OF BOWLER-- From Shawano County
In the year 1873 the family of Fred Schenk, an emigrant from Germany,
took up homestead rights as the first property owner in the area now known
as the Village of Bowler. Later settlers were the Witt family, who also
took up homestead rights north of the Schenk property. The Fred Bartelme
family soon followed the Schenks, and another settler by the name of Carl
Steinke took up land which now comprises the territory of the Village.
Of the above early settlers one farm is still in the family—the farm of
Herman Matz, the grandson of Fred Bartelme.
When the settlers began arriving in the territory, the Fred Schenk log
cabin was often crowded with from twenty to twenty-five immigrants in a
single night, both men and women. With tears and weeping the women deplored
the fate that brought them to such wilderness to found a home. The men
sang songs in the evenings, like a boy whistling in the dark, to show their
bravery and to control the grief on the other side of the room. The homeseekers
usually brought their own blankets or bedding, but they used rye straw
from the Schenk farm, spread on the floors, for beds.
The story is told that Herman Schenk, a son of Fred Schenk, was the
first white child born in the territory of the village of Bowler in the
year 1873, when the Fred Schenk family homesteaded. He lived and worked
in this village most of his entire life.
In the year 1897, the first meeting to organize a school district in
the territory was held on September 6th, at which meeting Charles Schenk
was elected Clerk. Herman Grohn was elected treasurer, and Carl Malitz,
director. Shortly after a building committee was chosen consisting of Fred
Bartelme, Fred Schenk and Carl Steinke, who placed a bid with Otto Goers
to build a school 24 x 36 feet on a foundation, and the total price was
the sum of $469.99 for construction. The land on which the school, known
as Jt. School District No. 5, was built, was purchased from Fred Schenk
and consisted of one acre of land.
A young lady from the village of Wittenberg by the name of Winnie Day
was hired as the first school teacher and school was started for a six
month term on the first Monday of December 1897.
In the year 1905 the C&NW Ry. Co. decided to lay a new railroad
between Green Bay and Eland Junction, and the surveyors designated the
place now known as Bowler as one of the stops. The year following the place
was staked out and a depot erected. The name "Bowler" was the name of a
man employed by the railroad as an attorney at the time the new railway
was built. It is evident that the village was named for him. Wm. Lemke
was the first steady depot agent at the Bowler station and served for many
In the year 1906 many new business places appeared, among which were
the first general store built by E. J. Buettner and Wm. Dumke, and the
first saloon by Herman Schenk.
It was also in the year 1906 that the Rev. Emil Stubenvoll, with seven
families as a beginning, organized the present St. Matthew's Evangelical
In the year 1907 the brothers Emil and Gust Bartelme built a general
store which was later purchased and operated by Ernie Perkins.
With the new railroad outlet for shipping, and the land being covered
with some of the best hardwood timber in the State of Wisconsin, the village
of Bowler became a beehive of loggers and lumbermen and those connected
with the cutting, hauling and shipping of forest products. It was only
natural that a sawmill should be erected and a mill was put into operation
by Adolph Zenesek. In the year 1915 the Zenesek mill was purchased by the
Bowler Lumber Co., with W. O. Baum its manager and owner up to this time.
In the year 1922 the mill burned to the ground and was immediately rebuilt
in a matter of a little over a month and operations were continued.
The first postoffice was established in the E. J. Buettner store and
Mr. Buettner became the first postmaster. In 1920 Mr. Buettner sold his
store and the postmastership was given to Fred "Doc" Hennig, a war veteran
of the Spanish-American War. "Doc" Hennig served the postoffice until the
year 1934 at which time Frank Buettner took over this important office
and has served in that capacity since that time.
Other names in the early history of the village of Bowler were Wm. Schenk,
who had the first butcher shop; H. F. Schenk the first blacksmith shop;
E. A. Lau, the first hardware store; August Kroll, the first hotel; Fred
Matz, the first garage. Other names such as the Fuhrman Brothers—Paul and
Herman—the Fred Kroenings, the Petersons, Himmelreichs and Lebensohns,
John Renk, Joe Nemetz, Len Waite and Adolph Kassube are names often mentioned
in the earlier years of Bowler.
In 1914 the Farmers State Bank was organized with H. H. Gehner its Cashier.
The Village of Bowler was incorporated in May, 1923 with a population
of 375 and W. O. Baum was its first president. Trustees were Wm. Fuhrman,
Frank Matz, Joe Nemetz, Wm. F. Becker, Frank Kolpack and Otto Rachals.
The clerk was Gust Bartelme; village supervisor was the Hon. Paul Fuhrman;
Herman Schenk was its treasurer, E. J. Bartelme its assessor; Judge George
Chevalier the Justice of the Peace and Herman Jahn the first constable.
Doctor Eugene Knox was the first doctor to locate in the village.
Emil Spiegel built and operated the first Cheese factory at Bowler.
In 1924 the second church was built, namely the St. Paul's Lutheran
congregation, with the Rev. Wagner its pastor. A former minister, the Rev.
Lawrence, held church in the home of Augusta Miller prior to the construction
of the St. Paul church.
The school followed the needs of the community and after the first school
was built in 1897 it was remodeled and additions built on until 1917 when
a new structure was erected. In the days of WPA a large addition of rooms
and gymnasium was constructed.
The first owner of an automobile in the village was H. F. "Smokie" Schenk,
who drove a Brush roadster.
Information contributed by:
Rud. D. Hennig, Clerk, Village of Bowler.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Buettner, Bowler, Wis.