ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

  This page part of chapter on series of annual Homecoming Days


Home-Coming Day a Great Success




Plan for Home-Coming Day


This page part of chapter on series of annual Homecoming Days


June 25     A meeting of citizens was held last Friday evening at the office of Herman Wertheimer for the purpose of formulating plans for the annual homecoming in this city on Sunday. August 2, 1908. H Wertheimer called the meeting to order, after which the following officers were elected:   June 25, WG


President — H. Wertheimer.

Vice President — Max G. Kusel.

Recording Secretary — John J. Brusenbach

Corresponding Secretary — Emil Tanck.

Treasurer — H. G. Grube.


Vice Presidents — John Schatz, S. Molzahn, Ferd Schmutzler, William Hartig, F. S. Weber, W. F. Voss, C. A. Vaughan.


Executive Committee — Mayor Arthur Mulberger, Eugene Meyer, G. J. Nichols, G. M. Gahlmann, Fred G. Keck.


Publicity Committee — J. P. Holland, J. W. Moore, W. L. Swift, Otto R. Krueger


Music — H. Wertheimer, John J. Brusenbach, Emil Tanck.


Much enthusiasm was manifested by all present at the meeting and the general sentiment throughout the city is to make the homecoming this year the greatest event in the history of homecoming day. Let us all work together and let every old Watertown resident from the state of Washington to Maine make arrangements to be here on that day.


At a meeting of the officers and executive committee of the Homecoming association held Tuesday evening at the office of H. Wertheimer the following named gentlemen were appointed a committee on decoration: F. G. Keck, chairman, Gustav Doerr, O. V. Knaack, W. E. Brandt, Otto Wegemann. A. Mead and Daniel Kusel, Jr. A committee of four was also appointed on amusement, consisting of Geo. J Nichols, chairman. Eugene Meyer, O. C. Wertheimer and L. Jaehrling. Invitations will be extended to Congressman Nelson and Julius Thielmann, of Merrill, to speak on the occasion.


July 31                                                                  Home-Coming Days Program


Everything is in shape for the proper celebration of the HomeComing Days in Watertown on August 1st and 2nd. The different committees have completed arrangements and the indications now are that a very large crowd of visitors will be in the city. Saturday evening the streets will be brilliantly illuminated for the occasion and citizens in general will throw their doors open for the entertainment of guests. Following is the program for Sunday, August 2d:    July 31 WG


Reception of visitors at Chicago & Northwestern railway station at 9:22 a.m.


Reception of visitors at Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railway station at 9:46 a.m.


March from depot to City Hall where parade will disband.


At 1 p. m parade will form at City Hall and march west to fountain square thence east to Island, where exercises will take place.




The address of welcome will be delivered by Mayor Arthur Mulberger immediately upon arrival at the grounds




The Homecoming address will be delivered by Congressman John M. Nelson, of Madison, at the close of the mayor's address.


Short addresses will be made by E. A. Kehl of Milwaukee and Julius Thielmann, of Merrill.




Many prizes are offered in the contests in the amusement line during the afternoon, an extra prize being on the bill for the woodsawing contest. Following is the list of events.


Woodsawing for fat men, watermelon eating, swimming apple, coin in water, blueberry pie eating, leap frog race, three legged races, sommersault races, egg races, bag races, washtub races on west side of island, pole climbing, running races for boys and girls, tug of war, Watertown vs. Milwaukee.  Some extra fine vaudeville will also be presented.




All visitors are requested to register in the reading room of the public library entrance on Water Street side of building.


Francis McGovern, of Milwaukee, candidate for the republican nomination for the United States senate, will arrive in the city next Sunday morning and will hold forth at the New Commercial Hotel, where he will be pleased to meet all who are favorable to his candidacy.  He would also be pleased to meet as many people as possible.  Arrangements will also be made to have him speak at the homecoming exercises at Tivoli Island in the afternoon.


July 31                                                                  Back to Old Watertown


Former residents of Watertown in Milwaukee will journey to the scenes of their earlier years by special train over the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad for home-coming Sunday morning


The train will leave the Union station at 8 o'clock. If the crowd is as large as anticipated it will be necessary to provide two trains, as it is expected by the officers of the Milwaukee-Watertown Club that fully 1,000 sons and daughters of Watertown will join in the excursion.


Max Blumenfeld, chairman of the arrangements committee in Milwaukee, said yesterday that this yearly celebration of home-coming day will see greater crowds gather in Watertown than ever before.


"I have received letters from all parts of the country from old friends who will be with us," he said. "Watertown has produced many successful men and women and I think this year there will be a notable assemblage of her children who have achieved high positions away from home. Milwaukeeans will go informally this year. We have decided not to have a band and no attempt will be made to have a uniform. We are just going back to the old home to renew old friendships and have a good time."


Officials of the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company will make a trip over the new line connecting Milwaukee with Watertown today. The line will be completed and cars running, according to present indications, in time for the home-coming at Watertown Sunday. [Milwaukee Free Press, July 29]     July 31, WG


July 31                                                                  Many Amusements For Home Coming


George J. Nichols, chairman of the committee on amusements for the homecoming at Watertown, August 1 and 2, has something up his sleeve for the thousands of visitors who will be in the city on these dates. The amusements on Tivoli Island will take a different form this year, some really good talent in the vaudeville line having been secured aside from the other amusements offered. The services of Nat Harding, an old time vaudeville artist, but up to the times in his line of work, has been secured, and he will have with him Joe Edwards, also a clever character sketch and- singing artist, who with others will form the bill for the stunts at Tivoli island on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock, On Saturday evening the artists will be seen at some convenient corner in Main strut, the performance beginning about 8:30 o'clock. The Watertown band will play on the streets during the evening and during the performances.     July 31, WG


The committee on decorations, of which F. G. Keck is chairman, has a surprise in store for the visitors.  The streets will be decorated both day and night in a most pleasing manner, entirely a new departure from other days and this feature alone should induce many people from the surrounding country to take a day off and see.


Everybody Decorate


All citizens and business men are urgently requested by the Watertown Homecoming club to decorate their homes and places of business for Homecoming. The decorations should be in place on Saturday, August 1 and left up until Monday, August 3. With good weather Watertown will entertain the largest crowd of visitors on these dates than ever before in the history of the city. Get out your flags and bunting and decorate your homes.


July 31                                                                  Home-Comers Arriving


Many people have already arrived is the city from abroad to take part in the Home-Coming program on Saturday and Sunday next, and among the far-away visitors and former Watertown people are Wm. Herbst and daughter, Mrs. Emma Thiele, of Los Angeles, California.  Mr. Herbst says about two weeks ago he read about the Watertown Homecoming in The Gazette and he and his daughter decided to visit the old home and renew old friendships. They arrived here on Sunday night and are at present visiting at the home of John Thauer.  They will visit also at the home of Mr. Herbst's son-in-law, Louis Schmutzler, and other friends here.  Mr. Herbst left here 10 years ago for Los Angeles, and during that time has became wealthy by investing in real estate there.  His many friends here are giving him a most cordial greeting and he and his daughter are enjoying their visit very much.  While a resident of Watertown he was employed as tailor by the late M. B. Schwab.  He says Watertown has greatly improved since he left here and he would not be surprised to find it a city of 25,000 people within a few years.  The old town he says, he is glad to note, has woke up, and is forging to the front in. grand style.      July 31, WG



Watertown Gazette, 08 07 1908


Former Residents Here from California to Texas and from the Atlantic States

Old-Timers Come From Nearly Every State in the Union


The sixth annual homecoming on Saturday and Sunday last in Watertown was the greatest success since the custom was established in 1903 [actually 1902].  Former residents were here from the Pacific on the west to the Atlantic on the east and south and the British possessions on the north; in fact nearly every state in the union was represented by former residents of Watertown.  At least 5000 visitors were in the city on Saturday and Sunday, and fully 10,000 people attended the picnic on Tivoli Island on Sunday.  Outside of Milwaukee, Waterloo sent the largest delegation of visitors to the city on Sunday and marched through our principal streets headed by their own brass band.  It was a nice compliment of our neighbors to pay our city and it will not soon be forgotten by our people. The homecoming was a grand success in every particular, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  Next year homecoming day will be even a greater success, for as time comes and goes, our people are learning by experience better how to entertain.  Next year Tivoli Island, should the weather be dry, will be thoroughly sprinkled, so as to avoid much of the discomfort experienced this year.  Of the homecoming The Milwaukee Free Press of Monday contained the following excellent write up:


Time was when Watertown seemed to depend upon Milwaukee to make "Homecoming Day" a success.  Until the Milwaukee train arrived with the band and distinguished guests there was nothing particularly doing in the beautiful old town in the valley of the Rock on the occasion of the first homecoming celebrations.  Now all is changed.  The new railroad regulations have done away with the Milwaukee excursion.  Watertown now does the honor for itself.  Its patriotism and civic pride have rallied to the task until the homecoming of Saturday and Sunday far surpassed the memorable events in that line of former years.  The whole city was in holiday attire.  Flags spanned the streets; every business place was decorated, and the display on Main Street was evidence enough that former residents and the whole world were welcome.  And the guests were there.  From the east and the west they came.  From far away California, from Texas, from the Dakotas, from New York and from smoky old Pittsburg they were on hand.  A. G. [Charles] Johnson, Milwaukee, son of the first settler of Watertown, first called Johnson's Rapids, himself the first white child born in Watertown, was an honored guest, and there were others who had not been back to the old home for over forty years.


As a preliminary to Sunday's celebration a Thirty Year Club was organized Saturday night among those who had been away from the old mother town at least that number of years.  John Bruegger, Williston, N. D., was elected president of the club; W. T. Steger, St. Louis, vice-president, and James Nellins, Minneapolis, secretary and treasurer.  This club of the old timers will make it its duty to look after the sons and daughters of Watertown who stray away from the old fireside.  Lists will be published, and when a native of Watertown wanders into a new locality he will be able by glancing at his list to discover if there are any of his near to kin there before him. The club will also endeavor to keep a live interest in the homecomings and will do its share to put Watertown on the map in large letters.  It is already there in a lesser degree because of the fact that it was the first town in the west to call home its absent ones once each year , on the first Sunday in August [same weekend Watertown’s Riverfest is now held each year].


Incoming guests were met at the trains by the officials of the Homecoming association—Herman Wertheimer, president ; Max G. Kusel, vice-president; John J. Brusenbach , secretary ; Emil Tanck, corresponding secretary, whose efforts have called many a wanderer back to the old home, and H. G. Grube, treasurer. Two Watertown bands were with them and played right willingly. The old town in the ox-bow of the Rock never looked better.  It put on metropolitan airs with its fine, brick-paved streets and its new interurban service, and was not at all shy about it either.  The incoming hosts were given a warm greeting and escorted to the city hall.  Milwaukee's Watertown club was well represented, and its officers—Ernst A. Kehr, president ; Theodore Kusel, vice-president; Max A. Blumenfeld, secretary, and Joseph A. Schumacher—with Dr. F. J. Toussaint of the executive committee, came early and stayed late.


Cross reference note:  Interurban service started in Watertown on July 30, 1908, just in time for 1908 Homecoming event


In the afternoon Tivoli Island was the center of attraction. Here the present and old-time residents of the beautiful city which is well past its semi-centennial, foregathered.


The "Old Badger,” S. M. Eaton, was there, a resident of Jefferson County since 1842 and of Watertown for forty one years; W. F. Summerfield, of almost equal years, a former railroad man and for years with P. T. Barnum of "the greatest show on earth" fame, was on hand to tell of the times around 1818; Herman Schuettler, assistant chief of police of Chicago, claimed as a Watertown man by marriage and adoption, circulated among the crowds on the island and made friends wherever he roamed; G. H. Benkendorf, the man who finds moisture in butter for the dairy department of the University of Wisconsin, was around looking over the island [Tivoli Island], which belonged to his family in the years which have gone; the Thielman boys, Julius of Merrill, whom they call mayor up there, and Robert of Tomahawk, who puts an "ex" before the mayor part of it, were back; George Bonney, who went out from Watertown years ago to become superintendent of the dining car service of the Missouri Pacific with headquarters at St. Louis, was there, and Allen C. Hawkins, New York City ; Frank Bolles, Pittsburg; William Herbst and daughter, with other old residents from far-away Los Angeles, Edward L. Masterson, one of Chicago's best lawyers, Gomer Evans, John L. Cummings, Peter Norton and wife, of the same city; Judge Mooney and wife, banker and capitalist of Langdon, N. Dak., John Bruegger, the merchant prince of Williston, N. Dak., all were pleased with each other and with what they found in the old home.  People were present who had not been back before for four decades, but they promised to reform and will be on hand again next year.


It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, and with a steady breeze blowing down the valley to temper the heat. The speechmaking began at 3 o'clock and Mayor Arthur Mulberger, the popular young mayor of the ancient city, extended a welcome in a neat speech and introduced the orator of the day, Congressman John M. Nelson of Madison.  Mr. Nelson took as his subject "Home-coming," and he delivered an eloquent and entirely fitting speech which appealed to the hearts of those who had returned to kindle again the fires of loyalty on the old hearth.


On the stage were Mayor Mulberger, President Wertheimer, Congressman Nelson, Prof. Notz of Northwestern University, Watertown; Postmaster H. T. Eberle, Watertown; Mayor Julius Thielman, Merrill; ex-Mayor Robert Thielman, Tomahawk ; Ernest A. Kehr, Francis E. McGovern and Dr. Frank J. Toussaint, Milwaukee. 


Francis E. McGovern, candidate for the republican nomination for United States senator, followed Congressman Nelson and made a strictly non-political address, touching upon his own home life and affection for his native surroundings as an explanation of the feeling which had drawn such a throng back to the old home in the ox-bow.  Both Congressman Nelson and Mr. Mc-Govern were applauded to the echo. 


Mayor Julius Thielman touched the risibilities [?] of his auditors, and touched them well.  He stood up there in public and told tale, and in every story there was a hit which brought 4 shout from some quarter.  He pictured days that are gone and the survivors shouted in their merriment and pounded one another on the back at some choice recollection.  Among his reminiscences was one of the old brewery fire, near the island [probably the 1872 Habegger Brewery fire on Oconomowoc Avenue], when prominent men whom he named were all on hand to work the old hand pump at the beginning, but after a while he discovered he was the only man left at the brakes—the others were all engaged in a hilarious effort to save as much as possible of the product which was making Watertown famous for more than its cheerless name.


Ernest A. Kehr of the Milwaukee club explained the origin of the home-coming day idea and smilingly admitted responsibility to its evolution.  The program closed with vaudeville stunts by Chicago performers and athletic games.


Watertown, situated in the garden spot of Wisconsin, called attention in its sixth homecoming to the fact that it is forging to the front as an industrial center, as well as a city noted for its agricultural surroundings.  Its factories are increasing at a remarkable rate and now, when a short time will see it one of the most important interurban centers in Wisconsin, its people feel they are justified in letting the outside world know about Watertown. 


The fact that the city is thoroughly alive was impressed upon all who became the city's guests Saturday and Sunday, and the chronicles of the city, which tell of a first settler in 1836, of a first frame house still standing, of the advent of the first railroad in 1855 and of the telegraph in 1856 and the first interurban July 30, 1908, will soon have more about Watertown in a twelve month than in the past in a decade.


One of the old-timers missed here on homecoming day was Henry Dougherty of Hot Springs. He wired the editor on Saturday: "Am sorry cannot attend the homecoming on account elections.  Remember me to all my old comrades."


Hollis P. Brown and wife telegraphed from Duluth, Minn.:  "A happy homecoming time. We would like to be with you."


Jas. Nellins and daughter, Miss Ruth, of Minneapolis, were among the homecomers to the city, and took a prominent position in the procession to the island last Sunday afternoon.  Mr. Nellies was elected secretary and treasurer of the 80 year club, and since Miss Nellins was the only lady who had patriotism enough to march last Sunday, the members of the club are considering the question of adopting Miss Nellins as daughter of the club.


W. O. Pietzsch, chief clerk Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Madison, Wis., and G. O. Pietzsch, of Monroe, were guests of Wm. A. Beurhaus on Saturday.  They resided here years ago, their father being one of the old-timers.  He erected the building in West Main Street [715-717 West Main] now occupied by Robert Woelffer and conducted it as a boarding house, and later was proprietor of the Rock River House on the west end of Main Street bridge. Such of their old friends as met them gave them a most hearty greeting, and the "boys" met with small a hearty welcome that they say they will henceforth visit the old home often. The editor enjoyed a few pleasant moments with them.


E. J. Masterson, of Chicago, was one of the homecomers here on Saturday and Sunday, and while here was a guest at the home of Mrs. Anna Bertram, where his wife, son and daughter were also guests.  While in the city Mr. Masterson was a pleasant caller at The Gazette office.  He always takes a great interest in The Gazette, and he was its first subscriber, and also gave the first order for an "ad” in it.  Ed. is one of the old boys who left here over 25 years ago and has made good in the big city. Besides being a successful lawyer, he is now interested in many business enterprises and has grown wealthy.  He deserves his success, and unlike many others he has not grown "purse proud," but is the same genial, whole-souled pleasant fellow to meet that he was when a resident of this city and vicinity over a quarter century ago.


Following is a partial list of home comers to the city:


Judge Wm. J. Mooney and wife, Langdon, North Dakotas; Mrs. Otto J. Noack, Sacramento, California: James Nellins and daughter. of Minneapolis; Henry Kirchhoff and two daughters, Fond du Lac; Martin Moore, and Theo. Kusel and wife, Waukesha; John Dillon, Sterling; James, Edward, Chas. Killian, David Evans and family, John Killian and daughter, James Killian, (city), Mrs. Alexander, Waterloo, Iowa; Sig Nerdum, Milwaukee; Lawrence Barry and wife, Edw. Higgins and wife, Wm. Fleming, Oconomowoc; Thos. J. Fleming and wife, West Allis; Frank Bolles and wife, Newark, New Jersey; Ed Usher, Madison; Florence Moore, John L. Cummings, Frederick Cummings, Peter Norton and wife, Charles Pierce, Gomer Evans, Edw. L. Masterson, wife, son and daughter, Ernest M. Wood, George Wilson, wife, son and daughter, Al. Rutherford, Chicago; Frank J. Toussaint and Henry James and wife, Louis Schmutzler, Ernest Kehr, Milwaukee; Merrill Newton, Grand Rapids, Wis.; Henry Buchheit and Ernie Kunert, Buffalo, N. Y.; Mrs. Fred Berg and children, Milwaukee; Otto Eger and son, Ishpeming, Mich.; Frank Zemlike, Ed Staats, Jul [Julius]Thielmann, Merrill; Wm. Bartlett and family, Portage; J. T. Moak, Ft, Atkinson; Robert Thielmann, Tomahawk: Hilmar and Clarence Schimmel, Waukegan, Ills.; Mrs. Jos. Goodnetter and daughter, Beaver Dam ; August Melcher, Baraboo; F. E. Weis, Chicago; Thos. J. Holland, Antigo; Wm. J. Cavenagh and family, Milwaukee; George Weber, Pierre, S. D.; Miss Hattie Clark, Chicago; Allen C. Hawkins, New York, City; Wm. Chadwick and son, Green Bay; Leonard Meyer, Milwaukee; Mrs. Peter Bostler, Chicago; Mrs. D. O'Bradbury, Portage; Lisle Evans, Milwaukee; August Hagemann and wife, Wyawega; Denis Dunn, Milwaukee; Bert Straw, West Allis; Frank Piper, Kenosha, Chas. Wenck, the Misses Emma Wenck and Mary Gerber, of Oconomowoc, George Wenck and Chas. Pierce, Chicago, Wm. Magwood and family, of Milwaukee, P. J. O'Byrne and family, of Portage, Chas. Johnson and two daughters, H. G. Beck and family, of Milwaukee, Mrs. J. D. Quigg, of St, Paul, George Bruegger, Appleton, Peter Demenski [Deminsky], wife and daughter, Milwaukee.





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin