Karl, Ruben and Official Proof of a Birthday

It is common knowledge to family members that Carl F. Hanneman was born on Oct. 28, 1901. But when he needed proof of that fact back in 1946, there was none to be found. On Feb. 22, 1946, Carl sent a letter and the 50-cent fee to the Wood County register of deeds, asking for a copy of his birth certificate.

Register of Deeds Henry Ebbe sent the letter back with an answer that must have shocked Carl: “There doesn’t seem to be any birth certificate for you on the above date. There is a Ruben born Oct. 21, 1901. Father Chas. and Mother Rose. Could this be yours? I am returning your 50 cents.” 

The earliest known photo of Carl Henry Frank Hanneman, born 28 Oct 1901.
The earliest known photo of Carl Henry Frank Hanneman, born 28 Oct 1901.

That set Carl off scrambling to find proof of his birth. He asked the pastor of the Moravian Church of Wisconsin Rapids for help. Carl’s parents, Charles and Rosine Hanneman, joined the Moravian Church on March 29, 1907. Church records did list Carl F’s birthdate as Oct. 28, 1901, so Moravian Minister George Westphal wrote a letter testifying to the church records. But since Carl was not baptized in the Moravian church, this record was only indirect evidence of his birth.

If Carl had turned to U.S. Census records (which were not available at the time), it might have confused the matter more. The 1910 Census lists the youngest son of Charles and Rosa Hanneman as Harold Hanneman, age 8. Carl’s first middle name is Henry, so no doubt the Census worker simply wrote it down wrong.

So what happened? It’s not clear, but we do know the record was officially corrected. Carl’s  birth certificate still shows the name Ruben and the wrong birthday, but the errors  are crossed out and replaced with the correct information. Wood County Health Officer Frank Pomainville corrected the record in red ink in 1960.

Rare 1911 Manual Shows Teacher’s Look at Life at Vesper Graded School

In a state where the one-room schoolhouse was quite the norm in the early 1900s, tiny Vesper, Wis., boasted an impressive two-story brick school building that was the center of learning for area children for decades.

Built in 1906 just off of Main Street in Vesper, the Vesper Graded School was home to students of District No. 1, Town of Hansen. We get an interesting look at life inside the school from a teacher’s record book covering the years 1911-1917. The “Welch’s System Attendance, Classification, Gradation and Close Supervision” book belonged to Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman, who attended Vesper school starting in 1913 and later taught at the school.

The teacher kept detailed notes on conditions at the school, in addition to student performance.
The teacher kept detailed notes on conditions at the school, in addition to records of student performance and attendance.

The detailed notes in the book make one thing very clear: the teacher had her hands full each school year. Not only did one woman handle teaching duties for lower and upper grades, but she had to manage the building and contend with a cranky, bulky coal furnace each winter.

During the years covered in the record book, Vesper had three teachers: Mabelle Rowland in 1911-1912, Ella H. Hessler from 1912-13 to 1914-15, and Sara Icke in 1915-16 and 1916-17. Teachers were paid between $50 and $60 per month. Ruby’s uncle, Henry Treutel, served on the school board in early years (his son Harold attended classes during that time). In the late 1920s, another uncle, Charles Treutel, was also on the board.

It seems the biggest challenge for the teachers was not in the classroom but the furnace room. The coal-fired furnace often belched smoke and gases into the clean-air intake and into the classrooms. “Before you begin school learn how to manage the drafts of furnace and cold air shafts,” wrote Mabelle Rowland in her 1912 “Teacher’s Report to Successor.” “The inspector is very critical on this work.” Teacher Ella Hessler wrote one year later: “The furnace needs repair. The smoke enters the fresh air. The furnace work in cold weather is too heavy for a woman.” Similar notations were made in subsequent years.

Each student's attendance and academic performance were tracked in detail.
Each student’s attendance and academic performance were tracked in detail.

The school typically served from 25 to 40 students per term. Primary grades were on one level and upper grades on the other. The teacher staggered the subjects so she could get lessons started for one group and then move to the other. Classes started at 9 a.m. and students were dismissed for the day at 4 p.m. Course work included arithmetic, history, language, reading, grammar, physiology, domestic science for girls, manual training for boys, civics and geography.

Some of the children walked to school from homes nearby in the village, while others came in from the countryside. Tardiness was common, due to distance walked, duties at home or a pokey walking pace. In 1911-1912, Alfred and Agnes Peterson were the brother-sister tardiness champs with 20 and 17 instances, respectively. Clara Zieher had 18 tardy notations, followed by Erma Dassow with 15 (her brother Elmer had just 4). Absence from school was also common due to illness or duties helping at home. On occasion a student or two left school for a month or two to perform farm work. Arnold Conklin had best attendance in 1911-1912, only missing one day out of 180.

Absences were common from illness or need to stay home and work on farm chores.
Absences were common from illness or need to stay home and work on farm chores.

The book tracked each student’s attendance and progress on a range of subjects. Teachers made notations for some students that ranged from “fair worker,’ “weak eyes” and “slow” to “hard worker,” “irregular and very nervous,” and “dull.”

In the 1911-1912 school year, the school library had a mere 50 volumes. The school invested in books each year, and by June 1917 the library’s holdings included 144 books. For obvious reasons, the boys’ and girls’ out buildings regularly needed repairs and painting. The number of trees on school grounds that were in “thrifty condition” ranged from four to seven.

Ruby Treutel enrolled at Vesper Graded School in November 1913, when she was 10. There was some indication she had attended a parochial school prior to that. During her first year, Ruby missed 21.5 days and was tardy six times. Her cousin Harold Treutel had a mere three sick days. Ruby received good grades for the term: orthography, 91; reading, 95; writing, 90; arithmetic, 70; grammar, 89; geography, 83; and constitutions, 90. During the 1914-1915 school year, Ruby was out sick 20 days, but she still maintained As and Bs in all of her subjects.

The teacher's annual summary provides interesting detail on all conditions at the school
The teacher’s annual summary provides interesting detail on all conditions at the school.

During the 1915-1916 term, Ruby excelled in all of her courses, scoring solid ‘A’s in orthography, reading, grammar, U.S. history and physiology. Her lowest grade was a ‘B’ in geography and arithmetic.

Harold Treutel graduated from Vesper Graded School in 1917 and enrolled at Lincoln High School in Grand Rapids. Ruby graduated from Vesper in 1918, also enrolling at Lincoln High School. That may be where she first met Carl F. Hanneman, whom she would marry in July 1925.

The old Vesper Graded School is now a private home, shown here in 2006.
The old Vesper Graded School is now a private home, shown here in 2006.

The Treutel Family: From Königstädten to Wisconsin

They were craftsmen — blacksmiths, tailors, chandlers, carpenters — the clan of Treutels who came to Wisconsin from the Darmstadt area of Germany starting in 1849. The Johann Adam Treutel family left the village of Königstädten between 1849 and 1854 and headed for America. They were part of a huge wave of German emigrants that changed the face of Wisconsin and the United States.

The Wisconsin branch of the Treutel family tree is from Königstädten, a village just northwest of the city of Darmstadt. From this “king’s village” came Johann Adam Treutel and his wife, Elizabetha Katharina (Geier) Treutel. According to the Hessisches Staatsarchiv in Darmstadt, Adam, Katharina and at least some of their children left for America in July 1854. The emigration index simply lists that the eldest Treutel traveled “with his family.”

Their son John Treutel had already been in Wisconsin for some two years when they departed Germany. We believe the 1854 traveling party included at least three other Treutel children: Philipp Treutel, 21; Sebastian Treutel, 19; and Henry J. Treutel, 13. Their destination was Milwaukee. In May 1849, the eldest Treutel child, Adam, left for America, living in New York for a time before moving to Milwaukee.

The red stars show locations where members of the Treutel family operated blacksmith and chandler shops in Milwaukee. At right is the Milwaukee River.
The red stars show locations where members of the Treutel family operated blacksmith and chandler shops in Milwaukee. At right is the Milwaukee River.

The Treutel family ran a tallow chandler shop near downtown Milwaukee. The shop sold soap and candles made from animal fat and other ingredients. At various times in the 1860s and 1870s, Adam Jr. worked as a railroad man, a tallow chandler and a tailor. The Treutels, some of whom lived in Milwaukee’s Second Ward, had good Darmstadt neighbors, including master brewers Joseph Schlitz and Phillip Best. When their father Johann Adam died in Milwaukee in 1859, some of the Treutel sons took up residence with other German families in Milwaukee.

Although his primary residence was in Mukwonago in Waukesha County, Philipp Treutel is listed in the 1863 Milwaukee city directory as having a blacksmith shop at the southwest corner of Fifth and Prairie in downtown Milwaukee. He is listed in the 1867 directory as living at 517 Cherry St., next door to his younger brother, Henry. So it appears Philipp moved between Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, probably based on availability of work.

The tombstone of Katharina (Geier) Treutel sits in the shadow of the monument to her son, John, at Union Cemetery in West Bend, Wis.
The tombstone of Katharina (Geier) Treutel sits in the shadow of the monument to her son, John, at Union Cemetery in West Bend, Wis.

Katharina Geier Treutel was born on July 24, 1800 in Hesse-Darmstadt, the daughter of Nicolaus and Elizabetha Geier. She married Johann Adam Treutel sometime around or just after 1820. She died on April 26, 1886 in the Town of Addison, Washington County, Wis., and is buried at Union Cemetery in West Bend. The cause of death was listed as marasmus senilis, which basically means old age. She had eight children, five of whom (along with 42 grandchildren) survived her. Her tombstone reads:

Hier Ruht in Gott (Here Rests in God)

Katharina

Gattin von (Wife of)

A. Treutel

Philipp Treutel settled in Mukwonago in Waukesha County, where he married Henrietta Krosch and fathered seven children, including Walter Treutel (father of Ruby Treutel Hanneman). He was a blacksmith, and probably learned the trade from his father. After Philipp’s death in 1891, Henrietta moved the Treutel family to Vesper in Wood County, Wisconsin.

Henry J. Treutel enlisted in the 26th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. Sebastian also joined the 26th Wisconsin, but was given a disability discharge in August 1863, possibly from wounds during the war. We don’t believe Philipp or John Treutel were called into service.

Henry, Sebastian and John Treutel eventually settled in the Town of Addison, Washington County. John was a carpenter. The 1870 U.S. Census for the Town of Addison shows a Jacob Treutel, 31, living at the John Treutel homestead. It is possible that Jacob, who would have been born about 1839, was a younger brother. Sebastian was also a carpenter, but he later worked hauling the U.S. Mail in Washington County. Henry operated a blacksmith shop, a store, a saloon and a cheese factory near the village of Aurora. He later moved to Wausau.

Based on all of the evidence we’ve gathered, it appears the Johann Adam Treutel family included Adam (1822), John (1831), Philipp and deceased twin brother (1833), Sebastian (1835) and Henry (1841). Other possible children are Peter and Jacob, but more research is needed to establish their lineage.

Family Line: Johann Adam Treutel >> Philipp Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby Treutel Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.

Monument of Philipp Treutel, grandfather of Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman, at North Prairie Cemetery in Waukesha County, Wis.
Monument of Philipp Treutel, grandfather of Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman, at North Prairie Cemetery in Waukesha County, Wis. Philipp died in 1891.

Poignant Photo: Fishin’ with Dad in 1942

Photographs can document history in many ways, so it’s fun to look deeper into historical images to learn what they can tell us. The image atop this post shows a man and a boy. The man has a cane pole, so we can assume the pair has gone or is going fishing. Look a little deeper. The photo has a Rockwell-esque quality to it. Set in the summer of 1942, the photo shows Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982) and his youngest son, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007). You can see Carl’s love for fishing — something he shared with his children and grandchildren who learned to fish on Mauston’s Lemonweir River.

The son is following along, asking questions of the fishing expert. What is he asking? Perhaps, “Hey, Dad, why don’t I have a cane pole?” It’s a time-honored tradition, passing on a love for fishing from one generation to the next. We’ll cover more of that in a future installment.

Carl F. Hanneman and son David D. Hanneman.
Carl F. Hanneman and son David D. Hanneman.

The Story of Hannemans’ Stay-Off Mosquito and Insect Repellent

More than 60 years after it was first used to ward off mosquitoes and other pests in central Wisconsin, the lavender and citronella scent of Carl F. Hanneman’s Stay-Off bug repellent still lingers across time. The Mauston pharmacist invented his own blend of essential oils that provided a natural defense against biting pests, and he sold the product across the area for years.

Carl F. Hanneman sold his insect repellent at bars and bait shops all over central Wisconsin.
Carl F. Hanneman sold his insect repellent at bars and bait shops all over central Wisconsin.

Carl Hanneman’s inspiration for his product came from his need for extra income, and his knowledge of chemistry and pharmacology. Even in the depths of World War II, when rationing made it difficult to obtain raw materials, Carl found a way to make Stay-Off and sell it at taverns, bait shops and resorts all over the area. Due to an abundance of lakes and rivers, Central Wisconsin is known for proliferation of mosquitoes and other flying pests during tourist season.

“His being a pharmacist allowed him access to some of the compounds needed to make this stuff,” recalled Carl’s son, David D. Hanneman. The topical elixir, which used an olive oil base and a secret recipe of lavender, citronella and other essential oils, was often mixed on the back porch of the Hanneman home in Mauston, Wis. “It was kind of comical,” David Hanneman said.

Aside from providing access to the needed ingredients, Carl’s role as pharmacist at the Mauston Drug Store had other benefits that helped him sell Stay-Off on his own time. “Because he was his own dispensary, he was able to upgrade his gas card,” David Hanneman said. “So we weren’t restricted and limited in traveling. We could go back on up north and go fishing or do whatever over weekends. And we’d drop off a dozen bottles here, and a dozen bottles at that bar, a dozen bottles over at that other fishery house.”

Carl F. Hanneman printed his own labels and wrote the ad copy for Stay Off.
Carl F. Hanneman printed his own labels and wrote the ad copy for Stay-Off.

Carl wrote his own marketing copy to help sell the 4-ounce bottles of Stay-Off. “Stay-Off is not only an excellent insect repellent, but has that cool, soothing and refreshing feeling on hot summer days,” he wrote. “It is highly recommended for women and children’s skin, producing a soft tenderness due to the semi-olive oil base.” The lotion soothes existing bug bites and provides protection against strong sun rays, he wrote.

David Hanneman said selling Stay-Off was a nice side business for the family. “It gave us nice added income,” he said, although “we never got rich off the stuff.”

The recipe for Stay-Off called for making the mixture in 1 gallon batches. A half-gallon of Stay-Off and several 4-ounce bottles survive to this day. All of the ingredients are still commercially available. So even 60 years after it was first mixed, it would be possible to make more Stay-Off using Carl’s old recipe.

A Case of Mooo-nshine: Tipsy Cows Hit the Mash

The Volstead Act that ushered in the era of Prohibition was designed to prevent the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol in the United States. Don’t tell that to the cows.

It seems some of the dairy cows belonging to Robert Hanneman of Portage County, Wisconsin, found themselves in a state of intoxication in July 1922. How? Some mischievous bootleggers thought it would be fun to leave a barrel of mash in the pasture for Hanneman’s cows to eat. When Hanneman arrived at the pasture one mid-July evening, he was shocked to discover a half-dozen hammered Holsteins.

Talk about your mooo-nshine.

Wood County Undersheriff Cliff Bluett responded to the call.  “The whole herd was staggering around and they were in a worse intoxicated condition than any human can get,” Bluett reported.

According to the account in the Wood County Tribune: “One cow was missing entirely, another was dead drunk and could not be moved off the ground, five cows were finally driven into the barn but were so ‘pickled’ that it was found unsafe to leave them inside and had to be turned out and another cow was ‘so bad off’ that she collapsed in her over-intoxicated condition and could not be moved again, the undersheriff said.”

Farmer Hanneman reported one cow was so dead drunk she could not be budged from the pasture. Five bombed bovines stumbled about the barn and had to be let loose. Eventually, most of the crapulous cattle submitted to the evening milking. That left the farmer with a serious quandary: would this unusual “whole milk” put him afoul of Prohibition laws?

“A joke is a joke,” he said, “and we will deal with the culprits.”

No word if those pioneer cow-tippers were ever caught. Undersheriff Bluett was from Wood County, but the Hanneman farm was in Portage County. He sent his findings to his counterparts across the county line.

Losing Our Home: ‘Goodbye’ Was the Very Hardest Word

This was a day I’d long dreaded. I knew it was coming, and prepared for it the best I could. But I feared it still, because I did not have an answer for the question it posed. How do I — how could Isay goodbye to our family home?

I walked through the now nearly empty house and I still had no answer. So much had happened during the nearly 14 years we lived here. Our third child joined us here. They all grew up here. Our oldest went off to college from here. I started a home-based business here; a business that failed during the long recession. That’s what eventually brought me to this day, just a short time before foreclosure would take it all away.

Stevie, Ruby and Samantha on the first day of school.
Stevie, Ruby and Samantha on the first day of school.

I stood in the front entryway and listened. Nothing. The quiet was almost deafening. A few boxes and odds and ends were scattered about, but very little remained of the home I loved. This is not how a home is supposed to look. I’m struck by how cold and empty it is. No pictures on the walls. No dogs running to the window to bark at the mailman. No children watching a favorite movie. No charcoal grill cooking steaks out on the deck. No carefully decorated Christmas tree in the corner of the family room, sending out a warm glow into the night. No family saying grace at the dinner table. This is not how I want to remember our home.

I start to walk the house. Almost like a projected movie, the memories flowed, right before my eyes.

The cluttered brilliance of my home office.
The cluttered brilliance of my home office.

I peered outside the small window to the left of the front door. I can almost see my late father coming up the sidewalk with a broad smile and saying, “Hello, Jofus” (that was his little word play on my given name after St. Joseph). September 15, 2006. That was the last time he was here. The sun glints off his silver hair, he waves, and is gone.

I turn and start to head up the stairs to the second floor. The paint color is darker on a large section of the wall. For most of the time we lived here, a giant quilt hung on the wall, embroidered with the saying, “In a House with Love, All things are Possible.” The carpeting on a section of the landing looked new where a small cherry bookcase sat. The case had belonged to my Grandpa Carl. On top of  the case I had a shrine with candles, a large crucifix and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On many nights those candles burned in prayer for a dying relative, a sick friend or some special intention. I used to get angry at our son for dipping his fingers into the hot wax and either making fingerprints on the wood, or rolling little marble-size balls of warm wax that he left along the edge of the bookcase. What a silly thing to get upset about. How I wish I could put the case back and have those wax fingerprints again.

Welcoming Beacon: In a house with love, all things are possible.
Welcoming Beacon: In a house with love, all things are possible.
My home office on one of its cleaner days.
My home office on one of its cleaner days.

At the top of the stairs, I paused. This was the site of one of the most frightening events in family history. Samantha, then 4, was playing with a magic kit. It had a small polystyrene ball and a black tube. Her little eyes turned to a look of terror when she realized the ball had become lodged in her throat. My wife tried the Heimlich maneuver and smacking Samantha between the shoulders. It didn’t work. In desperation, she picked little Samantha up by the ankles and held her upside down. Pop! Out it came. The tears of relief flowed.

I turned left and entered the master bedroom. The heart of the house was now nearly empty. In the corner still stood a chest of drawers. I opened the top drawer and saw an envelope and more than a dozen plastic baggies. Each bag contained a tiny tooth, snatched from under a child’s pillow and replaced with a gift. It was good of the Tooth Fairy to leave them. I kept them all. I picked up the letter, which was addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole. It even had a stamp on it. I gathered the bags and the letter into my pockets. Precious memories need to be kept.

Near the end of packing, I found a tooth that sat in a dish, unredeemed.
Near the end of packing, I found a tooth that sat in a dish, unredeemed.

I walked down the hallway toward the children’s bedrooms. On the wall I could see the outlines where our wedding photos used to hang. How young we all looked on that Saturday, December 1, 1990, at St. Rose of  Lima Catholic Church. I still had hair and was 40 pounds lighter. What a blessed day that was. Such a contrast to the sadness of today.

As I approach the first bedroom, I see a large hole near the bottom of the wooden door. I remember the day in 2002 I rushed home from work because our then 10-year-old son Stevie had kicked a hole in the door in a fit of anger. As I walked inside the room, I could almost see my son’s battery-operated pteradactyl, flying in circles, anchored to the ceiling by fishing line. The wooden dressers that once sat along the western wall for years had glass aquariums on top — home to hermit crabs, green anole lizards and frogs. The anoles had a diet of live crickets, which were as likely to escape into the carpet as end up in a lizard’s stomach.

Samantha, Ruby and Stevie, waiting for Christmas with new puppy, Mr. Puggles.
Samantha, Ruby and Stevie, waiting for Christmas with new puppy, Mr. Puggles.

Across the hall, I was impressed by the cheery green paint of another child’s bedroom. There were glow-in-the-dark stars pressed all over the ceiling. Pet nets hung in the corners, once home to dozens of stuffed animals. They are empty now. This room had changed hands several times over the years. It started out with white walls as a nursery. The white steel crib sat against the far wall, waiting for its new resident. She came home on a July 4 during our first summer here. It was 104 degrees outside. Little Ruby spent a week in intensive care with a hole in her lung. She was our third baby. We worried so much about her. Every peep on the baby monitor sent us scurrying down the hall. But all was well. How many times I sat in the oak rocking chair in this room, feeding Ruby a bottle. There’s no feeling in the world like rocking a newborn in the still of the night. I thank God for the experience, and the memories.

Samantha holds baby sister Ruby in July 1999.
Samantha holds baby sister Ruby in July 1999.

