ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Wethonkitha Club


116 S First


Address is site of first hospital in Watertown


Wethonkitha is an Indian word


This is a local organization, not national


The object of the club shall be:  To be an Auxiliary to the Wethonkitha Club, thereby endeavoring:


1.  To promote the social welfare of its members.

2.  To give its members in every condition of life, especially in times of trial, the stimulus of Christian comradeship and the inspiration that comes from association with women of kindred aims.

3.  To promote intelligent citizenship and the highest type of patriotism.







           Lack of approval led to FORMATION OF THE WETHONKITHA CLUB


A picture containing text, whiteboard

Description automatically generated       Maas Bros. Building Contractors, Albert W. Maas, draftsman


The St. Mark’s Men’s Society was organized in 1921 “to establish a social center for the members of the church, to give them the recreation desired, which, however, shall not conflict with the rules of our church, and to give aid and support to church and synod whenever found necessary.”


. . . The club flourished for the first two years of its existence, showing a membership of well over one hundred.


Then, however, it approached the congregation in 1923 for permission to install some bowling alleys at their own expense in the basement of the building [lower level of the old church], the request was received with some apprehension.  A committee was appointed by the congregation to determine whether bowling in its midst could be “reconciled with our doctrine and church life.” 


The committee headed by Pastor Klingmann returned an unfavorable report and recommended that the club’s request be denied because a precedent would thereby be established which might at a later date prove dangerous to the sound growth of the congregation.  The club did not receive approval to install its bowling alleys, even thought it had purchased them in anticipation of a favorable decision.


All this was discouraging to the young club and contributed much to the formation of another men’s society in Watertown, the Wethonkitha club, where members of Wisconsin and Missouri Synod Lutheran church members in and about Wisconsin would have their clubrooms and bowling alleys.


After this “set back” membership in St. Mark’s Men’s Society diminished until it was disbanded nine years later in 1932.                St. Mark’s 1854-1979 booklet




Lou Kuckkan, one of Watertown's sports legends, has been long and enduring.  His start came back in the 1940s when he bowled at the old Wethonkitha Club lanes on South First Street.      Watertown Daily Times article, 04 19 2008.










The Sisters of the Swish of the Wethonkitha Auxiliary and other members attended their annual banquet in old-time gowns.


Mrs. C. Ebert, Mrs. D. Schmutzler, Mrs. A. Blasing, Mrs. C. Hartman, Mrs. G. Niemann, Mrs. R. Harthun, Mrs. A. Reuschel, Mrs. G. Hackbarth, Dora Rippe, Mrs. H. Fredrich, Mrs. G. Knispel, Mrs. Robert Otto, Mrs. Ralph Otto, Mrs. K. Kohlhoff, Mrs. W. Zickert, Mrs. C. Abel, Mrs. E. Albrecht, Mrs. G. Piper, Mrs. C. Bergmann, Mrs. W. Gorder, Sr., Helen Baurichter, Mrs. A. Fischer, Agnes Mieske, Mrs. A. Engelbrecht, Mrs. W. Otto, Mrs. L. Lange, Mrs. A. Rupnow, Mrs. A. Krier, Mrs. W. Brandenstein, Mrs. G. Ziemer, Mrs. A. Hintz, Mrs. C. Graf, Mrs. A. Schlueter, Mrs. A. Karberg, Mrs. W. Geise, Mrs. C. Piper, Mrs. J. Westermeyer, Mrs. L. Bast, Mrs. L. Schmutzler, Mrs. F. Zautner, Mrs. E. Telschow, Mrs. L. Riemer, Mrs. A. Erdmann, Mrs. F. Raether.




   112, 114 & 116 South First



05 16       RAZING 112 S. FIRST

Work of razing the building in South First Street which formerly housed the Western Union got underway this morning.  The building is being torn down by street department workmen.  The building is located on the south side of a parking lot, also owned by the city.  The council had planned to use the lot and the building site for a parking ramp.  This plan, rejected by the voters in a referendum held in April, has now been abandoned, and the entire area will be fixed up for street level parking.



The Western Union Telegraph Co. has been ordered to move from its quarters at 112 South First Street by Oct. 31 so the city can utilize the property for its South First Street parking plans, it was disclosed today.  W. A. Krienke, manager of Western Union, announced that as yet the company has not decided where it will locate.  There have been reports that if quarters can be made available in the Carlton Hotel, opposite the present site, that may be done.  The city of Watertown acquired the building occupied by Western Union, as well as a strip of land directly to the north, from the Wethonkitha Club Realty Co., some time ago in order to provide ample space to carry out contemplated plans for the proposed automobile parking ramp.  The city already owned the major portion of the lot which it plans to use for parking purposes.


10 14       The Western Union office, located in South First Street, has been given some additional time to vacate the building it now occupies, city officials disclosed today. The building is to be part of the site for the proposed automobile parking ramp and was acquired from the Wethonkitha Club some months ago. Originally the telegraph company was to vacate it by Oct. 31. The telegraph company will move its office and equipment to quarters in the Hotel Carlton, directly across the street. Work on changing the installations will be under way as soon as arrangements are completed.


10 28       The Western Union Telegraph Company started moving operations yesterday. It is moving its Watertown office to new headquarters in the Carlton Hotel, across the street from its old office in South First Street. The telegraph company is vacating the building directly north of the Wethonkitha Club, the city recently having purchased it along with a strip of land and plans to utilize the land as part of the South First Street parking area, on which a car ramp is to be constructed.


12 12       Four members of the City Council last night applied the brakes to plans for construction of an automobile parking ramp in South First Street.  The fifth was not able to be at the adjourned meeting due to out-of-town business. The four councilmen voted unanimously to reject all bids submitted for the ramp after it was officially stated the lowest bidder, Farmer Bros. of Tomah, had made “an honest error” in computing their basis for their estimate. Their bid figure was between $8,000 and $10,000 too low, the county was informed.  The bids were filed Nov. 8.



03 19       Ray Dobbratz is the new president of the Wethonkitha Club.  He was elected at a meeting held Thursday evening in the club rooms on South First Street.  Other officers elected are: Robert Beisner, vice president; Tom Doering, secretary; Duane Veldhuizen, treasurer.  The new officers will be installed at the April meeting.



03 13       Tom Doering was elected president of the Wethonkitha Club at a dinner meeting of the organization Thursday night.  Others elected were:  Lester Lange, vice president; Lester Bast, secretary; Roger Hamann, treasurer, and Raymond Dobbratz, director.  Dobbratz has been president for the past two years.   WDT




A group of men in suits

Description automatically generated with medium confidence  

Thomas Block, treasurer; Merle Zastrow, secretary; Arnold Mueller, vice president; David Kahler, president; Harris Boeder, past president and present director; Jack Nass, installing office.




A group of men playing football

Description automatically generated with medium confidence 

Dan Herbst of Watertown Wethonkitha eluded the tag of Racine Bob's catcher for an inside the park homer, but Wethonkitha lost the game 9-7, in the Jaycee Slowpitch Invitational tourney.






03 01

   Abstract from Watertown Daily Times article


Social club located at 116 South First Street, along the Rock River, with the name coming from an Indian word that means good fellowship or gathering place.


All stockholders of the club are Lutheran laymen; only members of the Missouri or Wisconsin Lutheran Synod are eligible to join.


The club was formed in 1923 by a group of 12 Watertown Lutheran men who agreed that they needed a meeting place that would provide opportunities for socialization outside of their church.


Specht’s Harness Shop

   This property was site of first hospital in Watertown


Meetings were first held at Raue’s Hall, on the third floor of what is now the Morgan Stanley Witter building at 200 East Main Street.  In 1923 the members purchased the Sprecht property on South First.


Club members purchased stock in the newly formed Wethonkitha Realty Co. to pay for the building.  The realty company still controls the stock (800 shares).


In 1955 the club sold the north portion of the building to the city for the Western Union building.


For a time, the Wethonkitha Club was also the site of the Watertown Chamber of Commerce office.



06 03       A longtime Watertown private social club building is going on the sale block. The Wethonkitha Club, a well-known rental facility owned and operated by Wethonkitha Club members, will be sold, according to Rich Blank, business manager.  Following a trend that has plagued many local clubs experiencing a drop in membership, the Wethonkitha Club no longer has enough members or volunteers to keep pace with the bookings needed to pay the bills.  “The building is for sale although it is not listed yet,” said Blank.  “Our membership has been dropping and it is hard to recruit new members. In 1971, we had over 140 members, but now we only have about 65.”     WDT


Sale of building, society history     WDTimes article




The May banquet for the Wethonkitha Auxiliary was held at Lindberg’s By the River on May 28.  Hosting the event was the entertainment committee.   New elected officers for the upcoming year were installed during ceremonies.  Marilyn Baneck is the new vice president and Sandra Herbert the new treasurer.  Serving another year are Sandi Haseleu, president; Hazel Nagel, secretary; Jeri Shaw, outgoing treasurer; and Kay Uhlhorn, outgoing vice president.  New members of the entertainment committee include Linda Redfield, Darlene Kuerschner, Cindy Schultz and Linda Uttech.  Lucy Saeger and Rose Degner are on the auditing committee.




The Wethonkitha Club met April 13 at Lindberg’s by the River to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary.  The club originated on April 4, 1923, and had its first official meeting on May 2, 1923.


Wethonkitha” means “to get together” or “to assemble.”  The purpose of the club was to give Lutheran men, especially young men, a place where they could get together in social gatherings, not as members of their own particular church, but as Watertown Lutherans of the Synodical Conference.


In June 1923, the building at 114-116 S. First Street was purchased by the Wethonkitha Realty Company, which was formed for this purpose, and was used as a meeting place.  In 1924, a four-lane bowling alley was installed in the basement of the building.


By April 1924, there were 152 paid-up members.  The building was sold in 2010 due to a decreasing membership and the club has been meeting at Lindberg’s since then.




Cross References:

2005, Image of building, WHS_005_215

Image of property           WHS_005_215


Dr. E. J. Hoermann was one of the founding members of the Wethonkitha club.  




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin