This photograph from my Grandmother Ruby V. Hanneman shows the interior of the State Bank of Vesper in the village of Vesper, Wisconsin, circa 1912. Scrawled on the back of the photo in pencil is the following notation: “First Vesper Bank. Jones Cashier, Martin President, Oliver V-P.”
George E. Martin was president of the State Bank of Vesper, chartered in December 1911 with capitalization of $10,000. Owen Oliver was vice president and Burton Jones was cashier. It is not clear if these are the three gentlemen shown in the photo. The bank made slow progress at first. A new management team was put in place in 1913, with Vesper hardware merchant George H. Horn serving as president, farmer Arthur P. Bean vice president and Fred Ellsworth cashier. According to the 1923 History of Wood County, Ellsworth sold his share in 1919 to three investors from Wisconsin Rapids. The bank subsequently grew from $55,000 in deposits to $140,000 and was considered one of the strongest country banks in the area.
Esther Marie Albrecht was married to Emil Rudolph Gottschalk on November 12, 1930 in the Town of Hewitt in Wood County, Wisconsin. Esther was the maid of honor at the July 1925 wedding of Ruby V. Treutel and Carl F. Hanneman in Vesper, Wisconsin. Mr. and Mrs. Gottschalk moved to Waukesha, and had two daughters, Pearl and LaVon. They were longtime friends of the Hanneman family. She is the daughter of George and Pearl (Smith) Albrecht.
According to the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, Emil worked as a core maker in an iron foundry in Waukesha. Emil Gottschalk died on February 1, 1944 at just age 37. Mrs. Gottschalk operated Esther’s Food Store on Arcadian Avenue in Waukesha. In April 1946, she married Harold D. “Whitey” Buchs at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waukesha. Esther died January 1, 1985 in Vesper. Harold died April 13, 2007 in Vesper.
These young ladies look like they are dressed for a Siberian winter, although the location of this photograph is central Wisconsin. Sisters Lillian M. Albrecht (left) and Esther M. Albrecht are bundled with fur coats, hats and hand warmers. The photo was taken about 1920, probably at Vesper, Wisconsin, their home town.
Lillian married George J. Ladick in June 1922, and the couple had four children: Sylvia (1923-1961), Lucille (1925-2005), Lawrence (1930-2000) and Shirley. Esther married Emil R. Gottschalk in November 1930, and the couple had two daughters, Pearl (1936-2012) and LaVon.
Judging by the turnout, the marriage of Joseph John Mras and Mary V. Sternot of the Town of Sigel in Wood County, Wisconsin, was the celebration of the year in 1913. The pair were married by the Rev. John Willitzer on October 21. The group portrait was taken outside the Sigel home of the bride’s parents, Jacob and Josephine Sternot. The reception had a big turnout from Sigel and the nearby village of Vesper.
As with other large-group photos in our collection, it is fun to look for details in the sea of faces. Standing just right of center is my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman, who was a flower girl at the wedding. The bride and groom are tucked away in the upper right corner, looking a bit weary. The entertainers are in center front, one with a fiddle, one with an accordion and a third holding a pitcher of beer. Three things seem to link the men in the photo: hats, beer and cigars. Some things never change.
A studio photo of the wedding party provides additional details on the big day. Ruby Treutel and (we believe) her cousin Gladys Cole were the flower girls, while one brother and one sister of the bride were also in the wedding party.
Joe and Mary Mras had three children,Clarence, Earl and William. Joe was a crane operator for 31 years for the Frank Garber Iron & Metal Co. in Wisconsin Rapids. He retired in 1959. Joe died on April 10, 1961. Mary died September 20, 1977. Their son Clarence was killed in an auto accident in September 1956. Earl died October 18, 2001. William died February 18, 1997.
— This post has been updated with corrected identifications on the wedding portrait.
It seems the entire village of Vesper, Wisconsin came out for a banquet or other big event, and stayed for a photograph. The image appears to date to about 1913 or 1914. The large crowd spilled out of the village hall for a photograph. What was the occasion? A wedding? A dance? It is fun to imagine. The portrait was taken by Moore Photo of nearby Grand Rapids (now called Wisconsin Rapids).
