VILLAGE OF BONDUEL -- From Shawano County Centurawno  1853-1953:

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 schoolhouse.

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 at Angelica.

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 to Keshena.

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 potatoes.

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. 

Information from:
Excerpts from "History of Bonduel" 
Written by Mrs. Rueben Monroe
Bonduel, Wisconsin

 
BACK TO THE SHAWANO COUNTY INDEX PAGE