Sunday, December 23, 2018

Charles Vieth, the Implement Man

Considering its rural setting, it is no surprise that Cuba City has been home to several farm implement dealers throughout the years. Charles F. Vieth, "The Implement Man," as he is described in the advertisement below, opened his shop on March 1, 1918.

 Advertisement from the Cuba City News-Herald, January 3, 1919.

Vieth published the following in the local newspaper to announce his arrival:
I desire to announce to the public that I have purchased the Farm Implement business formerly conducted by Mr. J. B. Wagner and will continue the same at the old stand across Main Street from the depot. I will handle all kinds of Reliable Machinery, Farm Implements, Cream Separators, Gasoline Engines, Etc., and a full line of repairs of all kinds. Will be ready for business March 1. Your patronage solicited on the basis of reliable merchandise at the right price, and an experience of 13 years in the business. --CHAS. VIETH. (Cuba City News-Herald, February 22, 1918)

 This photograph of Charles Vieth was discovered thanks to a relative on It is also available courtesy of the Monroe County History Room.

As Vieth mentioned, he was no stranger to this line of work. He and his brother had operated an implement business in their hometown of Norwalk, Wisconsin, for many years by the time he arrived in Cuba City.

Charles Vieth stands behind the counter of his implement business in Norwalk, Wisconsin. This photograph was discovered thanks to a relative on It is also available courtesy of the Norwalk Public Library.

Directories and census records suggest that Charles Vieth continued to be involved with the Norwalk operation throughout his time in Cuba City. He had a system in place if he needed to be gone for extended periods of time, as evidenced by this announcement in the local paper:
Chas. Vieth, our popular farm implement dealer, has gone to Norwalk, Wis., for a few weeks visit. During his absence, the keys will be left at the Udelhofen barber shop in case any patrons desire anything. (Cuba City News-Herald, November 29, 1918)
Business must have been going well, because one year after setting up shop in Cuba City, he traded "the old stand," which was probably in the vicinity of the Kwik Trip parking lot, for a sturdier structure. By February 28, 1919, Charles Vieth's implement dealership had changed locations, likely occupying the building that is now home to Tin Lantern Antiques.

 Advertisement from the Cuba City News-Herald, May 23, 1919.

 By March 1921, the business had expanded:
Charles Vieth recently completed the erection of a machinery storage and sales room, 48 by 50 feet, at the rear of his Main Street property and is now ready for the big spring drive soon to be made by neighborhood farmers. (Cuba City News-Herald, March 18, 1921)
At some point in the 1920s, Vieth left Cuba City and returned to Norwalk. He switched from selling farm implements to automobiles and, in his later years, he and his wife, Amanda, ran a nursing home out of their home. Charles Vieth died in 1953.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Is There a Better Car Than the Ford?

Car shopping over the holidays? This hundred-year-old advertisement from Loeffelholz Bros. & Wagner offers some advice. Note the section about limited availability due to the war. The former Loeffelholz Bros. & Wagner building still stands on Main Street today, across from City Hall.

Advertisement from the Cuba City News-Herald, December 20, 1918.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Who's Your Tailor?

Brewer Bros. clothing store appears to have bounced back from their August 1918 fire as they advertise Christmas gift possibilities for everyone in the family.  The business was located at this time where Junque Stops Here is today, in the building next to Nick's Cafe. It later moved to the corner of Main and Clay Street, where Banfield's Beauty Bar is now located.

 Advertisement published in the Cuba City News-Herald, December 20, 1918.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas suggestions from Florine's

This Christmas advertisement must have been a success for Florine's in 1917, because the drugstore used it again the following holiday season.

Advertisement published in the Cuba City News-Herald, December 20, 1918.

Florine's was located in the building now occupied by Subway, on the corner of Main and Clay Street.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wartime Christmas shopping at W. T. Lowe's

Though the war had officially ended, retailers were still bound by wartime regulations for the 1918 holiday shopping season. Shoppers were urged to buy their gifts early to avoid overwhelming businesses unable to hire extra help at this busy time. These advertisements are from W. T. Lowe's, which was located in the First National Bank building on the corner of Main and Clay Street in Cuba City.

 Advertisement published in the Cuba City News-Herald, December 20, 1918.

 Advertisement published in the Cuba City News-Herald, December 13, 1918.

 For more information about the wartime rules for retailers, check out this article from the Library of Congress: Start now, shop early for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

'Rubbering' not allowed

This Christmas advertisement and an accompanying plea from the photographer, B. H. Williams, offer an amusing glimpse into life in Cuba City one hundred years ago.

Advertisement published in the Cuba City News-Herald, December 20, 1918.

As his advertisement indicates, Williams had much to offer potential clients in his photography studio. Unfortunately, he had less control over what was happening outside the studio. The photographer published this announcement one week earlier:
"Children are cautioned against causing a disturbance in front of the photograph gallery or “rubbering” in the windows while patrons are sitting for pictures. Parents are kindly requested to call the attention of their children to this and oblige. B. H. WILLIAMS."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dillon Donohoo Christmas advertising

One hundred years ago, Cuba City residents would have found this Christmas advertisement in the local newspaper. It is from Dillon Donohoo's store, which was located on Main Street, where Antiques and Salvage is today.

Advertisement published in the Cuba City News Herald, December 13, 1918.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

V.F.W. card table, ca 1952

Judging by its wear and tear, this card table once belonging to Cuba City's V.F.W. Auxiliary Post has seen a lot of use over the years. Does anyone remember using a table like this?

The multiple advertisements on the table's surface suggest that it dates back to about 1952. The following businesses and organizations are represented:

Cuba City:
Cuba City State Bank
Meusel's Cafe
Edge Gulf Service
Donohoo Furniture Company
Weber's Cash Market
Don's Tap
Loeffelholz Sheet Metal Shop and Farmers Appliance Store
The Friendly Tap
Farmer's Food Store
Ida's Cafe
Pinch's Super Market
Willey Insurance Agency
The Elmo Club
Dr. M. L. Kaster, Veterinarian
Consumer's Oil Company
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 8318
Fall River Canning Company
Mercury Cleaners
McNett Produce
Cuba City Greenhouse
Ben's Tavern
Florines Drug Store
Modern Beauty Shop
Tuckers Tavern
Kivlahan Coal Company
Fiedler Store
Latham Radio Shop
North Western Hotel & Tavern
Eustice Lumber Company
C. S. King, MD
Porter Coal and Feed Company

Bowl Mor Lanes
Gold Room Cocktail Lounge

Badger State Mineral Water Co.

Mineral Point:
Mineral Springs Brewing Co.

Philipps Distributing Company

Roger's Distributing Company

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

False Armistice, November 1918

At first glance, nothing seems amiss about this issue of the Cuba City News-Herald announcing the end of World War I, one hundred years ago.

But take a look at this newspaper's date: November 8, 1918. This is evidence of the "False Armistice," when inaccurate reports of the war's end spread like wildfire across the United States, days before Germany officially surrendered.

The nation was thrown into a frenzy of celebration, and Cuba City was no different. The News-Herald reported "the ringing of bells and the blowing of whistles," followed by a parade led by the remaining members of the Cuba City Military Band (nearly half of the band members were serving overseas). The procession traversed the city and stopped on Main Street, where revelers listened to patriotic speeches.

It's not clear at what point Cuba City residents learned that their celebrations were premature. The next edition of the newspaper, published on November 15, 1918, described a second round of celebrations that occurred when the true armistice was announced. The news reached Cuba City at around 4:30 a.m. on Monday, November 11. Leery of another false celebration, officials waited for a telegraph confirmation from Baraboo before spreading the word.

"Whistles were blown, bells were rung and citizens generally jumped out of their cozy beds to make merry over the joyous news." Another parade was formed and, after processing through the streets of Cuba City, revelers headed toward the government sulfuric acid plant southeast of town, where they met a celebrating crowd from Benton. The merrymakers returned to Cuba City and then on to Benton and Hazel Green, accompanied by the Benton Band and the Cuba City Military Band.

Speakers of the day included "W. R. Buchan, Dr. Kenny and Rev. Sainty, of Benton; Father Miller of Hazel Green and Father W. A. Banfield of Bankston, and Hon. S. E. Smalley of this city."

The epic day of celebration ended in Cuba City with a free dance at the Auditorium, compliments of the Loeffelholz Bros.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

James Nicholas, Early Resident

For those participating in No-Shave November, this image of early Cuba City resident James Nicholas might provide some inspiration.

James "Jimmy" Nicholas (1840-1906). Image from the Cuba City Centennial history. 

James Nicholas arrived with his parents and siblings in the 1840s, making them some of the earliest European settlers in the Cuba City area. They farmed just southeast of town, near present-day Wiederholt Enterprises and Cole Acres Golf Course.

The Nicholas family originated in Cornwall, but James was born near Cleveland, Ohio, before his parents settled in Wisconsin. 

James Nicholas was a Civil War veteran, though his service was brief. He enlisted in the 96th Illinois Infantry in March 1865, one month before General Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Private Nicholas spent time in Tennessee and Texas, after transferring to the 21st Illinois Infantry, and was discharged from the Army in December 1865. Military records provide fun details about James Nicholas, such as his height (5'7"), eye color (blue), and hair color (red). 

Nicholas was married twice and had six children. He spent most of his life farming but by 1900, he had moved from the farm to Cuba City and was living with his wife and youngest son, Elmer, in the Clemens Street area. He died in 1906, aged 66, and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Mining fever hits Cuba City

The tri-state area was long known for its prosperous lead mines, but by the early 1900s, a new mining boom had gripped the region. Improved technologies allowing miners to reach deeper ore, increased amounts of capital, and a skyrocketing market for another locally abundant mineral, zinc, spurred this new mining frenzy. 

This early image of Cuba City was printed in the Complete Year Book of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa Lead and Zinc Mines, published by Skemp and Conley in 1906. The photograph of Main Street, facing north, captures much of the town's business district, likely in the late 1800s or early 1900s. For a point of reference, H. H. Fiedler's hardware store on the right is Hindu's Corner Bar today.

The Year Book had this to say about Cuba City at this exciting time:
The thriving little town of Cuba City claims the distinction of containing within its immediate environments as many of the larger mining plants as any point in the district. It is a bright business spot in the best end of the zinc range and contains a population of eleven hundred people. The mining boom has struck the town in earnest and the coming summer will mark the construction of several hundred houses and a corresponding increase in population. One of the good features of Cuba City is the fact that it is not compelled to rely upon the mines alone for its thrift, but is in the richest section of the stock-raising district of southwestern Wisconsin. Cuba City is bound to become a prominent point in the new El Dorado.

Cuba City as seen in the accompanying picture is only an illustration of one of its busy days and the merchants and wide-awake citizens who make up its community know no such word as fail.

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.