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

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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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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.

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Eerie coincidence? Hmmmm. Happy Halloween!

 


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

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?

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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

Clarence Goes To Court

On October 30, 1931 Clarence John was driving home from a long day at work at his bowling alley in Oconto. It was 11:30ish at night and pouring rain.

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This is the road Clarence was driving on, Hwy 22 going west.

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Here is a photograph of the damage done to Clarence’s 1929 Roosevelt Coupe (the photos were in the court case file).

The driver of the motorcycle was Harvey, a 20-year-old, who was accompanied by a friend. Harvey lost a leg due to the severity of his injury. His father, acting as his guardian, sued Clarence for damages and the case was brought to Brown County Court in March of 1932, however there was a request to change the venue to Oconto County, which was consented to.

There were no witnesses to the accident other than the three people involved. The only testimony in the case is from Clarence. Below is a scan of the first page from the testimony.

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According to his testimony, he had half interest in a bowling alley in Oconto, at the armory, which he ran all by himself. He was living in Gillett with his wife, Myrtle, and his parents. They had no children at that time.

Clarence answered the suit against him with a definite ‘not my fault’, stating that the driver of the motorcycle was driving too fast for the conditions and lost control. Harvey’s lawyers and guardian denied the fault was his.

The damage that is visible on Clarence’s car does look like the other driver hit him, not the other way around. But in the end, we only have Clarence’s testimony, none from Harvey.

And, of course, no matter what we conclude seeing the evidence and reading the testimony, the jury’s opinion is the only one that matters. They found Clarence at fault, and ruled in favor of him paying damages of around $5100 for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff. (If payment was for reparation for the loss of Harvey’s leg, it seems a bit cheap to me.)

In 1948, 15 years later, we find the case continued, because Clarence had yet to pay the $5100 he owed to the plaintiff.

The record, which consists of sworn affidavits of attorneys and the defendant, and the statements of counsel made in the record on this application, raises a serious question as to the truth of the allegations of the defendant in his affidavit. The plaintiff’s attorney at the time of the trial…swears that after the rendition of the judgment and for about nine years thereafter he industriously attempted to ascertain the financial condition of the defendant in Oconto and Forest Counties and that his investigation disclosed to his satisfaction that the defendant during that period was judgment-proof.*

From 1942-1948 no action or activity appeared to be going on regarding the collection of the debt. Until Harvey got impatient, and in 1948 started pushing for his money. Here is an excerpt from a letter from one lawyer to another regarding the matter, dated October 21, 1948:

I have checked with Findorff and they tell me that John terminated his employment with them sometime during the spring of this year. However, the motor vehicle dept. informs me that he has an automobile registered in his name – – -1936 Plymouth coach…residence being Crandon, Wisconsin.

Under the circumstances , there is no point in my filing the certified copy of the judgment, inasmuch as there is absolutely no chance of my garnisheeing his salary or having execution issued. In the event he is traced to Madison again, I will be happy to grab him by his pants. There may be a chance for you to have his car picked up if he has returned to Crandon.

This process continued until July of 1953. At this time Clarence was finally found in Wausau, and served, Harvey had made action to start the process of suing him, he was worried because the judgment would lapse in August of that year.

Clarence refused to show up in court, instead sending his attorney to file one paper which stated that since the judgment, he and his family had resided in Wisconsin all that time. They never received papers regarding the execution of the judgment, or even an attempt at communication, and that such in-action in all this time negates the ‘good cause’ requirements of the judgment. Basically, making it null and void.

But the lawyers for the plaintiff had this to say:

court_johncf_12741 (dragged)court_johncf_12741 (dragged) 2court_johncf_12741 (dragged) 3

It looks like Clarence really didn’t want to pay this debt. But he never asked for an appeal to the judgment, which kind of makes his excuse a bit thin.

In the end all this work that Harvey put into getting his money came to nothing. My grandfather, Clarence, died in February of the next year, (1954). On his father’s birthday.

*Wikipedia definition of judgment-proof: In the context of debt collection and civil litigation, the term judgment proof is commonly used to refer to defendants  who are financially insolvent, or whose income and assets cannot be obtained in satisfaction of a judgment.
     Being “judgment proof” is not a defense to a lawsuit. If sued, the defendant cannot claim being “judgment proof” as an affirmative defense. The term “judgment proof” instead refers to the inability of the judgment holder to obtain satisfaction of the judgment.
     If a plaintiff were to secure a legal judgment against an insolvent defendant, the defendant’s lack of funds would make the satisfaction of that judgment difficult, if not impossible, to secure.


Sources:

  1. Auto-Motorcycle Collide Friday Eve. on H’y 22, The Gillett Times, Gillet, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 5, 1931; No. 11, page 1, column 2. 
  2. Harvey Andrianssen vs. Clarence John, Circuit Court case #12741, Oconto Series 36, Green Bay ARC, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, WI. (Photographs from the accident taken from case file.)   If interested in case just ask me for a copy.

Clarence goes a courtin’

3215370619_83f9e115f3_oCourting Under Difficulties
Clarence John went to Cloma Sunday night, to sit up with a young lady friend. For the benefit of our readers who do not know where Cloma is located, we will state that it lies “somewhere near Nashville” and that S. W. Beggs is mayor of the village. Clarence evidently had some time, for in relating his trip he says, “I had heard it was hard to get there so I put on my bathing suit and started out at about eight bells. I walked two miles, swam a large creek, waded through mud up to my suspenders for a mile, jumped here and there on a wet corduroy road like a grasshopper and finally reached Siding Three at about twelve bells. Here I borrowed a horse from a gent and rode another mile, then a flock of large mosquitoes carried me a mile further, and at last I followed a cow into town just as Daddy Ison was getting up to feed his hog. The young lady was waiting for me so I sat down and rested a few minutes and then took a morning train back home. Talk about hard luck—I sure had it. I don’t see why girls want to move way out in the suburbs for anyway.”1

I have been having fun finding more digitizied newspapers available online. The Oconto County papers have been exceptionally good, and now I am finding some from Crandon.

This amusing tale was in the paper when Clarence, my grandfather, was 19 years old.


Source:
1. Friday, Jul 19, 1918, p1c1, No. 46, 32nd year; Forest Republican, Crandon, WI —Crandon Public library digital images.

Colonel Irving C. Pahl

After reading the title of this post I can hear my relatives asking, “Colonel Who?” A perfectly legitimate question too. But, in order to answer it I will need to go back a few years to give you a frame of reference.

The story starts with Laura, the youngest daughter of FW John and Johanna Deadrich, my great great grandparents. The second youngest of 6 children to survive to adulthood, she was born August 27, 1866 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin. (Laura was six years older than the youngest child, my great-grandfather, Victor.)

When Laura John was 19 years old she married her first husband, Charles Edward Pahl. A marriage which lasted for 10 years. Here are some notes from the divorce case:

“…That shortly after the said marriage the plaintiff [sic: defendant Charles] commenced a system of cruel and inhuman treatment towards the plaintiff by calling the plaintiff base, vile and abusive names, by threatening to strike, shoot and kill the plaintiff ….. conduct of the defendant became so cruel and inhuman towards the plaintiff and the said child [Victor] that the plaintiff was forced to and did leave …. That during the time the plaintiff and defendant lived together the defendant was ever jealous of every body who spoke to the plaintiff even of the plaintiff’s brothers …would abuse the plaintiff by the use of vile epithets…talking about shooting and killing the plaintiff.

…the defendant had a mania for whipping and punishing the said Victor Pahl … when the plaintiff remonstrated and attempted to prevent the defendant from so whipping and punishing said child the defendant would grossly and outrageously abuse the plaintiff by use of abusive words…

That the defendant frequently took up a stick or wood and threatened to strike and beat the plaintiff. That about six weeks before the plaintiff left the defendant…because she protested against the punishment of the said Victor Pahl by the defendant, the defendant violently assaulted the plaintiff and pinched and bruised her arm with such force as to take the skin off of her arm.

That shortly before the plaintiff left the defendant as aforesaid he told the plaintiff that if his style did not suit her she might leave and the sooner she left the better, that in consequence of said abuse and the great fear the plaintiff had of the defendant she left him as aforesaid.” 1

Laura had three children with Charles: Louis, who died at about a year old, Harold and Victor Pahl. She retained custody of Victor in the divorce proceedings. (It appears that their son Harold might have also died by the time of the divorce as he is not mentioned in the records).

Laura married again in 1899 to Edward Naylor.

Married
Last Saturday morning, at Gillett, Oconto County, this state, Dr. E. S. Naylor to Miss Laura Johns, Justice Riordan officiating. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of Gillett, and a sister of our obliging station agent at this place, and the groom is well know veterinary surgeon formerly of Ripon, but now in the employ of the Rusch Lumber Company here. They arrived here on the evening train Monday and were duly serenaded by the village band, after which a social ball was given in their honor at the Exchange Hotel, where they are at present staying. The Advertiser joins their many friends in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life. 2

This marriage didn’t last long either, and there were no living children of this marriage when divorce was granted in 1904. Laura supported herself by working as a cook in lumber camps, and boarding houses. Skills she most likely learned from her mother, who was acclaimed as a great cook by locals and visitors alike.

Victor was born in 1891. It is possibly because Laura was working in lumber camps, a place that would be dangerous for a young child, that he is found in the 1900 census living with his grandparents, FW and Johanna John. He appears to have had a complicated, rough and confusing childhood, because we find him a few years later at the State School for Boys, in Waukesha, at the age of 14. I don’t know what his incarceration was for, or for how long he was a guest of the facility.

In 1916 when war started in Europe, Victor was working in Ontario as an ironworker. It appears that he was so eager to join in the fight, that he didn’t want to wait for the United States to get involved.

Oconto Boy in the War
Victor Pahl, son of Charles Pahl of Oconto, has enlisted in a Canadian company and will participate in the European war on the side of the allies. Victor was born and brought up in Oconto. 3

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He was in the Canadian Navy. When the United States finally join in the cause, he signed up for the draft there.

Victor died in 1951 in Florida. Leaving three children from his first wife: Irving, Martha and Laura. From the little that I have found, I am quite sure that there is much more that could be written about Victor, but this post is really about Irving, my Dad’s second cousin.

Here is a picture of Victor from a Brazilian Passport4 from 1943. He would be about 52:

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Like his father, Irving C. Pahl was born in Wisconsin. His mother however, was a Romanian immigrant.

Irving’s father moved the family around a lot, probably because of his job (I believe he was a sailor, or worked around boats), so the family wasn’t actually in Wisconsin very long before they left on the first of many moves. It was in Connecticut that the family settled for a short while, and Irving started his formal education.

But he can tell you all about that in his interview.

One of the great things about the internet is how it makes it so much easier to find gems, that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. In researching Irving online, I ran across an interview with him, recorded by the Winthrop University, for their oral history program. The main focus of his interview is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets, because he and his family were there when the hammer came down.

Finding the interview, seeing his involvement in Czechoslovakia, and his rank when he retired from the Army, I thought that he might have been an interesting cousin to know about, so I did a little more digging. What follows are newspaper clippings that I found regarding Irving’s life in the military. And I was right, it was pretty interesting.

This first newspaper article is from 1953 and gives a good overview of his accomplishments and involvement in the service from 1939 up to that time. The rest of the articles are chronologically organized.

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Kentucky New Era 06/11/1953p9

 

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Untitled
Pacific Stars and Stripes, vol.11, no. 149, may 30, 1955

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Excerpt from book published about the Czechoslovakian fight.

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Those are the highlights of what appears to be quite an interesting life for himself, and his family. And when Irving retired in Columbia, South Carolina he didn’t actually ‘retire’. He was still very much involved with the community, volunteering and writing letters to the editor.

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Irving passed way in 1996, leaving a son and a daughter to carry on his legacy.

The interview which I mentioned above can be downloaded from the University’s website, and listened to at your leisure, it is about 50 minutes long. I have also transcribed the interview as best I can. The transcript (a link to it is below in .pdf format) is the best I could get from listening to it on my iPhone. Some bits were too garbled for me to hear clearly, and I indicate such, on occasion he is speaking Czech (or German), or using Czech names and places, and I can’t quite tell what he is saying. A few times several people were talking at once, (I believe his wife was present at the time, interjecting a comment on occasion, which I couldn’t quite hear).

TRANSCRIPT OF PAHL INTERVIEW

As each new generation is born, it is only natural that family starts drifting farther apart. So I am glad when I can find and share these stories of cousins we never knew. I hope you enjoy them too.


Sources:
1. Divorce of Laura Pahl (plaintiff) from Charles E. Pahl (defendant) December 24, 1895 (filed January 8, 1896) Oconto County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Case #4044, Area Research Center, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 23, 2005.
2. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) January 26, 1899 c5 (weekly Thursday paper).

3. The Union Farmer Herald, Vol. 5, Issue 42, March 24, 1916, page 1, col. 1.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Image 145-146 of 201 (pulled from Ancestry.com).

Clarence and the Wisconsin State Guard Reserve

It was pure chance that I was preparing this post for this week, and Veteran’s Day is Saturday. Brilliant. To all the veterans in my family, past and present, thank you for your service.

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Clarence with his State Guard Reserve unit. (He is in the back row, straight back from the gentleman sitting on the far right in front.) His designation was provided by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.

In 1904 the Wisconsin State Legislature enacted Chapter 434.

“In the event of all or part of the Wisconsin National Guard being called into the service of the United States, the governor is hereby authorized to organize and equip a temporary military force equal in size and organization to that called from the state, provided, that upon the return to the state of the troops called into the service of the United States the temporary military force shall be disbanded.”

Both my grandfather Clarence Fredrick John and his uncle Milton Cain were members of the Wisconsin State Guard (or in Clarence’s case it was the State Guard Reserve). Milton went on to fight in France with the Rainbow Division. My grandfather, on the other hand, never stepped foot in Europe, or Africa for that matter, during this war. He did not turn 21 until October 29, 1919 and the war was over a little more than a week later.

The State Guard was organized after the Wisconsin National Guard went overseas to join in the war effort in July of 1917. The first units of the State Guard that were organized were in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Green Bay. The men recruited were all volunteers who were too old or too young for the draft.

Its first encampment was at Camp Douglas in July of 1918. It was comprised of four regiments of infantry and a State Guard Reserve. In total about 5,500 officers and men.

The Guard was paid an allowance by the state for: armory rent, upkeep of clothing, and the expenses connected with their training. However, the men in the Guard were all volunteers so received no wages or pay. And if you were in the State Guard Reserve, you paid for your own equipment and uniform.

The camp was commanded by BG Charles King, a retired officer of the Wisconsin National Guard. He trained the men as if they were regular army, and their competence  after a few days of intensive training, along with their own drills at home, was impressive. In his report to the adjutant general Gen. King complimented them highly.

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From the family album. Clarence Fredrick John in his State Guard Reserve uniform.

It was understood that joining the State Guard did not exempt the men from the draft. Those who were too young to join at that time would be eligible for active service when they reached the age of 21. The older men could be called up if they ran out of young blood.

The Wisconsin State Guard was needed 3 times during the World War I:
1. Sept. 16-18, 1918 Clark County; to assist in search for draft dodgers.
2. Aug. 20-24, 1919 As guards during the Cudahy riots.
3. Sept. 9-12, 1919 Troops were assembled in the armory at Manitowoc, for use in strike riots at Two Rivers, but they were not used.

The State Guard was incrementally disbanded starting on May 5, 1920, as the National Guard was slowly reactivated in full, a process which was completed in 1921.

Clarence was with the 26th Separate Company of Crandon.5 He sure does look cute in his duds. He apparently liked to say that his ship was turned around at sea because the war was over, so he never got to fight. It makes for a nice story, but I am doubtful that that was the case, as he wouldn’t have had time to be on a ship heading overseas, less than two weeks after he was of age. He might, however, have had his bags all packed and been raring to go.

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Sources:
1.  http://www.b-1-105.us/history/wsg.html.
2. Email from: Horton, Russell <Russell.Horton@dva.state.wi.us.
3. “State Guard to Camp Douglas”, The Farmer-Herald, Oconto Falls, Wis., Friday, June 28, 1918. Page 4 Column 2.
4. “Wisconsin in the World War,” by R. B. Pixley. Milwaukee, The Wisconsin War History Company, 1919. Copyright 1919:S.E. Tate Printing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Google Books digitized. p285
5. “…found a Clarence F. John in the State Guard Reserve microfilm. It appears he with the 26th Separate Company, which seems to be based out of Crandon” — email from Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 
30 West Mifflin Street, Madison, WI 53703.

Love at first sight?

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Clarence John and Myrtle Hamm, newlyweds.

My father remembers being told, when he was younger, that his parents had met when Clarence was injured in a train accident and Myrtle was taking care of him at a hospital in Marshfield where she was working as a nurse.

He didn’t have any more details than that. So for the past 15+ years I have waited patiently to find the newspaper article that would mention this accident and give me more details. Thankfully, the Oconto County Historical Society is currently making great efforts to digitize the Oconto County newspapers, and I have found some great articles in the past. A recent check of their progress gave me the answer I have been seeking:

train
The Gillett Times, v27n50, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, August 4, 1927, page 1.

The article certainly confirms that Clarence was in a train accident, and he was sent to the Marshfield hospital, where Mrytle would have been working at the time, (she had graduated from nursing school in May of that same year.)

It is believed that Clarence received a pretty hefty settlement from the railroad and this is probably the money he used to start his own business. A bowling alley.

bowlingalley
The Gillett Times, v28n15, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 29, 1928, page 1.

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Here is a matchbook saved by the family from the bowling alley.

It is said that because Clarence’s venture started not long before the crash of 1929 and folks no longer had extra money to spend on luxury outings, such as bowling, the business didn’t last very long. But, I have no proof of that yet. I guess I will have to dig a little deeper.

In 1931, a little over 3 years after they met, Clarence and Myrtle ran away to Illinois and were married at the court house. Was it love at first sight? Only they know, and they aren’t talking.

An August Wedding…

I recently found this wonderful newspaper article about my great grandparents wedding day on August 28, 1897. It would have been even better if they had provided a picture, but no such luck. And as my great grandfather was a railroad station agent and postmaster, the venue was quite appropriate to the occasion.

vicandgert
Victor Hugo John and Gertrude Cain.

wedding

Now that sounds like a very fun wedding.