Bio: Kickbusch, Frederick W. (? - 1907)

Contact: dolores@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

 

Surnames: Kickbusch, Werheim, Wegner, Koehler, Cleveland, Braatz, Paff, Schwanberg

 

---Source: History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens, by Louis Marchetti, 1913.

 

Kickbusch, Frederich W. (? - 12 December 1907)

 

Frederick W. Kickbusch was another of the pioneers and distinguished citizens of Marathon County. Arriving in Wausau in 1860, he worked for one year with a relative on a farm in the town of Stettin; then entered into a partnership with his brother, August Kickbusch, which continued until 1869, when he withdrew and started in the lumber and manufacturing business alone.  

 

In the decade from 1850 to 1860 some enterprising men drove cattle from here up to the Michigan peninsula in hopes of getting a cash market for them, but they were in most cases doomed to disappointment. F. W. Kickbusch made two trips with cattle up here, but in neither case was the venture profitable. These cattle were fattened by grazing all summer and fall, but the trip could not be made until the swamps were frozen to enable them to pass over. It was late in the fall when the drive could begin, and the beasts suffered for lack of food and rest and could not arrive in good condition. The trip on the men was as hard too. Night after night they had to camp out in the cold, there being only a few stations where beds, shelter and food could be had. Those were trips which only pioneers could undergo, men used to all sorts of hardships. After a few experiences of these kind cattle driving was discontinued.

 

After lumbering until 1871, running one or two fleets to St. Louis in each year, he, with George Werheim as co-partner, erected the first sash, door and blind factory and a planing mill on the ground where now stands the Northern Milling Company plant. This mill was operated until 1882 when it burned in the winter, unfortunately without any insurance, the loss falling alone on F. W. Kickbusch because he had bought out his partner the previous year. Undaunted by the heavy blow, he immediately started the erection of a flour and feed mill which though it changed ownership, has been in continuous operation since, now the property of the Northern Milling Company. He also built and carried on a general merchandise store which he sold to his son-in-law, Charles E. Wegner, about the year 1893, who has conducted it since with the same success.  

 

F. W. Kickbusch was elected county treasurer in 1872 and twice reelected, and in 1877 was elected member of the assembly, after a spirited contest, he being then the candidate of the Greenback Party, his election being due rather to his own personal than to his party strength.  

 

For many years he served as a member of the county board and as alderman. His firmness and decision forced a much better contract from the Holly Manufacturing Company, which was awarded the contract for the building of the waterworks than would have been otherwise obtained. The council was equally divided on the question of building, and although bids were advertised for and received, the letting of the contract was yet hanging fire. There were several propositions before the council, not greatly differing in price, and the bid of the Holly Manufacturing Company seemed to be the best for the city. But it, like all other plans, provided for a simple frame building for the engine house or pumping station. Mr. Kickbusch opposed the letting of the contract unless the company would agree to erect a solid brick building, according to plans and specifications drawn up by Mr. Koehler, a Wausau architect. On the question of building the council was nearly equally divided and the vote of Mr. Kickbusch was needed to let any contract. Of course the erection of such a building as contemplated by this plan would cost several thousand dollars more than the building proposed by the contract of the bidding parties, all of which were wooden ones. The agent of the Holly Manufacturing Company was present and said he could not consent to the change, pleading "want of authority," whereupon Mr. Kickbusch declared that he could not and would not vote to let a contract which would put machinery upon which so much depended in what he contemptuously designated as a woodshed, and remonstrated with the council not to let any contract. A recess was then taken, and after a hurried consultation and reconvening, the representative of the Holly Manufacturing Company with a heavy heart and in violation of instruction (as he said) consented to and made the change, agreeing for the company to build the pumping station as planned by Mr. Koehler, a solid substantial brick building at the original price bid for. Had the frame house been built, it is very probable that it would have been burned down, to the great damage of the entire system, and to the courageous stand taken by F. W. Kickbusch no doubt such a calamity was averted.  

 

In 1893 he was appointed by President Cleveland as consul to Stettin, one of the largest ports in Germany. Shortly before his term expired he resigned his post and returned to Wausau where he took up his milling again, greatly enlarging and improving it and conducting the business until the beginning of 1905, when he turned the plant over to his son, Frederick W. Kickbusch, Jr., and to his daughter, Pauline, who operated it for several years under the name of Kickbusch Milling Company, and later sold out to the Northern Milling Company.  

 

On Easter of the same year, accompanied by his wife, he departed for Germany to drink the healing waters of Kissingen and Karlsbad, in hopes of curing some internal afflictions from which he was a sufferer. He returned in the fall somewhat benefited but not radically cured.  

 

F. W. Kickbusch was a member of the voluntary fire company from the very beginning in 1869, and several years its foreman. He was also for three years president of the State Firemen's Association. He was a man of attractive appearance and much intellectuality, a lifelong Democrat, except only his short adherence to the Greenback party from 1877 to 1879, and exerted a great influence in the councils of that party, which was always exerted for public good.  

 

He died on the 12th day of December, 1907, and was buried with the honors of an Odd Fellow, to which order he was greatly attached, belonging to the subordinate, the Grand Lodge, and Grand Encampment.  

 

He came with his parents to Milwaukee in 1857 from Pomerania. Germany, where he was born, and to Wausau in 1860, which has been his home until his death. On October 28, 1864, he was married to Miss Mathilde Braatz whose father was one of the pioneers in the town of Berlin in this county, and four children, Emma married Wegner, Mathilda married Paff, Fred. W. Kickbusch, Jr., and Pauline married Schwanberg, were born to them to bless their union. His widow and children survive him.

 

 


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