ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Fourth of July


First celebration in city was in 1840


Watertown Daily Times, 07 03 1939


The archives of Watertown show that the first observance of the Fourth of July in this place took place in the year 1840 and some of the circumstances surrounding the event will be of interest and are drawn from an account of it written some years later.


The four years previous to 1840 — for in 1836 it was that Timothy Johnson, the first white settler to come here, staked out a claim of 1,000 acres upon which the principal portion of Watertown now stands — there was no formal reverence paid to the country's natal day and, the anniversary of American independence passed "unhonored and unsung."


"But," say the old archives, "in the year of 1840 of blessed memory, a spirit of patriotism took possession of the Watertown people and it gave vent to a rousing, jolly Fourth of July celebration that inspired their pride of country and made them look back to Washington as the true father and defender of Columbia."


Among the means taken to appropriately celebrate the day was through the medium of a great ball which was held in Savage's hall, later known as Van Alstine's Exchange and the site on which now stands the Merchants National bank at the corner of North First and Main streets.


One of the original ball tickets, written on plain but rather yellowish colored note paper, is couched in the following terms, verbatim:


"Independence Ball."


"The Co. of Miss Eliza Fisk is solicited at the hall of Isaac Savage

in Watertown on July 4th next, at 2 o'clock p. m.

"J. B. Gaudern,

"E. Holmes,

"I. D. Lounsbury,



It is suspected that the handwriting on the invitation is that of the late J. A. Chadwick, father of the late Mrs. S. E. Holmes, West Street.


Forty Couples Present


Forty couples were present at the ball, says the record in the archives.  It states that nearby places, such as Jefferson and Fort Atkinson; furnished their quota, "to make it a happy and pleasant party."  Dancing commenced at 2 p. m., says the record, "and was kept up with spirit and vigor until daylight."


To again, quote the record one finds this: "Thermometers were scarce those days, so we are without the temperature on the occasion, but it is safe to assume that the light fantastic was tripped by the sweat of the brow."


Among some of the people mentioned in the record as having been present at the first Fourth of July celebration here are those of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Chadwick, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Cole, Peter V. Brown, Mrs. Andrew Willard, nee Jane Temple of Beaver Dam.


William Sacia of Concord and his brother Austin, came here from the town of Concord to furnish the music for the occasion.  William Sacia was the grandfather of W. H. S. Rhoda.  The instruments they employed to provide the music are not identified in the report, but the record states that "these two gentlemen constituted a whole string band in themselves" and it is evident that their selections were very popular with the crowd.


Savage's hall or tavern was the only building here at the time suitable for an occasion of this kind and it is said that the construction of it had to be hurried along so that a proper ball room could be had for the dancers "who were expected from all around the country."


Another account in the archives of early Watertown gives additional information concerning this great event and lists also the things which the people in attendance had to eat.  But to quote at length:


"Our pyrotechnics were limited, but firing an anvil, ringing cowbells and shooting guns were the channels through which our patriotic feelings gave vent.  For the Fourth of July dinner we were satisfied with baked pig, mashed potatoes and baked pudding.  For want of room in the hostelry, the tables were set out of doors, under arbors built of poles with bushes laid across them.  Dancing commenced at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and continued until broad-light the next morning.  The ballroom, although not plastered, was made to look handsome and cheerful with its decorations of leaves, vines and bushes nailed on the lathing.  We had not yet reached that point where gas and electric lights with their franchises troubled us, and tallow candles were the means employed to illuminate the ballroom


Cross Reference:

1981, by Evelyn Rose for the Daily Times -- 1840:  Watertown has outdone itself with parades that have been great.  First celebration was on July 4, 1840.  Quote from the archives: "a spirit of patriotism took possession of the four year old community and gave vent to a rousing, jolly Fourth of July celebration that inspired the pride of country and made everyone look back to Washington as the father and defender of Columbia ... a ball was held in Savage's Hall at the corner of North First and Main streets . . . William Sacia and his brother, Austin, came from the town of Concord to furnish the music . . . dancing commenced at 2 o 'clock in the afternoon and continued to daybreak . . . for the dinner baked pig, mashed potatoes and pudding. "  The dance was held under arbors made with posts and branches.



06 23 &

07 07       First in village [see above 1840 entry for the “first”]  Watertown Chronicle


July Fourth, 1847


Watertown Chronicle, 06 23 1847


We cannot learn that any arrangements are on foot, or are likely to be, for the due observance of the 4th, in this village, the nearest approximation to it which has yet transpired, are two balls - one to “come off" at the American on the 2d, and the other at the Planter's on the 5th.   WC

   More on Fourth of July, 1847    

“The Day We Celebrate”

Watertown Chronicle, 07 07 1847


Owing to the absence of the 4th, the 5th was observed in this village in such a manner as seemed best to suit the individual whims or inclinations of our citizens, great and small.  As a prerequisite, the liberty pole received a slice of 40 feet [?] on Saturday afternoon, and at dusk a beautiful streamer kissed the breeze at its top, 112 feet above the heads of the delighted multitude.


Before the 5th had fairly dawned, the reports of anvils, muskets, pistols and firecrackers were to be heard in different quarters of the village.  This species of amusement was continued through the day, though the patriotism of the gunners was somewhat dampened in the forenoon by a brisk shower of rain.  The skies brightening up about noon, people from abroad commenced pouring into the village from all directions.  Among the number were a fragment of a band of musicians, accompanied by the stars and stripes; and if they did not "discourse eloquent music" for the few hours they remained, it was not because they lacked the apparent disposition to do so.  A band of marshal music, so far as a fife and a snare drum are entitled to the designation, also operated extensively during the afternoon, and only ceased their labors as the nightingale attempted, by her evening melody, to rival their sweet and spirit-stirring sounds.  If to this be added the sport of the wrestling ring, the more important doings of the day may be considered as faithfully chronicled.


In the evening fire balls made their appearance, and were kept upon the wing until the empty stomachs and exhausted frames of our patriotic juveniles reminded them of their uneaten gingerbread and their inviting pillows.  Thus began and thus ended, so far as we are cognizant in the premises, our first Independence Day in Badgerdom.


If the doings were not upon as grand a scale as we have witnessed in the eastern cities, we must say that they were marked throughout by a feeling alike creditable to all who participated in them.


We regret to state that quite a serious accident occurred in the forenoon.  A little son of Mr. PLINY B. BASSFORD [Basford] received in his thigh the wad from a pistol, making a frightful wound some three inches deep.  The wound was extracted by Dr. HAMILTON, and the boy, who exhibited the greatest fortitude throughout the operation, appears to be doing well.   WC


[Note: Wis. became a state in 1848]



07 09       Celebration featuring Watertown Artillery Co. and Watertown Rifle Co.   Democratic State Reg.



Fourth of July, 1858



06 02       Plans for celebration, Young Men’s Association   WD



06 28       Plans for celebration   WD




We are requested to state that a public meeting will be held in Cole’s Hall next Monday evening, the 9th inst. at 7 1/2 o’clock for the purpose of making arrangements for the appropriate celebration of the approaching anniversary of our National Independence.


There are many reasons why the people of America should cherish the memory and associations connected with the Fourth of July with renewed enthusiasm and sincerity.  All that they hold dear — their free institutions and prosperity as a nation — had their origin in the great event of that day, and the heroic deeds that followed the Declaration of Independence.


Let us then, one and all, kindle anew and brightly the fires of freedom in our bosoms and as we pass in review the achievements of the statesmen and soldiers of revolution, revive our devotion to the government, which their wisdom framed and established, and resolve again that it shall descend unimpaired, a glorious heritage to those who come after us.


We hope this call will meet with a universal response, and we have the pleasure of witnessing a demonstration of patriotism and zeal never surpassed by our citizens.   WD


06 20       The Fourth at Alderly—The citizens of Alderly, Dodge County, are making arrangements for a general and enthusiastic celebration of the coming Fourth of July.  Mr. D. S. Curtiss, editor of the Oconomowoc Free Press, will deliver the oration.  We wish we could be there to hear it, for we know it will be eloquent, appropriate and well written, and just the thing for the time and place.   WD



Fourth of July, 1862




The Robinson House, formerly known as the Planter’s, has been rebuilt, enlarged, elevated, completely overhauled, refurnished, and will be ready for the reception of guests and travelers on the 4th of July.



06 01       THE 4th OF JULY

The anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence is rapidly drawing near.  We ought to get up in this city the best demonstration ever been known here.  We can now all join in celebrating an unbroken and strengthened Union, and pass in review the scenes and events that have made it dearer and more durable than we dreamed before the war, which has just closed so triumphantly.  Who will take the lead in this matter and make the enterprise a splendid success?  We can celebrate the establishment of universal freedom and rejoice in the overthrow of the curse of slavery, which is a blessing both to the South and the North.  Let us celebrate.   WD



Correspondence of the Milwaukee News

Madison, Wis., July 5, 1865


Editor News:  In the summer of 1844 I visited for the first time the place now known as the city of Watertown.  It was then a small village.  My second visit occurred on the 4th of July, 1865. 


I was agreeably disappointed, not so much at the number of changes that had taken place, as at the character of them.  There is a neatness, a substantiality and a solidity about the city which attracts the eye.  They indicate a thrifty and enterprising population.  The city throughout has a home-like appearance.  There are many elegant private residences there, but they all look as if they were built for homes.  I found by experience that I had formed a correct estimate of the hearty hospitality of their proprietors.


There is another peculiar characteristic about Watertown.  There is almost utter absence of poverty about it.  It has many very handsome streets, among which Main Street is without a rival in the state, for its regularity, neatness and beauty.  It extends in a straight line through the whole city, is of a commodious width, is flanked by substantial sidewalks and its handsomely rounded and stone paved gutters are wholly undefiled by filth.


In company with Hon. George B. Smith, who had been invited to make the oration for the celebration, I arrived at Watertown early on the morning of the 4th.  We were shown to the Lindon House, where the broad and good humored face of “Adam” greeted us a smiling welcome.  The citizens of Watertown boast of having three as good hotels as can be found in the state.  I did not stay long enough to try them all, but if the other two are as good as the one I did try, the boast is well founded.  This house has been recently elevated, enlarged, improved and refurnished, and the tired traveler who secures an asylum within its walls finds comfort and rest in its ample rooms, plenty and excellence upon its well-spread tables.  Mine host, Lindon, landlord and proprietor, is cheerfully attentive to the wishes of his guests, and the radiant cheerfulness that uniformly beams from the countenance of “Adam,” the clerk, tempts one to think that he must have received both his name and disposition from the first Adam, before he partook of the fatal apple.


Soon after our arrival we were warmly welcomed and cordially greeted by Hon. W. M. Dennis, Gen. W. Chappell, Hon. E. Rothe, Mr. D. W. Ballou, Jr., of the Watertown Democrat, Hon. J. J. Enos, Mr. H. C. Fack and others.  Senator Budlong of Waterloo was also present and contributed much towards rendering our visit pleasant and agreeable.  The ceremonies of the celebration were gotten up mostly under the auspices of the patriotic German Turners of Watertown.  A handsome grove near the residence of Mr. Enos had been selected as the spot where the people were to assemble to hear the oration, and to this place the procession of Turners and citizens marched [at] about two o’clock, under the leadership of the chief marshal, Captain E. Off, formerly of Barstow’s cavalry.  The captain had gained a high reputation, not only as a gallant officer, but as one of the most accomplished riders in the regiment to which he belonged.  The Milwaukee County Band contributed some most excellent music to enliven the scene, and by the time we reached the ground a large crowd had gathered there.


The ceremonies on the ground were opened by the reading of the Declaration of Independence.  This task was performed by Mr. W. H. Rohr, of Watertown, and I must say that I have never heard the immortal production of Jefferson read in better style.  At the conclusion of the reading of the declaration, Hon. Geo. B. Smith occupied about one hour in the delivery of an extemporaneous address.  It was a most able effort and exceedingly appropriate to the occasion.  Mr. Smith never for one moment forgot that he was celebrating a national anniversary.  Although he was speaking to an audience, nine-tenths of whom were democrats, he did not utter a single sentiment at which the most sensitive republican could take offence.  His speech was characterized by a spirit of the broadest patriotism and liberality.  My limits forbid that I should attempt at this time to give even an outline of the topics upon which he touched.  A radical but candid republican who heard the speech remarked that he could not find any fault with it, and further said that he was constrained to say that he liked it.  Let it not be understood by this that Mr. Smith assumed a single position in conflict with the doctrines of the democratic party, for he did nothing of the kind.  He simply let political questions alone, as inappropriate to the day.  His speech was utterly free from the last [least] taint of partisan feeling and bitterness.  There was not a democrat present but what [who] was pleased [not] with it, as the applause by which it was greeted abundantly testified, and there was not a republican present who could find fault with it. 


Behold here the difference between the spirit which governs the democratic party and that which influences a faction of the republican party.  Here was a celebration in a democratic city, an oration was delivered by a democratic orator, to an audience overwhelmingly democratic, and not one word was said or thing done to mar the harmony of the occasion, to insult or wound the feelings of political opponents.  I venture to assert that in places where the celebration was gotten up by republicans a totally opposite spirit prevailed, and that democrats were denounced, insulted, and stigmatized in the most outrageous manner.  In this connection let me ask which is the right spirit?  Who displayed the greatest nobility of character, the democratic Germans of Watertown, or the American republicans of Madison, who even after the conclusion of the regular ceremonies got up an exclusively partisan celebration in the Capital park, where insult, obloquy and reproach were heaped upon democrats generally, and where they had the unparalleled meanness to abuse Judge Orton, the regular orator of the day, by name? 


After Mr. Smith had concluded, Mr. Fack addressed the audience in German.  Of the merits of Mr. Fack’s oration I, of course, cannot judge, because I am unacquainted with the language in which it was spoken, but it was lustily cheered and I know that he has now a high rank as a German orator.


After these ceremonies were concluded I repaired in company with a few others to the residence of Hon. J. J. Enos, where we were most agreeably and hospitably entertained.  Although a strong republican, Mr. Enos has acquired the knack of making even democrats feel entirely at home on his premises.  The balance of the day among the Germans was devoted to joviality and social enjoyment, to the enhancing of which the potent lager was made to contribute its cheering influences.  Of course it was drank in bounteous quantities, but I saw not a single German in a state of intoxication.  All were merry, a cheery hilarity prevailed everywhere, and the sonorous voice of manly song made the “welkin ring” with pleasing melody.


Thus passed the day and goodly portion of the night, for in the “we sma’ hours avont the twal,” from my room at the Lindon, I could catch the harmonious sounds of distant song, in the very midst of which, swan-like, I gradually floated off into the land of pleasant dreams.


I must not, however, forget to mention that I passed a portion of the evening in a most agreeable manner in company with General Chappell, at the hospital [hospitable] dwelling of Mr. Dennis.  Mr. Dennis and his accomplished lady, together with several of the beautiful young ladies of Watertown, by their agreeable ways and cordial manners, made the time pass so pleasantly that I much regretted the necessity which compelled me to terminate a visit in which I had enjoyed so much pleasure.  I shall long remember with feelings of deep satisfaction the 4th of July which I passed in the hospitably city of Watertown.


I forgot to mention in the proper connection that I was informed that two-thirds of the population of the city is Germans, and its growth and improvements were almost wholly the result of German thrift and enterprise.  If this is true, it is certainly a proud monument to the industry of a people, the largest portion of whom came to this country with no capital but [with] strong arms and courageous hearts.


Another circumstance also escaped me in its proper connection.  It would hardly be excusable for me to conclude this communication without mentioning the fact that I made the acquaintance of Mr. Timothy Johnson, the first settler of Watertown.  The old gentleman still looks hale and hearty.  Long may he continue so.  He has lived to see the spot which he knew as a wilderness grow into a flourishing city of several thousand inhabitants.  I hope he may live long to enjoy its comforts.


Yours, etc.           Watertown Democrat



07 03       THE FOURTH

To all appearances there will not be much glow to the patriotic fires of the citizens of Watertown this year of our Lord, and this sad and humiliating reflection forces itself upon us in view of the fact that no arrangements have been made to celebrate the coining anniversary of our National Independence now so close at hand.


Time was when the flow of patriotic ardor was as rife here as in other places, but what now causes the defect in National pride is more than we at this moment can determine.  The big doings at Madison, however, in part explains the deficiency of the proper outburst of feeling here, a large portion of our citizens intending to be present at the celebration there, at which it is expected so many prominent men of the nation will appear.


Several towns in the county will observe “the day that speaks our nation's glory,” in a befitting manner.  The citizens of Jefferson have arranged for a pleasant celebration, which will include a grand theatrical performance by the Jefferson Boat Club, of the Merchant of Venice, in which will appear the celebrated actress, Mrs. Anna Cowell, assisted by Mr. W. G. Taylor, the popular tragedian, and others, of Chicago.


At Waterloo there will be a regular old fashioned Fourth of July Anniversary, for which extensive preparations are being made by the people of the place and surrounding country.  Our citizen, Mr. Hall, delivers the oration. 


We are not advised of other celebrations in the county, although other towns may be preparing to properly observe the day.


We must content ourselves with either going away from home to give vent to our patriotic feelings, or else spend the day in quietness, under our own vine and fig tree.


Should the present warm weather continue perhaps the latter alternative would in the end prove the most acceptable, so far as personal comfort is concerned.    Watertown News


1873       Tornado.  If the people did not get up much of an excitement here on the 4th of July, the unruly elements did. 



06 17       Firecrackers and the Fourth of July have become inseparable.  The approach of the glorious anniversary of freedom is distinguished by the snapping of firecrackers in the streets when the average American boy considers himself at liberty to burn up cities and villages, scare teams, and do as much mischief as possible with these dangerous and incendiary playthings without which it is utterly impossible to celebrate patriotically.   WD



01 19       Shall We Celebrate

The central location of Watertown makes her favorable as a point to hold a grand Fourth of July celebration of the Centennial fashion.  It is not any too soon to take the matter in hand if we design celebrating this year, and all approving the project of a grand old time next Fourth of July, should come together and talk the matter up ere it is too late, and we are headed off by celebrations at other points.  What say our business men to this idea?   WR


06 26       The Turner Society is busy making preparations for celebrating the glorious Fourth.  A series of amusements, consisting of athletic, gymnastics and acrobatic performances, will be presented in Turner Park, where a good time generally is anticipated.  Charles Cech is announced to deliver an oration in German, and it is the intention of the Society to secure also someone to address the people in English . . . In the evening Prof. Richert will make a grand display of fireworks, something entirely different from anything that has ever been exhibited in this city.  The chief attraction in this display will be a cannonading balloon, one of the finest articles ever got up in the line of fireworks.  It will be made to discharge at various elevations a continuous stream of meteors, bombs variegated showers, gold rain, etc. etc.    WR or WD



In paying proper tribute to the Centennial Fourth of July, Watertown in her celebration was adequate to the important task.




      Engine room in apple pie order


A most interesting and pleasant feature connected with the observance of the Fourth here was the splendid reception the boys of the Phoenix Fire Company extended to their friends during the day.


In the undertaking of course the boys had the cooperation and assistance of their lady friends, and to the presence and good offices of the fair ones no doubt can be attributed no little share of the success that attended it. 


The Silsby engine, always beautiful, this time shown with additional luster and splendor, and was tastefully decorated with handsome floral trimmings.  Everything in the engine room was in apple pie order indicating the services of good housekeepers about the premises. 


But upstairs in the meeting room the climax was capped and the zenith of one’s idea of perfection reached, for here was the eye captivated with furniture, pictures, fixtures and adornments fitted for a parlor, while the sumptuously spread board of dainty edibles, with a profuse accompaniment of lemonade, was truly a sight for the beholder and sufficient to arouse within every breast a most inspiring feeling of patriotic ardor.


`The Phoenix boys and their helpmates were adequate to the occasion and spared no pains to make it pleasant for all their callers whom It may well be judged were not few nor far between.  This affair was certainly a very happy event of the day and those who were fortunate enough to attend the Phoenix boys reception on the Fourth of July, 1879, will have reason to long remember it.      The Watertown Republican, 09 Jul 1879



06 22       FOURTH OF JULY will soon be here and every patriotic American citizen is expected to celebrate the day in a becoming manner.  The Watertown Rifle Company and the Turner Society will furnish amusement for all on that day, at Turner Park.  In the evening in Turner Hall the festivities of the day will close with a ball.   WG



Concordia Island will be an attractive spot on the Fourth next Wednesday.  Picnicking will be the order of the day amid the sylvan shades in this favorite retreat and the hours will be enlivened with sweet chords of music from the Philharmonic Cornet Band.  Arrangements have been made for grand balloon ascensions and other amusements during the afternoon.   WR




It is proposed to have our citizens partake of their dinner on Fourth in the city park, and enjoy a good old-fashioned Fourth of July time among the flowers and in the shade.  Let everybody come who can and spend a jolly time with some patriotic feelings and perhaps speaking and singing mixed in.  Bring your baskets well filled.  Seats and tables will be provided for the many.  Dinner will be ready to serve at 1 o'clock.  The ladies' committee will sell lemonade and ice cream for the benefit of the park fund.


07 09       A GRAND FOURTH

The Fourth of July has passed in this city had a sort of free-for- all turn about it, our people mostly rendering homage to the anniversary with a true spirit of independence.  Bunting was profusely displayed along the streets, and the fire cracker was ever present and of good report.  The largest muster of people was at Turner park, where the new cornet band held forth from the pavilion, and Miss Pauline Voss read the Declaration of Independence.  In the city park a number of families partook of their dinner, which was spread from numerous well-filled baskets taken to the grounds, tables and seats having been provided.  Many pleasantly chatted and visited under the teepees during the afternoon, while the young people, with a few older ones mixed in for variety, engaged in frolic and amusement in the shaded recesses of the enclosure.     WR



[same date] A premature fourth of July celebration occurred at Chas. Goett's store Thursday evening.  A sky rocket let off in the street instead of shooting heavenward, "as the law provides," took a scoot across and went through the window.  In its flight it set on fire a lot of fireworks in front of the store, causing a promiscuous pyrotechnic display, and for a few moments matters looked threatening for a serious fire.  A little timely work, however, and all danger was over, Mr. Goett’s loss amounted to about $15.00.  A lucky escape.  WR



07 10       A QUIET FOURTH

Fourth of July passed off quietly in Watertown.  Most of our people remained at home and celebrated the day in a quiet way, whilst others visited the circus, baseball game and the picnic at Turner Park.  In the morning the Watertown band, drum corps, Turner Society and St. Bernard's cadets paraded our streets, winding up the march at Turner Park.  In the evening there was a good display of fireworks in the park and a dance at Turner opera house, which drew together a large crowd.




mid 1890s

Alvin Kraemer and Arthur Zimmerman trained their goat and dog for the Fourth of July parade

[FACES & PLACES - WATERTOWN AREA, Published by Watertown Daily Times, 1999, p 19, picture]




A picture containing text, old, vintage, street

Description automatically generated  






07 06       The Fourth passed very quietly here, there being no public celebration.  Many of our people took in the attractions offered by neighboring places.  In the afternoon the Sinnissippi band played in the city park and the day wound up with a liberal display of fireworks by private parties and a ball at Turner Opera house.   WR



04 26       The local newspapermen here are interesting themselves in a Fourth of July celebration the present year and if plans mapped out by them receive proper encouragement from our citizens and the businessmen, one of the most successful celebrations in the state will be held here July 4th.  Nothing of the kind has been held here in several years, and there is no reason why a rousing one should not be held here this year.  It can be made a paying investment, as well as a day of much pleasure to all citizens and visitors.   WG


Fourth of July, 1901





The celebration of the Fourth of July at Watertown was a success in every particular, and deserved to be, as it was excellent in every feature; the good work of each committee having the matter in charge fitting into that of every other with such exact nicety that it was hard to tell just where the perfect work of one left off and that of another began.


From the afternoon of Thursday until well along into the early morning of Saturday the preparation for the enjoyment of and the sense of satisfaction after the National Holiday filled in every waking minute.


The decorations were abundant.  Flags and bunting everywhere.  The street decorations across and along Main Street extended from the Lewis public fountain east to the Seibel residence.  These supplemented by private effort seemed to cover every available space.


The attendance from out of town was very numerous, and all day long and well into the night our streets were crowded with people, good-natured, happy and bound to enjoy to the limit the fine weather and the occasion.


The parades were all that had been promised.  The old veterans of the Civil War, decorated with their G.A.R. and Corps badges, and the corps of German veterans wearing proudly medals and emblems attesting their loyal service in their Fatherland, kept even step to the music of patriotism under the waving folds of the Stars and Stripes, and found equal pleasure in being constituent parts in the grand object lesson of the day.


The floral hoop march by a crowd of little girls was like a bouquet in the midst of the grand parade.  They were neat, pretty, graceful in pose and action, and were loudly cheered everywhere.


The speech of Hon. W. C. Leitsch. of Columbus, orator of the day, though brief, was eloquent, agreeable to listen to and suitable to the occasion.


All the street attractions were up-to-date and fulfilled in every particular the published and poster announcements.  The evening program was not lacking in interest.


The fire run by the department was a grand feature and was in itself an object lesson, not as an example of what our fire laddies might do in an emergency, but what they do time and time again without hardly attracting even a casual word of praise.  It was fine, even the horses seemed to enter into the spirit of the occasion.  With ears laid back, distended nostrils and eager, flashing eyes, and every muscle in active play, they needed no urging to make them beat the devil’s tattoo with their iron-shod hoofs on the brick pavement as they swung into view and out of sight between two long drawn breaths.  Every man was in his place, the engines under a under a full head of steam, flying sparks and clatter of horses feet, one by one, engines, hook and ladder trucks and hose carts passed in flying review, and as the people saw it they might well realize how much they are dependent upon the efficiency of our fire department for the safety of life and property.


Hurrah for the fire boys, anyway; their show was fine because it was real.         The Watertown News




July 4th, 1903, was an unusually quiet day. No general celebration was held, and we would scarcely know here that it was a great national holiday were it not for the small boy and his firecrackers.   In the afternoon and evening the Plattdeutscher Verein held a picnic on Tivoli Island, which was well attended.


The usual number of small accidents occurred. Friday night a carelessly fired skyrocket struck the curb in Main Street, then flew upwards and struck Miss Jaedecke, setting her dress on fire.  Men nearby went to her rescue and put the fire out before any serious damage was done.  Francis Darcey had his face burned with a canon cracker; Edward Conrad had his left hand injured with a toy, pistol; Herbert Kusel’s face and eyes were slightly burned with a toy cannon; Miss Julia Pfaffenbach had her hand injured with a skyrocket, and Henry Behrens, town of Watertown, had a finger torn off with a cannon cracker. 



07 03       Fourth celebration



07 09       Fourth celebration, July 5th declared the legal holiday.   WG


1921       PARADE ON THE 4th





   Image Portfolio        




Police Active Thursday. Several arrested during day.  Among some of the problems were when two more or less inebriated merrymakers chose Wednesday evening for their fun, and hauled a miniature cannon down Third Street, the explosions from which sounded like a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg.  The cannon is now resting in the Lost & Found Department of the Tribune awaiting the arrival of its owners.   WTribune









  Image Portfolio












Sales on midway restricted to carnival company


The Riverside Park popcorn hassle, which was brought into the open at the city council meeting on Oct. 6 today seemed headed toward a solution and a report to that effect will be filed with the council at its meeting next Tuesday night.  The issue was brought into the open by the Pitterle-Beaudoin Post No. 189, the American Legion when its commander told the council that officers would find it difficult to sign up a carnival for rides and concessions unless such group was given exclusive rights to concessions at the park for the annual Fourth of July celebration which the Legion sponsors each year.  A report received by the Times today stated that the solution calls for the carnival company to have complete control of all concessions on the Fourth of July midway in the park.  There is nothing to bar “outsiders” to maintain stands in other parts of the park, but they will not be permitted on the midway.   WDT




Byron F. Wackett, Jefferson County assemblyman and a former mayor of Watertown, was named grand marshal of the Fourth of July celebration.  Kenneth Kropf is serving as parade marshal.   WDT




Officers and committees of the Pitterle-Beaudoin Post No. 189, the American Legion today continued with their plans for the coming Fourth of July celebration at Riverside Park which for a time yesterday were threatened when Charles Brasch of the Brasch Bros. Shows announced he was canceling the contract he holds with the Legion for the celebration.  Brasch’s statement came after the common council Tuesday night failed to take definite action on the so-called “popcorn” controversy.  Mayor Robert P. White, when informed of the Brasch statement, arranged a hurried meeting which was held yesterday afternoon at the city hall in an effort to iron out the difficulties if possible.  As a result of the meeting it was announced that the Fourth of July celebration will go on as planned and that the coming Labor Day celebration, under auspices of the Watertown Central Labor Council in September, will also proceed as planned.  Brasch Bros. also holds the contract for that celebration.




The third largest parade in the history of Watertown, surpassed only by the Timothy Johnson centennial parade in 1936 and the city centennial parade in 1954, wound its way through Watertown’s business district yesterday while thousands watched from the sidelines.  It was the introduction to the city’s 123rd annual observance of July Fourth.  The weather was pleasant and the sun was out bright and early and remained out right down to sundown last night.  Marching units, bands, drum and bugle corps, floats and a variety of other entries from far and near joined in the parade, with banners flying.  It was a spectacle of color, music and patriotic fervor.   WDT




A genuine old-time calliope will be in Watertown’s July Fourth celebration parade.  The appearance of the calliope is being sponsored by the D. and F. Kusel Co., in connection with the company’s 115th anniversary as a Watertown business concern.  It is the oldest hardware store in the state.  The calliope will be drawn by four miniature ponies.




  Image Portfolio 




At a meeting of the Watertown Auxiliary Police held Thursday evening in the squad room of the municipal building it was decided that a first aid station would be provided during the Fourth of July celebration.  The station will be located in the upper pavilion at Riverside Park and will be manned by auxiliary police members.  Anyone interested in joining the force may do so by contacting any of the following officers: Wendell Wilson, president; W. T. Connor, vice president; Merlin Holtz, secretary; Milton Wagoner, treasurer, or Captain James Meyer.




   Image Portfolio 



07 06       Dr. Walter W. Arzberger, honorary marshal.   WDT

     In the 1982 parade dresses from the Watertown Historical Society were used to model and 1907 photo used as reference.



06 27       William Kwapil Sr., honorary marshal.   WDT



06 28       Jack Nass, honorary marshal.   WDT



07 03       PETER COLLETTI honorary marshal

Peter Colletti, a retired math teacher and coach at the junior high school, has been selected as the 1989 honorary Fourth of July parade marshal.  The parade will get under way at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of North First and Main streets.  “I was surprised, I was really surprised,” Colletti said regarding his selection as parade marshal.  He said he was surprised because the community has so many capable people that could have been selected for the honorary position.  Colletti was born in Madison, attended Madison grade schools, and graduated from Central High School.  He received a degree in math and science from University Teachers College.   WDT




Robert W. Krueger has been selected as the honorary marshal for the city’s Fourth of July parade.  Krueger, 314 S. Monroe St., has been active in many organizations and is a member and past commander of the Pitterle-Beaudoin Post No. 189, American Legion. Krueger is also a member of the Jefferson County 40 et 8, Voiture No. 750; past commander of the AMVETS Post No. 35; life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7852; Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666; life member of the Past Commanders Club; life member of the Wisconsin National Guard Enlisted Association; life member of the National Guard of the United States and has served as service officer for the AMVETS Post No. 35 for 15 years.



LEBANON — The Lebanon Band, this year celebrating 100 years of dedication to music and fellowship, is one of the biggest bands from one of the smallest towns in the United States.  The band, with close to 50 members, will be performing in Watertown’s Fourth of July Parade this year as a part of its extensive centennial year schedule.  As the band performs this summer, parade-goers from all over Wisconsin will be treated to a proud and historic group in action.  The band’s founders were music-loving German immigrants. In 1885, Henry F. Seeger, a German born parochial school teacher, came to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lebanon to serve as a teacher, organist, choir director, and instructor of instrumental music for which he received 10 cents per lesson.  After five years his teaching had produced enough instrumentalists to form a band in Lebanon in 1890.   WDT



09 29       ARTHUR KEHL

The Watertown Fourth of July parade committee has named Arthur W. Kehl as the honorary parade marshal for the 1992 parade. Kehl served in the Army as a technical sergeant, receiving his training at Camp Blanding, Fla. He served as an instructor at Camp Blanding for two years after which he was transferred to Fort Knox where he was in charge of an office. He has been employed at Brandt’s, Kusel’s, Tri-County Tobacco, G.B. Lewis Company and Dadant and Sons. He was involved in beekeeping at Lewis’ and Dadant and Sons and lectured at Midwestern universities on beekeeping. He served as president of the Jefferson Beekeepers Association and Wisconsin Honey Producers. He was named beekeeper of the year, the highest honor given by the Wisconsin Honey Producers.




Charles Wallman, retired industrial executive, is the honorary marshal for Watertown's annual Fourth of July parade.  The annual parade will begin Sunday, July 4, at 12:30 p.m. from its traditional location at Main and Water streets.  The route has been modified this year because of the Division Street reconstruction project.  The route will be east on Main Street to Fourth Street, north on fourth to Labaree and then Labaree to the park.  Wallman is retired executive vice president of Brandt, Inc., in Watertown and is active in a variety of community projects.  In addition, he has written several books of a historical nature.  He is a 1942 graduate of Watertown High School.  He subsequently entered Marquette University, then Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy, El Paso, where he received a certificate in basic civil engineering in 1944.  He later studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in January of 1949.




A former Fourth of July parade committee chairman will be the honorary parade marshal of this year’s event.  Kenneth D. Kropf will take the place of honor near the front of the parade lineup that is set to kick off at 10 a.m. Monday, July 4.  Kropf was the main parade organizer for several years.  Bob Lueck has since filled the position. But Kropf was also involved in the fireworks display for the Fourth of July celebration for 30 years.



06 23       Gerald Hepp honorary marshal   WDT



06 24       John “Jack” C. Lemke honorary marshal   WDT



06 25       DON CAYAN honorary marshal

A veteran of World War II and an active supporter of the Watertown Senior Center has been named the honorary parade marshal for this year's Fourth of July parade through downtown Watertown.  Don Cayan, who served as a private first-class in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946, was stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground where he worked on an experimental gun that fired a 36-inch shell. It was called "Little David" and was never used. Cayan, retired, has held many jobs throughout the area.  He formerly worked at Waukesha Foundry, Brandt Automatic Cashier, Charley Howard's Tavern for seven years as a bartender, grower and deliveryman for Johannsen Greenhouse, G.B. Lewis and was janitor for the Watertown school system, where he attended school.   WDT



07 02       MARK KUEHL honorary marshal

Mark D. Kuehl, circulation manager of the Watertown Daily Times and an active participant in a variety of community activities, has been named honorary parade marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade.  Kuehl will ride in one of the first vehicles in the Fourth of July parade.  This year the parade will travel east on Main Street and north on Fourth Street to Labaree Street and then out to the park.  The theme of this year’s parade is “The Flag Still Stands for Freedom.”   WDT



06 12       Active community member Ora Kuckkan has been named honorary parade marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade.  Kuckkan will ride in one of the first vehicles in the annual Fourth of July parade which is scheduled to step off at 10 a.m. July 4 at the intersection of Main and Water streets.  This year the parade will travel east on Main Street to Dewey Avenue, north on Dewey Avenue to Division Street, east on Division Street to Labaree Street and conclude at Riverside Park where the rest of the festivities will be held.  “It is a very rewarding experience to be able to volunteer in various organizations in the community and church,” Kuckkan said.  “Watertown is a great place to live in.”   WDT


07 01       Family and tradition are two key factors for the Loeb family when it comes to celebrating Independence Day.  This marks the 50th consecutive year the Loebs have had entries in the July 4th parade and 50th successive year Archie Loeb has driven horses in the parade.


This year he will drive a Rockaway carriage along the route.  “It’s something like an anniversary.  Fifty years is a long time and this is the oldest one we have,” he said.  Other units the Loebs will have in the parade this year are two antique John Deere tractors, two antique fire engines and a 1929 Model A Ford.  In their first parade in 1953, the family had entered a lugger truck (used for hauling scrap medal) and a team of horses.   WDT



07 01       JERRY HEPP honorary parade marshal

Jerry Hepp will be the honorary fire chief for the city of Watertown during this year’s Fourth of July parade on Sunday.  He will be riding in Watertown Fire Department car # one during the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Water and West Main streets.  Units will travel down Main Street and conclude at Riverside Park.  Hepp is the first person to receive the new annual title because he was the top bidder in an auction for the aerial platform truck fund-raiser held at Badgerland Park in September.   WDT


06 19       LYLE WUESTENBERG honorary parade marshal

Lyle Wuestenberg has been named honorary parade marshal of the 2004 Watertown Fourth of July Parade in honor of his support of many organizations and programs over the years.  He is president of J&L Tire Inc. of Johnson Creek, which he owns with his brother, Jim.  I am humbled and honored and never would have imagined that I would be chosen, said Wuestenberg, who has been a strong supporter of many organizations and programs in Watertown and the surrounding area.  He has been involved with numerous charitable projects over the years.   WDT




Honorary parade marshals for this year’s Fourth of July event are Ralph and Margaret Krueger, part owners of the Watertown Daily Times.  They are Watertown natives and have resided in Watertown most of their lives until moving to Lake Mills in 2004.  Both are volunteers for Meals on Wheels and Riverfest, and are members of the John D. Clifford Scholarship Committee.


Ralph Krueger has been active in the Watertown Lions Club for many years and currently serves on the publicity committee.  He assists with several club projects including distribution of Lions mints to local businesses, Rose Day sales, Lions tractor pull, and the concession stand at Brandt/Quirk Park.  He formerly served on the Lions Board of Directors. He is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church.


Margaret Krueger is a member of the Friends of Watertown Memorial Hospital, Friends of the Watertown Public Library and Watertown Historical Society.  She received the 2007 Outstanding Community Service Award from Madison Area Technical College and serves on the MATC-Watertown scholarship committee as representative for the John and Catherine Clifford scholarships.  She is secretary of the Rock Lake Improvement Association, and served on the publicity committee for the Friends of the Lake Mills Public Library 2006 tour of homes.  She is a former volunteer for Bread and Roses.




Honorary parade marshals for this year's Fourth of July event are George "Soapy" and Karen Oestreich, former owners of Vogue Cleaners and Easy Wash Coin Laundry in Watertown.  Both have resided in Watertown their entire lives and have been involved in many community activities.  "We're very proud of our community and that's why we've been involved in a lot of things," Karen Oestreich said.  "I just can't imagine living anywhere else."  The Oestreichs purchased Vogue Cleaners in 1972 and built Easy Wash Coin in 1982 before retiring in 2004.  They were members of the chamber of commerce for 31 years.



The 2008 Fourth of July Parade route and staging area have been changed to accommodate local road construction projects, according to Deputy Chief Tim Roets of the Watertown Police Department.  The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday and 121 units are scheduled to participate.  The closure of the Milwaukee Street bridge and the North Church Street reconstruction project have caused city officials and parade organizers to place the staging area and the parade start location east of the Rock River.  The parade will start on East Main Street at Second Street and progress east to Dewey Avenue, then north to Division Street, east to Boughton Street and then north to Labaree Street at Riverside Park.




Bob Lueck has been chosen to serve as this year’s honorary marshal for the annual Fourth of July parade in Watertown.  “When the time came to choose the parade marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade, the parade committee didn’t have to look any further than their own backyard,” said Sue Hepp, a member of the parade committee.  “It was a unanimous decision to choose Bob Lueck.  “We all agreed it was time to honor the years of commitment and devotion he has spent to bring our community a great parade year after year,” she added.  “We, on the parade committee, applaud his dedication, especially this past year, as he has struggled with some health problems.”



  Image Portfolio


2012       William Jannke honorary parade marshal for 2012’s Fourth of July parade.

Jannke was born Feb. 12, 1961, in Watertown.  He is the oldest child of the late William and Phyllis (Jacobs) Jannke.  His ancestry is German and his family settled in Watertown as early as 1847.


He attended Lincoln Elementary School in Watertown and graduated in 1979 from Watertown High School.  Jannke went on to Madison Area Technical College and graduated from the commercial art program in 1985.


Jannke was one of the founding members of the Dodge-Jefferson Counties Genealogical Society in 1981 and served as the group’s president.  He has been affiliated with the Watertown Historical Society since 1983 and has served as its president for over 12 years.  In 1988, he founded the Watertown Players, Inc., the city’s community theater, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.  He also was a founding member of the Watertown Tourism Board and was its secretary for six years.  He also served as president of the now defunct Jefferson County Historic Alliance.


He has also written several plays and writes and directs the annual Christmas play for the Watertown Historical Society, which is performed in the famous Octagon House Museum.  He has done so for almost 25 years.


In 2011 the Main Street bridge was named in his honor.


Jannke works as a clerk at the Jefferson County Veterans Service Office, located at the Jefferson County Courthouse. 




  Image Portfolio



  Image Portfolio



  Image Portfolio



  Image Portfolio





A live scene was displayed of the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam (Melissa Lampe and son Nathan)





Library of Congress photos, undated:  No 1, No 2, No 3,  No 4, Waiting for parade,

No 5, Watching the parade, No 6, Watching the parade

Ray Dobbratz and wife Marie annually sponsored a unit in the Fourth of July parade to promote patriotism




Fourth of July

2007, Fischers, 1-6 E Main, WHS_005_827

Fourth of July Parade

1898, Farmer's Picnic parade, from Wiggenhorn's Cigar Store





Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin