Der Freie Demokrat

Der Freie Demokrat

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Castles of the 99%; long-gone home on Walnut Street

This classic early 20th C. flat located at 504-506 Walnut Street was advertised by the builder in the local German language papers. The home is gone now, but was located in the old German ghetto adjacent to the north edge of Milwaukee's current downtown. If the home survived through 1929 the address would've become 506-508 W. Walnut Street.There are very likely homes in the older parts of the city that were identical or similar to this one and remain today.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Milwaukee's Bock Bier festivals; a lost tradition!

You don't hear about an annual Bock Beer season in Milwaukee anymore.
The local German papers featured adverts. for the brew in late winter and into early spring.
(I'm not a beer fan, but as I understand it, back when city animal ordinances were more lax, enterprising home brewers would feed all the necessary ingredients to their goats and then collect the warm, foamy, golden, organic brew for annual festivities. If not properly filtered, drinking Bock beer could leave a prickly mustache ;-).

This advertisement for Best's Bierhalle special goat-brew dates from the 1850s.
More information can be found at:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Memorial for Anna Heinl

Two Milwaukee death notices for Anna Heinl: from a local German language daily paper and the other from an English language daily. The information is similar, but not identical. One is clearly a family memorial to their loved one. The other is a helpful, but perfunctory piece of information, and adequate for data collectors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Bierseidel Pavillion' in Milwaukee? - if you build it, they will come!

After the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, a competition was held in Milwaukee for the design of an attraction to draw tourists (or beer drinkers) to Milwaukee. A prize of $100 was awarded for this three story beer stein which incorporates a feature some Milwaukeeans will recognize!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Unlikely sources for research training

PBS runs a lot of great programming that provides suitable training for researchers: nature programs, British mysteries, cops series, and many of the Masterpiece Theater offerings over the years (Chas. Dickens and Agatha Christie adaptions are very instructive).
A program about the African plains mirrors my own experience while creating an index from German language newspapers in Milwaukee!

From Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library ...
"One does see so much evil in a village," murmured Miss Marple in an explanatory voice.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

a Father's Day reminiscence ...

Richard A. Rebholz, new lake cottage
& muskie, c. 1956
     Both my father and mother were not keenly interested in the family genealogy. But my father was a storehouse of knowledge about the City of Milwaukee's industrial neighborhoods and had many Rebholz family stories as well as those culled from the old codgers of my mother's Goelz and Quast family. There was the political shenanigans (that's Irish for Schadenfreude) behind the naming of Milwaukee's tiniest park Goelz Triangle at S. Whitnall, S. Howell and E. Ohio Sts. in the 1930s; the location of the Quast family grocery store at N. 7th & Wright Sts. now occupied by a freeway ramp; how his father and uncles learned to swim at one of the last of the swimming schools near the old North Avenue dam.
     I don't know if he had prior knowledge of my own discoveries of early Rebholz history, but like my mother, I bet his natural curiosity would've been piqued as I've unfolded even more family stories.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Family memorials to WWI soldier Private Eugene Griepentrog, 1918-1930

Pvt. Eugene Griepentrog was a Milwaukee boy who died in the WWI conflict in France on 28 May 1918. His friend Pvt. August Beckmann, and another Milwaukeean, Herbert Schmidt also died that week. They were members of Co. K of the 28th Infantry Regiment.
The local German-American papers published articles and photos in 1918, but the Griepentrog family published a memorial on the anniversary of Eugene's death in 1919 and 1920. When his remains were brought back to Milwaukee for reburial in 1921 his parents published death notices and a public thanks, and then a memorial for him every year after that until 1930.