††† ebookHistory of Watertown, Wisconsin


Captain Frederic Kusel

Cross Reference:Kuselís Hardware Store



Captain Frederic Kusel, Watertown, Wis., member of O. D. Pease Post No. 94, was born Nov. 1, 1839, at Doinitz, now in the province of Mecklenburg, Germany.He was 10 years old when he came to America with his parents and the family located at Watertown, Wis.His father, Daniel Kusel, was a tinner in his native country and established his interests in that line of business at Watertown, the son becoming acquainted with its details.He went South about the time he attained his majority and when secession ruled the hour, he was at Galveston, Texas, engaged in the tin and hardware business.


In 1861 Captain Kusel was waited on by a committee of citizens, who requested him to sign the papers declaring the State out of the Union, but he declined on the ground that he was not a citizen of Texas, and stated that he desired to return to Memphis where he belonged.This he did because his life would be jeopardized if it became known that he was a citizen of the North.


He secured passage on the '''Alexander Scott," a freight boat which stopped at Baton Rouge and took possession of the equipments and stores of the U. S. arsenal there.The booty was left at Memphis and the boat was presented with a rebel flag, bearing nine stars.


Following is an extract from the presentation speech of the Mayor:"There she rises with as yet but nine stars.If our sister States have not the good will and courage to come up and join us, we have the powerful hand to bring them out."


The larger guns were conveyed to Island No. 10 and the boat proceeded to Cairo, where the Unionists put an uncomfortable rebel aboard to get rid of him.


Mr. Kusel went to St. Louis, and about the same time the strategy of General Lyon secured Camp Jackson to the Union and the city became loyal.


Soon after, he returned to Wisconsin and resumed his connection with his father's business.

In the summer of 1862, associated with C. A. Menges, he commenced recruiting for the service of his country, and raised a company for the 20th Wisconsin Infantry.August 11th they received commissions as recruiting officers from Governor Salomon and three days later reported 103 men ready for duty.August 18th Mr. Kusel was commissioned First Lieutenant of Company E, his associate being made Second Lieutenant of the same.


The regiment was ready for active service on the 23d and on the 30th started for Missouri.September (5th they started on their weary route to Rolla, and marched thence to Springfield under the most burdensome conditions, many falling out, utterly worn out by their burdens and the heat.At Springfield the heavy Russian guns were exchanged for the lighter Austrian rifles.Another forced march to Cross Hollows followed where activities were expected, but the rebels fled and soon after a march was made to Fayetteville, Ark.


The 20th was there first placed in orders for set battle and went into action after a heavy march without other rations than a small supply of whiskey.The Missouri Mounted Infantry had been driven back by rebels; half the 20th Wisconsin were deployed as skirmishers and soon after were lying down, while an artillery duel followed.They charged a battery a half hour later, capturing it with a loss of about 300 men.Lieutenant Kusel received seven bullets in his clothing and another which inflicted a flesh wound in his hip.


The rebels approaching in solid column, the regiment was forced to fall back, and meantime destroying such guns of the battery as they could.The command was saved from utter disaster by the arrival of General Blunt.In this action the 20th Wisconsin won its deathless renown, and Prairie Grove leads its roster of glory.


December 27th, with six days' rations, a forced march to Van Buren was begun and 10 miles from that place they captured several hundred prisoners, a ferryboat and two steamboats loaded with supplies.The victors carried away what they could of the cargoes and destroyed the rest with the boats.On the last day of the month they returned to Prairie Grove battle field and, a week later, crossed the White River, went through Arkansas to Lake Springs, Missouri, and went into camp while the command was being recruited.


Orders were received about the first of June to move to take part in the Vicksburg campaign, whither they went via Rolla to St. Louis and by steamboat to Vicksburg.Lieutenant Kusel was actively engaged in the siege until the surrender when, as Captain of Company E, he had the happiness of celebrating the National Anniversary in the city of the rebels, protected by the flag of his country.


July 12th they started up the Yazoo River and on the route a gunboat was lost by striking a torpedo, but the guns were saved.The "20th'' landed at the plantation and went to the rear of the city, which surrendered with several hundred prisoners, who were paroled.After some days passed in provost duty, the regiment returned to Vicksburg. T he day following, they went to Port Hudson, thence to New Orleans and into camp at Carrolton.


Captain Kusel was there seized by illness and returned to Wisconsin on a furlough.Some time later, he went to Madison for medical examination, was informed that his ultimate recovery was doubtful and was advised to resign, which he did Oct. 2, 1863.


On the first of January, 1864, he formed a partnership with his brother, D. H. Kusel, and they have since prosecuted the hardware business at Watertown.Captain Kusel is a representative of the best order of citizenship in Wisconsin.He is a man who has continued to honor his relations with his adopted country and his claims have been recognized by his townsmen.He has served the municipal interests of Watertown several years as its Mayor and in 1881 he was elected to the Senate of Wisconsin.He declined a renomination on account of his business relations.


Captain Kusel was married March 4, 1844, to Maria Bodeen and their children include a daughter and four sons.




Memorial and Genealogical Record of Dodge and Jefferson Counties, Wisconsin, publ. 1894 - Page 186-190


FRED KUSEL.The evolutions in the industrial world, the improved modes of manufacturing things, have been marvelous in the past half century and scarcely an industry exists that has been let untouched of the spirit of reform.The demand of the age is for labor-saving machinery and implements of all kinds, and he who deals in such articles is usually found to be doing an extensive and prosperous business.At least this is the experience of Capt. Fred Kusel, who has a well-stocked hardware establishment in Watertown, Wis., of which place he is considered one of its most enlightened, progressive and successful merchants.He was born in the Province of Mecklenburg, Germany, in 1839, a son of Daniel and Dorothea (Klappenberg) Kusel, who were also natives of Mecklenburg, their home being in the vicinity of the River Rhine.


The paternal grandfather, Daniel Kusel [Sr], was a cattle dealer, and in following this calling acquired a comfortable fortune.His son, Daniel [Jr] , however, was brought up to the trade of a tinner, and acquired a practical education in his native language.In the spring of 1849 he determined to seek his fortune in America, and upon landing upon United States soil came at once to Watertown, Wis., and brought with him to this place $3,000 in gold.He established a tin and hardware store, which was the foundation of the present business carried on by the subject of this sketch.


The father [Daniel Kusel Sr]was born August 27, 1811.He was one of the founders of the First Lutheran Church of Watertown in 1850, and was also active in promoting the establishment of the Northwestern University in 1864, after which he held the position of president and trustee until old age compelled him to retire.His wife died in December 1877, at the age of sixty-eight years, having become the mother of four children: Daniel H., Fred, Sophia (Winkenwerder) and August, the latter of whom served in the same company as his brother Fred, and rose to the rank of sergeant.Capt. Fred KUSEL was brought up in his father's establishment and became familiar with all the details of the tinner's and hardware business.


At about the time he attained his majority, he went South and was employed in the hardware business at Galveston, Tex.When the war opened he was called upon by a number of citizens of the place and was requested to join the ranks of the secessionists, but told them that he was not a citizen of Texas and that he was a Northern man by rearing and principle.He secured a passage on the "Alexander Scott," a freight boat which stopped at Baton Rouge, and there took possession of the equipment and stores of the United States Arsenal.The booty was left at Memphis and the boat was presented with a rebel flag bearing nine stars, at which time a treasonable speech was made.Mr. Kusel made his way to St. Louis, at about which time Gen. Lyon obtained possession of Camp Jackson, and the city became loyal.


Soon after Mr. Kusel returned to Wisconsin and resumed his business connections with his father, but in the summer of 1862, associated with C. A. Menges, he commenced recruiting for his country and raised a company for the Twentieth Wisconsin Infantry, and on August 11, was commissioned a recruiting officer by Gov. Solomon.Three days later he reported 103 men for duty, and on the 18th of August he was commissioned first lieutenant of Company E, his associate being made second lieutenant.His command was sent to Missouri, and on the long march to Springfield many fell by the wayside, utterly worn out by the burdens they bore and the heat.At Springfield their heavy Russian guns were exchanged for lighter Austrian rifles.After several forced marches they reached Fayetteville, Ark., where the union forces were placed in order for a set battle, and took part in the engagement after a hard march without other rations than a small supply of whisky.A spirited battle was fought here, and in charging a battery 300 men were lost and Lieut. Kusel received a flesh wound in the hip and had his clothing riddled with bullets.In this engagement the Twenty first Wisconsin became famous, and at the battle of Prairie Grove won lasting renown.

On December 27, with six days' rations, they made a forced march to Van Buren, on White River, and about ten miles from that place they captured several hundred prisoners, a ferry boat and two steam boats loaded with supplies.They carried away what they could and destroyed the remainder.After a short time they went into camp at Lake Spring, Mo., and after a time were ordered to Vicksburg and took part in the siege of that place, and as captain of Company E, he had the pleasure of celebrating July 4 in that city, protected by the "stars and stripes."His command then did some effective work on the Yazoo River, captured several hundred prisoners whom they paroled, and after several days returned to Vicksburg.From there they went to Port Hudson, then to New Orleans and to camp at Carrolton.Capt. Kusel was here taken ill and was sent home to Wisconsin on furlough, later went to Madison for medical examination and was informed that his recovery was doubtful.He resigned his commission October 2, 1863, and in January of the following year formed a partnership with his brother, D. H. KUSEL, in the hardware business which they have since successfully carried on.Mr. KUSEL is one of the representative business men of the county and State and has several times been honored with the position of mayor of Watertown, first in 1872 and lastly in 1892.In 1884 he was elected to the State Senate, but owing to his extensive business relations he declined further political honors, having previously served as a member of the city council twelve years and supervisor four years, being elected to these responsible positions on the Democrat ticket.He was faithful and conscientious in the discharge of all his duties and was a capable and trustworthy official.


March 4, 1864, he was married to Maria Bodien (Bodeen), a daughter of Peter and Dora (Hansen) Bodien, natives of Holstein, Germany.The father was compelled to leave Germany, owning to having participated in the revolution in that country, and being a lover of liberty he located in the United States, at Milwaukee, Wis., in 1851.He was a highly educated man, was an attorney in his native land, but after locating in Milwaukee, he began writing articles of the Herald Republican.In 1855 he opened a grocery store in Watertown and here was engaged in business until his death at about the age of seventy years.His wife died in December 1892 at the age of ninety-seven years, having become the mother of one son and five daughters.


To Capt. Kusel and his wife the following children were given: Theodore D.; Bertha, wife of Paul Valerius; Fred, who died at the age of nine years; Edward J.; Arthur, and Walter H., all of whom were educated in the public schools of Watertown and in Northwestern College.Capt kusel is a Democrat politically, is a member of the G.A.R., and he and his worthy wife are members of the Lutheran Church.The Captain is one of the leading business men of his section and as a public-spirited and local citizen too much can not be said in his praise.







Be it known that I, Frederick Kusel, of Watertown, in the county of Jefferson, and in the State of Wisconsin, have invented certain new and useful improvements in implements for CLOSING THE SEAMS OF METAL ROOFS.†††† U.S. 431814†††





It is seldom that in a city the size of Watertown that two golden weddings are celebrated the same day, but our city experienced that honor on Wednesday, March 4, 1914.The event had also another side in that a brother and sister joined in that distinction.Fifty years ago Frederick Kusel married Miss Marie Bodien, and his sister, Sophia Kusel, was married to Henry Winkenwerder, and both couples have made this city their home ever since, and in a social and business way have always identified themselves with the cityís very best interests, and on this gladsome event all our citizens, regardless of creed or nationality, join in extending hearty congratulations and in wishing these two venerable couples many more years of married life together.


At both homes on Wednesday many relatives, friends and neighbors called to offer congratulations and wish them many more days of happiness and usefulness.At the Kusel home Wednesday afternoon their oldest son, Theo. Kusel and N. Thauer spoke feelingly of the event, and what they had to say was greatly appreciated by all present.


Mr. Kusel was born in the Province of Mecklenburg, Germany, Nov. 1, 1839, and in 1849 he came to this country with his parents and located in this city.His wife is a daughter of the late Peter and Dora (Hausen) Bodien, natives of Holstein, Germany, where she was born April 27, 1845, and with her parents came to America in 1851, locating in Milwaukee.In 1855 they moved to this city.Six children were born to them, four of whom are living ó Theodore D. Kusel of Watertown, Mrs. Paul Valerius of Chicago, Arthur and Walter Kusel of Watertown.There are also two grandchildren, Paul and Doris Valerius of Chicago.All their children and grandchildren and Paul Valerius were present at the golden wedding.


Mr. Winkenwerder was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, August 13, 1831, and located in this city in 1854.His wife is the only daughter of the late Daniel Kusel, Sr., and was born in Germany March 7, 1841, and came to America with her parents in 1849.Seven children were born to them, five of whom are living, Mrs. Charles A. Gamm, Henry D., Ella, and Otto Winkenwerder of Watertown, and Hugo Winkenwerder of Seattle.There is also one grandchild, Irwin Gamm of this city.†† WG



Frederick Kusel



American Artisan and Hardware Record, Vol. 72, No. 1, 07 01 1916


Captain Frederick Kusel, one of the most prominent and successful retail hardware men of Wisconsin, passed away Sunday morning, August 6th, at his home in Watertown, Wisconsin.He was born November 1, 1839, in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg, Germany, his father being a tinsmith.In 1849 the family emigrated and at once settled in Watertown where the father established himself as a retail hardware dealer and tinsmith, thus laying the foundation for the prosperous business which is now being conducted under the name of D. and F. Kusel Company.


Having learned the business in his father's store and shop "Fred" went to Texas in 1860 and was there when the Civil War broke out, but he made his way back and in 1862 raised a company of the 20th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment being commissioned First Lieutenant and later on was appointed Captain.


In January, 1864, he formed a partnership with his brother D. H. Kusel and carried on the business started by his father, under the name of D. and F. Kusel, the incorporation taking place this past spring.


He was prominent in the political life of his community, having served several terms as mayor, and previous to that as a member of the City Council of Watertown, besides as State Senator.


The funeral which took place on Thursday, August 10th, from his late home, under the auspices of the Watertown Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, was attended by a large number of friends and acquaintances who thus paid the last tribute to a man whom they honored and loved.


Is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery



Cross References:


Kusel, Fred

1872, Sharpshooters Society

Kusel, Fred

1905, Milwaukee-Watertown Club, Homecoming Day

Kusel, Fred

1909, Banquet honoring John Beggs and interurban

Kusel, Fred

1909, Herman Wertheimer, 60th birthday anniv

Kusel, Fred

1909, Merchants National Bank officer

Kusel, Fred

1909, Merchants National Bank officer

Kusel, Fred

1915, Arthur Kusel obit, father

Kusel, Fred

1915, G.A.R. officer

Kusel, Fred

Civil War veteran, GAR Personal War Sketch, 1890

Kusel, Fred

Son of Daniel Sr., D. & F. Kusel Co

Kusel, Fred, Captain

Forty-Eighters: Builders of Watertown,pg 77

Kusel, Fred

1908, Pease Post 25th anniv, Commander




Watertown Democrat, 01 01 1863

A correspondent of the Madison Journal, writing from Prairie Grove, speaks in high terms of Lieut. F. Kusel, of this city, Co. E, 20th Wisconsin Regiment, as having distinguished himself for bravery and coolness in the late battle in Arkansas.





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin