The Free Democrat

The Free Democrat

Monday, May 16, 2016

Traces of spaces along N. 27th St. between W. Grand Ave. & W. Wells St.

They just don't design them like they used to! This double house is long gone from the east side of N. 27th Street, but there are families who would be able to identify their history there as owners or renters through census records or city directories. The footprint image from the Sanborn maps is suprisingly accurate (UW-Milwaukee Golda Meir Library digital collection)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Passover in Milwaukee - matzos, matzos, matzos!

Jewish baker Julius Kohn (1724 Walnut St.) tells his valued customers that his matzos are available again this year and can be purchased at Klingbeil's on State St., Gottschalk's on Chestnut St., P. Welch's on Van Buren St., and at Ph. Weis's butcher shop (another advertiser of Kosher products in these papers) on Jackson St.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Black lives matter!

Katherine Bohanen, a blind African-American lady was born on Christmas Day in Kentucky in about 1806 according to her reckoning, but she couldn't be sure.
In 1909 she applied for assistance due to blindness which had occurred in the previous year. We get a little bit of her biography in this clipping.
Happy 209th Birthday Katherine Bohanen!

Friday, November 27, 2015

English or German language clippings? it's your choice.

Mrs. Catherine Dorothy Zach's death notice found in the Milwaukee Journal has been digitized into illegibility, but I checked a library microfilm and counted 50 words. The notice provides information about the arrangements, but only makes limited mention of the family: her daughters are identified by their husband's names.

The German language death notice (119 words) is not only more comprehensive but it's progessive too. It sets the scene for us -- during her long illness she was provided with the Last Rights -- and includes Mrs. Zach's maiden name (Golner), provides her daughter's given names separately from their husband's names, names her daughter-in-law and even references Mrs. Zach's siblings. It's a research and German-American cultural gem!

This is the family's paid death notice for Mrs. Zach; there was no separate obituary article written by the newspaper.

This difference between competing papers isn't always the case - it may even be found reversed - but it bears understanding by family researchers or anyone else doing research in Milwaukee. These differences may also be found in a comparison between the English language papers and Milwaukee's Polish language newspapers.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

1890s tremors of the Schandein-Best-Heyl-Pabst scandal erupting in 1905

Dr. Louis Frank and Ella Schandein and their families traveled to Landstuhl an der Pfalz for their marriage and its celebration. Upon arrival, they found questions had been brought about Dr. Frank's freedom to marry causing the local German government to publish marriage banns all the way back home in Milwaukee's German language press. Dr. Frank was cleared of any suspicion of bigamy, the marriage took place, and the couple played a roll in the rescue of members of the Schandein family leading up to the scandal that reached local courts in 1905.

Schandein house of horrors, 2400 W. Wisconsin Ave.
(Caution! scandalous reading found through the following links.)
Read more here:

Read an earlier version here:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Prussia to Milwaukee; an immigrant's dilemma ...

Gustav and Emilie Zimpel (from Gross Lops, Prussia) arrived in Milwaukee and were staying at a hotel called the Russel House on East Water Street. They were at a loss to find their sister Theresa; either she was expected to be living somewhere in Milwaukee, or at the very least, reading local German language newspapers to learn of her siblings' arrival.