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Pioneer Tavern Demolished for Fuel

Der Freischuetz


Old Mud Inn on Watertown-Portland Plank Road Popular with Travelers




Der Freischuetz open west of downtown, near the western terminus of the Watertown-Portland Plank Road.  Der Freischuetz existed until the 1880s, but was better known at the Mud Tavern.  It was torn down in 1928.


Cross Reference:

Der Freischütz is an opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Webe.  It is considered the first important German Romantic opera, especially in its national identity and stark emotionality.





In April of 1861, the Watertown Rifles HQ was in the Chappel Block on Main Street.  On 12 May they were issued their uniforms and assigned to the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment as Co. A.  Their HQ was then moved to the Mud Tavern on W. Main Street, about a mile west of the heart of town.  It was renamed Camp Bertram after Henry Bertram who managed the place and also served in the company (1LT and later CPT).    Source  




At a dance given at the "Mud Tavern" on the Plank road in the western portion of this city last Saturday night, Emil Kellermann was cut and stabbed with a knife in a most inhuman manner, in the neck, face, back of the head and back.  He almost bled to death before medical aid reached him, and he now lies in a dangerous condition in his home in the 5th ward, with poor hopes of his recovery.  Albert Maas, a 5th ward carpenter, is under arrest on the charge of assaulting Kellermann with a dangerous weapon, and is now in the Dodge county jail at Juneau awaiting the results of Kellermann's wounds.  We understand a row occurred at the dance over the payment for five kegs of beer that were purchased and Kellermann stepped forward as a peacemaker between the warring factions, and was immediately attacked in the above brutal manner.  Kellermann is a quiet, inoffensive young man, and there is much indignation over the outrageous and criminal manner in which he was assaulted.     WG



The Milwaukee Journal, 01 28 1928


One more landmark of pioneer days in Wisconsin was erased when the Mud Tavern on the western outskirts of this city was torn down last week.  The timbers of the old hostelry which once rang with the merry-making of pioneers who stopped off on their way from Milwaukee met the ignominious end of being cut up for firewood.


In the early days the road leading to this tavern at certain seasons of the year was almost impassable, on account of a long stretch of mud, and the building was constructed principally of clay and mud from which the tavern was given its name.  The tavern was built sometime in the forties and was for many years a great resort, not only for travelers but for city people.


Plank Road


A plank road was built from Milwaukee through this city to Madison and on to Green Bay.  Before the advent of the railroads into this region the road was the main thoroughfare for freight and travel.


At the rear of the inn there was a large barn for the teams of the travelers who put up there for the night.  To the west of the tavern was a large park, targets, bowling alleys, bandstands and picnic grounds.  A short distance east was a brewery (1), just east of which was the old plank road tollgate [tollgate to road to Portland?].  The tavern and its surroundings were well equipped with everything to make things lively for pioneer travelers of those days, and for many years it enjoyed a large patronage.


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


Watertown City Directory of 1866-67 lists Frederick Schwarz, brewery, w. N.W.R.R. [west of Northwestern Railroad]



Plank Road Brewery      Watertown Democrat, 03 03 1859


The subscriber, having become proprietor of the establishment known as the Plank Road Brewery, will hereafter conduct it and will manufacture an article of Beer that in all respects will be superior to any other in the market.  He will warrant it to be a pure, healthy and pleasant beverage.  He invites all dealers to give him a call and examine the price and quality of his beer.


Watertown, Feb. 23, 1859     Francis Belrose.   [in ad one week later this brewery is called “the City Brewery”]


Two Taverns Left


Sixty years ago, when a small boy, the editor of The Watertown Gazette lived within three blocks of this tavern and remembers many of the doings of the people of that neighborhood during the Civil War times.  Up to 1866 Mud Tavern presented a creditable appearance, and had to the north and west of it one of the best kept flower and fruit gardens in the state.  Since then the tavern changed hands many times, and usually a pretty rough class of people attended the various “socials” given there.


In the front part of the tavern a saloon and dance hall was conducted and usually the crowds that attended the Saturday night dances held there turned them into roadhouse orgies.


The tavern is the last relic of pioneer times to be removed west of the Rock River, but there are still two road taverns east of the river in a fair state of preservation, one the building on the right as you turn near the electric power house to cross the Oconomowoc Street bridge, known as the Boston House (2) in early days, the other about two miles east of the city on the left on the Oconomowoc Road.


(2) On the southeast corner of Oconomowoc and Concord avenues was the historic Boston House, a well-known business.  It included a large dance hall. Travelers over this section of the plank road always looked forward to a stop at the Boston House.