Summary file on Watertown Homecoming Days
Before there was Riverfest there were Watertown Homecomings
Repasts, Receptions and Reminiscences
Homecoming Plans Arranged
Watertown Gazette, 06 24 1910
Watertown's eighth annual homecoming for all former residents will be held in August. The dates set at a meeting of the club are Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7. The big program now in preparation will be carried out on Sunday, August 7, but an elaborate program for Saturday is also under way. The homecoming idea which originated in the middle west in Watertown has grown year by year. Many cities have taken up the idea which had its origin in Watertown and the sentiment surrounding the childhood home of the many who left for other fields of endeavor is exemplified in the annual return to the scenes of former days.
At the meeting Iast evening the old time enthusiasm was manifested, and the following officers were elected:
Vice President—Max G. Kusel
Corresponding Sec.—Emil Tanek
Treasurer—H. G. Grube
Vice Presidents—First ward—John Schatz, Edw. L. Schempf, Otto A. Wegemann. Second ward—S. Molzahn. T. F. Shinnick, Chas. Lutovsky. Third ward-Ferd. Schmutzler, Chas. Mulberger, M. J. Burke. Fourth ward—Wm. Hartig, R. M. Hahn, C. E. Straw. Fifth ward—Wm. Schimmel, E. J. Seifert, John C. Seager. Sixth ward— W. F. Voss, John L. Kehr, F. C. Hartwig. Seventh ward—C. A. Vaughan, Wm. Blair, Frank Kalina.
Executive Committee—Mayor H. G. Grube, G. M. Gahlman, Theodore Zick, F. P. McAdams, Edw. Sipp.
Publicity Committee—J. P. Holland, James W. Moore, P. H. Swift, O. R Krueger,
Decoration Committee—Eugene Meyer, F. G. Keck, Henry Scheblak, Joseph Raue, C. A. Comstock.
Amusements—George J. Nichols, W. E. Brandt, O. C. Wertheimer.
Music and Speaker—John J. Brusenbach, Emil Tanck, H. Wertheimer.
For the Saturday evening program G. M. Gahlman was elected chairman and will have full charge of the arrangements.
A noted speaker will be secured for the homecoming address on Sunday afternoon and all necessary arrangements for the comfort of the visitors will be carried out.
The Thirty Year club, of which John Bruegger of Williston, N. D., is president, will be present on the occasion and hold its annual meeting on Saturday afternoon.
All the local societies will be asked to participate in the parade and in the reception of the visitors and the festivities on Tivoli island where the Sunday afternoon program will be carried out.
Letter From Ernest Wood
Watertown Gazette, 07 08 1910
Chicago, Ill., June 27, 1910.
Friend James: When The Gazette reaches me each week, one of the items which inevitably catches my eye is the one headed “Look at the Date" and each time I read it I have said "Well now I must remit for The Gazette," and straightway it slips out of my mind until the next copy arrives and the operation is repeated.
But here is a check for the paper for 1910, and I can "Look at the date" now without a feeling of thoughtlessness which periodically comes over me.
I note with interest the generous amount of space which you give in your last issue to school commencements and graduating exercises, and to school matters in general. How few familiar names do I find among the graduates, teachers and officers of the board. Even the names of the school buildings themselves are strange to me.
The Webster, Lincoln and Douglas schools are quite new to me, and do not impart the same thought of location as did Union schools 1, 2, 3, etc., or Theodore Bernhardt's school, Reed's school, Seamanm's school [R Watson Seaman], Richard's Grove school, or Ashley Harger's school in the earlier days.
The objects in view, however, were all the same and I am glad to know you are turning out good "results" in each department of your school system.
You are at the head of a noble institution and I wish you and your associates every success that can come to well directed and energetic efforts for the education of the rising generation.
Give my kindest regards to all old time acquaintances.
Yours very truly,
E. M. Wood.
Watertown Gazette, 07 15 1910
Will Be Run for the Homecoming on August 7th.
Special trains over the Milwaukee road have been secured for homecoming day, August 7th. On that day a special train will be run from Madison, leaving there about 8 a.m. and returning about 10 p.m. Extra service has also been promised on the Milwaukee road between here and Columbus. It is expected that a large delegation from Madison will accompany Attorney General Frank L. Gilbert, who will deliver the homecoming address.
Watertown Gazette, 07 22 1910
Perhaps the most delightful experiences of Homecoming week will be the reunions and the old fashioned "experience meetings" which these reunions will call forth.
Comrades and associates of other days in war, business and politics, who have not seen each other in years, will be rejoiced to meet again and recount experiences that memory will never let die.
Some of these experiences will be humorous, some pathetic, some tragic. Some of them will have to do with the formative periods of life. The older men and women will find a keen relish in living over again these scenes of the long ago.
For some of the veterans who will visit the city during these days much of the zest and relish of life has already past. They have turned over to younger hands the active work of life, and are simply "waiting till the shadows are a little longer grown." For such, these reunions will brighten and freshen the pathway of coming days.
Others, still vigorous and aggressive, step aside for a few days from life's activities to renew acquaintanceship, visit familiar scenes, recount chapters out of life's early history, and then rush back again with a quicker step and a keener zest and a fresher spirit to take up the burden of life's duties and responsibilities.
The sight of old friends in the old home will be good for all on August 6th and 7th.
Watertown Gazette, 07 22 1910
Plans for homecoming were discussed at a largely attended meeting of the committees held last week Thursday evening, and aside from the big parade and reception at Tivoli Island Sunday, August 7, there will be something doing on the Saturday evening before. The idea of a floral parade of automobiles has been abandoned but the committee will induce owners of machines to participate in an illuminated parade in the evening together with the local fire apparatus. Plenty of red and green fire and fireworks will be on hand to make this feature a success. There will be plenty of music during the evening. These arrangements are left in charge of G. J. Nichols and G. M. Gahlman, chairmen of the reception and amusement committees.
Tivoli island will be in excellent condition for the reception which will be held on Sunday afternoon, August 7th. It is expected that a large number of local civic societies, including labor unions and the Watertown Krieger-Verein, will participate in the parade, which will form in Main Street shortly after 1 o'clock on that date. Attorney General Frank L. Gilbert of Madison will deliver the homecoming address, and Congressman Charles H. Weisse will also speak.
A special train will leave Madison at 8 a.m. and returning leave Watertown 10 p.m. Train No. 10 from the west will stop at Reeseville in the morning and No. 1 will stop at that station at night to accommodate people in that section.
Letter from James Nellins
Watertown Gazette, 07 22 1910
Dear Friend : On August 6th and 7th the generous people of Watertown, our “Old Home,” keep open house and the doors of her hospitality will be swung wide open to us who have drifted away from the tender care of our old nurse.
There is something about the words "Old Home" which catches the eye and appeals to the best sentiment of all of us.
No matter how far we may have drifted, no matter how strongly we have become attached to the place where we pitched our tents, the bonds which bind us to the old home are most lasting.
Old home appeals to every one of us of mature years, father, mother, and childhood, and when we think of the old home, we bring back the tenderest memories possessed by man; true love, perfect faith, holy reverence, high ambitions—“the long, long thoughts of youth.”
Members of the Thirty Year Club come home. Dear old Watertown calls us "come home."
Obliterate the intervening years and let childhood and youth be ours again and the love of the "Old Home" will still remain uppermost and abiding through all the years of our lives and toward it our willing feet will turn as the needle to the Pole, or the Mohammedan Pilgrim to the Mecca of his worship
Remember that Watertown still holds sovereignty not simply over its own soil, but over its own kindred and under such sovereignty it now summons all of us born of its loins to come back to our old home.
Then once more Members of the Old Guard and the Home Guard, all ye faithful "Fall in." On August 6th and 7th an invading army is threatening the Citadel of our Old Home. Forward to its rescue, forward to Watertown.
Will you please answer this letter?
Fraternally, James Nellins,
James Nellins, secretary of the Watertown Thirty Year Club, has issued the above interesting letter and sent it out to all members of that club.
Watertown Gazette, 07 29 1910
Chicago, Ill., July 23, 1910.
Editor Gazette:—I thought I would drop you a few lines to ask you how all the people out there are getting along and how you are preparing the town for homecoming this year. As per your Gazette I see the people are expecting a crowd of homecomers and I do hope everybody will enjoy themselves this year the same as I did last year. I will say, I never spent as fine a time in my life as I did for one week I spent in Watertown last year, and it pleased me many times to find so many people that were so glad to meet me because I was a son of a former Watertown business man, Jim McGeean, the butcher [McGeean & Ames meat market, 1880’s]. I will not be there this year for homecoming, as no vacations will be allowed in the Police Department the 1st or 2d weeks in August on account of the convention of the Knight Templars in Chicago the first two weeks, as they expect a very large gathering and they claim if there are any of the police on vacation during that time they are afraid they would not have enough police to handle the crowd. We only have 4000 police for such a large city as this . . .
– Joseph D. McGeean, Chicago.
Former Residents From All Over Country Plan To Spend Two Days
Turners To Celebrate
Watertown Gazette, 07 29 1910
Milwaukee-Watertown Club of Milwaukee to go in a Body
Reproduction of First House Part of Celebration
The annual home-coming will be held in the city of Watertown on Aug. 6 and 7.
Arrangements have been made by the Milwaukee-Watertown club of Milwaukee to go to Watertown in a body on the interurban line Saturday afternoon, Aug. 6, arriving in Watertown in time to participate in the Saturday night festivities. It is expected that a large delegation of former Watertown people now living in Milwaukee will make the trip.
The feature of this year's home-coming will be on Sunday, Aug. 7, when the Watertown Turner Verein will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. This Turner Verein is one of the oldest in the United States and has about thirty charter members still living, many of whom will be present at the jubilee celebration.
The committee has arranged a program for Saturday night, Aug. 6, to consist of fireworks, a parade of local societies, a fire run of the home department and open air vaudeville.
A feature of the parade will be a reproduction of the first house built in Watertown on the shore of the Rock River nearby, where the Main Street bridge now crosses; it will be a float on wheels drawn by eight horses and driven by the oldest resident of the city.
At 10 o'clock at night the Thirty Year Club will hold its annual meeting and receive reports of its officers. This club now has a membership of 150, each of whom was born in Watertown, but has lived in other parts of the United States for more than thirty years. Speeches will be given by Julius Thielmann, Merrill; James Nellins, Minneapolis; Ralph Blumenfeld, London, and John Bruegger, Williston, N. D.
It is expected that A. J. Earling, president of the St. Paul Railway, who, more than thirty years ago, was a dispatcher in Watertown, will be present and participate in the proceedings of the club.
The Attendance Was Greater Than Ever Before
A Fine Program and the Weather Was Perfect Throughout
Watertown Gazette, 08 12 1910
The 8th annual homecoming celebration in this city last Saturday and Sunday was a great success, and more former residents participated than ever before. They came from far-away San Diego and Los Angeles in California, from Oregon, from Washington, on the west; from Boston, from New Jersey and from New York, on the east; from Florida on the south; from the Dakota and Montana on the north; in fact people were here from nearly every state in the Union.
Watertown was better prepared than ever to receive her visitors—every home in the city was thrown wide-open, and many were the family reunions and renewals of old-time friendships.
The street decorations were the finest ever attempted here before, and Saturday night when the numerous Japanese lanterns were lighted, the red fire burned and the strings of electric lights illuminated during the automobile parade, the scene presented was truly a grand one. The illuminated automobile and fire apparatus parade was witnessed by many thousands of people. Each automobile in the parade was handsomely decorated, and all along the line of march the applause was enthusiastic as each machine passed. Dr. A. H. Hartwig's machine came in for the greatest applause, his machine being considered the best decorated of the hundred or more machines in the parade.
