Photographs-Francis Creek
from Standard Atlas of Manitowoc County Wisconsin
published by Geo. A. Ogle & Co. Publishers and Engravers, Chicago and other sources.

Polivka's Corners The tavern/dance hall owned by the Polifka's. Later owned by Romy Gosz & his wife for awhile. Last known as the Homestead Bar of Polifka's Corners.

The second one from the right is Otto Krainik. If anyone can identify any of the other people, let me know.

An Interview with Viola Herman Krainik - September, 1996 "Interview with Viola Herman Krainik", that had been published in the October (1996) Senior Action News. It was part of a handout at a Francis Creek/Rockwood senior citizens. Viola is the widow of Joseph Krainik. The settlement was originally named French Creek by a Frenchmen, Joseph Poquin, who as early as 1842 had built a stopping place south of the creek and north of St. Anne's present cemetery. As there was another French Creek in the state, it was re-named Francis Creek by the founder of the Franciscan Order of St. Francis of Assisi (Italy-France). The government sought to change the name to Axelyn in 1917, due to another Francis Creek existing in the State, but a petition was circulated and the name stayed Francis Creek. In 1848, Casper Hessel purchased 30 acres of land for $60. Taxes were $5.04 because it was mostly swampland. He later purchased 80 acres from the government when Wisconsin became a state. The deed was signed by President Zachary Taylor. Many German immigrants settled in Wisconsin at this time. Viola Herman Krainik is Casper's great-granddaughter. She was born in the town of Kossuth, lived on a farm where the First National Bank is presently located, and attended St. Anne's School as a child. Her parents, Luke Herman and Emma Hessel, wanted her to get an education. At the time, Rockwood had a two-year high school. After that, she attended Lincoln High School, which was at its present location, graduating in 1927, the third class at the new school. The first bank was established in Francis Creek in 1916 in Fred Baugniet's living room. A site was purchased in 1917, and the State Bank of Francis Creek opened with $15,000 in capital stock. John Ewen was the first president and Fred Baugniet the first cashier. Presently, the last occupant of the original building was the Kossuth Mutual Insurance Company. The first church was located near the cemetery. Besides the bank, Catholic Church and school, early businesses in Francis Creek included a blacksmith shop, saw mill, two chees factories, three general stores, two butcher shops, Hessel's Hotel and Bowling Alley, barber shop, feed mill, hardware store, two lumber companies, two dance halls, five taverns, Pauly and Pauly Cheese Company storge, a doctor (Dr. Stueck) and a dentist (Dr. Gee) who had their offices above the bank. The two meat suppliers would truck their wares to country homes on alternate days in the '30s when "stores on wheels" were the mode. The Hessel-Ewen families were influential in establishing many of the first businesses for the growth of the village. The present businesses are a restaurant, beauty shop, mini-mart, post office, gas station and garage, two bars, and two trucking companies. Francis Creek also boasts a lovely park where the annual "French Creek Days" celebration takes place in July. Only the church (the congregation has observed 135 years) and the original bank building have survived all the changes over the years. Viola remembers driving cattle through the village and over the railroad tracks. The Right of Way Contract was signed with the railroad in 1905 and was completed in 1906. They received $1.00 with the agreement that a depot would be built at the site. In October, 1996, the railroad tracks were removed after 90 years of service, ending the era of railroad service in the village. The railroad continues to run from Manitowoc to the Rockwell Limestone Quarry in Rockwood. The Rockwell Plant was founded in 1906 by the late Michael Brisch Sr. of Chicago. Lime is manufactured from the rock which is composed of calcium, carbon and oxygen and makes up 1/3 of the bed rock of the region. The Allwood Company, originated in 1913 by Miss Mary Squires and Dr. Jessie Carpenter of Chicago, was purchased by Brisch in 1949. Through the years, the company kept up with modern technology and remains in the family name. Originally, Rockwood had a grocery store. Kleman's Butcher Shop and large school. The Hessel Store, established in 1915, now houses apartments. The Goss family has its roots in Rockwood, which got national recognition at the time of the wedding of Rory Meyer and Julius LaRosa. Volleyball at the "Big Apple" is the attraction these days. The dance hall remains but no longer resounds with polkas and waltzes. The Lutheran Church is a vital part of the community.