Do You Remember?


This is another article in the series written by Frederic Heath in the Milwaukee Leader newspaper during 1920-1921.


The map below shows a red dot from where the photo was taken, looking north across the river. To the left of the dot is the original Reed Street Union Depot. Some of the street names have obviously been changed: Reed Street is South 2nd Street, Lake Street is Pittsburgh Avenue

The Milwaukee Leader – June 1, 1920

Do You Remember?

By Frederic Heath

Thanks to an early day fire we have the accompanying view of the old Axtell house and the old Walker’s Point wooden bridge. The fire gutted the buildings west of the old hotel and even caught on the hotel cornice, but damaged it but slightly. It was quite the habit for photographers to get to work in those days when there had been a fire, hence the picture.

The hotel center of Milwaukee has moved about a good deal since the earliest days. When the few who visited the town came over the trails the hotels were confined principally to the east and west sides: that is, there was the original Cottage Inn on East Water St., the Bellevue house, at Broadway and Wisconsin Sts., and the Cabbage Hollow house on the east side, all situated close by the end of the Sauk Trail, and the American House, formerly Tavern, over in Kilbourntown.

When steamers and schooners began to bring settlers and merchandise, and finally when piers were run out in the lake to save transferring the cargoes and passengers to little tow boats, Huron St. was the big street and the east side had the hotel monopoly. This died away when the railroads came in – or were “built out” from Milwaukee – and the depots were located principally on the south side. The histories of the day refer to the Axtell house as the “favorite hotel with the traveling public” and there were numerous other south side establishments.

The Axtell was built in 1860 and was enlarged in 1872. It was built by William Axtell. He had been the manager of the Clinton house, then the big south side hotel, and later went to California for his health. On returning, he joined with Richard B. Ricketson in conducting the Cream City house at Ferry and South Water Sts. Meantime he erected the Axtell Blk., diagonally across the corner, and when the Cream City was unable to accommodate its entire patronage he turned the new block into a hotel. The Cream City afterward became the Ricketson house.

When the union depot was relocated on the west side, the south side hotels withered up like mushrooms, and today there is hardly a vestage left. The row of small hotels across from the old depot on Reed St. have been wiped out of existence and replaced by cold storage and agricultural implement buildings. The life and bustle of Reed St. is gone. The old Lake house on Lake St., is no more and the old Metropolitan on Hanover and Florida Sts., was long ago turned into a railway men’s YMCA.

The Cabbage Hollow house referred to was as unpretentious as it was early. Cabbage Hollow was, as its name implies, not a gully. It was a gentle depression that deepened as it approached the river and reached level ground at about the middle of Jefferson St., between Biddle and Martin. The origin of its name would appear to be obvious.

Prospect Avenue Mansions Lecture

March 27, 2014
Charles Allis Art Museum
1801 North Prospect Ave

A look at the magnificent mansions of Milwaukee’s Prospect Avenue and the stories they tell. Rare historical photographs presented by Pabst Mansion Senior Historian, John Eastberg, with lively discussion that is sure to follow. Hosted by the Charles Allis Art Museum, one of the great Prospect Avenue mansions. Advance tickets only, $15 per person.


Pabst Blue Ribbon Ad 1914

In the early 20th century advertisers tried to make Pabst seem as glamorous as possible by using beautiful women gently hoisting a stein. It’s a long way from current ad campaigns branding it as the beer for tattooed hipsters. What makes it interesting is that this is about the time when Prohibitionists were out in force working on the demise of all alcohol. The brewery industry needed to portray a gentle, upper-class view of beer to offset the base degradation usually painted by the Prohibitionists.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel, January 1, 1914.


Recently Discovered Blogs

There a always a few good blogs on Milwaukee history that pop up every now and then. Some, unfortunately stay active for awhile and then become inactive but there are some which manage to keep going. Oldmilwaukee has managed to stay active since 2007 with only a few periods of darkness.

These are some which I have found recently and thought I’d share them with my readers.

The Milwaukee Polonia Project has been going strong since 2011 and although it deals primarily with Polish geneology, it has many historical articles that shed light on the difficulties of pioneer Poles.

Milwaukee Mafia History has been going for the past few years and tells many interesting stories about the mob in Milwaukee. Daniel Bridger has many interesting experiences to tell and this site is worth reading.

Mid Century Modern is a blog for architectural buffs and I think it is still active. It deals with modern architects and their works in the Milwaukee area.

Milwaukee’s Lost Boulevards is an interesting website that shows a history of something many people haven’t realized that we have lost. Up until recent budget cuts have hit Milwaukee’s city departments hard, boulevards were centers of beauty with large raised bed flower gardens. Most of these have been lost although a few, planted mostly with perennials remain. Looking at the Past and Present section makes readers yearn for the lost beauty.

Hustle Bikers 1947

Motorcycle rallies have been going on for probably as long as there have been motorcycles. This article from 1947 seems to typify a tradition that has since grown ever more popular.

Even back then women were very active and there were quite a few profiled in this story. One woman from Racine shown in the picture was Phyllis Nelson who can be seen with her jacket emblazoned with the Motor Maids of America logo, a group which was founded a dozen or so years earlier.

Milwaukee Journal, July 6, 1947

Hustle Bikers


An unusual “bird” is the motorcyclist. The common species of handlebar jockey travels in packs, dresses alike and is an extrovert. His is a cult that thrives on speed and noise and doesn’t give a hang who knows they’re having a wonderful time.

These gregarious folks of the high speed bikes like nothing better than an outing. Every Sunday and holiday they are on the road, heading for fun in “follow the leader” order. Usually the trip ends in a field or at a hill where impromptu races and climbs are staged. Occasionally there is a bigger event, such as the gypsy tour and rally held recently at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. These pictures were made there. The outing lasted two days and hundreds of cyclists roared in for the fun. The program opened with contests, switched to a dance at night time, a Door county tour the next morning and a windup race meeting.

Now being a hustle biker calls for more than the ability to handle the machine.You have to know the language and the hangouts and enjoy both. Besides, you must acquire a wardrobe. Look to the left and see Phyllis (Butch) Nelson of Racine, who rides her own motorcycle. She displays the riding outfits she brought to the rally. they pack into the two small cases before her which are strapped to the carrier of her cycle. Her rain suit, cosmetics and other accessories are carried in the saddle bag all cyclists have on their machines. One reason for the many changes is indicated by the muddy outfit Butch holds. the dirt was acquired on the ride from Racine to Sturgeon Bay.




Pictured here is John E. Harley, the son of the one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, William Harley.

Oswald Jaeger Bakery

A year and a half ago, there was a short article on the Razed in Milwaukee blog about the Oswald Jaeger Bakery buildings which still exist hidden away on 9th & Somers. Megan Daniels gives a great history of the bakery and buildings on the blog. The following picture from the collection shows a view of the bakery from the late 1920s. Interestingly, the same buildings are shown in the modern view, albeit not completely whitewashed.



Milwaukee’s Gilded Age

Milwaukee has had a long history of political struggle between various groups of haves and have nots. Opposing groups have always had battles to fight, some bloody and others simply fought in the voting booths. There have been periods of peace but overall those have been few. Historian Greg Afinoguenov, wrote this paper a few years ago dissecting and analyzing the city’s political history in a nutshell. It is an interesting read and gives a fresh perspective on some issues we still wrestle with.

Milwaukee’s Gilded Age and Aftermath


The Deadly Saloon of 1905

Reading this piece of journalism from 1905 at face value gives a grim view of vice in Milwaukee. Looking back at the view the writer paints from today’s more permissive perspective makes his picture seem misrepresented. Some of the things “seen” at the saloon are obvious urban legends and symbols instead of real eye-witness accounts. It’s hard to believe anyone would seriously think children’s marbles would lead to a life of gambling or that coin-operated player pianos playing rag-time music were emblematic of the road to sin. The article continues to use almost every logical fallacy that exists in its argument to sway the reader.

Vice and crime had been a well-known part of downtown and the near south side for many decades prior to this. Areas of the fifth ward were written of as a “tenderloin district” in late 19th century news articles where even police would never go alone.

There are a few interesting things in the article that may need some explanation. The mention of the “arc light” refers to a short period after gas street lights were being replaced by electric lights. One experimental light source that was being tried around the country was the “arc light”. Milwaukee installed a few of these downtown and they were hung above the middle of an intersection by wires. The light was very bright, almost as strong as daylight. The down side was that the carbon filaments would have to be changed often. Once incandescent lights became more available and bright enough, they swiftly replaced arc lights.

The streets mentioned at the beginning of the article may be unfamiliar to some. Johnson Street is now East Highland Avenue and Oneida Street is now East Wells Street. Today’s popular Water Street bar area is a direct descendent of the old red light district.

The quote,”Milwaukeeans reluctantly accept the word of their worthy executive when he assures them that the district must be preserved to decrease crime,” refers to Mayor David Rose, whom some may have heard was soft on the enforcement of the red light district. Interestingly, his ideas had some merit. The push for national Prohibition many years later and strong enforcement of those laws through the 1920s ended up creating a huge organized crime network which caused many problems in Milwaukee and around the country.

The article below is from the Milwaukee Free Press of February 19, 1905.


It lies almost in the shadow of the city hall, within whose stately home walls sit men sworn to enforce the laws of the municipality, and others whose duty it is to dispense justice in accordance with the laws.

It is repugnant to many, this “Red Light” district, so called, with this whispered but unwritten stories of vice and of numberless men and women ruined through its influence. But the objection is of a passive sort. Milwaukeeans reluctantly accept the word of their worthy executive when he assures them that the district must be preserved to decrease crime.

For whatever reason it is allowed to exist, or encouraged to remain, the fact is indisputable that it is there. Its limits are not absolutely fixed, but in a general way it extends along the east river shore from Oneida street to Knapp street, on intersecting streets to East Water street, and in some instances Market street, and on East Water street from the city hall to Johnson street.

The outsides of its temples are there for the inspection of all. Children on their way to school look wonderingly at them. Mothers hurry past, amazed at the city’s shame. School boys, old enough to realize the conditions to some extent, smile knowingly at each other in secret. Half frightened at the thought, they plan to know more of the secrets within the walls when they are older.

As the first false step of the future gambler is often the simple game of marbles “for keeps,” so the comparatively innocent saloons on the outskirts of this district offer the first attraction to the curious youth of the city.

A cold winter night. The wind sweeps down the almost empty street. The arc lights send their bluish radiance to the pavement below, and it glints along the ice bordered car tracks. The creak and crackle of the trodden snow on the sidewalk beneath the feet of the lonely patrolman on his beat, tells as well as a thermometer of the bitter, biting cold.

At frequent intervals along the street, shafts of yellow light shoot out from half-curtained windows. From the bar rooms beyond the protecting glass, come sounds of music and maudlin laughter. Occasionally is heard the noise of voices raised in anger and then a loud commanding ejaculation that causes the arguments to cease.

It is in these places that men not unknown to the social and business world stand elbow to elbow with gamblers and others who have spent weary weeks in jail and prison; here, also beardless boys assume an air of wisdom to discuss the latest news of track and ring – with red eyed, bloated beings sunk deep in the dragging mire of dissipation.

Across the room from the polished bar and artistically adorned mirror with its border of sparkling glasses, back of the tables at which men talk in low voices or nod it drowsily over a half filled glass, is a piano with slot machine attachment. A nickel dropped within the opening will cause it to disgorge a stream of lively “rag time.”

White coated bartenders hurry from one group to another with the dripping trays. They smile appreciatively as a man announces that he has won the dice game and his companion must buy the drinks. Occasionally, in answer to the buzzing call from the annunciator near the huge refrigerator, one hurries behind through the swinging doors at the rear of the room.

Beyond them lies the leather seated stalls and wine rooms. They may be reached from the streets by the “Ladies’ Entrance.” Both sexes may gather here without causing comment. It is the primary evil that supplies victims for that inner section of the “Red Light” district where morality is forgotten and degradation and degeneracy in its worst sense, holds sway.

Within the confines of these wine rooms may be studied the story of the downfall of women and the degradation of men in every stage. The innocent and tempted girl, the reckless boy, the abandoned woman – all are there.

Merry voices are heard outside the street door. There is a momentary hush, and then it swings open to admit a party of four people. They are two modest appearing girls clinging to the arms of their escorts. The men are well dressed. Their companions might have been students or clerks.

Looking about, startled, they hesitate again. Then, with downcast eyes, they hasten into the protection of a curtained booth. In response to the waiter’s query, they laugh in an embarrassed manner, communicate with their eyes, and order beer.

“You had better try a cocktail,” says one of the men with a smile. “They will do you good after the cold weather outside. Bring us four Manhattans,” he concludes, turning to the man with the tray.

Even as they talk, there comes a sound of a maudlin feminine chuckle from the next stall. Within its confines a boy, anxious to prove himself a “good fellow” had taken a chance acquaintance and bought her drinks. Unfortunately for him, she was more accustomed to them than the purchaser. He now lay back in his chair, his head lolling against the wall behind him, and the labored but regular breathing showed him unconscious from the sleep of intoxication. As he sat there, his companion leaned across the table and reached in his pocket. Pulling out a handful of bills, constituting his month’s salary, she removed three or four and place them inside her waist. The remainder were returned.

The work done, she looks again at the unconscious figure and laughs. Then she spreads the curtains and steps out, leaving him to sleep until employees come to order him out. To the street she goes in search of another victim.

In a large room, more secluded than the little stalls, there sit a party of women. Their gaudy furs and wide-plumed hats are tossed aside and there are disclosed the painted faces, blackened eyebrows and bleached hair that so often marks the members of their trade.

“Send in some good fellows,” one remarks to the waiter, as she slips over a generous tip in addition to the price of the four drinks before them. “Pick out somebody that looks as if they have the money to burn and wanted to get an assistant fireman.”

The white coated man grins.

“Alright sis,” he remarks. “There’s three lovely ones out here. They are home from some boarding school and I guess they just got their next installment to carry them through the spring term from the way they act. If they are satisfactory, I will come in later and take a drink on you.”

Suiting the action to his words, he soon returns with the group from the bar room. They enter the wine room. The door is closed, and another incident of the evening has begun to be enacted.

The sound of carriage wheels is heard on the pavement. They come to a stop. Two figures emerge and hurry to the dark doorway. One is a typical sport. His small shifty eyes are set in a face not unhandsome; his evening clothes are immaculate; his conversation is that of one accustomed to talking. His companion is a woman who is known as a prominent figure in a middle-class social set. Her husband is not the man at her side.

Muffled in furs, her face is barely discernible. As the couple enters the building and proceeds to the half-concealed table, an intimate friend might have passed her and not recognized her. She is one of those females of the Jekyl and Hyde class, who may be seen in every city. Fortunately for society, they are not frequent in this.

Through the early hours of the morning they sat talking in low whispers. Occasionally the arrival of another drink disturbs the talk, but it is resumed again. This subject is not to be learned by outsiders. Then, as quietly as they came, they hurry out of the door, resume their places in the carriage and are driven rapidly away.

Many and varied are the saloons in this “Red Light” district.

Here may be seen the Bohemian “bier stube,” with its female bartender and quaint musicians dispensing harmony from instruments still more quaint. Yonder is a negro hang-out, where the casual visitor is greeted something after this fashion: “Beer? Yes sir. Ever shoot craps? Or play poker? There’s a good, square game in the back room there. Better take a chance. Nothing risked, nothing won. Shoot a dime, shoot a quarter, take a stack of chips – any way to double your money. Be game. Take a chance. No? Well come again, sir.”

