ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


O. E. Carlson

Brick Manufacturer



Our Village – It is gratifying and speaks well for the preserving industry and enterprise of our citizens, to see the extensive preparations that are being made to “go ahead” in almost every department of improvement, in every quarter of our village.  Lumber and brick – don’t start Milwaukee!


We have got real bona fide Watertown brick, just as good as – It’s a fact.  True, we have not built up a “Queen City” here yet, but if the manufacture of brick can elevate a place to majesty (which of course you will not deny).  Watertown is already a princess royal.


Lumber and brick, we say [see], are piled high upon a great many hitherto vacant lots, and a number of active laborers are at work, “digging into the bowels of the earth,” not in search of “villainous salt-peter,” but for the peaceful purpose of excavating cellars. 


The number of buildings which will be erected during the current year will be greater than during any former two or three years; and many of them will add much to the appearance of our village.  Among them will be the steam grist mill of Messrs Cole and Bailey, which has already ‘broke ground,’ and is advancing on the most modern and approved “progressive principles.”


- Rock River Pilot, 03 29 1848




Building – Judging from the piles of brick lying around in different parts of the city, considerable building will be carried on here during the present season, notwithstanding the high price of wages, lumber and materials generally.  Dwelling houses are in great demand.  In fact, we do not know of an unoccupied tenement of any kind within the limits of the corporation [city].  Though the war has taken away many of our citizens our population is as large as ever and is undoubtedly increasing.   WD




In 1866 two Watertown brickyards employed 109 mainly seasonal workers, more than any other industry except the St. Paul Railroad.  They produced ten million bricks each year and exported seven million.  Visible reminders of this once thriving industry are the downtown brick buildings, the hundreds of brick houses scattered throughout the city and the two little lakes near the south end of Third Street.  They were once filled with the clay used in making bricks.  Mr. O. E. Carlson operated the last brickyard in Watertown between 1925 and 1935, with an annual production of three million bricks.  The use of cement blocks in the construction industry made such inroads into the brick business that Wisconsin, which once had 30 brickyards, now has only one at Oakfield, near Fond du Lac.


Kiessling, Elmer C., Watertown Remembered (Watertown: Watertown Historical Society), 1976, p 177.



         The old swimming hole called Lake Oscalo.  Back in 1866, when the old brick yard was digging clay to make bricks, the pit filled up with sparkling spring water from the many springs.  This water furnished a wonderful swimming hole for many old timers who will remember the happy days at the old clay quarry in the seventh ward.  In 1936 Mr. and Mrs. Oscar E. Carlson purchased the brick yard property and made this portion of their land a beauty spot for many of their friends who enjoy swimming, fishing, and picnicking. 


Lake Oscalo was named after Oscar and Loda Carlson and was registered with the State Conservation Dept under that name.  Today Lake Victoria.  Loda Carlson was a corsetiere.








Joseph Terbrueggan, W. J. Toussaint and L. H. Cordes established the Watertown Electric Light plant; disposed of in 1906 to the John I. Beggs interests.



05 11       L. H. CORDES & Co. began making brick at their brick yards in the 7th ward on Monday with a force of 75 men.   WG




Our good friend, Charley Straw, has at length discovered that "Watertown is on the map."  He is in receipt of a copy of The Trade Bulletin from Fond du Lac, in which appears an advertisement listing "Watertown Brick and Limburger Cheese."  It is perhaps needless to say that Watertown is famous for its cheese as well as geese.



-- --           WATERTOWN BRICK YARD





Three remonstrances were presented to the council [at the last council meeting] from residents on Church Street protesting against the proposed paving of that street with brick and urging the use of macadam paving material.  They are opposed to brick for several reasons.  First, because of the high grade of that street; second, because brick is too noisy for a residence street; third, because brick paving is too expensive and would prove a burden to the tax payers.  The communications were filed in order that the parties may have an opportunity to be heard.




Wm. Schroeder, 1201 Rockwell Street, teamster for the McGolrick Fuel Co., was killed in a runaway accident this morning near the 3d Street railway crossing.  He was hauling a load of brick with his team from the Cordes brickyard, and when near the 3rd Street crossing his team got scared, ran away and threw him to the ground, the wagon passing over his head and crushing it, causing death almost instantly.  He leaves a wife and family.   WG




The proposal to have the city purchase the 15-acre tract at the old brick yard, the pool of which has been used for swimming over a long period of time, and convert it into a swimming pool and general recreation grounds is being debated these days, ever since the question was revived at the last meeting of the city council.  


The council has taken the matter under advisement and expects to act definitely on the offer made by the Koehler family, owners of the property, when it meets on September 18.  The offer, if it is not acted on now, will be withdrawn.


The pool in question is two miles from Main Street.  In the last few days scores of interested persons have visited the grounds to get a clearer picture of it and to discover for themselves if the proposal should be considered.  Every alderman and other city officials have been instructed to visit the place in order to gain firsthand knowledge of the site.


Opinion is divided on the subject.  Some contend the pool and grounds is in too hidden an area and others assert it can be acquired now at a price reported to be around $3,000 and that it can be developed at some future time, if not now.  


Others claim it would be an ideal project to develop with government aid, being pointed out that some form of public works program will be continued by the federal government as part of the Roosevelt administration.


With such a project ready to be carried out, Watertown could present it when the proper time comes and men could be put to work on turning it into a natural pool and developing the surrounding grounds, those who support the idea assert.


Spokesmen for Seventh ward residents also point out that the ward, which has grown and developed more quickly in recent years than any other section of the city, has no playground for its children and that while other parts of the city have parks and playgrounds the people there have been neglected in the matter of such projects.


The council has taken the matter over as a committee of the whole and will bring it up at the next meeting.





150,000 Bricks Being Salvaged from Ruins of Hartig’s Brewery


At least 150,000 bricks will be salvaged from the old Hartig brewery building which is now being demolished to make room for a modern supermarket, it was announced today by O. E. Carlson, local fuel and brick dealer at 1501 South Third Street.  Mr. Carlson said that under ordinary circumstances the salvage would run to around one million bricks, but because of the process of demolishing the building, which is taking speed into consideration, most of them will be useless.


Mr. Carlson said the bricks are being hauled to his yards and will be cleaned there.  He said some of the bricks will go into a new church at Palmyra.


The bricks used in the brewery came originally from the same brick yard which Mr. Carlson now occupies.


The bricks used in the brewery are in good shape, some as good as any used today and some even superior in quality to present day manufactured bricks.


Mr. Carlson said that most of the bricks and rubble are being used to fill in the old cellars which lined the site of the brewery and hence are of no use to him.  But he is taking as many of the bricks as he can get and after they are sorted and cleaned he expects to have about 150,000 for future use.


Some of the walls in the brewery are four feet thick, Mr. Carlson jointed out.


Much of the brewery is now down and the remaining walls will come down shortly, as the work proceeds.  Bulldozers and a crane re being used in the process.  The 50 foot chimney came down some time ago.


The brewery site will be occupied by the supermarket which is to be operated by. the National Tea Co. stores.  The market will be built by Bay Kern, local business man who acquired the property from the Merchants National Bank of this city some months ago.  He has completed arrangements with the food chain to occupy the market.  In addition to the modern market, there will also be room on the site for parking 100 cars.





The old Carlson cottage on what is now Lake Victoria . . . the brickyard.


Assessor note:  10 05 1981:  Cottage town down.  Now part of Lakeside Meadows.



05 13       “THE BRICKYARD”

Lake Victoria and Heiden Pond will keep their names

The committee approved renaming the area around Heiden Pond “The Brickyard.”  The name “The Brickyard” is a reference to the heritage of Watertown and the brickmaking business historically done in that area.  Eventually a sign will be put up made out of Watertown bricks recognizing that history.     WG


05 13       LAKE VICTORIA



05 13       HEIDEN POND




Cross References:

Chadwick Brick Company

Chapter on Watertown Brick

Third, S, 406        1912, Home of L H Cordes

Sprague brickyard, 1899 mention of 

John Koehler associated with company




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin