ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


August Moldenhauer



Watertown Daily Times, 12/3/1935


The following account tells what August Moldenhauer, 84, Watertown, was doing when he was 21.


"When I was 21 I was living on a farm with my father in Old Lebanon.  At this time there was no name to this part of Wisconsin but was later named Lebanon by William Woltman, Sr. and John Moldenhauer and Rev. Erdman Pankow.  These were the 3 original settlers of Lebanon.


The name Lebanon was taken from the Bible.  The territory was pretty lively with Indians.  I lived on my father's farm until 1903.  I then sold the farm to my son and moved to Watertown.  When my father took his claim from the U.S. government, which consisted of 120 acres, it was all timber.  Our first house was built like a wigwam until our log house was completed.  In those days we did not have shingles and used straw for the roofing.  This was in the year 1843.


The following year the taxes were paid at Beaver Dam and amounted to $1.00.  The trip to Beaver Dam was made by foot, this being the only means of transportation as there were only Indian trails.  In 1877, when I bought the farm from my father, I took up a government loan for which I was compelled to pay 8% interest. 


At this time there had been 20 acres of land cleared.  Clearing this land was a very slow task and very hard work, clearing from one to two acres a year.  The logs were then hauled to the Richards saw mill at Watertown which was located just east on the banks of the Rock River near the Tivoli Island.  In 1880 the first saw mill was operated in Lebanon known as the Lauersdorf Saw Mill.


Our lighting consisted of candles and lard lamps which were homemade. The lighting of these lamps was with steel and firestone for flint.  The first matches used were made about 1860.  They were also home made by using small sticks and homemade sulphur into which the stick was dipped.  In 1865 on Good Friday my father brought home the first kerosene lamp. (This was about the time Abraham Lincoln was shot.)


My father took me to Watertown to the Milwaukee Depot where I saw Mr. Lincoln in person. He was on his way to Madison.  I was about 12 years old at this time. 


In about the year 1854 the Milwaukee-Watertown plank road was built.  This was about 8 miles south of our farm.  On our trips to Milwaukee we used to take the plank road for which a charge was made of 2 cents each mile.  Toll was collected at the toll houses which were about 3 or 4 miles apart.  Each toll house had a pole across the road and you could not go through until your mile tollage was paid, either at each place or you could show a ticket for your complete trip. A trip to Milwaukee was usually started at 12 o'clock at night and you would arrive there at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.


Our first trading place in Watertown was known as the Dutch Store owned by Volkmann, Maldaner and Wollering and operated on the corner of now N. 2nd and Main Streets.  The price of eggs were 6 cents a dozen and butter 7 cents a pound.  Whiskey was 7 cents a gallon and was bought in barrel lots.


In 1868 the first brick house was built by my father.  The bricks were burnt by the Watertown Brick Yard.  There were 160,000 bricks used in this house.  This original house is still occupied by my son, Eugene Moldenhauer.


In 1854 during a cholera epidemic my mother, brother and a sister were taken by this dreadful disease.  The coffins were homemade out of bass wood lumber and were usually made by members of the family.  In 1860 another sister was killed when her dress was caught in a tumbling rod while threshing."


Mr. Moldenhauer who has lived in Watertown during the past 32 years resides at 213 7th Street with his wife, both enjoying the best of health.  Mr. & Mrs. August Moldenhauer celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1928 and are cheerfully looking. forward to 1937 when they can then celebrate their diamond anniversary.






Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin