Some Memories of Wisconsin House
Baraboo Republic, March 5, 1912
A dozen men are engaged in taking down the old Wisconsin House building and out of this number only of the men is in position to read history from the old oak timbers as they become exposed. Chris Thuerer took part in the construction of the building, that is the west wing which is of wood, and he is also assisting in taking it down, undoing the work of almost half a century. What Mr. Thuerer reads from these old timbers brings back vividly to his memory that in 1868 he resided in Lodi, having gone there a short time before from Prairie du Sac, and having heard so much of the wonders of Baraboo – that it was the most prosperous of any small place in the state – he decided to plunge in to the almost unknown forest between Lodi and Baraboo, and seek his fortune. He invested in a new pair of boots and made the trip on foot. He remembers very distinctly that the distance seemed very long for the new boots produced many blisters on his feet.
Mr. Thuerer found a job in the blacksmith shop of Cooper & White. At that time Charles Bender was engaged in the blacksmith shop of G. G. Gollmar, on Fourth street, where A.J. Koepp’s shop now stands. Then the hop business as at its height and everybody was prosperous and hopes were entertained that all would become very wealthy within a few years, and that Baraboo was the true Mecca of the world. Mr. Thuerer and Mr. Bender, young men with life all before them, formed a partnership and named the new firm Thuerer & Bender. They did a thriving business, and frequently worked late in the night to serve their many patrons, who were largely hop growers, and they generally received a promised to pay when the hops were sold. At that time anyone with a hop yard had more credit than a bank, for then the banks in small places were not so strong as today, because of the laws and governmental regulation, while the hop growers were supposed to have a gold mine in every hill of hops. When the crash came in 1869 and everyone tried to liquidate the new firm found itself about $600 worse off than nothing. But they struggled on and continued to work hard, and like many others in this locality, succeeded in wiping out the old indebtedness and recouped their finances. In looking over the history of events, Mr. Thuerer and Mr. Gollmar are the only ones yet numbered among the living, and still outlive the old building.
The work done on the old building by Thuerer & Bender was to furnish the heavy iron work in the roof support. When the wood structure was first built the second floor was a large hall, with an arched ceiling. In later years the great room was partitioned and changed into sleeping apartments, and now as the lower ceiling is being removed the arched ceiling is exposed and gives evidence of what it used to be in the old times. The lumber used in the structure is first class, for at that times only the best timber was taken and the tree that did not make a wide perfect board was left in the woods. The common lumber of that day is now finishing lumber of today, and is an evidence of the shortsightedness of people in destroying the resources of the country. Now the talk is all of conservation, while then it was a question of taking nothing but the best.
Address: P.O. Box 651, Baraboo, WI 53913
Museum Location: 53