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Joseph Wolfram

1881 - 1953


Residences included Ixonia, Gopher Hill Road, where he was born at the Wolfram Homestead Farm; then 523 N. Washington St in circa 1897, 1551 Oconomowoc Ave. circa 1915, 703 Division St. circa 1917, 207 Cole Street circa 1921 [Watertown City Directories].


Joe had been born on his grandfather's farm that sat on the dividing line of Ixonia and Watertown townships.  The house he was born into had been built in the German tradition with white stucco plaster finish on the sides with exposed oak timbers that crossed in the Old World Bavarian style.  It had a fieldstone foundation that could have served as storage cellar as well as housing animals.


The front of the house faced south looking toward Gopher Hill Road which ran parallel to the Watertown Plank Road.  It was a German style timber house built from oak wood and it had a small single doorway that had one small cottage window on its left and two cottage windows on the right side of the door. In back of the house was a "lean-to" kitchen that looked like it had been added as an after-thought.


A photograph of this small house remains but the structure was demolished after the farm was sold in 1905. 



The Griebenow family lived on the property for the next hundred years---at least until 2003.  There is a small creek flowing through on the west side of the driveway and on a hillside are still remnants of the apple orchard that was once prolific.


Joe's grandfather had bought farm land that was heavily wooded with a hilltop providing protection from easterly winds and lower wetlands to the west.  His grandfather had settled there in September of 1864 after emigrating from Germany and marrying a girl he had met on the journey over the Atlantic Ocean.  His grandfather was a widower with children in June of 1875 when Joe's parents married and moved into the farmhouse they were to share with Karl and his other five children still living at home.




The Wolfram family lived on Gopher Hill Farm until Joe was 16 yr. old.  Grandfather Karl had sold the farm to his son, Anton, signing it over to him on 26 March 1875 but Anton still owed money to Karl on a bond and in March, 1905, several years after Karl died, the farm was sold over to Julius Griebenow.  This was one year after Joe was married.  Evidently, there was no longer anyone in the Wolfram family willing to stay on the farm to work it.


In 1897 Grandfather Karl moved with son Anton and his family into the city of Watertown to a small house at 523 N. Washington Street.  It was about a block west of the Rock River where they could fish, as mother Mary liked to pickle carp caught there.  Grandfather Karl was 75 years of age and his son Anton would have been 46 years old. 


With Joseph being 16 years of age, with older but unmarried sisters, it is understandable that they may not have been able to make a living on the farm.   When they moved into town, young Joe became employed as an interior painter and wallpaper hanger while sister Helen worked at a millinery shop on West Main St.




15 Oct 1902 -- Joe's sister Anna married William NEIS and Dec 1902; Grandfather Karl dies; then 27 Jan 1903 Joe's sister Helen marries Charles Lutovsky (later Mayor Lutovsky, Watertown politician); 02 May 1903 younger brother Ed dies, age 14 of enlarged heart.


Joe's mother did not like living at the Washington St address where her father-in-law and young son had died.  According to her granddaughter, Florence (Lutovsky) Donahue, after Joe and his older sisters had married, Mary and Anton decided to move further out of the city, preferring country lifestyle.  They moved to a home on the Rock River near Oconomowoc Ave.  Youngest son, Ben (Bernhart) lived there with his parents until he married Emily Ruzek and they moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  Niece Florence recalls that Ben worked for the state road department paving roads including Oconomowoc Ave. and Hwy 16 leading east out of Watertown.  




St Henry's Marriage Record Book (June 7, 1904) shows Joseph married Augusta Stock.  He had been living at 523 N. Washington St. Watertown and was a laborer who worked for "Murphy and Dobratz" of 120 Main St., Painters and Wallpapers.   A year later, he returned to farming and settled north of Watertown in the town of Shields, where his children were born and raised.  Joe was known for his ability to handle horses.



Bohemian Community


By 1905, Joe was farming again with his new bride in Dodge County at the Flor farm.  His parents had moved to 1551 Oconomowoc Ave, on the Rock River where the East Gate Inn was later built (today the site of Settler's Bay Restaurant (1601 Oconomowoc Ave).  His mother Mary enjoyed living on the outskirts of town and the area was known as Watertown's Bohemian community, with many gardens growing produce for the local markets. 


Even today, a descendant of the Bohemian community, the Bruenig family, allows garden rental plots near the river bank where locals can easily tend their own kitchen gardens.


Submitted by Karren Wolfram - 2003


Interment is in the parish cemetery.


Wolfram Family Timeline file