Christian Weber & Anna Kaiser Biography
Webertown and It’s Founder, Christian Weber
by Patti Laessig, firstname.lastname@example.org
On the south shore of the river’s bend, in the heart of central Wisconsin, a Germany family migrated, becoming the first white family known to settle on this bank of the Big Eau Pleine River. It was January 17, 1881.
Occasional visitors were the Indians who meandered the age-old trails of their ancestors that eventually became the roadways between settlements. Their nearest neighbors on both sides of the river, were Indians.
Forests of huge pine had been harvested by Doud, Weeks, or McMillan Lumber Companies all around. Left were the hardwoods like birch, elm, oak, maple and hemlock. Christian Weber had purchased land in this wilderness, where he would build a saw mill, and make a life for himself and his family, in this new land far from his birthplace of Saarburg, near Trier Germany.
Around the year 1856, Christian came to America with his father Michael, and Mother Elizabeth (Kaiser) Weber and his brothers and sisters. They settled in Manitowoc County, near what is now Cleveland. In 1872 Christian married Anna Kaiser, daughter of Andreas Kaiser and Magdelena Esslinger Kaiser who had also immigrated from Trier. After 24 years in Ashford, Fond du Lac County, Andreas left his eldest son Nicholas (from his first marriage to Maria Kaiser nee Kaiser who had passed away) to carry on, while he sought to purchase cheaper land in the north for his younger sons.
Also migrating from Cleveland, Wisconsin was Michael B. Wagner, whose parents Michael and Susanna Fischbach Wagner came from the Grand Duchy Luxembourg. Michael Wagner purchased land also, in what had become known as the Weber Settlement or Webertown.
On the north bank of the river, Edward Laessig, a native of Saxony, and his wife Jeanette Baenen Laessig of s’Hertogenbosch, Holland, migrated from near Green Bay. Their daughter Augusta, became the wife of Michael B. Wagner. Their son Frank married Christian Weber’s daughter, Mary after the death of his first wife, Mary Sawyer, daughter of Joseph Sawyer. Daughter Philomena "Minnie" Laessig married Henry Weber, brother of Christian who like his brother had come to the north and built a home of logs in the wilderness. The other children of Christian Weber and Anna Kaiser Weber were as follows: Andrew Weber who married Amy Thompson, daughter of Fredrick J. and Susan M. Simmons Thomson; Henry Weber who married Mary Schmidtke, daughter of Edward and Rose Nickdem Schmidtke; Lorenz (L.B.) Weber who married Jenny Hughes, daughter of Thomas and Hannah Fitzgerald Hughes; Peter Weber who married Clara Krueger, daughter of Fred and Emelia Tiemer Krueger; Johnny, Jeanette "Nettie" Weber who married Max Polege, son of Julius and Louise Usadel Polege; Magdelena "Lena" Weber who married DeWeine Reed, son of Ezra and Nora Phely Reed; Katherine "Katie" who married Charles Kohl, son of John and Sarah Wallpole Kohl; and Jake who died very young.
All the original dwellings were built of logs cut from the forest, but with the operation of the Weber Saw and Shingle Mill, cut lumber became available.
Henry Weber, a carpenter, also helped operate a boarding house for his brother, Christian, who held the position of Post Master. Brother-in-law, Jacob Kaiser, a livestock dealer, was the mail carrier for the March Express from Webertown, March and Unity, while Andrew Kaiser ran the saloon, and another brother Lawrence was shoe maker. Joseph Sawyer was blacksmith; V.G. Chrouser plasterer and Justice; Peter Doctor, shoemaker and road builder; John Filen, painter; Fred Osee, carpenter and mason, Ed Polege, brick manufacturer; Michael .B. Wagner, general store and saloon; Edward Laessig, stone mason, farmer and first elected Town Chairman of Eau Pleine Township when it was established in the spring of 1885, separating from the town of Brighton. Other early settlers included the names Boland, Brandt, Fromberger, Hazelton, Helmke, Lawyer, Quinelle, Steiner and Walter.
Important as livelihood to the settlers was religion. After years of meeting in private homes it was decided to build a church in 1884. Holy Trinity, named after the home parish in Trier, was built on four acres donated by Michael Wagner. The 24 x 60 ft. frame building and adjoining bell tower of lumber from the Weber mill was completed in 1887. Christian Weber and Andreas Kaiser were the first trustees. Father Ignatius Schaller of Marshfield helped organize the parish which consisted of about 70 Catholic families, including names such as Carl, Fingstel, Hein, Hennes, Hughes, Kieffer, Laessig, McDonald, Ross, Scheigl, Schelb, Schwartz, Simolke, Wenzel and Wesley. Priests from Colby, Marathon City and Rozellville came to offer mass several times each year, until the mission affiliated with St. Andrew’s of Rozellville in 1893 after which regular services were held.
On the northern side of the Big Eau Pleine, and a bit east, the Lutheran settlers established St. Paul’s Lutheran Church along what is now Highway 97. It may have been built on land donated or purchased from Edward Laessig. They built a 20 x 30 ft. structure in 1893. Original members include the names Buddan, Falaskety, Ferminick, Heisdrer, Korham, Kroening, Laessig, Leffel, Lemmer, Polege, Plautz, Radke, Richnow, Teske, Usadel, Zettler, and Zuelke.
In 1880 a school house was built just north of the river. Mary Laessig, who later became Mrs. Emil Ruder (of the George Ruder brewery family in Wausau) was the first teacher. Children from both north and south of the Big Eau Pleine attended, so a swinging footbridge was constructed by Christian Weber.
Webertown was a thriving community until the arrival of the Chicago and North Western Railway which attracted the young, ambitious lumberman, W. D. Connor who in 1891 established the village of Stratford, named after his hometown in Ontario, Canada.
Today, all that remains of Webertown are two old cemeteries, a few stone structures obscured by the terrain, descendants of the settlers, and the ever flowing, meandering waters of the Big Eau Pleine.
Copyright January 7, 2001 Patti Laessig
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