This list is an attempt to correct the most obvious and most repeated errors in previous historical accounts of “Old Princeton.” Many of the errors can be traced to the centennial edition published by the Princeton Times-Republic in 1948 and repeated in local history projects since that time.
City officials who are publishing another historical booklet in 2023 and the Princeton Historical Society board have been made aware of the errors.
The correction to the National Registry of Historic Places has been accepted, but I was told it will take at least a year before the document will be updated as staff prioritizes backlogged new designations.
National Register of Historic Places
Princeton Downtown Historic District (1987)
Charles E. Demell Building (521 West Water Street): “The small Charles E. Demell building … built prior to 1885 …
Correction: The building was built in 1897 following a fire that destroyed structures at 521 and 523 West Water Street.
City of Princeton Historical Walking Tour
(Water Street plaques)
501 West Water: “In 1876 Whittemore Jewelry opened its doors in this stately building that was shared by a bank, Attorney L.K. Kreiser and Dr. G.G. Mueller. Princeton’s early banking was done through a private banking house until 1901 when the First National Bank was organized and opened here. The following year the first telephone exchange for Princeton occupied the upstairs.”
Correction: The building was not built until 1901, so Whittemore, Kreiser and Mueller did not occupy it in 1876. Whittemore moved in in 1901, Kreiser and Mueller in the 1930s. Princeton State Bank, not First National Bank, replaced the private banking house in 1893. The first telephone exchange opened in the American House and moved to the First National Bank building in 1910.
512 West Water: “Built in 1884 … This portion of the building housed … in the early 1900s Princeton’s first theater, The Liberty Theater. …”
Correction: The Thiel double building (508-512 West Water) was built in 1870 not 1884. The theater was located at 508 not 512, was named The Loyal not The Liberty and was not the first theater in Princeton.
514 West Water: “Built in 1859 …”
Correction: The building was built in 1870 along with the Thiel double building at 508-512 West Water.
518 West Water: “Historical records indicate this was the eighth downtown store built in Princeton (1851) and was known for nearly a century as the Teske Building. In 1859, the original wood structure was replaced with a stone and brick building.”
Correction: The lot is the site of the eighth store built in Princeton, but that building was removed in 1872 when the Teskes erected their brick building.
525 West Water: “In 1893, (Ferdinand T.) Yahr founded Princeton’s first private bank.”
Correction: Princeton’s first locally owned bank was the Yahr, Thompson & Co. Bank, which opened in 1875 not 1893. Yahr became sole owner in 1881 and in 1893 sold the bank, which reorganized as Princeton State Bank.
528 West Water: “In 1885 the Mueller Brothers opened Princeton’s first drugstore at this location.”
Correction: The Muellers did not open Princeton’s first drugstore. City founder Royal Treat listed his occupation as druggist when he registered for the draft in 1863, and Richard Mueller’s first job in Princeton was as a clerk at the Wilde-McClurg drugstore. The Muellers purchased Wilde’s drug business in 1875 and built the brick building at 528 in 1885.
535 West Water: “This building was built in 1910 by Ernest Eggleston. Several buildings on the block were destroyed by a large downtown fire, however being made of brick, this structure was saved.”
Correction: The building was built prior to 1910, sometime between September 1904 and December 1907. The fire that destroyed two buildings in 1897 was contained between the brick blocks at 519 and 525 West Water and did not threaten 535 West Water.
538 West Water: “Built in 1884, the original structure was … once a prominent downtown hotel.”
Correction: Fred Schendel built the building, divided into a saloon (west) and dry goods store (east), in 1877. In 1880 Schendel obtained the property just east (530-536 West Water; vacant lot in 2020) of his building, which is where he built and opened the City Hotel, aka the Commercial Hotel.
544 West Water: “Hyman Swed acquired one building in 1916 and two years later acquired the other to combine the two stores.”
Correction: Swed leased a portion of the building from the O.R. Luedtke estate in 1918 (V.F. Yahr occupied the other part of the building) and completed the purchase of the building in 1923, when he renovated and combined the two stores into one.
602 West Water: “It was built as a hardware store and incorporated an existing structure from the 1840s.”
Correction: The Schaal hardware store did not incorporate the frame building built in 1849. (It was moved north, on Pearl Street.) Schaal built an addition to his hardware store in 1891 and veneered the existing structure as well as the addition with brick.
630 West Water: “This building was one of the relocated buildings (from St. Marie). Operated as a feed store for approximately the next 100 years, the store also handled lived poultry.”
Correction: The building was not moved from St. Marie. It was built in 1876 as part of the Green-Carman lumber yard and “farmer’s emporium” and served primarily as a hardware store. It did not become primarily a feed store until the 1930s.
(Editor’s vent: The least reliable of the local history sources is the City of Princeton Historical Walking Tour. At least 12 of the plaques in the downtown district include historical errors, including misplacing a large hotel, fabricating a theater name and relocating a fire. The Princeton Historical Society has been telling an undocumented tall tale of its building’s origin for years, as recently as the fundraising campaign for the folklore museum, so it seems appropriate the society’s new folklore museum prioritizes “storytelling” over history. Please pardon the snark, but it’s so ironic.)
Princeton Quas Qui Centennial Booklet (1973)
Princeton’s Early History: “Royal Treat … had built himself a temporary shack in the approximate vicinity of the Dizzy Bar of today.” (Page 5)
Correction: Treat’s shanty, later a log cabin, was about a block farther east, near the intersection of Main and Mechanic streets, than the Dizzy Bar, which stood at the east foot of the Main Street bridge, on the north side of the road.
Princeton’s Early History: “Its streets had been paved with brick since 1916.” (Page 6)
Correction: Water Street downtown was paved with brick in 1917, but other city streets remained unpaved for another 20-30 years.
Princeton Government: “St. Marie was separated from the unit (town of Pleasant Valley) in 1852. … The first village charter was granted in 1867 and included the entire township until 1889. … In 1893 another attempt at separation resulted in a special new charter. Some legal considerations had to be overcome and final separation occurred in 1901.” (Page 7)
Correction: St. Marie was separated from the town of Princeton in 1853. … The village’s first special charter was granted in 1865. It was repealed and replaced in 1867. The village never included the township; under its 1867 special charter the village remained part of the township “for general municipal purposes.” … The village reincorporated under the general state statute in 1893 and separated fully from the town in 1897. Legal disputes regarding division of property ended in 1901.
Princeton Government: “The first village officials were Gottlieb Luedtke, president; Charles Ellinger, Fred Nickodem, Emil Oelke, A.E. Ziebell and William Freiheit, trustees.” (Page 7)
Correction: The first village officials, elected in 1865, were Royal Treat, president; Martin Manthey, David Green and August Thiel, trustees; Lafayette Anjer, marshal; and B.C. Dick, clerk. Luedtke and the others listed were elected in 1902.
Princeton Government: “Princeton was granted the first village charter in 1867.” (Page 7)
Correction: Princeton was granted its first village charter in 1865. It was repealed and replaced in 1867.
PHS Almost State Basketball Champions: “Fifty years ago, the Princeton High School basketball team almost won the state championship. … The tournament was played in Oshkosh.” (Page 12)
Correction: The PHS boys basketball team has never competed in the state tournament. The 1923 team received the school’s first invitation to one of the WIAA’s sixteen district tournaments, held in Oshkosh, with winners advancing to the state tourney in Madison. Princeton did not advance.
School Board: “The earliest School Board of record was J.E. Hennig, director; H.H. Harmon, treasurer; and Anton Rimpler, clerk. These gentlemen were on the school board when the stone schoolhouse … was built in 1867.” (Page 13)
Correction: Hennig, Harmon and Rimpler comprised the school board when the brick school was built on the downtown triangle in 1894. The school board in 1867 when the stone school was built consisted of Abram Myers, Waldo Flint and Royal Treat.
Newspaper History: “From that time until 1937, the Princeton Republic was published by the Princeton Publishing Company. We know that Fred Harmon did not stay with the paper until 1937 but can find no mention of any other individual taking over his duties.” (Page 14)
Correction: Albert Rimpler served as editor of the Princeton Republic, published by the Republic Printing Company, from 1909 until it was sold in 1935.
Banking in Princeton: “Gene Yahr was cashier of that first bank.” (Page 17)
Correction: The Yahr, Thompson & Company Bank formed in 1875 hired E.C. Martin as its first cashier. He was succeeded by Eugene Yahr.
Banking in Princeton: “B.J. Doede served as the first executive officer of this (First National Bank) bank.” (Page 17)
Correction: Henry Dedhe served as first cashier of First National Bank.
Fire Department: “Twelve years after Princeton’s disastrous fire in 1880, a number of able-bodied young men had a meeting on September 5, 1892, to discuss a constitution and organize a Princeton fire company.” (Page 18)
Clarification: Princeton organized a hook-and-ladder fire company in November 1873. The Princeton fire engine company formed in March 1883. The companies consolidated in February 1885.
Streets and Sidewalks: “In 1916, the downtown area was improved with a brick pavement. In 1920 the first street was paved with asphalt. Soon streets in the residential area were paved with asphalt also.” (Page 20)
Correction: Water Street was paved with brick in 1917. No other streets were paved until state Highway 23/73 was paved with concrete in 1929.
Electric Lights: “In 1902, the village board voted by ordinance to grant a franchise to (H.K.) Priest for the erection of a light plant.” (Page 21)
Correction: The village board voted 4-3 in November 1901 to grant an electric service franchise to Citizens’ Electric Light & Power Company of Princeton.
Bowling: “In 1943, (I.J.) Craite remodeled a garage owned by Ernest Priebe into a four-lane alley at its present location, 435 W. Water Street.” (Page 21)
Correction: The bowling alley at 435 West Water opened in 1944.
Brewery: “Originally Henry Treat and Nelson Parsons obtained a government patent on the land now occupied by these buildings.” (Page 23)
Correction: Henry Treat and Nelson Parsons never obtained a government patent together. Treat obtained the patent for the original plat of Princeton. Parsons purchased his property from the state Board of Public Lands, succeeded by the Fox and Wisconsin River Improvement Company.
Brewery: “In 1934, operations were resumed at the brewery.” (Page 23)
Correction: Following the end of prohibition, operations resumed at the brewery in 1933 when the Princeton Brewing Company produced Princeton Tiger Brew for the first time.
Foundry: “The foundry on the west side of the river was established in 1868 and was located in what is now called McCormick’s pasture … directly across the road from where the Larry Sauter electric shop now stands.” (Page 24)
Correction: Jacob Yunker opened his foundry in 1868 at what is now the northeast corner of West Main Street and River Road, which was referred to then as Main and Mill streets. Silas Eggleston later converted it into a residence and store. August Swanke moved the foundry to “McCormick’s pasture” in 1896.
99-Year Store – Teskes: “In 1859, the customary wood structure was replaced with a stone and brick building.” (Page 25)
Correction: The Teske brothers built the stone and brick building at 518 West Water Street in 1872.
Hotels: “The Commercial Hotel was built at 536 West Water Street.” (Page 27)
Correction: The Commercial Hotel, successor to the City Hotel, was located one lot east, 532-534 West Water Street (in 2020 a vacant lot between Blue Moon restaurant and Bentley Pharmacy).
Turner Hall: “The Nord Amerikan Turn Verein … built the Turner Hall … located at 429 Water Street. The present building is the second one built in 1908. The 1908 issue of the Princeton Republic stated that “Contractor Shew of Princeton was in the village and drew plans for the new Opera House to be erected by Charles Thrasher this coming summer.” (Page 32)
Correction: Turner Hall was built in 1878, destroyed by fire in 1880 and rebuilt in 1880. It was renovated in 1905 with galvanized siding and new façade. The quote from the 1908 paper regarding Shew refers to the Thrasher Opera House in Dartford (Green Lake).
Annual County Agricultural Fair: “In 1854, the Green Lake County Agricultural Society established its permanent site for the annual fair at Princeton.” (Page 33)
Correction: Princeton hosted the first Marquette County Agricultural Society Fair in 1854. Green Lake County was formed in 1858.
German Days: “The people planned a pageant, with the cast of characters enacting the part of the immigrants landing on the banks of the Fox River.” (Page 33)
Correction: German Day was celebrated to honor the arrival of German immigrants in the U.S.
Railroads: “The Sheboygan & Fox River Railway … In 1902, the railroad, now operated by the Chicago and North Western system, was extended northward to Marshfield.” (Page 34)
Correction: The correct name of the company was the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Railway. … The extension from Princeton to Grand Rapids was completed in 1901.
* – Many of the errors in the quas qui centennial booklet can be traced to mistakes in the centennial edition published by the Princeton Times-Republic in July 1948.
“Come Back in Time: Volume I”
(Elaine Reetz, Fox River Publishing Co. Ltd. 1981)
Princeton: “Princeton was granted a village charter in 1867.” (Page 43)
Correction: Princeton was granted its first village charter in 1865. It was repealed and replaced in 1867.
Princeton: “Treat built a temporary shack in the area of what is now the Dizzy Bar.” (Page 43)
Correction: Treat built his temporary shack about a block east of the Dizzy Bar site, near what is now the intersection of Main and Mechanic streets.
Princeton: “There was no bridge across the Fox River until 1867.” (Page 45)
Correction: The Wisconsin Legislature authorized Royal Treat to build a bridge across the Fox in Princeton in February 1850, and various newspapers reported a substantial bridge was in place in 1852.
Princeton: “It was in the stillness of the night that the dread call of ‘Fire’ was heard on the main street in 1895. … Bill Knobloch was confined with a broken leg. Men managed to go up the back stairs and carry him to safety.” (Page 45)
Correction: The fire that destroyed the buildings at 521 and 523 West Water Street occurred in June 1897 not 1895. The apartments in the buildings were unoccupied. Knobloch died in February 1897, four months before the fire, after being paralyzed for two months following a spinal injury suffered when he fell down some steps.
Princeton: “German Day celebrated the day the immigrants landed on the banks of the Fox River.” (Page 46)
Correction: German Day celebrated the day German immigrants arrived in America.
Princeton: “Frederick Schendel, proprietor of the Hotel Princeton, was a captain of the Schuetzen Verein.” (Page 47)
Correction: Frederick Schendel was proprietor of the City Hotel, later called the Commercial Hotel, at 532-534 West Water Street. John S. Pahl operated the Princeton Hotel two blocks to the west.
“Come Back in Time: Volume II”
(Elaine Reetz, Fox River Publishing Co. Ltd. 1982)
Old-Time Stores in Princeton: “The customary wood structure was replaced in 1859 by a brick and stone store.” (Page 103)
Correction: The Teske brothers built the brick and stone store at 518 West Water Street in 1872.
The Old-Time Photographer: “Megow opened Princeton’s first barbershop, conducted its first cigar store and also a cranberry brokerage business.” (Page 124)
Correction: Megow did not open Princeton’s first barbershop or conduct Princeton’s first cigar store. He replaced A. Parker at his barbershop in 1873 and purchased Charles Crane’s cigar business in 1881, four years after the village’s first cigar factory opened.
Princeton’s Dizzy Bar: “The Dizzy Bar … bar room, which was the first Indian trading post, was built about 1860 by Silas Eggleston. … In 1848, the cabin built by (Royal) Treat was located west of the present Dizzy Bar. … Silas and Nancy Eggleston then purchased Lot 13 from Royal C. Treat, according to the abstract, and Silas built his Indian trading post.” (Page 211)
Correction: Eggleston, who arrived in Princeton about 1857, did not operate the first Indian trading post. A fur trader helped build Princeton’s first store in 1849, and many of the early stores established before Eggleston’s arrival traded with the Native Americans. … Royal Treat’s cabin was about a block east of the Dizzy Bar. … There is no evidence Eggleston built or operated an early trading post on Lot 13. His son recalled years later for the Princeton Republic that Eggleston traded with Indians from his general store in the 500 block of Water Street. Property records at the county register of deeds office indicate Henry Treat, who purchased all the land in the original plat from the U.S. government in June 1849, sold Lot 13 and four others to Philo Knapp in September 1849 for $40. Eggleston bought Lot 13 from George Long, who had a small carpenter-furniture shop at the east end of the bridge, in 1875 for $25 and sold it to his son DeWitt in 1907 for $100. … Eggleston did build a store, Princeton’s fourteenth, in 1858 at 541 West Water Street, which he operated as a saloon for about a year and then as a dry goods store for several years before selling the building to Herman E. Megow. Eggleston also for many years owned the three-story stone dry goods store built in 1860 that stood at 535 West Water Street.