Writing two posts in a row that referenced theJohn Stephens 1872 Map of the City of Appleton, I found myself surprised at how different the city looked over the span of the few blocks between the addresses that I was studying. Looking at the map of the first address, the Jacob Harrison Cook home onDrew Street, the neighborhood looks much as it does today, recognizable at least. And this would make sense as it was located close to Lawrence University, which was founded in 1847, just as the city was being settled. Appleton would not incorporate as a village until 1853, and as a city until 1857.The biggest change that would occur near Jacob’s home in Block 35, Lot 5, is that the University Grounds would be broken up, streets would run through it, and City Park wouldbe established in 1882. But this neighborhood 144 years later, is recognizable.A few blocks to the west, the view of the city is very different, still wild, and not heavily inhabited. Lot 14 in Section 26 of the John Stephens 1872 map changed greatly over the years. And I find it fascinating, and frustrating.I realized that in order to truly understand the property as it changed from 1872 till 1901, I needed to start with the basics, the plat map showing the Township and Range, in this case the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Township 21 and Range 17, Section 26. See the map below with all my red markings.
On September 25, 1882, a Sheriff’s Certificate was filed in Outagamie County, for the sale of the above named land to Gustave Zuehlke. I have been unable to locate the actual deed in the records online at FamilySearch.org, but it is referenced in the Quit Claim Deed filed December 9, 1882, when he sold the land to Christina Gross for $128.00.  A Quit Claim Deed is usually filed between family members, yet a quick search on Ancestry.com for Christina Gross, only told me that she was 53 years old in 1880, and lived on Packard Street, which is the street that runs below Lot 14. I am not sure if she is related to Gustave Zuehlke.
Continuing my search for the next sale, I was surprised to discover a Warranty Deed for Lot 14 with an earlier date, March 13, 1882.  In this sale, Christina, along with her husband Mathias sold to Lewis Albrecht the North 246 feet of the lot, for $600.00. With this sale, the large lot that measured 162 feet fronting Packard, and 495 feet along State Street, was starting to be divided and developed.
Two years later, State Street had continued north along the edge of Lot 14, and so the lot was reduced by approximately 38 feet, leaving a depth of 123.19 feet. It was at this time that Lewis, his wife Christine, Christina Gross and her husband Mathias, sold the North 60 feet of the South 180 feet of the lot. The purchaser, J. W. Corter, paid $350.00 for this small piece of land. The description of the sale makes me feel that I have missed a sale somewhere, as the numbers don’t add up, but this cropped image from an 1889 map, clearly shows the land that the Albrecht’s owned, and the smaller parcel that belonged to Corter.Time to get confused again, as on May 29, 1893, Mathias and his wife Christina Gross sold ALL of Lot 14 excepting the South 240 feet, and the parcel dedicated to State Street to B. W. Robeling for $500.00. Robeling in turn sold the North 60 feet of the South 300 feet to Peter Miller on September 18, 1893 for $475.00.  He in turn sold this exact land description, including a house to Peter Fassbinder [sic] on April 17, 1901, for $1,600.00. The block would continue to change in appearance over the next few years, but has now become recognizable as we see it in 2016. These two maps, Assessor Maps, one from 1900 and the other dated 1907 show the final changes. By 1907 Peter’s lot was known as Number 5, and the current description of this lot today reads: “FIFTH WARD PLAT 5WD N7FT OF LOT 4 AND ALL OF LOT 5 BLK 17” Peter’s grandson, Arthur Ellenbecker, and owner of his grandfather’s home until his death in 2003,
explained that his aunt, Anna Fassbender, had purchased the home on Lot 4 to use for her dressmaking business. When Peter decided to build a garage, he took this small parcel so as to make a proper driveway, and a better placement for the freestanding garage.Appleton.orgproduces nice maps of neighborhoods, and includes interesting facts about the homes here in Appleton. This is how the block looks today, in 2016. On this map it is very easy to see how the garage sits right on the property line. According to this site, the home has once again been converted back into a single family home, from the duplex that it was in 1999 when I took this picture, and when I first visited with Arthur.
I am still amazed at how complicated buying and selling city property was in the late 1800s. I know that I am missing some of the buying and selling of Lot 14. The numbers just don’t add up. So in reality a stop at the courthouse is in order. But I don’t regret the exercise that I tasked myself with, of using the un-indexed records found on FamilySearch.org to learn more about the land and home that would shelter Fassbenders for over 100 years, from 1901 until 2003.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-5633-20?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1886, vol. 56; image 56 of 644; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,”images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-4015-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1881-1882, vol. 53; image 277 of 646; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103; image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
I like to challenge myself in new ways of looking at the genealogy search, and the tools that are at hand, most often these days, the tools available to me from the comfort of my own home and computer. As I pondered how I wanted to expand on the information about Peter’s house on State Street to include in my book about the Fassbenders, I wondered how far back I could trace the property. Now I know that I could have jumped into the car and driven the ten minutes downtown to the courthouse, walked in, and asked for all they had on 529 North State Street, but that would have been almost too easy, and kinda rude. And because it was early on a Sunday morning and I was still in my robe, it wasn’t going to happen. So I did the next best thing, and turned to FamilySearch. As I have mentioned before they have in their collection, available for browsing, a large segment of the early deeds for Outagamie County. I started in 1901 and moved backwards.
Peter Fassbinder (sic) purchased the home from Peter Miller on April 17, 1901.  The purchase price was $1,600.00. Moving in to town after having lived almost 40 years on acreage, and wide open spaces, he now lived on a lot 60 X 123, “more or less.” This had to be quite the adjustment, and a huge change in the way that they lived. What caught my eye on this Warranty Deed was the phrase: “…according to John Stephens map of the City of Appleton, published in the year 1872.” John Stephens had mapped this parcel as Lot 14, in Section 26. The piece that Peter purchased was the North 60 feet, of the South 300 feet of Lot 14. So, it would appear that Lot 14 had been divided into two parcels of land by 1901.
According to the City of Appleton, a home was built on this lot in 1894. (Still kicking myself that I had not noticed that this home sadly went into foreclosure in August 2012. It would have been so much fun to make this house special again.) Knowing the year the house was built, I was pretty confident that Peter Miller was the owner who had built the home – just seven years old when Peter and Elizabeth purchased it, and moved to Appleton.
Moving backwards, I discovered that Peter Miller had purchased the lot from B. W. Robeling on September 18, 1893, paying $475.00 for this unimproved piece of land.  Looking at the City Directory for 1893, I found no listing for Peter Miller, but found William B. Robeling residing in Brigg’s House. My next step was to discover how long W. B. Robeling had owned the property.
B. W. Robeling (As I type Robeling, I can’t help but think rambling. Which I hope I am not doing). B. W. Robeling purchased ALL of Lot 14, excepting the south 240 feet, from Mathias and Christina Gross on May 29, 1893, for $500.00. The lot size listed was 123.19 from State Street more or less, and 123 more or less in depth. 
It was time to search for the John Stephens map of 1872. I was pleasantly surprised that I could view this map in my robe, and without a drive to the library. It was online! This section of Appleton in 1872 looked very different than it does today, a side by side comparison with Google was needed.
It is now apparent just how large this original parcel of land was. Lot 14 is just above the “T” at the bottom of the original map. The road that would eventually cut through this parcel, and is just visible below the “T” is unnamed on this map.
I think that I will stop this post with the Robeling purchase, stop my rambling, and continue with another post soon. Unless I have lost you all together.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103 > image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
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.  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.
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.
“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.  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.  ‘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.” 
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.
“State News,” Oshkosh Northwestern, (Oshkosh, WI), December 22, 1882: p.1.
“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.
Susan C. Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, (Appleton: self published, 2006): 16-17.
“Dedicate $350,000 M. E. Church Here Tomorrow,” Appleton Post-Crescent, (Appleton, WI), October 24, 1925: 11.
Last week while doing some research on an old home, I turned to the 1884-5 Appleton city directory, which is online at Ancestry.com. As I was formatting the source for the entry that I had found, I turned to the title page and introductory pages. I expected to learn a little about the city in these early years, I did not expect to find that this city directory for Appleton, also included a city directory for Neenah! “We have pleasure in presenting to the citizens of Appleton our initial Directory of their City, including a City Directory of Neenah, which will be found in the rear portion of the work.”  Writes the publisher, Wright & Hogg of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I would love to understand the reason they included Neenah in the Appleton directory. They are in two different counties, Appleton in Outagamie, and Neenah in Winnebago, although (according to Google Maps) they are only about 6 1/2 miles apart, Neenah is usually associated with Oshkosh, which is the county seat.
Knowing that S. A. Cook was living in Neenah in 1884, I quickly looked in the back of the book. And added to my research to-do list. According to other sources that I have come across over the years, S. A. had moved to Neenah in 1881, and at that time purchased home on Commercial Street. But the directory lists him residing on the “n. e. cor. 1st and Forest av.” which is a block away from Commercial. Guess it is time to add a trip to the courthouse land records to my list.
One other mystery resides between the covers of this directory. Listed as living with the Cook’s is “Cook, Christie Miss.” My best guess at this moment is that this entry is for Margaret Christie, the sister-in-law of S. A. Margaret (Maggie) was living with S. A. and his family when the 1880 census was enumerated,  and her obituary states that she “came to Neenah with Mr. and Mrs. Cook and lived with them for many years.”  I am wondering if it was stated, when asked if there were other adults living in the home, “Yes, Miss Christie.” And so it was written down as Miss Christie Cook.
S. A. has popped into my research a lot lately, it is almost as if he is prodding me – Hey! Pay attention! The time has come to finish your dad’s project!
Wright & Hogg, Appleton City Directory 1884-5, preface; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2015).
1880 U.S. census, Marathon County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Town of Brighton, JH Cook Enumerator, enumeration district (ED) 83, p. 6 (penned), 302 (stamped), dwelling 15, family 16-17, Samuel A. Cook household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Sep 2001); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1433.
“Resident of Neenah for Many Years Dies at Hotel in Florida,” (Oshkosh) Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 28 Feb 1938, p. 9. Cit. Date: 12 Aug 2004.