characteristics better than Houghton, said, "Get into your wagon, Steve, and drive home as fast as you can. You'll do well if you get there first." He acted on the advice and found the doctor ahead of him.

Owing to so much country practice, the doctors made it a point to have good horses, of speed and endurance. I can well remember they took great pride in the animals to which they were much attached. To hear Dr. Cooper [Joel Henry Cooper] praise up his fleet footed nag -- enlarge upon its intelligence and various wonderful points -- you would think there was not one his equal; until you heard Dr. Darling's [Milton T. Darling] encomiums on his horse, then your opinion would veer around like a weather vane and conclude that Dr. D. had Dr. C. beaten to a frazzle.

Appendicitis and other diseases that seek for the surgeon's skill in modern times were then unknown, or nearly so. Microbes did not trouble people then, all ate and drank with impunity. No trained nurses or undertakers locally, but friends supplied the lack of professionals, doing what they could for the sick and dying and laying out the dead, aiding the bereaved in all the preparations for burial.

We turn from this somber subject to the more trivial and joyous phases that entered into the social life of that period. Sleigh ride parties to adjoining towns, oyster suppers at W. P. Storm's, of Vienna; Campbell, at Rochester; Russ Hotel, in Waterford; corn-husking parties; spelling contests in various school districts, etc.; the street parades of maskers, rebuking in pantomime anything done that had given offense. For instance, the masker astride a miniature schoolhouse, his long black-gloved fingers grasping it -- soon after the school building on an out of town farm land had been taken for some other use. The numerous picnics to nearby groves. There was music in the air when Professor Wald's band headed these parades, keeping regular step on going out -- I cannot say much of their return. Yes, those were jolly days, of fun and joke. I can give but a specimen or two.

Adam Kleinkopf, farmer, fisherman, and the only barber of that time, devoting Saturday afternoons to his patrons. In addition to his tonsorial duties, occasionally served up a free lunch, when he had made a catch of fish or turtle. One Saturday morning he brought in a large turtle and served it up in an appetizing soup that was all consumed before one of our worthy citizens -- who never meant to miss a free lunch -- was aware of what was going on. When he showed up, Adam said he was too late for the first batch, and told him to come around later. The joker fished out some bones and crusts from the garbage pail which he stewed up, well seasoned, and duly served to the belated applicant, who ate it with great relish and smacking his lips declared "it was the best soup vat he ever ate."

Another more serious joke was when a farmer on a load of hay hailed Squire Cole on the street and asked the way to Squire Barn's barn. Cole said, "I am going right by it, follow me," and led the farmer to his own barn. As the hay was on account, the wrong delivery was not discovered for some time.

One dull, dreary, hot day in August, when those employed in the stores were outside, sitting on the blinds and boxes, they were aroused from their somnolent condition by some of the High Street, Wheatland boys, who had been imbibing enough to make them quite hilarious, who sailed down Chestnut street reading the signs as they passed: M. Klingele, Geo. Verhalen, B. Foltz & Son, Schumaker & Wurms, Chris. Boub, Valentine Schmitt, Henry Neuhaus, F. Reuschlein, -- Dutch, all Dutch.

The politics of Burlington then, as now, were strongly democratic. The voting place for some time was Klingele's saloon and grocery -- passing our votes through a window where a pane of glass had been removed. Prominent guardians of the polling place were "King" Catton, as he was called; "Big Mike" Cunningham; and N. B. Norton. There were others also for when I offered my maiden vote in 1858, Christian Boub, the pathmaster, was on the watch and said, "How is this, Charlie (everyone called me Charlie then) when I tried to collect poll tax from you last summer, you said you were not of age, and now you are trying to vote." I quietly informed him that I had passed my twenty-first birthday since.

The decade of the fifties was marked by stirring times in national affairs. The impending crisis, predicted by Helmer and others in their writings, was near its culmination. During the closing years of this decade the political clouds of the oncoming storm were surcharged with the elements of discord and dissension. The muttering thunders became louder and near at hand. Not the efforts of the north nor the utterances of President Lincoln in his inaugural address could allay the tempest. At Fort Sumter pealed forth the bolt "that echoed 'round the world."

The call for volunteers to preserve the union met with a prompt response from Burlington and the surrounding country. Many of our boys were soon wearing the blue. The 1st and 22nd regiments of infantry and the 9th battery received most of those who enlisted in the early stages of the war. Before called into active service, while being drilled, the 9th battery were in quarters in Sheldon's warehouse and Company C, 1st Wisconsin regiment in Schaffer's pavilion on the little island near the Wald tannery and woolen mill. The stirring tunes of fife and drum in the day drills and when off duty evenings the lively tunes played on violins by Charlie Wood and Ed. Loomis used to attract the villagers over the river to join in the festivities, and sometimes to share in the evening meal, and join in the current songs such as "He that hath plenty of peanuts and gives his neighbor none; he shall have none of my peanuts when his peanuts are gone."

These were soon substituted by the loftier songs inspired by the progress of war events, such as "We are coming, Father Abraham, 300,000 more"; we'll rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom"; "We are tenting tonight on the old camp grounds"; some of our boys by actual experience could sing "Marching through Georgia, from Atlanta to the sea"; in many homes could be sung the pathetic words, "We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair."

When at last the cruel war was over, the nation in its rejoicing and gratitude could say:
Behold what God the Lord hath wrought.
More than we asked, or hoped or thought.
Through the red sea of blood and carnage,
He brought our nation free from bondage.
With Moses sing, yea shout, O north;
With Meriam answer back, O south,
"That He hath triumphed gloriously."



Mr. Klein was born in St. Jean, Alsace, France, February 5, 1833, and died in Burlington on April 1, 1924. At age 7, his family came to America and settled in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. In 1856 the family moved to Racine, where Mr. Klein became foreman of the J. I. Case company's blacksmith shop. Coming to Burlington in 1865, he joined Anton Zwiebel's machine shop, and in 1867 associated with Hubbard Wagner, Sr., in a foundry and machine shop. Later, he went into partnerships known as McCumber & Klein and Klein & Leber, which manufactured plows and agricultural implements.

In 1886, Mr. Klein associated with John H. Bower in manufacturing soft drinks, becoming sole owner in 1889. Two sons, Francis X. and Otto A., joined the firm, known as the F. G. Klein Company. Besides making nationally and internationally known carbonated beverages, such as ginger ale, cream soda, and German style birch beer, the firm also bottled Pabst's Milwaukee beer. Following Mr. Klein's death in 1924, the business was carried on by his sons and later by a son-in-law. In 1932, Walter F. Uebele bought an interest in the company; and in 1934 Andrew Adam bought the firm. In 1937 the firm's name was changed to the Klein Beverage Co., which continued in business until November 1943.

Friends and members of the Burlington Business Mens association--Gentlemen: Allow me to congratulate the members of the Burlington Business Mens association upon the success of your social features, which brings friends and members into closer relation.

Allow me to thank the association for the good and noble work accomplished since its organization, with the hope that you will continue to labor with united efforts and sound judgment for the betterment of our famous city, for improvements and development, for morality and sound principles, and looking to the welfare of our citizens.

It is well for a man, advanced in years, to stop for reflection and review the past and recall a few reminiscences of by-gone days.

Burlington, with its wealth and beautiful surroundings, has found warm hearts far and near through its hospitality and generosity. But the foundation to our enterprising and thriving city was laid by men of honest character and principles. Men like Perkins, Wells, Barnes, Buell, Catton, Verhalen, Reuschlein, Rewald, Foltz, Wagner, Meinhardt, Ayers, Meadows, White, Kords, Rueter, Melcher, Prasch, Christien, Finke, Werner, Rittmann, Wackermann, Durgin, Devereux, Moestue, Riel, Brehm, Miller, Henningfield, Gill, Wambold, Muth, Weygand, Schemmer, Hegeman, Burhans, Schmidt, Diedrich, Klingele, Scheidt, Pieters, Fishman, Sheldon, Laske, Jones, Wehmhoff, Zoehrlaut, Leber, Cunningham, Chief, Foley, Gleason, Rev. Wisbauer and others, and of our day, Rev. Jacobs.

The principal industries and business places were the lumber yard at the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul depot, owned by the Wilbur Lumber Co.; Melcher's saloon, which was frequented by the numerous shippers; Anthony Finke's brewery, whose successors have kept up the good old reputation for lager beer; Peter Schmidt's saloon, known as the Farmers' Home; Rittmann's grocery store; Schemmer's shoe store, where Frank Schemmer learned the cobblers trade; Bank of Burlington, safely conducted by Hall; the famous Diedrich's bakery on the hill; the malt house across the river in Canada; the woolen mills, which were twice destroyed by fire; Osterman's famous summer resort on the shore of Brown's lake; the genial ice man, Bob Davis; the flour and feed mill on Mill street; Wagner & Zwiebel's machine shop; Pieters' wagon and paint shop; Jones house, the old reliable hotel conducted by Chas. J. Jones; Nims & Voorhees, contractors; Chandler, the piano dealer; Shofield, the dentist; McCumber & Klein plow works; Ebbers, the carpet weaver; Zoehrlaut's soda water factory; Stang's boot and shoe store; Wambold & Rein's blacksmith shop; Tichlofen, the wooden shoe maker; Geheb & May's meat markets; Kautsky, the cobbler; Willhoft, the undertaker and furniture dealer; Moestue, the photographer; Foltz's dry goods, still in business; and last but not least, the editor and printer, Devereux.

The names of these good citizens and their commercial occupations recall to our memories many pleasant and interesting stories of the early days.

One interesting feature was the building of the Wisconsin Central railroad. Many citizens raised their voices in protest against the construction of a railroad, claiming it would injure the town; but let me state that the majority were in favor, and it was not long before the railroad was of greater advantage than the fair (the Racine County Fair), which attracted so many from far and near to Burlington.

As the steam road, so also the new electric railway is passing through our beautiful city, and has given us a distinct mark on the map of Wisconsin. It has brought us to the front and given us an enviable position.

May the motto of this association and our business men be ever, "Onward and Forward," by honesty and integrity--forward to greater success. My friends, I thank you for the honor of speaking to you this evening.



Mr. Buell was born October 4, 1829, and died March 23, 1913. At the time of the get-together, Mr. Buell was 82 years old. Mr. Buell was the Racine & Mississippi Railroad Company's depot agent at Burlington from 1856 to 1860 and at Beloit for the next three years. After moving back to Burlington, he engaged in general merchandising for a short time, and then took up life insurance, working for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for 18 years. He moved to Milwaukee in 1869.

Mr. Buell built and, at the time of his death, still owned two downtown buildings: the Buell block on the Chestnut Street bend where the C. G. Foltz Co. and later Pieters Bros. and Barton's had their stores; and the Florence block (named after his daughter) on the corner of Chestnut and Pine Streets where Theodore Riel, Jacob Wien, and Edward and Marge Kessler had their stores. The Buell block is now occupied by Delights gift & candy shop, Tech Head Computers, and other businesses and organizations; while the Florence block is occupied by the private offices of Cannella Response Television.

Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 10, 1912--My dear sir: Nothing could give me greater pleasure than to be a party to the "Excursion" of the early settlers of the "Old Town," the town whose cow paths, the angles of which correspond well with present day streets, and with which I was very familiar 57 years ago, often floundering in the mud in efforts, with dinner pail in hand, to reach the railroad station where I was the "king bee" and boss of a gang of men consisting solely of Barney Teekapee (Tekippe) and myself. I wonder if there are those now living who remember faithful Barney. Between Barney and myself, you can imagine the part myself played in the game. We pumped the water for the old Racine & Mississippi horse, often from six o'clock till any old hour at night. Those were days when there were no "unions," no eight-hour stops, one pegged all day for his little dollar and slept sweetly at night.

I well remember when the cows, the geese and the pigs, occasionally an Indian, were cocks of the walk. There was only one auto in the town and that was owned by "Bill" Meadows, and it's power was the ox-team.

Knowing the "pilots" for this excursion, as I did fifty years ago, and their willingness to yield to the then temptations of the infant city, I can appreciate the influences that have led them safely to gray hairs, and to become sober, industrious citizens, and strong factors in the new Burlington.

Accept my grateful acknowledgments for your kind invitation to be with you the 13th instant--but, but and but, I will leave you to guess the great reason why more than four score years are unwilling to brave the 20 below zero weather.

Very sincerely yours,

Thomas W. Buell