ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


William Buchheit, Sr

1827 – 1911


Buchheit Family


William Buchheit Malting Co

American Malting Co.

Fleishmann Malting Co.

Old Elm Mills



William Buchheit, grain dealer; born in Bavaria, August 15, 1827; came to America in 1851; landed at New York City April 8, 1851; came to Milwaukee in May of the same year; came to Watertown and located in August 1852.  The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin”, Chicago: Western Historical Company. 1879.


Engaged in the liquor business for a number of years; carried on a rectifying establishment and did a large wholesale business after doing a retail business for some years.



William Buchheit, tenant in Werner bldg on Main St Bridge, “bier halle.”


Plank Road Brewery


He also built and carried on a brewery for awhile.  Corner of Dayton and W Main St.  In 1852 William Buchheit and Charles Reidinger opened a small brewery on this site, called the Plank Road Brewery, near the Mud Tavern.  In 1865 it was acquired by Friedrich Schwartz of Milwaukee who brewed “weiss beer” or wheat been in this plant and in 1867 it closed.  Afterwards the buildings were used as a glue factory, before burning to the ground in 1871.



On July 30, 1857, he was married in Watertown to Helena Weis, [link to file on Albert Weis] a native of Prussia; they have ten children living - Anna, Helena, Mena, Amelia, Josephina (Mrs. William Sproesser), William Jr., Alexander, Henry, Gustav and Albert.




1860       In 1860, he commenced business as a commission and produce merchant.


1865       In 1865, he commenced buying grain and is now one of the largest and most prosperous grain dealers in the West.


1871           CASHBOOK, William Buchheit

                         <  Cashbook, Buchheit, commission business, 1871.


1888       William Buchheit Malting Co. began in 1888. 

Later known as the American Malting Co., the Fleishmann Malting Co. and eventually simply as Old Elm Mills.



                    BUCHHEIT, WILLIAM & SON, MALT HOUSE

                          <  Weltburger, 12 07 1889, drawing




Friday morning, E. Oestreich, of Juneau, and Arthur Goeldner, both employed with Wm. Weber & Co., tinning the Buchheit malt house, slipped down the roof of the building caused by the slat their feet were braced against giving way.  Oestreich in his descent landed on the netting of the telegraph wire running along the side of the building, and falling through landed on a pile of soft dirt, sustaining no injury beyond being bruised on the shoulders and one arm being hurt, preventing him from going to work for a day or two.  Goeldner caught on by the gutter and at the edge of the roof and with remarkable coolness lifted himself back onto the roof and went along with his work.  From the point where they slipped to the ground it is a distance of about 80 feet and their escape under the circumstances is the greatest of wonders.



Lengthy article about new malt house opened.  The one delayed until the bond issue was decided.    WR



07 26       PRIVATE FORTUNE PLEDGED in case of bank bankruptcy  



01 18       950,000 BUSHELS OF MALT

Over 950,000 bushels of malt were made here last year, of which the Wm. Buchheit Malting Co.made about 700,000 bushels , and Hartig & Manz and the A. Feurmann Brewing Co. made about 250, 000 bushels.  This would indicate that Watertown is an excellent barley market.   WG



The William Buchheit Malting company has been granted permission by the common council to build a private sewer on Ninth Street, leading from his malt-house to the Clyman Street sewer, for the purpose of disposing of the steeped water which accumulates from malting.  This water now flows over ground through the Seventh ward, and as it becomes stagnant is of course offensive and is injurious to health.  Seventh ward residents complained of this state of things and the board of health ordered a remedy.  The private sewer is a result.  It will be laid under the direction of the city engineer and is to be of 8-inch pipe.   WR



--              DISTANT VIEW




. . . were sentenced by Justice Henze Monday to the county jail for ten days on a charge of vagrancy.  They were arrested Saturday night in a car loaded with grain near the Bucheit malthouse.  They had broken the seal of the car and also admitted having removed three switch lights, both of which offences were serious.  The railroad officials may take action against the tramps for their misdemeanor.   WR



Lewis Monument dedication participant, Gustav Buchheit.


04 26       A small blaze in the rear of the residence of Wm. Buchheit called out the fire department Friday evening, a section of the fence having taken fire from burning refuse.  The fire was easily extinguished, and no damage of any account resulted.   WR


05 30       Three persons have agreed to back the baseball team this year.  They are Gustav Buchheit, Albert Fredrich and Reinhold Schott.  A lease has been granted for Washington park and everything will be done in the proper way.  The season will open about June 2 and it is hoped that only success awaits the undertaking.   WR







                             1919, William Buchheit home purchased; site for Trinity Lutheran Church 







                American Malting Company Losing Much Barley


The closing of the Rough and Ready bridge (Oconomowoc Ave bridge) is bringing to many of our citizens a realization of the fact that the city is losing considerable business as a consequence.


The bridge was condemned by the city council early in November and it was expected that the repair of the bridge or the construction of a new one would receive the immediate attention of the council.  There was a delay till many of the farmers began to complain and the council took action insofar that a resolution was adopted instructing the public works and the committee on streets and bridges to procure plans.


Since that time, no action has been taken, as far as is known.


Many of the merchants and businessmen are beginning to join the farmers in their complaint and are desirous of urging upon the council the necessity of immediate action for the reason that quite a large volume of trade that naturally comes to Watertown is now going to Oconomowoc.


Many farmers were obliged to travel a roundabout way, crossing the Smith bridge, the road leading to the same being in horrible condition.  Some of these farmers have quit coming to the city, while others have marketed their produce at Oconomowoc ever since the bridge was condemned.


As a result of the closing of the bridge the American Malting company (William Buchheit Malting Co) has lost over 5, 000 bushels of barley, which has gone to Oconomowoc,


What is true of this concern, is true of many others.  This is an important matter that should be delayed no longer and the city council should act quick.


1910       WIRELESS MESSAGE to the Times

08 26      


The first wireless message ever received by a daily newspaper in Watertown was received by the Daily Times on Saturday afternoon, but too late for publication.  It was sent by Alex Buchheit, who with his father, William Buchheit, are returning home from a visit to Germany.  The sending of the message was prearranged and was given to the wireless operator when on board ship 1000 miles from New York.  It was transmitted to the Postal Telegraph Company and sent by phone to the Times from the postal station in Madison.  The message reads as follows:


"Steamer Grosse Kurfuest, 1000 miles from New York.  Arrive Tuesday.  Are in rough sea and passing Icebergs."  Buchheit.


They are expected home on Thursday – [Watertown Daily Times]   WG




One of Watertown's Oldest, Best-Known and Most Progressive Business Men

His Death is Sincerely Mourned by the Citizens of Watertown


                Sunday morning, May 21, 1911, Wm. Buchheit died at the family home, 605 Fourth Street [present location of Trinity Lutheran Church], this city, at the close of an illness of about two weeks, which confined him to his home.  His final ending was peaceful and he passed from earth surrounded by the members of his family, whom he had always so well and generously provided for.


Mr. Buchheit had enjoyed unusually good health for a man of his advanced age and for many years past took yearly trips to his old home in Europe, which seemed to put new life and vigor into him.  Two months ago he began to fail, suffering no particular ailment aside from general debility.


Mr. Buchheit was born in Zweibruecken, Bavaria, August 15, 1827, and came to America in 1851, landing in New York City April 8 of that year; the following May he came west as far as Milwaukee, and for a time was traveling solicitor for The Wisconsin Banner, a German newspaper and from there came to Watertown in August, 1852, and engaged in the liquor business and later did a large business in rectifying and wholesaling liquor; he built one of the first breweries in the state, but it was destroyed by fire before it was put in operation.


In 1860 he started a commission and produce business, which developed into one of the largest in the northwest, it being necessary to have warehouses in various places to accommodate his trade.  He added grain buying to his business in 1865 and interested the farmers in this section of the state to engage in the growing of barley.


In 1866 he started the Buchheit block in Third Street and as his business increased he added to it in 1874 and again in 1878, making it one of the largest business blocks in the city.


He incorporated the Wm. Buchheit Malting Co. in 1888, and conducted a large malting business in Watertown for many years, finally selling out to the American Malting Co., and then identifying himself with other interests here.


In 1883 he was elected president of the Bank of Watertown, a position he held up to the time of his death.  From the time he first engaged in the commission business till the time of his death every interest he identified himself with flourished and grew in importance. He was a farseeing, conservative, yet very progressive business man, and contributed generously of his means to every public enterprise, and encouraged by both word and deed everything that tended to advance the interests of Watertown.


In a business way his judgment was always the best, and many a citizen profited by his good advice and sound judgment.  He also possessed a genial, sunshiny disposition and never failed to greet his friends and neighbors with a pleasant smile and a kind word, usually having some little joke to relate when he stopped a moment for a pleasant chat.  In his death our city loses a business man who has done a great deal not only for Watertown but for the surrounding country, and his family a husband and father who always provided well for their wants and comforts.


Mr. Buchheit was married July 30, 1857, to Helena Weis of this city, who survives him with ten children, who are as follows: Mrs. Carl E. Emmerling, Watertown; Mrs. Fred Vullmahn, Chicago; Mrs. M. F. Blumenfeld, Watertown; Mrs. John Mithen, Omaha; Mrs. William Sproesser, Watertown; William Mithen, New York City; Henry Buchheit, Buffalo, N. Y.; Alex Buchheit, Attorney Gustav Buchheit, Watertown; Dr. Albert Buchheit, Park Ridge, Ill.  Fourteen grandchildren also survive him.


This afternoon his funeral took place from his late home to Oak Hill Cemetery.  In respect to Mr. Buchheit's memory the Bank of Watertown was closed all day on Thursday and the Merchants National and Wisconsin National Banks closed at 1 o'clock.   WG




Max E. Biefeld, Watertown, Wis., has resigned as assistant manager of the American Malting Co. to become secretary-treasurer of the Otto Biefeld Co., Watertown, boiler and structural works, succeeding the late Richard Biefeld.     The Iron Age, 10 04, 1917.







The elevator of the American Grain and Malting Company, near the Milwaukee depot, was almost entirely destroyed by fire in a blaze that raged all forenoon.  Officials of the fire department say this was the worst fire since the Masonic temple fire four years ago.  A high wind prevailed and the fire department had that difficulty in combatting the flames.


The call came in by telephone from the office of the Beals-Pratt Shoe Company, which has an uninterrupted view of the building, shortly after 9 a.m.   The auto truck made a quick “get out” and was soon at the scene of action and the whole fire fighting force was quickly marshaled and put in action under the command of Chief John Glaser.


Origin of Fire


The origin of the fire is not quite clear but the general belief is that the fire started from sparks emitted from a railway engine.


It was reported that a lady crossing the tracks just before the 9:05 passenger, observed sparks from the engine blowing in that direction.  There was a strong wind from the southwest and the fire was first discovered on what is known as the second highest part of the southwest corner of the elevator.  Carl E. Emmerling, manager of the American Malting Company, the owner, stated that about 9:15 he was in his office and looked out the window.  The fire alarm sounded at about the same time and he looked about and saw a blaze about three feet wide on the edge of shingles on the southwest roof mentioned.  The fire department reached there soon after. 


The flames seemed to have made terrific headway, and in a few moments the whole building was becoming enveloped.  It was discovered when the hose were attached that the city pressure was very feeble, and the auto truck engine and the Ahrens were both brought into service to increase the pressure.  There was no hitch in the work of the fire department, steady streams being directed against the rapidly burning structure and the fire kept confined thereto.


The wind was so brisk that it was feared that buildings in a northeasterly direction were in danger.  Every precaution was taken to prevent sparks from taking hold.  Despite the vigilance, a large hole was burned in the roof of the H. Uehling barn, 809 Clyman Street.  It was put out with chemicals in short order.


Residence owners were quick to invoke the law of self defense and put their garden hoses in operation.  The roofs were manned and the wooden surfaces of the building kept drenched until the danger period was passed.


The elevator building was owned by the American Grain and Malt Company, which is the successor through reorganization of the American Malting Company.


Early History


The building was erected over sixty years ago, according to the statements of old residents of the city, but during its history changed hands but few times.


Its first owners were Jonas and Silas Sleeper, who conducted it for many years, being among the pioneer grain buyers of this vicinity.  It was considered one of the biggest elevators in the state, having a storage capacity of 24,000 bushels of grain.  The lumber used in its erection is said to have been of the very best and it was considered yesterday as good as new.  The cost at the time was $7300, according to a record kept and transmitted to the successors of the original owners.  The first building was built south of the present depot and about thirty years ago, on becoming the property of the late William Buchheit, was moved to its present location.  It passed from him to the American Malting Company.


Large Storage of Tobacco


For the past six months the lower floor of the elevator has been stored with stemming-tobacco from the plant of the Ligget-Mayer Company of this city.  We were unable to ascertain the extent of this loss, but it is supposed to be quite large.  The tobacco was almost entirely destroyed or ruined.


Building Complete Loss


The building and its equipment is a complete loss, but is partially covered by insurance.  For sometime the elevator has been out of use for grain storage and the probability is that it will never be rebuilt.      WDTimes, 9-15-1920




       Buchheit car


1946       THE MILL BURNED IN 1946 (AND AGAIN IN 1959)

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1957 City Dir ad



04 29       OLD ELM MILL FIRE

   The old Elm Mills plant fire resulted in a loss of $250,000.

      The sub-headline in the Watertown Daily Times said it all:  Holocaust Destroys Huge Plant in City


^ Click to link to portfolio of images


The heaviest concentration of the fire fighting equipment used in the city since the 1946 Fleischmann Malting Company fire was thrown into operation the morning of April 29, 1959, to battle a quarter-million dollar blaze which again destroyed the plant, this time operated under the name of Old Elm Mills.


The plant, which sprawled over an entire block between South Eighth and South Ninth Streets, and Station Street and the Milwaukee Road Railroad tracks, was doomed within an hour after the fire was discovered.  The Old Elm Mills office across the street was untouched.


The Watertown Fire Department sent all of its equipment to the scene within moments after the alarm came in and was joined later by departments from out of town, including Oconomowoc, Juneau, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek and Lebanon.


The fire produced intense heat.  Cars jammed the area for blocks and thousands of per-sons visited the scene and watched the fire, there being a steady coming and going during the day.  Many school children who "skipped" classes were in the crowds that surged about the place.  Police kept the crowds at safe distances.


Firemen fought the blaze at many points, concentrating their efforts to prevent damage or destruction to nearby homes and buildings.  At least two homes were wetted down by owners to prevent fires destroying or damaging them.  One of the businesses whose property was in danger for a time from the raging fire is that of the Sinclair Refining, which has a bulk plant at 1108 South Eighth Street.  Firemen maintained a steady watch on the progress of the fire and prevented it from spreading to the oil installations.


One of the city's large industrial plants, the Mid-States Shoe Company, had some of its men on its roof with water and wet bags to prevent fire from starting on their property.


Captain Paul Buchholz suffered a foot injury when he was struck by a piece of metal when a cupola broke from its moorings and tumbled to the ground. 


Only the lower floor of the huge brick building was used for storage.  The big metal build-ing part of the plant was used for storage of grain and the grain bins, built of wood, and was quickly consumed by the flames. 


Old Elm Mills came to Watertown in 1949 from Elm Grove.  The Old Elm Mills plant, formerly the Fleischmann Malting property, was the scene of a previous disastrous fire.  That was on March 1, 1946, when one half of the structure was destroyed.  Before the Fleischmann Malting acquired and operated the property it was known as the William Buchheit Malting Company.


The "Old Malt House," had long been regarded as a potential fire hazard by neighbors and other citizens regarded the structure as a source of danger if a fire got started in it.  It had been erected and added to over many years and was built at a time when there were few houses nearby.



  Video clip of fire  



CROSS REFERENCE:   The mill was the site of a previous fire, that of the Fleischmann Malt House, in 1946.  Mill burned in 1946 and again in 1959.  Only part of the structure remains today and it is now the location of Y’s Way Carpeting.




Construction of the new plant of the Old Elm Mills is well along.  With the construction method employed, about seven full days of work is required to erect the building, which will be 105 feet high by 36 feet by 52 feet.  The plant will be of poured concrete, slip form construction.  It will replace the building destroyed by fire on April 29 of last year.  Construction work is in charge of the Mid-States Construction of Omaha, Neb.  The ready-mix concrete is being provided by the Tri-County Redi-Mix of this city.  Cost of the plant and rebuilt warehouses will be approximately $140,000.   WDT




Officials of Old Elm Mills today announced completion of their new and modern feed plant and said it is now in full operation.  The old plant was destroyed by fire two years ago in what was one of the major fires in the history of Watertown.  The new plant is more compact and its operation is modern in every respect.  It operates with push-button controls.  The new all concrete plant is one of the most modern and well equipped feed plants in the country and is designed for efficiency of operation and accuracy in the production of modern feed rations.     WDT




A couple of men posing for a picture

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As of Dec. 31 M/M Merlin Flowers are the new managers of the American Legion Green Bowl succeeding M/M Harold Schultz.  Flowers had been employed by Midland Cooperative.  For the past five years he was manager of Old Elm Mills in Watertown, a subsidiary of Midland. 




                    Y’s Way Flooring founded in 1985.  Everything from flooring to carpet cleaning to installation and supplies.  809 Station St.




The restoration of a neglected and weathered feed mill along Clyman Street continues Friday as workers perform a variety of tasks intended to enhance the integrity and appearance of the high profile building.  Located on the site of several former granaries, the structure is now adjacent to Y’s Way Flooring and Peirick’s Kitchen and Bath.  Improvements to the half-century old building will include cement patching, window replacement, roof sealing and painting.  The property was also the site of spectacular fires in 1946 and 1959 which destroyed buildings belonging to Fleischmann Malting Co. and Old Elm Mills.    WDT



                    Y’s WAY MOVE TO 500 MILFORD ST.    WDTimes article   










Ignatz Mallachowitz, employee, barley buyer

Partnership with Fred Miller

Ellis Mendenhall [1840-1920] “The 1st well I drilled in Watertown was for Mr. Buchheit — 406 feet with my light drill”




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin