The Johns Own a Hotel

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Mary Schaal and August C. Johns in Minneapolis. About 1900.

August C. Johns*, FW John’s younger brother, moved to Iowa about 1884 from Dodge County, Wisconsin. Once there, August and his wife Mary bought themselves the Milwaukee Depot Hotel in Algona, Kossuth County.

The John families had a history of owning boarding houses and small hotels, but I do not know if that was the reason for this move. Mary and August were definitely very invested in their business, because over time they: shored up the building’s foundation, added on — to make more room, and made major improvements in the interior, as can be read in the following newspaper article transcriptions…

—A.C. Johns, proprietor of the eating house at the Milwaukee depot, finding his present building too small to accommodate his trade, has an addition well under way which, when completed, will be 22×32 feet on the ground, and the front half of it 16 feet high.1

Mr. Johns is putting his Milwaukee eating house on a new stone foundation and fitting it up for the winter.2

The Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot has undergone a general overhauling this spring. The finishing touches were put on by Painter Orr last Friday. The inside and outside are painted throughout, new paper, and other changes have added to the beauty and convenience and our popular Milwaukee landlord has one of the finest eating houses along the line.3

1875-map-copy
Way up at the top left to middle you can see a trail of smoke coming out of a train smoke stack – that area is about where their hotel was located. Image provided by Kossuth County researcher.

They ran this hotel for 15 years eventually trading it for farm land nearby. No doubt because they were getting on in years, and found the business of hoteliers to be too difficult. Also, all their children, (who happened to be daughters), were married and had moved away from home, so were no longer around to help out.

In their 15 years of running the hotel there were no doubt many an interesting tale they could tell. One of those interesting tales I mentioned in a post a while ago: regarding a counterfeiter in town. Here is another I found that was told in two different local newspapers:

 

 

Below is a transcription, if you find the articles too difficult to read.

TOOK MIKE FOR A TARGET
Midnight Marauders Shoot at Hubbard, but Without Producing Serious Results…
Mike Hubbard experienced an unpleasant sensation yesterday morning about 2 o’clock. He had been cleaning some vaults and had just got home with his team. As he had finished un-harnessing and was turning towards the house he saw two men in the alley running from Mr. Johns’ hotel. The men did not see him till quite close, and then he called out to them. Both turned off to the north and one of them whipped out a revolver and fired at Mike, coming uncomfortably close to him. They then ran away and were lost sight of.

It turned out in the morning that they had tried to break in at Mr. Johns’ and had just been scared away. They opened the cellar door first and took out some fruit, etc., and ate it. Then they began to remove a pane of glass with a big chisel. Mr. Johns heard the noise and thought at first it was mice, which the girls had been complaining of for some days. But after a while he made up his mind that it could not be, and got up. When the burglar saw him he dropped his chisel and ran, it was thus that they came on Mike and scared him out of a good night’s sleep.4

TRAMPS AT WORK.
The N.W. Depot and John’s Place Both Entered.
Last Monday night tramps or sneak thieves entered the ticket office at the Northwestern depot, drilled two big holes in the safe, but did not succeed in getting the door open and if they had would not have got anything for their work as there is not money left there. Nothing else was molested and the thieves were undoubtedly frightened away before the job was completed.

The same evening A. C. Johns at the Milwaukee depot drove two sneak thieves out of his cellar. They were loading up in great shape when Mr. Johns happened to hear a racket in the cellar and proceeded to investigate matters, armed with an ugly-looking gun. He would have peppered their skins for them had they not escaped just as they did. Mike Hubbard attempted to run the fellows down with a pichfork as a weapon but one of the two would-be-thieves fired a couple shots at Mike and he let up on the chase pretty quick. He was pretty badly scared and told Mr. Johns that he had been shot at but didn’t know just where he had been hit. After examining himself he found that a bullet had plowed a furrow through his coat-tail. It was a close call for Mike.5

Very exciting stuff. August and Mary moved to Minneapolis in 1899. Their age and ill health made it more convenient for them to be closer to family. When they died though, they were both buried in Algona.6, 7 It must have been their home of the heart.

*NOTE: August/us spelled his John surname with an ‘s’. Our family spelled it without. German records show the name as Jahn — no one in the family spelled it that way once they arrived in America.

Here are more newspaper articles regarding the hotel and the Johns:
1895-10-23, Wednesday Page 8, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Walter Stebbins has leased the Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot and has taken possession. Mr. and Mrs. Johns, we understand, will visit in Minneapolis and take a well earned vacation. Walter will make a number one landlord and keep up the excellent reputation the hotel has enjoyed.

1896-1-31, Friday Page 5, col. 2, of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Ryan will take hold and run the Johns’ hotel, at the Milwaukee depot. Mrs. Stebbins who has been running it for some time has taken his old position in the Wilson Mill.

1896-5-8, Friday Page 5, col. 5, of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. A. C. Johns has traded his hotel property for a farm near Hartley. The new owner will take possession of the hotel soon. For some time past it was quite successfully run by Mrs. James Ryan.

1896–5-13, Wednesday Page 4, col. 5, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: J. L. McNamee of Hartley has bought the Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot and is now in charge. He traded a farm near Hartley for the property. Mrs. Ryan and son, who have been running the hotel, have rejoined Mr. Ryan. Mr. Johns will not leave Algona.

1917-4-19, Thursday page 7, col. 2 of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. E. J. Murtagh went to Minneapolis last Friday to see his old friends, Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Johns, the former being very enfeebled with age, he being now 88 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Johns lived in this town for many years, and Mr. Johns served on the council as a member for the Third Ward for several terms…

1923-6-7, Thursday, Page 1, col. 2 of Kossuth County Advance, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: PIONEER ALGONA LANDLADY VISITS OLD FRIENDS HERE Mrs. Mary A. Johns, of Minneapolis, has been a guest at the E. J. Murtagh home for some days. Forty years ago Mr. and Mrs. Johns conducted the “Johns Hotel” at the Milwaukee depot. The house did a big business for passenger trains then stopped here for meals, and all the railroad men were patrons of the house.

The hotel, which stood on the north side of  the track, was burned down some years after Mr. and Mrs. Johns left Algona…[they left in 1900]

Those were the boom days at the Milwaukee depot….The Dehnert hotel, now north of the courthouse, at that early day was also serving the public, but stood just south of the Milwaukee depot. It was moved to its present location 35 years ago…

1925-2-19, Thursday, Page 1, col. 6, of Kossuth County Advance, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-resercationcom]: MRS. MARY A. JOHNS DIES; TO BE BURIED HERE TOMORROW… She and her husband the late A. C. Johns, ran the Milwaukee hotel here in 1884, when it was thought that the main part of the city would be located near the Milwaukee depot…

Thanks to organizations that are digitizing local newspapers, and making them available to search on-line we now have a wonderful timeline and history of Mary and August’s time in Algona.


Sources:

  1. 1885-5-13 Wednesday Page 4, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
  2. 1889-10-16, Wednesday Page 4, col. 1, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
  3. 1890-5-21, Wednesday Page 4, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
  4. 1894-6-20, Wednesday Page 4, col. 6 of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
  5. 1894-6-22, Friday Page 4, col. 6 of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
  6. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/66278024/augustus-c.-johns
  7. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/66278025/mary-a.-johns
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August 21, 1954 William Shepard To Parents

 

21 August 54

Dear Dick & Dad:

Its a good thing that you dont hold your breath until I write! But I do try to get in a few. By the time I write Lois & the kids I’m usually written out.

I have been flying a lot during the last few weeks. Nearly all in jets. Dont fly the C-47 much anymore.

It has been unbearably hot since the 1st of August. I cooled off a little yesterday, but it is back at it again today. We had a hurricane called “Grace” that tore up southern Japan several days ago. It just barely reached here with light winds, so may be it will change the weather.

Lois wrote that she and the kids had a fine time in Canada and a good trip home. I want to thank you again for giving them a vacation.

When do you plan to come back to Westerville? You may have told me, but I forget. Really, I guess the best time of the year is in the fall. I would enjoy it the most. Hunting

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and fishing would certainly be better then.

Is everything going all right? I wonder if it is. I mean if you & Dad are both OK?

I dont have any real news, but I wanted to write a line. Havent had a letter from you for a while, but guess I owe you one.

Take care of yourselves

Love
Bill

Death and a Strange Dream

My great great grandfather John Cain moved to Wisconsin when he was a young boy. He lived with his mother’s parents Winifred and Denis Conely in Chilton for a few years, but, by the time he was about 17 years old he was on his own, employed with a logging mill in Oconto.

He spent most of his life working as a river driver, also known as a “river pig,” one of the men who worked the cut logs down the river.

Then one day, while going about his job something unexpected happened.

newspaper_cainjohn_bodyfoundinlogs copy

Eerie coincidence? Hmmmm. Happy Halloween!

 


Source:
Oconto County Reporter; Volume: 34 Issue: 29 Date: 1905-05-26 p1c3; http://ocnews.co.oconto.wi.us/

August 5, 1954 William Shepard to Parents

5 August 54

Dear Dick & Dad:

Lois & the kids are undoubtedly on their way home by now. I just want to thank you for having them up. From what they wrote, I know they all enjoyed it.

Work has been pretty heavy again. I let up on the office work for the last part of July and did nothing but fly. When my jet training was finished & had to go back to the office. So Im about caught up now. Ill be flying part the time & pushing a pencil the rest. Id rather fly now.

By the news, Canada is the place to spend summer. The heat has certainly been terrific hasn’t it?

We have had it cool – only the last month it has been raining very heavy. – 6 inches in 5 hours several times.

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There isnt very much news. I just wanted to write to let you know I was around. –

Its only about 6 months until I start home. Cant get finished soon enough to suit me, but I cant complain – I picked this business.

Take care of yourselves

Love
Bill

There Once Was A Revolution

Being assaulted, in the news, by the constant, disgusting, goings on in Washington these days has gotten my revolutionary dander up. I won’t be taking up arms, like some wackos, but I will be armed, with a pen, at the voting booth.

All this dissent and conflict brings to mind my ancestors who fought a war in this country to rid themselves of a King. In fact, did you know — nah, you probably didn’t — that on the John side of our family, all, but one, of the our direct male ancestors living in America, of the Revolutionary War generation, fought in the American Revolution. The ‘one’ was actually a Loyalist, who, surprisingly, didn’t flee to Canada.

Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1

Abraham Rosa —  From his pension record: …entered the service of the US in the Army of the Revolution under the following named officers and served as herein stated. That on the first day of February 1778 he was draughted for the term of nine months, under Captain Bogert of Albany, New York. He was draughted in the Town of Coxsackie, Greene County, New York Colonel Harper commanded the regiment….from Coxsackie he went to Albany, from Albany to Schoharie, where he was stationed at Twoman/Freeman[?] Fort and Beekers Fort. He was out on scouting parties after Indians some of the time...he was honorably discharged at Freeman Fort in Schoharrie by Colonel Harper…after serving 9 months…

15 May 1779 at Coxackie he volunteered for the term of 5 months in NY militia under Captain Philip Conine…he went from Coxsackie to Kiskadamnatia[?not on any map] 20 miles from Coxsackie where he was stationed most of the time, he went with scouts to Dices Mannor and Schoharie Kill after Indians some of the time…he was honorably discharged after serving…

2 June 1780 he volunteered again for the term of 4 months … under Captain Benjamin Dubois…he went to Catskill from there he went aboard a sloop and went by water to Fishkill in the north…from there to Thirt Point by canal…eventually crossed into New Jersey going to the town of Hackensack …in a company commanded by Captain Austin of the Light Infantry. Colonel Fancortland[?] Commanded the regiment, General Lafayette commanded the Brigade…He was drilled by Barron Steubenhe was honorably discharged 2 October…

He also went with a team 4 months in 1777 –he drew Battery and Cannon from Fort Edward to Lake George, baggage and commissaries stores, from Albany to Buman’s[?] Hights, soldiers that were wounded in the action with General Burgoyne to the hospital at Burmas’s[?] Heights, and foraged for our army from there, he carried baggage for Colonel Morgans regiment of riflemen to Geshin[?] in Orange County, NY where he was discharged the last of October…

The same year he went in the month of June before Captain Hermanes from Redhook commanded the party…1

Joseph CrossFrom his pension record:enlisted in the month of April in the year 1777 in the town of New London, Connecticut as a private in a company commanded by Captain Jonathan Parker in the regiment commanded by Colonel Charles Webbserved until April 1780 when he was discharged…he was in the battles of White Marsh, Monmouth2

Jeremiah Peter Smith/SchmidtFrom his pension record: … He was called or drafted into service in the fall, but does not remember the year, in Claverack, Albany County [now Columbia County], New York in the company commanded by Captain Jeremiah Miller in the regiment commanded by Colonel Robert Van Rensselaer for an indefinite amount of time. Immediately the company was called into service and marched to Schoharie, Schoharie County where they were stationed to guard against the British and the Indians. They stayed into late fall. The company was discharged by Capt. Miller and the commanding officer.

Then he was called out or drafted into service in the late summer, he does not remember the exact date or length of service, in Claverack in the company militia commanded by Captain Peter Bartle and Lieutenant Jeremiah Miller. They marched to Fort Edward on the Hudson River in New York and stayed there for two months, after which they marched to Lake George to meet with another part of the American Army which was stationed in a fort on the banks of the lake. During the march they met another part of the Army heading south at which time they returned to Fort Edwards staying there another month. They were discharged in the late fall.

He was called out another time in late spring of the next year or early summer, again he does not remember the exact date or length of service, in Claverack under Lt. Miller commanded by Van Rensselaer. The company marched to Albany and was stationed there with a few other companies to guard against attacks. They were there about a month then discharged again.3

Johannes Houghtaling —  Loyalist. He is on a list of persons living “west of Stissing Mountain” (a hill 1 1/2 miles west of Pine Plains, in New York), who refused to sign the Articles of Association. Johannes didn’t fight for either side, but we don’t know his reasons. Those who made the choice not to fight English rule, did so out of a great variety of reasons: economics, loyalty, fear, desire for peace. We can only guess at Johannes’.

There are more soldiers on this side of the family, but they are uncles and cousin. And on mother’s side of the family there are too many to count; plus one Scot who was sent to America as a British prisoner of war, having been captured at the Battle of Preston, during the Jacobite Rebellion.

So what does this all mean? It means that my ancestors had a history of rising up against repression and corruption,( including fighting for the Union during the Civil War). I mean to continue in the same tradition, because I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. So, I invite you to participate in the revolution. Get out–join, organize, VOTE!

IMG_1766
This is our pirate flag, flying free and proud at the Bumann household.

NOTE: Most of  the names of places and forts in Abraham Rosa’s pension are difficult to transcribe as they are hard to read. From what I have gleaned so far, few of the names as currently transcribed show up as actual places. A work in progress I guess.

Sources:

  1. Abraham Rosa, complete pension file #S.14381, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900, NARA, Record Group: 15, Roll: 2083.
  2. Joseph and Serviah Cross, complete pension file #W16940, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900. NARA M804, Record Group: 15, Roll: 0699.
  3. Jeremiah Smith and Sophia Smith, complete military pension file #W19378, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900. NARA Record Group: 15, Roll: 2218

 

July 10, [1954] William Shepard to Parents and Son Kenny

10 July

Dear Dad & Dick & Kenny

You wouldnt know a week ended. We are working right on, as it looks as if the weather would be good. Good flying weather is scarce in Korea during July & August, so we must make the best of it.

Lois writes me that she expects to start up about the 25th of this month. I hope they all have a good time.

Wish I could taste some of the lake trout now. Perhaps next year I can.

Getting a lot of flying time now. Will get about 25 jet hours & 10 conventional this month. Like the jets best. They sure fly easy.

Down to weight now and have stopped dieting — Im at 180# now and so help me Ill try not to get any heavier. Feel so much better when Im not fat.

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Kenny — have you been catching any fish? And how about wild game? Is there any around? It has been so long since Ive been up there I have forgotten how it looks. Why dont you take some pictures?

You know I bought a .35mm projector the other day. It is a TDC with automatic slide changing – a beauty. So we dont have to borrow any more.

No real news so Ill close the letter. Wish you all good health and good fishing.

Bill

Canada, oh Canada!

That’s a song–right? Nevermind.

The ‘never seems to be ending’ project of scanning my Shepard grandparent’s old family pictures has been fun and interesting, although admittedly sometimes a bit tedious*. But, I am really getting a chance to look them over and put together a picture timeline of their life, and even get ideas for future blog posts. Or, just remember the places that they lived and my own visits there. Some of the pictures are also triggering my research itch, because of questions I have about the time, or place, or who is in them.

I recently scanned more Canada pics from Dick and Dad’s part of the collection, a couple of them, thankfully, have been labeled ‘Cummings Lake.’ If I had the grandparents around to ask, I could find out exactly where this cottage was, (although I do enjoy putting the clues together, and solving the mystery myself). So the location has been narrowed down to Cummings Lake in Thessalon, Canada. Now the question is– where on the lake, exactly. Having the photograph below helps to narrow it down some more:

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Dick and Dad’s view of the dock below the cottage. Taken in 1954. This, by the way is a great picture.

I can narrow the location down because I found the following picture at the Grand Falls Camp website when searching online for information on Cummings Lake:

Grand Falls Camp Cummings Lake Thessalon

The cliff face in the background matches exactly the cliff in the first picture. This location is stated by the website as being between Lakes Tunnel and Cummings. When using Google map’s street view, I find this exact spot on Hwy 129 going North. It is facing Lake Cummings. Which means that the cottage was in the area on the topographic map below. It is difficult to tell where exactly, or even generally, from this view though.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 12.41.09 PM

image
Google street view from highway.
Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 1.06.47 PM
The arrow is pointing to the cliff area we see in all the pictures.

Looking at a larger overview of the area, I’m thinking that the cottage was, or is, if it is still there, on the big bump out of land above the falls area.

We have lots of photos of the cottage and the area around the lake, so I created an album of just those pictures at my flickr site (well I hope they are all from the cottage and lake area). Seeing the pictures and writing about this topic has given me an urge to drive up there next summer and visit. It is only a 7-8 hour drive, and I have my passport now!

39726793121_95c992d89b_z

My grandfather, Bill Shepard, wrote lots of letters mentioning his parents cottage. They usually talked about how envious he was, because he never got to go up and enjoy all that fishing everyone was always going on about. I know an uncle went there at one point when he was a kid. Other than Herman and Ruth, who else made the trip?

 

*I won’t complain too much about all that scanning, as we are fortunate to have so many family pictures that that been passed down. Some folks aren’t so lucky.

July 5, 1954 William Shepard to His Parents

6 July 54

Dear Dick & Dad:

Very happy to hear from you. and also happy to hear that you are all well and having a good time.

Yes-I received the box of candy and thank you very much. It was sure tasty. [Hey Gramps aren’t you on a diet?]

By the time you get this – I will have about 7 more months to go. That isnt so long is it? Time is going by so fast now that I’m busy. I have all this office work I can do and I am learning jet fighters in my spare  ? time. Should get 20 hours flying time in jets this month. Still instructing in the C-47 too so it keeps me humping.

You tell Kenny that he had better take time out to write me a good letter because Im his old man and I said for him to do it!

That cartoon of the boat reminds me of our little 12 footer & the 25

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horsepower Johnson. The time has come to go to bed so Ill have to close. Have fun.

Bill

 

Hayes and Wheeler

Another recent scouring of Oconto newspapers brought this interesting tidbit to my attention just in time for mid-term elections:

newspaper_cainjohn_HayesandWheelerClub

So what was the Hayes and Wheeler Club and why was gramps John Cain a member?

newspaper_cain_hayeswheelerstartsnewspaper_cain_hayesandwheelermembers.png

From what little I have been able to find about this club, it looks like it was patriotic in nature and organized in many states across the country, for the purpose of “securing re-nomination and re- election of President Rutherford B. Hayes.”

John appears to have been republican in beliefs, and was enthusiastic enough for Hayes to be elected that he joined the club to help rouse the populace to vote for his favorite ticket.

Here is a small bit of biography on Hayes from his Wikipedia entry:

Hayes was a lawyer and staunch abolitionist who defended refugee slaves in court proceedings in the antebellum years.

He was nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency in 1876 and elected through the Compromise of 1877 that officially ended the Reconstruction Era by leaving the South to govern itself. In office he withdrew military troops from the South, ending Army support for Republican state governments in the South and the efforts of African-American freedmen to establish their families as free citizens. He promoted civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction.

John did not enlist in the Civil War. Having been born in 1852, he was too young to have enlisted. (I am very thankful he was too young, because he might have died and I wouldn’t be here now talking about him.) Even though he was not in the war, he was a peripheral part of it, and was affected by the aftermath, as was the whole nation. His support for Hayes gives me a sense of his political leanings and beliefs, something he left no clue about to his descendants, until this article was found.

I’ll end this post with a friendly reminder. VOTE!


Sources:
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-07-22; v5issue38p3col4
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-08-19; v5issue42p3col4
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-09-02; v5issue44

June 21, 1954 William Shepard to Parents and Son

21 June 54

Dear Dick, Dad & Kenny:

When you get this you will have had time to get settled. How have you found everything at the cottage? I suppose that you are eating some nice golden brown lake trout by now. What I wouldnt give for some right now.

Work is heavy here. Im trying to do my regular work, and get my jet schooling in too. Start flying them next week. Im happy about it because they are easier to fly, and faster too.

I have been watching my weight lately with the help of the Flight surgeon and weigh less than anytime since OCS in 1942. Im at 184 now, and have 6 more pounds to be to my proper weight of 178#. It feels so good to be where I should be.

Kenny dont you make the mistake I did and eat that little bit too much of fat & fried food I never watched it and was always about 30 pounds overweight. The Doc says a person is healthier when

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they stay slim, and who wants to be unhealthy when they dont have to be?

I know I dont have to tell you to enjoy Canada, but dont overwork up there.

Ill try to write next week. Cant before then as I will be in an air-ground school which teaches us how to support the troops with our F-86’s. Ill be with the army for the next few days. (roughing it.) Well goodbye for now.

Bill.