The real estate surrounding Cameron Park in the tiny village of Vesper, Wisconsin, played an important role in the histories of the Hanneman and Treutel families. This village square was the nexus of commerce and family life at the dawn of the 20th century. It was home to a number of Treutel families, who came from Germany through Waukesha County seeking a new start.
A hand-drawn map made by Elaine (Treutel) Clark has surfaced that adds detail to how the town square was laid out and where the family homesteads sat more than a century ago. The map, likely drawn sometime in the 1980s, was provided to us by Elaine’s daughter, MaryClark. Because all of the old Treutel homesteads in Vesper are now gone, the map provides missing detail on what the village looked like in the early 1900s.
As documented elsewhere on this site, the family of Johann Adam Treutel and the former Katharina Geier emigrated from Bremerhaven, Germany, to New York between 1849 and 1854. The family initially settled in Milwaukee before it began to branch out into other areas of Wisconsin and in the deep South of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel, the widow of Philipp Treutel, moved north with her children after Philipp died in 1891 near North Prairie, Wis.
Most of the Treutels lived on properties along Anderton Avenue in Vesper, along the western side of Cameron Park. Most also had their places of business along the same street, including a general store, a butcher shop and a smithy (blacksmith shop). The first of the Treutels to come to Vesper was Adeline B. (Treutel) Moody, who settled on a farm outside of the village. Her family was involved in the Moody-Hinze shootout incident.
In late 1898, Charles W. Treutel made a trip to Vesper to “look after his landed interests,” according to the Wood County Reporter. Charles and his brother Henry A. Treutel later established a blacksmith shop that eventually became a service station and auto-repair shop. Treutel Brothers was located on the Hemlock Creek, just across from the northern edge of Cameron Park.
The Treutels purchased what had been known as Goldsworthy’s store at the corner of Anderton and Cameron avenues. Oscar and Walter Treutel bought the store from C.R. Goldsworthy, one of the major land owners in the area. Oscar was the main proprietor, as Walter became a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. The post office was originally located in Treutel’s store. Emma (Treutel) Carlin was the seventh postmaster of Vesper, starting her 11-year tenure in the fall of 1906. Just south of the Treutels’ general store was the butcher shop of Orville Carlin, Emma’s husband.
The map also shows the “priest house,” which was the home of Father C.W. Gille in April 1926 when a fast-moving fireleveled the building before firefighters could reach the scene. Carl Hanneman or wife Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman documented the fire in photographs. Father Gille presided at Carl and Ruby’s nuptial Mass on July 14, 1925 at St. James Catholic Church.
Along the east side of Cameron park we see a village hall, the location of a community gathering documented in an “Eye on the Past” feature on this web site. The building hosted a lot of functions over the years. For a time it was home to a roller rink operated by Harry Cole.
The southeast corner of the map shows the Vesper Graded School, where my grandmother, Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman went to school and later taught for a time after earning her teaching license. The well-built structure still stands, now serving as a private home.
The center of the park shows a bandstand, which many times was the center of activity with band and string concerts. The Vesper Cornet Band played in the park on more than a few occasions. The talented group of musicians included Charles Treutel,Henry Treutel and Orville Carlin, the husband of Emma (Treutel) Carlin.
Not far from the bandstand is an indicator where the Ku Klux Klanburned a cross sometime in the mid- to late 1920s. It was one of Elaine’s vivid memories from early childhood. We could find no reference to it in the Wisconsin Rapids papers. The Klan was certainly active during that time period. If this occurred before April 1926, it would have been directly across from the home of Father Charles W. Gille, the pastor of St. James Catholic Church.
Last but not least is the Walter Treutel homestead, along the western side of Cameron Park with its rear facing the Hemlock Creek. The Treutel children had lots of space to play in the field behind the house. The map says they went ice skating on the Hemlock Creek on winter days. We have many photos showing the home’s exterior, but no images from the inside of the house.
As we’ve documented elsewhere on this site, the carriage stone was most likely installed by brewmaster Charles Miller, who built the 22 Morris house in the early to mid-1890s. Miller owned the Mauston Brewery, which operated across Winsor Street on property that backs up to the Lemonweir River. Miller built the home with the finest materials, including stained-glass windows (which are still present in the house).
Rossin included his speculation about the cemetery base in a revision to his history book on the Mauston Brewery. The cemetery stones have the same diamond pattern carved into the sides as the carriage stone (although the Hanneman stone only had the pattern cut into two sides). Perhaps Miller bought a precut base from the Mauston stonecutter, or had one custom-made from granite for use in front of his home. Rossin said when Morris Street was recently torn up for construction work, the carriage stone was moved. When it was put back, it was turned 90 degrees.
In the late 1800s and early 20th century, it was common for dearly departed citizens to be buried under much larger monuments than is typical today. The weight of the monuments required they be set on a heavy base for stability. The bases were often made of the same type of stone as the top section. Monuments were installed on either gravel or a concrete pad.
Rossin also sent us some historical news clippings that make reference to the home at 22 Morris Street. One tells a great story of some area boys who used the carriage stone to climb onto George Cole’s cows and ride them to the pasture near the Mauston Greenhouse. Another clip says construction of what would later be the Hanneman house began in late summer 1893.
There was a time when letters were the primary means of long-distance communication for families and friends. Even short updates were dashed off on a card or a sheet of special stationery. Long-distance telephone calls were expensive and typically reserved for special occasions or emergencies. For family historians, finding old letters can unearth all sorts of details about life way back when. Sometimes the reveal big details, but often the small things that are otherwise lost to time.
I recently scanned a series of letters my mother wrote to her in-laws, my grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman, who lived in Mauston, Wis. At the time, Mom was living in her hometown, Cudahy, Wis. In the first note, she was not yet married to Dad, but in the other ones they were newlyweds. They were married on Aug. 9, 1958 at St. Veronica Catholic Church in Milwaukee, where Mom was a teacher. I’m sure Mom kept up this correspondence beyond 1959, but only these letters survived (no doubt they were kept safe by my Grandma Ruby Hanneman).
The letters reveal that my Dad had a temporary job at Sears before he started his career selling pharmaceuticals. It sounds like it was a bit of a grind with regular night and weekend hours. Sometime in mid-1959, he got a new job in sales. I can’t tell from these letters, but I know back in that time frame Dad started working for E.R. Squibb & Co. Mom and Dad had an apartment on East Layton Avenue in Cudahy, which they later traded for a brick ranch home in Greenfield before moving to Grand Rapids, Mich.
The letters contained some good chuckles, too, like this train wreck of a sentence: “I hope this restful letter finds you all rested, at least a little bit rested, as well as I am rested.” Not what you’d expect from a woman who taught reading. But I considered the possibility that it was intended as a joke.
The regulars mentioned in these letters include my maternal grandparents, Earl J. and Margaret M. Mulqueen; Mom’s younger brother Joey Mulqueen; Dad’s sister Lavonne (Hanneman) Wellman; Evelyn Mulqueen, wife of my Mom’s brother Earl J. Mulqueen Jr.; Donn and Elaine Hanneman (Dad’s brother and sister-in-law); Mom’s sister Ruth (Mulqueen) McShane and her husband Tom; Mom’s sister Joanie (Mulqueen) Haske and her husband Dick; Mom’s sister the nun, Sister Madonna Marie; and Jack Richards, one of three groomsmen in Mom and Dad’s wedding.
The text of the letters is below:
Undated letter (prior to Aug. 1958)
Dear Mr. Hanneman,
I hope you’re fine and dandy – Lavonne and Mrs. Hanneman too! The reason for this little note is to ask a favor of you. Would you please order the man’s matching wedding band & my rings? I don’t know which catalog it was from but it’s an Honor ring. I’m sure Lavonne will know which set it is! As far as size is concerned, Dave’s ring is at Novak’s in Mauston to have the size adjusted. I’m quite sure it’s an eleven. You could check there on size. It’s just the plain silver band. If you run into any difficulty please call me – Sh. 4-5862 any nite about 5:30 or 6:30. I will then pay you as soon as I see you.
Also, my folks will be coming up this week-end if nothing unforeseen comes up. They will leave here about noon on Saturday. Joe would come with them. I don’t know if David & I will get there. We’ve been busy getting our place ready. I got sick from the paint. Ugh!!
Dave is fine – his foot is okay. Last Friday he had a wisdom tooth pulled. Don & Elaine & the kids are fine too. I must close now as I want to get this in today’s mail. I would certainly appreciate you ordering Dave’s ring. If you are unable to get it, I’ll match one as close as possible from a store here in Milwaukee. Tell Lavonne the dresses are in at Boston Store, but there’s no hurry to try hers on. So long for now,
Nov. 11, 1958 (postmark)
Mr. and Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Hi! Hope all is well with you. Everything is fine down our way. I’m writing this at school at noontime, so one of my “monsters” can run it to a mailbox.
Dave plans on coming up this week-end to get in some deer hunting. We probably will get there on Friday night about 9:00. If for some reason our plans are changed, we will call you.
My mom is doing very well. Will have to leave all news for the week-end, as I don’t have too long a lunch period. Love to you both again.
See you soon,
Mary and Dave
Dec. 31, 1958 (postmark)
Mr. and Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
We rec’d your letter and was glad to hear too you had such a nice trip back. I’m sure you’re quite busy with your newly acquired family. The reason you couldn’t reach us Sunday afternoon was that we went over to Dick’s house while he changed clothes, and then Joanie and Dick and we went to the orphanage and visited with Sister Madonna Marie. She was very lonely for company and we had a nice visit with her and her boys. We came back about 6:00 and made a spaghetti supper. We drew names for the dishes and Joanie & Dick won. It was all Joanie’s idea.
Well, the main reason for my my writing is to inform you that Dave & I won’t be able to be with you this week-end. Hamilton at first said he could even have Friday off, but later changed his mind & said he wanted to take inventory on Friday & Saturday. That means Dave will even work Saturday. We’re disappointed because we did so want to do something different. We may, if he’s not too beat, drive to Madison and see Jack Richards, but even that is just a maybe!
I’m very happy you all enjoyed your visit with us as really the pleasure was all ours. You know you’re welcome anytime. That bed is up permanently, so there’s always plenty of room. I talked to Donn & he & Elaine are cleaning house like mad as long as there are six feet less to be underfoot the broom!!
Today (Dec. 31) Dave is working and I want to go downtown with my mom and just look around, then do grocery shopping, and then press our clothes for the party tonight. I must close now, wishing you & Carl a very Happy New Year filled with the best of health & happiness.
Tell the kids Happy New Year from us too. Carl, here’s to you (drawing of a drink glass) cheers!!! Hope to see you before too long. Still want to ice fish & skate on the Lemonweir!
Apr 29, 1959 (postmark)
Mr. & Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
I’d been intending to write sooner than this as I knew you probably were wondering how the dedication went. Well, all went very well indeed! Sister’s visit also but she was coming down with the flu bug that’s been hitting everybody. I wasn’t feeling too sharp that day either and was sick by ten that night. I missed the first three days of school last week & dragged myself back on Thurs. & Fri. I still have bronchitis or something. I’m seeing the doctor this week-end. Ten children from the class were out today, so that “bug” is really getting around. Some nice sunshine might help the situation, though.
We can’t thank you enough for being so thoughtful to remember to send the films & slides along. We were most anxious. They don’t look too bad at all.
We’ve been very busy with choir rehearsal two nites a week. I’ve had to have a dress made for the concert & had to “run out” for fittings. I’ll be glad when it’s over, because it has involved so much chasing. I’m just not in a “chasing” mood.
Dave & I were both very surprised to hear about Jack Richards. If you hear anything else, let us know.
Dave has been busy at his temporary job & much busier answering ads, having interviews and weighing advantages & disadvantages. Nothing is definite yet & I feel he should take his time, as there’s no reason at all for a rush!
We hope Bob & Ruth Schroeder had a good time here. They seemed to. Too bad both games were called because of rain.
We also hope this letter finds you both feeling well and in good spirits. We haven’t talked to Vonnie yet but should tomorrow (Wed.) or Thursday. Dave doesn’t get home until 6:15 or so, by the time we eat and relax a bit, it’s time for choir. He works nites a few nites a week & Sat. until 6:00. Sometimes we go to choir at 9:30, practice until 11:30 & don’t get home until midnite. We’re both tired.
Ruth & Tom are back from Florida and had a wonderful time.
I must close now and get ready for bed. David is writing a letter to some friends from Davenport, Iowa. This is catch up on letters nite.
I don’t know when we’ll be coming to Mauston since Dave works Saturdays. I may have a Monday off soon & we could come Sun. & Mon. or when the job he wants comes through & he quits Sears. Til then, take good care of yourselves, enjoy life & remember we think of you often! Carl, don’t work too hard – go fishing! Catch me a big one & eat it all!
May 20, 1959 (postmark)
Mr. & Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
I hope this restful letter finds you all rested, at least a little bit rested as well as I am rested. What I’m trying to figure out right now is where the fine line is drawn between resting and being plain lazy!! I’m close to one or the other.
Dave arrived home quite excited about his job and week in Minneapolis, but very tired. He really is impressed with the company, their policies & all the people he’s met. This week he’s working with his boss from Minn. in the Milw. area and doing quite well.
He thinks he will be going up into Green Bay and Escanaba next week, but isn’t too sure. We sold the car to Lou Ehlers Buick (where he bought it) on Monday. On Sun. we picked up his company car. It’s a beautiful bronze Bel-Air Chevrolet. He’s very pleased with it. Tonite we’re having dinner with his boss. They’re letting me pick the spot. I can’t decide where to go, but I want to go someplace where I haven’t been.
I have to get a desk for Dave, take the bed out of the spare room & set him up a place to work with a filing cabinet for his records.
We got our TV back and it works very fine, finally!
Elaine came down for supper last nite. She left the children home. She really seemed to enjoy the evening very much. She looks at bit thin, but says she and the kids feel fine. Donn called her from New York here. The Mason girl sat with the kids.
I must close now and wash my hair & try to make myself beautiful for this evening. Thank you again Vonnie for coming down last week with me. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.
I probably will be going back to school next week. I hope so. I have to have some blood tests done which will tell exactly how the liver situation is, but I feel pretty good. I hope everybody home there feels fine too! We probably won’t be up to see you folks until the first or second week of June. I will write before then & let you know what’s happening.
Til then, so long. Enclosed is a check for films. Carl, don’t argue about it!! (Teacher speaking)
Sept. 1, 1959 (postmark)
Mr. & Mrs. Carl Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Thought I would write and say “thank you” both again for your generous hospitality shown Joe and myself when we visited you. He really was quite excited telling of the good time he had fishing running the boat on the river!
It’s Monday evening, the end of the month as I write this. It has finally cooled down here. I hope you people have had relief too! Dave’s hay fever has been quite bothersome this past week. But he left for Michigan this a.m., which means he’ll have relief while there.
I had intended to go with him but didn’t, since I’m helping Evie with the new one – (a boy, 9 lb. 3 oz – last Wed.,), a beautiful contented baby. I kept house for her from last Wed. thru Sat. while she was in the hospital. They’ve asked Dave and I to be sponsors this coming Sunday – his name will be Brian David Mulqueen. Also, I didn’t go with him because I’m going to teach 5th grade for a good part of September for a sick teacher, and so I’m busy this week getting the class room in good shape for the big day – September 9.
I hope you’re still coming down over the Labor Day week-end. Would be very nice to return some hospitality to you for a change!!
I’m going to help my mom tomorrow a.m. She’s having her Jesuit mission club for a luncheon. I have plenty to do during the day – but right this moment I’m kind of lonely for Dave. I think though I’ll survive until Friday. Must close now – I hope I hear from you if you don’t come down. We would much prefer the latter!
Handwritten letters are a lost art, so it was particularly thrilling to find one inside a card from my paternal grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman, sent for my first birthday in June 1965.
My grandmother was a prolific letter writer, note scribbler and update scrivener. She wrote in a stream of consciousness. Sentences didn’t always have punctuation and could stretch on for half a page. But she captured details that might slip past a less-careful correspondent. Like exactly what time on Tuesday she and Grandpa Carl got their car back from Floyd “Snuffy” Clark at the auto body shop.
Unlike a photograph, a personal letter brings out the writer’s personality. Reading the note in the birthday card, I could almost hear my grandparents voices. They switched off writing in the card. Grandpa went first, telling how Grandma loved the birthday card and money sent by my parents. Then Grandma Ruby took over and provided a full update on the happenings on Morris Street in Mauston, Wis.
June 27th, 1964
Dear Little Baby Joey,
The little sweetheart — one year old! Grandpa Carl and I send our love with big hugs and kisses to you — God blesses always Baby Joey —love, love, love from Grandpa Carl and Grandma Ruby xxxxx
Dear Baby Joey & Little David, Little Lori & Mama Mary and Daddy David:
Grandpa: Ruby got her beautiful birthday card and money from all of you and she wants to say thank all of you so much — it was too much after all the others you have given me —
Grandpa wants me to go to Carpenter’s now to eat it is 7:30 p.m. & bad storm warning out & it’s thundering now.
Grandpa Carl had a nice Father’s Day — we stayed home and we ate at Noneng’s new restaurant — he got nice cards and things, too, and it was stormy bad weather then, too. David we got your nice letter & the check — Dad destroyed the other one. Pretty soon will have you all hear (sic) again. I think I will go to Aunt Emma this week. Donn is driving Tom, Jane & Mary Ellen on July 3rd. I go back on Sunday. The youngsters will stay here & at Lavonne’s for several weeks.
I called Marvin’s, talked to Mabel — I am not going to Aunt Emma’s this week. Marv is taking a week of his vacation & they leave Fri. a.m. for Tomahawk — so that upsets my plans. Now I won’t be able to go until later in July.
Mary is to have planter warts treated on bottom of feet 1st and 2nd of July. They had planned to come this Sat. & with my planning to go to Arpin we changed it. Now I wish they would come sooner.
There was a big extra addition on Parade of Homes in Mad. Sun. paper for open house. 15th annual Mad. Parade of Homes from June 20th thru June 27th on Madison’s far west side. I hope David knows about it by now. I have the booklet saved for him whenever he comes this week.[Nota bene: I believe we were still living in Grand Rapids, Mich., in June 1965, but would soon move to a house on Lake Wisconsin. This was shortly before construction began on my parents home in Sun Prairie, Wis.]
Dad has been feeling much better. Mr. Clark (Snuffy) had the car Mon. & fixed all the rust spots & put new chrome on front — we got it back Tues 22nd at 4:00 p.m.
Thurs. a.m. 24th:
Dad drove to Camp Douglas & Hustler this a.m. to solicit more ads — he wants to go to Necedah tomorrow a.m.[Nota bene: Carl helped put together the printed guide for the Juneau County Fair. One of his duties was ad sales.]
Mary I keep thinking about your Mom. I hope and pray she is getting along nicely & eyesight will be helped.
How are our three little cherubs? I really did miss them and Grandpa did too. He felt badly because he had to be in bed so much while they were here. They are little loves and we enjoyed all of them so. David wrote that Little David asked about us. How does Baby Joey manage in the little walker? If the back wheels rotated like the front ones do, I bet he would really walk soon.
Have some birthday cake for us & we will be singing Happy Birthday to Joey here — all love & XXXes to all.
Dad & Mom xx
Top Image: The front of the birthday card at left, with a photo of Carl and Ruby Hanneman from around 1960.
One beautiful young lady truly stands out among the 160 pages of the 1922 Ahdawagam. What is an Ahdawagam, you ask? It is the name of the school annual, or yearbook, at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. Ahdawagam is an Indian word that refers to the “two-sided rapids” along the Wisconsin River.
The specially featured young lady was touted for her musical talents and participation in a wide range of student activities. She is Ruby V. Treutel (1904-1977) of Vesper, Wis., before she became Ruby V. Hanneman as the bride of Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982).
It is indeed a treat to stroll through the pages of this early 1920s book, 98 years after it was published. It was a very different era, and these young people seem so mature and serious. Although maybe that is because we came to know them much later in life.
Ruby’s first appearance in the book is near the front, in the senior portrait section. Right between Irene Timm (“Timmy”) and Florence Van Dyke (“Flo”). No nickname is mentioned for Ruby. The listing has five lines describing her school activities: Glee Club, Ahdawagam staffmember, Dramatic Club, Mask and Wig Club (founding member), Gamma Sigma musical society, and a performer in the school operetta for three years. Ruby’s slogan certainly fits the woman we came to know: “Music hath charms and so has she.”
She is next listed in the “Class Mirror” section. Her answers included: Heart = Carl; Mind = Church’s (pharmacy where Carl worked); favorite occupation = singing; wants to be = opera singer; and “ought to be” = second Galli Curci. The last item is a reference to Amelita Galli-Curci, the Italy-born coloratura soprano who was an acclaimed opera singer in the early 20th century.
A few chapters later, in the Music and Drama section, we find Ruby’s stronghold. She was president of the 87-member Glee Club, which encourages development of musical talent. The club also performs an operetta each year.
Just pages later we find Ruby in the group photo for Gamma Sigma, which draws the most musically talented students in the school. She was among the founding members during the 1921-22 school year. The group offered regular public singing and instrumental performances.
Ruby played the lead role in the Glee Club operetta production of Sylvia. The club and the performance were directed by Elizabeth Bradford, Lincoln High School’s musical supervisor.
The operetta was no small-time school production. It received a preview article on the society page of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Jan. 17, 1922. Sylvia was originally slated to be performed at Daly’s Opera House in Wisconsin Rapids. Two weeks before opening night, the opera house burned to the ground. Firefighters were hampered because the hydrants near the opera house were frozen and water had to be pumped from the Wisconsin River. The fire forced the operetta production to relocate to Lincoln High School for the Jan. 27 performance.
The Daily Tribune published an extensive review in the Jan. 28 issue. The reviewer sang the praises of Ruby and her co-performers. “Miss Ruby Treutel scored in the title role, as the haughty sweetheart of the court poet. As an actress, she showed unusual ability in every situation,
“but it was as a singer that she won the hearts of the crowd completely.”
Ruby shined with her rendition of “Unto Thy Heart” with a violin obligato by Esther Levin. The number “seemed to appeal to her listeners especially, for they accorded her enthusiastic and well-deserved applause,” the Daily Tribune review said.
We’ve documented elsewhere on this site the musical talents of Ruby Treutel Hanneman. She performed in various theaters, starting when she was just 17. In April 1921, Ruby “brought down the applause of the house time after time” with her performance in the play “The Fire Prince,” according to the Daily Tribune.
Ruby’s next yearbook appearance is on a photo-collage page. She and future husband Carl are doing some kind of goofing around. The photo isn’t real clear, but it appears Carl is either playing some kind of stringed instrument or wielding a fishing pole or a sword. See what you think. Many of the photos in the collage seem to be related to the operetta.
It is impressive to see how dressed up these students are on every page of the yearbook. Ladies in dresses and the young men in suits and ties. Fashion was the rule of the day.
Finally, Ruby is pictured among 17 members of the Ahdawagam yearbook staff. She served as editor of music and drama.
Ruby’s final mention in the book is on a list under the heading “The Great White Way.” All of the people on the list were described as lights (“head light,” “flashlight,” “candle,” etc.). Ruby is listed as “Star Light.”
Carl gets the last word. He appears in the alumni section, where he is listed for his job as a druggist at Church’s Drug Store. Carl graduated from Lincoln High School in 1921.
The staff box for the yearbook says it was Vol. 10 for the Ahdawagam. The editor-in-chief was Viola J. Nash. The book was produced by the Hein-Sutor Printing Company of Wisconsin Rapids.
I just love this image. Back in 2007 I was photographing a variety of things from Mom and Dad’s house, at my mother’s request. I came across this birthday card from October 1979. It was from my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, to my Mom, on her 47th birthday.
What I found touching was that Grandpa Carl still sent a little cash gift to a daughter-in-law who was nearly 50. He signed the card “Grandpa” even though he was her father-in-law. I loved that my mother never cashed the check — not wanting Carl to spend the money from his very fixed income. She kept the card and the check. Precious.
It’s funny how these memories pop up so unexpectedly. I saw this photo two days ago while searching for something totally unrelated. Mom has been gone to Heaven for 18 months. Grandpa Carl for 38 years. Yet finding this photo brings them right back to me, just as if this card were received earlier today.
The story of the Hanneman house in Mauston and its ties to the historic Mauston Brewery was retold in a 2019 issue of Breweriana magazine. The article was written by Mauston historian Richard D. Rossin Jr., a friend of these pages.
In the brewery history magazine, Rossin tells the story of the Mauston Brewery, which operated at the corner of Morris and Winsor streets from 1868 to 1916. He also recounts the Hanneman family story of a tunnel that was said to run from the house at 22 Morris Street under Winsor Street to the former brewery site.
Rossin said when he first encountered the tunnel story, he and a group of friends rang the doorbell at the Hanneman house to ask about it. My grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977), answered the door. She took the children back to the pantry just off the kitchen. She showed a trap door in the floor, which was slightly different in color from the surrounding floor boards. Ruby told the children the tunnel ran from a cistern beneath the pantry across the street, Rossin recalled.
That’s a slightly different tale than the one I recall hearing from Grandpa Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) and my Dad, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007). I recall as a child going down very steep stairs into the basement, where Carl had a bar. He showed us a large archway in the north wall. It was filled in with bricks. He said behind the wall was a tunnel that at one time ran across the street. I don’t remember any mention of the Mauston Brewery. According to Rossin’s research, the home across the street once owned by Dr. Samuel Hess Jr. had a beer cellar with a similar stone archway.
I recall as a child someone pulling up that trap door in the pantry and allowing us to peer down into the deep darkness of the cistern. I think we were told it had been used to store rainwater but was no longer functional. It only added to the allure of the old house, with its stained glass accent windows, four-footed bathtub and a “secret” servant’s staircase from the kitchen to the upstairs.
What we know as the Carl and Ruby Hanneman home was built around 1893 by Charles F. Miller, owner of the Mauston Brewery. Miller took full control of the brewery in 1888, according to Rossin’s article, and sold his interest in 1901. Miller and his wife Frederica had six children. Miller died in August 1907 at age 54. Mrs. Miller lived in the home for nearly two more decades. She remarried in the 1920s and sold the Morris Street property.
Myrtle Price bought the house in 1932 and began renting it to Carl Hanneman in 1936. The Hannemans bought the home from the Price estate in the 1950s. They raised three children there: Donn Gene (1926-2014), David Dion and Lavonne Marie(1937-1986).
The huge explosion and fire that leveled numerous buildings in Sun Prairie on July 10 and 11 reminded me of another massive fire in the same area more than 40 years ago. On March 3, 1975, a fast-moving fire destroyed the Schweiger Walgreen Drug Store and Hillenbrand’s shoe store in the 200 block of East Main Street.
The fire alarm was sounded at 1:51 p.m. that day, bringing 33 firemen from the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department to the scene. They were shortly joined by another 25 firefighters and trucks from Stoughton, DeForest and Marshall. The fire was discovered in the basement of the Schweiger Walgreen’s store, 214 E. Main St., and quickly spread to the adjacent Hillenbrand’s and apartments above both buildings. It took more than five hours to fully contain the blaze. The last crews left the scene at around 11 p.m.
Margaret McGonigle, 75, became trapped on the roof of the drug store building when the stairs down from her apartment were blocked by fire. She was rescued by the snorkel truck from the Sun Prairie Fire Department, according to the March 6, 1975 issue of the Sun Prairie Star-Countryman. Mrs. McGonigle was the widow of pharmacist John M. McGonigle, whose family owned and operated McGonigle’s Drug Store for more than 50 years before Robert Schweiger purchased it in 1970. She was also postmaster of Sun Prairie for 38 years before retiring in 1966. John McGonigle died in September 1965.
I distinctly recall going downtown with my father to view the aftermath of the fire. I recall the outriggers on the snorkel truck, and large amounts of road salt around the tires of the fire engines. The pharmacy held special memories for us, since my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, was a reserve pharmacist who occasionally worked for McGonigle’s. The Hillenbrand clothing and shoe stores were run by John Hein, a good friend of my parents, and the shoe store was managed by Roger Reichert, also a family friend. Reichert lived above the store and lost all of his belongings in the fire.
The state fire marshal investigated the blaze, but was unable to determine a cause. Damage to the structures and contents was estimated by Fire Chief Milton Tester at $200,000. Within a week, Schweiger’s opened in temporary quarters on Bristol Street. The buildings were a total loss and had to be demolished.
“Many fine things have been said about our volunteer firemen before. But last week’s fire had to be one of their finest efforts,” read the “Shavings from the Editor’s Pencil” column in the Star-Countryman. “I spent nearly three hours in that biting cold watching those magnificent, heroic firemen work. Not once did I see anyone so much as flinch at going into a burning building or otherwise approaching a dangerous situation.”
Both the 2018 fire that claimed the life of Capt. Cory Barr and the 1975 fire had one thing in common: a pharmacy. The Barr House tavern at the corner of Bristol and Main streets, owned by Capt. Barr and his wife, once housed the Crosse and Crosse Drug Store, according to the Sun Prairie Public Museum. The building dates to the 1890s.
The Schweiger fire was one of three major blazes in Sun Prairie in 1975. On Aug. 10 that year, fire swept through the Moldrem Furniture store at 13 N. Bird St. in the Bird Street Centre. The fire did about $185,000 damage to the 34-year-old business. The store was a total loss. A backdraft blew two firefighters out the front doors of the store. Retiring assistant fire chief Arnie Kleven described the fire as his most frightening in an August 2017 interview with The Star. Kleven said the doors probably saved his life that day. Wiring in the air conditioning system was cited as the cause of the fire.
In July 1975, shorted wiring sparked a major fire in the garage and offices of Bill Gawne Ford Inc., 425 W. Main St. That fire caused an estimated $85,000 damage.
(This post has been updated with details on the Moldrem and Gawne fires.)
Firefighters battled fire, smoke and bitter cold weather. (The Capital Times/Dave Sandell)
It took more than five hours to contain the blaze. (Wisconsin State Journal/Edwin Stein)
A snorkel truck was used in the dramatic rescue of Margaret McGonigle, owner of the drug store building, who was trapped on the roof. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)
Fire crews from Sun Prairie, DeForest, Stoughton and Marshall battled the blaze. (Sun Prairie Star-Countryman photo)
Shelby Beers behind the counter of the Crosse and Cross Drugstore, circa 1920s. (Sun Prairie Public Museum photo)
A beautiful painting of three dogs in an ornate gold frame hung in our family’s living space and commanded attention for more than 50 years. Once belonging to Wisconsin Governor-elect Orland Steen “Spike” Loomis, the painting used to hang in the Mauston home of my grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman. After a journey of 75 years, the painting is back home in Mauston and will hang permanently in the Boorman House Museum run by the Juneau County Historical Society.
The pastel artwork was delivered on Wednesday, August 2 to the museum, accepted by Nancy McCullick, president of the Juneau County Historical Society. It was a gift from the entire Hanneman family, made in memory of Carl and Ruby and their three children: David, my Dad (1933-2007), Donn (1926-2014) and Lavonne (1937-1986). It now hangs over the bookcase in the library of Mauston pioneer Benjamin Boorman. Propped up in a temporary space on Wednesday, the painting already looked at home. Its beauty and historic significance will fit in very well at the Boorman House.
The painting was a gift from Orland S. Loomis to Carl Hanneman, given in recognition of Carl’s help getting Loomis elected Wisconsin governor in 1942. It previously hung in Loomis’ law office in Mauston, and in his office in Madison when he was Wisconsin attorney general from 1937 through 1938. Loomis died on December 7, 1942 after suffering a series of heart attacks. He was 49. Loomis was the only Wisconsin governor-elect to die before taking the oath of office. Loomis previously served as Mauston city attorney (1921-1931), a state representative (1929-1930) and state senator from Mauston (1930-1934). Loomis also served as a special prosecutor in the 1930 case of the assassinated Juneau County district attorney, Clinton G. Price.
We’ve chronicled some of the other stories of Carl’s relationship with Loomis, such as the touching 1937 letter he wrote seeking help obtaining a full registered pharmacist license. Carl was in the Loomis home on election night in November 1942, and his photo of the governor-elect on the telephone ran on Page 1 of the The Wisconsin State Journal on November 4, 1942. It was published on Page 1 again on December 8, 1942, the day after Loomis died. Carl’s 1942 news article on reaction to Loomis’ death appeared in a 2014 Wisconsin Public Television “Hometown Stories” documentary.
The beauty of the painting can be most appreciated when viewed up close. The dogs are at the edge of a wooded area, and appear to be listening to their master’s call. The woods look peaceful and serene. In the right light, the painting takes on incredible depth. It looks as if you could step into it and venture into the woods. That effect was very noticeable in the lighting at the Boorman House. The pastel work was created by an artist named F.M. West. So far we have been unable to learn anything of his or her history. More research will be needed to determine if Loomis commissioned this painting, or if it was a gift from a family friend or a constituent. West was a common surname in Juneau County in the early 20th century.
The painting was the second Hanneman donation to the Juneau County Historical Society since 2007. That year, the family donated a collection of historic photographs, ephemera and memorabilia from the Hannemans’ nearly 50 years in Mauston. The donations are in keeping with David and Mary Hanneman’s long-held practice of giving back to the community, such as the four ornate stained-glass window sections donated to St. Mary’s Hospital in 2006 while Dad was being treated there for lung cancer. In 2017, the family donated Carl F. Hanneman’s pharmacy school papers to Marquette University, where he studied in 1923 and 1924.
The Hannemans moved to Mauston from Wisconsin Rapids in 1936. Carl was the druggist at the Hess Clinic on Division Street until his semi-retirement in the 1960s. He served for 26 years on the Mauston Police and Fire Commission, the Juneau County Fair Board of Directors, the Mauston Chamber of Commerce, and the Solomon Juneau council of the Knights of Columbus. In April 1978, he was honored by the Mauston City Council for his lifetime of service. The state Assembly passed a resolution, authored by Rep. Tommy G. Thompson, honoring Carl for his civic and community service. In 1966, Carl closed the pharmacy early and took the young state Assembly candidate Thompson around Mauston to meet members of the business community. It was a gesture Thompson would never forget, even when he was the longest-serving governor in Wisconsin history.
The David Hannemans moved to Sun Prairie in 1965. Dad was a longtime member of the Sun Prairie City Council and the Dane County Board of Supervisors. He served as mayor of Sun Prairie from 2003 to 2005. Mom taught reading and other subjects for more than 25 years at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic School. In 2007, Dad was posthumously honored by the City of Sun Prairie and the Dane County Board for his service. In November 2006, Gov. Tommy Thompson took time away from a presidential campaign stop to call an ailing Dave at St. Mary’s Hospital. The call brought tears to Dad’s eyes and buoyed his spirits throughout his cancer battle.
The sudden death of Wisconsin Governor-Elect Orland S. Loomis on December 7, 1942 shocked the state; no place more than his home town of Mauston. Carl F. Hanneman wrote the article below for The Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday, December 8, 1942.
By CARL F. HANNEMAN
State Journal Correspondent
MAUSTON — A few weeks ago, all Mauston rejoiced as Orland S. Loomis, known as “Spike” to the entire city, was elected governor of Wisconsin.
There was an impromptu celebration, and the townspeople gathered to cheer the man who had spent his life in the community except when he was serving the state at Madison and his country in France.
Today Mauston was as deep in sorrow and grief as it was in the heights as the November election returns came rolling in.
For the man who was a friend to everyone in Mauston had died suddenly, and the whole city was quiet with tragedy.
Pastor Speaks for City
The Rev. G.I. Krein of the First Presbyterian church expressed the sentiment of the entire city when he said today:
“A few weeks ago the people of Mauston rejoiced and let Mr. Loomis know how proud we all were of him. As we did them rejoice, we now mourn.
“The Sunday following his election Mr. and Mrs. Loomis worshipped with us. I then bade them Godspeed in their new home and work.
“As a young pastor I have welcomed his kindly interest in my and this church. I am thankful to have had the counsel and friendship of this Christian character,” Mr. Krein said.
Officials Pay Tribute
Gov.-elect Loomis at one time was district attorney of Juneau County, and today another Juneau County prosecutor, Charles P. Curran, declared that “the people of Mauston and Juneau County have lost a very dear friend and the state of Wisconsin have been deprived of an outstanding governor, statesman and leader.”
Mayor Raymond W. Barnwell characterized the death “as a shock such as a community like this seldom has. It strikes every citizen as though they have lost one of their own family, and the universal sense of grief is evidence of what ‘Spike’ really mean to everyone here,” the mayor said.
Lifelong friends of the governor-elect included Dr. J.S. Hess Jr. and J.H. Ensch, American Legion official. Dr. Hess said “we can appreciate the great loss for our community and the entire state of Wisconsin,” while Ensch, who “noticed him through school, college, social, law and political days,” reported the entire community grief-stricken.
Gov.-elect Loomis was characterized by Robert P. Clark, county judge before whom he often argued cases, as “a conscientious and capable public servant.”
“Mauston was proud of its favorite son,” said John Hanson, editor of the Mauston Star, and “ ‘Spike’ Loomis will always live in the hearts of everyone here, where he was known best, first as a friend, then as governor.”
“We in Mauston who have profited by his counsel and example fully appreciate the loss to the commonwealth,” said Robert Temple, editor of the Juneau County Chronicle.