Information from various sources including the Two Creeks Historical Society and the Blum Family History
The township of Two Creeks is the smallest in Manitowoc County. It is the 18th and final
county to be established in Manitowoc County. There are no known cemeteries in the township,
belief of a Two Creeks Public Cemetery existing within the township. No trace of the cemetery
can be found although a researcher found that cemetery mentioned on a death record in the
Manitowoc County records. It is thought that the cemetery was possibly built on Sections 12 or
13 of the township. Because of erosion, all of section 12 and most of section 13 have long
since washed away.
It was the first place in Manitowoc County to be visited and settled by white men. Jacques VIEAU,
of the Northwest Fur Company landed on the shore in 1795. His boat was loaded with goods that
would be traded for furs with the Indians. His family came with him, Madeline, Paul and Jacques.
VIEAU settled only temporarily in Two Creeks. Later VIEAU built trading posts at Jambo Creek and
later one in Manitowoc Rapids.
David BUTTERFIELD was the first white man to permanently settle in the town of Two Creeks (then still
part of Brown County). On 21 June 1836, BUTTERFIELD settled in section 12, Township 21(T21) Range 24
(R24). This property together with land in section 1, no longer exists long since having been washed
away into Lake Michigan.
In 1838, Manitowoc County was separated from Brown County and became its own entity. But it was not
until 9 February 1850 that land known now as the town of Two Creeks became part of Manitowoc County.
Peter ROWLEY built the first house in section 24 in 1842. In 1847, Neal MCMILLAN built a home on
lot 1, section 25, T21, R24 (three miles south of P. Rowley). H. Johnson arrived in 1853. He engaged
for many years in the fish trade. He was followed by George and William Taylor in 1854. The well
known hotel keeper, I.A. Immler, came in 1866.
The first children born in the town were Roderick TAYLOR on 23 September 1847 and Polly D. ROWLEY on
3 November 1847. George FOX was the first death on 24 August 1847. He died of cholera while on his
way home from Chicago where he had contacted the disease.
On 25 July 1859, the town of Rowley was created from the land acquired from Brown County in 1850 in
honor of Peter ROWLEY. The first chairman of the township was Herman LUEBKE and the town clerk was
The post office and telegraph office was established in 1860 and were in operation until about 1907.
(more on Nero P.O.)
In 1860 the town of Rowley had 57 families and 17 single persons over the age of 21 years. Population
was 281 including children. At the height of prosperity in 1866, the village population, approximately
consisted of 60 resident families, living mainly on four laid out streets of the village. Adjoining
settlers in the area on small farms, during lax periods also sought employment there.
In 1861, the voters of the town were not happy with the name Rowley as their town name for the
following reason, stated in a petition signed by a number of residents; "In 1861 the town of
Rowley was set off from Two Rivers and the question of subdivision submitted to the electors.
In so determining the division, no opportunity was given the electors to express a preference
of name and the town was organized under the name of Rowley, a name which is obnoxious to the
whole of the resident voters. At the town meeting the electors unanimously voted to request
your honorable body to change the name of Rowley to the name of Two Creeks." The name was
officially changed to Two Creeks on 2 November 1861. Undoubtedly called this because
"two creeks" empty into Lake Michigan at the point where the village was beginning establishment.
Settlers on government land through the 1840s as follows:
David BUTTERFIELD, 21 June 1836
Peter ROWLEY, 11 March 1842
Neal MCMILLAN, 11 Feb. 1847
Joel FISK, 4 Sept. 1847
Albert HARDING, 22 July 1848
John J. WAGENSEN, 11 March 1849
During the 1840-50 period the average monthly wage paid to:
Farm hand with board was $16.00
Day laborer with board 75 cents per day
Day laborer without board $1.00 per day
Carpenters without board $1.50 per day
Female domestic with board $1.75 per week
Laboring man paid $1.75 a week for his board.
NERO Post Office
The post office and telegraph office was established in 1860 and were in operation until about 1907.
Two Creeks was called a village, so the men of the village were to name the post office. The story
goes that the men sat around, possibly in a tavern. One man had a dog and he said, come here Nero.
Another man jumped up and said, "Call the Post Office Nero". That is what they named the post office.
(More on Two Creeks/Nero PO)
In 1861, PFISTER and VOGEL Leather Company came here and started the tannery. Guido Pfister bought
4 sections of land (sect 11,12, 13,and 14). Most of the land was bought from the Government in 1853
and 1854. These holdings probably totaled over 1300 acres. The lake washed away all of section 12
and most of section 13. Many small parcels of land had been sold in section 11 and 12.
The extensive growth of hemlock, useful for its bark and lumber, and the facilities for shipping,
had been the cause for the Guido Pfister Leather Company of Milwaukee to establish their tannery
in this locality. Trained laborers in tanning were imported, and soon there followed an influx of
people who sought employment. In 1863, an additional tannery, a sawmill, a planing mill, public
school, general store, boarding house, tavern, blacksmith shop, a wagonmaker, tailor and shoemaker,
a meat market, a telegraph office were built. Two Creeks was thriving because of the market demand
of hemlock, bark, logs, ties, cordwood, and other forest and farm products in abundance. An addition
to the tannery was built in 1862.
The Pfister and Vogel Leather Company built houses for their employees where were directly employed
in the sawmill and the tannery. These residences were located mainly at the intersection of two
roads, which a few scattering homes about the premises.
It was expected of tanners to possess a reasonable amount of technical knowledge and efficiency in
handling their chosen line of work. The hemlock bark consumed by the plant was secured within a
radius of about twelve miles from the tannery. It was not an uncommon sight to see twenty-four or
more ox and horse teams, following each other in line, carrying loads of bark and other wood products
to the village to be sold at the company's store.
Simultaneously with the tannery Pfister and Vogel built the pier. They needed a way to receive and
ship products of the tannery, forest, and the farms. The company's leather was shipped to Milwaukee
and from there shipped to other points. Since the local section of this territory could not supply
the necessary hides for steady operation, boatloads of this material were received at the pier from
Milwaukee, Chicago, and other points on the lake.
The company encouraged settlers and landowners to produce hemlock bark, ties, fence posts, cordwood,
and other products which the company would buy from the settlers and pay in exchange with store pay.
It offered the settlers a source of income and at the same time proved profitable for the company.
It was at this time that the average settler's progress in farming was slow. This was due to the fact
that much of his time was spent in the woods, getting cut wood products and less time in developing the
Settlers in the immediate vicinity, who were employed in the tannery, the sawmill or the yards during
the day, frequently in the evening proceeded to clear their land by rolling logs into piles or chopping
brush or burning it until late into the night. It was the dogged determination of some of these settlers
which resulted in the many large and profitable farms now located in the neighborhood.
The Pfister and Vogel Leather Company maintained a so-called "logging train" operating westward from
the pier about three miles. It facilitated the transportation of bark and products for the tannery
and the sawmill. (the remainder of this paragraph is illegible)
In the company's yards hundreds of cords of hemlock bark, cordwood and railroad ties were piled up. The
peeled bark was four feet long and six tiers (one tier 4' X 16' x 300 feet) were grouped side by side to
form a huge bark pile, covered with tilted roofs so as to shed water. There bark piles were arranged in
rows (six in a row), near to the tannery approximately 300 feet long and 24 feet wide. There were
frequently from six to ten or more of these piles, and hundreds of cords of wood and railroad ties on
the ground at one time. The tannery was operated for practically 20 years, until the bark supply was
In 1870, it was very dry and there were many fires throughout the country. The Peshtigo and Chicago fire
were in the same year. In Two Creeks, a lot of woods burned which helped to clear the land. There were
no reports of fatalities of anyone getting hurt that year because of fire.
Guido PFISTER ran the tannery until 1882. There years later there was a fire at the tannery. In July 1905,
Charles PFISTER and Louise VOGEL sold the tannery to Edward GREIB. Edward Greib sold to Joe and Anna
SCHEUER in the October 1905. They also sold 10 acres with the saloon to Joe Scheuer. Joe SCHEUER and
LINDSTEDT sold land to Ignatz WOJTA and Henry LEHRMANN in 1905 and 1906.
