The building at right is 630 West Water Street. The photo was taken in the early 1900s.

Three weeks ago, in the first post about the Princeton Historical Society’s future folklore museum at 630 West Water Street, we discussed the claim that the building had been used as a feed store for 100 years. It was proved false by the use of Sanborn fire insurance maps and news clippings from the Princeton Republic that showed its history as a hardware store for more than 20 years and then as space for Erich Mueller’s pianos, sewing machines and other smaller items. (He also sold farm implements and cars across the street in the former Luedtke Carriage Works property.)

In the second post, I detailed origin of the historical society’s “folklore museum” showing the plaque’s claim that it was moved intact from St. Marie was false. News clippings from the Republic indicated Gardner Green built the building across from the Gottlieb Luedtke carriage factory and just east of the stone house of Mr. Tagatz. The stone house that houses the historical society museum at 632 West Water Street was owned by the Tagatz family.

The Sanborn map of 1892 lists the building at 630 West Water Street as a hardware store, across Water Street from the G. Luedtke Carriage Works and just east of a vacant stone house.

This week, we’ll look at a building that was moved here from St. Marie, and we’ll get to know a little bit about the business history of the Martin Manthey family. Since this is the third post about the building at 630, some of the info is redundant from the previous posts.

The building at 630 was built by Gardner Green in 1876. The historical society’s story for decades has been that the building had been located near the St. Marie hotel before being moved to Princeton. Renovation of the building has left the records in disarray, and no one has been able to document that claim. The society has denied me access to its records.

The society utilized the claim again in a fundraising plea for the folklore museum: “The current Folklore museum, originally a general store, was pulled over land by 40 yoke of oxen and three teams of horses in the dead of winter. The building housed a feed and steed store for over 100 years until the 1980s.”

That’s all false, but the society is more interested now, according to the fundraising letter, in “storytelling” than history. A sad day indeed.

We do know from the Princeton Republic and local histories written in the 1800s that some buildings were moved from St. Marie and Hamilton to Princeton. Teams of oxen were used to move buildings over land. Some were transported by barge via the Fox River; others hauled in winter over the frozen water.

In Princeton, the former St. Marie and Hamilton buildings became business blocks and houses. Former longtime Princeton Historical Society President Bill Zamzow can point to homes on the West Side he says came from St. Marie. When the late local historian LaVerne Marshall drew a map of historic Princeton for the quasquicenntial booklet in 1973, she listed two buildings that came from St. Marie. I have found references to four business buildings moved from St. Marie or Hamilton to the downtown district. All were destroyed or moved prior to 1904.

(Updated Nov. 21: The posting about the House of Seven Gables details the story of a house moved, according to late area historian Elaine Reetz’s reporting, from St. Marie to Princeton by “40 yoke of oxen and three teams of horses.” The same number as the museum. Coincidence?)

One of the buildings I found in my research might cast light on the 630 West Water “story.” (Plus it is a shining example of the writing style of 19th century journalists that I so enjoy.)

As Adrian Monk would say, “Here’s what happened:”

I believe earlier research of 630 West Water Street confused it with another building on Water Street that was moved from St. Marie to Princeton by “ox teams by the score” in the 1860s and used as a grain elevator on the Fox River. Ownership of the building passed to Gardner Green, who moved it north to Water Street (617 West Water Street) in 1880 and converted it into a store room that was soon occupied by Martin M. Manthey.

Here are a few supporting references from the Republic:

Princeton Republic, May 13, 1880 – “Gard Green is moving the old elevator and warehouse from the river front to the street, next to McCormick’s shoe shop, where it is to be finished up for a store or business room of some kind.”

Princeton Republic, Nov. 4, 1880 – “Chittenden & Morse have established themselves in a very comfortable office in the building recently re-fitted by G. Green. Mr. Manthey also occupies new quarters in the same building.”

Princeton Republic, April 27, 1882 – “Gard Green has commenced the foundation for a new addition in the rear of the room now occupied by M. Manthey, all of which will eventually make a store room when completed 40 feet in length, which Mr. Manthey will occupy for his growing business.”

And, finally, here is the history of the building that stood at 617 West Water Street as published in the Republic in June 1887:

“The old elevator building, a name familiar here in Princeton, and now occupied by M. Manthey & Sons, who are doing a flourishing grocery and shipping business, has its history. That old building commenced making a record in the then-pretentious city of St. Marie, whose commercial marts have long since closed and glory faded into a rather modern antiquity. It was erected and first occupied as a story by Buck & Cheney and stood near the historical St. Marie bridge – another fact of the past but a myth today. Following Buck & Cheney, one Kissam had a store in the building. The subsequent history of the building shows that it at one time was adorned with a $1,000 mortgage in favor of a bishop of the Episcopal Church of Wisconsin. Another short step in its record shows that it came into the possession of Dave Green, and immediately its days as a St. Marie edifice were numbered.

“About 1865 the proprietor concluded to move the building to the prosperous village of Princeton, whose shadow of prosperity had cast its withering Upas upon the city of St. Marie and left the latter without a future – only the inspiration of an hour and it was gone forever! (Editor’s note: I love that paragraph. When I shared this clipping with a local historian who has done extensive research on St. Marie, he said it was the first time he had read it.)

“In those days, the country far and near were notified when a building was to be moved, and, as usual, the farmer and teamster responded in this case, and ox teams by the scores were hitched to this building, the word was given, the drivers plied their whips, and the edifice, creaking a ‘good-bye’ to lonely St. Marie, started for Princeton property. Arriving here it was placed upon piles out in the river, finished off for an elevator and was used for years in that capacity, taking in grain from the farmers and discharging the same into the river boats. But alas, the steam horse entered Princeton and other commercial channels were opened and business at the elevator ceased.

“A few more years elapsed and Gard Green, having acquired title in the building, it was again moved from its foundations of piling north to the street, metamorphosed again into store rooms and is occupied as above stated.”

This is the building early researchers, I believe, confused with Green’s building at 630, where Manthey later also ran a grocery when the building was owned by the Warnke-Zauft lumberyard.

Martin Manthey and his wife were the first German settlers in Princeton. He sold insurance but, like most of the early settlers, also had his hand in multiple ventures.

Manthey moved his grocery and produce business from the renovated elevator building across the street to 616 West Water Street in April 1888.  

Princeton Republic, April 26, 1888: “M. Manthey & Son will soon move into Mrs. Buschke’s building opposite where they are now.” (John Buschke built the building at 616 West Water in 1886. Manthey had bought Buschke’s feed business a year earlier.)

Manthey moved the groceries to 630 West Water Street in December 1888 and used the building at 616 as headquarters for the family poultry, feed and supplies operation.

Princeton Republic, December 6, 1888: Mr. M. Manthey is about opening up a stock of staple groceries in Warnke & Zauft’s room years ago occupied by Green & Carman.

Martin Manthey reorganized the family business in May 1890.

Princeton Republic: “There has recently been a material change in the firm of Manthey & Sons. Martin Manthey, the father, has started a boot and shoe store in the front room of Warnke & Zauft’s store house (630), and Adore has taken charge of the buying and selling deal at the old grocery stand (616), while J.H. Manthey has opened a new dry goods establishment in Gard Green’s building recently vacated by Taback & Jacobson.”

In September 1907, J.H. Manthey moved his dry goods store to 620 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic: “J.H. Manthey has been moving his general merchandise into the building recently purchased located at the lower end of Water street.” Ad: “We have moved our goods to our new location one door west of A.A. Manthey’s egg and poultry business.”

The two Manthey stores at 616 and 620 West Water Street are visible in the lower lefthand corner of the photo taken about 1908.

Adore A. Manthey operated his feed and seed business at 616 West Water Street until he died in November 1936. Edmund Piasecke, who started working for Manthey in 1928, purchased the business shortly after Manthey’s death and, in 1946, moved it to 630 West Water Street.

The building had been occupied by the Princeton Produce Company in the 1930s.


  1. Martin Manthey was Jeff’s Great great Grandfather. If you are interested in any info I have, let me know.
    Tina Zodrow

Leave a Reply