1956 Centennial Year History of Augusta Wisconsin
"History of Augusta in our Centennial Year of 1956"
by Mrs. Karl Peplau, Mrs. O. G. Moland, Mrs. E. M. Herrell -
Compiled from the Centennial Year Booklet
Augusta Wisconsin History from 1856 - 1956
Ninety-six years ago, in 1860, Augusta was a typical pioneer village, typical in that its people had that spirit and fortitude common to all seeking a new home. However, Augusta was more fortunate than many pioneer settlements; besides having miles and miles of pine forests to the north and east, it also had miles of the richest soils to the south and west. These two sections were divided by a stream which in the early days had to be crossed by the lumbermen on their way to the woods around Eau Claire. They found it so deep they could not ford it, and therefore, had to build a bridge, which eventually gave the stream and the settlement which grew up around it the name "Bridge Creek."
It can be supposed that the creek itself had first been formed by water melted from the glaciers which had passed ages ago, through the northern part of the state.
At first glance the Indians had inhabited our part of Wisconsin, as well as the rest of the state. The Ojibways, later called the Chippewa, had made their home among the lakes and besides the rivers throughout the Chippewa Valley and to the northward.
After them came the white men. French fur traders and French missionaries came establishing trading posts and preaching the Word of God to the Indians.
In 1836 Wisconsin was created as a territory by President Andrew Jackson. More and more settlers came as the surge into the middle west got underway. Eau Claire County was organized in 1856, Eau Claire, at this time was quite a considerable settlement, and it was to this point from the railway station at Sparta that supplies were carried over the old Sparta Road. It was to the north of this road along the banks of Bridge Creek that Augusta, then nameless, trackless and homeless, was to develop.
Augusta was settled in the summer of 1856. At this time Charles Buckman and his wife came from Black River Falls and pitched their tent on the site where the Park Hotel now stands. The Buckmans soon built a log house near the present location of Jim Newton's Tavern. About this time, also, John F. Stone and L. F. Clarke came from Sauk County. They surveyed extensively and located the site of the first industry, a sawmill, along the banks of Bridge Creek. John F. Stone built his log home on the same ground where Mrs. Clara Bethke's house now stands. John C. Hackett, a carpenter came with the Stones and eventually built near the present home of Dr. R. H. Ziehr.
Other families arrived in the fall and winter of 1856, the E. S. Bills, who completed the third log house in the settlement which was located directly back of Mrs. H. W. Kling's present home. C. L. Chadbourne and his family arrived, as did the W. H. Waterburys. It is also reported that Andrew Thompson, an Englishman and unmarried had settled in the vicinity a year or so earlier, and it was from him that Thompson Valley acquired its name. A. G. Paddock settled at Beef River Station, and had a stopping place for people traveling the old Sparta Road. There were several pioneers located in the surrounding territory, such as C. H. Hale, Homer Herrick, whose land was part of the W. H. Herrick farm today, William and August Zank, Lorenzo Bennett, Robert E. Scott, E. L. Hall, and James Woodbury, among others.
In the fall of 1856, John F. Stone with the assistance of John Hackett built the dam across Bridge Creek at the site of the remains of the present dam, and during the first winter built the sawmill. The next summer the first lumber was sawed from the logs that had been gathered on the banks of the stream above. The logs were chained together and held in the pond above the dam until they were sawed into lumber so as not to be worm-eaten. As the logs were sawed, the settlers began to build frame buildings. William Young, the grandfather of the present William Young built the first frame house which is still standing, and is occupied by the C. Harry Daniels family. This house was later the home of the Hutchinson family and became known as the "Hutch" House, another stopping place for people traveling on the old Sparta Road between Sparta and Eau Claire.
At about the same time as William Young built his house, William Mauss built the house which is now lived in by Harvey Livermore. Mr. Mauss was a merchant, and he kept his stock, a small one at first, in an addition to his house. John E. Perkins came that year from New York State, Harris Searles came from Ohio and Alfonso Beeman and his family arrived and built themselves a house of slabs down near where our depot now stands.
In 1857 the village was platted, and about this time Charles Buckman changed the name of the village itself from Bridge Creek to Augusta*, because he had come from the State of Maine, and named this new town after the capitol city of his home state.
A postoffice was established that year also, and John F. Stone was appointed postmaster. He kept the office in his home. Mr. Stone was succeeded by Harris Searles under the Lincoln administration. He held the office for eight years until General Grant's presidential term when W. H. Waterbury was appointed to it. He was succeeded by Joe Button.
In 1857 the Bridge Creek settlement had grown enough so that other phases of living besides earning ones livelihood had to be considered. First of all a school was started in a little board shanty on the north side of the creek, close to the location of Robert Harden's home. Miss Parland was engaged as the first teacher and the children crossed the creek by means of a plank swinging bridge on their way to school. After the schoolhouse was completed the itinerant Methodist minister, Rev. John Holt held his services there. Before that he conducted services in the homes of the settlers, having preached the first one in the home of William Young. Rev. Holt was an Englishman and an ex-pugilist, and his salary was paid to him in wheat by the parishioners in his circuit, which he took by horse and wagon to Sparta on the old Sparta Road, and sold for sixty cent a bushel. It usually was months before he received his money for his services.
Sometimes when he came to Augusta he performed other duties besides conducting regular services. He, no doubt, christened the first baby to be born here, Emma Buckman, the daughter of the Charles Buckmans and conducted the first funeral services for Helen Dodge, the sister of Mrs. Buckman, who died as a result of burns received when the log house of the Buckmans was burned to the ground. Her burial is the first reported in the Augusta East Lawn Cemetery. The first wedding was that of Miss Charlotte Stone and John Hackett, but that was held in Eau Claire on New Years Day, 1857, with the Rev. Kidder performing the ceremony.
Time was taken out for social activities too. Any holiday was the time for people for miles around to gather. The first recorded social gathering of the entire settlement was a Fourth of July celebration at the Allen Randall farm.
In those early days, even as now, there frequently arose disputes between neighbors. There were no lawyers to settle them so the people as often as not went to William Young who was an oracle in the community and he settled their arguments as best he could. After his words of wisdom, the case would come before the first Justice of Peace, John F. Stone. Difficult cases were taken to Eau Claire for certified lawyers to handle. Not until 1867 did B. F. Chase open a law office here. He was followed the next year by R. D. Campbell and soon after by J. C. Crawford. In 1873 Ira Bradford came from the East and opened his law office.
Not only did William Young settle the minor disputes of the village, he also was called upon to diagnose illnesses and prescribe remedies. He had attended medical school, and his father had been a practicing physician in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1868 Dr. D. C. Spencer came and opened the first medical practice in Augusta, and on November 24, 1870 Dr. G. E. Hamilton came and opened his office and remained for thirty years, so "Billie" Young, as he was called by his contemporaries, was relieved of his responsibilities. Not until 1882 did Dr. E. M. Rogers come and open a dental office.
In 1858 the logging and sawmill prospered. The next year Harris Searle who was a miller by trade built a flour mill across the creek from the sawmill. He hired J. L. Ball who had come from Massachusetts that year and was a carpenter and millwright to help him.
Others came and established homes, and tho there were many hardships and no conveniences such as we know them today yet there were those opportunities which are ever present and challenging in a virgin territory to any people who in the first place would leave established and safe homes as these New Englanders had done.
For the most part they were a religious people which helped them through many an ordeal and over almost insurmountable hardships.
James and Frank Asplin arrived, one a blacksmith, the other a millwright and carpenter. James the blacksmith, made his own nails on his anvil before he could shoe a horse. His blacksmith shop was located where the John Crandall family now lives, and was only a 16 by 16 structure, hardly large enough to accommodate a team of horses. Mr. Wittee came that year as did C. W. Morris and his family, who opened a second store in Augusta. The twin brothers of John Stone arrived, Carilus and Carolus, and opened a tin shop. The D. J. Bullis family came in 1859 and started a boot and shoe repair shop.
Most of the businesses were established along the banks of Bridge
Creek, except for a few like Mr. Mauss's store, which is the present
home of Harvey Livermore. It was intended in those days by these first
businessmen to make Main Street which runs in front of the Augusta High
School the business street of the village, but for some unexplained
reason it was gradually transferred to Lincoln Street which is our main
thoroughfare today. It is an interesting fact that none of the later
business places were ever located within the boundaries of the original
A new steam mill was built on the north side of the pond, on the present property of Robert Wilkinson in 1860. It was an important addition to the community as it provided more jobs, and many of the men of Augusta were employed in the mill.
People seeking a new home continued to arrive. Joe Goodrich came from the State of Maine, and Jefferson Victory and his sons and daughter came from New York State. Alfred Bolton came a bit earlier. Logging was being done quite extensively up the Eau Claire River and many of the people in Augusta were involved in it one way or another. Farms were in operation in the farmable areas around and produce found a ready market in the logging camps.
Then came the Civil War, and as small a settlement as Augusta was, it too sent its quota of soldiers. One reference to the Civil War is from an account by the late Senator George Burrows who stopped in Augusta on the Fourth of July 1861 on his way to Chippewa Falls in time to hear the days orator, the Hon. Edward Bragg giving the days patriotic speech. There were 100 people at that time, many of whom had ancestors who had fought at Bunker Hill. Fort Sumter had been fired upon, and Mr. Bragg was urging every available man to answer the call to keep the states united. Many did. One of the companies recruited in Eau Claire County was Company 1 of the 30th Infantry. Napoleon B. Greer of Eau Claire was chosen Captain, and Charles Buckman was chosen First Lieutenant. Erastus Livermore was also a member of the 1st. When the company left in was by steamboat from Eau Claire to La Crosse and then on to St. Louis. C. A. Kirkham went back to the State of New York early in the Civil War and was a member of the 1st regiment of U. S. Volunteer Sharpshooters from that state, Co. A., 92nd New York Volunteer Infantry. They were all picked men and fought valiantly at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Out of the 112 recruits in his company only five of them were able to bear arms when their time of enlistment had expired.
Among others from who fought in the war between the states were
John L. Ball, G. F. Caldwell, John Tebo, Michael Wiere, Dr. Spencer,
Michael Harden and Captain R. D. Campbell. Following the Civil War a
freed slave, John Drain, came to Augusta and stayed for some time.
He held the job of nightwatchman, and proved himself to be quite a
Up to 1862 travelers going through this territory stayed at private homes designated for that purpose, but that year Harris Searle built the first hotel, 2½ stories high where Stringer's Department Store now stands. This was called the "Augusta House", and had a livery stable in its basement. In 1879 it was destroyed by fire although a bucket brigade getting water from the swamp back of the hotel tried diligently to put it out.
Following the Civil War, there was another surge into the west. People are always restless following any war, and as much land had been laid waste, people were on the move. As new people came, new businesses were established, more homes were built, and the farming areas expanded. Some of the early farmers moved into town, amongst these was Josephus Livermore, the father of Harvey Livermore, who came into the village from Thompson Valley and went into the dry goods business with Harris Searles in a small building on the corner where Wright's Standard Service building now stands. There were still many Indians in the area at that time and Harvey Livermore reports that his father would often wait on his Indian customers until midnight as they would not shop while white people were in the store. Orrin C. Hall had come to Augusta and so had the Russells and Richards from Massena, New York. In fact, so many of our early settlers came from this particular area of New York State, one wonders if that city wasn't completely depopulated.
Hiram Blair came to town about this time and opened the Sheridan House, on property where the water tower was eventually erected and still stands today.
Wherever and whenever a group of people convene, it is wise and necessary to set up some form of government. The Eau Claire County Board was organized and held its first meeting November 17, 1857, and William Young was the first supervisor from Bridge Creek to serve from as a member of that board. The area which Mr. Young represented included not only Augusta which was part of Bridge Creek, but the towns of Otter Creek, Lincoln, Clear Creek, Ludington, Fairchild and Bridge Creek. From 1857 until 1871 the chairman of the Town Board represented Augusta at the meeting of the Eau Claire County Board.
From the original copy of the minutes of the first elections held in Augusta, we find that on Monday, April 10th, 1871, the first election of the village officers was held, and from that time on the governing of Augusta has been done locally. E. S. Bills was elected village president in that first election, and also served as a member of the County Board. Charles Buckman and Caspar Neher were elected trustees, George W. Brown was elected clerk, and C. W. Warren, treasurer. Harris Searles and A. E. Muzzy were elected Justices of the Peace. In reading the early council proceeding one finds that village improvements were uppermost in the problems of those men who were the village fathers, so to speak. Constructing sidewalks seems to have been a major project as well as eliminating fire hazards. A fire warden J. C. Hackett was appointed and according to the report had permission to enter into any and all inclosures within the corporate limits of said village for making any and all examinations as to the safe conditions of stoves, stovepipes, etc." Another problem facing this early council was brought about by the fact that practically all the families living in the village had their own chickens, horses and cows. By 1880 as Augusta grew, cows wandering around with bells on became quite a problem, so a Herd Law was passed forbidding cows to run loose, and imposing a fine on the owners if their animals were not fenced in. That year, too, the residents of the village were complaining of the dust on the village streets stirred up by the horses and buggies and wagons, so the officers arranged for the streets to be sprinkled.
In 1885, the City of Augusta was created, with four wards, the division being Stone and Lincoln streets. At the first city election held in April 1885, the following officers were elected: I. B. Bradford, Mayor; Griff O. Jones, Clerk; H. M. Warren, Treasurer; Carilus Stone, Assessor and Aldermen, First Ward, M. Victory; Second Ward, William Schroeder; Third Ward, C. L. Bullis and Fourth Ward, Gus Dittmer. From that time until the present the City of Augusta has been thus organized.
In these early days the farmers brought their wheat to market and as there were no railroads to transport it, the storage problem was a serious one. Charles Buckman had built a large building on the corner of Lincoln and Stone streets, and it became a warehouse for storing grain. Josephus Livermore, W. H. Waterbury and Henry Heard were partners in this business for a number of years. The grain was finally hauled by teams to Sparta where it was marketed, and the trip usually took from Monday to Saturday. When they arrived in Sparta the grain was exchanged for merchandise to be again exchanged for grain.
However, in 1869, the Western Railway continued their tracks to Augusta from Sparta and train service was begun. It is reported that there still is evidence of the turntable near our depot that was used to turn the engine around and send it back down the tracks when this was the end of the line. The next year, however the tracks were continued on to Eau Claire. Two new grain elevators were built almost immediately along side the track and the grain storage problem was solved. A depot was built, and a telegraph system was installed, and "Going to the Depot" to watch the trains arrive and depart became part of the social pattern of the town. Jim Smith was the first depot agent, and was followed by L. O. Hickot, who in turn was followed by a variety of men until 1913 when J. B. McElroy took over as agent. Mr. McElroy, known to everyone as "Joe" held the position for 33 years until he retired in 1946. He was succeeded by H. T. Hall and the job is now being filled on a temporary basis.
Augusta continued to grow. Mem Victory had come earlier and in the
late 1860s went into the drug business with F. D. Stone. Later John F.
Stone went into partnership with Mr. Victory and the firm of Stone and
Victory became well established. Frederick Dittmer and his family came
from Germany and started a shoe shop, a furniture store was started by a
man named Tibbits and the first exclusive clothing store was started by
William McClure who came from Sparta.
L. L. Williams came from Ohio in 1869, and opened a shop in which he put in a supply of books, stationery and a confectionery. Later, he put in a stock of jewelry and continued to prosper. By this time Lincoln Street was well populated with millinery shops, barber shops, a wagon shop, blacksmith shops, a brick shop, a salt house and saloons to mention a few of the businesses. Some of the establishments flowed over into the sidestreets much as they have today. John Michael and Charles Rick came the same year as Mr. Williams, as also did Charles and John Taggart.
The next year the first newspaper was started in Augusta by Shanghai
Chandler, and was known as the Augusta Herald. It passed through a
couple of hands before it was discontinued and not until Griff Jones
came in 1874 did Augusta have another paper, which was the Augusta
The largest building in Augusta at this time was on the corner where C. E. Seif's Sons is now located, and was known as Bennett's Hall. It was built by William and Lorenzo Bennett and William had his blacksmith shop on the ground floor. The second floor contained a hall which was used by the public for social, school and political gatherings. This is where the first village elections were held, as well as the early commencement exercises. The third story was a meeting place for the I. O. O. F. Lodge.
Due to the compulsory military training and also the potato famine many people from Germany were establishing new homes in Wisconsin. There were whole settlements of these peoples and Germantown at the west end of Augusta was one such unit. However it was incorporated as part of the village in 1871. People of other nationalities came also, especially people who were interested in farming, as more and more grain was being raised in this particular section of the state.
It would be quite impossible to follow thru at this time all the businesses that were started here, all the partnerships that were formed and dissolved, the many business interests that were passed from father to son, and the many people who came to farm who tired their hand at trades, and the tradesmen who went on to the farms. However, there were definitely some businesses which were established and remained a part of the Augusta scene for many years, such as that of A. C. Rick, who was the son of Michael Rick who had come earlier. He came from Ripon and opened a meat market going into business first with John O'Brien and later with William Hertzke. His son, Fred Rick, carried on his business and established a reputation for making home smoked sausage which is still known today by the people who lived formerly as "Rick's Bologna".
In 1919 Mr. Rick sold his market to Otto and Albert Emanuel who were prominent Augusta businessman until Otto Emanuel's retirement on January 1, 1954, when the store was sold to Robert Harden.
Another business enterprise which carried on for a long time was that of O. A. Williams who had come from Ohio about 1874 and went into partnership with his brother L. L. Williams in his store. In 1875 the Williams Brothers built a two story brick building which is part of the present Thode Store. John Beebe built a number of frame buildings on the south side of Lincoln Street which became known as the Beebe Block. It is quite significant that with the exception of two or three buildings in Augusta's business district, all the stores were of wood composition. Candles and kerosene lamps were being used those days for lighting, and the heating was done mainly by wood stoves and fireplaces, so it was inevitable that fires would break out, and four times between 1877 and 1897 the business district of Augusta was plagued with large fires which each time wiped out a number of buildings. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise as in the rebuilding bricks were used which did help somewhat to eliminate the fire hazard. It was following the fire of 1877 that the Augusta Bank building was built on the corner where it still stands today, and is in daily use as the offices of Dr. O. G. Moland, Dr. R. H. Ziehr and Mr. Karl Peplau, attorney and for the city hall.
In 1874 Ira Bradford and Russell Hackett started the Augusta Bank with L. C. Humphrey as cashier in the second story of the Williams Bros. Store. However after the new bank building was completed in 1878 the bank moved in there where it remained until the early 1930s when it went out of business. In that same year John L. Ball built the planing mill on the site where John Perkins had built the dam on or about the year 1860, and about 1880 Plummer and Finch came from Reedsburg and bought the grist mill from John F. Stone which they remodeled and made completely modern, according to that day's standards.
In 1890 the Augusta Times was started and later purchased by Frank L. Clark and C. W. Warner. In 1904 E. G. Herrell purchased the newspaper continuing in business until 1943, most of the time publishing the paper as The Union. His son, E. M. Herrell has continued in the business since the death of E. G. Herrell.
The gay nineties and the early years of the 20th Century came and went in Augusta as it did in every small town in America. William McKinley was President to be followed shortly by Theodore Roosevelt. Edison had invented the phonograph, and people as everywhere were singing "After the Ball" and "A Bicycle Built for Two". Baseball became the national sport and the first soda fountains of marble were introduced to the American public. P. T. Barnum had formed his famous circus, and had begun a tour of the country with it. John L. Sullivan, the boxer and the "Barrymores" became household words. In Augusta traveling road shows were well attended, and the townspeople attended the Lyceum Courses, and later the chatauqua. Home talent plays were in vogue, and one of these plays entitled "Charity Ball" was directed by E. M. Bradford, the proceeds of which were marked for the high school piano fund. Skating and sleighriding parties were ever popular in the winter, and the Dells Pond was popular as a swimming, boating and picnicking spot in the summer. There were also church parties and suppers, the latter often being served for fifteen cents.
Up until 1900 the farmers in the surrounding area were grain producers, particularly wheat. However by the turn of the century, dairy and stock farming were coming into their own and other crops were soon to be grown in quantity. In 1899 the Lange Canning Company in Eau Claire rented 800 acres on the Truax Prairie to grow peas, beans, tomatoes and other vegetables thus diversified farming was started.
Two present important industries in the area were an outgrowth of
To process the increasing amount of milk and cream being produced in the Augusta area at the turn of the century, a group of producers on June 21, 1901 organized the Russell Corners Mutual Dairy to manufacture butter. The plant prospered and on June 20th, 1905 was reorganized as the Russell Corners Creamery Company, under which name it operated until August 20th, 1945 when it was changed to the Dairy Maid Co-op, the name under which it now operates.
The great bulk of the milk in this area is processed at the Dairy Maid Co-op into butter and non-fat dried milk. This dairy plant has become the economic backbone of the area.
A rapidly increasing national demand for canned peas and corn, prompted a group of Augusta men lead by R. W. Bowen, in 1919, to form the Augusta Canning Company. By the early 1920s under the management of Theodore Anderson the plant was producing a large quantity of fine quality canned peas and corn. Farmers were provided with a cash crop and the community was provided with a source of seasonal employment that helped many a local Augusta lad through college.
Production of the plant was extended to can green and wax beans in
the early 1930s adding another source of income to local farmers and
further local employment.
In 1946 the Augusta Canning Company was sold to the Lange Canning Company in Eau Claire and a few years later was acquired by Theodore Anderson who now operates it as "Augusta Canned Foods."
However, in 1900 lumbering interests were still the foundations of the city's welfare, but the soil around the city was increasing in value rapidly. As a result the price of real estate was going up with a good house selling from one thousand dollars and up, and rent at about five dollars a month.
Even then, as now, there was talk of the need for a manufacturing plant within the cities boundaries. There were, however, many small and prosperous industries in operation. The Victory Drug Co. operated a creamery which churned a ton of butter daily and sold from 25 to 30 cents a pound, the Seidel Cheese factory produced the very finest of cheese, and Gus Dittmer, the son of Frederick Dittmer, manufactured comb foundations and was a dealer in bee keeper supplies. He had invented a new process for the manufacture of an all wax foundation for honey comb. George Hilts owned and operated the planing mill and sold sash doors, moldings and ornamental trimmings besides being a building contractor. There were two prosperous flour mills in the vicinity, both making a very high grade of flour, one being run by Finch, Wirth and Co., in Augusta and the other at the Dells and operated by Gessner and Clark. W. E. Johnson, a building contractor, operated a brick yard where Memorial Field is now located, in which he kept his employees working during the winter months. There were also a couple of manufacturers of cigars on Lincoln Street, one advertising his product thusly, "Smoke Hand Made Cigars. Price 5 and 10 cents." A glove factory was also in operation, and as a part of his business, Mr. D. T. Teare made and sold berry boxes and in one day shipped out a hundred crates of blueberries during the season.
Mr. Teare, who had come to Augusta in April, 1894, was in the merchandising business until 1927, starting at first in the building in which Wright's Service Station is now located, and moving later into the building now owned by Mrs. Anna Thode. Teare's Store was an Augusta landmark until it was sold to a Mr. Kromrey from Eau Claire. The location was later the home of The Quality Store (Bartig Shadler and Miske) operated for many years by Henry Bartig, Otto Shadler and E. J. Miske, and finally by Mr. Shadler and Mr. Bartig.
G. W. Paul owned the City Drug Store and also dealt in Insurance and Real Estate, and A. Cebell owned a clothing store. The Victory Drug Co. not only had a drug department which Charles Livesey had charge of, but also dealt in coal, flour, feed, wallpaper and groceries, to mention a few. About 1904 Mr. Livesey opened his own drug store, and remained in business in Augusta until February, 1947, when he retired and sold to Foster Colby. A. Arndt ran a furniture store, and O. F. Braeger was in the hardware business. In 1903 Charles Cox built the building in which Ray Stringer has operated his department store since 1923. Previously Mr. Cox had been in the merchandizing business in other localities on Lincoln Street, and at one time had been in partnership with Frank L. Clarke and W. S. Cox. The Klitsner Brothers operated a department store in the Cox building until they sold to Mr. Stringer. The building has been extensively rebuilt and remodeled into a modern department store under Mr. Stringer.
The early 1900s brought more professional men to Augusta. By that year Dr. E. H. Winter had come and established his practice. He remained here until 1940 when he and Mrs. Winter moved to Dallas, Wisconsin. He is now retired, and they are living at the Masonic Home at Dousman. Another physician, a native son of Augusta was Dr. H. F. Prill, who practiced from September, 1902 until his death in 1943. Dr. Richard Werner was also for a few years, but he later moved to Eau Claire where he remained until his death a few years ago.
The long line of physicians in Augusta's history that began with D. C. Spencer in 1868 is being continued by Dr. O. G. Moland, a University of Wisconsin graduate, who came to Augusta in the middle 30s and by Dr. E. S. Thieda, a graduate of Loyola Medical School, Chicago, who came to Augusta a few years later.
Dr. D. W. Babcock followed Dr. Rodgers in the dental field in 1901. Dr. R. B. Washburn came from Humbird in October, 1907 and continued his practice of Dentistry in Augusta for 47 years, when he sold his practice to Dr. James Barton.
Dr. R. H. Ziehr has been a dentist in Augusta since early in the 1930s and is now erecting a new dental office near his home on Lincoln Street.
As has been noted before, Mr. Ira Bradford had come to Augusta in 1873 and opened a law office. He was also active in local and state politics, as, besides being mayor of this city, he served as a member of the state legislature in 1879 and 1881, the second year being speaker of the house. At one time he was a potential candidate for the governorship of Wisconsin, running on the Republican ticket, but he withdrew his name before the primary elections were held. Mr. Bradford also established the bank which has been previously mentioned, and after Russell Hackett resigned, had C. E. Bradford as Cashier and in 1897 Ira Bradford's son, Archie Bradford as assistant cashier. E. M. Bradford, Mr. Bradford's brother was a lawyer also for many years. There were other professional men who came and went, but these are the ones who made Augusta their permanent home.
Attorney John C. Roberts came to Augusta in 1935 and as well as
practicing law was the City Attorney during the days of the depression,
through World War II and until his death in 1952. He was an able counsel
to the city government during his practice and prepared much of the work
that preceded the building of the filtration plant in 1940 and the new
Sidney Baker, a local man, practiced law in Augusta for many years and was most prominent during the early years of the present century.
The social activities had, by this time, been transferred from Bennetts Hall to Randall Hall, which was to have a long and eventful career known as the Opera House. Many a dancing and roller skating party was held there, and in 1902 it was even the scene of a Republican Rally. Traveling shows put on performances there, such as the play "Uncle Tom's Cabin", besides local talent productions. It was also the scene of school plays and other school activities, the most important of which was the Commencement exercises. It finally became a movie theatre, and continued in this capacity until it finally burned a few years ago. The K. P. Hall over Stringer's Store was also the scene of many parties and entertainments.
There was a fashionable millinery shop run by the Dauffenback Sisters, and Stiener Olson was the merchant tailor, and kept Augusta gentlemen well dressed in tailor made suits with a perfect fit and the latest styles. The city livery was run by D. Richards and a single horse or a double, together with a two seater buggy or a surrey with fringe on top were to be had at reasonable rates.
Mrs. P. M. Zemple owned and operated a confectionery store which was known at that time as the City Restaurant. From March 1st, 1903 until April 21st, 1931, Mrs. Zemple was active in the confectionery and restaurant business, except for a short time when her son operated it. Mr. Zemple had been associated in the business for 27 years when they both retired last spring.
The Park House, too, was a well run and popular hostelry owned and
managed by A. F. Prill, the father of the late Dr. Herman Prill. From
this hotel trains were met daily by the hotel rig.
The Park Hotel is now owned and run by Mrs. Emma Harden, who has lived and worked there for 54 years. In 1912, Mrs. Harden and her husband, the late Claude Harden, purchased the hotel from August Prill, the father of the late Dr. Herman Prill, who, after running the Sheridan Hotel for many years, purchased the Park Hotel from Mr. Welch. Mrs. Harden worked in the Hotel for 10 years before she and her husband bought it from Mr. Prill.
Of the many enterprises that Augusta was justly proud of in those early years of the 1900s, the water works system was not the least. It consisted of about three miles of water mains, together with all the paraphanalia [sic] which goes into maintaining such a set up. There were 27 water hydrants, and the steel tower of 140 feet which was the highest one of steel in the state, and the one which is still standing. With the construction of the water works, the old bucket brigade for combating fires was outmoded, and a modern fire department was organized with 22 volunteer firemen with Birt Fredericks as Fire Chief, E. Miske as Secretary and Treasurer, and E. M. Bradford and George Russell as first pipemen. Many of the small cities in the area were very impressed with this water works setup and came to inspect it for the purpose of installing one in their own city.
In 1919 - 1920 the sewer system was laid in Augusta, and this too was a big and progressive step in the right direction and involved many complications, but proved very successful. The next step, and one of great importance, particularly to the housewives, was the building of the filtration plant. The iron content of the water was such that the city water was hardly usable for clothes washing and even coffee making. The neighborhood pumps were much used, especially on Mondays, and the "Ring around the bathtub" was an impossible thing to combat. On September 27, 1940, the filtration plant was put in operation, and from that time on the last improvement has been the disposal plant.
John L. Ball was the owner of the franchise for the light and power plant and his power house which was considered up to date at the time with light producing machinery and giant pulleys was located where the Northern States Power Company equipment building is today, and had Frank Stevens in charge as engineer. Before the street lights were installed Lincoln Street had been lighted by oil lamps which were lighted each evening by the night watchman.
Mr. Ball also installed and owned the first telephone system in Augusta, starting with the circuit call bell systems and in 1907 erected the present telephone central building and installed the system with operators in charge of the calls as they are today. Mr. and Mrs. Ball and their children lived in the house occupied today by the Victor Piel family.
Many of the early pictures taken of Augusta have the name Drowatsky on the corner. He specialized in portrait work, and had branch studios in Osseo and Fairchild.
Since 1882 the Brown Brothers had been engaged in wagon making and blacksmithing. "Bill" Brown had also made molasses, and in one year it is reported he made six hundred gallons of sorghum molasses. Their shop was in the building which still stands between George Schneider and C. E. Seif's Sons buildings on Stone Street.
C. W. Proehl was a well established wheel wright at that time and Fred E. Williams as well as H. V. Kyle were in the jewelry trade.
Startling changes occurred in American transportation early in the twentieth century which was to change the whole pattern of American life. Since the 1880s Henry Ford and his contemporaries had been experimenting along the lines of gasoline-driven engines, and by 1895 there were four registered automobiles in the United States. In July, 1900 the citizens of Augusta saw in their own city, one of these early models when an automobile of the steam variety passed through on its way to the fair at Merrillan. By then there were 8000 cars in the United States and by 1915 2½ million. First automobiles in any town, large or small, was cause for excitement. G. W. Paul with his Case, and Dr. R. Werner and his Stanley Steamer were two of the first models to be driven in Augusta.
With the advent of a faster and more effective way of travel the Eau Claire County Fair which had been held in Augusta since 1893 gained in attendance and popularity. A large covered grand stand had been erected, there were stables and sheds for livestock and the mile long race track was one of a very few in the whole northwest, and the only one of its kind in Wisconsin. During the early years of 1900, the track attracted outstanding riders and horses from all over the country including the famous Dan Patch, with purses going as high as $1800 for the four days. There were stock exhibits, band concerts, midways with merry go round, ferris wheel and each year new rides were added, baseball games and a governors day when outstanding state and local politicians would take over the speakers platform. The Eau Claire County Fair continued until 1929 when many changes occurred and it was terminated.
The invention of the automobile created on the American scene a whole new picture of industries in the villages and small cities, including gas stations, tire repair shops, used car lots and service garages which not only sold the new cars but kept them running.
The history of one Augusta business, the Augusta Auto Company, has closely paralleled the history of the automobile. Started in 1915, it has operated continuously to the present day, selling, servicing and "keeping the cars running in Augusta". Alec McDonnell, the founder was active in the business until his death. G. H. Bramer associated with the company since its beginning is still its active head. Associated with him have been George McDonnell, R. O. Schroeder, and B. J. Johnson. The Augusta Auto Company has played a vital role in Augusta's history for 41 years.
The years leading up to the 1st World War were as elsewhere a period of unhurried, peaceful living with the usual number of changes occurring, and many new businesses being established.
One of the outstanding being the establishment of a new bank in 1914. Jacob Levy, who had been in the clothing store business for many years sold his building to a group of men including R. W. Bowen, W. O. Victory, W. E. Johnson, Allen Randall, Charles Livesey and Charles Newhouse who filed an application for a chart to start a new bank, which was established in 1914. The building was then remodelled into the Peoples State Bank which remained there until 1956 when the bank moved to its present new banking on the north side of Lincoln Street.
The post war period came to an end in April, 1917. Wartime economy was established, Red Cross work was done with countless sweaters being knitted, bandages being rolled, etc. As radio was still in its infancy rallies were held to urge people to buy savings bonds, and parades seeing the boys off to war and finally seeing them return was the order of the day.
In 1910 Dr. Earl B. Hewitt, a graduate veterinarian set up his office in Macomber's barn, as, with dairy farming coming into its own the need had arisen. He was followed by Dr. Harvey Horel, who was graduated from the Chicago Veterinarian School in 1911 and, after practicing for three years in Fall Creek, came to Augusta and remained until his death in 1955. His son, Dr. Jack Horel, who has been associated with him has continued his practice.
The "roaring twenties" were just that. Income and profits rose to new heights. Then came the panic of 1929. Augusta suffered along with the rest of the nation, and into the depression of the 1930s when letters in the alphabet played a big role in our way of life. There were the CCC Camps for young men who couldn't find work. One of these was Camp Globe located not far from our city.
The WPA projects, which have had a lasting influence on all our lives with funds and equipment furnished by the government to build such places as Memorial Field and to provide Lake Eau Claire, which was the largest project of its type completed in the State of Wisconsin under WPA. It was constructed as part of a county wide conservation movement and involved the damming of the Eau Claire River at the old "Main River Dam" site, six miles north of Augusta. The completed dam is 24 feet high, 251 feet long and Lake Eau Claire itself covers more than 1,225 acres. A clubhouse and picnic ground have been developed around the dam site, and the rest of the lake's shoreline has become very popular for summer and year around homes. The lake itself offers excellent musky, walleyed pike and pan fishing besides boating and swimming facilities. The dedication services were held on August 12th, 1937.
These were the years that school children had never heard of another President besides Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the words New Deal and NRA were coined. Too, we had a bank moratorium and went off the gold standard.
Since those days we have seen two more wars, and have sent out young men and women to both. We, too, have a cemetery which holds the remains of those killed in five wars and on Memorial Day in 1956 as has been done since shortly after the Civil War, we paid homage to our war dead as well as the other loved ones who have gone before us. Memorial Day in Augusta is a day to place flowers on the graves of our two well kept cemeteries, to watch the parade in which our Guard of Honor, our school children, band, Boy and Cub Scouts parade together with war veterans and auxiliaries in the march down Lincoln Street. Many years ago the "Fife and Drum Corps" was an interesting part of this parade. The Memorial words are spoken and the guns fired. Along with this are the greetings of old friends, the family gatherings and picnics (when it doesn't rain).
This ends this "History of Augusta in our Centennial Year of 1956". It was not meant from the very beginning to be a complete record of our city, as volumes have been left unsaid about all the people who have in the past and are at the present time contributing to the development of this area from the time it was the stamping grounds of the Chippewa Indians to the present small city on busy Highway 12. This is a cross section, hitting as many highlights as space, time and energy permits from the days of the Stones, Buckmans, Bills and Hacketts to the present, and looking around at the centennial beards on the faces of the gentlemen in our midst today, I'm wondering if we are not back to where we started.
Ione F. Herrell
Compiled by Mrs. Karl Peplau, Mrs. O. G. Moland, Mrs. E. M. Herrell
Advertisers within centennial booklet included:
Augusta Auto Company, 1915 - 1956
Anderson Funeral Home, 1954 - 1956
Authors Note: Ione F. Herrell was publisher and editor of the Augusta Wisconsin Union newspaper. Mrs E. M Herrell was his wife and English Teacher at the Augusta High School. Mrs Karl Peplau was wife of the Augusta Lawyer (and later Judge in Eau Claire County). Mrs. O.G. Moland was the wife of the Augusta Wisconsin Dentist.
Transcribed from the 1956 Centennial Booklet - no copyright owner known