OF BONDUEL -- From Shawano County
The Village of Bonduel was named after Rev. F.
Bonduel, a Green Bay priest who founded the Catholic mission at Keshena
in 1853. It is an old legend that as a result of his journey through that
vicinity, rendering missionary services to the Indians in a birch bark
chapel erected on the shore of Shawano Lake, the village received its name.
The eventful year of 1860 saw the beginning of
Bonduel. It was at this time that the homestead law went into effect giving
land to every settler who would build a house, cultivate and improve the
soil. This was an inducement to the early settlers to begin the development
of the village in the midst of the wilderness.
The first settlers to locate in the vicinity were
Delois Krake, Henry Luecke, Charles Sumnicht, John Krueger, Ferdinand Brodhagen,
Ferdinand Voight, Carl Stern, Max Simon, David Zernicke, William and August
Seering, Gottfried Manthei and David Krake.
Delois Krake was the first settler to take up
land in the year 1859. Mr. Krake was the first to respond to his country's
call for volunteers when the Civil War broke out. He went to Oshkosh to
enlist in 1861, and was honorably discharged in 1864.
Charles Sumnicht, a native of Germany, came to
America with his parents in 1853. In 1859 he came to Shawano County, walking
the entire distance from Appleton to Bonduel. He was among the first settlers
to apply for a title on land which he had settled upon with the right of
pre-emption. With the aid of other settlers he opened the road to Shawano
and began improving his heavily timbered land.
William Seering and his bride came to Bonduel
in the year 1861 with a wagon and a team of oxen, moving his household
goods by this method. It took ten days to reach their farm, being obliged
to cut their way through the dense woods.
August and William Seering were the first farmers
to own a team of horses. August Seering owned the first pair of rubber
boots, and many times the neighbors borrowed his boots when they walked
to Shawano during the muddy season to purchase supplies.
Ferdinand Voight donated the land for the first
In 1862 Carl Wussow, Henry Luecke and Daniel Brusewitz
were called to serve their country during the Civil War. They walked to
Green Bay to answer the call.
Rev. Dickie located in Shawano County in 1863
and was one of the first Lutheran pastors in this part of the country.
He held services in Bonduel at the home of various members, making his
journey on horseback. He organized St. Paul's Lutheran church and a log
church was erected in 1869. William Sumnicht was the first child to be
baptized in this church. Rev. Dickie continued to serve the congregation
for nine years as best he could, but his field was growing continually
and the congregation becoming larger. New provisions had to be made. A
new church with a steeple was built in 1878. In 1916 the present church
was built under the direction of Rev. Mueller. This beautiful church stands
majestically, with woodlands forming the background, and will ever remain
a symbol of gratitude in the hearts of its members. Rev. W. J. Plischke
has faithfully served the congregation for the past thirty years and still
is the resident pastor.
A parochial school was conducted in the home of
Henry Burmeister, who himself was the teacher. Later the pastors taught
school in the log church, giving the children religious training and education.
In 1925, the present parochial school was constructed at a cost of $30,000.00.
In the early days a stage coach was operated between
Shawano and Green Bay, changing horses at Angelica, the trip consuming
one day's time.
The first mail was carried on horseback from Shawano
to Green Bay, the Bonduel mail being left at Krake's. In 1863 Charles Sumnicht
made provision for the first postoffice at Bonduel, in a corner of the
Olmstead store. He was the first postmaster, receiving a salary of $10.00
a year. The object was to secure news more quickly from the Civil War soldiers.
The people were once more in weekly communication with the old home and
in touch with the whole world. The postoffice was in the hands of many
and moved about in various business places until 1897 when Fred Zernicke
erected a brick building for use as the postoffice, which building still
stands on Bonduel's Main Street. Mr. Zernicke was the postmaster at the
time and established three rural routes. Herman Luecke was the first rural
route carrier, making 27 miles a day, at a salary of $50 per month, furnishing
his own horses and equipment.
In 1865 the first log schoolhouse was erected.
The log building was 18x24 feet and 10 feet high; with five windows and
one door. It was completely furnished for $200. The lumber was obtained
from Angelica and windows and doors from Shawano. Spelling bees and programs
were the highlights of the school season.
With the promise of untold riches for those who
would fell the timber and make it into lumber, inspired S. P. Olmstead
to establish a sawmill. This was the first industry in Bonduel and it proved
a valuable asset to the village. Up to this time the nearest sawmill was
Logs were sawed into lumber and shingles, and
custom sawing was common, in which the mill owner received half of the
lumber sawed in payment of the saw bill. Logging camps sprang up almost
within the village limits. Logging contractors came from Oshkosh and Fond
du Lac, who purchased hay and grain locally, paying as high as $40 a ton
for hay and $1.25 a bushel for oats for their horses and oxen.
In 1887 a grist mill was operated in connection
with the sawmill. Previous to that time the settlers hauled their grist
The first business place was a general merchandise
store built by Mr. Olmstead. A man named Krahn was the first merchant to
occupy this store. Some time later it was taken over by Adolph Spengler,
Sr., who conducted the store most successfully. A residence was built next
to the store where the family lived, and Mrs. Spengler kept transients.
This corner became the stopping place for the stage coach.
No village in those early days would be complete
without a "village smithy" and its anvil chorus, which played a great part
in the development and maintenance of any early settlement.
In the year 1881 Chris Bonnin purchased the store
built by Henry Baumeister. It is told that Mr. Bonnin carried his first
shipment of groceries in a grain sack on his back, walking from Clintonville
to Bonduel. Two years later a disastrous fire swept through the business
section of the village destroying the store. However, Mr. Bonnin rebuilt
and had one of the largest and most prosperous mercantile establishments
in Shawano county. Mr. Bonnin distinguished himself in civic affairs, representing
Shawano county in the State Legislature as Assemblyman. He was a leader
among men, holding many offices of honor and trust, and was ever ready
to encourage and promote many projects, that proved beneficial to the village
and county. He was instrumental in inducing the railroad company to extend
its line through Bonduel. Mr. Bonnin was the founder of the Bonduel State
Bank, being its president since the organization until his death.
The dairy industry had a very important part in
the development of the village. Before the coming of the cheese factory,
butter was churned at home, packed in five and ten pound tubs and sold
at five cents a pound.
The first robbery took place on July 4, 1880,
by Ray Haltze of Pulcifer, who took $75 from Krahn's store at gun point
and the robber made his get-away with a team of horses belonging to Carl
Krueger. The horses were found that same day in the woods north of Cecil.
Throughout the entire early history of Bonduel
it is notable that the most friendly relations existed between the settlers
and the Indians. A vivid picture in the minds of many old-timers is the
yearly spring maple syrup harvest by the Indians who tapped the maple trees,
boiled down the sap and exchanged the syrup and maple sugar for flour and
In 1905 an event occurred which raised the people
of this community to a high pitch of excitement when the Chicago &
Northwestern Railroad was built through here from Green Bay to Eland. As
the railroad was pushing itself westward, many of the residents secured
employment. Heretofore the merchants were obliged to get their freight
from the neighboring village of Cecil where the railroad was established
in 1884. Many carried groceries from Shawano.
With the advent of train service, a livery barn
became necessary to accomodate the traveling public and salesmen who called
on the neighboring towns by team with their many trunks filled with samples.
Fred Freimuth became the first licensed undertaker
in the village and established the first furniture store. Mr. Freimuth
has taken a deep interest in matters tending to the welfare of the town,
serving as village president for many years.
Bonduel was incorporated as a village in the year
1916. The village that sprang forth from a land of towering pine trees
has in the past few years undergone extensive development and improvement,
which has brought mention as a "model village."
While the writer has named some of the early pioneers
who made up the history of Bonduel, she is mindful of the fact that there
are many others deserving of mention, as each family went through trials
and hardships and difficulties in order to gain competence.
Of Bonduel it may be said—that it is a land of
brooks, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees, a land wherein
we eat bread without scarceness and have lack of nothing. May we be grateful
for these many blessings and may true patriotism actuate every heart.
Excerpts from "History of Bonduel"
Written by Mrs. Rueben Monroe