Eye on the Past: Wilson’s Food Store, Waukegan

Our newest “Eye on the Past” feature photo shows a charming little grocery store located about 1.5 miles west of Lake Michigan in Waukegan, Illinois. Wilson’s Food Store was located at 1814 Grand Avenue, operated by my Dad’s aunt and uncle, Nina (Treutel) Wilson and Lawrence Wilson. Nina was a younger sister of my Grandmother Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman. Wilson's Food Store


The Wilson family, including children Steve and Laurni Lee, operated the grocery in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The family living quarters were behind the store. Any time someone entered, a bell rang in the back and family members took turns waiting on customers. Shown on the right side of the photo are Laurni Lee (Wilson) Breedlove and Steve Wilson. Emma (Treutel) Carlin (1877-1962) is holding baby Bonnie (Treutel) Young. In front of them is Bonnie’s older sister, Patricia (Treutel) Anderson. Emma was Nina and Ruby’s aunt from Arpin, Wisconsin. Bonnie and Patricia are Laurni Lee and Steve’s cousins.

Lawrence Wilson was a longtime chemist and plant superintendent at Pfanstiehl Laboratories in Waukegan. I distinctly remember Uncle Laurie and Aunt Nina coming to my wedding in December 1990 in Racine, Wisconsin. Somewhere I have a video of them arriving at the reception at Racine’s Memorial Hall. After retirement, the couple moved to Arizona. Lawrence died in 2001, and Nina passed away in 2005.

The little brick building in the photo still stands, although over the years it was extended on both sides to include other businesses. The vintage metal signs in the photo advertised Orange Crush and 7up soda. Window stickers promoted Sealtest ice cream, Hydrox sandwich cookies, and produce (cut corn, green beens, wax beans and broccoli).

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

— Photo courtesy of Patricia (Treutel) Anderson

Oscar Treutel Goes Back to School in August 1942

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.

A young Oscar Treutel, circa 1899, when he was a college student in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
A young Oscar Treutel, circa 1899, when he was a college student in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

World War II Hero at the Juneau County Fair

Army Pvt. Rudolph Mika Jr. (at left) of Mauston, Wisconsin, talks to livestock buyer John Randall at the Juneau County Fair at Mauston in the summer of 1942. Mika went into the Army glider corps and took part in the invasion of North Africa during World War II. He was taken prisoner by German troops in Holland in September 1944 and repatriated in June 1945.

Army Pvt. Rudolph Mika (at left) of Mauston, Wis., talks to livestock buyer John Randall at the Juneau County Fair at Mauston in the summer of 1942.
Army Pvt. Rudolph Mika (at left) of Mauston, Wis., talks to livestock buyer John Randall at the Juneau County Fair at Mauston in the summer of 1942.

The 1940 U.S. Census showed Mika working at the Mauston pickle factory and living at home with his parents, Rudolph Mika Sr. and Anna Mika. The elder Mika was a carrier for the local ice dealer. The Mikas lived on Winsor Street, just a few houses away from the Carl F. Hanneman family and the home of Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. Hanneman was on the Juneau County Fair Board for many years. He snapped the photo of Mika and Randall.

Rudy Mika enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1942 at Madison. His occupation was listed as a carpenter. After the war, he returned to Mauston. He died on January 6, 2001 at Mauston, age 89. Randall died in January 1971 at age 74.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Treutel Bros. Blacksmith Shop at Vesper, Wisconsin

Charles Treutel (1869-1958) poses in the Treutel Bros. Shop at 
Vesper, Wisconsin, in 1911. Charles and his brother Henry A. Treutel 
(1864-1962) opened a blacksmith operation in Vesper after moving to Wood County from Mukwonago, Wis., in 1901. As can be seen in the photo, the Treutels also did carpentry work. The brothers later expanded their shop and made the transition from shoeing horses to tuning up engines and selling agricultural implements.

A 1911 book, Vesper, Wisconsin: A Sketch of  A Model City, described the business this way:

Charles and Henry Treutel, skilled mechanics, have operated the blacksmith and wagon shop at Vesper since Nov. 1901 and have built up a large and prosperous business by courtesy and excellent workmanship. They are masters of every line of their business and are especially skilled in horseshoeing and repair work. In addition to their shop work the Messrs Treutel carry a large line of farm implements and their mechanical knowledge has enabled them to select the best makes in all the lines of machines they carry. They have a model shop fully equipped for their work.

The Treutel Bros. learned their trade from their father, Philipp Treutel (1833-1891), who came to America from Germany in 1854. As detailed in a previous post, the Treutels were blacksmiths, carpenters, tallow chandlers and tailors from near Darmstadt, Germany. Philipp Treutel is buried at North Prairie, Wisconsin.

— This post has been updated with additional information.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive