Then and Now

| September/October 1998

Secretary of the R.S. Vintage Steel N10861 Highway 151 Malone, Wisconsin 53049

Today, I would like to tell you a story. It's nothing that I bought or what our club bought, but what we have as a community. Our little town of Calumetville is not very big as far as population goes, but it's very big on good and kind people. We are located on what was once known as the Military Road, now known as US Highway 151. It has seven houses on one side of the road, and 13 on the other side of the road. We have five businesses, two supper clubs, an auto body shop, a dairy supply store, two farms and a family owned business that sells to farmers and the other business, paper toweling.

The first permanent settlement in the town of Calumet was what is now known as Pipe. Pipe and Calumetville were organized on March 8, 1838, making us 160 years old this year. Some of the early settlers were Rev. George A. White, William Urmston and John Norton in 1837. (Note: some books indicate that George White was a Reverend, while others indicate that he was some sort of a land baron.) Shortly afterwards, these settlers were joined by John Tallmadge, Thomas Boyd, and Nathan Goodwell (according to a book written by Eugene C. Wulff). Calumetville's first settler, George A. White, built the first log house in the settlement. Later on, he turned his home into a hotel. To help in getting more settlers into the area, White and a gentleman by the name of Ostenfeld left for Hamburg, Germany.

There they began talking to some of the men who were very much in favor of leaving their homeland to come into the free territories. These men came from Holstein, Germany. They left their families back there and fled to Hamburg, Germany (the free city). They were afraid they might be called into the Danish army to fight against their German relatives. Later on, these same men went back to their families. Then in time, along with 198 passengers of a ship, they made their way to America. The ship's name 'Barens' was to set sail on April 2, 1848, and arrived in America on May 12, 1848. The ship's commander was Captain Peter Nienburg. Seventy of these passengers went to the New Holstein area about 12 miles east of Calumetville.

Calumetville had a lot going for it back then. George White's first log cabin was built in 1837. Mr. White later on turned his home into a hotel. The hotel was traced to Mrs. Fred Schwenck, so I assume that Mrs. Shwenck's property was indeed the first settlement in Calumetville. (Note: the original house/hotel was torn down.) The dates are unknown, but the big white house where Mrs. Schwenk now lives was built sometime around 1914. There was also a sawmill on the Schwenk farm that stood where the house is standing today. There was a lumber yard and a store. In fact, it was the only store for miles. Settlers had to come from New Holstein and Mary Town to do their shopping. And the same went for all the building supplies needed to build homes. The building supplies and the finished lumber were supplied from Calumetville for a number of years. As near as I can gather from the book Mr. Wulff wrote, New Holstein's first store was built sometime around June 1848 by Rudolph Puchner, who was also the first postmaster in 1851. Mr. Puchner started his store business in October of 1849. Also in 1849, the first mail came to Calumetville from Fond du Lac on horse back. Mail for elsewhere was left in Calumetville. In 1842 the first election was held in April, at the home of Mr.Ā  White; this is when Calumetville was reorganized. At this election, Mr. White was elected chairman, and Mr. Charles Amidon was elected clerk. George White was also the postmaster in Calumetville from 1839 to 1848. In 1851, Herman Heeson built a large stone flour mill close to the lake, a little below Pipe Village. The reason why it was by the lake was because of the shipping. Boats would come in to get loaded, then they would deliver the goods from this area to other areas around Lake Winnebago.

And, speaking of Pipe, the hotel in Pipe, known as Club Harbor, was built in the late 1830s to the mid-1840s but, like everything else in this world, things change. At sometime or other, the sawmill that once stood in Calumetville is now a nice farm. The old buildings were replaced with new, although some of the old remains can still be seen. You just don't know where to look because they were added to homes to make more rooms. A more modern grocery store was added, which belonged to Martin Bause. Then in the early 1960s, Lester Nelson owned it. Boy, I can remember that store. I bought my first rod and reel there. I got on my bike, my mission in life at that time was to get my very own' fishing pole. You could buy anything from a loaf of bread to a pair of shoes. In fact, if Nelson's store didn't have it, you didn't need it. Too bad it burned down some time in the 1970s.

We had a school called 'Calumet School District No. 1.' The dance hall was Turner's Hall. The three buildings are still standing. The same goes for the shed that used to house the horses while people were out for a Saturday night dance. These buildings are all used for storage now, but at least we still have them. The late John Schommer had a thriving livestock trucking business he started in the late 1930s. The Koenigs had a grocery store. They had two daughters, Martha and Lorie, who later operated the store until the Linders took over. Martha and Lorie were never married. Robert Linder and his wife, Ruth, purchased the store in the late 1940s or 1950s. They turned it into a hardware store. At one point in time, Calumetville had three gas stations, six farms, and two repair garages. Mands was on the north side and Les Quade was on the south side of town. But, before Mands Garage, that building was a dance hall also. The original owner is not known at this time.

Now, we have no gas stations or car repair garages, no harness shops, no hardware storeswhy, we don't even have a blacksmith shop left anymore. But, you can relive some of the so-called 'good-old days' by coming to our steam and gas engine show. This year's dates are September 19 and 20.

When I started this story on how Calumetville was founded, we had the pleasure and the thrill of seeing first hand how they had to travel back in the 1800s. On May 29, 1998, our great state of Wisconsin turned 150 years old. To help celebrate the occasion, a group of men, women and children got together to form what was called the Military Road Sesquicentennial Wagon Train. They met on Saturday, May 30, 1998, in Prairie Du Chien (once known as Fort Crawford). From there they traveled to Portage and arrived on June 7. Here they rested at Fort Winnebago, then made their way through Fond du Lac. They arrived in Pipe Village only to be met by a tribe of Indians. (These Indians were a group of people from the village.) The Indians made them sign a peace treaty before they could continue on to Calumetville for a noon rest on June 11.

They really liked our showgrounds, by the way. We had the old time wind mill working all the time so the horses could have fresh water anytime they wanted to drink. We also have a one-room school house with the original class pictures and the library that was in the school. This school house is now our club house. Then they left, headed for Stockbridge, where they spent the night. Then Sunday, June 14, 1998 they arrived at Green Bay (Fort Howard). The reason for all this was to commemorate the Military Road, cut by the soldiers from the three forts. From its beginnings in 1836 to its decline in 1865, the Military Road's early purpose of connecting Wisconsin's three forts expanded as it became the state's main thoroughfare for travel and commerce. The Military Road undoubtedly played a large role in Wisconsin's early settlement, and it saw many colorful characters: salesmen, preachers, military wagons, stagecoaches, ore wagons from the lead mines at Galena, Illinois, and Mineral Point, Wisconsin, used the road, as well as immigrants, lawyers on the circuit, and politicians.

The Sesquicentennial Wagon Train was sponsored by the Ashwaubenon Historical Society, Inc., and it was hosted by Barbara Smits from De Pere, Wisconsin. Wagon train masters were Dick Koltz, Matt Koltz, both from Green Leaf, Wisconsin, and Jay Stradel of Wayside, Wisconsin.

The members from the R. S. Vintage Steel Club and from the members of our great community of Calumetville would like to congratulate each person from the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train for sharing this historical event by coming through our small, but great, town. I would like to thank the New Holstein Public Library, the Fond du Lac Public Library and all those who gave me information so this story could be written. The information for the Wagon Train was from a letter sent out from Barbara Smith. And, I especially would like to thank a very good friend, Ray Jurgensmier, who helped me look through what seemed like 1000 books for this information. Calumetville is located about 72 miles north from Milwaukee and about 70 miles south of Green Bay; just stay on Highway 151.

Just think folks, sometime, the thing we buy today will be collected by someone tomorrow.


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