Lots O’ History – Lot 7, Block C (602-608 west water)

The Majestic Manufacturing Company’s demonstration days at the Schaal hardware store, 602 West Water Street, in the early 1900s drew good crowds.

Tracing the history of the large corner store on Lot 7, Block C – Twister since 1998 and Hotmar’s hardware store in my youth – was relatively easy. Only five major businesses occupied the corner lot in its first 100 years.

Updated May 4, 2021: When I posted this yesterday, I indicated I would split the story of Lot 7 into two parts. Instead, today I added the early history of the west portion (Twig’s) of the lot to this file.

John Knapp, who owned a farm in Pleasant Valley Township, built the first building on the lot – and the first frame building in Princeton – in spring 1849, arriving just after founder Royal Treat and Nelson Parsons had spent the previous winter in a log cabin that stood near what is today the intersection of Main and Mechanic streets.

Knapp’s building stood near the northwest corner of Water and Pearl streets.

This is how Lot 7, Block C looks today.

Here is how Thomas McConnell, founding editor of the Princeton Republic, recounted the history of Knapp’s building in the history of Princeton published in 1869: “In February of ’49, John Knapp, now a well-to-do farmer living in this village, and John Ross came and made arrangements to become permanent settlers. Knapp moved into Treat’s house, and his wife was the first white woman that ever cooked a meal of victuals in Princeton. Treat, Parsons, Ross and his wife boarded with the first family some time. In the following spring Knapp built the first regular house on the site of, and is now a part of, Chauncey Boylan’s residence, where he and his amiable spouse dispensed the generous hospitality for which Princeton has always held an enviable notoriety, to the throngs that soon swarmed to the Indian Lands, which were shortly afterwards thrown upon the market.”

Knapp became Princeton’s first postmaster and his inn the hamlet’s first post office. It also hosted the second annual meeting of Pleasant Valley Township in 1850.

According to the Republic’s 1869 history, “Mr. (Royal) Treat, not to be outdone by his more pretentious neighbors, had attended the town meeting in the spring at John Winchell’s, now Jas. M. Stimson’s, three miles east of this village. When the time came to appoint the place for holding the next annual meeting, a motion was made by Canfield Marsh, who had an interest in St. Marie, to meet at the house of John Shew at that place. But the watchful persistence of Treat was master of the situation, he moving to amend by erasing the name of Shaw and substituting that of Knapp, which carried by one majority. So, Princeton was on the high road to fame. It had now two houses and would have the next town meeting.”

To show the Treats’ appreciation for Knapp’s contributions to the new community, Henry Treat on June 16, 1849, in one of the first land sales in the new hamlet of Princeton, sold John and Amelia Knapp lots 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Block C in “consideration of the improvements that they now have made.” (Deeds, Volume B, Page 120)

The lots totaled approximately an acre.

The Knapps sold lots 6 and 7, including the inn, to Chauncey and Sally Boylan for $500 in May 1851 (Deeds, Volume D, Page 290), bought nearly 160 acres north of the village, and turned their attention to farming.

Boylan had owned a farm about four miles southeast of town before purchasing Knapp’s hotel. He was born in Elmira, New York, and already had a family of six when he became an innkeeper.

The Boylans built an addition to Knapp’s inn and when the 1850 census was taken, Boylan listed 10 boarders in addition to his family. When the Civil War broke out, Boylan served with Company I, 11th Wisconsin Infantry.

Princeton Times, Feb. 27, 1936 – “Those honey locust trees at the west end of Water Street’s business district have an interesting history. The seeds were sent home from the South by Chauncey Boylan while he was serving as cook with the Union forces during the Civil War. His wife planted the seeds along the frontage of their property which extended from Pearl to Mechanic Street. Several of the trees have been cut down, but those still standing have grown to considerable size and will probably continue to furnish shade for years to come, although now over seventy years old. Incidentally, Mr. Boylan was the man who shot the buck from which the horns were taken and mounted on the front of a store building saloon which occupied the site of the present Buckhorn Tavern. When the new building was erected, the horns were again put in use as a decorative feature of the front and account for the name of the tavern.”

The Boylans sold lots 4, 5, 6 and 7 to J. Wm. Worm and H. C. (Carl) Worm for $1,800 in 1871 (Deeds, Volume 33, Page 201) and, like several other early Princeton settlers, moved to Iowa.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 19, 1876 – “By a note from H.B. Boylan, dated Feb. 17th, 1876, at Unionville, Iowa, we learn of the death of Mr. Chauncey F. Boylan, at that place, on the 13th inst. Mr. Boylan was one of the first settlers of Princeton, and many who came here when it was considered Out West to come to Fox River will remember his hospitality, though offered in a board shanty. He resided here until sometime after the breaking out of the late war, when he enlisted and served his country for a term of years, returning to his home much broken in health, from which he never fully recovered. Thus are the pioneers passing away. The memory of their kindness only remains.”

The Worms in 1882 sold the east 39 feet and 8 inches of lots 6 and 7 for $1,500 to Gottfried Schaal (Deeds, Volume 41, Page 476).

Schaal came to the U.S. from Germany when he was 7 years old. He lived in Mayville for a time and was a wagon maker. He arrived in Princeton in 1858 and went to work for August Thiel. He later became partners with F.T. Yahr in the wagon and blacksmith business but soon left town again for Kansas, then New York City and finally Mayville again before returning to Princeton in 1875 and partnering again with Yahr, his brother-in-law, this time in the hardware business formerly owned by H.H. Hopkins.

Schaal sold his interest to Yahr in 1882 and ventured off on his own.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 23, 1882 – “The hardware firm of F.T. Yahr & Co. is no more. The firm dissolved by mutual consent. Gottfried Schaal going out and the business to be run by F.T. Yahr.”

Princeton Republic, March 2, 1882 – “We hear rumor that Gottfried Schaal will go into the hardware trade.”

A week later the Republic reported Schaal planned to build a two-story building “on the lot recently purchased from Carl Worm for $1,500, formerly known as the old Boylan corner. The dwelling house (inn) is to take a back seat and will be fitted up for residence.”

Knapp’s old hotel was moved north on Pearl Street to make way for the hardware store.

Princeton Republic, April 13, 1882 – “G. Schaal has been cutting down trees and clearing off his corner, west of Wm. Luedtke’s, preparatory to erecting his new store building.”

Princeton Republic, May 11, 1882 – “The steamer Weston came up yesterday, towing a large barge loaded with material for Gottfried Schaal’s new building. Gottfried will soon make a change on that corner that will prove a substantial improvement.”

Princeton Republic, June 22, 1882 – “The frame of G. Schaal’s new building is raised, and that corner begins to look like business.”

Princeton Republic, August 10, 1882 – “G. Schaal’s new block is nearly completed except the brick veneering outside, and the inside work will be completed in time for fall stock. When completed this will be one of the finest buildings in the village.”

Gottfried Schaal built the frame building at 602 West Water Street in 1882. When he built an addition on the west side in 1891, he veneered both buildings with brick, along with the former hotel that was moved north on Pearl Street in ’82.

Schaal went to Milwaukee to buy new stock and opened for business in October.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 12, 1882 – “G. Schaal has opened a complete assortment of hardware in his elegant room and is now ready for business. His stock is first-class. He has commenced business in earnest.”

Schaal and his son, Robert, quickly developed a reputation for quality tinning work and handled many of the roof projects for the new buildings popping up on Water Street around the turn of the century. The newspaper at one point said Schaal had in connection with his hardware, “the finest tin shop in the county.”

Business must have been good, even as Yahr also continued to prosper, because Schaal told the newspaper he would build an addition to his store in spring 1890 and veneer the 1882 building and the addition with brick.

Princeton Republic, Jan. 15, 1891 – “There are strong indications that Princeton will boom again next season in the way of building. Mr. G. Schaal will fill up the space between his building and J.W. Worm’s with a substantial two-story stone structure. The rear will be for his own use in his increasing business, in connection with the large room and shops he now occupies. He will also veneer with brick his main building now in use. They will prove substantial and important improvements.”

Princeton Republic, April 16, 1891 – “The work of excavating for the cellar and foundations of Schaal’s new building commenced on Friday of last week. Tim Paull’s hands are doing the hauling of the clay and dumping where needed in this sandy country, J.C. Thompson using considerable on the property he has recently purchased on Farmer Street. This is an early commencement of the business of building, but the amount of improvement contemplated this summer requires an early start if all the work is accomplished. Mr. Schaal’s new substantial addition will reach 91 feet back from the front. The rear part will be annexed to his hardware business rooms so as to increase his room for a tin shop and storage of the wares connected with his line of trade. The front part will be finely finished for a room to rent. In connection with all this work he will veneer the large store adjoining, which he has occupied so long. It will be veneered with brick. When all of Mr. Schaal’s contemplated improvements prove a visible reality, he will be the sole owner of a substantial and attractive business corner – all the result of strict attention to business and square dealing with his fellow man.”

Princeton Republic, May 21, 1891 – “There is a lack of brick in Princeton. The brick that Mr. Schaal expected ere this from Portage, with which to finish the structures he has commenced, has failed to arrive on account of the low stage of water in the Fox. The steamer Mark tried to reach Portage last week to bring down brick, but sand bars prevented the steamer reaching that place. The river never was so low at this season of the year.”

Mason work finally began in August.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 3, 1891 – “Schaal’s block is about finished so far as the brick and plastering work is concerned. It presents a splendid appearance. It is being finished in front in style different from the other beautiful buildings erected and presents a striking change though in perfect taste.”

The Schaals took a break from the project to enjoy the outdoors a month later.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 29, 1891 – “G. Schaal and son, Robert, shot some 41 or more squirrels in a few hours hunting in the woods about Princeton.”

This photo, circa early 1900s, shows the buildings of Lots 4 (four buildings on left) and 7 (four businesses on right). We will trace the history of the Lot 4 buildings in a future post.

Frank Mueller was the addition’s first tenant. He opened a drug store. When Mueller took over his brothers’ drug business in the 500 block of Water, Edward T. Frank opened a grocery store in the Schaal addition. He soon added former clerk Fred Giese as a partner and eventually sold the business to him.

Princeton Republic, Jan. 27, 1898 – “G. Schaal and son have put in one of the finest elevators ever put in a business block in this county. It elevates heavy goods from the basement to the upper floor with ease.”

Princeton Republic, Aug. 24, 1899 – “G. Schaal has a monstrous Round Oak furnace, with hot water attachment set up on his store floor. The furnace will be used to heat his store and Fred Giese’s grocery.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1907 – “A new sanitary system of waterworks has just been installed in the school by G. Schaal & Son, which supplies water to every floor. …  The water is pumped by a hot-water engine into a large tank and from that supplied thruout the building thru pipes.”

Schaal’s store for many years was the local vendor for the Majestic Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri, and participated in the company’s popular sales efforts. When demonstrating the Great Majestic Range in 1904, the Schaals served free hot biscuits and coffee.

Princeton Republic, November 9, 1905 – “The Majestic Manufacturing Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, will have a man at G. Schaal’s hardware store all next week who will show you how to bake biscuits brown top and bottom in three minutes. Don’t miss this chance of seeing the great cooking wonder. Free souvenirs.”

The first 100 children who completed a short questionnaire during the store’s Majestic demonstration week in 1915 received free books and puzzles as souvenirs.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 26, 1916 – “About 200 people attended the Wonder Wash machine contest at Schaal Bros. hardware store on last Saturday afternoon. Everyone was agreeable surprised with the ease of operation and the thorough work that can be done with the Wonder Washer. Mr. Stanish Rezeski drew the free wash machine given away during the sale.”

Schaal welcomed his son, Robert, as a partner in G. Schaal & Son in January 1907. The firm dissolved seven years later and was replaced by Schaal Bros. (Robert and Otto). Gottlieb moved to Seattle with his wife and daughter, purchased a “large double corner” at 12th Avenue NE and East 20th Street, and erected two residences estimated to cost $8,000.

The brothers operated a Goodyear service station and filling station, rented out space in their garage, and tried to stay up with the times.

Princeton Republic, March 25, 1918 – “Schaal Bros. selling a detachable rowboat motor that turns any rowboat into a motorboat capable of speeds up to 8 mph with weedless propeller. It attaches to and detaches from any rowboat in less than one minute. The motor weights but fifty pounds and you can carry it like a satchel wherever you go. It is so simple that women and children can operate it with ease. No cranking. It starts with the swing of the fly wheel.”

But times were changing. Gottlieb sold the Water Street property for $13,000 in January 1923 (Deeds, Volume 84, Page 345).

Princeton Republic, Feb. 1, 1923 – “A deal was recently closed whereby Mr. Edgar O. Fehling, of Juneau, Wis., became the owner of real estate of G. Schaal, of Seattle, Washington, known as the Schaal Hardware Store and the dwelling on the same property. Schaal Bros. who have conducted a retail hardware, plumbing and heating business for a number of years, retain the lease on the hardware store and will continue to conduct the above-named business as before.”

Gottfried Schaal passed in Seattle in August 1923 at age 82 years, 2 months, 4 days, and Schaal Bros. went out of business in 1924.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 11, 1924 – “In a deal consummated Monday between Schaal Bros. and John P. Hotmar, of Waterloo, this state, the latter became the owner of the former’s hardware stock and took immediate possession. Mr. Hotmar will restock the building and carry a large and complete line of hardware, tinware, etc. He comes here very highly recommended as a businessman and one who caters to the wants of his patrons. … Mr. Hotmar will also occupy the dwelling located at the rear of the store and will move his family here as soon as arrangements can be completed.”

The deed (Volume 95, Page 91) was dated Feb. 27, 1935. The Hotmars would man the corner for the next five decades. The business was a Marshall Wells Store until January 1959, when it joined the Ace Hardware Corporation.

The Hotmars reclaimed the addition that Giese had occupied, installed a new front on the appliance department and in 1945 built a basement addition with iron stairway to provide even more space.

Princeton Republic, April 24, 1947 – “That Princeton has one of the best stocked and most modern hardware and appliance stores is due to the ability and enterprise of the three people whose pictures appear here, Mr. and Mrs. John Hotmar and Leo Oestreich. … Mr. and Mrs. John Hotmar took over this business 23 years ago and its history has been one of continued expansion every year under the ownership. Leo Oestreich, also a partner in the business, has been associated with the Hotmar store for the past ten years for 10 years with the exception of the time he spent in Army. … Hotmar’s lines and activities cover a wide range and include everything in hardware, paints, wall papers, sporting goods, household appliances of all kinds, glassware, crockery, plumbing and heating, and many other items. Such nationally known items such as Bendix, Estate, Maytag, Frigidaire, Skelgas are featured in this big modern store.”

If it was bright and new, you could find it at Hotmar’s.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 27, 1941 – “Hotmar’s are showing models of the Admiral radio equipped with an automatic record changer.”

During the Christmas shopping season in 1948, local youngsters were invited to operate an electric train in the store window from controls outside.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 3, 1949 – “Television has come to Princeton. An Admiral receiving set at Hotmar’s Hardware has been bringing in some very good programs, including basketball games and other features which are giving us a taste of the possibilities of this new form of home entertainment.”

One of the store’s more unusual displays caught residents’ attention in 1944.

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 31, 1944 – “A set of elk antlers in the Hotmar store window is attracting considerable attention. The antlers were recovered by the State Conservation rough fish crew from the Fox River a short distance from Stillwater. They measure 43 inches from tip to tip of the longest horns and 11 inches in circumference at the base. Two of the prongs were broken off indicating that the elk might have broken through the ice on the river and broke them in a futile attempt to release itself from its icy prison. According to Conservation Department records the last known elk in the state was shot near Black River Falls in the ‘80s.”

The Hotmars used the store’s 25th anniversary celebration in September 1949 to share their secrets of success.

“Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 15, 1949 – “It was twenty-five years ago this week that Mr. and Mrs. John Hotmar opened their hardware store for business here in Princeton and that it has met with continued success right from the beginning is due to many factors. In the first place the Hotmars have always made their stock selections with the utmost care and with a view to giving their customers the utmost in quality merchandise at the very lowest cost. And their association with the Marshall-Wells Co., the world’s largest wholesale hardware dealers, has also been a leading factor in their success. … Some 10 years ago Leo Oestreich entered their employ as a clerk and then was called into Uncle Sam’s service. Upon his return from service, he was offered a partnership in the business and has taken much of the load of conducting this big business off from the shoulders of Mr. and Mrs. Hotmar. Harry Schewe, Elmer and Kenneth Krueger in the store, Mrs. Al Walters in the office, and Vernon Jackson in the plumbing department, are all having a part in making this store know for its courteous and dependable service.”

John and Lillian Hotmar opened their hardware store at 602 West Water Street in 1924. The family business closed in 1980.

John Hotmar died on July 9, 1968. Lillian Hotmar sold the business and property, including a parcel on Water Lot 25, to Glenn R. Gonigam for $50,000 in August 1980 (Deeds, Volume 35, Page 199).

“When John and I came to Princeton 56 years ago to buy a bankrupt hardware business with borrowed money, we did not know a single person,” Lillian Hotmar told the newspaper in a farewell message. “We wondered if our youthful optimism would allow us to succeed where another had failed. It didn’t take long, however, to gain the support of many new friends – those who came into the store and those we met everywhere around town. Princeton has always been known as a friendly community, and it certainly welcomed us warmly. It quickly became home to us, the place where our children were born and raised, where our deepest friendships were formed and maintained, and where from the first our customers became our friends. Since our arrival in 1924, we have always considered Princeton our real home, and for more than half a century we have shared our joys and our sorrows with you. Now I am turning over the hard work of the past 56 years to a man whose family I have known for a long time.

“Since he is familiar with the Princeton area, I am pleased that Glenn Gonigam is the new owner of Hotmar Ace Hardware. He comes to you with expertise, a willingness to serve you well, and a friendly spirit characteristic of Princeton people. I ask that you be as kind to him as you have been to us, and give him your support. And I congratulate him on inheriting such nice customers, whom it has been my pleasure to serve. I want to extend special thanks to my devoted staff who have helped so much to build our store’s reputation for reliability and service. I am indebted to all of them, but I want especially to acknowledge my appreciation and thanks to my manager of many years, Elmer Krueger, and his wife Lorene. Without their help I could not have carried on the business after John’s death twelve years ago. My family and I thank you all dear friends, faithful employees, and good customers for your loyalty to Hotmar Ace Hardware all these years. More than anything, I value your friendship, and hope to continue seeing you for many years in the future.”

That is as far as my research extends. I will update the information as my research proceeds. If you can fill in any of the gaps, please let me know.

According to the City of Princeton’s Historical Walking Tour, Dennis and Kristin Galatowitsch acquired the property in 1998 and opened Twister, home to A Lifestyle Emporium & Espresso Café, law office and loft residence.

They were preceded, by the Emerald Lion Pub, which included a coffeehouse and gourmet food store and art gallery in the “Schaal Shoppes.”

J. Wm. Worm built the building at 604 (Twig’s east) in 1884, and moved the building he built there in 1872 north a few rods to make room for the new structure. He built the building to the left, dubbed Henry’s Market on sign but currently part of Twig’s, in 1896.

Lot 7, Block D – West (Twig’s)

Henry Treat on June 16, 1849, sold John and Amelia Knapp lots 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Block C in “consideration of the improvements that they now have made.” (Deeds, Volume B, Page 120)

The Knapps sold to Chauncey and Sally Boylan, who sold lots 4, 5, 6 and 7 to J. Wm. Worm and H. C. (Carl) Worm for $1,800 in 1871 (Deeds, Volume 33, Page 201).

Although the Worms sold a large section of Lot 7 to Gottfried Schaal for his hardware store in 1882, J. Wm. Worm, who arrived in Princeton in 1872, kept the rest of the lot and over time built three buildings on the property and another on an adjacent lot.

Worm served for a time as village clerk. He was named fire chief when the Princeton Fire Company formed in March 1883. He served as secretary of the St. John’s Lutheran congregation and was among the leading Democrats in Princeton. He played a key role in the decision to build a new school on the downtown triangle in 1894.

The yellowed pages of the old Princeton Republics provide some hints about Worm’s life here.

Princeton Republic, June 20, 1889 – “Sunday last, our village was thrown into a flutter of excitement by the announcement that J. Wm. Worm had been stabbed by a person who claims his name is England. It appears that England had been drinking. As he was passing along the crosswalk nearly in front of Worm’s saloon going south walking rather crooked, Worm, who was in front of his saloon, jocularly called out to Gard Green, who at that moment was on the crosswalk in front of England, to ‘get off the track, the train is coming.’ The remark appeared to irritate England, and he made some threatening remarks in hearing of Green, that ended in England turning back, saying, ‘I will see you now.’ He advanced toward Worm threateningly and as he got near enough Worm put up his hands and pushed him away. England advanced a second time and Worm again pushed him away. England advanced the third time, as Worm again pushed as before, England fell from the sidewalk and in some way Worm could not recover himself from the impetus given by the push and fell on top of England. England’s right hand being free, he commenced making several rapid strokes against Worm’s side with a jack-knife he held in his hand. Parties coming up at that instant discovered the knife England had in his hand and immediate grasped the hand, and Charley Maik forcibly took the knife. … The knife was plunged into Worm’s side six times. One cut at the time was considered as possibly a blow that might prove fatal, but happily the case looks favorable at present, and the recovery of Worm is expected. England was taken in charge by Policeman Kant and put in the lockup. … Many were indignant over the stabbing affray last Sunday, but threats of lynching were confined to a very few individuals. The demonstrations as reported in some newspapers are mere myths.”

