From "History of Manitowoc County" by Dr. Louis Falge, 1912
The enterprising village of Reedsville is situated on the Chicago & Northwestern railroad about midway between Manitowoc and Kaukauna. It is named after Judge George REED of Manitowoc, who lost his life in the burning of the Newhall House in Milwaukee, in 1883. Judge REED and Jacob LUEPS purchased the south half of section 35 of the present town of Maple Grove, and had it surveyed and platted by George WIMPF in 1854 – fifty-six blocks in all. For years afterward it was locally known as Mud creek, from the small stream of that name flowing through the town, for like all stations along the railroad near by once assumed other names; e. g., Branch was Lenaville; Whitelaw was Pine Grove; Cato was Nettle Hill, or Harris; Grimms was Shaving Street; Brillion was Spring Creek; Kaukauna was Ledyard, etc.
The pioneer settlers and landholders of Reedsville and vicinity were, as usual, Americans. However, all sold out in time to the more hardy tillers of the soil, Germans, Bohemians and Irish, the Americans going farther west. One of the first actual settlers within the village was James DUMASS, a French-Canadian, and his Menominee Indian wife, coming from Green Bay and locating where Mrs. Herman RUSCH’s residence now stands. They were a worthy and respected couple, both playing an important part in the development of their new home.
A man by the name of JONES sold his land in 1852 to Peter BOETTCHER, the first German settler of the village. A portion of this farm is still in possession of the family. In the same year, or earlier, a number of German families located in the immediate neighborhood of the town. Among these were Jacob GRIMM, coming from Ohio, after whom Grimm’s Station is named, Louis FAULHABER and Michael and Daniel JANTZ, brothers.
In 1854 the vicinity enjoyed a special boom. Settlers were coming thick and fast. Among the prominent arrivals were Joachim KRUEGER and his stalwart sons, Fred, Otto, Gottfried and Karl; John PAPE, the HAESE family, Fred LORENZ, C. F. HAGENOW and his wife, from Indiana, who built the first tavern and boarding house; Fred GUSE, Louis RUSCH, and the two brothers, John and Fred MAERTZ. The MAERTZ brothers and their families first settled near Milwaukee but in 1854, with their household goods, traveled along the Green Bay road in ox carts to their homesteads just north of Reedsville, the journey occupying just one week.
Traveling at this early period was accompanied by unusual difficulties, the road to Manitowoc being merely a widened Indian trail, just wide enough for the rude ox carts in use at that time. Often when returning homeward at dusk, through forest and swamp, the farmer was compelled to abandon his cart and later return with neighbors to help extricate the cart from the deep ruts. The nearest markets were Manitowoc, Depere, Green Bay, Menasha and Gravesville. A sack of flour and other necessities of life frequently had to be carried on a man’s back from one or the other of these places.
Louis, or Ludwig, RUSCH, as he was better known, was very helpful to the early pioneers, and his aid and comfort will long be gratefully remembered. His homestead, now owned by his son August, adjoins the village to the east. Prospective farmers with their families would make their way laboriously along the trail, having started at sunrise from Manitowoc. At dusk, accompanied by the monotonous sound of the whippoorwill and the howling of wolves, they would reach the hospitable roof of Ludwig RUSCH, to whom they had been recommended. Here, after a good night’s rest, under the guidance of the host, the newly purchased land was found and the construction of a log hut commenced. Ludwig RUSCH brought the first team of horses, all the way from Ohio.
The early Germans hereabouts were all from Pomerania and West Prussia, and of the Lutheran and Evangelical faith. The first church of the old Lutheran faith was a log structure, built a few rods south of the present Evangelical parsonage, adjoining the cemetery. In this church services were held until 1868. The land was purchased from Fred Guse, in 1855. The first pastor of the name of JOX was installed March 15, 1856. In 1868 some members seceded, forming the nucleus of the present Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s congregation, now presided over by Rev. Henry KOCH. The remnant founded the Evangelical congregation, whose church is now located in Rockland, one mile to the south. The unused old church was sold on condition that no liquor be dispensed therein. The proprietor ignored his promise, started a tavern, but by a queer coincidence it burned to the ground on the opening night. James DUMASS erected the first sawmill for Judge REED. It was begun in 1854 but not finished until 1857. It was located where the present A. H. RUSCH factory now stands and was first operated by Messrs. Charles KLINGHOLZ, Herman and Stupecky, It burned in 1862 and was rebuilt by CHLOUPEK, PROCHAZKA and DUBECKY as a saw and shingle mill. Mrs. DUBECKY, in a fit of temporary insanity, drowned herself soon after, and the owners then sold out their interests to Ludwig RUSCH, by whom it was operated until his death, and then by his two sons. About 1885 Joseph DUMASS, the son of the builder of the mill, purchased it and it remained in his possession until his death in 1898, when it was bought by the present owner, who has greatly enlarged it, and which has in time become the main industry of the town.
In early times lumbering was always considered vital to the interests of the community, for which reason the early history of sawmills and factories is always interesting. The most important business of the village and for many miles around was the old HUBBARD & NOBLE mill, built in 1871, just before the railroad was completed to Reedsville. It was at first a general sawmill and a manufactory of hubs, spokes and general wagon stock, situated on the block just north of the depot. Later Messrs. HUBBARD and NOBLE became interested in the formation of the Manitowoc Seating Company.. After the fire and failure of that concern, W. H. NOBLE continued the business at Reedsville, making in addition syrup and nail kegs and general cooperage, as well as turning Indian clubs, dumbbells, etc. and employed at times one hundred men. After Mr. NOBLE’s death in 1894, a joint stock company of citizens continued its operation until 1896, when one night the plant was completely destroyed by fire. It went into receiver’s hands and out of business. However, the creditors received eighty-six per cent. Later it was rebuilt on a smaller scale by John Duggan, but was discontinued in agog. A branch of the Landreth Pea Canning Company plant is now located upon the site.
W. H. NOBLE was Reedsville’s foremost citizen, generous to a fault, an adviser willing to help at all times, and always foremost in every civic enterprise. He was a veteran of the Civil war and enjoyed the distinction of having been chosen one of the eight color sergeants appointed to guard the remains of President Lincoln from Washington to Springfield in 1865. His widow cherishes the medal received by him for these services by congress. He died in October, 1894, after a brief illness of pneumonia. The first flour and feed mill was owned by August DUMKE. One important feature in the history of Reedsville is the monthly cattle fair, held on the last Wednesday of each month. This was a day of bustle and business – a gala day, too. Crowds by the thousands came from far and near, all roads leading to town for miles were lined with pedestrians, vehicles of all descriptions, and live stock ditto. Booths lined the main streets, which were rented to transient merchants who overed for sale clothing, boots and shoes, pots and kettles, wagon loads of melons and fruits. Patent medicine peddlers, gamblers and loose-fingered gentry were there – horse jockeys, gypsies also. The local merchants protested in vain but the saloons did a thriving business and the school-boy played truant. This characteristic and interesting institution, the largest cattle fair of the country, has dwindled materially in size and importance, but is still quite a feature.
In 1892 Reedsville was incorporated, adding to the already platted south half of section 35, town of Maple Grove, the north half of section 2, town of Rockland – a square mile in all. Agitation for incorporation was due to the following incident: The revenue derived from the thirteen licensed saloons, the license from the transient merchants, and taxes raised within the village, amounted in a11 to $2,700, not one dollar of which was used for village improvements, but was spent in the general expenses of the two towns.
At the 1891 spring town meeting at Maple Grove, a petition was read, asking for the sum of $100 to be spent for sidewalks within village limits. This reasonable request was overwhelmingly defeated. A self-organized committee immediately went to work creating a sentiment favorable to incorporation, which in the beginning met with much opposition. A census at that time showed 510 inhabitants. At the special election, held February 26, 1892, in the brick building now occupied by Charles Hein, the result proved favorable 8o to 24.At the first election, March 19, 1892, the following officers were elected: President, W. H. NOBLE; clerk, J. H. NOBLE; treasurer, August SCHMELTER; trustees, Albert MUELLER, A. C. MAERTZ, Frank KABAT, August DRAHEIM, Louis FALGE F. C. GISCH; supervisor, F, F. STELLING; assessor, J. E. SCHULZ; constable, Rudolph MUELLER; justices of the peace, Charles ETZER, J. P. NOLAN; police justices Charles ETZLER; marshal, Fred MARCH.
At first council meetings were held in the once of W. H. NOBLE. Latch SCHULZ’s Hall was rented for the purpose. A lot was at once purchased of T H. MEANY and the village hall completed in 1893. The Chicago & Northwestern railroad between Manitowoc and Appleton was completed in 1872, which infused new life in the town.
There are three churches, the Evangelical Lutheran, the Friedensgemeinde Lutheran and Catholic, the first and last having parochial schools in connection. The first public school now occupied and improved by L. A. BUSSE as a drug store, originally stood across the street. Only one teacher was employed up to 1890. The building was badly out of repair and educational sentiment seemed wholly wanting. At that time a few public-spirited citizens determined to improve matters. At the annual school meeting in 1890 a resolution was introduced for the appointment of a committee of three to investigate as to the advisability of building a new school, James NOBLE, Joseph DUMASS and Louis FALGE being appointed as such. As a result, in 1891 a one brick building was erected at a cost of $4,400, and two teachers employed. Later the building was enlarged the total cost of the completed building being $12,000 While the present population, 555, is but slightly increased since 1891, yet the teaching force has increased from one to four, the curriculum taking in ten grades. This speaks very well for the awakened educational sentiment of the town and Reedsville now takes a just pride in its public school.
The village has also bonded itself for a municipal electric light plant in connection with efficient waterworks for fire protection, completed in 1906, at a cost of $16,000. Reedsville, with its well stocked stores, lumberyards, grain elevators, cheese factory and creamery, state bank, a newspaper, depot, postoffice with three rural delivery routes, church and school facilities, has always been a thriving business center for the western part of the county. It has particular attractions for retired farmers, who have earned a few years’ rest in their declining years. Although it has not grown much in population, the comforts of life have greatly increased and it has taken on many citified airs. VILLAGE OF REEDSVILLE-SUPERVISOR From the Eighth Manitowoc County Annual 1913-1914 MEANY, T. H. CLERK CARY, Erwin Village of Reedsville, Reedsville