Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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SURING SCHOOL DISTRICT LOCAL HISTORY
1979
Page 11
Page 12


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THE SURING FIRE
Nineteen-hundred eight was the year of the big Suring fire which wiped out a considerable part of the south side of Main Street. It was about 8 o'clock on the evening of January 30 that fire, starting from an overheated stove, broke out in the cigar shop operated by Al Schultz.
The cigar shop was an addition on the east side of the building known as Liberty Hall, which had been erected in 1901 by Jim Johnson and Nels Nelson. Liberty Hall, which housed a store on the first floor operated by William Wagner and E.R. Buss, stood where the Farmer's Store now stands and the cigar shop was located on the present "Peggy's Pub" site. Above the store was a large hall from which the building received its name.
Mrs. Elsie Nelson, wife of Andrew Peter Nelson.
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Peter Nelson and family was one of the first families to settle in this community.
The Nelsons came here from Denmark, Europe in the year 1881. They built a log cabin behind the present Eugene Detert and Alien Urbanek homes just east of the Village of Suring. This was a homestead and the country was a wilderness at that time. There was a smal! settlement at Frostville but nothing in Suring until Joe Suring built his sawmill the same year. The homestead was about one half mile from what is now the Village of Suring and part of the farm is now annexed to the village.
The Nelson family lived in this log cabin until the year 1900 then built one wing of the present Urbanek home and moved into it.
Their son Franz Nelson married the former Matilda Hansen of Oconto in May, 1900. He and his new bride moved into the log cabin where they lived until 1905, when they built a new home. This house, which was enlarged in 191fi, and the property which now includes part of the MaVaGoCo Golf Course was owned by Franz Nelson until 1945 when it was sold to Frank Saletri.
Fire spread rapidly from the burning cigar shop and completely destroyed Liberty Hall as well as William Zingler's Furniture Store to the east of it, and a store located where the bank now stands. This store was being operated at the time by Valentine Deeringer and William Thielke.
To the west of Liberty Hall, and on the present grocery store department site of the Suring Farmers Mercantile Company, John Dieck had built a fire-proof hardware store. That building, in spite of the fact that the fire ruined it badly, stopped the destructive flames from spreading further westward along the street.
The residents of the village organized a bucket brigade, but they were practically helpless in battling the flames, in their attempt to save the village. A volunteer fire department, with John Dieck as its first chief, had been organized that same year. And, a pumper had been purchased and was on its way from the factory to the village. But that was of no help to the fire-fighters on the evening of January 30,1908.
After the fire had claimed its share of the buildings and the debris had been cleared away, work was begun on rebuilding the destroyed area. John Dieck rebuilt his hardware store, the present grocery department of the Farmer's Mercantile Company. The present building housing the dry goods department of the same company replaced Liberty Hall. It was built by Matt Wagner, Senior. Jim Johnson replaced the cigar shop with a fireproof structure known as the Klondike. On the corner of the block, the present bank building was erected by William Thielke in 1908. And in the same year, he organized and incoporated the Suring State Bank, of which he was elected cashier.
Mr. & Mrs. Franz Nelson - May 30.1900
Franz Nelson was the first milk man in Suring in the early 1900's. He would haul the milk into town in large cans on the back of a wagon. He would ring a small bell and customers would come out of their homes with containers and Mr. Nelson would fill the containers with milk from the milk cans. Later he put the milk in jars and brought it into the village and sold it.