Princeton Republic, July 9, 1891 – “J Wm. Worm feels pretty good over a nice present he received from his son, Gust, in the shape of a gold watch.”

Princeton Republic, March 2, 1893 – “J. Wm Worm has disposed of that fine dog to a Racine party. J.W. says he got $175 for the dog. He was a good one. An attempt was made to poison the animal a few days ago, but prompt work in the line of antidotes saved the dog.”

Worm was also involved in the German groups such as the Turn Verein and Schuetzen Verein, but he is mostly remembered for his business ventures.

Princeton Republic, Aug. 3, 1872 – “Mr. Wm. Worm is laying the foundation for a building to be used as a saloon room and workshop for his merchant tailoring business.”

Princeton Republic, Aug 17, 1872 – “Wm. Worm has his new store up and enclosed.”

Julius Manthey (1832-1874) moved his tailoring business into the shop in November 1872 and was followed by McIntyre & Son selling sewing machines, organs and other goods, as Worm got restless.

Princeton Republic, April 11, 1874 – “J. Wm. Worm is offering his stock of clothing and furnishing goods at cost, to close out, preparatory to removing to New York. … I also offer for sale my store and dwelling house, on the property well known as the ‘Boylan corner.’ It is well-situated for business purposes and will be sold cheap. J. Wm. Worm.”

Worm changed his mind about moving to New York, though he did go to Neenah for a few years, but not about the tailoring business, which he advertised again in the Republic 10 years later.

Princeton Republic, April 17, 1884 – “J. Wm. Worm wishes to sell out his merchant tailoring establishment. A good chance for somebody as he wishes to go into other business.”

Worm paid the $75 fee for a liquor license for his Lot 7 property that summer and built his second frame building on the site, moving the 1872 building north to accommodate the new structure.

Princeton Republic, July 24, 1884 – “J. Wm. Worm is making a decided improvement on his premises. He has recently moved his dwelling back to give room for the erection of a building, thus materially increasing the size of his saloon.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 4, 1884 – “J. Wm. Worm is just simply pushing that new building to completion.”

Fifteen years later Worm rented the saloon at 604 West Water Street to F.S. Bednarek (Princeton Republic, Aug. 31, 1899).

Worm died of tuberculosis in January 1901. Theodore Bednarek held the saloon license for the property in 1902 and purchased the property from Mrs. Dumdey in 1907. He had been a stone cutter at the monument works in Montello and followed his profession for several years in Missouri and Kansas until his eyesight failed, according to his obituary in 1946. He was in the tavern business for about six years after buying out Worm.

Theo’s brother, Martin Bednarek, joined the saloon business about 1905. The license for the premises of Theodore Bednarek was in Martin’s name by 1910.

Princeton Republic, January 20, 1910 – “One of our popular, fancy horsemen, Martin Bednarek, while on his drive about our beautiful city last Sunday, met with an accident which considerably disturbed his equilibrium, at least for a few minutes. His many friends who were onlookers were white with fright on seeing the accident. It seems that Martin had made his usual drive and was about to put his steed in for the evening meal when he decided to take another spin thru the city. On making a sharp turn on Water Street the rein became entangled and the cutter was suddenly overturned. The gallant driver described a catabolic curve in the air and landed in a snowbank deeply submerging his dome of thot therein. The horse galloped off to the West Side. The dexterity and alertness of the nimble driver showed itself, for in an instant, he drew his pedal appendages which were paying the air, to mother earth and started post haste in the direction of the galloping steed. He was taken in another rig across the river where his noted speedster was captured. No damage was done to either the rig or the horse. We are pleased to say that our popular young man suffered no ill effect from the sudden circumvolution of his cutter.”

Martin purchased the business and property in 1927.

During prohibition, Bednarek was among the first seven saloon owners who paid $50 for soft drink parlor licenses. When prohibition ended in 1933, he was among the first 14 to obtain tavern licenses in Princeton.

The building continued to operate as a tavern throughout the rest of my research into the 1940s. Today the building at 604 and the smaller building to the west are occupied by Twig’s Fine Goods.

I will update the lot histories as the research advances.

Another building

Worm built his third building on the lot in 1896 just west of his saloon. (I am referring to it as 608, though it is referred to as 606 elsewhere.)

Princeton Republic, March 19, 1896 – “J. Wm. Worm will soon begin the erection of a building, 12×30, one story high, with fine glass front to be occupied by Mrs. J.E. Hennig as a millinery store.”

Princeton Republic, May 7, 1896 – “J. Wm Worm’s new building is all ready for occupancy and Mrs. Hennig will move to her new quarters as soon as she can find the time.”

Hennig occupied the small building for eight years, until April 1904, when she moved into the former post office building about 438 West Water (parking lot today) that had been remodeled for her by her husband, Julius.

Barber John Roberts opened his shop in the Worm building.

Princeton Republic, May 5, 1904 – “John Roberts was at Milwaukee Monday purchasing an outfit preparatory to going into the barber business here.

Roberts remained in the Worm building until 1923 when he was replaced by jeweler Hugo Stern.

Princeton Republic, March 29, 1923 – “Having gained possession of the M.M. Bednarek building, recently vacated by John Roberts barber shop, I will take possession in a very few days. I will carry in stock a complete line of jewelry, fishing tackle, etc. and will do watch, clock and jewelry repairing under a strict guarantee. Hugo Stern.”

Stern moved to 539 West Water Street in 1925, operating his jewelry store on the first floor and residing on the second floor.

Minnie Bednarek, Martin’s wife, operated a millinery shop – Aunt Minnie’s Hat Shop – in the building at 608 at times following Stern’s departure, but I am not sure about the long-term use of the building, which I remember as housing Henry Bednarek’s insurance agency and newsstand in the 1970s.

I know it was a hot dog shop not too long ago, but my research only reaches into the 1940s, so if you can help fill the gaps, please let me know.

Before he was done, Worm had also built the building that stood at 610 West Water, which we will profile in the post on Lot 4, Block C.

Carl Worm

J. Wm. Worm received much more attention from the Princeton Republic than his brother Carl, whose primary occupation was cobbler. Carl A. Worm followed in his father’s footsteps.

We learn a lot about Carl A. Worm, or “Doc Suamico,” from an article printed in the St. Paul Daily News in Minnesota in July 1937:

“Give me my boots and saddle … .’ As he sings that song, Carl A. Worm, bootmaker at the Gokey Co., remembers the days when, as a boy, he rode with the Indians, learned to shoot a bow and arrow, and even knew a cowboy or two. He can prove it, too. To this day, most of the folks of his hometown, Princeton, Wis., know him by his Indian name, ‘Doc Suamico.’

“Just what it means, the bootmaker never did know. Among his most prized possessions is a cowboy gun which is 94 years old. He bought it from a fellow named Hank during the gold rush days in the Black Hills. ‘That old fellow was a hard-riding cowboy if there ever was one,’ said Mr. Worm, ‘and he was so prosperous that when he ran out of lead bullets, he melted down gold and used it to shoot the Indians. And that’s no lie.’ He proudly displayed the old gun rusted with age, which operates by charging it with power before placing the steel balls in the magazine. The balls are made by melting steel and pouring it into a small mould in a plier-like device. ‘Yes, sir,’ remarked the bootmaker. ‘that old cowboy had many a thrill with this gun. I’ve even had a few myself when out hunting with it.’

“Although he likes to talk about the country ‘where the buffalo roam, Mr. Worm never had a desire to be a cowboy. He took up the occupation of his forefathers and even today he uses the crimping hammer that belonged to his great-grandfather who was a shoemaker in Germany. While he works with it, he likes to tell the rest of the boys about the times he went out with Chief Hank Hinacker, a tough old Indian, Black Crow and Snowball. It’s then his fellow workers begin to kid him and faintly hum the currently popular cowboy tune.”

The Princeton Times-Republic said Worm followed the vocations of cobbler and bartender and was also chief of the fire department.

“Tall tales of his exploits are among the classics of Princeton folklore,” the newspaper reported.

Thanks for reading and caring about local history.

Speaking of tall tales, I believe this is the fourteenth of the Princeton Historical Walking Tour plaques that muck up the history of our historic downtown. Both buildings were not built in 1884, and the Bednareks did not acquire the property until the 20th century. The 14 plaques memorialize nearly 30 errors about downtown history.

One comment

  1. It’s interesting how such a large crowd is dressed so well. And similarly. How did they ever get so many children to sit so still? Those were long exposures!

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