Interspersed with these resorts whose character forbids even a cursory descriptions are the immoral saloons of still lower class class with their upper rooms in which men are lured by gaudy, painted creatures who barter their very souls for the gold that is later spent in riotous celebration. Here are women who perhaps, are engaged in respectable occupations for a portion of the day, and who spend their nights in occupations that lead them to forget their church, friends, family – all.

This blot on Milwaukee’s map is not large in its area. But in every paving stone, on every sidewalk flagging, on every doorstep is written the history of bodies weakened and destroyed, of minds undermined and ruined, or souls degenerated and lost.

Necessary? Aye, it may be. But to those who advocate the theory, let the question be put of the manner in which they would accept the news of the presence there of sister, brother, son, or wife.

Unavoidable? Perhaps. But why should the cost be paid in the souls and bodies and lives of others’ families instead of the families of those who argue that mankind’s weaknesses should be accepted “reasonably,” instead of being overcome and prevented?

The night wanes. The hands of the great clock in the lofty tower have swung around the dial and the five booming strokes of the melodious bell mark the approach of sunrise.

Down the snow-covered walks men stagger, singly or in groups. Cab drivers query passers-by in the hope of a final “fare.” Two women walk with uncertain gait toward their homes. Their escorts have deserted them. Physical weariness, aching heads, mental disgust – these alone are left to remind them of the night of “pleasure.”

In the bar rooms, the cash is counted carefully and the rolls of bills and glittering heaps of silver show the tribute of Milwaukee to the great god of Bacchus – in his temples in the “Red Light” district.

Police Horse Squad Retired – September 18, 1936

Although police horses have been put back into service since 1996, there was a long period of time when they were removed from service. That happened in 1936 as this Milwaukee Journal article tells. The horse patrols actually managed to survive another 12 years after a referendum allowed them to stay. See the Milwaukee Police Mounted Patrol website for more pictures, including a better one of the picture shown in the newspaper below.

Milwaukee Journal, September 18, 1936

Attachments built up between Milwaukee’s mounted police officers and their mounts — Tom, Buster, Jerry, Lucky, Buddy and Jerry — were broken Friday by the sudden order discontinuing mounted police.

The hordes went back to their stables at 1226 N. Fourth st. and the officers, Warren Fidlin, William Huebner, George Williams, Domonic Ozzello, Elmer Fischer, Joseph Botton and Clement Stapleford, went back to traffic duty on foot.

The change was so sudden that the officers couldn’t say a word. They wouldn’t have said anything anyway, under the rules of discipline. But the order brought pangs in parting with their dumb friends.

Public Loses Friends

To hundreds of persons who pass through the busy downtown district the absence of the police horses will mean the loss of friends. Folks used to stop to pat the horses and feed them a lump of sugar or a carrot.

What other kind of work the horses could do is a problem, for they are more at home among clanking street cars, rumbling trucks, busy automobile traffic and hurrying crowds than in a field of green grass.

The intelligence and devotion of the horses have been a source of never ending wonder to downtown crowds. When an officer dismounted to make an arrest or do some other bit of routine police work the horse would stand quietly at the curb. In the years they have been on the streets only one black mark has been written against the six.

One horse bit a boy, according to a complaint now before the courts.

Bud, 14, oldest horse of the six, once gave an example of devotion to duty. Williams, the rider, was riding west on Wisconsin av. at noon and the horse was headed for his noonday oats. At the Plankinton building there was a cry about a pickpocket and Williams hurried into the building. He came back to the curb half an hour later, expecting that the horse had followed tht routine lunch time trip, but there stood Bud, patiently waiting.

Buster, Huebner’s mount, is a strictly “one-man” horse. He was slow to make friends and stood indifferent as persons stopped to pat him. When an old friend would approach from Commission Row with a tasty carrot or bite of apple his ears quickly stood up in recognition. Buster had a sweet tooth, too. There was a candy factory on bis beat and when he got hungry he would saunter in that direction as a hint to Huebner.

One a Prankster

Tom, an 11-year-old, was the mischievous fellow of the lot. Once he reached over and took a parcel in his mouth from a woman shopper. He lifted his head out of reach and seemed to enjoy teasing the woman. When Fidlin scolded him he gave the package back with hasty meekness.

Jerry was the beggar. If a person approached he would scent a lump of sugar or piece of candy and gently nudge the prospective giver. He frequently lifted his front foot as if to shake hands.


Milwaukee’s First All-Black Baseball Team

I imagine we have all done it. Found a tantalizing tidbit on a subject and decided to research it further. It sounds so exciting and newsworthy. Just find what there is to be found and put it into an article. Heck, maybe even a short book. There will be so much of interest. The big problem will be what to use and what to discard. The research starts for real. And then……almost nothing on the subject everywhere you look. You have to word spin just to get to the middle of page two.

While not quite as bad as that, my project on Milwaukee’s first Black baseball organizer and star player–Napoleon Broady and his Milwaukee Reds–yielded some information, but left what I suspect is a lot of baseball unreported and probably lost to time.

The Reds (originally named Red Stockings) were first organized in May 1890, consisting of "the culinary and bell hopping department of the Plankinton House”*, a large hotel on West Wisconsin Avenue at North 2nd Street. All the athletes looking for spots were "colored." The players chosen for the squad were:

Billy Johnson — 1b
Ben Underwood–2b
Napoleon Broady-3b
Spencer Butler-ss
Bill Lyons-rf
F.J. Chapman-cf
Bud Demly-lf
Randall Philips-c
Burt Hutchinson-p

The players held a meeting on May 7 and decided they were prepared to meet any amateur club in the city. "In order that no suspicions of partiality in umpiring should be raised”, the Reds decided to employ a man from another hotel as their umpire–"Jake", the Kirby House [on East Mason and North Water Streets] supernumerary. Challenges were to be addressed to James Blaine, superintendent of the bootblacking department of the Kirby House.

[* = The report the players consisted of "the culinary and bell hopping department of the Plankinton House" can be questioned. As will be seen below, Napoleon Broady worked at the Kirby house. Strangely, challenges were to be sent to James Blaine, who was a superintendent at the Kirby House. Others, Hutchinson and Phillips for example, never appear in City of Milwaukee directories I checked in the early to mid-1890s.]

The Plankinton House Reds first game was played a few days after their meeting. At Athletic Park, 7th and Chambers, home of the Western Association Brewers, the Reds beat the Lime Kiln Club—the only other Black baseball team organized in the city—by a score of 4 to 2. I could find no further information on the Lime Kilns before or after this game.

The Reds next game was on Sunday, June 8, again at Athletic Park. This game was against the Milwaukee Blues, a white team. It was reported the Reds had not had enough practice to get in "good trim" but would make things interesting for the Blues. The Reds and Blues both must have made the game interesting, the Reds winning 25 to 21. I could find no reports of any other games the Reds were to play during 1890.

Again in 1891 nothing could be found about the Milwaukee Reds baseball team. However, it was reported the following year the team won a number of victories in 1891, principally out of the state.

In 1892 the team emerged again. On June 2 the Milwaukee Journal announced the Plankinton House Nine had been organized as follows:

Nap Broady-captain and 3b

It was stated all communications should be addressed to Napoleon Broady, Kirby House.

The first game I could find in 1892 played by the Milwaukee Reds was against South Milwaukee on June 25. In that southern suburb of Milwaukee’s park, the Reds lost 4 to 2, in what was said to be a "close and exciting struggle." The teams met again a week later at Athletic Park, the South Milwaukees beating the Reds badly, 25 to 5.

In July the first game involving two teams of all-Black players was scheduled for Athletic Park. The Reds were to take on the Boston Dips, captained by Randall Phillips. Although sounding as if they were from the Massachusetts city, the Dips were from Milwaukee. It was reported a bitter rivalry existed between the teams, and the Milwaukee Sentinel stated "a wad of money as big as a pillow will be wagered before the game comes off." As can be seen above, pitcher Phillips was on the 1890 Reds with Broady, as was the Dips’ catcher, Burt Hutchinson. Both these players had played for the famous Gordons of Chicago. However, all the players of both nines could "play ball in dead earnest.”

I could only find the two games between the Reds and the South Milwaukee club mentioned above having been played by either the Reds or Dips in 1892. How many unreported games were played I can not guess, as the July 24 Sentinel stated "both clubs are fully uniformed and have been playing winning ball this season." However, in the same article the Sentinel reported this season the Reds had played only a few games, the best being the first of the South Milwaukee contests.

A few days before the game betting was said to be even on the teams, and demand for tickets was high. It was reported this game was the only topic of conversation in sporting circles. This might not be an exaggeration, as only a few weeks before the Milwaukee entry in the Western League had dropped from the league and the Western League disbanded very shortly after that. Tickets were put on sale at the Plankinton House drug store, Phil Lederer’s cigar store on Wisconsin Avenue, Rudolph Giljohan’s tavern on North Water Street, and the baseball headquarters. Anticipating a large crowd, arrangements were made to insure ample streetcar accommodations to and from the park. The day before the game Frank Brady, of the Southern Texas League, was agreed upon as umpire.

MJ 7-22-92 ad
Milwaukee Journal July 22, 1892

At 1:30 p.m. Broady’s Reds left the Plankinton House on 2nd and Wisconsin Avenue in full uniform in carriages. Randall’s Dips left at the same time from North Third Street, between West Wells and Grand Avenue. Both teams paraded through downtown streets on the way to the ball park at 7th and Chambers, a distance of about 3 miles.

Napoleon Broady was reported to be 28 years old in a November 1895 newspaper article, making him born ca. 1867. In the 1880 U.S. census I found a Napoleon Broady, born 1868 in Ohio. At the time of the census he was living in Miami, Ohio. If this is the same person, I could not find when he came to Milwaukee, when/if he left Milwaukee, or when he died.

A Napoleon Brody [sic] is first listed in the City of Milwaukee directories in 1890 as a porter at the Kirby House. Napoleon Brody is listed as this also in 1891 and 1892. In 1893 his name is spelled Brodie, but he is still listed as a porter at the Kirby House, possibly living there. His name is spelled Brodie again in the 1894 directory, but he is now listed as a bellboy–no hotel stated– and a home residence of 416 State is given. In 1895 Brodie’s occupation is given as waiter, with a residence of 413 Cedar. In the 1896 directory the name is again Napoleon Brody, and he is again a porter (again no hotel stated), living at 417 State. He is listed in the City of Milwaukee directory in 1897, again as a porter, living at 710 Wells. Starting in 1898 the name is almost always spelled Broady [the exception being 1904, when it is again spelled Brody.] In the next 19 years Napoleon is listed as a boot-black, porter, laundry man and bartender in the directories, living at a variety of near west side addresses. In the 1912 and 1913 directories he is listed as the owner of a saloon at 405 Cedar [West Kilbourn Avenue].

As can be seen Napoleon’s last name was spelled three different ways in city directories and local newspapers: Broady, Brody or Brodie.

Brody 7-24
Milwaukee Sentinel July 24, 1892

Outside of baseball I first came across Napoleon Broady in local newspapers in May 1890 when he was used, unwittingly, in an attempted land scheme by some out of state men. (The Milwaukee Sentinel gives his name as Napoleon Brody, while he is referred to as James Broady in the Milwaukee Journal, adding another variant to the name). In January 1893 Broady was again in the newspaper, being involved in a shooting of a chambermaid at the Kirby House. The Sentinel identified him as Napoleon Broady, but the Journal gave his name as Alexander Broady, to add another name to the growing list. Napoleon was released from custody, as the shooting was determined to be accidental.

Little could be found on Napoleon Broady the baseball player. The July 24, 1892, Sentinel reported he had played baseball for the last ten years, “and at one time was a member of an amateur club of white players which defeated everything in and about Milwaukee.” [I do not remember coming across his name in my earlier research on Milwaukee’s amateur clubs of this period, and a quick check of the few box scores and accounts I have with player’s names of the major amateur clubs in the city, did not show his name. Perhaps further research, or that lucky find, will discover what team he played for, and when.] Broady’s baseball coaching style appears to have been vocal and colorful. The Sentinel commented: "when he gets out on the line he just ‘conversations’ his men around the bases and razzleates the pitcher." The newspaper said he would be at his best for this game against the Dips.

The game on July 24, 1892, itself was an exciting, close game, played in front of 1,500 to 2,000 people, who sat "in a sweltering sun." The Sentinel reported there were many "pretty plays" by members of both teams. Unfortunately, the game was called after seven innings, so that there would be plenty of time for the other contests. The Dips won by a score of 9 to 8.

Unfortunately, the newspaper coverage gave more attention to the non-baseball activities than the game itself. In respect to people I respect, I will not get into this aspect of the afternoon. One shorter paragraph was given to the game. But we can be thankful for the box score.

MS 7-25 box
Milwaukee Sentinel July 25, 1892

I found no further games played by the Milwaukee Reds or the Boston Dips in 1892.

On July 10, 1893, the Reds played the Dips at Milwaukee’s National Park (South 27th Street and West National Avenue), the Reds winning 8 to 7. The Reds captain stated he was accepting any challenges, and they should be addressed to "Napoleon Brody, second porter, Kirby House.” Again, I could find no other game by either team played in 1893.

In 1894 the Reds, "whose members have in past years covered themselves with glory on the diamond field" where looking to again field a team. Milwaukee had a club in the minor Western League, but the team was in last place with a 10 and 25 record on June 20. On this day Broady talked to a Milwaukee Sentinel reporter. Napoleon told the reporter the Reds were in the "pink of condition" and were itching for a game. They decided to issue a challenge, and not to the all-Black teams of the area, but to Charlie Cushman’s Milwaukee Brewers. Saying the Brewers had been easier to beat than "makin’ a natural in a crap game,” the Red’s Captain said his team would play them for any amount of money. The Milwaukee Journal reported: "The Reds have the reputation of being an unusually strong team, capable of putting up a rattling game, so that it is somewhat surprising that Capt. Broady should stoop to meet the has-beens on the diamond.” Cushman and his Brewers were in Sioux City, Iowa, at the time, and Cushman was asked about the challenge. He said he would have to communicate with the board of directors about a game with the Reds, and "if a game is arranged, I have the utmost confidence as to the outcome." A game never came about.

The Milwaukee Reds did play at least one game in 1894. It was announced in the Sentinel as part of the events at the Turf Club picnic to be held at National Park on August 8, the Reds would play the Turf Club team. However, the Evening Wisconsin had earlier reported the Reds would play the Boston Dips on this day "for the colored championship of the state." Whatever teams played on August 8, I could find no results of any game.

Although Napoleon Broady’s name would appear in the newspapers a few times in the following years, I could find not a connection with him and baseball again. The last mention of him in the newspapers was on June 19, 1916, when it was reported Napoleon Brodie, was fined $25 and costs for being the “alleged keeper of a disorderly house.” The last City of Milwaukee directory Napoleon Broady (by any spelling of the name) appeared in was the 1916 directory.

At least for now I have lost the trail of Napoleon Broady after 1916. But hopefully more will be found on one of the first in Milwaukee’s tradition of local Black athletes and coaches.

Dennis Pajot, Milwaukee

(Originally posted on December 2, 2009)


1880 United States Census

City of Milwaukee Directories 1890 to 1916

Milwaukee Sentinel May 8, 22, June 5, 8, 1890; June 26, 30, July 3, 17, 20, 23, 24, 25, 1892; January 16, July 11, 1893; June 21, August 5, 1894

Milwaukee Journal May 8, 21, June 5, 1890; June 2, July 16, 23, 25, 1892; January 16, 1893; June 21, 1894; November 11, 1895; June 19, 1916

Evening Wisconsin May 12, June 9, 1890; July 25, 1892; July 11, 1894

Milwaukee Daily News July 25, 1892