The Buckhorn Bar & Grill at 531 West Water Street, right, stands on the site of the fourth mercantile building erected in Princeton shortly after it was founded. The saloon was named Buckhorn, or Buck Horn, even in its earliest days.

The Buckhorn bar building at 531 West Water Street was built in 1913 and replaced a wood frame building – the fourth store in Princeton – erected in 1850. It stands about in the middle of Water Lot 26.

Here is a history of the first twenty years of the property from the history of Princeton published in 1869 in the Princeton Republic: “In the spring of ’50, W. Seely and N.D. Hall (both died several years since), having taken up their abode in the new village, deemed it necessary for the well-being of the thriving and growing community to erect the fourth store in the line of mercantile progression, and immediately set to work, and in a few weeks finished the building now occupied by Demell & Harroun, south side Water Street. This firm soon opened up and continued in successful trade some two years, when Seely sold his interest in the establishment to Hall, who sometime afterwards took as partner E.B. Simpson. In about a year after this partnership was formed, Hall bought out Simpson and ‘did business on his own hook’ some years, when his youngest brother, Eliakim, succeeded to the business. This building was next occupied by Demell & Harroun about two years, doing a general grocery trade. They sold their stock last summer and closed out. Most of the time since, Frank Holloway has been located in the building, engaged in the harness business.”

The document trail at the county register of deeds office for the property leads from Henry Treat, who purchased all the land in Princeton’s original plat from  the U.S. government in 1849, to Charles Stacy (Deeds, Volume C, Page 267) in April 1850, to Noah Hall in May 1850 (Deeds, Volume C, Page 276), to John Seeley in May 1851 (Deeds, Volume D, Page 348), back to Hall (Deeds, Volume K, Page 453), to John H. Stimson for $500 in September 1857 (Deeds, Volume P, Page 36), and back to Hall (Deeds, Volume 30, Page 99).

Wm. Magill operated a harness shop on the property after the Civil War. When he moved to Clark County, Iowa, in 1868, he sold his harness shop to Frank Holloway.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 14, 1868 – “Mr. Magill has sold his harness shop to Frank Holloway, who has moved across the street into the building lately occupied by Demell & Harroune.”

Princeton Republic, Dec. 11, 1869 – “One of the busiest places in town is Frank Holloway’s harness shop.”

Holloway moved to the 400 block of Water in 1870.

Meanwhile, from Hall’s heirs the property at 531 West Water passed through the hands of Joseph Trochinsky to Frederick Menge ($930, Deeds, Volume 37, Page 274), who sold to August Heuer ($1,300, Deeds, Volume 37, Page 275), who sold a share to Michael Berger in October 1877 (Deeds, Volume 37, Page 464).

Princeton Republic, Oct. 19, 1882 – “A new foundation, new front and other improvements are being added to Mike Berger’s building.”

Berger, who worked as both constable and street commissioner and was active in the fire department, held the liquor license in 1884 but apparently tried something new in 1887.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 19, 1882 – “A new foundation, new front and other improvements are being added to Mike Berger’s building.”

When the Menge-Berger property was sold at auction in July 1889, F.T. Yahr submitted the winning bid of $1,203.50 (Deeds, Volume 4, Page 365).

Built in 1850, the Buckhorn bar is the fifth building from the left in my favorite photo of Old Princeton, circa 1874. It was replaced with a concrete block building in 1913.

Yahr sold the property to William Knobloch for $1,600 in spring 1891 (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 293).

Princeton Republic, Feb. 5, 1891 – “We understand Hon. F.T. Yahr has sold the lot west of the bank, on which stands the Buckhorn building, to Wm. Knobloch, who will start a saloon there.”

Princeton Republic, April 23, 1891 – “Knobloch is about opening a saloon in the Buckhorn building.”

Following Knobloch’s divorce, the property was sold to Henry Falbe for $1,000 in January 1892. (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 616)

Princeton Republic, Feb. 18, 1897 – “Wm. Knobloch died last Thursday afternoon. Some two months ago Mr. Knobloch fell from the top of a pair of stairs in the rear of John Hennig’s bakery and was terribly injured. His spine was badly hurt, and from that hour he has lain utterly helpless, unable to move. Death ended his sufferings at the date noted above. He was 54 years of age.”

Falbe sold the saloon for $2,300 to Louis Mosolf in April 1900. The village board transferred the saloon license from Mosolf to August Schiefelbein in May 1903.

In April 1910, August Schiefelbein placed an ad in the Republic offering to sell or trade his saloon property immediate west of the Princeton State Bank.

Princeton Republic, July 6, 1911 – “The firm of Kinas and Zelinski who have been doing business in the old stand of Aug. Schiefelbein, known as the Buck Horn, have dissolved partnership. Mr. Zelinski retiring from that business. Emil Klawitter who has conducted a successful saloon business at lower Water Street has disposed of same and joined in partnership with Mr. Kinas at the Buck Horn.”

Ripon brewer John Haas purchased the building in 1911, and contractor Bert Shew replaced the old Buckhorn building, built in 1850, with a two-story concrete block building for Haas in 1913. Haas also purchased the Princeton brewery in 1913-1914 and offered Haas Beer in kegs and bottles. He passed away in December 1918 of Spanish influenza after contracting the disease while on a business trip to Chicago.

The Buckhorn, circa 1915, with the Princeton Republic newspaper office on the second floor.

The Buckhorn, like many saloons, became a soft drink parlor during prohibition.

Princeton Republic, June 25, 1925 – “Albert Kinas who has held possession of the lower story of the Buckhorn building and conducted a soft drink parlor for the past number of years, has given up his lease, and F.C. Breivogel, landlord of the American House, has gained possession of the above-named building and will take over by July 1.”

Princeton Republic, Jan. 19, 1928 – “In a deal recently transacted between Irwin Schultz and Percy Berndt the latter takes over the soft drink parlor of the former located in the Buckhorn building. Mr. Berndt who comes here from Ripon will take possession in the very near future.”

Princeton Republic, April 5, 1928 – “In a deal transacted last week between Walter Kiesow and Irwin Schultz, the former became owner of the latter’s soft drink parlor located in the Buckhorn building.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 29, 1932 – “In a deal transacted last week, E. H. Priebe took over the soft drink parlor of Walter Kiesow. Mr. Priebe took immediate possession.”

After prohibition ended, Breivogel reopened the Buckhorn, which featured fried perch every Saturday night in 1935.

Princeton Republic, July 2, 1936 – “Carl Breivogel is proudly displaying a white (albino) sparrow in The Buckhorn.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 16, 1937 – “The Buckhorn is known far and wide for its genial hospitality and the satisfying qualities of its high-grade stocks of wines, liquors, brews and soft drinks. Its lunch counter at which sandwiches and their famous chili con carne are served is another feature here. Messrs. Fred and Carl Breivogel, father and son, are to be congratulated for their high standard of service that have given Princeton one of its outstanding taverns.”

Fred Breivogel passed away at age 56 in January 1940 after a long illness. The keys to the Buckhorn Tavern went to Paul Ladwig (Sr.) in May 1941.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 26, 1942 – “Paul Ladwig is making extensive improvements at the Buckhorn … new booths, lunch counter, and other equipment in preparation for expanding the restaurant department of the business.”

Meanwhile, the second floor of the building, which in the early 20th century housed the Republic Printing Company, publisher of the Princeton Republic, and editor Albert Rimpler’s village/city clerk’s office. When the Republic closed in 1937, Ernest Hiestand leased the second floor for factory and storage space for his young firm, the Handcraft Company.

Ladwig passed away later in 1942, and the building went through more changes.

Princeton Times-Republic, July 16, 1942 – “The Handcraft Company completed arrangements this week for occupying the first floor as well as the second story of the old Buckhorn building. This step was made necessary to provide needed storage space for yarn and other materials in the course of manufacture.”

Princeton Times-Republic, June 15, 1944 – “A real estate transfer that took place this morning will result in the expansion of one of Princeton’s oldest mercantile enterprises into one of Green Lake County’s largest stores. We have reference to the purchase of V.A. Yahr of the Haas building, formerly occupied by the Buckhorn tavern and more recently by the Handcraft Company. A new front will be installed, and an archway cut through to connect it with the main store. The new department will be devoted exclusively to men’s clothing and furnishings and footwear for men, women and children. … The present store will be completely remodeled and new fixtures installed to make it a modern semi self-serving super food market. … The Yahr Store, which was founded by V.F. Yahr, father of the present proprietor, 32 years ago has always been known as the home of the best in merchandise.”

That’s as far as I have gotten in my research, but according to the booklet published for the city’s quas qui centennial celebration in 1973, Yahr closed the clothing business in 1955 when he moved the enlarged grocery business to the former Ford garage building at the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets. He sold the Buckhorn building to Edmund “Eddie” Bartol.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 15, 1955 – “Victor Yahr of the Yahr Supermarket announced today that he will move his stock of groceries, fruits and other foods to the new location across form the post office, in the former Princeton Motors building which he purchased and has remodeled into a modern food store. His grand opening will be held Friday, Sept. 23.”

Yahr sold the Buckhorn building in 1957. (He continued to sell clothing at 535 West Water until 1967.)

Princeton Times-Republic, June 6, 1957 – “We wish to announce that we have moved to our new location and welcome all old patrons as well as new ones. We are now in the former Buckhorn building purchased from V.A. Yahr, located on the south side of Water Street, between Randula’s Restaurant and Yahr’s Clothing Store. It’s just five doors east of our former place. We thank you for the privilege of serving you for twenty years in the other place. … Edmund Bartol”

Bartol retired in 1969. The liquor license was transferred to Elizabeth Klawitter on July 1.

Princeton Times-Republic, July 10, 1969 – “A warm ‘thank you’ to our faithful friends and customers for their patronage extended us during the 36 years we were in the tavern business. It was truly appreciated. – Eddie Bartol & Family”

It was Klawitter’s Buckhorn Bar in 1973 when Princeton published a booklet honoring its 125th anniversary.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 17, 1981 – “Willie (William) and Rita Dehn are the new owners of Klawitter’s Buckhorn Bar in downtown Princeton. They took over the business from Vic and Liz Klawitter on Sept. 15.”

The city granted Phyllis Miller the liquor license in September 1984.

Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 22, 1984 – “Everyone who thought the ‘P.J.’ in P.J.’s Buckhorn Saloon stood for Joe and Phyllis Miller are wrong. Joe and Phyllis will tell you that P.J. is their pet dog, and that he’s the owner. ‘If you’ve got any complaints, tell the dog,” jokes Phyllis. Maybe P.J. is the owner, but Joe and Phyllis certainly do a lot of the work. They’ve owned the Buckhorn Saloon, at 531 Water St.. Princeton, for about three months. The Millers moved from Romeoville, Ill., a suburb of Joliet, where they were both involved in the trucking business. But the Millers decided they wanted to try something different. … They call it the Buckhorn Saloon because of the country feel ‘saloon’ gives to the name. Phyllis is especially excited about presenting live music once in awhile.”

I’ll update with additional occupants of 531 as my research progress.

(Karen and Kenny arrive real soon and remain there through today.)

As always, if you have any corrections or can fill in any of the gaps, please let me know.

Thanks for caring and reading about local history.

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