History of Brownsville WI
Alfred Brown, who came from England to the U.S. in 1846, brought with him to an 80 acre farm a half mile East of Brownsville in 1850 the first stock of goods sold in the town of Lomira; so he was one of the pioneer farmers and first merchants of the town in this section of the county. He also brought the second threshing machine into the town from Milwaukee, which he used with horses bought in Chicago. The station and Village of Brownsville was named in his honor in April 1878. Thetis Station was the name given to the depot. It was a stopping point for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Later it was changed back to Brownsville.
Some of the first business places were a hotel, a post office and hall owned by Peter Netsinger; butcher shop and slaughter house owned by John Fund; cheese factory owned by Bartol Jonely; a bowling alley and tavern owned by Peter Genger. Mr. Hartseim had the elevator and later P.H. McCarty built the lumber yard and purchased the elevator from Mr. Hartseim, which was then purchased by O.M. Jacobson in the 20’s. Frank Bauer was a shoe maker and had a general store in connection with his shoe shop. The fire hall was a small building on the site which later was occupied by the Bloohm and Rousseau hardware store; it was here that the organization meeting was held in 1908 to start a bank. The bank was built in 1909 and in the fall of 1909 was open for business, the capitol stock being $15,000. Herman Schultz was elected cashier, P.H. McCarty was President and Bartol Jonely was Vice-President. The directors were McCarty, Jonely, Schultz, Charles Kuen, Henry Rosenkranz, and E.H. Lyons.
The St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and parsonage were built in 1884 just east of the cemetery. The parsonage was destroyed by fire on Sept. 9, 1905. A new church was built in 1915. The old church was sold to Frank Bretzke who moved it to the Village Hall. At that time it was used as a theatre. Later he moved the building to his photo studio at 703 Main Street.
Adolph Raasch operated a wagon shop and August Schultz was the village blacksmith. Chris Raasch had a harness shop and a barber shop.
The first cheese factory owned, operated by Bartol Jonely was purchased by Fred Indermuehle who in 1934 sold it to the J.R. Tolibia Co.
The fire department was organized Oct. 7, 1912. It consisted of a hook and ladder wagon and a hand operated water pump. The first mechanized truck was bought in 1931. Later the equipment consisted of a 350 gallon per minute pumping capacity Studebaker truck and a 500 gallon per minute pumping capacity Ford truck with a number of water tanks to supply water to farm fires.
In the summer of 1923 Keith Setser approached a group of men interested in the pea canning business. Late in the summer of 1923 the Brownsville Canning Co. was organized with Dr. R.G. Raymond as president, Keith Setser as Vice President and Manager, and P.H. McCarty as Secretary and Treasurer. In the following years they purchased Reeseville, Hustiford, Iron Ridge and Woodland companies. In the later years they were sold and used as foundries, etc. not for canning. In 1952, peas, beets, carrots and potatoes were still being canned in Brownsville.
In 1942, a group of bowling minded people got together and purchased the tavern and hall from Jennie Uhrling and organized the Community Club and bowling alleys. This was completed for the fall of 1944 and the new 8 alleys were ready for the bowlers. The first operator was Bill Kuen tending bar and Wally and Easie Haberkorn taking care of the alleys. Then Gusty Hoff moved into the living quarters and operated the tavern and alleys. This being a non-profit organization it was voted on at the annual meeting in December of 1945 to sponsor a public library for the people of the community. There being no available place to house a library this project wasn’t completed until November 1949 when a new building was erected in connection with the Village pump house. Dora Bloohm, Marie Czoschke, Ann Jacobson, Bette Kuen and Sylvia Rosenkranz were appointed by the club directors to prepare the books for the library and maintain it.
Due to the condition of many of the wells in the Village, it was voted by referendum to build a sewage disposal plant and drill a well. The village was not incorporated, so a Sanitary District was created in 1947 with Fred Kemmel, Harold McCarty and Alton Rosenkranz as officers. Bonds were “floated” sewerage and water installed.
In the fall of 1952 a move was made to incorporate the village. After posting the proper notices the caucus and nominations were held. The village became incorporated on December 23, 1952. The census at the time of the referendum vote was 263 and the result of the vote at the special election held December 16 was 110 in favor and 5 opposed. The following were elected officers: President – O.M. Jacobson; Trustee – Chas. M. Bloohm; Trustee – Arnold O. Ewerdt; Clerk – Karl Pieper; Treasurer – Hubert W. Rusch; Assessor – J.G. McCreery, Constable – Martin Beck; Supervisor – Fred A. Kemmel.