THE TANNING INDUSTRY
written by Ellen M. Rohr
The manufacture of leather for glove leather, shoe soles, legging leathers and other leather goods
became a strong industry in the early 1850s. Raw materials such as hide and bark were used in the
tanning of leather. Hides were often shipped in from cattle lands such as Texas. Two Rivers/Two
Creeks was chosen as bark land for the Wisconsin Leather Company and the Pfister & Vogel Leather
Companies because of the vast amount of hemlock forests in this area.
The Wisconsin Leather Company tannery was built in section 25, town Two Rivers. It was 315x50 feet
long, consumed 7,000 tons of bark and tanned 60,000 hides annually. In total, it was estimated
Wisconsin tanneries used over 100,000 cords of hemlock bark each year.
The summer and fall of 1871 were quite dry. History books document the fires in Pestigo, Wisconsin
and the Great Chicago Fire in October, 1871 but little has been documented about the lands in between.
October 5, 1871 a vast fire hit the forested lands between Two Creeks and Two Rivers. Roads were
impassable. The safest way out of the area was by way of steamer on Lake Michigan. The forests were
destroyed. The tanneries now had less local land to use for their raw materials. To keep up with the
demand for leather, the leather companies had to ship their raw bark materials from further distances.
By the mid 1870s the expense of keeping the Two Rivers tannery up was getting too great for the
Wisconsin Leather Company. They began selling off the property which was now well cleared for farmland.
In April 1879, the Freidrich Jonas family bought 40 acres in section 26, Town of Two Rivers from
Cyrus Whitcomb and the Allen families at a cost of $250. By 1884 Wisconsin Leather Company had
completely abandoned their efforts in Manitowoc County.
The Wisconsin Leather Company
Excerpt from the Pioneer History of Milwaukee, by James Smith Buck, Published
1884 Milwaukee News Co.
This well known institution was founded at Cazenovia, State of new York, in 1809, by Rufus Allen, Sr.
where it was conducted by him until 1842, when Geo. W. Allen was admitted as a partner, and the
business continued under the title of Rufus Allen & Son for four years, when wishing to enlarge their
business, a branch house was established at Milwaukee, in 1846, by William Allen and Edward P. Allis,
at what is now 334 East Water Street, which was continued until 1851, when, it being considered that
the right place had been found, the whole business was removed to this city, a new store, No. 147 East
Water, rented (146 being too small) and the name changed (Messrs. William Allen and Edward P. Allis
being partners) to the Wisconsin Leather Company, under which title it has been known up to the present
As one of the main requisites for the manufacture of leather is a tannery, one was at once constructed
at Two Rivers, in the county of Manitowoc, soon after which the following appeared in the Sentinel and
Gazette, of November 25, 1851:
The Wisconsin Leather Company
We were in receipt yesterday of a calf skin from the tannery of the Wisconsin Leather Company, at Two
Rivers. Accompanying the gift was the following letter:
Dear Sir: Accompanying this letter is a piece of calf skin, together with an order for its making up,
and being among the first fruits of our enterprise is a good indication for what may be expected in
the future. Our tannery is now in full blast; we have expended $60,000, and we are just beginning to
We are yours,
Wisconsin Leather Company,
Office, 347 East Water Street (old No. 149)
In 1853 Mr. Allis retired, and the business continued by the Allens along until 1862, when such had
been their success as to necessitate the erection of an additional tannery at the Two Rivers, in
which they continued to manufacture until 1870, when a third one was erected at Milwaukee, and a new
partnership formed by the admission of Cyrus Whitcomb and Rufus Allen Jr. which continued until 1882,
when a joint stock company was formed with Geo. W. Allen, president; Geo. C. Allen, secretary; Rufus
Allen, Jr., treasurer, and Cyrus Whitcomb, general manager.
Used with Permission from the Two Creeks Historical Society
In October of 1871 there was a fire that covered a portion of the Township of Two Creeks, starting
about four or five miles south of East Two Creeks and spread north. There were no known casualties,
but damage of timber was extensive. Tanbark was becoming more scarce, and had to be imported from
other areas to keep the tanning factory in operation. Thus it became unprofitable to continue to
operate. The Pfister Vogel Leather Company moved its operation to Milwaukee in 1882, but continued
to operate the general merchandise store which was still run by the BUSCH family.
It is interesting to note some of the prices at the Busch Company Store. Eggs were 12 cents a dozen.
It was possible to get 1 lb. of coffee and 1 lb. of sugar, for 1 dozen eggs, and then the clerk would
throw in several pieces of candy.
At about this time, The United States Telegraph Company; that constructed the telegraph lines
connecting the cities of Two Rivers, Kewaunee, Algoma, Sturgeon Bay, and the outside world, passed
thru the village in 1864. In the year 1885 the company discontinued the operation of the telegraph
office. The line continued to pass thru the village but no office was maintained. This somewhat
hindered the industrial and business operation in the village.
Although the tanning company moved out, business, although it dropped off for awhile, still prospered.
The trend seemed to have changed from lumbering to farming as more land was cleared in the vicinity.
More grain, hay, peas, and other farm products were raised, sold at the company store, and shipped to
other ports. Transportation was improved with the arrival of the stage coach, which operated between
Two Rivers to Sturgeon Bay by way of Two Creeks.
Sports fishing in canoes, and off the pier was very popular. Fishing for suckers in the Two Creeks when
schools of them would enter from the lake and swim up stream to spawn. A short distance from the mouth
of the north creek, a dam, a flume, and a flood gate were constructed so as to regulate the water above
the dam. This was also used for water power in the sawmill and tan-liquor in the tannery, and other uses.
When the flood gate was raised, the water in the creek below the dam would rise, at which time large
numbers of suckers would come up the stream. By closing the flood gate, the water was shut off, and the
fish in the creek would be left in shallow water and would be trapped.
It was then that the spectators and fisherman would get in the creek, catch the fish with their bare hands,
with spears or net or stun them with sticks, and land them on the banks of the creek. Much excitement
would prevail among those engaged. The fishing period would last 15 to 20 minutes when the real fun was
over. Every fisherman would usually have his catch. Fish that were not consumed would be smoked for later
There were always a few commercial fisherman in town. Seines with regulation meshes were used in lake
waters close to the shore, while gill nets were used farther out in the lake. The catch would consist
of whitefish, trout, herring, suckers, perch, and other lake fish.
Fishing from the pier for perch and white fish was also a great sport during the summer months. It was
common to see a barefoot boy, or some other man, wending his way with hook and line toward the pier.
Fishing from the pier not only appealed to the people of the village, but to the neighboring cities and
village as well.
Hunting in the East Two Creeks area was also a good sport, as well as a means of securing meat for
consumption at the time when most needed. A pioneer of the town; a well known enthusiastic hunter; Ignatz
WOJTA, in 1857; when a boy twelve-years-old, received his first hunting lesson from the Indians who were
then numerous in the area. Some of the fundamentals in hunting were to know the topography of the land,
the coverage, natural habitat, the instinct of the animal, and the direction of the wind so that the animal
did not get the direct scent of the pursuer.
On one occasion, Ignatz mortally wounded a deer when an Indian appeared and accompanied the boy in pursuit
of the wounded animal. The Indian, at the first opportunity dispatched the deer. Immediately he proceeded
to drag the deer away. Ignatz protested and asked for his share of the venison. The Indian refused to
yield and directed him to proceed homeward. The boy further pleaded for at least a small portion of the
venison, which vexed the Indian, and he removed the ramrod from his gun and indicated that he would use it
if Ignatz lingered much longer. The Indian directed the boy to follow an old logging road, and this brought
him safely home.
An incident that was of great interest to the people of the Village of East Two Creeks and the surrounding
communities, was the freezing of the Ann Arbor carferry approximately two to three miles off the coast of
the village. The winter was a severe one with temperatures ranging between 20 to 30 ddegrees below zero for
a period of weeks. When Ann Arbor Number 3 came to the rescue of Ann Arbor Number 1, it too froze in. It
was then that Ann Arbor Number 2 moved in near the ships but it too froze, but was able to release itself,
and Ann Arbor Number 3, but Number 1 remained solidly frozen.
1860 Poll List
From the Two Creeks Historical Society
Mrs. N. McMillan
John C. Eggers
Chairman of Two Creeks 1859-1932
Hy. Luepke 1959
Fred Pfunder 1869-1871
Fred Vogel April to June 1872, resigned
Hugo Reups took office 1872-1873
Joe Bartosch 1874
Hugo Reus 1875
Wm Taylor 1876
Fred Pfunder 1877-1878-1879
Geo Taylor 1880
Halver Johnson 1881-1890
Hy Lehrmann 1891-1897 then resigned and was elected sheriff
Hy Lehrman Dec. 1898
John Naser 1899
Hy Lehrmann 1902-1907
Aug. Last 1908-1924
Werner Schmoock 1925-1926
Aug Last 1927-1932 he died that year
October 11, 1918
Newspaper Unknown (It is believed to be a Kewaunee Newspaper)
TWO CREEKS WIPED OUT BY FIRE
Blaze which started in Blacksmith Shop Cause of Conflagration.
LOSS WILL REACH $20,000.
Firefighters Helpless and Whole Village Consumed Saturday.
The little village of Two Creeks twelve miles south of this city and half way between here and
Two Rivers was practically wiped out by two fires Saturday, the first one of which occurred about
10:30 o'clock in the morning and the larger conflagration occurring at 10:15 P.M.
Saturday morning Emil Kocian left his blacksmith shop for a short time after setting some tires,
and when he returned he found the building in flames evidently caused by a spark from the fire in
which the tires were heated. The shop was soon wiped out by flames, volunteer firefighters from
the surrounding country prevented the fire from spreading to the buildings across the street, which
were in the path of the flames. The wind was blowing from the northwest was directly into the saloon
and store buildings.
About 10:15 P.M. that evening some one walked out of the saloon of Henry Kappelman and on approaching
the store of Chas. Swetlik discovered a good sized blaze under the steps which led up on the west side
of the building to the rooms above. Help was immediately summoned but the blaze fanned into the
building which was soon a mass of fire from top to bottom. The dwelling house east of the store caught
fire next followed by the saloon and dance hall of Henry Kappelman on the west side by this time there
were no hopes of saving any of the remaining buildings and the attention of the firefighters was
directed to saving the household furniture of Mr. Swetik and Mr. Kappelman.
The stock in the store was entirely consumed with the building and no attempt was made to save any of
the mmerchandisesthe heat was so intense that no one ventured in the burning structure.
While the conflagration was at its height, Henry Kappelman fell form(sic) the roof of his building
while attempting to put out the fire on the roof and had his shoulder dislocated. He was taken to
Two Rivers where he received medical attention.
With no means of checking the fire fiend the flames swept everything before them until they spent
themselves on the lake front.
The loss is estimated at from $18,000 to $20,000 only partly covered by insurance.
Among the places destroyed were:Emil Kocian, blacksmith shop. Henry Kappelman, saloon, dancehall,
residence and barns. Chas. Swetik, general store, residence and barns, besides these buildings
several small warehouses and barns belonging to other parties were also destroyed.
The red glare of the fire was plainly visible here Saturday night and the fire was reported here by
the Ann Arbor No. 3 that arrived here from Frankfort about midnight.(Ann Arbor No. 3 was a carferry)
Two Creeks was, in the early days, a prosperous village of several hundred in habitants when the
Pfister-Vogel tannery was operating there but after the tannery was destroyed by fire the village
finally dwindled down to only a rural center, with a store, hotel, blacksmith shop and bridge pier
from which hay was shipped to Chicago markets.
Up to this time it is unknown if the village will be rebuilt.
Rowley Point Lighthouse, Town of Two Creeks
From "The Blum Family History" by Herbert E. Blum see contributors page.
"In the early fall at chokecherry picking time we would head for the
lighthouse. I remembered once when our sister, Marie, was about one and a
half or two years old (1924) we put her in the wicker buggy and walked
up sandy Highway No. 42. After a long walk we turned east on the lighthouse
road and picked chokecherries along the beach and at the lighthouse. We
had a lot of fun trying to pick more chokecherries than the other other
children. We always brought our lunch and also large pails to fill. We lived
on 13th Street on the south side at the time so it was quite a hike to the
lighthouse. On the way home our mother (Meta Wenholz Blum) and I and my
sisters would have to take turns carrying Marie as the buggy was full of
pails filled with chokecherries. It was a real fun day for us as were most
other days. Dad (William F. Blum) and mother would make wine or jelly out
of the chokecherries."
Drawing of Lighthouse by Herbert E. Blum, Abt. 1982
Postcard of Storm Approaching Rowley(Rawley) Point Lighthouse