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Life in Seymour in 1887

Life in Seymour in 1887 The March 2, 1933 Issue of the Times Press included a look back at life in Seymour in 1887. H.J. Van Vuren was its editor and proprietor and gives the following facts concerning Seymour at that time.
The paper was eight pages and five columns to the page. M. Bodenheimer, had a general merchandise store in a building located on central Main Street. Here are some of Bodenheimer’s prices that he advertised in the paper: Best Dress Ginghams 10 cents. A fine line of plain worsted goods at 10 cents, Best Dress Prints 6 1/2 cents. Second grade Dress prints 3.1/4 cents; Fine Ladies Kid Shoes, worth $2.25, now $1.25; Fine Ladies Goat Shoes, beautifully worked worth $2.50, now $1.50; fine kid slippers worth 90 cents now 50 cents; 25 bars of Cornet Soap $1.00; 15 lbs. granulated sugar $1.00; 7 lbs. of Dust Tea $1.00; 3 pounds of Japan 40 cent Tea $1.00; 13 pounds of Turkish Prunes $1.00; 20 pounds of Dried Apples for $1.00.
While these prices seem extremely low by today's standards one must remember in 1887 most of the people in the Seymour area were of low income working at one of several sawmills, for the railroad or subsisting off the land. The average annual income in the United States was $581.00 which converts to $15,828.00 in purchasing power today.
Northwestern Mfg. was a major employer producing the rough material for wagons, sleighs and furniture for the factory at Fort Atkinson. They also sawed logs for customers at their mill on West Wisconsin Street. The logs used to be piled up 25 or 30 feet high for a block or more. W.B. Comee was the superintendent of the Seymour mill and factory. They did a big business and gave a lot of employment.
Cirkel Bros. had a large stave factory (for making barrels) where the Seymour Woodenware site now is on Seymour Street. They also had a Hub & Spoke Factory.
Phillip Muehl, furniture and undertaking was established in a building on the corner of South Main and East Factory Street.
Before 1887 Seymour had no bank until the State Bank was built on the west side of Main Street that year by Fred Piehl for William Michelsetter.
The principal product of the farmer was timber of all kinds. Fire wood at 75 cents per cord, finest kind of logs at from $2 to $3 per thousand. Railroad ties sold at 17 cents each. The east and west charcoal kilns, located adjacent to the railroad tracks, used thousands of cords of hardwood. The kilns supplied the iron smelters in Green Bay and DePere with charcoal. Potash fertilizer was a byproduct. Times were not good, but people here were not used to having much.
At that time we had two police men, two lawyers and two courts to take care of the drunken fights and a number of bullies to look after. Then there were many who were pinched for cutting timber on someone’s back 40 or buying booze for the Indians.
In 1887 there was not a creamery or cheese factory in this part of the country. Farmers made their own butter and sold it to the stores, who in turn supplied those who did not keep a cow in the city, and shipped the rest. A considerable amount of it was shipped as soap grease. Most of the farmers great problem at that time was to get their land cleared. Nearly every family kept a cow, a pig or two, geese, ducks, chickens and dogs which were allowed to roam the town. Fences and screen doors kept them out of the houses and business places.
There was no regular lumber yard. All the farmers had lumber for sale and so did the business men who exchanged merchandise for lumber, lath, shingles, logs, fire wood and what not. Coal was unknown here. A few owned a driving horse, but the dirt roads were impossible in the spring until the 4th of July.
Muehl & Forward, general merchandise was in the ODD Fellows building now occupied by Fred Huth on the corner of South Main and West Wisconsin. WM F. Bunkleman, farm machinery, where the State Bank now stands. Stewart & Noll, hardware, in the Dean buildings on the corner. Wm Michelstetter, had money to loan. W.B.Casterson, ran the general merchandise store. Seymour Planing Mill. F.J. Zachow and Fred Phiel were the operators and proprietors, and was located on the lot where the Press Office now is. The Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul Railroad is now the Green Bay & Western.
Central House and Saloon with George Falck, proprietor, stood where the Hotel Falck now is. Henry Green, flour & feed, in building which stood where Mrs. Vamdenberg’s residence now is. Peter Westergreen, blacksmith, horse and ox shoeing, a specialty, where Muehl’s Furniture now is. The Stewart Bros. ran the Seymour Roller Mills where the Paulie & Paulie cheese house now is. They also had a flour and feed store where the bakery now is located. A.D. Johnson, saloon and hotel is owned by Mrs. B. Moss. J.J. Bowerman, jeweler on lot now occupied by the Pool and Billiard hall. The building was moved by Paul Kuehne and occupied by Hansen’s Barber shop.
F.R. Dittmer, insurance, notary public, office at residence where the auditorium now stands on Robbins Street. Part of the house is owned by Gordon Haver and the other part by Mrs. Gehrke. Holmes & Prosser, harness shop, in building now occupied and owned by the Equity. Dr. Kermis office at the White House. George Puttnam & son livery, where the Boyden store now is.
Wm. Kartzke, blacksmith and wagon maker, south of the creek on Main Street. George Droeger, blacksmith and wagon maker, on lot now occupied by D. Randerson’s buildings.
At that time The Press was located in the Aug. Wichman shoe store building. None of the ads were very large. But the business men at that time took pride in their local newspaper, as they always have. Dr. B.F. Strong was Mayor, F.R. Dittmer, Clerk, William Muehl, treasurer. Aldermen were as follows; T. E. Chubbuck, August Wolk, Van Vlasselar, George Falck, Herman Schweger, George Droeger Sr. Mr. Chubbuck and James Dean were Justices of the Peace. Mr. Van Vlasselar conducted a shoe shop, as did Carl Lemke
The teachers in the public school were: Miss Mary Vale Smith, Miss M.E. Lampson and Miss Emily T.Uecke. Mr. Campbell was the principal.
We had the same number of churches and denominations at that time. All of them built new buildings since. The local market was: Butter 12 to 14 cents, eggs 9, cheese 10 to 12, wool 22 to 30, wheat 80 to 82, oats 28 to 34, rye 55 and 56, flour $3.00 to $4.50 Bran $14.50 per ton. Barley 50 and 55 cents bushel, peas 40 to 70, flax seed 85 cents and $1.00.
Local Items – Boys find it much to their advantage to behave on the streets. Merchants, drive down the nails in the walks fronting your stores. For the first time in at least five years, Outagamie County Jail is empty. More than anything that conduces to a village growth and property is needed in Seymour. Warm weather helps us to be good. We don’t care whether our neighbor now has a big wood pile or a small one. There will be a trial of the Losse Patent Hand Fire Engine next Monday evening at 7 o’ clock in front of Bowerman’s shop.
Picnics are being programmed. A cold lunch in the woods is always invigorating to the youth who is afflicted with palpitation of the heart, provided it is administrated by the palpitator. We hear that a young lady hailing from Shiocton took the train at that place one day last week, and had only enough money to pay her fare to Seymour, got off here and slept in a box car the next night. It seems as if she had been a worker for a family and got beat out of her pay.
Memorial Day - This day was well remembered in Seymour by the G.A.R. Post and citizens generally. Dean’s Hall was crowded with people who listened to the services with great interest. Mr. W.B. Comee and family did some very fine singing. Rev. J. Schofield and Rev. Cox did the speaking and Mayor Strong, Alderman Wolk and Mr. Dittmer made appropriate remarks. Mrs. John Stewart gave some interesting reading. The crowd then proceeded to the cemetery where the old soldiers decorated the graves of their deceased friends with flowers.
Today's Chuckle
Mrs. Bobo’s car ran into a motorbus today. But nothing serious happened. Only “a little paint was scratched off”
“Off of her car or off her face?”

It is said that the bathing suits will be scantier next summer. That means you can get two eyes full.

Crow’s Nest: By H.J. VanVuren, Editor
There are people who say that the times would not improve even if the millions that are out of work or an income would get a job, or his business begin to pay a living. But just the same, let the wheels of industry begin to turn, and all of us making a fair day’s wages again, we can spend more money than we could if not getting any pay. Supply and demand regulates prices. There is an over production and that over-production is caused for the reason that only about one-half of the people in the world are earning any money, so, of course, only half of us are spending. The others are wearing their old clothes and eating just enough to keep soul and body together.
The Seymour Canning Company has 75 or 80 cars of canned food stored in their warehouse, and no sale for it at any price. When people begin eating again, what they want, and not skimp along, these cans will move to make room for more cans next summer.
The birth rate has hit an all time low. Of course, it is blamed on the depression, probably not much going on in that line either.

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