School must have seemed just a bit smaller when Oscar Treutel went back for a visit on August 24, 1942. In the 1880s, Oscar was a student at “Allen School” in Joint District No. 3 in the Town of Genesee in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Let’s hope Oscar wasn’t returning for a spelling lesson, since the building has Genesee misspelled as “Genneese.” Perhaps the building lettering was a class project.
The school was in the southwest corner of the town on the E. Allen property, near the Saylesville Mill Pond. We should distinguish this one-room school from the Ethan Allen School for Boys, a reformatory in nearby Delafield that operated from 1959-2011.
Oscar traveled to school from the Treutel home in nearby North Prairie. He was the fifth child of Philipp and Henrietta Treutel, born Oct. 9, 1874 in Waukesha County. He moved with his family to Vesper in Wood County just after the turn of the century. He spent his sunset years in nearby Arpin. He died in 1967 at age 92.
The spring of 1854 must have seemed full of promise for the Johann Friedrich Krosch family. After 55 years growing up and raising a family in the Kingdom of Saxony, Frederick Krosch prepared to leave his home at Jessnitz and set out for America. Two of his sons, William, 29, and Karl, 30, came to Wisconsin in 1850, and now it was time to join them.
So in May 1854 the Krosch family left their hometown along the Mulde River and began the long journey to America. When the sailing ship Bertha left the Port of Bremen around June 12, there were six Kroschs among the 218 passengers onboard: Frederick, wife Christiana, 53, sons Augustus Frederick, 20; Reinhold, 16; and Gustav, 11; and daughter Henrietta, 16.
Officially known as the Barque Bertha, the ship was a multi-mast sailing vessel. It was very likely a rough journey, with the ship both dependent on, and at the mercy of, the North Atlantic winds. The Krosch family started the voyage in steerage, the least comfortable part of the ship.
During the journey passengers noticed a shark following the ship for days, according to family stories passed down through generations. This was most upsetting, since a shark following a vessel was believed to signal impending death on board. Old sailors’ lore held that sharks had the ability to sense if someone on board was near death.
At one point a severe storm blew up and damaged the ship’s rigging. The carpenter aboard the Bertha refused to scale the mast to make repairs. So Augustus Krosch hoisted himself up and fixed the mast, allowing the Bertha to be back underway. Shortly after, the Krosch family was moved from steerage to a cabin for the rest of the journey. Augustus and Reinhold then got jobs working as carpenters aboard the Bertha.
The family sold everything to make the journey to America. The Krosch men kept their money in money belts worn under their clothing. Although the belts painfully chafed the skin, no one dared remove them for fear of being robbed.
Brisk trade winds pushed the ship backward, delaying arrival in New York by a week. About two-thirds of the way across, the Bertha encountered “large quantities” of ice, according to voyage record filed in New York by the ship’s master, named Klamp.
On Thursday, July 20, 1854, the Bertha arrived at the Port of New York after 40 days at sea. The Kroschs then traveled to Chicago, likely by steamboat and railroad. Hotel accommodations in Chicago were scarce, so the family took the only room they could find. But an infestation of bedbugs forced them to flee the hotel for a livery stable, where they spent the night.
From there they likely rode the train to Milwaukee, and then continued on until reaching East Troy in Walworth County, where Karl and William were living. Frederick purchased land in nearby Mukwonago and started a farm. His daughter, Henrietta, met and married a blacksmith named Philipp Treutel. They first established their home in Mukwonago and later moved to North Prairie.
William Krosch settled near the village of Eagle, and married Christiana Naumann in 1857. “My father’s farm was only 80 acres. It was mostly woodland, so he worked very hard to clear some for farming,” wrote Amelia Krosch Richardson in a 1940 memoir. “There was but my brother Will and myself at that time. We had a sister, Ida, who died when she was four years old of diphtheria and one baby sister that did not live. Both are buried near our home in Wisconsin.” The story of Ida Krosch was chronicled in an earlier article.
Eventually, William, Augustus and Gustave Krosch moved west and settled around Blue Earth, Minnesota. After Frederick Krosch died in 1877, his wife Christiana moved to Minnesota, where she died in 1881. Reinhold and Karl stayed on their farms near Lake Beulah in Walworth County, Wisconsin.
FAMILY LINE:John Frederick Krosch >> Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.
Society’s obsession with weight is not a new phenomenon, but it seems a most curious detail to include in an obituary. William Carlin of the Town of Ottawa in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, suffered such a fate when newspapers made his girth the top fact in his obituary.
“Weighed 385 Pounds,” read the Page 1 headline in the The Waukesha Freeman on May 25, 1899. “Mr. Carlin weighed 385 pounds and was doubtless the heaviest man in the county,” the article said. “His death was caused by fatty degeneration of the heart.” Doubtless. It’s unclear how the newspaper reached such a conclusion. Carlin, who was just 50 when he died, was not part of a circus. He didn’t seek fame as the state’s fattest man. Yet the newspaper deemed his life should boil down to the fact he was heavy. The Weekly Wisconsin newspaper in Milwaukee also found Carlin’s weight newsworthy, but relegated it to Page 5.
So history won’t remember him only for his body size, we’ll shed some more light on the life of William Carlin. Born November 23, 1849 in the Town of Ottawa, he was the son of Christopher Carlin and the former Elizabeth Cobb. Christopher Carlin died at age 37 in June 1858, when William was 8 years old. The Carlins were farmers on land northwest of tiny North Prairie. Christopher Carlin emigrated from England. At one time in the 1890s, William Carlin owned 300 acres of farmland in Waukesha County.
William Carlin married the former Annie Jones, and they had two children. Orville Walter Carlin, husband of Emma (Treutel) Carlin, was born February 5, 1874. Elizabeth J. “Lizzie” Carlin was born in January 1881. Their mother died in May 1889 at the young age of 37. Orville and Lizzie suffered a second tragedy in May 1899 when their father died, as newspapers said, from “fatty degeneration of the heart.” Orville married Emma Treutel and moved to Vesper, Wisconsin, where he operated a butcher shop. He died in 1934 at age 60. Lizzie married Jacob F. Supita. She died in 1944. William’s brother, Thomas Carlin, died in 1903 at age 52, so it seems genetics worked against the Carlin men.
Newspapers have long carried stories about record-setters, be it for height or weight. Often the subject of the stories sought the publicity. But what of those who didn’t? Did La Crosse businessman Samuel P. Welsh approve of his moniker as Wisconsin’s fattest man? When he married Grace Dutzel in June 1911, newspapers across the Midwest carried stories on how he weighed 400 pounds, while his bride “tipped the beam” at just 100 pounds. The Indianapolis News ran a Page 1 wire story on the Welshes arriving in Milwaukee for their honeymoon.
The Green Bay Republican carried this tidbit in December 1843: “The fattest man in the world lives in Connecticut. He is so thick through that he must lie down when he wishes to look tall.”
Dave McGuire of Silver Lake, Wisconsin, posed for a newspaper photograph in May 1921. It ran under the caption, “World’s Fattest? Who Knows?” “Dave McGuire of Silver Lake, Wis., doesn’t belong to a circus, nor does he ever expect to enter one,” one newspaper caption read. “He’s six feet seven inches tall and weighs 744 pounds, but he doesn’t care to go to the trouble of finding out whether he’s the fattest man in the world or not. He’s satisfied with the simple farm life.“
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 Staatsarchivin 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 sonJohn Treutelhad 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 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.
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)
Gattin von (Wife of)
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 Regimentduring 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. Mailin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.