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Emil C Gaebler


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Emil Gaebler


-- --           ARRIVED IN WATERTOWN

A sketch of the Concordia Musical Society, one of the city’s most famous musical organizations of generations ago, is contained in a reprint from the October 6, 1890, issue of “Der Seebote,” a Milwaukee publication.  The article was written by the late Emil E. Gaebler and was part of his memoirs which the paper printed.


Part of the article is being reprinted here.  It follows:


At the time Emil C. Gaebler came to Watertown, in 1859, there was an established musical society here, called the Music and Singing Society and when Gaebler organized a new society, called Philharmonic, there was an effort to combine the two.  The two finally joined but the passive members tried to run it and after six months the active members seceded and formed their own society in July, 1862, called the Concordia.


Emil Gaebler had organized a musical society in 1852 at Danbury, Conn., and was familiar with the management of the Northeastern Singers league of New York.  He, therefore, organized the Northwest league shortly after he came to Wisconsin and to this league the Concordia gave its support, so actively, that at the first saengerfest held in La Crosse in 1866 Watertown won the first prize, a silver loving cup, now on display in the historical museum in Madison.


Thereafter the following saengerfests (conventions or music festivals) were held: Watertown, 1867; Milwaukee, 1868; Madison, 1869; La Crosse, 1871; Dubuque, 1873; Watertown, 1875; Freeport, 1877; Milwaukee, 1879; Madison, 1881; La Crosse; 1883; Watertown, 1885; Freeport, 1887; Minneapolis, 1889; Milwaukee 1891; Dubuque, 1896.  There was also a band convention in Watertown in 1879.


A large collection of manuscript music, opera scores, and instrumental numbers are to this day reposing in one of our local stores waiting for the day when Watertown will again take an interest in local amateur musical activities.    WDT 05 20 1935




The subscriber, having undertaken the manufacturing of melodeons in this city, respectfully invites the attention of the public to the act, and solicits a share of their patronage.  The instruments I manufacture are of the very best quality and warranted equal in all respects to any in the market. 


I also keep on hand those of the most celebrated manufacturers of the East, so the taste and wishes of all wanting anything in that line may be suited.


The prices are adapted to the times and are lower than in any other market in the country, New York City not excepted.


Shop in Bertram’s Block, Main Street, upstairs.


E. C. Gaebler, Watertown,   WD



08 08       MELODEONS

Emil C. Gaebler is the manufacturer of a very fine and superior variety of melodeon in this city.  His instruments have sold readily, and all who have purchased them have cheerfully testified to their merits and been satisfied with the way in which they have worked.  Mr. Gaebler is an accomplished workman and musician and knows how to give finish and tone to his melodeons.  He is a tuner and repairer and can put in perfect order most any musical instrument which may need fitting up to make it as good as new.  His rooms are in Bertram’s Block, where he will be found ready to attend to all calls.   WD



01 02       “THE CREATION,” Gaebler Conductor

The Musical Association of Watertown will give a grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert at Cole’s Hall, on Thursday evening, January 16th.  A large choir, accompanied by an orchestra of sixteen instruments, will perform the first part of Hayden’s renowned oratorio – “The Creation” – and a number of miscellaneous pieces specified in the program to be published next week.  Emil C. Gaebler, Conductor.    WD




Cross Reference:  . . .  My friend, the late Max H. Gaebler, tells a story of the early days of a brewery located north of the city limits between sixty and seventy years ago.  Bad as was the beer, the drinkers of that day made liberal concessions, but they balked at the worst kind so that where it was undrinkable the brewer fed it to his hogs on the farm.  When the brewer's hogs lay on their backs pawing the air and squealing in riotous glee the passing pioneer farmers patiently driving their oxen to town knew that another brew had miscarried.  The brewery went bankrupt and its principal asset, a thirty five gallon copper kettle, came into possession of Joe Miller, the local coppersmith. 


In 1861 an orchestra was formed in Watertown to assist the choral society in performing Haydn's “Creation.”  Kettledrums were quite necessary but not available.  So E. C. Gaebler, the conductor, commissioned Miller to build a pair.  Miller utilized the old brewing kettle for the body of the larger one and it was a success.  Eventually the drums were sold to a musical society in La Crosse where they were long in service.  When the good people of La Crosse listened to the sonorous roll of the kettledrum, little did they suspect its turbulent origin . . .   Wisconsin Magazine of History, Volume 4, 1921, “Chronicles of Early Watertown” by William F. Whyte.



05 02       UNDER DIRECTION OF E. C. GAEBLER:  Concert in Cole’s Hall  



[advertisement]  C. G. Heicke of Milwaukee manufactures a superior article of pianos, equal in tone, finish and durability to the celebrated Steinway instrument and superior to all others.  E. C. Gaebler is agent in this city, with whom all orders can be left at his book and bindery store, in Schempf’s block, Main Street.  He is permitted to refer to Prof. H. Hoeper, Miss M. A. McMahon, Mayor Joseph Lindon, S. D. Day, F. Fischer, William H. Rohr, Henry Bertram and L. Charboneau, all of Watertown      WR


12 10       MAGIC FLUTE

Prof. E. C. Gaebler has made arrangements for giving our citizens a splendid musical entertainment at Cole’s Hall on the evening of the 31st, when the fine opera of the Magic Flute will be performed.  The masterpiece of the immortal Mozart.  Presented by the Concordia Musical Association under the direction of Prof. Gaebler.  A grand romantic opera in four acts.  Tickets 50 cents.  Children 25 cents.  Up to the 29th three tickets can be bought for one dollar at the store of Fischer & Rohr.  There will be a ball after the concert.   WD



02 11       GIFT CONCERT

Prof. Gaebler announces in an advertisement his purpose to give a Gift Concert in this city on the 7th of next April.  The music will be worth the price of a ticket, yet each purchaser will draw a prize of some kind, with a chance of getting something valuable – perhaps a house and lot, piano, sewing machine, or some other desirable article.  Every effort will be made to render the entertainment attractive and brilliant and give entire satisfaction to the holders of tickets.  All the prizes promised will be received by the lucky drawers of them.    WD




Music -- We call general attention to the advertisement of Mr. E. C. Gaebler, in another column.  The latest and most popular music and the finest musical instruments will be found at his rooms on 4th Street, 2d ward, at all times.  He is a skillful instrument maker and gives particular attention to repairing and tuning.  Those who may want such services as he can render should give him a call.


Superior Pianos

Orders for which will be promptly attended to.

Tuning and repairing.


He is prepared to tune and repair all kinds of instruments and in this business he takes particular pains to give the best satisfaction.


E. C. Gaebler, Fourth Street, 2nd door north of Main Street.     WD




Musical.—We call the attention of our readers who are musically inclined to the advertisement of Prof. E. C. Gaebler in this week’s paper.  The Professor has lived in Watertown for the last fifteen years and has established an excellent reputation as a teacher of music, and also as a manufacturer of and dealer in musical instruments.  No one can doubt his ability to judge of the quality or value of pianos, organs or other musical instruments, or of the correctness of any statement he may make in regard to them.  His store is between 3d and 4th streets on Main Street, and that newly gilt sign of his marks it so prominently that there can be no mistake or trouble in finding it.




Prof. E. C. Gaebler has just completed the manufacture of a pipe organ at his Music House on Fourth Street.  This organ has ten stops of which 4 are metal and is possessed of the heaviest sub-base used, with a 4 1/2 octave manual keyboard and two octave pedals.  The largest pipe in the instrument is 8 feet long and 12 inches wide, and the smallest not quite one inch in length.  it is voiced so as to be capable of producing as great power as can be obtained from any organ of its size.  As an article of Watertown manufacture it is well worth seeing, and we hope that Mr. Gaebler's enterprise in the manufacture of such instruments may meet with the proper encouragement.


1872 Watertown City Directory



06 16       ST. JOHN’S CHURCH ORGAN:  Manufacture and Installation of

Prof. E. C. Gaebler is putting up in St. John’s Lutheran Church, of this city, a magnificent pipe organ manufactured at his Temple of Music, Fourth Street.  His organ is a fine specimen of Watertown manufacture and reflects credit on its builder.  A brief description of the instrument may be interesting.


The organ has two banks of keys, two octave of pedals, and contains over fourteen hundred pipes from 16 feet to 3/4 of an inch in length.  There are 28 stops and combination pedals.  The case is 15 X 14 feet and 20 feet high.  There are 28 gilded pipes in front, the largest of which is ten feet long and 6 inches in diameter.  The bellows furnishes 35,000 inches of wind every second.  The organ when completed is worth $5,000.


Excellent workmanship has been displayed on all portions of the instrument.  The design of the front was drawn by Mr. L. Charboneau and, of course, is tapestry and artistic.  The gilding and painting on the organ was done by Messrs. Degenhardt & Bradow, Mr. W. E. Dervin having a hand in on the finishing touches.  Of course the tone of this instrument will be of the highest order, having passed through the hands of Prof. Gaebler, one of the foremost musicians of the state, who has supervised every portion of the work. 


Our citizens will have an opportunity of hearing this magnificent organ for the first time on Sunday, June 27th.  It will be played by a celebrated organist from Milwaukee.  We hope the day is not far distant when Prof. Gaebler & Son will engage more extensively in the manufacture of pipe organs.  They are certainly competent to turn out as good instruments as can be found anywhere, and we trust they may meet with sufficient encouragement to build up a large manufacturing interest of this kind in our midst.   WR




The second lecture in the Lyceum Course called out a large audience on last Friday evening, in spite of the unpleasant weather.


The church [*] was connected with Gaebler's music store on 4th Street, six blocks distant, by an insulated copper wire, which was the medium of transmission.


Prof. Lovewell, the lecturer, traced the progress of Telephony from Page's galvanic music in 1837 to its final development in 1872 by Bell, Gray, Edison and others.


The different forms of apparatus were illustrated by chart diagrams, and the Professor explained as clearly and concisely as the nature of the subject would allow, the scientific principles of acoustics and electricity involved.


To the greater majority of the audience the most interesting part of the entertainment consisted in their listening to the sounds transmitted over the wire.  This continued until a late hour and afforded much amusement, especially to those who remained in the church after the majority of the audience had dispersed.  The different musical instruments were distinctly heard, every note being accurately transmitted.


The singing of Messrs. Gaebler, May and Charboneau was much enjoyed as was also a controversy on the Silver Bill, in which Mr. J. B. Bennett played an important part.     The Watertown News, 27 Feb 1878


[*] Lyceum courses were held at First Congregational Church, then located at 504 S. Fourth St.



Derived from The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, 1879.


Emil C. Gaebler, musical instruments and musical wholesale, Watertown; was born in Eisenberg, Saxony, Sept. 30, 1828, and came to Wisconsin November, 1856, locating at Lake Mills.  He received his literary education at the college at Eisenberg, and after that taught school for two years.  On Aug. 15, 1849, he came to the United States to look after some land that was ceded to his father by a brother who was engaged in the Mexican war in the 15th Wis. V.I.  He then went to Danbury, Conn., and became teacher of music and languages in John W. Irwin’s Institute, six months after which he established himself in the teaching of music, tuning and repairing pianos, which he continued there for seven years.


On account of his health, he went to Lake Mills, Wis., and entered the hardware business, in which he remained two years, when he went to Watertown, and at first manufactured melodeons; afterward started the music store which he now occupies.


He is also engaged in teaching music and leading singing societies, and is now leader of the Concordia Musical Society.


He has been engaged for the past eight years in the manufacture of pipe organs, and has made and placed organs in the following churches: 


Emanuel Church, Lebanon, Wis.;

St. John’s Lutheran Church, at Watertown, Wis.

(this organ has two banks of keys and twenty-eight stops);

Lutheran Church, at Lomira, Wis.;

Evangelical Church, at Ripon, Wis., and the

Lutheran Church at Fall Creek, Wis.


In 1876, he was elected School Commissioner, which position he now holds.  He married, July 3, 1849, Bertha Von Beust; he has five children – Max H., Emeline A., Otto F., Sophie C. and Arthur.






04 13       Death of Emil C. Gaebler, [b. Sep 30, 1828, d. Apr 9, 1898]

Emil C. Gaebler, father of Max H. Gaebler of this city, died at his home in Milwaukee Saturday morning, after an illness of several months.  He was in the 70th year of his age.  Three sons and two daughters are left to mourn his loss.


With the passing of Mr. Gaebler there is removed one of the most prominent musical men this state ever possessed.  His fame as a musician was wide-spread, especially from the standpoint of a manufacturer of musical wares and as a director.  During a residence of forty years in Wisconsin, Mr. Gaebler lived at Watertown, La Crosse and Milwaukee, and in each of these cities he was a leader in the musical circles in either one way or another.  Many pleasing productions here under his baton can be remembered by the older residents.  In company with John Ulrich of La Crosse, Mr. Gaebler founded the Northwestern Saengerbund in I860 and served as director at several of the biennial fests.  He was also the composer of numerous works, and his skill as a builder of church organs brought him into especial prominence.


Deceased was born in Saxony, Germany, September 30, 1828, and the career of a theologian was chosen, when participation in the revolution of 1848 caused him to leave Germany.  He came to Connecticut and taught music and languages for seven years, after which he migrated to Wisconsin, living first at Lake Mills and then settling in this city in 1858.  Here he engaged in the manufacture of organs, etc., and for many years conducted a general music store.  Later he accepted a call as director of singing societies at La Crosse, and about eight years ago removed from there to Milwaukee.  Mr. Gaebler was married twice.  His daughter Sophie studied under Liszt and is now one of the most accomplished pianists of the state.


While a resident here Mr. Gaebler was active in other callings of life than music, and was one of our leading citizens.  He was greatly interested in educational matters, particularly the public schools, and it was he who originated our excellent system of free text books — a system that but few cities of the state enjoy.


Mr. Gaebler’s funeral was held from his late home yesterday morning and the remains were brought here on the noon train and interred in Oak Hill cemetery.  The Concordia Society sang at the grave.



Cross References:


Sophie Gaebler Recalled

One of the early musical leaders in Watertown was E. C. Gaebler, a talented man who could handle just about any kind of musical task, from playing the piano to conducting an orchestra or even building an organ.  One of his daughters, Sophie Charlotte Gaebler, had the distinction of having studied under the world renowned Franz Liszt.  Doc WHS_005_551  <Need e-edition subscription to open link.


Daughter Sophie also buried in Oak Hill Cemetery

   Gaebler, Sophie, b. Nov 18, 1862, d. Mar 15, 1954



E. C. Gaebler's successor as Mr. Music of Watertown was Richard Hardege.

Emil Gaebler home, AHI record




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin