Shawano was busy community in early 1900s

I appreciate the positive comments regarding recent articles about our area’s history, as well as the related information some of you sent me. A special “thank you” to Shirley Ponschok for gifting me with her late husband Fred’s books containing area history. He was a wonderful man, fellow elected official and good friend. I will forever treasure his memory and his books.

Due to the interest, I will continue to write a few more articles about the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. I plan to include history about surrounding towns and villages.

I love the clothing from that era. When going to antique shops, I enjoy trying on old hats. The lovely gingham and lace aprons hold many memories. The stylish dresses are amazing. I found it interesting that tailors years ago went to the country to live with farm families. They sewed the entire family’s clothing for the coming year. Imagine that, a tailor living with the family; measuring and then sewing the family’s school, work, and Sunday clothes.

The first known tailor for Shawano was Gottlieb Garbrecht. Other early tailors were Conrad Weinig and John Wirch. A name some of you might remember was Ray Preslicka who had a tailor shop on Main Street in the early 1970s. His father Frank had it before him.

At the turn of the century, Shawano was a busy little city. In 1915, the Nagel family established the Crescent Theater (currently under renovation). Vaudeville acts and others entertained there. Local pianists Sylvia Netzel Wolf and Pauline Skaleski accompanied the silent films.

Some of the other businesses included The Upham & Russell Company, the Savings Bank store, The Gebhardt Shoe Store, J.A. Lieg & Company, M. Hoenig & Company, J.H. Pulcifer, and George and Chase Millinery Firm.

There were also blacksmiths to include Matt Dillenberg, D. Schroeder & Company and F.D. Schweers. There was also a harness-maker, T.J. Wavrunek.

Grocery and meat markets included Anton Zenisek’s grocery store, John Berglin meat market, and T.W. LaLeikel meat market.

Hardware stores were very busy, keeping Schweers Brothers, Wipperman’s Hardware Store and the Upham-Russell Hardware store all in business. Jewelry stores were owned by Antone Kuckuk and W.G. Schneider. The E. Jung Furniture Store offered needed household items. Nabor Drug Store and Gallaghers Drugs provided medicines and health products.

Saloons and liquor stores were kept busy. The Emil T. Raddant Brewing Company sold bottled and keg beer made in a six-story structure.

Did you know, at one time, Shawano had its own cigar manufacturer? N. Schneider made two brands, Gold Dust, which was a 10-cent cigar, and Silver Ash, a five-cent cigar.

During the early 1920s, the automobile made its way to Shawano. Records tell the story of the first automobile owner in Shawano, Ed Sperberg. He drove his noisy car down Main Street, creating quite a reaction. The farmer’s teams that were tied to the hitching posts became so frightened they broke loose, and ran in all directions. One team’s wagon pole was said to have gone through the window of Brauer’s tavern.

Shortly after the fiasco, the city passed an ordinance prohibiting cars on Main or Green Bay Streets. Sperberg was having none of it. He thought the ordinance was unconstitutional and discriminatory, and he continued to drive his vehicle down Main Street scaring the horses. He was arrested and brought before Judge Herman Buth numerous times.

Many on the jury were horse owners, and they were quick to support the law. However, among the businessmen, was John Gallagher. He refused to convict Sperberg because he thought others would soon bring automobiles to Shawano.

Later, the case was thrown out of court by Judge Goodland, and the ordinance was repealed in the mid-1920s. It was later noted that a member of the council, Frank Schweers, who wanted the motorist prosecuted, later built a large garage and became one of Shawano’s leading automobile dealers.

The city did not put up stop signs back in the early 1920s (perhaps there weren’t any yet), so in 1924 the city passed an ordinance telling car owners where they should stop. Ordinance 335 read: “Main Street from Fourth Street inclusive to Richmond Street inclusive, and Green Bay Street from Franklin Street to Main Street and on Green Bay Street from Andrews Street to Main Street shall be designated and known as an Arterial Highway and it shall be unlawful for any person driving his motor car, truck or other motor vehicle to cross any portion of such streets without coming to a dead stop before reaching the street intersection.”

Unlike years ago, today, we have informational signs. Remember, STOP does not mean (S)queal (T)ires (O)n (P)avement, it means STOP.

Question: In what year was the Shawano County Historical Society, Inc. formed?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The society was formed in Shawano on Sept. 6, 1940 and incorporated Dec. 19, 1940.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.