Sunday morning two brass bands met visitors at the depots and at 11 o'clock paraded on the principal streets. In the afternoon fully 6,000 people assembled at Tivoli Island, and it was a feast for the heart and eye to see the joyful and pleasant greetings of those present. Mayor H. G. Grube began the speech-making at 2:30 o'clock by introducing Attorney General of Wisconsin, Frank L. Gilbert of Madison, and Congressman Weisse of Sheboygan Falls. Their speeches were good, and each speaker met with merited applause.
At 11 a.m. Sunday morning the Thirty-Year Club met at Masonic Temple Hall and re-elected all the old officers. Ernst M. Wood, a thoroughbred "Yankee," captivated all present at the meeting by his recital of a ''Dutch" poem on the miser and the monkey. It was a companion piece to one recited by Wm. Gallagher of Chicago the day previous in The Gazette office with James Nellins, George Gegenheimer, Dr. Warner, Peter Lynch, Ernst M. Wood and a number of others composing a select audience of former Watertown people. Peter J. Norton [cross refer to his letter] of Chicago sent a letter of regret that he could not be present this year on account of the large number of his friends who were in Chicago in attendance at the Knight Templar convention.
To the credit of our city and our visitors be it said that the conduct of all was perfect, and not a single thing happened to mar the proceedings, as all conducted themselves in a gentlemanly and ladylike manner, and homecoming, 1910, was truly a great family reunion in spirit and in good conduct.
The afternoon parade to the island was made up as follows:
Our Mascot—Fritzie Dornfeld
Homecoming Club Committees
Thirty Year Club
Watertown Military Band
Speakers in Carriages
Deutcher Krieger Verein
The officers and members of the Watertown Homecoming Club desire to publicly express their thanks to all those who contributed toward the success of the undertaking. The business men for generous donations, members of the Krieger Verein, Turners, union men, and citizens generally for participating in the parades.
[Ernest Wood's "Dutch" poem will appear in the next issue of The Gazette]
The Mayor Is Right
Watertown Gazette, 08 12 1910
Mayor Grube acted in the proper spirit last Friday evening when he ordered a political banner taken down, which was suspended across Main Street at the corner of First Street. The point was raised, and properly too, that no political banner should float among the decorations that were being put up for homecoming, and then too it is said a city ordinance forbids the use of franchise poles for advertising purposes. We want people of all creeds and nationalities, and of all political beliefs, to attend and join in our homecoming, and no flag or banner should float in our city that would be out of place on such an occasion. The banner is once more afloat between First and Second streets, and no one has fault to find. On the eve of homecoming was not the proper time to display it.
Watertown Gazette, 08 19 1910
To the Editor of The Gazette:
Without the least desire for cheap notoriety, yet because through our city papers any matters of public welfare may be quickly and effectively brought to the attention of all who may be interested, I inquire whether it is not a good time to consider the advisability of changing "Home Coming" from the Saturday-Sunday dates on which it is now held, to the middle of the week, where it properly belongs. I have closely observed "Home Comings" during recent years and I am sure that, judging from the prevailing characteristics of each annual event it properly belongs to a section of the week where it can be fully observed without doing violence to the Christian Sabbath—the day of quietness, rest and prudence, the day of the care and cure of souls.
Can we not devise ways and means to have instead an annual Harvest Home Coming, in which the yearly progress of our city could be adequately set forth? Our natural resources, strategic position as an educational, railroad, and training center portrayed, coupled with this, wholesome sports on land and water, in which local athletes could compete with those from without, which might also serve to revive choral and band music, etc., etc., and thus have a real Watertown Day in which the advantages of our city could be made to appeal to prospective residents and investors. In other words let us have a real BOOST WATERTOWN event once a year in all her splendid totality, rather than the exploiting one too characteristic of our town as is always altogether too prominent on Home Coming occasions. I appeal to the moral and religious and business sense of all the people.
Morris Eversz, Pastor, First Methodist Church.
Watertown Gazette, 08 19 1910
The editor is in receipt of the following letter from Ernest Wood, which we know will interest all of The Gazette's readers.
Friend James:—Please excuse this lead pencil, but I am in a hurry, and as I promised, I will enclose a copy, written in English script, of the little German recitation which I gave to the "Thirty Year Club" at the annual meeting of 1910; which was called forth by reminiscences and vivid word pictures of that good old time instructor, Theodore Bernhardt. I was simply astonished at the letter perfect repetition of some of the German recitations which bubbled forth from William E. Gallagher at homecoming, whom I last saw in Watertown over forty-six years ago. He knew some of the same pieces which I had also learned, as did Dr. Werner, whom we met in your office. We rehearsed many incidents of those early schoolboy days, and I know we parted with a glow of cheerfulness and happy recollection which did us all more good than any single dose of anybody’s medicine.
Yours very truly,
E. M. Wood
Watertown Gazette, 08 26 1910
Jacob Kopp, a quarter of a century ago foreman in the candy department of the Woodard-Stone factory, writes the following interesting letter to the editor of The Gazette. All his old friends here will read it with much interest. He has the same good feeling for Watertown that all former residents have:
Omaha, August 15, 1910.
3461 South 15th St.
J. J. Moore, Watertown, Wis.
Friend Jim:—I suppose you will be surprised to hear from me at this late date (providing this is the same Jim of 21 or 28 years ago—the editor of the Gazette), but in writing some letters this evening I happened to run across the invitation to the 8th Annual Homecoming at Watertown and must confess, Jim, that it would have done my heart good to have been home once more, though I am in possession of some photos showing the Rock River in different places and last but not the least, the Island [Tivoli], which brings the old home near to me every time I look at them, but to tell the truth, Jim, I have lived in Omaha going on 27 years, but never did I feel any more at home than I did at Watertown, and if nothing happens I shall be home on the 9th homecoming, providing I am still among the living and on this side of the great divide. I can never forget the old home, Watertown, for I have spent some of the happiest days in my life there, and men whom I worked for were princes, both of them, and my associates were all noble fellows.
When I think of the Phoenix Fire Co., of which I had the honor of being a member, and the runs to the fires to see who'd get there first, and the enjoyable times I had as a member of the Watertown Turner Verein, and the first time I returned to Watertown, December, 26, 1884, the reception I received from the Turn Verein and the citizens of Watertown in general, I will never forget. Last, but not least, my friends, Paul Herzog and Otto Linde, both of them have gone to the Spirit World, and I hope that when my time comes I shall have the pleasure to meet them.
Say Jim, excuse me, but I begin to get sentimental and better cut it short, but how are you anyhow, and how are your folks? I can see you before me as you looked in 1884-5-6, etc, at least for ten or twelve years. I suppose, however, I would not recognize you today if I saw you, and I dare say you would have to study for a while to recognize me if you saw me. If you remember I was of dark complexion, and am yet, and my hair was as black as the proverbial ace of spades, but today you ought to see it. Everybody in Watertown were my friends as soon as they found out I was not an Italian. It makes me laugh to think that the people in Watertown took me for a "Dago", and the boys in the shop thought I was loaded with stilettos.
Do you know my friend, the music dealer in Main Street, William _____. I can't think of his name now, came in to see me about a year or so ago—darned if I really knew who he was until he was gone. He only had about 1 minute and 30 seconds to stay. Wm. Sproesser, I just happened to think of him, but Jim, do you know I am getting old and forgetful? I am past 62 years, but I'll never forget Watertown and its people, if I live to be 1000 years old, Jim give everybody my heartiest greetings that remembers old
P. S. One of my friends, Paul Herzog's girls, was in to see me some time ago with her husband, but I was not at home. I was sorry to have missed to see this wee bit of a girl of years ago. Say, is my old friend, George Evans still on top of the earth? Extend greetings to him from Jake.
[Alas no, Jake, poor George is under the sod.— Jim. ]
History of Watertown, Wisconsin