Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

William Gaulke: Pioneer Frontiersman, Friend of Buffalo Bill Cody

He came to the United States at age 19 and lived the life of an American frontiersman: shuttling cargo between U.S. outposts in the West and ferrying people and goods across the Missouri River. For all of his adventurous living, William Johann Heinrich Gaulke retained one lasting memory that his family in Wisconsin still talks about: being a friend of a very young William Frederick ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody. 

William Gaulke (standing) with his arm around William F. Cody, who later went on to fame as "Buffalo Bill."
William Gaulke (standing) with his arm around William F. Cody, who later went on to international fame as “Buffalo Bill.” (Photo courtesy of Sue Alft)

Gaulke met the famed U.S. Army scout and buffalo hunter while Gaulke was working and exploring the frontier lands in Nebraska and the Dakotas in the 1870s. A photograph in the Gaulke family album shows a twenty-something Gaulke standing with his arm around a seated William Cody.

Gaulke’s frontier experience grew out of tragedy he experienced in his native Germany. Born on October 1, 1848, Gaulke lost his father, John, before he turned six months old. When he was 11, Gaulke became an orphan at the death of his mother Fredericka. He emigrated to America in 1867 and landed in Milwaukee. After a short stint as a farmhand, Gaulke landed a job aboard a Great Lakes steamer, where he learned to speak English. After another stint working on farms in Illinois, Gaulke went west.

After emigrating to America in 1867, William Gaulke spent a number of years exploring the wild frontiers.
After emigrating to America in 1867, William Gaulke spent a number of years exploring the wild frontiers. (Photo courtesy of Sue Alft)

Gaulke experienced the wilds of the frontier lands as a teamster for the U.S. government. He guided a six-mule team hauling goods between U.S. Army posts. He was based at Fort Buford in the Dakota Territory. After tiring of that job, he built a skiff and drifted down the Missouri River to what is now Bismarck, North Dakota. Along with a group of companions, he established the town of Carlington. There, Gaulke operated a ferry moving people, goods and horses across the Missouri River near Fort McKeen (later called Fort Abraham Lincoln). Fort Lincoln was the base of Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

Right alongside the Mighty Missouri River, Gaulke built himself a shanty, where he lived and operated his ferry business. He built an outdoor fireplace that was used for cooking and warmth. It was also a hiding place for the $2,200 Gaulke had saved from his business ventures. Gaulke’s shanty was a frequent target of would-be thieves, but none of them ever thought to look under the fireplace for the buried money.

In 1872, Gaulke returned to Wisconsin, securing work at Grand Rapids in Wood County. In July 1876, he married Augusta Henriette Charlotte Kruger. Her mother, Friedericke Kruger, was the daughter of Matthias Hannemann (1794-1879). A short time later, the Gaulkes bought their first land in the Town of Grant in Portage County, very near where the Hannemann family established its first homes in the early 1860s. Gaulke cleared the land and established a successful farm. He also helped build many of the farm houses and barns in the area.

William Gaulke and Augusta (Kruger) Gaulke and family. Rear, left to right: Ella (Wagner), William Jr., John, Henry, Minnie (Panter). Front, left to right: Mary (Eberhardt), William Gaulke Sr., Augusta (Kruger) Gaulke, Laura (Turbin). Photo courtesy of Sue Alft
William Gaulke and Augusta (Kruger) Gaulke and family. Rear, left to right: Ella (Wagner), William Jr., John, Henry, Minnie (Panter). Front, left to right: Mary (Eberhardt), William Gaulke Sr., Augusta (Kruger) Gaulke, Laura (Turbin). (Photo courtesy of Sue Alft)

Gaulke also became deeply involved in civic work, serving as school district clerk, drainage district commisioner and chairman of the Town of Grant. He and Augusta had eight children, born between 1878 and 1897. Augusta died in 1914, four years before her mother. William died on October 25, 1928 after coming down with pneumonia.

William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody in a late-life portrait (Library of Congress Photo)
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in a late-life portrait (Library of Congress Photo)

Confirmation of the friendship between Gaulke and Buffalo Bill came in the early 1900s, when Cody brought his Wild West show to Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. Gaulke brought his youngest son, John, to the grounds near Lincoln High School. They watched the white-suited Cody ride about the arena on his white horse. Gaulke led his boy up to Cody, introduced himself and asked the showman if he remembered him from their time out west decades earlier. He did. “Why sure, Bill and they had quite a talk,” John Gaulke later wrote. “Finally Buffalo Bill reached into his pocket and gave my Dad a handful of tickets, who the whole family saw the show for nothing.”

A popular poster showing Buffalo Bill Cody superimposed on an image of a buffalo. (Library of Congress Photo)
A popular poster showing Buffalo Bill Cody superimposed on an image of a buffalo. (Library of Congress Photo)

William Cody was a first-rate Indian scout and buffalo hunter whose life was romanticized in dime novels written by author Ned Buntline. The pair collaborated to create a show called “The Scouts of the Plains.” In 1883, Cody developed a live show spectacular called Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. The Library of Congress says Cody “was a major contributor in the creation of the myth of the American West, as seen in Hollywood movies and television.”

©2014 The Hanneman Archive 

Ruby Treutel’s Spirited 1922 Quest for ‘Queen of the Bridge’

Her reign may have been brief, but for one day in 1922, Ruby V. Treutel was front-page news as the most popular single woman in Wood County, Wisconsin. To help celebrate dedication of a new bridge across the Wisconsin River, the community organized a popularity contest to find the Queen of the Bridge.

The Queen of the Bridge contest invited the nomination of single women of Wood County. The contest winner would preside at the dedication of what came to be called the Grand Avenue Bridge, linking the east and west sides of Wisconsin Rapids over the Wisconsin River. 

Queen of the Bridge wasn't really a beauty contest, but Ruby Treutel would have fared well on that count.
Queen of the Bridge wasn’t really a beauty contest, but Ruby Treutel would have fared well on that count alone.

Miss Ruby Treutel of Vesper was among the early nominees for the Bridge Queen, and she jumped to a lead after the first weekend of balloting in September 1922. The front-page headline in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Sept. 25, 1922, proclaimed: Ruby Treutel and Mary Herron in Spirited Contest. “A spirited race between Miss Ruby Treutel of Vesper and Miss Mary Herron of this city developed as a result of the week end balloting in the Bridge Queen popularity contest,” the article read, “with Miss Treutel leading by slightly over 200 votes of the 43,000 cast for these two candidates.”

Ruby Treutel was in the thick of it at the beginning, but eventually fell behind in voting.
Ruby Treutel was in the thick of it at the beginning, but eventually fell behind in voting.

Ruby’s 22,570 vote total was more than twice that of the third-place contestant and far ahead of the 10 votes for Miss Pearl Brewster. But, like fame and money, the lead would not last as the contest balloting steamed along for two weeks at such a rapid pace the contest was ended early. In the first week, more than 1.3 million ballots were cast. The Bridge Committee had trouble keeping up with the tallying, which would exceed 20 million votes by the end of the contest.

By September 28, 1922, Ruby’s vote total had more than doubled, to 45,240. But this now paled in comparison to contest leaders Eva Manka and Mary Herron, who had more than 500,000 votes between them. On Sept. 30, Herron’s vote total ballooned to 989,000, far exceeding Manka’s new total of 640,000. Ruby was in a respectable fifth place with 171,000 votes. By the time the committee decided to cut voting short on Sept. 30, balloting was at a fever pitch. The final vote totals were:

  • Mary Herron, 5,336,570 votes
  • Mildred Bossert, 3,645,840 votes
  • Eva Manka, 1,763,360 votes
  • Manon Matthews, 1,016,510 votes
  • Margaret Galles, 711,550 votes
  • Alice Damon, 618,550 votes
  • Ruby Treutel, 608,050 votes
  • Maurine Dutcher, 492,410 votes
  • Pearl Possley, 486,600 votes
  • Ruth McCarthy, 460,510 votes

Miss Herron was crowned Queen of the Bridge. On Oct. 18, 1922, she attended the huge dedication ceremony and officially christened the span the “Grand Avenue Bridge.” It was indeed a grand event, with thousands of people, a parade and even aerial acrobatics performed by the Federated Flyers stunt team, which did loops in the sky with its planes, and thrilled the crowd with wing walking.

This 1940 postcard shows the Grand Avenue Bridge in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
This 1940 postcard shows the Grand Avenue Bridge in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

The Grand Avenue Bridge has long been an important part of Wood County’s infrastructure. The 1922 version replaced an old wood and steel span. Bridges across the Wisconsin River date to the 1870s. In earlier times, bridge was an important link between the former towns of Grand Rapids and Centralia, which later joined to form the city of Wisconsin Rapids.

A Look Back at Two Generations of Halloween

I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, October 31 was a date we looked forward to. Whether we got to buy a costume at the dime store or made our own, it was always an exciting night.

My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.
My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.

One of my most vivid Halloween memories was documented in my book, The Journey Home. I recall Dad tearing out the front door in his sock feet. I wondered what was happening. We figured it out a few minutes later when he dragged two teenagers into the front door and made them apologize for smashing our lit pumpkins. He then turned them over to Sun Prairie police.

We had one sad Halloween when my brother David fell into the neighbors tree well and spilled all of his candy. We all shared to make up for it. Another year, we went across town to “trick or treat” at a few houses of family friends. At one door, I was shocked that the lady who answered called me by name. “How does she know me with this costume on?” I wondered. My brother chimed in, “You forgot to put your mask down.” D’oh!

David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.
David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.

Perhaps the most fun we had was creating our own costumes. Lighting the end of a cork on fire, then using the charred remains to paint black whiskers on our faces. Stuffing pillows up an oversized shirt helped complete the hobo look.

It wasn’t until toward the end of my trick-or-treating days that the scare over supposed razor blades in candy apples occurred. Hospitals offered to X-ray candy bags to check for pins or razor blades. That made me wonder if the candy would then glow? Ah, as it turned out the whole thing was a fraud that took on the sheen of urban legend.

Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.
Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.

Once I had my own children, Halloween took on a new dimension. Our firstborn was too shy to go door to door, so we made our main stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eventually, Halloween became a major event. French onion soup or chili simmered in a crock pot while we took the kids around the neighborhood collecting goodies. Then we retreated into the warmth of the house for good food, warm apple cider and pie. The kids also ate candy.

With the more recent controversies claiming Halloween as un-Christian or even satanic, it was refreshing to read this article on About.com regarding the Catholic roots of Halloween.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

 

Earliest Known Photo Shows Chas. Hanneman Family in 1905

Another newly discovered photograph from 1905 shows the Chas. Hanneman family of Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. It is the earliest known photo of this family, and the only clear photograph we have of mother Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman.

This photo is a real treasure for its clarity and detail. Often prints this old have many flaws and defects, but this is one of the best in the Hanneman Archive collection. We received it courtesy of Tom Hanneman of Minneapolis. It was originally from the photo collection of one of the boys in the photo, Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982).

It is also one of perhaps three photos we have that show Rosine  “Rosie” Hanneman. This mother of five (her firstborn died in 1891) died on Easter Sunday 1918 of diabetes. She was just 47 years old. She lived in the days before availability of insulin.

The father of the family, Carl Frederick Christian (“Chas”) Hanneman (1866-1932) worked many jobs in central Wisconsin. He was initially a farmer after emigrating to Wisconsin from Meesow, Kreis Regenwalde, Pomerania, in November 1882. He worked in the timber industry before moving his family to the city of Grand Rapids (now called Wisconsin Rapids). There he worked as a laborer (17 cents per hour) digging and installing the city’s new sewer system in the early part of the 20th Century. Eventually, Chas took on work in a paper mill. He died of prostate cancer shortly after retiring from the mill.

One of Chas’ grandchildren, Donn G. Hanneman, recalled sitting on the hospital bed when Chas was being treated for his cancer. “I’m going to heaven soon,” Chas told the 6-year-old. “I’d like it if you would put flowers on my grave.”

Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman (1870-1918), Frank Herman Albert Hanneman (1895-1947), Arthur James Hanneman (1893-1965), Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982), Wilbert George Hanneman (1899-1987) and Carl Frederick Christian (Chas) Hanneman (1866-1932).
Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman (1870-1918), Frank Herman Albert Hanneman (1895-1947), Arthur James Hanneman (1893-1965), Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982), Wilbert George Hanneman (1899-1987) and Carl Frederick Christian (Chas) Hanneman (1866-1932).

Photo Shows Hanneman Brothers in 1903

A newly discovered 1903 photo shows four Hanneman brothers of the Carl Frederick Christian Hanneman family. It is the earliest known photograph of our own Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982). The photo was taken at Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.

In the front row are Carl (at left) and Wilbert George (1899-1987). In the back are Frank Herman Albert (1895-1947) and Arthur John (1893-1965). The firstborn of this family, Charles M. Hanneman, died just after his birth on November 24, 1891.

The boys were the sons of Carl Frederick Christian Hanneman (1866-1932) and Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman (1870-1918). The couple were married in 1891.

The photo was scanned from a collection loaned to us by Thomas Donn Hanneman of Minneapolis, one of the 16 grandchildren of Carl F. and Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman of Mauston, Wisconsin.Hanneman Boys 1903