ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Maes’ Shanty

F. P. Brook (Peter Brook)


Brooks & Hawkins


Peter’s Shanty


Store, Shop, Shanty    “The Bridge” Barber Shop and Bath Rooms  [portion of image NT051_FarmersPicnic_2_1898]

South side of Main Street bridge


“The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin”, Chicago: Western Historical Company. 1879.

F P Brook, groceries, fruits and confectioner; was born in Veldenz, near the river Moselle, Prussia, June 22, 1835, and came to Wisconsin in the summer of 1850 ; located in the town of Watertown, on a farm that his father purchased from Mr. McCready.


He then came to Watertown and learned the barber's trade; he remained at his trade for five years and, in 1857, started a fruit and confectionery, which he carried on for about eighteen years; in 1866, he started the Red Front Store, adjoining the Bank of Watertown, which he carried on in connection with his other store.  For about two and a half years, Mr. Brook quit business, for a rest, and then started the store he now occupies and in which he is doing a successful and profitable business.



       07 15 1868


He was elected School Commissioner and resigned on account of his business; in 1877, was elected as Supervisor and again in 1879, which position he now holds.


He married, December 31, 1857, Christiana Esslinger, of Buffalo, N. Y. He has five children - Amanda, Edward, Emma, Charles and Ida.



07 15       ICE CREAM SALOON—F. P. Brook & Co. have just refitted their Ice Cream Rooms at their Confectionary & Fruit Store on the bridge, and are prepared to serve up the Best Quality of Ice Cream Every Afternoon and Evening.  Ice Cream furnished for Parties or Private Families on a few hours notice, in large or small quantities.  Owing to the hard times we shall charge only ten cents a dish this season.   WG


07 22       Tomatoes and early apples are among the seasonable luxuries to be found at F. P. Brook's Confectionary and Fruit Store, on the south side of Main Street bridge.  In a quiet way, the other day he sent parcels of each of these articles to our residence, as if he would do us a kindness and not have us tell where plenty more of the same sort could be found.  An excellent place is that to get a glass of cool and foaming soda, fresh from the pure fountain of health, or a dish of the most delicious of ice cream.  WG


08 12       Fruit in its Season—Physicians concur and doctors do not disagree in the opinion that ripe fruit, in its season, is the healthiest of all the varied productions of that bountiful dame—Mother Earth—and in this sultry weather, when the physical system is relaxed, and listlessness and lassitude have taken possession of us, nothing is more invigorating or healthful than the fragrant apple, the juicy pear, the luscious peach or crispy melon.  Nature that doeth all things well, is just now furnishing the golden fruits in almost endless variety.  And Peter Brook, on the bridge, is dealing them out in quantity and quality to suit purchasers.  Oranges and lemons, peaches and pears, apples and melons, in fact everything in his line, to suit the taste of the most fastidious, may be found at "Peter’s."  Give him a call and judge for yourselves.  WG


09 09       Old Stand RenewedHave fitted up in good style the store on the south side of Main Street bridge, formerly occupied by Maes & Roper, and are keeping on hand and a complete assortment of Candles, Nuts, Green and Dried Fruits, Pickles, Preserves, Oysters, Sardines, Lobsters, Bird Seed, Raisins, Citron [large lemon-like fruit], and, in short, everything belonging to the Confectionary and Fruit line.  We have a most complete assortment of Fancy Soaps, Hair Oil, Pomades, Colognes, Perfumery, and Flavoring Extracts, which we will sell cheaper than anybody else in the city.  Ice Cream and Soda Water always ready.  F. P. BROOK & CO.  WG


10 21       A large number of goods may now be purchased at F. P. Brook’s Fruit Store on the south side of the bridge.  Fresh oysters, sweet potatoes, delicious grapes, fine apples–most any article that comes under the head of seasonable luxuries—can always be purchased there.  That establishment is one of the necessary institutions of this city.   WD



02 03       Oysters at Peter Brook & Co.   WD


03 03       Fitted up store on the south side of Main Street bridge, formerly occupied by Maes & Roper


06 02       Ice cream season has arrived   WD



02 23       Jeems    This distinguished individual has recently located in this city—a fact of which our readers may not be fully aware.  He serves up the “latest importations” of oysters, warm and cold victuals, and fluids vulgarly styled refreshments[?], at the usual rates.  He is up at all hours, can be depended upon in every emergency, and “runs wid der masheen.”  He may be found in the small building at the further end of the bridge on the left side, if you are going that way, or in the same building, on the right side, if you are coming this way.  He is reliable.     WD


03 15       Spring has come and so have tropical fruits at F. P. Brook & Co.  Oranges and lemons, by the box, dozen, or any other number from one to ten thousand, may be obtained there cheaper than they have ever before been sold in this city.  Only think of it, oranges at wholesale can be bought there for less money than they are sold in Milwaukee, and large, fine lemons for a quarter a dozen.  New maple sugar we also see displayed in his window and apples that in size, flavor and soundness cannot be surpassed.   WD


06 28       A New Era—Peter F. Brook is a fast man and keeps up with the times.  He has discovered that the evenings are short, and summer afternoons warm.  So he is going to provide delicious Ice Cream for the public as early as 1 o'clock, p.m., when all can get a glass by calling at his rooms, down stairs.  Cherries he has already had, and now early apples are among the tempting things that attract public attention to his establishment.   WD


10 12       We know of no one more deserving of praise for cultivating the public taste then friend Brooke, whose constant and sole labor is devoted to this exalted work.  His is the most agreeable discipline, to which he treats all who employ his services.  Moreover, considering how salutary his lessons are, the tuition is as low as that term is brief.  Therefore, all should attend to the needed internal improvement at the institution on top of the river.   WR



The subscriber is agent for this city for the sale of C. S. Maltby's celebrated and renowned oysters, which he will always sell at wholesale at Milwaukee prices, and at retail in proportion.  Oysters received daily and warranted fresh.  Depot at the fruit store, middle of Main Street bridge, where he also keeps candies of every description, the best of cigars, tobacco, nuts, etc., at wholesale and retail.  Oysters, sardines, etc. by the dish at his Eating Rooms.  F. P. Brook   WR


12 06       NEW YEAR'S EVE BALL

Mr. Peter Brook is now actively engaged in making arrangements to give the citizens of this city and vicinity a brilliant and splendid New Year's Eve party.  It will not be surpassed by anything of the kind that has ever been got up here.  No pains will be spared to make it delightful to all who attend.  Fine music, table loaded with all the delicacies that can be found in the market, a gay assemblage, all will be combined to render it the festival of the season.  Let all who enjoy a dance come, and pass the last night of the year in social intercourse.   WD



F. P. Brook is busy with his efforts to render his New Year’s Festival as brilliant and pleasant as the most liberal expenditures will do it.  He is determined it shall be a success and all who attend have the opportunity to bid a cheerful adieu to the old year and a happy welcome to the new year.  Strains of animating music shall attend the departure of the one and the arrival of the other, and a gay throng keep step to the melody and movements of the passing hours.


Grand New Year’s Ball and Oyster Supper.  At Cole’s Hall, Watertown, Wis., on Monday evening, Dec. 31, 1860.

Yourself and lady are respectfully invited to attend.  Honorary Managers:  Hon. M. B. Williams, Hon. Charles R. Gill, Hon. Chas. Billinghurst, D. W. Ballou, Jr., Hon. Theodore Prentiss, Hon. L. A. Cole, P. V. Brown, Esq., J. T. Moak.


Managers:  Joseph Linden, Dr. G. Shamberg, T. McMahon, C. A. Sprague, E. Stoppenbach, Edward Johnson, E. M. Hall, Dr. James Cody, A. Stein, Watertown; W. S. Green, Milford; C. P. Mead, R. B. Basford, Waterloo; Dr. Wm. Potter, J. Dutcher, Lake Mills; Chas. Daniels, Oak Grove; James Thorn, Juneau; Edward M. Mahon, Jefferson; W. M. Phelps, Farmington.


Floor Managers:  O. D. Pease, D. D. Scott, Peter Rogan.


Table Superintendent:  Jacob Jussen


Music by the Watertown Brass and String Band


John Fuller, Prompter.  Tickets, including supper, $2.00.  Carriages in attendance.


F. P. Brook   WD




Mr. F. P. Brook is fitting up his Ice Cream Saloon, on the south side of Main Street Bridge, in a style that will make that pleasant summer resort attractive to the public.  He is constructing a pair of stairs on the east side of his building, so as to make access to his saloon more convenient.  With well-furnished reception rooms, the most delicate and delicious of creams, the choicest of fruits in abundance, we hope he will find his reward for his enterprise and liberality in the presence of all the visitors he can attend to in his best manner.   WD



10 10       SWEET POTATOES, of a fine quality, from “the land of Dixie,” can be bought at Brook’s Fruit Store, on the [Main Street] bridge.  Neither his oysters, fruit, confectionary or cigars are all gone yet.  He has more of each kind left.   WD


11 07       BRIGHT AS NEW

F. P. Brook has just overhauled, repaired and newly fitted up his Fruit Store and made his Eating Rooms pleasant and attractive to visitors at all hours – morning or evening.  His variety of choice fruit is always large – no better oysters than his ever find their way to the West – his cigars are the best brands that can be bought in any market – and he attends to all calls with promptness and politeness that render it a pleasure to deal with him.



01 09       ENOUGH LEFT YET

[Advertisement] Notwithstanding the rush of Oysters, Confectionery, Apples, Tropical Fruit, and a thousand other good things at F. P. Brook’s during the holidays, he has still a large quantity on hand to please his customers.  And what is more, the price of Maltby’s best Oysters, fresh from the East, have come down in price and may now be had for 50 cents a can.  A fine article of Sweet Cider has just been received, which we state for the benefit of those interested.   WD




06 18       FIREWORKS

F. P. Brook has now for sale a large stock of all varieties of fireworks, consisting of Rockets, Fly-Wheels, Blazing Stars, Torpedoes, Chinese Crackers – everything that will make a noise and create a brilliant light.  He has also a lot of Union Flags of different sizes, which are neatly and well made.  All who want to celebrate the coming Fourth can get the “fixings” at his establishment.    WD


07 02       FOURTH OF JULY

“The Day We Celebrate” [4th of July] will see F. P. Brook’s delightful ice cream rooms tastefully adorned and made attractive for the reception of such parties as may occasionally wish to escape from the throng and heat of the streets and quietly partake of a dish of the nicest of creams, made in his best style, which all know is as near perfection as anybody comes.  That will be a charming place to take the ladies for a little rest and refreshment.   WD



As usual, E. P. Brook has procured a large and fine variety of confectionery for the holidays.  Sometime between this and New Year’s, we should not be surprised if Santa Claus made ravages on his fine stock of curious toys, to the great delight and surprise of those who will expect a stocking full of something out of which to make a Merry Christmas.  We hope every little one will get a full share – and none will be disappointed.  WD




Harvest apples and raspberries may now be found at Brook’s Confectionery and Fruit Store.  His soda fountain is in full operation, distilling a healthy and cooling beverage and his reception rooms are filled with parties warm in their praises of his delicious and delicate creams.  Peter gratifies everybody because he always furnishes the best things for his customers – he has a genius for “the pleasing art.”    WD


09 29       SWEET CIDER

Brooks is now furnishing customers with a very fine article of new sweet cider – the first, we believe, sold in the city this season.   WD



In the multiplicity of past effort, who shall tell of the wondrous arrivals at that model of all places, F. P. Brooks Confectionary and Fruit Store, Oyster Depot, Tobacco and Segar Emporium.  Seeing is believing and one has need to see in order to enumerate the choice and splendid stock at Brooks.  Apples of all varieties and choicest kinds.  Confectionary in every grade.  Oysters from the shell, raw, fried or stewed as you like.  Tobacco from Pig-Tail to Derry-Down Twist, including Cavendish, Broad-Side, Plank-Road, Mrs. Miller’s, Killikanic and Old Virginia.  Cigars from old Havana and cigarettes from Chile and Peru.  All may be frond at Brook’s, where the gentlemanly proprietor is at all times ready to attend to the wants of his numerous customers, and cater to their taste.  And then there is Mr. George Hawkins, who seems to have almost become a part of the institution – always intelligent, upright and courteous, waiting on customers at all times with cheerfulness and alacrity.  We hope “George,” as all call him with respectful kindness, will one of these days have an establishment of his own, become rich and prosperous, and continue to receive the universal good will he now enjoys.   WD




F. P. Brook has been engaged in putting his extensive fruit and confectionary establishment in a new trim for spring business.  His pleasant and elegant reception rooms have been neatly painted and improved in various respects.  H is stocks of tropical fruit, candies and segars are as large and fine as anywhere can be found.  In fact, there is no better establishment of the kind in any city in the state.  He is always the first to receive and offer for sale everything that is new and rare in the market.   WD



E. P. Brook has quite a novelty at his fruit store in the shape of genuine dates from Arabia.  Some of the fruit is yet attached to the stems on which it grew, and all of it retains its original form and flavor.  WD


1867       BIRDS EYE VIEW



F P Brook, George Hawkins, confectionery on bridge, Main / 1875-6 Watertown City Directory


1898       Farmers Picnic

 NT051      NT050 


1904       Flood takes out Peter’s Shanty     See Featured Article, below



02 26       Died.  F. P. Brook died at this home in Green Bay last Sunday, in which city his remains were interred on Wednesday.  Mr. Brook was for many years engaged in business here with George Hawkins and was one of Watertown’s best known business men.  Deceased was born in Veldenz, Prussia, June 22, 1835, and in 1850 came to America, locating on a farm in the town of Watertown.  Shortly after coming to Wisconsin he learned the barber’s trade in this city and in 1857 opened a confectionary and fruit store in the frame building that for many years was located in Rock River on the south side of Main Street bridge.  Several years after engaging in that business he and George Hawkins formed a partnership and they also conducted a large grocery and crockery store at W. J. Beach’s present stand in Main Street.  While a resident of Watertown he represented the Fourth ward several years as school commissioner and also in the county board of supervisors.  He also served as deputy city marshal.  December 31, 1857, he was married to Christina Esslinger of Buffalo, N.Y., who survives him with two sons and four daughters.  Mr. Brook was possessed of an open-hearted and kind disposition and we believe a man who never willfully wronged anybody.  The editor of the Gazette, after leaving high school away back in 1874, entered the employ of Mr. Brook in this city and for over a year had an opportunity of learning him at his true worth.  He was kind and generous to his help and by word and deed always encouraged them in their daily labors.  Ever since then the editor has always held Mr. Brook in the very highest esteem and regarded him as one of his best friends.   WG



Featured Article, written by tPeter Brook:     Peters Shanty went out with Flood in 1904

            Watertown Daily Times, 06 22 1917             Annotated by Ken Riedl.  Image added.




The following article concerning the building which at one time stood on the south side of Main Street bridge and which was swept out by the flood in the spring of 1904 , was written several years ago by the late Peter Brook [F. P. Brook, Green Bay, April 10, 1904] for a local [Green Bay] newspaper, and may prove of interest to readers now [1917]:



The shanty was built in the winter of 1850-51, Henry Maes having purchased the right to build of the then owner on the [river] bank, Dr. Edward Johnson, for the sum of $40, the owners on the bank claiming a “superior right on a non-navigable stream to the middle.” 



Within a year or two Werner, the barber, had erected a long building on the north side of the bridge, [1870, Werner bldg (with canopy, north side of bridge, washed away in 1881 flood] and among the first tenants were William Buchheit’s “bier halle,” Joseph Salick’s jewelry store, D. Blumenfeld’s Weltbuerger office, etc. 



At the same time the new bridge was being constructed by the Dunn Bros., which was known at that time as one of the finest and most substantial post bridges in Wisconsin.  Upon the completion of the shanty [on south side of bridge] it was immediately occupied by Henry Maes as a barber shop, and a very nice establishment it was.


Soon after the building was finished Walter Besley and William Chappel [Chappell] stepped into the barroom of the Planters Hotel and told Mr. Turner, the proprietor, that they had bet the drinks, the loser to pay, inviting Mr. Turner to drink with them.  After the brandy and sugar had been disposed of in due form it occurred to Mr. Turner to inquire what the bet was about, when he was told that Besley had bet that Henry’s shanty [Henry Maes] would fall down stream and Chappell that it would fall up stream.  Now that the shanty has fallen neither up stream nor downstream and all the parties to the bet having long since passed to the great unknown, the reader will probably conclude that it had better be called a draw.



The writer [Peter Brook] arrived in Watertown on the previous July, or the July of 1850, and soon moved with his parents onto a farm on Temple’s Hill, where both parents died in about three weeks after taking possession of the place.  Being thus left an orphan at the age of fifteen and unable to find employment as “storekeeper,” so called by Germans of that time, I entered the service of Henry, the barber, as an apprentice for a term of three years, where I soon became quite an attraction, so much so that the Yankee girls used to come into the shop to see “that handsome Dutch boy.” 


In about two years after the building had been opened as a barber and bathing rooms [Henry] Maes moved the barber shop into the basement and put a billiard table on the ground floor .  This billiard room became a popular resort and the first night the table was being played on, O. D. Pease (later a captain in the army and who lost his life at the battle of Shiloh) and I hung around until 12 o’clock, when we played our first game with the mace [Maes?], having no confidence that we could hit those slippery balls with the cue.  The billiard table prospered immensely.  Hiram Harder, Perry Harder, Tom Smith, Peter Seaburg and Anton Francel being the crack players of the town---the writer, spending all of his leisure time when the table was not occupied, soon could beat the best of them.


When my time as apprentice was at an end and Maes wishing to quit the business, I bought out the establishment (such as it was) with a few dollars left me by my parents and became a full-fledged tonsorial artist, but that I ever became an adept with the razor I most emphatically deny.  About this time Maes conceived the idea of putting a bar and restaurant into the room in the basement where my shop then was, so I was bundled off into an 8x16 room under the platform, in front of the building.



At this time, or about 1854, S. G. Roper [Samuel G. Roper, 1909, death of] became associated with Maes, when they branched out into the wholesale liquor business to a considerable extent.  There being no regular bartender at first, a rule was laid down that anyone going into the basement must whistle all the time he was gone and failing to do so it was taken for granted that he was “whetting his whistle,” and compelled to pay 10 cents.  Quite an excitement was created one day over a large cask of gin having been left, in the evening in front of the store now occupied by J. C. Harrison, when it was found that some miscreant had bored a hole in the cask (valued at $130) and let the contents run into the gutter.  Maes and Roper then occupied the basement of that building with their stock of liquors.  George H. Bott was accused of having tapped the cask, but the evidence was not sufficient to convict.



About 1855 the people demanded a new bridge on account of the three heavy railings dividing the wagon tracks as well as the sidewalk, scarcely a day passing without some greenhorn taking the wrong or left hand track and being met by some mischievous driver half way or more, would be compelled to back off the whole distance as best he could.  The new bridge constructed by Mr. Steger was the full width of the street and about three feet higher than the old one, which compelled Maes to move the shanty back about three feet and raise the ground floor about the same amount. 


About this time a determination manifested itself in the communication with the bridge.  By what means the railing in front of the Werner building [on the other (north) side of the bridge] was removed I cannot call to mind.  As to how that in front of Maes’ shanty was taken down I remember very well.  While two men took the night watch [watchman] up town and filled him with beer, two others pretending to be drunk, sawed the opening and threw it into the river.


During the time the shanty was being remodeled so as to accommodate itself to the new bridge, my barber shop was removed to the basement under Miner’s drug store, now August Wiggenhorn’s jewelry establishment, where in a short time I sold out to M. F. Paulfranz for the $20 gold pieces. 


The building in the river being in a condition to be occupied, and Maes and Roper having been attacked by the western fever, sold out their liquor business and moved to Minnesota with family, bag and baggage, locating at or near a place where Owatonna is now situated.  Being now out of business and the shanty vacant, I rented it of Henry Maes at $300 a year and on account of a lack of sufficient capital became associated with Fred Brandt under the firm name of F. P. Brook & Co., and started a fruit, confectionery, cigar and tobacco store on  the ground floor, with ice cream and oyster  rooms in the basement.  Alonzo W. Straw being our first clerk, I believe. 


High rent, ignorance of business methods and general heedlessness, soon reduced our stock so that Joe Giles used to say I had to set my soda crackers up edgewise to fill up the shelves, and the probability is that in maturer years I would have given up the business as a fizzle.  Nevertheless, at the very time when my worldly affairs were in the most deplorable condition I got married, paying the Rev. Mr. Niles $3 for performing the ceremony, it being all the money I had—boarded a few mouths with Jerry Mowder and then went to housekeeping in the basement of the shanty, using the furniture, dishes, etc, connected with the ice cream and oyster room, for family purposes, and while thus keeping house in the lower story of the building our first child was born.


My first associates in Watertown were almost exclusively Americans, not by design, but, and for reasons that I have never been able to explain, unless it was that Mrs. P. B. Basford, finding me rather a likely boy, took me under her wing and got me to join the Cadets of Temperance where I was considerably lionized as being the only member of German birth and on account of which I incurred the enmity, so to speak, of such Germans as disapproved of all temperance moves, being most frequently spoken of as “Yankee Peter.”  Those cadets were principally young boys and at every meeting one of the members had to read an essay on the temperance cause, and when it came my turn to do so, though I could scarcely speak any English, I produced one of the most wonderful addresses ever heard in the hall; in consequence of which I immediately became one of the leading spirits of the society, and the speech was spread on the records in full, though I remained as dumb as an oyster about the fact that Dr. James Cody had written the composition for me. 



Republican Headquarters

This and other circumstances throwing me into American society, and consequently chiefly among republicans, it naturally followed that when I became of age I found myself a full-fledged member of that party, and Peter’s shanty republican headquarters; and let me say to you, dear reader, that at that period of the history of Watertown, much pluck and determination was required in a foreigner avowing himself a member of the republican party, and according to my best recollection Conrad Dippel, Chris May and the writer, were the only members of German birth of that party.  This same rule held good in almost the entire state of Wisconsin at that early period. 


In Watertown, up to 1860, a republican was expected to keep his mouth shut, and a stranger in the city failing to observe that rule almost invariably got a good licking before he got out of town.


Upon the arrival of Carl Schurz in the city, owing to his transcendent ability and oratory, a new light sprung up for such Germans as were inclined to shake off the democratic yoke, and the Barstow state administration, laboring under a cloud of dishonest methods, soon had the natural effect of a large section of German democrats entering the ranks of the opposition.  And no wonder, when we consider that the entire German vote of Watertown was led by “City Henry” (Henry Bergman) and Frank Belrose, the former controlling the German, the latter the Irish vote; Rock River House Fischer was also deemed a leading factor in carrying elections for a given candidate.


“Peter’s shanty,” previously stated, being tacitly admitted as republican headquarters, began now (1860) to prosper, and at about the same time a young Irish boy, ragged and dirty, named George Hawkins, applied one evening for employment as clerk.  The writer, having had his eye on the boy (being only a few feet away), his energy and business methods, for some time, engaged him on the instant and from that moment F. P. Brook & Co.’s business success was assured.  The presidential campaign being now in swing, drawing large crowds of republicans called wideawakes or torch bearers, to the city, and Peter’s shanty being the natural attraction for such gatherings, the firm made money so rapidly that in about a year Fred Brandt was able to get out of the business without loss, and the writer was soon enabled to buy the shanty, besides building himself a small house. 


The election resulted as is well known in the choice of Mr. Lincoln for president, and on the part of the republicans of Jefferson County, the victory was celebrated at Fort Atkinson.  The war being now deemed inevitable Governor Harvey , who was the principal speaker on the occasion, put the question, “Boys, will you go?”  meaning to the war.  Well, kind reader, I must confess that having been but recently married, and having no inclination whatever to make a target of my precious body for Southern marksmen, I didn’t shout worth a cent; in fact, I was about the sickest lamp carrier you can imagine.  I can remember well the thought flashing through my mind, “For God’s sake, have I been voting for war.” 


Recruiting for Civil War  /  $300 and you’re free

The war began as is well known, at first by volunteer soldiers, and the first recruiting in Watertown was done in Peter’s shanty, but it was soon discovered that the place was not large enough for the crowds that gathered, and other quarters were engaged.  In a year or two it was found that soldiering was not the picnic party that was expected, and drafting had to be resorted to.  Early in 1864, such a draft was held at Janesville, and a large number of Watertown people went down there to watch the proceedings.  Returning late in the evening, a mob of democrats bolted into the shanty, and sang at the top of their voices:


         Old rye coffee

                Is good enough for me,

         Without one grain of sugar

                If the nigger can be free.


Having kept this up for at least half an hour, when at a given signal the entire crowd shouted, “Pete Brook is drafted,” the said democrats thinking it a joke, whereas I had  voted the republican ticket, it was highly proper that I should go to war.  The boys had a good deal of fun at my expense, but I can assure the reader that I didn’t appreciate the joke worth a cent.  In due time the mustering day arrived and I went to Janesville to be examined ( at that time the drafted man having been accepted could escape actual service by the payment of $300), was told to strip, which I refused to do, was thoroughly examined by the doctors above the waist, who finally pronounced me unfit for being a soldier on account of something being the matter with my heart (probably that organ being in my mouth about that time).  In the evening of that day I treated the draft board, composed of N. S. Greene, L. B. Caswell, Capt. Putnam, Dr. Head and one or two others, to a nice supper, with ample quantities of wine, at the leading hotel, came home and immediately set to work to rebuild and enlarge the shanty which brings us to 1864.



I went into John T. Slight’s woods, personally selected every tree to be used for timbers, built a timber foundation and put a new structure joined on to the old one, between it and the bridge sidewalk, substantially as it was when tipped over a few day ago.  The new establishment soon became a greater attraction than ever because the proprietor made it a point to have a better  cigar, glass of lemonade, dish of oysters, the earliest fruits and berries in their season, and a dish of ice cream unexcelled.


Well in Rock River

Large quantities of water being used in the establishment, and which had to be carried quite a distance, I conceived the plan of laying a pipe from the artesian well behind the post office building to the shanty, only the great expense of doing so deterring me from carrying out the project, when like an inspiration the thought occurred to me one day, “Why not make a well right here?”  No sooner had the feasibility of the project presented itself, when I was looking around for a man to do the job and in a few days the drill was at work under the building on the ice.  Before going down, however as deep as I had originally intended, the ice began to raise and the machine had to be taken from under the building, having gone down only about eighteen feet.  To preserve what I had done from being lost, I drove a pump log into the hole, having not the least suspicion that water had been struck, but to be entirely certain that such was the case, I measured with a small stick the height of the water inside of the log as compared with the river water, on the outside, and found to my great delight that the water inside the pipe was a trifle higher than the river water, thus proving without a shadow of doubt that I had a well at a trifling cost.  About this time Robert Howell returned from the oil fields of Pennsylvania, and instructed me how to insert the pipe into the bore, and make it a tight joint by means of a seed bag.  I followed his instructions and in a  few hours had a flow of good water about three feet above the lower floor, and it is highly probable that this is the only well ever constructed in the bed of a river.


Smoking Room  /  Civil War News

The smoking room became the resort of my chums, and the leading men of the town, more especially so for such of the railroad men who were not given to frequenting saloons, but wished to met each other outside of their homes.  Many pleasant hours were spent in that room by J. O. Pattee, A. J. Earling, W. P. Brown, H. A. Ranous, H. C. Atkins, Robert Lewis, Jim Nellins, Amos Baum, George Lewis, Charles Wood, S. M. Eaton, often S. S. Merrill and seldom a day [without] both Chappell and Dennis.  Of course these men bought cigars, fruit, peanuts, lemonade, soda water, etc., and in this manner I got well paid for the accommodation furnished them, it being also the principal locality in the city for the reception and discussion of war news.  


That the younger readers may get an idea of what war meant, I would state that Bill Brown and I bought 200 bushels  of wheat and stored it in the wood house under the sidewalk, so that our families would have bread when United States money should no longer be a purchasing power.  After awhile we saw the absurdity of the scheme and sold out at a fine profit and the place formerly occupied by the grain was filled with stove wood, which broke the joints of the floor and precipitated the wood in to the river, and this would probably have been the fate of the wheat if it had been allowed to remain there much longer. 


Silver change being largely taken in our trade, it was the custom of other business men to get their paper money changed as was found necessary, when W. P. Brown came in one day and said to me: “Don’t do that any more but keep whatever silver is taken in.”  I followed his advice, and by the time silver had gone entirely out of circulation, a large cigar box full had accumulated containing $280, and which I sold for just double of face value.


Red Front Grocery

Money still flowing in owing to flush times, caused by the war, I soon bought the lot adjoining the Bank of Watertown and erected the building which became known as the Red Front Grocery, George Hawkins becoming my partner.  We conducted the shanty on the bridge as heretofore, in addition to carrying a large stock of groceries, crockery, glassware, etc., in the Red Front. 


Hawkin’s Shanty

Unfortunately for me, I entered active politics to the neglect of my business, and, other similar establishments springing up, Peter’s shanty lost its popularity.  A dissolution of partnership followed, the shanty was bought by George Hawkins and occupied by W. N. Hawkins [cross reference:  Death of Mrs. William N. Hawkins], who becoming alarmed about the safety of the shanty, moved into the building next to Johnson’s drug store and soon after the shanty that had started in 1851 as a barber shop was again used for the same purpose, and ended a few days ago as it had begun fifty-three years ago. 


Thus we can draw the moral that citizens of fifty years ago have nearly all passed away, and that even the shanty in the river was not exempt from the ravages of time.


F. P. Brook,

Green Bay,  April 10, 1904



Note:  The winter before the flood in the spring of 1904 was harsh.


Coldest Weather in Watertown’s History

Watertown Daily Times, 01 27 1904


Watertown has experienced the coldest weather in its history during the past week.  The cold snap set in Saturday night and has continued ever since.  Saturday night the thermometer registered 20 degrees below zero, Sunday night 35 below zero, and Monday night 25 below zero, Tuesday night 20 below, and Wednesday night 10 below.



Kiessling, Elmer C, Watertown Remembered, 1976.

The north side of the bridge was then lined with business places resting on piles driven into the bed of the river.  In 1881 huge cakes of ice roaring down in high water ripped out the pilings of these structures and a part of the bridge.  The building on the south side, a barbershop operated by John Seager, was spared.  Mr. Seager installed three tin bathtubs - the first in Watertown - in his shop and ran this ad:


The Bridge

in the

Center of Main Street Bridge

5 baths for $1


He did a brisk business, Northwestern students being among his best customers, until another ice jam in April, 1904, swept away his building.  All of the equipment was salvaged.  John Seager, and his son Charles after him, continued to operate a shop for years at 5 Main Street.  It is now the Downtown Barber Shop.



Cross References: 

Main Street bridge, chapter on

Augustus Cushman remembers Brook’s barber shop and candy store, middle Main St bridge

Dr. F. J. Parkhurst former employee