I was not surprised that Milwaukee Sentinel correspondent Harriet Pettibone connected with Julius Hennig during her visit to Princeton in April 1922 to experience Cattle Fair, as described in the previous post.
By that time, Hennig had been part of the Princeton community for forty years. He had owned multiple businesses, erected a building on Water Street, led the St. John Lutheran school and church boards for decades, served as village president, school director and postmaster, and held positions on multiple local boards and organizations.
“No man takes more pride than he in his home, family, city, party (Democratic), church and country,” the Republic wrote in a profile of Hennig published in June 1902. “He is noted for his impromptu speeches. His genial way and his constant stand for right makes him a political leader and a prominent member in society.”
Hennig’s father, Christ, and brothers, John and Christ, were involved in various business interests, including a bakery, meat market and barber shop, in Princeton for several years, beginning in the 1870s.
Julius E. Hennig, most often referred to by the Republic as J.E., but also Jule and Jules, was born in Germany about 1852. He attended school and learned to be a shoemaker before emigrating to the United States at age 16. He found work in Crystal Lake Township in Marquette County, then for the Teske Bros. in Princeton from 1870 to 1874, before moving to Fall Creek, where he established a thriving cobbler shop and married Gusta Tapper, who had been engaged in the millinery business there since she was 16.
The Hennigs joined Jule’s brothers in Princeton in 1881.
Princeton Republic, Feb. 24, 1881 – “Julius Hennig, brother of M. and C. Hennig, residing up in the Chippewa country, proposes settling in Princeton ere long.”
Mrs. Hennig set up a millinery shop that she conducted for 44 years, the final 23 years at about 438 West Water Street in a frame building erected in 1869 and razed in 1948 (now a parking lot).
The couple raised four daughters and a son in Princeton.
J.E. Hennig had his hand in multiple business ventures during his time in Princeton, including the local livery, a harness shop, a saloon, a grocery store, a barber shop, a farm implement dealership, the iconic American House hotel, and a monument and headstone shop.
Princeton Republic,March 16. 1882 – “John Demell and father, D. Demell, plan to go west. Jule Hennig buys the property (511 West Water Street) of D. Demell just east of the latter’s brick block, which was recently occupied by shoemaker Emil Lempke, leaving due to health.”
Princeton Republic, August 10, 1882 – “Jule Hennig commenced a stone foundation for that new meat market last week. The steamer Weston came up last night towing a barge of lumber for Hennig’s building.”
Princeton Republic, Jan. 4, 1883 – “Jule Hennig has become a partner in business with Pooch & Born. It is rumored that Hennig will soon retire from the saloon business.”
Princeton Republic, March 5, 1883 – “O.B. Crane has sold the property known to the old citizens as the Hopkins Block (501-503 West Water Street) to Jule Hennig. It is the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Crane to move to Dakota ere long, a fact we are sorry to record. Mrs. Crane will, however, keep business running until she vacates sometime next month. … Jule Hennig says he is going to make that corner property shine.”
Princeton Republic, March 26, 1885 – “Jule Hennig has moved his barber shop to the front room over Mueller Brothers’ drug store (528 West Water).”
Princeton Republic, May 12, 1887 – “The street sprinkler has commenced business and is again engineered by Jule Hennig.”
Having firmly established his business acumen in the late 19th century, Hennig played key roles in nearly all of the major developments in Princeton in the early 20th century as well.
When the creamery was started, Hennig was unanimously chosen president of the association. He was on the three-person committee tasked with helping develop the village’s first electric plant and was elected vice president of the Citizens Electric Light & Power Company in 1901 and served as utility manager for some time. He served on the First National Bank board of directors.
His community service also included stints as village president, fire chief, constable and deputy sheriff. He was President of the Day for German Day celebrations in Princeton in the early 1900s.
In December 1915, Hennig purchased the American House, 440-444 West Water Street, from Bert Shew. After he was named postmaster in March 1916, Hennig moved the post office to 440 West Water, where it would remain until 1957 when a new building was erected on Pearl Street.
Princeton Republic, Jan. 25, 1917 – “Postmaster J.E. Hennig is at the present time busily engaged in remodeling and beautifying the front sample room of the American House. The room has been neatly paneled and adorned at the ceiling with stucco work. The side walls are also prettily decorated with stucco work at the upper part, while the lower part is made to resemble glazed brick. At the present time the painters are engaged who are putting the finishing touches to it, and when their work is completed and upon the arrival of the new lock boxes, which are of the combination lock type the post office will be moved into said room. Mr. Hennig having rented same to the post office department for a period of 10 years.”
He was postmaster for eight years.
Hennig served on the committee that began planning the new St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of Harvard and Clinton streets in 1907 and as superintendent of construction when the bricks arrived in 1909.
“Superintendent of construction J.E. Hennig has put an unlimited amount of energy and thot into his work,” the Republic reported in its coverage of the church dedication in December 1909. “He and the committee have been careful and yet persistent in their efforts to make this a most acceptable home for St. John’s congregation. The fruits of their earnest efforts were seen Sunday when the new church completed loomed up in all the grandeur and splendor that we are wont to see in the large churches of the cities.”
Hennig was president of the board of education of the German school and the Lutheran congregation for a number of years. He was a member of the church choir and a delegate to many of the synod conventions. He took a prominent stand against the Bennett Law of 1890, joining the Rev. A.G. Hoyer and Gustav Teske as delegates to the anti-Bennett Law convention in Milwaukee.
But he was also a champion of public education and served as director of the local school board. He was among the leaders in the effort to build a new public high school on the downtown triangle in 1894.
Princeton Republic, Feb. 15, 1894 – “Jule Hennig says he will carry the new schoolhouse project through if he has to do all the work himself. Jule’s head is level.”
Hennig delivered a speech when the school cornerstone was placed following a Decoration Day program at Turner Hall (429 West Water Street).
Princeton Republic, May 31, 1894 – “The order of the program being ended at the hall, the citizens repaired to the park and there witnessed the ceremony of laying the corner stone of our new temple of learning. Prayer was offered by Rev. Cooper and then came another short address from F.L. Selden, his vigorous remarks proving an interesting part of the ceremony. The clerk of the school board, Anton Rimpler, then read a list of articles deposited in the corner stone, and school director Jule Hennig then putting them in place, the stone was sealed with proper ceremony.”
I don’t know where the Hennigs lived. The newspaper reported they built a house on East Water Street in 1898, but I don’t know the location.
Princeton Republic, Nov. 27, 1902 – “J.E. Hennig is putting in a private water works in his residence. He will have a system of hot and cold water running through the house and have baths in connection.”
Hennig passed in 1931 at age 79.
“On Tuesday forenoon, June 30, at 11 o’clock the sad intelligence of the death of the man who for many years was intimately connected with the home life, the civic advancement and the business upbuilding of Princeton passed from lip to lip,” the Republic reported in the obituary on July 9. “That kindly man, Julius E. Hennig, after a long, active, fruitful life, was called to that ‘House not made by Hands, Eternal in the Heaven.’ … Mr. Hennig was a careful, conscientious businessman. Honesty was his outstanding characteristic. His interest in the affairs of his county and city, his square dealings and his ability caused citizens to call him to places of trust, which he always filled with ability, integrity, and dispatch.”
J.E. Hennig was laid to rest in the city cemetery on the west side.
Thank you for reading and caring about local history.