Death of Emma Uihlein

The area around 5th, 6th & Galena was known as “Uihlein Hill” due to a number of Uihleins living in the area during the heyday of the Schlitz brewery. The Alfred Uihlein mansion sat at 1639 N. 5th St, and the home of Charles Uihlein and his wife Emma was at 609 W. Galena St.

This article tells about her death – the last of the Uihleins to live in this declining neighborhood. After her death, the city purchased the property and moved ahead with their redevelopment plans of the neighborhood.

Milwaukee Journal
August 20, 1946

Death Closes Cover on a Milwaukee Era

An era came to an end in Milwaukee Monday, an era which represented the Milwaukee that was truly half German. Mrs. Emma Uihlein died and the house on the hill is dark and silent.

Mrs. Uihlein lived for many years alone in the old brick home — alone except for the devoted housekeeper, Theresa Schmidt, who now cannot quite comprehend what has happened. Her mistress was 88 and she is – ach, let’s see once — well, maybe 72 and life is strange in the quiet house.

Miss Schmidt could not talk very much when the reporter called. All she could say was that her mistress was gone after being sick for “a long time already” and that she didn’t want to do much “speaking.” It will be very hard for the elderly spinster in the old home at 609 W. Galena st.

Charles Uihlein’s Widow

The determined old lady who now is gone was the widow of Charles Uihlein and mother of the late Oscar L. Uihlein, who headed the Uihlein Electric Co. here for 30 years. She died at Milwaukee hospital following a severe five week illness.

The old home in the city’s earlier years was one of a row of fashionable, ornate houses in the neighborhood that now has slipped into the worst blight of the city. It is in the southern corner of the sixth ward, where now the Negroes dwell in the ramshackle, tumble down houses that for years have mocked the old brick castle.

Mrs. Uihlein’s home was truly her castle. She would not leave it, come what might. She and the faithful Theresa held their ground behind the iron railing serving as fence and defied time to budge them. They shopped in the neighborhood – Theresa did most of it – and Mrs. Uihlein took long walks when her health was good.

Walks Remembered

Dwellers in the ward tell of watching the round old lady as she strolled in the warm afternoons around the neighborhood, looking with disapproving eye at what time was doing, but making no complaint. From the front veranda she could look across the street at the Philadelphia church. Back of her home, in the recent years, has been a firm of car movers.

The prospect was anything but beautiful, but nothing could have persuaded the old lady to surrender to the changing years. She kept her home in spotless order and dreamed of the days when the old home, was one of the best, and the finest people frequently dropped in for something from the cellar.

The home was built to be timeless. Its rich old woods would cause a twinge of envy to any antiquarian. A beautiful grandfather’s clock stands silent in the hallway. Portraits of the family stand in the living room, close to a lovely upright piano that may not have sounded music in a decade.

“Nein, nein.” Theresa Schmidt struggled to say Tuesday morning, “not much company we had for a long time.”

The housekeeper has lived in the home 45 years. She came from Germany as a “kleine maedchen” a long, long time ago. She worked in the Niedecken family five years, then was idle for a spell, but most of her life has been passed in the quietness of the hill.

Lower Their Voices

When they passed the old home, the Negro children were lowering their voices Tuesday, just as they have done for a long time. The old lady was thought of as patrician and her wishes were respected. The yard is as clean as any on Lake dr., even though the grass has trouble staying green under the protective trees.

Mrs. Uihlein is survived by Mrs. Oscar Uihlein of Grafton, another daughter-in-law, Mrs. Arthur C. Uihlein. of 2230 E. Bradford av.; a brother. Frank J. Kohn of Chicago; grand-daughter, Mrs. Kdward A. Banner of Grafton, and two great-granddaughters, Barbara Ann and Susan Banner.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday from the Weiss funeral home at 1901 N. Farwell av. Burial will be in Forest Home cemetery. The body will be at the funeral home from 1 p.m. Wednesday until the hour of the funeral.

Few of the old friends can call at the funeral home, to share in the hushed reminiscence. An era has passed and gone. Only the dauntless could have remained as long as the little old lady just gone.

Police Court Stories

Strange stories from the police blotter one hundred years ago.

Milwaukee Journal, August 12, 1912

Police Court News

Michael Tornic, 4104 Grand-av, arrested as the result of statements made by Mary Reonlaka, 15, in juvenile court, was found not guilty in district court, Monday.

Walter Austin, 45, was standing on Kinnickinnic-av, Sunday night, when a man passed, carrying three jugs of whiskey. The bearer of the jugs accosted Austin and the two sat down upon the sidewalk. “I am going to West Allis,” said the man with the whiskey. “Will you go with me?” “I’ll go anywhere with a man who has three jugs of whiskey,” declared Austin. The three empty jugs were used as evidence against Austin, Monday, when he was fined $5 and costs.

Neither Calvin Whittington nor William E. Hunt, who engaged in a fist fight in front of the Plankinton, Saturday night, while Miss Ruth Gwendolyn Shaw, said to be a Chicago heiress, acted as referee, appeared in the district court, Monday, when their names were called. Judge Neelen fined each $1.

For raising a disturbance and using profane language on a street car on Eighth-av and Mitchell-st, Sunday night, Joseph Klutz, 25, was fined $25 and costs Monday.

“Your wife must be a wonder.” Judge Neelen told James Heina, Chicago-rd, arraigned Monday for being drunk. “She must certainly be economical.” Heina said that he had a wife and six children and that he earns $60 per month. His wife said he kept the family well on that sum. “Because of your wife I’ll let you go.” the court told Heina. “Do your part by keeping away from whisky.”

Misericordia Hospital

I wanted to cross post this recent post from the old forums to here.

I recently came upon an old postcard, 1911 of the first Misericordia hospital. I’ll try and upload the image.

I found some info on the nuns that started it. This was originally the Bishops residence until he moved to the Pabst mansion. But it looks very much like it is several houses interconnected judging by the varying styles. Does anyone know if these were individual homes. The site is 22nd and Juneau. The hospital moved here in 1908.

Thanks in advance.


The Closing of TA Chapman’s

There was a question during Saturday’s presentation on Missing Milwaukee about the dates involved of the closing of TA Chapman’s downtown store at the intersection of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Ave. An article in the Milwaukee Sentinel from Thursday, January 22, 1981, detailed the final sale of all merchandise in the store.

By 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, there wasn’t much left in Downtown Chapman’s and the doors closed for the last time.

Like many of the unsold fixtures, many of the clerks and managers will be distributed to Chapman’s stores in the Northridge, Brookfield Square and Bay Shore malls.

The owners of Chapman’s are negotiating with the Milwaukee county Historical Society to see if historians can’t find a safe spot for T.A.’s fireplace and portrait.

A Sentinel article from September 26, 1984 talked about the opening of the now complete 411 Building. The article was entitled, “New Building Comes to Life With Fireworks, Party” and was in the Local News section.

The Wikipedia page for the T.A. Chapman Co., links to an article about the company finally going bankrupt in 1987, a few years after the downtown store was closed.

This should help to clarify some of the dates that I talked about.

The Loss of Haymarket Square

Last year I posted an article from 1880 talking about the many public squares that the city had in use. One which was lost due to urban renewal in the late 1960s was Haymarket Square at 5th & McKinley. The area is now mostly taken up by a large WE Energies substation and several vacant buildings. The dismantling of the Park East freeway on the other side of McKinley has left a large area waiting for development and improvement.

Questions have come up, especially at the recent Envisioning the Seen program sponsored by Historic Milwaukee, Inc., as what should be done to spur development of the Park East. I say we should bring back a public market square. This would be instantly used by residents at Hillside Terrace who have no grocery or market nearby and would help to promote mixed use development in the Park East. Markets elsewhere in the city are well used as a source for fresh, healthy and cheap vegetables.

Public parks and markets are places in the city which can turn vacant space into used space and provide something which can attract development. How many developers want to take a risk on a vacant area that has no life? An actively used public space will make adjacent lands that much more valuable and attractive.

Unfortunately after Richard Perrin made the decision in 1966 to squeeze the last of the activity out of the area with the urban renewal project, the seeds of development could never take root and today we are left with vacant buildings and deserted space.

Milwaukee Journal, October 26, 1966

Haymarket Square Draws No Opposition

The proposed Haymarket Sqaure urban renewal project was discussed at a one hour public hearing Tuesday. No objections were heard from the more than 70 persons present. Eleven persons said they favored the project.

The 60 acre, L-shaped area is bounded roughly by W. Walnut, N. 3rd, W. McKinley, N. 8th, W. Vliet and N. 6th. Nearly 21 acres will be cleared and 14.4 acres rehabilitated. Streets and alleys occupy the other acreage.

The city redevelopment authority hopes to remove all residential structures from the area making the land available for expansion of existing businesses and for new industry.

The authority is not expected to give its final approval to the plan until Nov. 10 because it must allow property owners 15 days from the hearing, or until Nov. 9, to file written objections. Final action then will be sought from the common council.

1968 Target Date

Richard W. E. Perrin, the authority’s secretary, said land acquisitions could begin by next January. By mid-1968, he said, it is possible that all land involved will have been acquired and cleared.

The entire $3,241,058 cost of the project will be borne by the city – making it the first such project in which no federal funds for renewal will be used. The city is expected to recoup about $1,600,000 from the resale of land to developers, placing the project’s net cost at $1,640,000.

According to a new survey, the city will have to relocate 60 families, 166 individuals, 55 businesses, and 7 institutions from the area. City planners had estimated earlier that the project would uproot 133 families and 75 individuals.

Beautification Urged

At the hearing Richard Bosely, owner of Graphic Studios, 1331 N. 3rd st., asked that the project be amended so that something could be done to beautify the east side of N. 3rd. Much of it consists of railroad lines and loading-unloading areas.

Calling the street the “front yard” of the project because it carries heavy traffic to and from the downtown area, Bosely suggested that a brick retaining wall with greenery on top be used to screen that side of the street.

John Budzien, representing Milwaukee Gowers, Inc., 519 W. McKinley av., urged the retention of the farmers’ market in the area. Its proposed removal, he said, would create an economic hardship for the firm.

History of the Wheel – 1893

This article served to provide the early history of bicycles in Milwaukee back to the first “ordinary” or high-wheel bike to the later “safety” which is similar to what we ride today.

Milwaukee Sentinel, May 21, 1893


How the Bicycle Made Its Appearance in Milwaukee

Brought Here in 186 by Harry L. Smith

Smith Was Visiting the Centennial at Philadelphia, and, Getting the Bicycle Fever, Invested in One Which Came Back With Him. In Point of Continuous Riding, Andrew A. Hathaway is the Pioneer Wheelman of the City, He Having Been At It Since 1879.

It is only seventeen years since the first bicycle made its appearance in this city and was gazed at with undisguised amazement by the startled natives, who hurried to their windows and crowded upon the sidewalks to get a look at the strange thing that sped noiselessly by. Within those seventeen years the bicycle has passed through a period of revolution and the wheel of to-day bears little resemblance to the one which first came within the limits of the city. That original cycle was one of the old-fashioned ordinaries with one big wheel, almost mountainous in its height, having an insignificant looking little trailer at the rear, which, though diminutive, was of great importance to the welfare of the rider. The bicycle of to-day is the safety, with two common sense wheels of about the same size, which answer all recreative and racing purposes without endangering the lives and limbs of the riders.

The first wheel to reach Milwaukee was brought here in 1876 by Harry L. Smith, son of Winfield Smith, who is now living in Chicago, where he is employed with the Wisconsin Central railway. In that year young Smith made a trip East, taking in the Centennial in Philadelphia, and, while there, the bicycles captured his fancy. He invested in one and brought it home with him, it being at that time a high grade wheel of the best pattern, but which is now obsolete. This was about the time that the bicycle began to take root in this country, after having obtained considerable popularity in England. It was introduced first in the East, whence it was rapidly pushed to the West.

The Underwood Boys Get Wheels.

The sight of Harry Smith pedaling around town on his ordinary in stately grandeur isntigated other young men to buy bicycles and the next Milwaukeeans to invest in them were Frank and Herbert Underwood. The number of riders, however, did not grow rapidly, the bicycle then being considered and expensive luxury, and during the next three years all riders in this city could be numbered on the fingers.

About the year 1879 the first bicycle craze struck the city and the number of riders increased very rapidly. It was in this year that Andrew A. Hathaway began riding a wheel. He has ridden ever since, adopting the styles and changes as they were made, and he still uses his machine regularly. In this respect he is the pioneer rider of the city, none of the young men who were contemporaneous with him at the start having stuck regularly to their wheels. Some of them have been a good many years during the interim that their feet have not touched a pedal.

In the latter part of the year 1879 L.M. Richardson established the first bicycle agency in Milwaukee, having his headquarters on Broadway between Wisconsin street and Grand avenue. He was a hustler and by pushing his business induced a good many men to ride who probably would not otherwise have done so. Other riders appeared upon the scene about this time and a year later their number had grown to such an extent that the question of organization was agitated and resulted in the formation of the Milwaukee Bicycle Club. Its first officers were Andrew A. Hathaway, president, and Albert Jones, secretary and treasurer. Its organizers and original members were Angus Hibbard, Harry Haskins, A.W. Friese, D.G. Rogers, Jr. H.W. Rogers, C.H. Moses, Frank Stark, Arthur Young, Harry and Will Weller, William Mariner, Fred Pierce, Harry C. Reed, S.H. Marshall and several others. Within a short while after this the list of riders was swelled by the additions of Francis Bloodgood, Jr., H.O. Frank, Charles Wood, Jr., and the following named riders who have used the wheel ever since and still stick to it: Thomas R. Mercein, W.L. Simonds, Frank A. Hall, Henry P. Andrae, and Frank Morawetz. Many of those named continued to ride until the ordinary was pushed into the background to make room for the safety, which they refused to take kindly to, and they are now classed among the old timers who have stopped riding. Among those who have accepted the safety and who find pleasure and profit in taking daily spins upon it are Henry P. Andrae, A.W. Friese, Thomas R. Mercein, Andrew Hathaway, Frank Morawetz, and W.L. Simonds.

All Riders In The Club.

At the time of the organization of the Milwaukee Bicycle club its memebrship included all riders of the city, the number of which had reached sixty-five in the year 1881. The club made regular tours into the country every Saturday, the favorite destinations being Lakeside and other lake resorts in Waukesha county, where bicycle hops would be held in the evening. They paid little attention to races, but devoted much of the time to runs into the country, some of which were participated in by riders from other cities in this section. This was in the day of the high wheel and small tire, when touring was attended with a great deal more inconvenience and liability to accident than now, but the element of danger was itself an attraction to the riders. The club continued until 1883, when it disbanded, owing to the bad streets and roads. The season was an exceptionally bad one on the country roads, which were literally trails of mud and the streets in the city had been allowed to get into such bad condition that it was impossible to ride over them. In the following year some of the men who had been members of the old club got together and organized the Milwaukee Wheelmen which has flourished ever since and which now has over 300 members. The first road races of the Milwaukee Wheelmen were run over Wauwatosa course, which was retained for the annual event until the Waukesha course was selected.

Spanish Swindlers

The emails you get from Nigerian bureaucrats asking you to help them launder a couple million dollars for a cut of the pie are nothing new. These 419 scams have been going on long before email was around. A hundred years ago the Spaniards were adept at sending letters to hapless victims here in the US and were sometimes successful as this article suggests.

Milwaukee Sentinel, January 11, 1906


Wisconsin People Being Victimized by Story of Heritage to Fortune

Information has been placed in the hands of officials of the state and postoffice departments here that persons in Wisconsin have been victims of Spanish adventurers who are operating the old scheme of getting money out of the gullible, who are informed that they are the heirs to fortunes left by Spanish branches of their families, of whose existence they never dreamed, and who in reality never existed. The Spanish fortune scheme has been operated in the United States for twenty-five years. This government has made the matter a subject of diplomatic exchanges with Spain on several occasions and Spain has gone to extremes to break up the gang responsible for these outrages perpetrated on American citizens. A number of cases of the kind arising in Wisconsin have been brought to the attention of the authorities here and members of the state delegation. Inspectors of the postoffice department have been put on the trail and already it is understood their work has been productive of results.

The game practiced upon a Wisconsin man of some prominence, whose name is withheld, shows how the scheme is operated. The man in question received a letter some months ago, presumably from a relative with a Spanish name, stating that he was on his deathbed, and that he desired to apprise his kinsman of the fact that he had considerable property in Spain. The letter went on to say that the dying man had a daughter in Madrid, a student in a convent there, and that the daughter and the Wisconsin man were the sole heirs. Later the gullible gentleman in Wisconsin learned of the death of the mythical kinsman and was told that all of the papers substantiating his claim, together with the will of deceased, were in a trunk in a hotel in London and that to secure their release and a settlement of the claim in the Spanish courts he would have to forward $600. The Badger lost no time. He was in a hurry to get the fortune. A few days later he awoke and, after telegraphic correspondence with Washington, learned that he had been “buncoed.” The wires were again set in motion and the registered letter carrying the real money of the Wisconsin man was intercepted, and the sender will receive it back as soon as the red tape of the department necessary in such cases is unraveled.

Milwaukee’s Architectural Beauty

From a Milwaukee Sentinel article on May 29, 1921:


Builders Have Demonstrated That Practicability Is no Bar to Aesthetics.

By Ruth Robert.

As a man is known by the company he keeps so is a city judged by the architecture of its public buildings. No one thing in the makeup of a community goes so far in determining whether it shall be listed among the beautiful places of the world or condemned as a dumping ground of smoke stacks and brick walls.

Architecture, it has been said, is the “mother of the arts.” If that is so then Milwaukee can justly be named one of her offspring — a City Beautiful — for here may be found scores of examples of good architecture which have earned fame, for the city and the architects who created them.

Milwaukee architects have not confined themselves to beaten paths. Examples of classical works vie with Gothic spires and early English, while noteworthy structures in Italian and French Renaissance and strictly modern ideas abound.

Architecture has not yet become a subject of popular interest, nevertheless, it offers itself as a fascinating pursuit not only to the professional but to the layman. Much might be found in the buildings of this city which would be of more than passing interest to the general public if they could readily discriminate between examples which architecturally are correct and those others which are, to say the least, commonplace. Unfortunately, however, in the study of architecture by the layman, the range of interest usually is limited and a truly critical faculty checked by either a lack of appreciation for the beautiful or the absence of a proper education.

Following the development of architecture through the years, one will detect a new element grafted on to the old, a new treatment or combination of old forms and styles dependent on the needs and fancies of the ever changing period. It is not the intention here to wander off into a history of architecture, but to introduce properly the reason for selecting a few of the many examples of good architecture in Milwaukee.

One of the most familiar buildings is the public library and museum to which Milwaukee may well point with pride. The design is Italian Renaissance, the Corinthian order being used. A noteworthy feature of the design is the perfectly balanced treatment of the front and the emphasis given to the main entrance by means of the free standing columns above with the second story walls recessed in the form of a loggia. There is a feeling of solidity in the rusticated first story which provided support for the lighter appearing superstructure, exemplifying the greatest element of architecture – Truth. An examination of the enrichment, details, etc., will reveal the architect’s painstaking study of the ornamentation. The Dome has been kept low in order to harmonize with the whole design of the front where the horizontal effect appears to dominate.

The Northwestern National Fire Insurance company’s building on the corner of Jackson and Wisconsin streets is one of the best examples of modern French Renaissance in the city. The design is reminiscent of that used for the Grand Palais of the Exposition Universelle, Paris. The arrangement of the columns in pairs is successful and mention might be made of the beautiful iron railings in front of the first story windows. Clean cut mouldings with heavy shadow lines add to the boldness of the design.

The Marshall & Ilsley bank, on East Water street, is a truthful adaptation of the Grecian Ionic style, employing much of the order of the Erechtheion at Athens. The large scale and the severity of the front seems to bespeak dignity, while the refinement of Grecian details is to be seen in the delicacy of the mouldings.

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance building is an imposing classical design based on the Corinthian order, the scale of the order demanding an individual setting such as this building possesses. It would seem many architects agree that the corner pilasters should have been doubled or that the facades would be improved by heavier treatment of the corners. Apart from this and the somewhat ponderous attic portion above the main cornice, the design is excellent. Note may be made of the green terra cotta panels used on the front emphasizing the colonnade.

St. John’s cathedral, one of the older churches in the city, in character of design is expressive of the purpose for which the building is intended. The tower, rebuilt many years after the main body of the church, has been made the predominating feature of the entire design. The tower may be considered one of the real gems of architecture in the city. The beautiful outline and proportion and the delicate and refined motive employed in its design stamp it as a lasting example of the best in Renaissance architecture. The feeling is Italian with a semblance of some of the methods used by Wren in his London city churches. It suggests a Romanesque influence.

St. James’ church, Grand avenue, also of the old school, is of early English Gothic design, well proportioned with a well detailed main entrance. There is charm in the general outline of the front, and the tower is capped with a well bundled Broach spire.

Church of the Redeemer, Nineteenth street and Grand avenue, is one of the newer churches in the city. Though the building may appear severe to the layman, it shows what may be accomplished in the judicial use of comparatively inexpensive materials, the whole design depends entirely upon the correct disposition of simple masses and the use of plain surfaces devoid of unnecessary ornament. Vertical lines predominate, and the facade builds up gradually to a high peaked gable. The great arch of the front window, limited by buttress-like pylons, still further emphasizes the vertical lines of the front. The architect relied entirely on quiet dignity and simplicity rather than the overdressed ornamental design which many architects seem to imagine is synonymous with good church architecture.

The residence of Archbishop Messmer, 2000 Grand avenue, one of the older residences, is a fine example of German Renaissance (Hanseatic school). The front is well balanced, with fanciful gables providing an interesting outline. The main porch is beautifully detailed, elaborated consistently with this style. The private chapel to the east, though of a slightly different feeling, is good, excellent in detail and cleverly designed.

The Grant Fitch residence, 55 Prospect avenue, is one of the best domestic examples of colonial architecture to be seen here. It has an aura of aristocratic dignity, a very well proportioned portico and expresses a sympathetic handling of refined details.

The Gallun residence, 108 Prospect avenue, is a good example of English domestic architecture of the Tudor period. The plan of the house permits of an interesting arrangement of the elevation. The beautiful colors of the stonework and the ruggedness of the graded slate roof adds to the charm of its appearance. Leaded glass set in metal casements further enhances the English feeling of the design. It seems that a house of this magnitude would show off to better advantage on a larger piece of property than that on which it stands.

The University club has a good colonial facade except for the fact that the unfortunate location of the entrance destroys an otherwise pleasing, symmetrical and well balanced arrangement. Ionic columns have been used for the entrance which in itself is quite good, spoiled only by its location to one side of the main axis. Interest is added to the front by the balcony at the second story level.

In closing, a word might be said of the Gargoyle restaurant as it appeared before its present remodeling. It was then a beautiful example of the use of English domestic architecture as applied to small commercial buildings.

Though small, it attracted the eye because of its unique design, charming and quaint with such features as its grotesques, and exceptionally good oriel bay window. Its irregular treatment served only to emphasize the picturesque quality.

Monday Bergh Statue

Today due to time constraints we will have a Monday without a mystery! Instead here is a view of City Hall back when the Bergh statue stood in front. Enjoy!

Two Firsts

Probably nothing new here to some, but when I came across this looking for something else (isn’t that how a good amount of old information is found?) I could not pass it up without sharing.

Milwaukee Sentinel August 6, 1870

The first tavern kept in Milwaukee was opened in 1835 by Mr. Jacques Vieau, father-in-law of Solomon Juneau, in a small building on East Water street, about opposite the present location of Lansing Bunnells’ establishment. The building was afterwards known as the Cottage Inn, and formed a portion of the new tavern which was erected in 1843 and burned down in the conflagration of 1845.

The first public house of importance built in this city was the Milwaukee House, which was commenced in 1835 and finished in 1837. It was erected by Messrs. Juneau and Martin, and occupied the present site of the Young Men’s Association building. The main building was subsequently removed to the northeast corner of Huron and Broadway, where it was destroyed by fire. A wing of the original building is yet in existence, serving as a carriage works for Meincke, corner of Main and Detroit. It was for a long time known as the Keystone State Hotel, and was quite popular under the landlordship of the late Andrew J. McCormick.

Dennis Pajot