Monday, October 15, 2018

Scene on Webster Street

This image of the intersection of Main and Webster Streets was probably taken around 1913.

The building on the right is the Northwestern Hotel, located where Mound City Bank stands today.

The building on the left was likely a tavern when this photo was taken, and it is now occupied by Hindu's Corner Bar. There is a pool room and blacksmith shop behind the tavern, and enlarging the image reveals an advertisement for Old Virginia Cheroots (cigars) on the side of the pool room.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Harry and Anna Riker

On a blustery day like this, it is tempting to bundle up like Harry and Anna Riker.

Harry Riker, with his mother Anna, as pictured in the Cuba City Centennial history.

Anna Riker was, according to the Telegraph Herald, Cuba City's oldest resident when she died in 1939 at the age of 93. She sounded like quite a character and supposedly once told a magazine salesman when she was 85 years old that "she had no intention of reading her head off to put him through college."

Anna and her husband, Henry, lived in Dubuque for many years, but the couple had divorced by 1910, and she moved to Cuba City with her son, Harry. Henry Riker was an ice dealer and successful businessman and left behind a sizable estate when he passed in 1911. The Telegraph Herald found it quite "peculiar" that Henry left his real estate and much of his riches to the Protestant churches of Dubuque, while many of his family members received little by comparison.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Influenza outbreak reaches Cuba City

 Image from the Illustrated Current News (New Haven, Conn.), October 18, 1918. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine #101580385.

In 1918, an influenza pandemic spread across the globe, killing at least 50 million people.

By October of that year, the outbreak had reached Cuba City. Residents had just celebrated the lifting of the quarantine for infantile paralysis (polio) a few weeks earlier when they faced this new health scare.

The following notice was published in the Cuba City News Herald on October 11, 1918:


To whom it may concern: All public gatherings, dances, moving pictures, churches and schools are closed and persons are not to gather in the Post office lobby until further notice.

Spitting on the side walk is prohibited and if you do not want to be fined act accordingly.

The Board of Health advises the use of the face mask by all persons who are caring for the sick. An efficient mask is made by tying over the nose and mouth a double fold of cheese cloth, or clean linen. The germs of the disease find entrance into the body by the respiratory passages. A gargle used frequently of salt and water is a good preventative measure. The living rooms should be frequently flushed with fresh air. All discharges by coughing or sneezing should be deposited in cloths which should be immediately burned. Avoid chilling the body, overeating or drinking of alcoholic liquors.

All cases to be reported to the Board of Health within 24 hours.
Cuba City, Wis., Oct. 10, 1918.

By October 18, the saloons in town were closed. On November 1, a reminder of the continued quarantine was published in the Cuba City News Herald:


“In view of the fact that the epidemic of influenza (la grippe) throughout the state is still very serious, the state board of health officially directs that the local health authorities continue to exercise direct control over their respective localities and until further notice keep closed all schools, churches, Sunday Schools, theaters, moving picture houses or any other places of amusement, and continue to prohibit all public meetings. C. A. Harper, State Health Officer, Madison, Wis., Oct. 25, 1918”

Published by order of the Board of Health of the Village of Cuba City.
Dr. MacDonald

Doctors were kept busy during the epidemic. Cuba City's centennial history describes how local physician Dr. D. L. Brady "labored heroically to care for his patients in farm and city homes in that still horse and buggy day. While his livery driver drove, Dr. Brady got what sleep he could in the buggy."

I don't have figures on the number of Cuba City residents affected, but by October 4, two influenza deaths had been reported in Benton, and the Cuba City News Herald reported on October 11 that "it would be impossible to give a complete roll call of the sick this week as so many are down with the influenza."

The quarantine was finally lifted on the morning of Friday, November 8. Schools, churches, and other institutions that had been closed for nearly a month were allowed to reopen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Enjoying a day at the park

Three youngsters pose inside the bandstand at Cuba City's park around 1911. The water tower stood at the northwest corner of what is today known as Veterans' Memorial Park.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

School Days, 1893

As classes begin in Cuba City today, here is a look at the students and teachers of 1893--125 years ago. According to the Cuba City centennial history, where this image was published, the town's first high school students graduated in 1893. They were Hannah Harker, John Hazelton, and William Mitchell.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Loeffelholz Brothers Garage

Let's celebrate Labor Day with the crew from the Loeffelholz Brothers repair shop. Brothers Charles and George Loeffelholz operated the Ford Garage and Auditorium from ca.1917-1926. The building still stands on Main Street today, across from City Hall.

 This image was published in Cuba City's centennial history. The men are identified as George Loeffelholz, Edward Jeffrey, Oscar Fager and Luverne Hilvers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Former St. Rose Catholic Church Comes Down

Fifty years ago, in 1968, the former St. Rose Catholic Church was razed. The church, built in 1895, was located on North Madison Street, beside St. Rose School. The new Catholic church, still in use today, was opened earlier that year.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Alvin Trevean store, Georgetown

One hundred years ago, on August 24, 1918, Alvin Trevean opened his store in Georgetown, Wisconsin.

 Advertisement from the Cuba City News Herald (August 23, 1918)

Advertisement from the Cuba City News Herald (August 30, 1918)

Trevean operated the store into the 1950s and had retired by the time of his death in 1955.

Photo courtesy of the Smelser Township website.

Advertisement courtesy of the Smelser Township website.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pepsi-Cola Football Program

As Cuba City High School hosts its first football game of the year this evening, let's celebrate with some football memorabilia. This program was from a football game played between Lancaster and Cuba City on October 10, 1947.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Celebration at the Depot

This photograph has captured some sort of celebration or special event, judging by the dress of the people congregating around Cuba City's railroad station. A passenger train can be seen beside the depot and one wall of the Post Office and Farmers Bank/Cuba City State Bank is visible just beyond that on the right. It looks like that building may still be under construction, which would date this photo to around 1907.

Cuba City's railroad station was located in the open area now home to the Presidential Courtyard and caboose.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fire at Brewer Brothers Clothing

On this day, one hundred years ago, a fire broke out in the building housing Brewer Brothers Clothing, the Jacco Drug Store, and the Knights of Columbus club rooms. These were located where the Junque Stops Here is today, in the building next to Nick's Cafe.

The fire alarm was sounded at 3 a.m., summoning the fire department as well as bystanders who helped carry the contents of the clothing shop to safety. The fire originated in the drug store and fortunately the building, though damaged, was saved.

 Cuba City News Herald (August 9, 1918 supplement) 

One week after the fire, the Brewer Brothers published a notice in the Cuba City News Herald, dispelling rumors that their account books had gone up in flames and asking customers to settle their accounts, "as we are very much in need of cash just now."

After settling "satisfactorily" with the insurance companies, Brewer Brothers advertised a fire sale for their "Mammoth $30,000 stock of clothing, hats, caps, shoes, men's furnishings, etc." that survived the fire. They assured customers that, while some goods were damaged by smoke and water, most were unharmed.

 Cuba City News Herald (August 30, 1918)

The business operated out of several different buildings in town until the fire damage was repaired.

Cuba City News Herald (September 6, 1918)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Professor Houseman's Unfortunate Slip

Ninety-five years ago, a terrible accident occurred at Cuba City's sulfuric acid plant located south of town.

 National Zinc Separating Company plant, south of Cuba City

H. V. (Harley Vernon) Houseman, formerly a professor at the State Normal School in Platteville, was working as chief chemist at the acid plant when he came into much closer contact than he would have liked with the subject of his study.

 H. V. Houseman with wife Addie and child. Photo courtesy of Debra Bowers.

The following article describing the mishap was published in several newspapers in the state, including the Badger State Banner in Black River Falls on August 9, 1923:
Prof. Housmann [sic], for the past two years an expert in the making of sulfuric acid at the plant of the National Ore Separating Co., at Cuba City, fell down a flight of stairs while carrying a bucket of acid and the fiery liquid ran over his arms and face. He was removed to his home in a serious condition.
 H. V. Houseman. Photo courtesy of Debra Bowers.

Mr. Houseman survived the spill and eventually moved to California with his family, where he would spend the rest of his life. It seems that he would always have a reminder of the accident, though, as his draft registration card from 1942 noted he had scars on his right arm, chest, and leg.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Infantile Paralysis Strikes Cuba City

One hundred years ago, Cuba City was in the midst of a health scare as infantile paralysis, better known today as polio, affected surrounding communities.

Image courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, ID 2013.3021.03.

On August 1, 1918, a quarantine went into place in Cuba City. The quarantine order below was published in the Cuba City News Herald:
The Board of Health for the village of Cuba City hereby makes the following rules governing the quarantine for infantile paralysis:
1. No children under 16 years of age shall leave the village bound for Dubuque, Galena, New Diggings or any other point where this disease prevails.
2.  No person under 16 years of age shall be allowed to come to the village of Cuba City from a place where infantile paralysis exists.
3. In event of any case or cases of infantile paralysis being found within the village limits the following rule will and shall become automatically and immediately effective: All children under 16 shall remain on their own premises.
 4. The release of quarantine of any district will automatically release these rules in reference to that particular district.
5. Anyone violating these rules will be completely quarantined. These rules go into effect August 1, 1918.
Signed by Board of Health:
One month later, a case of polio was discovered at the James Eddy home in Cuba City and, though it was considered a mild case, schools were closed and anyone under sixteen had to remain in their own homes.

The quarantine was lifted on September 23, and the schools reopened.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Old Jokes from Cuba City Students

To help us celebrate National Tell an Old Joke Day, we have this segment from the Senior Sentinel, a newsletter recapping the 1931-32 school year at Cuba City High School.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Buy a Valiant at Brown Motor Co.

Brown Motor Company was in business for many years in Cuba City. In the early 1960s, many of the company's advertisements, like the one below, were pushing the Plymouth Valiant.

Advertisement from the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (June 22, 1962)

The former location of Brown Motor Co. is now occupied by Hughes Body Shop, across from Thompson's IGA.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cuba Theatre history

Janet Schmieder wrote this history of the Cuba Theatre as a high school student in 1966, when the business was owned and operated by her parents. The movie theater was located at 113 S. Main St., in the building now occupied by State Farm Insurance and Newline Real Estate. This history is packed full of interesting details, so sit back and enjoy! 

Janet Schmieder


The building which is now the Cuba Theatre was built in 1919 by Will Marshall. He built the building to be a meat market, Mr. Marshall was a butcher. The building was two stories and the upper story was built adequately for Masonic Lodge meetings.

Due to old age, Mr. Marshall decided to sell the building. Mr. and Mrs. Skelding bought the building, he remodeled it, and turned it into a theatre. The dark green carpeting which was put into it came from the Morrison Hotel in Chicago.

The theatre opened in 1936, this was quite an event for Cuba City to have a theatre. Cuba City had a big celebration opening day. The band played, a platform truck was placed in front of the theatre, and speeches were given by almost every fraternal order in Cuba City. There were very large crowds opening night.

After two or three years, Mr. Skelding decided the building wasn't big enough but didn't have the money to build on. At this time the theatre contained approximately 200 seats. He sold half interest to Henry Kellner, and added room for about 100 more seats. Later Kellner bought out Skelding's interest.

It may seem funny to us today, but the theatre didn't allow popcorn or candy into the building, none of the theatres at this time allowed eating inside.

In 1944 or 1945, the movie industry put on a promotion drive. The slogan was "Movies are Better Than Ever." There was a big parade in Madison with many many movie stars. Theatre owners went to find out more and better ways to promote their business. From Madison, movie stars were sent to all the theatres in Wisconsin as a part of the campaign. To Cuba City came Arlene Dahl and Richard Arlen.

On July 1st, 1947, Leo Gohlmann purchased the theatre from Henry Kellner.

Since the Masonic Lodge was no longer in the upper story, Mr. Gohlmann remodeled the upstairs. He divided the area into offices. Doctor King had an office up there and two lawyers by the names of Hillery and Harvey Skewis. The Modern Beauty Parlor was also located in the upper story.

 Cuba Theatre, ca. 1951. Photo courtesy of the City of Presidents.

While Mr. Gohlmann operated the theatre, the prices of the tickets were much less than what they are today. Children's tickets were 15 cents and adult tickets were 35 cents. These ticket prices were raised gradually, and while Mr. Gohlmann had the theatre, adult tickets were raised to 44 cents, the odd number was because of a tax which is no longer on tickets. There was no student ticket price at this time.

Six or eight months after he owned the theatre, Mr. Gohlmann put in a concession stand, since before this they never allowed candy and popcorn into a theatre. The stand was put in circus style with pictures of clowns on one wall and red and white painted accessories. This included a candy counter and a popcorn machine.

To attract more business, Mr. Gohlmann had live attractions on the stage. Such things were held as: 4H club winners showed the ribbons they won; he held a dress-up contest and a bathing beauty contest for children up to twelve years old. He also had a photographer take pictures of babies to be entered in a Most Beautiful Baby contest and showed these pictures on the screen as an added attraction.

Often Mr. Gohlmann held special showings of certain movies for the nuns, free of charge, who lived in the surrounding towns. He said he often filled the theatre with sisters.

 Cuba Theatre, ca. 1953. Photo courtesy of the City of Presidents.

The movies at this time were almost all black and white, and it was a treat to see a colored movie. The screen that was used then was approximately eight by ten in size.

Among Mr. Gohlmann's employees were: Diane Donohue, Pat Cox, Donna Curtis, and Charolett Kanick who were cashiers. Norma Miller, Donna McCabe, and Patricia Ware worked in the concession stand selling popcorn and candy. Barney Holgraver was a janitor for a short time, but Henry Holt was the janitor almost all the time Mr. Gohlmann owned the theatre. Paul Latham, Bill Honshel, and Paul Cummins operated the projectors, all while he owned the theatre.

In September, 1954, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Schmieder bought the theatre from Leo Gohlmann.

The businessmen in Cuba City put on a free show for the grand opening. The theatre had always been open every night as a general rule, but after owning the theatre awhile, they decided it would be better to have a show five days a week, Sunday Matinee, Sunday Evening, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. But later, it was reduced again to what we have now, operating only on weekends.

 Cuba Theatre movie poster, ca. 1955.

In the year 1956, the cinemascope lense was put in new and a new giant screen which covers the front from wall to wall. In order to do this, the heating duct work had to come up through the roof and over the roof and then back in again, so as not to interfere with the screen.

At about the same time, the upstairs was remodeled and made into two apartments, one apartment is small, two rooms, bedroom, and living room with a small kitchenette and small washroom, this apartment is in the front facing Main Street. The back apartment is larger with two bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchen, a bath, and a room for a washer and dryer. Both apartments were fully furnished.

Coupon printed in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, December 1, 1957.

In about 1958, new carpeting was required for the main aisle in the seating section.

The people who worked for Mr. Schmieder were, starting with the cashiers: Pat Cox, Norma Miller, Charolett Kanick, Judy Dawson, Marie McWilliams, Carol Schmieder, Mary Jean Chunk, Jo Anne Alt, Sandy Fiedler, Peggy Speth, and Carol McWilliams. Those who worked in the concessions were: Nippy Harty, Iva Andrews, Joan Udeloven, Joyce McWilliams, Carol Schmieder, Janet Schmieder, and Becky Loeffelholz. Projectionists were: Paul Cummins, Bill Honshel, Arnie Alt, Bob Boyd, Junior Marzofka, and Ken Booth. Cleaning ladies were: Mrs. Schulte, Mrs. Munyon, Mrs. Belken, Mrs. Shinn, and Mrs. Lewis & daughter.

When Ed Schmieder first owned the theatre, he used to send out free tickets for patrons' birthdays. He kept a record of everyone's birthday. This soon became very difficult because of the increasing population and the increase in postage rates.

The price of tickets ranged from 15 cents for children and 35 cents for adults, when it was first purchased. Later, a student price was started which was about 35 cents. These prices were raised slightly whenever an extra special movie was shown. The prices rose a small amount at a time till they reached 75 cents for adults, 60 cents for students, and 35 cents for children.

At Christmas time every year, the businessmen in Cuba sponsored about four free shows the Saturdays before Christmas. On the Saturday before Christmas, Santa Claus appeared in front of the theatre to hand out free bags of hard candy and peanuts to every child.

Over the years, now and then, Ed Schmieder would hold special free showings of some movies the nuns might enjoy. Some of these were Lilies of the Field, The Nun's Story, and Mary Poppins.

Just last summer, about one hundred seats were recovered with blue vinyl. These seats were taken out a few rows at a time and taken over to Dubuque to an upholsterer. There were other minor fix-ups also, such as painting.

The newest in store for 1966 is complete recarpeting.

 Cuba Theatre movie poster, ca. 1967. Courtesy of David Schmieder.


1. Mr. Leo Gohlmann, Madison, Wisconsin

2. Mr. Ed Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

3. Mrs. Ed Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

4. Record books

5. Janet Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

6. Carol Schmieder, Dubuque, Iowa

Thank you to Janet (Schmieder) Simonian for sharing this information-packed history, and thank you to David Schmieder for the image of the Cuba Theatre poster. Thanks also to Carol Hendricks and Patty Holt for helping with this project!

Friday, July 6, 2018

1918 Movie Reviews, Courtesy of the Loeffelholz Brothers

What movies were Cuba City residents watching one hundred years ago?

Thanks to the film industry publication, Motography, it's possible to find out. Motography had a section called "What the Picture Did For Me," where theater owners commented on films and how they were received in their town. The reviews were meant to help other theater owners decide which films to select.

Cuba City's "theater" operators at the time--Charles and George Loeffelholz--were frequent contributors of movie reviews.  The Loeffelholz Brothers operated the Auditorium entertainment venue above their Ford garage ca 1917-1926. The building still stands on Main Street, across from City Hall.

 Image from the Cuba City Centennial history.

The following films played at Cuba City's Auditorium and were reviewed by the Loeffelholz Bros. in the March 23-June 29, 1918 issues of Motography:

The Price of Silence, with Dorothy Phillips -- "A fine picture. You can get the crowds with this."

The Slacker, with Emily Stevens -- "This picture broke all records. You cannot get another picture to beat it. Boost it big."

The Heart of Nora Flynn, with Marie Doro -- "A good picture. Film in good condition."

The Call of the Cumberlands, with Dustin Farnum -- "A good picture. This kind draws well."

Pudd'nhead Wilson, with Theodore Roberts -- "It's a great picture. A southern story, and it draws well."

Souls Triumphant, with Wilfred Lucas and Lillian Gish -- "If you book this picture, you can't go wrong. If you want good pictures, book Triangle features."

Sweetheart of the Doomed, with Louise Glaum -- "A splendid picture. Star excellent. This is Miss Glaum's very best."

The Desert Man, with W. S. Hart -- "It's a whirlwind. Book any of the Triangle Hart pictures and you can get the people into your theatre."

The Little American, with Mary Pickford -- "The best Pickford picture we ever received."

Draft 258, with Mabel Taliaferro -- "It's great. Boost it big."

Helene of the North, with Marguerite Clark -- "Although an old release, this picture is a good one."

Flame of the Yukon, with Dorothy Dalton -- "This is much better than The Spoilers. There is a real fight in it, too."

Time Lock and Diamonds, with William Desmond -- "A fine picture."

Wolf Lowry, with W. S. Hart -- "This is a good picture but not so good as other Hart releases."

The Bad Boy, with Robert Harron -- "A picture that every father, mother, son and daughter should see."

American, That's All, with Jack Devereaux -- "Full of mirth and pep."

The Clodhopper, with Charles Ray -- "A good picture, full of comedy."

Madcap Madge, with Olive Thomas -- "A good picture."

In Again, Out Again, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "It's great, chuck full of comedy."

Pride of the Clan, with Mary Pickford -- "The poorest Pickford picture we have received."

Destiny, or the Soul of a Woman, with Emily Stevens -- "A good picture. Good print."

The Food Gamblers, with Wilfred Lucas -- "A good picture, patriotic."

Borrowed Plumage, with Bessie Barriscale -- "Play O. K. but these costume pictures do not take."

Sudden Jim, with Charles Ray -- "A fine production. Ray has a chance to show his skill."

Wild and Woolly, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "A good picture and it drew a big crowd. Everybody pleased."

Snow White, with Marguerite Clark -- "A good children's play but does not please the older folks."

Rough House, with Roscoe Arbuckle -- "The best Arbuckle received here so far."

Master of His Home, with William Desmond -- "A good gold mining story. Triangle surely have the best of pictures."

Paddy O'Hara, with William Desmond -- "A war feature. Fine production and film good."

Golden Rule Kate, with Louise Glaum -- "A good western feature. Film in good condition."

Madame Bo-Peep, with Seena Owen -- "A fine feature. Scenes laid in the east and out west."

Wooden Shoes, with Bessie Barriscale -- "A fine Dutch picture. Scenery fine. Scenes laid in Holland."

The Americano, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "The best of Fairbanks' Triangle pictures. Drew a good crowd."

Back of the Man, with Dorothy Dalton -- "A good moral play."

Princess of the Dark, with Enid Bennett -- "The poorest of Miss Bennett's features."

The Square Deal Man, with W. S. Hart -- "A fine western feature. It pleased best of any of Hart's Triangle pictures."

The Iced Bullet, with William Desmond -- "A good mystery picture."

The Girl Glory, with Enid Bennett -- "A good picture. If you want good crowds, use Triangle features."

The Spirit of the Red Cross -- "The best picture of its kind we have shown. Two reels are not enough for a picture like this."

The Dumb Girl of Portici, with Pavlova -- "Look out for this. It's very poor."

The Little Yank, with Dorothy Gish -- "A picture of the Civil War. Pleased well."

They're Off, with Enid Bennett -- "A good race track story. It's a pleasing picture."

The Gun Fighter, with W. S. Hart -- "Not as good as Hell's Hinges and former pictures."

Jim Bludso, with Wilfred Lucas -- "Lucas has good drawing power."

Civilization -- "A good picture but we would rather have a picture like The Slacker.

Pendleton Round-up -- "A poor print, too dark."

Luke's Lively Life, with Lonesome Luke -- "The best comedy we have received for a long time."

Wee Lady Betty, with Bessie Love -- "A good Irish picture."

Grafters, with Jack Devereaux -- "Excellent."

The Fighting Trail,  with William Duncan -- "The best serial we ever ran. We have run episodes one, two, and three, but we can judge from this what kind of picture it is."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tucker's Tavern

Take a trip down memory lane with this photo collection. Tucker's Tavern was owned and operated by Albert and Leone Droullard and later, Walter and Maxine Droullard. It was located in the building now occupied by Hindu's Corner Bar, at the intersection of Main and Webster Street. Very few of the people in these photographs have been identified, so please share if you recognize someone!

 Walter "Tucker" Droullard (left), Maxine Droullard (center).

Walter "Tucker" Droullard in coat, with cigarette.

Maxine Droullard.

According to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald's classifieds, it looks like Tucker's Tavern got a new back bar and stools in 1967, which could have been the reason for these photos.

 Maxine Droullard

 Maxine Droullard

 Sylvester and Pearl Banfield seated at the bar.

 Maxine Droullard.

 Maxine Droullard

Tom Droullard seated at bar. 

 Thank you to Steve Murphy for his help in sharing these photos.