The Community of Branch

The written story of Branch begins with Edward Lenaville, an entrepreneur who walked from Green Bay and came to Branch in the early 1830s. To earn money, he worked at Jacob Conroe’s sawmill in the newly formed Manitowoc Rapids community. He returned to the Branch area and bought 100 acres of land and worked to build the community and attract residents. With the assistance of Conroe’s mill, a bridge was constructed over the Branch River for “1,500 feet of lumber at $7 per thousand”. The community soon became known as Lenaville.

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Native American Roots

The head chief of most of the mixed bands in our area was Waumegesako, or the “Wampum”.   He was most commonly known as Chief Mexico.  According to records, he was born in 1789 and was “a man of fine physique, erect, over 6 feet in height, very dignified and courteous in his demeanor, possessing considerable strength of character, and more than ordinary intelligence.  In his dress he was plain and unassuming, indulging in none of the fineries and tinsel so common among Indians of both sexes.”

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History of Manitowoc County's Courthouses

The cornerstone for the current Manitowoc County Courthouse was laid on Saturday, September 30, 1905. The cost of the new courthouse was not supposed to exceed $100,000 but the final price tag came to about $233,000.  After committee and construction issues of its own, the courthouse was formally opened with impressive ceremonies on November 12, 1907.  During the dedication of the new courthouse, Wittmann wrote “Anent the dedication of the new palatial residence of the county government, today, let us give a parting thought to the old structure which for half a century served the purpose and which, in that time, was the scene of many a stirring incident in matters political and the tragical sides of human life and strife.”

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A Custerdale Christmas

On Tuesday evening, December 22, 1942 hundred of children and adults filled the Town Hall meeting room at WOMT Radio, located on Washington Street in Manitowoc. The party, created for children whose families resided in the Custerdale defense housing, was sponsored by the Custerdale Citizens' Club. The entertainment included the crowning of Florence Teegarden as "queen of the festivities" and a visit from Santa Claus who distributed a present to each child. Part of the Christmas party program was broadcast over WOMT.

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A letter, written and addressed to the Manitowoc City Council on  March 11, 1888, states the following: “…I hereby tender this $1,000 dollars to the City of Manitowoc for the benefit of the poor in the following condition:

1.      That the Board of Poor Commissioners or their successors shall be the trustees of said fund to be known as the “Christmas Fund”.

2.      That they shall loan such amount on first lien security.

3.      That the income of said fund shall be expended and distributed by them in presents of any kind or nature each Christmas among the city poor; or if found more preferable the selection and distribution of presents may be left to any aid society…”

The man who signed this letter was John Schuette.

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Manitowoc's Windiate House was "social center"

The Windiate House became a popular place for many prominent businessmen. Officials of the Goodrich Line made it their headquarters and Thomas Windiate also owned his own stagecoach line. The hotel featured a dining room, bar, and a pool room. The dining room was a popular site for high scale parties throughout the 1860s and 1870s. In 1899, rates were $2 per day for “first class accommodations for the traveling public”.  

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Grimms was the place to be with Svacina's Red Lamp

The village of Grimms was named in honor of Jacob Grimm, one of the early settlers. The railroad was built through the village in the late 1800s. Soon after the coming of the railroad, the lime kilns were built with Geo. Gosz as the first foreman.

The Svacina’s Red Lamp building is one of the oldest landmarks in Grimms. Early recorded history on the site notes a wooden store building here, 28 feet long and 18 feet wide, 1 ½ stories high.  At the time of this notation in the 1850s, the property was owned by William and Cornelia McDonald.

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Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Attorney E. G. Nash also addressed the crowd and said " We have met today to formally dedicate this monument, and it is peculiarly appropriate that these ceremonies are held on the fifth anniversary of the termination of the most terrible and disastrous war in the history of the world.”

He went on to say, “This memorial is presented in the belief that it will forever stand as a sentinel to remind us that our county never in vain called our countrymen to defend our flag.”

According to the book “Manitowoc County Historical Markers and Memorials”, during World War I, Manitowoc County had more than 2,300 men in the service.  By the end of the war, 32 men were killed in action, 55 died of other causes, and more than 100 were wounded. 

We owe our freedoms to the sacrifice made by our nation's veterans.  Thank you to all who served our country and to those who continue to defend our freedom today.

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Edward Salomon, WI Governor

The Salomon brothers, Edward, Frederick, Charles, and Herman, hated slavery and sided with the Union cause at the start of the Civil War. Three Salomon brothers joined the Union army and in 1861 the Republican Party chose Edward as its candidate for lieutenant-governor. He was elected, and when Gov. Louis P. Harvey accidentally drowned in April 1862, he succeeded him as the eighth governor of Wisconsin. At thirty four-years-old, he was the youngest Wisconsin Governor and the first who was not born in the United States.

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