Temperance movement had its day in Shawano

By: 

Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

I thought you might enjoy a little Shawano history.

The temperance movement, a social movement against the consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages, became widespread in 1874.

The movement also reached Shawano. In 1874 a local group supporting temperance was organized. A meeting was held at the Methodist Church. It was well-attended. Some of the local pastors gave stirring speeches, and temperance songs were sung. A pledge was signed by 58 attendees.

A second rally was held the following evening at the Presbyterian Hall, where more signatures were obtained.

An ordinance subsequently signed by Mayor D. H. Pulcifer stated: “No person shall sell, vend or give away during the ensuing year any wine, beer, cider, or alcohol or any mixture of intoxicating nature within the corporate limits of the city. On conviction of violation of the ordinance, he shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $100 and stand committed to county jail until the fine and cost of suit is paid unless released by due course of law.”

J.D. Meyer, who was the marshal at the time, notified the bar keepers to stop selling liquors of any kind immediately under penalty of the city ordinance. Bars closed.

A news report on April 25, 1874, said: “Temperance work is growing. The supervisors of the towns of Shawano, Richmond, Waukechon and Hartland have refused to grant licenses for sale of intoxicating liquor.”

It further reported, “The city is flanked on all sides by temperance territory and the saloon business is nowhere.”

The article also said: “J. Kast is a good miller and a good temperance man. His ideas are general, too much of anything is injurious in fact and example. He hoped time would bring about no drunkard in the land, but ‘will the ladies strengthen the resolution of men by inaugurating reform in matters of dress and household expenses, etc.?’ They agreed in order to promote temperance.”

However, the next month, the mayor and city council passed an ordinance that allowed H. Naber and and C. Wiley to sell alcohol and alcoholic substances for medical and mechanical use in the city without paying a license fee.

In 1875, the year prohibiting the city from issuing license for alcoholic beverages was concluding, and the Temperance Society again requested no liquor license be issued for another year.

Mayor Pulcifer was no longer in office. The council was divided. The new mayor, C. Upham broke the tie, voting against licenses. The meeting became heated, and three aldermen, Schweers, Evans and Krause, resigned after the meeting.

Things were tense, and Mayor Upham resigned in September that same year. The new mayor was H. Naber. In October 1875, the existing ordinance was amended to allow someone to obtain a license provided the person had good moral habits, complied fully with the state statutes and local ordinance regulating liquor sales, and pay the city $100 per year. Bars closed at 11 p.m. and were closed on Sundays.

In 1889, there were 10 saloons operating in Shawano.

In 1947, the eight bars on Main Street were Beversdorf’s Tavern, Schmidt’s Bar, Krumbach’s Tavern, Pleshek’s Bar, Christy’s Bar and Bowling, Al Rosenow Bar, Moede’s Bar DeLuxe and John Henry Bar.

The Shawano County Tavern League was organized in 1947 to promote laws beneficial to tavern operation. The founders were George Martin of Limestone Castle, Herman Lasch of Club 22, Al Giese of Three Elms and Albert Rosenow of Wiesmann’s Bar.

By 1973, 13 taverns were in operation. Beer and liquor were also available at cocktail lounges in hotels, restaurants and bowling alleys. It was also sold at supermarkets.

Currently 20 bars, applied for a Class B liquor and beer license. There are also six that applied for Class B beer; some are bars with restaurants.

Lt. Brad Rabideau of the Shawano Police Department commented: “Although we have numerous bars in Shawano, the calls have actually decreased the past few years. The bars are making sure their patrons are of age and being responsible.”

He added: “Since the point system was put in place, bars monitor themselves. If there is a disturbance and they call us, they do not lose points. The bartenders don’t want trouble in their establishments either, so it’s a win, win.”

Like all businesses, bars contribute to our local economy. They have a significant positive impact on our tax base. Local establishments have fundraisers and contribute to numerous nonprofit groups. In addition, they provide a place for people to gather socially.

The Safe Ride Home program is available to bar patrons. Remember to respect the laws. Please don’t drink and drive.

Answer to last week’s question: Our local Paper Mill went into operation in 1894.

This week’s question: Can you name the factory that made cheese boxes and crates?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.