What makes this image especially interesting is to zoom in and look at the details. See the little girl with the Dixie Queen plug cut tobacco lunch box? It’s strange to imagine a lunch tin with smoking tobacco advertised on the side, but this was before the age of comic books or movie stars. Lunch pails with tobacco ads were common.
In the front at left/center left is my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman, who appears to be about 10 years old. That would date the photo to 1914. In the sea of men back near the stairs appears to be Ruby’s father, Walter Treutel. He is sporting a mustache, which is something I’ve not seen in any family photos.
On the building next to the window is a large thermometer with the name “Hlasatel” on it. That was the name of a Bohemian/Czech newspaper. Vesper had a large population from Bohemia, including the family of my great-grandmother, Mary (Ladick) Treutel. Her parents emigrated from Bilina in what is now the Czech Republic.
Most of the men wore hats, so it is not easy to make identifications.
One little girl has a Dixie Queen tobacco lunch pail.
Judging by the dress, this must have been an important event.
Young Ruby V. Treutel is in the front row right, leaning on her right hand and tilting her head to her left.
Much of the village of Vesper came out for the photo.
Nearly 90 years ago on a summer Tuesday morning, Ruby Viola Treutel and Carl Henry Frank Hanneman joined in marriage at St. James Catholic Church in Vesper, Wisconsin. The marriage, which would live on for more than 50 years and produce three children and 16 grandchildren, was described in detail in a story in the July 15, 1925 edition of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
TREUTEL-HANNEMAN One of the prettiest weddings of the summer was solemnized yesterday morning at nine o’clock at St. James church, Vesper, when Miss Ruby Treutel, daughter of Walter Treutel of Vesper, became the bride of Carl F. Hanneman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hanneman of this city. Rev. Father Gille officiated at the nuptial Mass.
The church was beautifully decorated with greens and the season’s flowers, making an appropriate setting for the wedding party. Miss Velma Doering of Stratford played the wedding march as the party entered the church and proceeded to the altar. Miss Gladys Cole of Nekoosa, and the groom’s attendant, Joseph Ladick, of Vesper, both cousins of the bride, were followed by two little sisters of the bride, Nina and Elaine, who acted as flower girl and ring bearer. The maid of honor, Miss Esther Albright, came next and was followed by the bride and her father, who gave her away.
Mr. Hanneman and his best man, Wendell Miscoll,awaited the party at the altar. The bride was very beautiful in her gown of white georgette trimmed with gold lace. She wore a coronet of pearls, with her veil falling from a beaded butterfly. She carried a shower bouquet of pink rose buds.
Miss Albright, the maid of honor, was gowned in orchid georgette and carried an arm bouquet of rose. Miss Cole, the bridesmaid, wore a gown of orange georgette, and also carried roses. Nina, the little flower girl, was in a little frock of yellow georgette, and Elaine completed the delightful color ensemble in a dress of pink georgette. She carried the ring in a white lily.
Following the service at the church, the bridal party and relatives came to this city, where the ten-thirty breakfast was served at the Witter Hotel. The bride is a graduate of Lincoln High School and the Stevens Point Normal. Since her graduation from the normal school she has been teaching at Vesper. The groom was graduated from Lincoln High and for some time following was employed at the Church Drug store. He later graduated from the pharmacy department of Marquette University at Milwaukee and is at present holding a position with Whitrock and Wolt.
Following a week’s outing in the northern part of the state, part of the time being spent as guests of Mr. and Mrs. Armand Bauer at their cottage at Hayward, they will return here and for the present make their home with Mr. Treutel at Vesper.
The bridal photo, hand retouched to restore color to the roses.
The bridal portrait of Ruby V. Hanneman in its original frame.
For their honeymoon in July 1925, Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) and Ruby Viola (nee: Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977) took a camping trip to Wisconsin’s north woods. The couple are pictured at a camp site near Hayward, Wis. They were married July 14, 1925 at Vesper, Wis.
He could be carrying milk from the barn, but Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) is actually on a honeymoon camping trip in this July 1925 photo. Carl and bride Ruby (nee: Treutel, 1904-1977) took a camping trip near Hayward, Wis., after their wedding on July 14, 1925.
An unidentified boy sits outside of a cottage near Hayward, Wis., with Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977) in July 1925. Ruby and new husband Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) were on their honeymoon.
Carl F. Hanneman (at right) leans on his Ford near the camp where he and bride Ruby spent their honeymoon.
Carl F. Hanneman and an unidentified boy at the Hanneman picnic table.
The Hanneman honeymoon had a rustic theme at a cottage near Hayward, Wis.
Carl F. and Ruby V. Hanneman took these selfies on their honeymoon in July 1925.
Carl F. and Ruby V. Hanneman on their 25th wedding anniversary in July 1950.
Back of the photo: Carl F. and Ruby V. Hanneman on their 25th wedding anniversary in July 1950.
Carl F. and Ruby V. Hanneman on their 50th wedding anniversary, celebrated at Sun Prairie in July 1975.
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.
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 Tribuneon 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’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.
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.
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.
Sometimes a photograph will strike you in a certain way that makes it memorable. It has some intangible quality that makes it almost timeless. Of the thousands of images in our library, a handful qualify for this kind of distinction. Not for their physical clarity or skill of the photographer, but that certain look. You might describe it just a bit like looking at a Rockwell painting, or a black and white photograph by Ansel Adams.
View the whole collection in the gallery below:
Elaine Treutel poses with the family dog in this ca. 1923 photo near Vesper, Wis. Directly behind her is older sister Ruby V. Treutel. Sitting on the bumper of the car is father Walter Treutel (1879-1948). The others are unidentified.
This image has a Little Rascals look and feel to it. Toddler Elaine Treutel and the family dog on her tricycle, circa 1922.
David D. Hanneman with his toe in the sand at Madeline Island, circa 1942.
Ruby V. Treutel (center) relaxes with the Sunday paper near Milwaukee’s Juneau Park in 1924. Ruby was visiting her fiance, Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982), who was studying pharmacy at Marquette University. At front is Ruby’s sister, Nina H. Treutel (1914-2005). The woman near the car is unidentified.
A formal portrait of Elaine Treutel of Vesper, Wis., circa 1938. Born in January 1920 to Walter and Mary (Ladick) Treutel of Vesper, Elaine attented Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. She married Max Clark in October 1938. The couple lived for many years in Madison, then relocated to suburban Phoenix, Arizona.
Frank Herman Albert Hanneman (1895-1947) of Grand Rapids, Wis., posed for this studio photo with a shotgun, ammunition belt and even a hunting dog. The photo was taken ca. 1909. Frank was the son of Carl Frederick Christian Hanneman (1866-1932) and Rosine B. H. Ostermann (1874-1918).
Nina Treutel of Vesper, Wis., is about 18 months old in this circa 1916 photograph. Nina’s parents are Walter Treutel and Mary Helen (Ladick) Treutel.
A beautiful portrait of Lavonne Hanneman, circa 1955.
Ruby Treutel poses for an informal photo, circa 1922.
Ruby Treutel with her siblings Marvin, Elaine and Nina, circa 1921.
Carl F. Hanneman’s high school portrait, 1921.
Lavonne and David Hanneman examine a monument on a vacation trip to South Dakota in 1947.
Ruby Treutel holds her baby brother Gordon, circa 1910. Gordon died of pneumonia in February 1911.
Patricia Treutel is having a great time on the tree swing, circa 1943.
We don’t have an ID on this beautiful young lady. Photo appears to be from 1920s.
David D. Hanneman watches over his little sister, Lavonne, circa 1938.
David D. Hanneman and sister Lavonne Marie Hanneman, circa 1942.
A fire in April 1926 at the parish priest’s residence in Vesper, Wisconsin, spread so fast that the building was reduced to its foundation before firefighters arrived.
Fire broke out in the rectory of St. James Catholic Church on Monday, April 19, 1926. Calls went to the Wisconsin Rapids fire department, but its firemen were all out battling grass fires. Villagers were on their own.
Neighbors rushed into the burning building to pull out as much as possible before the home was lost to the flames. It’s not known if the parish priest, Rev. Charles W. Gille, was at home when the fire broke out. Within a matter of minutes, the home was, as firefighters say, “totally involved.” The buckets of water thrown at it were of no use. By the time firemen from Marshfield arrived, it was too late.
The former residence of the Henry Stahl family on Benson Avenue was purchased by the St. James parish in 1919 to serve as a home for the parish priest. The loss from the fire was estimated at more than $4,000. The photos were taken by Carl F. Hanneman, whose father-in-law, Walter Treutel, lived just down the block from the fire scene.