There was one last bedroom on my tour. Over the years it was painted blue, white, pink and yellow. Today I saw a toddler bed tucked in the corner. I was reading a book to a curly hair redhead. It was a classic Dr. Seuss tome, Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? It was a favorite of all three children for its memorable, rhythmic lines. “Dibble dibble dop dop, cock-a-doodle-doo! Mr. Brown can do it. How about you?” Once the book was done, we started a nightly ritual to see how long I’d sit by her bed as she fell asleep. I started the bidding. “I’ll stay THESE minutes,” I said, holding up two fingers.  “No, THESE minutes,” Samantha shot back, holding up five fingers on each hand. After a few rounds of this, she usually won. Now I wish I had these minutes back again. As I turned to leave the room, I saw both daughters asleep in their beds. A small lamp threw off just enough to illumine the room. In my head I could hear a favorite Nat King Cole song:

Lights out, sweetheart / One more perfect day is through

Lights out, sweetheart / One more perfect dream come true

We’ve reached the hour of parting / So kiss me tenderly

Lights out, sweetheart / Close your eyes and dream of me

Close your eyes and dream … of me

Goodnight, sweetheart

The kids and cousin Geoffrey have a creepy-face contest.
The kids and cousin Geoffrey have a creepy-face contest.

Back down the stairs, I stood in the foyer again. My grandmother’s 1899 Singer sewing machine had been the centerpiece for years as the staging place for all sorts of family displays. I saw the children gathered around the Advent wreath, taking turns lighting the purple and rose candles. Or placing Baby Jesus into the Nativity creche on Christmas Eve. Most of the year it was covered with framed family photos, from the kids’ sports and school pictures to the large wooden-framed antique photo of my Grandma Ruby Hanneman (1904-1977).

I walked into the kitchen and was overwhelmed with memories of family meals, birthday parties, family meetings and prayer time. I recall our weekly ritual of doing a “blessing cup” ceremony, where each of us would take the blessing cup and talk about something we are thankful for. Ruby, who was very young when we started the tradition, always said the same thing: “I’m sankable (thankful) for my skoowa (school).” It never got old. Today, the table is gone and the blessing cup is packed away. I am still most thankful for it all.

One of many birthdays celebrated at our kitchen table.
One of many birthdays celebrated at our kitchen table.

I looked out the sliding glass door to the deck. Suddenly the gas grill was fired up and I was cooking steaks, vegetable kabobs and hot dogs. On the corner of the deck, a fire pit crackled with warmth in the fall night, with our children and the neighbors gathered around, toasting marshmallows. A group of children and adults sat in chairs on the deck, watching me light fireworks for July 4th. “Ooh, pretty! Light the big one now, Daddy.” I looked up at the second-story windows and saw the low flickering light from a television playing a favorite Disney movie, Aladdin.

My Dad's handmade Nativity scene, restored by his granddaughter, Samantha.
My Dad’s handmade Nativity scene, restored by his granddaughter, Samantha.

I walked around the front of the house and the snow was suddenly 3 feet deep. On the porch was my Dad’s handmade wooden Nativity scene, which daughter Samantha had repainted and restored. It glowed a welcoming gold, red and green in the cold darkness. I walked toward the garage and all three kids came running down the driveway with their fishing poles and a tackle box in tow. “Wait for me!” one yelled, as they ran towards the neighborhood pond. How I miss those fishing days now.

I walked back inside and stood at the foot of the stairway. I listened, but heard nothing. Heavy silence. Nobody home anymore. My heart was so heavy, it felt like stone. I never wanted this day, but now it was here, and at an end. “Thank you so much,” I said out loud, almost expecting the house to answer me. “I’m sorry I failed you. Thank you for sheltering us for so long. I will never forget.” There was one more word I thought I should speak, but the lump in my throat kept it from coming out. I just couldn’t say it.

There was nothing like a lazy Sunday, fishing at the pond.
There was nothing like a lazy Sunday, fishing at the pond.

I pulled out of the driveway for the last time and started to drive away. I stopped and looked out the window. More than a decade of memories were visible to me all at once. They swirled around the house like fairy dust. In the upper window, my oldest daughter laid on her bed, reading a book. On the front lawn, our preschool children splashed in a pool. Relatives filed in the front door with armloads of Christmas presents. Our son sat in a lawn chair on the porch, studying for exams. All three children romped during a nighttime snowstorm. “Dadda, it’s snowing!” A petting zoo was set up in the front yard for a birthday party, with children taking turns riding a pony around the block. A tent was set up for a summertime sleepover. The smell of steaks wafted from the backyard grill. My Dad got out of his blue sedan and walked up the driveway with a wave. Voices rang out from the children’s rooms: “I had a bad dream.” “Santa came!” “I got all As!” “I love you, too.” “I’m really proud of you.” 

I rolled down the window and took it all in. I waved and bid all of the memories to come with me. And so they followed. Some things are just too precious to leave behind. ♦

An art project stuck to the sliding glass door.
An art project stuck to the sliding glass door.
The Christmas tree was always a labor of love.
The Christmas tree was always a labor of love.
Stevie waits to blow out the candles on his 16th birthday.
Stevie waits to blow out the candles on his 16th birthday.

