Property: Dorchester, turn of the century
Contact: Owen Public Library

----Source: Historical Sketches of Dorchester, Wisconsin (1873-1973)


Dorchester, Wisconsin Looking south down Front Street, the third building from the right is the Bowe Barber Shop building which was taken down about 1915.


It's a few years after the turn of the century and we re taking a mental stroll down the streets of Dorchester. The streets are dirt, horses are seen pulling buggies and the sidewalks are wooden boards nearly two feet higher than the street in some places. Many streets are without sidewalks. Kerosene lampposts edge the street. It being the duty of the Marshal, each evening to carry a step ladder and light the lamps, Frank Sebold will be seen around dusk doing this task.

We are on the south end of town down by Ole Paulson's sawmill and to the west is the Zastrow Creamery. As we walk north on Front Street, the first place we pass is the Buehren's Tin Shop where we find John busy making a vat for a cheese factory. In the next building the blacksmith, Joe Bauerfeind is busy putting shoes on a horse, as one other customer waits for a plow to be fixed. We walk on to Brad Miltimore's store where he sells fancy dishes, pots, pans and other general merchandise. Now we have arrived at Homsted's Drug Store. Mrs. Homsted pushes her glasses back from the top of her head and over her eyes to see who has arrived. We notice the marble counter top by the fountain and as we glance around we see many beautiful jardiniere's on display. Just about this time a train whistle can be heard and we watch as the steam locomotive slowly pulls into the depot. Soon a man comes pushing a two wheel cart and on it is a wooden keg. Watching, he wheels it right on into Homsteds and unloads the ice cream from the ice packed keg, which has just arrived by train. As we leave, we notice the post office in the same building, and proceed on our way. Passing the Fuchsgruber Furniture Undertaking business place and the George Sprague store we find ourselves on the corner of Front Street and First Avenue.

The Sprague Building--on the corner of Front Street and First Avenue, was built by Fred Distlehorst and contained living quarters enough for three families upstairs. At the time of this picture, about 1910, in additon to the dry goods and grocery of George Sprague, there was also a millinery shop run by Gertie Nitch and in another portion was the Marten's Tavern. *Note the kerosene lamppost.

We visit with a passerby, finding out the businesses located to the west are: Fitzlaff's shoe store, Dr. Nedry's office and the Hugoboom print shop. John Miltimore, a general store keeper, receives fresh bread on the noon train from a Marshfield bakery and is futher to the west. Other establishments are William Chamness jewelry store, Bertha Miller millinery shop and Krakenberger's Hardware. Farm machinery handled her include: hay rake, tedder, oats binder and horse-drawn mower G. R. Broeske as salesman. The Fessler shoe store is nearby.

Sauter's Livery and Dray--Buggies (rigs) were kept in the front building and horses out back, and were for rent. On picture is Otto Sauter and Al Sauter. The building on far left is the old Fire Hall. Both of these buildings have since been removed, with the Municiple Hall and garage now on this location.

Crossing the street and walking a short distance we arrive at Sauter Bros. Livery Stable and Dray business. A salesman has just arrived on the train and is lined up back in the stalls, so the town will be busy today with shoppers and those wishing to lift a few. We are about to leave when we spot a beautifully decorated carriage, black swags festooned on the sides, glass windows and a very high driver's seat. We are told it is the local hearse, which is housed here.

Further on down the street is the Fire Hall with it's bell tower on top, to summon the firemen for fire calls and inside is the jail, a council room and the fire fighting equipment. The Peter Oberbilling blacksmith shop can be seen further to the west.

Turning around and going back up on Front Street we find Heuser's boarding house-tavern and Fred Marten's tavern. Next door we peek in on Fred Ulrich, who is hand-making a horse harness. He tells us he also does upholstery work and wall-papering in town. His first wallpaper job was done with newspapers. As we commence northward we come to G. N. Schultze's general store the upstairs is used for meetings and dances. Passing the Dorchester State Bank, the Star Hotel (Frontier Bar today) and Ed Mehner's real estate agency, we have reached Frank Nagel's barber shop. We notice a man walking into Nagel's carrying several collars which have been separated from men's shirts. These will be sent out-of-town to a laundry. The next buildings we pass are the Wells Chase general store, Dr. Crane's office and Fred Gulwasser's Hardware. We quickly glance in the window of Gutwasser's and notice copper boilers, wash boards, pails, plows, harnesses, cutters, lap robes and even nets for horses to protect them from flies. Leaving here we walk in next door to Sorenson Bros. Meat market. Fresh meat is hanging in the open on big hooks and sawdust covers the floor. Andrew and Hans are busy cutting meat by hand for their customers.

As we leave Sorenson's we pass the Louis Skruvani Shoe Store (Weix bldg.) and reach the corner boarding house and tavern. Looking west up Center Street we see Fleckenstein's bicycle shop and Metz car dealer Dorchester's first car dealer. Across the street is the Gust Genrich Implement and Blacksmith shop.

Genrich Implement Co.--Picture shows a float prepared for a 4th of July parade in 1914, with Gust H. Genrich, owner, standing by. His sons, Otto and Henry, later run the business until 1955, when property was sold to Elmer Krueger, for his present supemarket. We find out they shoe horses make sleighs, wagons and do farm machinery repairs. They are heating the iron in a forge and using hand operated bellows. Further west is Kronschnable's Tavern. LeClaire's Hall, at the end of the street is a popular place where dances and roller skating is held regularly.

Attracting actors and actresses from a great distance to perform here, is another hall located just north of the corner of Front and Center Streets, known as Esser's Hall . The oil painted scene on the canvas drop curtains depict the assassination of Julius Caesar and are the handiwork of Ed Mehner. Up the street to the north is Wieden's Roller Mill, where farmers are bringing their grain to be ground.

Bobbe Roller Mills--Farmers brought in grains to be ground into feed. This replaced Wieden's Mill, where flour also was made.

And so we conclude our tour of early Dorchester during the first decade of 1900.



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