The Drew Street House

Jacob H. Cook August 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin
Jacob H. Cook August 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin

I will be speaking to the Northern Waters Genealogical Society on May 3rd, giving my talk “Putting Down Roots in the Land Records. A Beginning Look at Land Records.” Since it has been a couple of years since I last revised this presentation, I felt I needed to freshen it up a bit. I had no idea what I was in for when I began this process. We are amazingly lucky here in Outagamie County, that the early land records are browseable on FamilySearch, in the “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records 1825-1980.” While these records are not yet indexed, the collection does include a limited number of county index books for both Grantees (buyers) and Grantors (sellers), but the whole online collection is available to browsing.

The rabbit hole that I fell down into will be the topic of the next few blog posts, but I wanted to start with this story. My ancestor Jacob H. Cook moved his pharmacy business from Unity, Marathon County, Wisconsin, to Appleton, Outagamie County, in 1883. The Unity fire of December 18, 1882 being the final straw in prompting a move, as his drug store was entirely destroyed by the fire. [1] He must not have had the energy to rebuild yet again, as in March 1879, the building that was both his home, and his place of business, burned to the ground. And now to have this new, “much handsomer store” entirely destroyed. The final straw, they were moving to the “city.”

The family lived in several houses in Appleton before purchasing their final home, which was located at 675 Drew Street. This  home was located on the corner of Drew and Fisk, (now known as E. Franklin Street). Kitty-corner from City Park. This neighborhood must have been a beautiful one, as City Park was just across the street, Lawrence University just to the south, and the life of downtown just two blocks away.

1872 Map of Appleton by John Stephens

Jacob purchased the home from James E and Ellen McKinny, who were residents of Lancaster, Grant County at the time of the sale. He purchased the house situated on Lots 4 and 5 of Section 35, for $2,100.00, on April 9, 1895. The frontage on Drew Street was 60 feet, and the lot extended 112 feet along Fisk Street. I love how many of these old land records include the sentence: “…according to John Stephens map of the City of Appleton, published in 1872…) This map is available for viewing online at the Outagamie County, Wisconsin website. Take a look. The family lived in this home till sometime in late 1909-early 1910 (the online grantor records at FamilySearch only go to 1901, a stop at the courthouse is in order), when they moved to New Orleans to be closer to their children.

First Methodist Church, 1925 ca

“The house at 675 Drew Street is no longer standing – at least on Drew Street. In May 1923 the First Methodist congregation was looking for property to build a modern, Gothic style church, which was to be designed by Childs and Smith, noted Chicago architects. The congregation purchased five properties at the intersection of Drew Street and Franklin Street, Jacob’s former house at 675 Drew Street being the corner lot. ‘Possession of the property will be obtained on Aug 1 and removal of the buildings will be undertaken as soon thereafter as possible. The buildings will be sod and moved to other lots before the end of the summer.’ H. A. Schmalz lived in the house at this time, and the article states that the lot at 675 Drew measured 60 feet on Drew Street, and 112 feet on Franklin Street. [2] They broke ground Sunday, July 16, 1924, and the dedication service was held on Sunday, October 25, 1925. The First Methodist church was estimated to cost $250,000, but is reported to have actually cost $350,000. [3] ‘The new edifice is one of the largest and most beautiful in the country. With one exception, it as the largest pipe organ in the middle west. The organ cost between $30,000 and $35,000.” [4]

Jacob was a well respected citizen of Appleton, holding the position of Steward for the Northern Wisconsin Hospital for the Insane in Oshkosh, Winnebago County,  he was the first Commander, and a charter member of George D. Eggleston G.A.R. Post 133, and for many years served as a Justice of the Peace, listing his pharmacy as his place of business. The pharmacy building still stands on the corner of Oneida street, and Market Street (now known as Soldiers Square). The Appleton Public library holds this linked image taken some time after Jacob sold his business to Montgomery, and I took the following images in 2006. Included in the gallery is a postcard of Oneida Street taken from College Avenue. Jacob’s building is located on the opposite side of the street, across from the library building just visible down Oneida Street.

Jacob lived a full and active life here in Appleton. There is more to tell about his story.


  1. “State News,” Oshkosh Northwestern, (Oshkosh, WI), December 22, 1882: p.1.
  2. “Methodists to Build Church Opposite Park, Five Properties On Drew and Franklin-sts Purchased For Building Site,” Appleton Post-Crescent, (Appleton, WI), May 10, 1923: front page.
  3. Susan C. Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, (Appleton: self published, 2006): 16-17.
  4. “Dedicate $350,000 M. E. Church Here Tomorrow,” Appleton Post-Crescent, (Appleton, WI), October 24, 1925: 11.

Print Friendly and PDF

Amethysts Are For February

Verna Amelia Gray, 1928 ca

I continue to work at the documenting of my family “treasures,” both as a longer story, via this blog, and just small pictures with notes included on this website. Today, it is a story.

My beautiful grandma would have celebrated her 105 birthday last week. Verna Amelia Gray Tapper was born in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, February 24, 1911, to Julius Dallas Gray, and Emma Zora Francisco.

She grew up in Hammond, Lake Co., Indiana, and it is here in Hammond, that she met her future husband, and my grandfather, Roland John Tapper. They met at a party when she was just 15 years old, grandpa, two years older. Four years later they were married on August 6, 1930. But that is another blog post.

Lake County Times, 28 Feb 1927

When I was fifteen (I THINK I was fifteen), Grandma gave me a ring that she had received as a young girl from her parents. It is a very pale amethyst, set in white gold. While I am no longer able to wear it due to fat fingers, I treasure it, knowing that it had belonged to her, and that she chose to give it to me.

Amethyst Ring, a Birthday Gift, February 24, 1927

As an avid newspaper hound, I was thrilled to come across this article from the Lake County Times, published on February 28, 1927. When Verna turned sixteen, her parents held a surprise birthday party for her. “Refreshments were served to the guests at one large table, prettily decorated with a lovely and delicious birthday cake lighted with small candles in rosebud holders. Miss Gray was presented with many attractive gifts, among which was a ring given to her by her parents…”

Like The Lights

I have to blame it on my mother. Yesterday she was snooping around in the online newspapers, and came across what I call a “Newspaper Mention” for her grandfather. A newspaper mention is a small item about a person, usually one sentence, and included in the paper’s social news section. In this instance, she learned that her grandparents, Anton and Louisa/Louise (Normann) Tapper, were about to move into their just completed home on Ann Street, in Hammond, Lake Co., Indiana. [1]

Looking at the clipping she sent me, I realized that this was a recent addition to the newspaper collection for Hammond. There was a different quality to the scan, and a huge difference in how large the pdf file was. So this morning, I too, took a look.

Lake County Times, 19 Jul 1913

In my search I found this article titled: “Like The Lights.” The article states that “Tony” and two other men, traveled to Green Bay to “inspect the Illuminous Lights that are in use there.” Upon their return to Hammond, they contracted with Try City Electric Service Company (that HAS to be a typo! “Try City?”) to install the lights, so as to “turn midnight into noon.” [2]

Not having a 1913 postcard for Green Bay, I dug a bit further to see what I could learn about this new lighting. In a book titled The Municipality, I found this entry: “Green Bay has four blocks of ornamental lights installed by private contract. These are single light standards and cost approximately $100 apiece. They are spaced sixty feet apart, the total cost of the system being $2,400. This cost was borne by the private parties making the contract.” This information was obtained via a response to a survey regarding ornamental lighting.  The Municipal Reference Bureau in 1915 sent a questionnaire to the thirty-four cities in the state of Wisconsin with a population of 5,000 or greater. At the time of the publication of the report, twenty-six had responded. Eighteen cities reported that they had no ornamental lights, three were thinking about it, (Appleton was “contemplating installing some”), and eight cities reported that they had already installed the lighting, Green Bay being one of the eight. [3]

The subject of lighting the streets of Hammond was a major agenda item for the 1913 Chamber of Commerce. Much of the discussion revolved around what type of lighting should be put in place. In June the General Electric Co., of Schenectady, New York visited Hammond to promote the use of their “one-globe lamp” which they stated “produced a pearl white light, giving twice as much illumination as the proposed five cluster lamps proposed for [East] State street.” They told the Chamber that a playground in Chicago had installed the lights, and the nearest city to also have them was Dubuque, Iowa. A committee composed of William Kleihege, Frank Hammond, William Gostlin, Sr., Otto Knoezer and Anton Tapper made plans to visit the playground to see the lighting. [4]

Hohman Street, Hammond, IN

The Tri-City Electric Service Company was awarded the contract and began the work to illuminate downtown Hammond. By August 25th, the lights on East State Street had been turned on, and the result made the merchants of Hohman and West State Street eager for their turn. On the first Saturday that the lights were lit, the merchants of East State Street made a total of $1,200 more than they had without lighting, causing the merchants to “unanimously [decide] that the ornamental light is the best of investments.” [5]

On October 25, 1913 the lights were finally switched on along Hohman and West State Street. A band was hired to play up and down Hohman Street on opening night. [6]  The streets of Hammond were now lit each night, making “midnight noon.”

The building on the corner, right-hand side of the postcard shows my great-grandfather’s building, the Tapper Building, or aka the German National Bank. Some day I will write a blog post about my mother’s and my obsession with collecting images of this building. We have quite an impressive collection to share!


  1. “Change Residence,” The Lake County Times, 7 Aug 1908, Friday, p. 2, col. 2; digital images,  NewspaperARCHIVE ( : accessed 21 Feb 2016).
  2. “Like the Lights,” The Lake County Times, 19 Jul 1913, p. 5, col. 8; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE ( : accessed 21 Feb 2016).
  3. The League. (1915) The Municipality, [Google Books version]. Retrieved from,+Green+Bay,+WI&source=gbs_navlinks 15-16 (Madison, Wisconsin: The League, 1915), 216: digitized 6 Nov 2012. Cit. Date: 21 Feb 2016.
  4. “Chamber Commerce Meeting,” The Lake County Times, 24 Jun 1913, front page, col. 3; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE ( : accessed 21 Feb 2016).
  5. “Lights Reap Reward for State Street,” The Lake County Times, 25 Aug 1913, front page, col. 3; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE ( : accessed 21 Feb 2016).
  6. “Saturday Week For Street Lighting,” The Lake County Times, 17 Oct 1913, front page, col. 2; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE ( : accessed 21 Feb 2016).

Print Friendly and PDF

Learn Something New Every Day

This past week not only brought the biggest snow of the season here to Wisconsin, but it also sent a new cousin. And because of the weather, a bit slower week allowing time to collaborate. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “Choices in Life,” in which I pondered the way that a family firmly rooted in the Lutheran faith, did not allow their daughter’s decision in 1906 to convert to Catholicism, ruin their love and relationship with both her, and her new husband.

This post caught the eye of this new cousin, who contacted me with additional thoughts and news regarding the post. I have to be honest, it usually takes a prompting such as her email, to force me to look more closely at some of the peripheral families in my Fassbender database. I know. Big mistake. One such family is the Schwamer family. Looking into my Legacy database, I realized that I had not “worked” on this family since 2001.

Who are the Schwamers? Carl and Charlotte Schwamer owned land in Section 19 in Center Township until their retirement in about 1900, when they moved to Ellington Township. The  couple had five children live to adulthood: John, August, Caroline, Mary and Anna. Mary, the ancestor of my new-found cousin, married Jacob Loos, and Anna became the wife of Hubert Fassbender. The fascinating part? The Schwamers were Lutheran. Just as the Schultz/Steffen family, they were Lutheran as far back as could be traced. So, just like Ida would a few years later, 20 year old Anna Schwamer, “converted her preferred faith” some time before her marriage to Hubert on April 16, 1901, which took place at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Appleton, Wisconsin. In the previous post I asked the question as to who might Ida’s sponsor, “Agnes Fassbender” have been, Annie Fassbender, sister of Henry, or Anna Fassbender, wife of Hubert. At this point, I am leaning toward Anna Schwamer Fassbender, what better sponsor and advocate than a future sister-in-law, who had “Been there, Done That?”

The other burning question asked in that blog post, centered around what church might the Schultzs have attended. Looking at the map and reading the obituaries, I knew that there was a church in Stephensville, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, where 20th century funerals had taken place, but there was also this much older German Lutheran church, Trinity Lutheran, located kitty-corner from the Fassbender property in Ellington Township. This beautiful old church has a graveyard located next to it, but the Schultz, Steffen and Lemke family were all buried in Ellington Union Cemetery, not in the church graveyard. With the help of my new cousin, we noodled through it, and between the two of us we figured it out.

9 Nov 1929, Appleton Post-Crescent

Neither church has a web presence, and adding to this the fact that Wisconsin loves to create havoc with how it assigns post offices to small communities, it took a bit of sleuthing. Just like the mailing address for anyone residing or working in Hollandtown, Brown Co., Wisconsin is actually Kaukauna, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin; Ellington Township’s mailing address is Stephensville. At least both of these communities are in Outagamie County. The clue was the pastor, Rev. Emil Redlin, and the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. [1] The census was taken just a few months after the death of Ida Schultz Fassbender’s mother. [2] Her obituary states that her funeral was held at the “Lutheran church at Stephensville with the Rev. Emil Redlin in charge.” Heading to the 1930 census, I found Rev. Redlin living directly across the street from Trinity Lutheran Church on Cty O, Ellington Township. The same Trinity Lutheran Church that now bears the mailing address of Cty O, Stephensville. Digging a bit further, I found this article announcing the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of St. Paul Lutheran Church, located in Stephensville proper, with the Rev. Emil Redlin, pastor. [3] This also is a German Lutheran church, as indicated by the fact that they announced an “English sermon,” which was given by former pastor, Rev. William Kansler, the minister who officiated when Ida’s brother, August, married Mary Hartsworm on October 12, 1904. So this church, dedicated in 1900, was indeed the church that my Schultz/Steffen family attended, the Lutheran church in Stephensville. At least after 1900…

Now I just need to take a drive over to Ellington Township to see first-hand these churches that were such an important part of everyday life for the Schwamers, Schultzs, Steffens and Lemkes. In the meantime, Find A Grave gives us a look at Trinity Lutheran, and Google Maps allows us a glimpse at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran church in Stephensville (now with the mailing address of Hortonville, as it is a small unincorporated community, located entirely within the town of Ellington.)

Now I need a nap.

14 Feb 2014, MORE TO THE STORY:


I did some digging this weekend, and learned a bit more about Trinity Lutheran’s history. According to this Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper article, published September 14, 1923, the congregation was formed in 1874 with just eleven people. For the first two years they held services in the home of a founding member, Carl Herrmann. In 1876 a frame building was built on the site of the present church, and the brick building was erected in 1898.

Looking at family history. According to this article, Rev. Mr. August Volbrecht served the congregation from 1887 to 1896. As Ida’s father passed away July 5, 1888, it is most likely that his funeral was held in the first frame church, Rev Volbrecht in charge of the service. When Ida’s mother Mathilda, married William Steffen, on June 14, 1890, they would have been married in the frame church, and I know from their vital record that in fact Rev. Vobrecht did officiate at their wedding.

A few more mysteries solved.


  1. 1930 U.S. census, Outagamie, Wisconsin, population schedule, Ellington Township, enumeration district (ED) 44-25, sheet 2, p. 92A, dwelling 28, family 28, Joesph P. Fassbender household; digital images, ( : accessed 25 Jul 2002); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 2603.
  2. “DEATHS. Matilda L Steffen,” (Appleton) The Appleton Post-Crescent, 9 Nov 1929, Saturday Evening, p. 4, col. 2. Cit. Date: 29 May 2001.
  3. “Celebrate Jubilee of Church Dedication,” (Appleton) The Appleton Post-Crescent, 11 Jun 1925, p. 7, col. 3. Cit. Date: 4 Jan 2016.

Calumet County, Wisconsin in World War I

William Campbell, Camp Mills

I was surprised to discover that there is very little published on the web about the regiments of World War I. I guess that I have gotten so used to the vast amount of information that is published about the Civil War, from regiment listings, to battles that these regiments fought in, etc. Information is easy to come by, and amazingly detailed in its content.

As I prepared to archive images of William Patrick Campbell (Bill) in his World War I uniform, I decided to do a “quick” search to see if I could discover what regiment he was in, what years he served, and the important details of when did he enlist, and when was he mustered out. No such luck.

But there does seem to be a movement towards creating online content. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, is in the process of creating an online searchable database of our World War I veterans. Another site that is honoring the veterans of Calumet County, is the Chilton Veterans site. The site is: “…operated for the sole purpose of honoring veterans from all branches of service who honorably served the nation during their lifetimes.” In August 2014, a Veteran’s Memorial designed by James P “Jim” Suttner, was dedicated, and they will continue to add names to the memorial on a yearly basis. Something I should look into as a way to honor the Civil War veterans in my Cook family. I also found this site interesting: The Mobilization of the Wisconsin National Guard During World War I.

What I do know about William’s service, is that he filled out a draft card on June 5, 1917. [1] At the time of the draft he was 23 years old, working as a farm laborer for his brother-in-law, James Dawson.

William and Walter Campbell, Hilbert, WI

We know that William served, as he sent home an image of himself, which was taken by “Liberty Studio, Camp Mills, Hempstead, L. I” [Long Island]. The image was stamped with the Liberty Studio listing, but undated. Wikipedia [2] has this to say about Camp Mills. It was set up as a place of preparation of Army units, prior to being deployed to Europe. It opened as a temporary tent camp in September 1917, and closed in November, after preparing the 42nd and 41st Divisions. It re-opened, April 4, 1918, as a part of the New York Port of Embarkation for the

William and Walter Campbell, Hilbert, WI

 troops on their way to Europe. At the end of the war in November 1918, it assisted in the reverse process, acting as a demobilization center, as thousands of troops poured back into the United States.

It would seem as though William returned home at the end of the war, as the family archive contains these two images of him with his brother, Walter, on the drive next to the farmhouse. Snow is seen in the background, and Walter appears to be bundled up. November, early December would make sense because of the snow, and the occasion of his return celebrated with a photograph.

Upon his return, he stayed in Calumet County for a few years, working as a farm hand on the family farm. By 1926, he was living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a fireman. He held this position for the rest of his working days, working in the the repair shop of the engine house.

Chilton Homecoming, 20 Sep 1919

This image from the Library of Congress, celebrates the September 20, 1919 homecoming of many of the soldiers who had been off to war. Surviving Civil War veterans are standing at the left of the larger returning WWI veterans.


  1. “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database and images, ( : accessed 23 Aug 2004), William Patrick Campbell; Roll 1674511, Draft Board 0; Wisconsin Registration. Calumet County. Form 1 ~ 214, No. 113; Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards. First Registration, 5 Jun 1917. For men age  21, born between 6 Jun 1886 and 5 Jun 1896.
  2.; accessed 24 Jan 2016.

Choices in Life

We were all born with Free Will. We can make choices in our life that will affect how we live, and how we relate to others. The decision is ours. These decisions are made in our work lives, and in our family lives. Many times based purely on emotion, not allowing the facts to even play a role in our decision. Jobs are lost, and families torn apart. Sometimes irreparably.

Henry Fassbender, January 17, 1906

One such family that did not allow this to happen was the Schultz/Steffen family of Ellington, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. As a young family they had experienced much tragedy. Married sometime between 1876-1877, Mathilda Lemke and Albert Schultz set up household in Ellington as a farm family. Over the next seven years they would have five children, losing one as an infant. Edward was born in 1877, the unnamed infant in 1879, Albert in 1880, Ida in 1882, and Emma in 1884. Tragically July 5, 1888, as Albert would pass away. There is no death record recorded in the Outagamie County Courthouse, but we know the date from his tombstone. He was buried in Ellington Union Cemetery, which is located in Stephensville, Ellington Township, he was just 35 years old. Two years later on June 14, 1890, thirty-year-old Mathilda married William Steffen in Ellington, their marriage overseen by a Lutheran minister. Unfortunately it has not been easy trying to identify exactly where they attended church, I know from obituaries that in later years they all attended St. Paul Lutheran Church in Stephensville.

Ida Schultz Fassbender, January 17, 1906

Just as the Fassbenders have been Roman Catholic for “as far back as can be traced,” [1]  I believe that the Schultz, Lemke and Steffen families professed the Lutheran faith as far back as can be traced.

These strong ties to both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran faith must have been a big topic of conversation between Henry Fassbender and Ida Schultz as they met, began dating, and ultimately decided to get married. What was that conversation like, when Henry and Ida sat down with Ida’s mother and step-father to inform them first, that they were getting married, and second, that Ida was going to convert to Catholicism?

Ida studied her newly professed Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s parish in Appleton, and “converted her preferred faith” on January 4, 1906. Her sponsor was Agnes Fassbender. I don’t have an Agnes Fassbender in my database! This mystery continues. Is it Henry’s older sister Anna? Or could it be Hubert’s wife, Anna? Or is it Elizabeth Ellenbecker who would be Ida’s witness when she married Henry at St. Joseph’s, on January 17, 1906. Following their marriage they set up housekeeping in Hollandtown, Brown County, Wisconsin, where just two months earlier Henry had purchased the White Clover Co-op.

The fact that Ida made the decision to convert to Catholicism had to have been difficult for the Schultz/Steffen family to comprehend. In some families this would have torn the family in two, the couple to move on, and not be a part of the family from that point forward. But this did not happen. Over the next decades, the Appleton and Kaukauna newspapers were full of society tidbits telling of the visiting habits of the two families. Not a month went by where one side or the other was traveling, and staying weeks at a time, to visit. When Mathilda died in 1929, her grandsons, Harold, Norbert and Bernard Fassbender were pallbearers. A family united until the end.

We should all aspire to understand, to listen, and to learn. Emotion should not play a “forever” role in our relationships with others, especially with family.


  1. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley Counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago. (Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers. 1895), 571.