Treutels in Good Pioneer Company in 1850s Mukwonago, Wisconsin

When the Johann Adam Treutel family emigrated to America from Darmstadt, Germany, they spread out across Eastern Wisconsin. Young Philipp Treutel and his wife settled in rural Waukesha County and became neighbors of some of the area’s best known pioneers. The young blacksmith set up shop in the heart of the village of Mukwonago, former Potawatomi Indian lands on the banks of what was then called Mill Pond.

Sewall Andrews
Sewall Andrews

According to the 1860 U.S. Census, Philipp, Henrietta and baby Adeline Treutel lived in the same area as Sewall Andrews, the founder of Mukwonago and a major Wisconsin land owner. Andrews built a general store in 1837 that became a major trade center for the county. He built his own red brick house at the village center in 1842. The brick house still stands today along Main Street in Mukwonago and now houses the local museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sewall Andrews built his red brick house in Mukwonago in 1842.
Sewall Andrews built his red brick house in Mukwonago in 1842.


The Treutel residence is listed as No. 379 made during census visits in Mukwonago. The Andrews’ home was No. 372. Other nearby residents included Samuel Worthman, the village cooper (barrel maker); Martin Field, who owned the saw mill; Hezekiah Job, the tailor; and Melvin Gibson, who ran the livery stable. Field was also an attorney who became town justice of the peace and later a Waukesha County judge. The village park is named in his honor.

Judge Martin Field
Judge Martin Field

The 1870 plat map for Waukesha County shows Philipp Treutel’s blacksmith shop and residence mere blocks from Andrews’ famous red brick home. The Treutel shop was near the intersection of Fox and Mill streets, close to the office of H.A. Youmans M.D., the town’s physician and surgeon. Nearby was Mukwonago House, the hotel run by Adolph Platner. Just to the south were the E.H. Kellogg saw mill and grist mill on the banks of the Mukwonago River.

Cropped view of portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany. Her family settled at Mukwonago, where her father, John Frederick Krosch, became a well-known farmer. She met and married blacksmith Philipp Treutel and lived the next 35 years in Mukwonago and North Prairie. Widowed in 1891, she moved her family to Vesper in Wood County in 1901, where she died on Feb. 6, 1908. She is buried at North Prairie Cemetery.
Cropped view of portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany. Her family settled at Mukwonago, where her father, John Frederick Krosch, became a well-known farmer. She met and married blacksmith Philipp Treutel and lived the next 35 years in Mukwonago and North Prairie. Widowed in 1891, she moved her family to Vesper in Wood County in 1901, where she died on Feb. 6, 1908. She is buried at North Prairie Cemetery.

We know the Treutel family moved from Mukwonago to the crossroads village of North Prairie, since obituaries and other newspaper accounts referred to the family homestead at North Prairie. However, the family name is not shown on the 1891 plat map for North Prairie. It is possible they had a homestead on some of the property owned by the Carlin family.

The family included Adeline Barbara (1859-1928), Lisetta (1861-1931), Henry Adam (1864-1962), Charles (1869-1958), Oscar (1874-1967), Emma (1877-1962) and Walter (1879-1948).

After Philipp Treutel died in June 1891, his widow moved the family north to tiny Vesper, in Wood County. Her sons worked as blacksmiths, retail merchants and a U.S. Postal Service carrier. Emma Treutel Carlin served as postmistress of Vesper in the early 1900s. Henrietta Treutel died in 1908. Philipp and Henrietta are buried at North Prairie Cemetery.

1902 Melee and Shootout Pitted the Moodys Against the Hinzes

It might not have been the Hatfields and McCoys, but the simmering feud between the John Hinz and William Moody families of Wood County, Wis., almost turned fatal in February 1902. 

The Moody and Hinz farms sat just across the road from one another in the Town of Arpin, about a mile north of Vesper, Wis.  On Monday, Feb. 3, trouble started when the two family dogs got into a fight. Members of both families then got into a roadside melee that ended with William Moody being shot in the chest by 22-year-old Frank Hinz.
The Moodys and Hinzes lived directly across from one another.
The Moodys and Hinzes lived directly across from one another.

Newspaper accounts of the donnybrook varied wildly. The Marshfield Times said Moody was “probably fatally wounded” by the “young criminal” Hinz, whom the paper said has a “sneaky and guilty look about him.” The Grand Rapids Tribune called Hinz a “poor shot,” noting that he missed once and actually shot his own father in the wrist with another of his bullets. Lena (Treutel) Moody, aunt of Ruby Treutel of Vesper, swung an axe handle at Frank Hinz during the fracas.

The Tribune said neither man was seriously wounded, although three surgeons responded to the scene. Hinz was arrested by Wood County Sheriff James McLaughlin and charged with assault with attempt to kill Moody.

Newspapers carried the story of the shootout.
Newspapers carried the story of the shootout.

According to newspaper accounts, the dispute between the families involved pets, children and parents. A few months before the shooting, Martha Hinz reportedly threw pepper in the face of one of the Moody children. The dogs would fight whenever they came into contact.

On the day of the shooting, Lena Moody and John Hinz got into a shouting match in the road after the most recent dog fight. When William Moody came upon the scene, he got into fisticuffs with the elder Hinz. Young Frank Hinz retrieved a revolver from the farmhouse and fired several shots at close range.

At his trial in May 1902, the prosecution called numerous witnesses, including William Moody, Lena Moody, daughters Esther and Anna, and Lisetta (Treutel) Moody, another aunt of Ruby Treutel. Each witness for the state was paid $2.28 for their appearance in court. Hinz was found guilty of a reduced charge of simple assault and fined $50 plus court costs by Justice of the Peace T.J. Cooper. With costs the total levied against Hinz was about $200, in lieu of a six-month jail term.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

FAMILY LINE: Johann Adam Treutel >> Philipp Treutel >> Adeline Barbara (Treutel) Moody

Walter Treutel’s 240,000-mile Journey Through Wood County, Wisconsin

It would be hard not to respect a man who worked diligently at his job six days a week for 30 years. For Walter Treutel, the job record was even more impressive. His career as a rural letter carrier took him on a nearly 240,000-mile journey making sure the people of Vesper, Wisconsin received their mail and packages from 1904 to 1934.

Walter Treutel of Vesper, Wisconsin.
Walter Treutel of Vesper, Wisconsin.

“The new rural mail carriers who will begin carrying mail on the 10 new routes on December 1st received their appointment from Washington last week,” the local Grand Rapids, Wis., newspaper announced in November 1904. “These carriers all took the competitive examination in this city four weeks ago and those fortunate to receive an appointment will now only have to file their bond for the faithful performance of their duty.” Walter’s first day as a letter carrier was Dec. 1, 1904. He was just two years married to the former Mary Ladick, and their firstborn child, Ruby, was just six months old.

His first trip over Rural Route 1 was made in an open buggy pulled by two ponies. He and his sister, Emma Carlin, rode that first 26.5-mile run together to deliver just 35 pieces of mail. At the time, the Vesper postal station was located inside the Treutel Bros. store, run by Walter’s brothers, Charles and Henry Treutel. Walter’s official postal substitute was his wife, Mary.

Walter Treutel picnics with children Nina, Elaine and Marvin, circa 1925. Behind the camera is Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman.
Walter Treutel picnics with children Nina, Elaine and Marvin, circa 1925. Behind the camera is Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman.

The dirt roads were rough and filled with chuckholes. The buggy rode over corduroy — soft or swampy sections that were shored up by placing logs  across the path. Roads were so punishing in those early days that horses typically lasted only two years in service.

The first open postal buggy was eventually replaced by a covered postal wagon. Walter used a dozen horses on his  route over the years. One of the toughest, “Old Baldy,” served for seven years in all sorts of weather. His first automobile, a two-cylinder Buick roadster, was nicknamed “The Little Red Devil.” Three other postal vehicles served on the route during his tenure.

He served under five postmasters during his 30 years, including his sister Emma Carlin, who was Vesper postmistress for nine years starting in 1906. In November 1934, Walter took his overdue two-week vacation, then returned for one final route on Dec. 1 — thirty years to the day after his first day on the job.

Walter Treutel with second wife Vera (at left), sister Emma Carlin, daughter Ruby Hanneman and grandchildren Lavonne and David D. Hanneman.
Walter Treutel with second wife Vera (at left), sister Emma Carlin, daughter Ruby Hanneman and grandchildren Lavonne and David D. Hanneman.

Walter was born July 23, 1879 in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, the son of Philipp and Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel. Walter’s wife, the former Mary Helen Ladick, died in 1925 after suffering a post-operative infection. She was just 41. They had five children, four of whom (Ruby, Nina, Marvin and Elaine) survived into adulthood. Walter died Feb. 15, 1948 of lingering heart disease. He was 68.

The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune wrote about Walter Treutel's last day on the job in 1934.
The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune wrote about Walter Treutel’s last day on the job in 1934.

FAMILY LINE: Johann Adam Treutel >> Philipp Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.

History Preserved. Lives Treasured.

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