From Prussia to Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Herman A. Schlegelmilch was born in 1830 in the city of Suhl, Thuringia. Thuringia was then part of Prussia, and is a present state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Living in a city with a long history of gun manufacturing provided Herman the perfect opportunity to apprentice himself in his city’s trade. At the age of seventeen he left home as a Journeyman Gunsmith, and worked in various cities in the region for the next 6 years. In 1853 he sailed from Hamburg for New York City on the Talleyrand. Herman found work in New York, Bethlehem, PA, and Chicago, IL, before opening a gun shop in Beaver Dam, WI, in 1855.
In the same year Herman set out for New York, Augusta Krueger left Domitz, the Prussian town in which she was born in 1832, and sailed for New York with her brother Adolfhold and his wife Nannie who had been visiting family in Domitz after moving to America. She lived, for a short time, with a couple in Watertown, Wisconsin, before moving to Milwaukee where she supported herself by doing light housekeeping and sewing. At the reported urging of her father in the “homeland”, she moved to Beaver Dam to live with her unmarried brother Ferdinand. With Augusta keeping house Ferdinand was able to rent out a few rooms.
On Palm Sunday of 1858, Herman and Augusta were married. Their first child, Dora, was born in June of 1859, and in the summer of 1860 the family moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, where Hermann spent a few months as a grocer. In the autumn of 1860 Hermann moved the family to Eau Claire, WI, where he opened a gun shop.
A Home Across Generations
The family took residence in the same building as Hermann’s gun shop when they arrived in Eau Claire, and continued to live in that building after Herman built a brick building for the gun and hardware shop in 1866. In 1869 the building they were living in was destroyed, along with the rest of the city block, by fire.
After the fire, Herman purchased a 1½ story frame house at 517 South Farwell Street in downtown Eau Claire, and moved in with Augusta and their four children – Dora, Louise, Emelie, and Herman F. In 1871 a two-story west wing made of brick was added to the house. Eda, the only of the Schlegelmilch children to be born in the house, was born in 1873. She would pass away at the age of 19 after contracting Typhoid fever on the return trip from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Herman Schlegelmilch passed away in 1903 leaving the house to his three daughters, and the hardware business to his son. In 1906 Louise remodeled the family home by replacing the older frame section of the house with a brick wing, moving the front entry from the busier Farwell Street to Lake Street, installing plumbing, and adding combination gas and electric lighting.
Augusta passed away in 1923, and in 1926 Emilie left the home moving to Saint Paul, MN. Dora had left in 1886 after marrying John C Barland, and Herman F. moved out in 1903 after marrying Kate Chadwick.
Never married, Louise kept in close contact with her sister’s and brother’s families. She would often open her home to relatives for extended periods of time, sometimes even offering them permanent residence. After Louise’s death in 1948 the house eventually passed to Louise’s niece, Agnes (daughter of John C. and Dora Barland). Barland nieces and nephews frequently lived at the house from 1930 to 1977 when Herman and Augusta’s granddaughter, Agnes Barland McDaniel, gave the house to the Chippewa Valley Museum.