The Northern Railway
VISIT TO CEDARBURG
Meeting at Turner Hall - Speeches by the Hon. O. H. Waldo, Edward D. Holton, Councilor
Hilbert, and Supervisor Walters
(The Milwaukee Sentinel, Monday 16 May 1870)
Transcribed and contributed by Carol Boettcher
On Saturday morning the special Committee of the County
Board, together with a number of prominent citizens and the representatives of the
press, left City Hall in carriages to attend the railway meeting at Cedarburg, in
response to an invitation from the Supervisors of that place.
The party consisted of Supervisors Hyde, Douglas, Walter, Egan, Fink and Billman;
the Hons. O. H. Waldo, E. D. Holton, Senator Deuster, Mayor Phillips, Counselor Hilbert,
and Messrs. James Ludington, Charles Holzhauer, and Frank Charnley.
The press was represented by Col. S. B. Brightman of the SENTINEL, Maj. Cadwallader
of the NEWS, Col. Messervey of the WISCONSIN, Dr. Vette of the HEROLD, and P. V.
Deuster of the SEE BOTE.
ARRIVAL AT CEDARBURG
The party left City Hall at nine o'clock, and after a pleasant ride reached Cedarburg
about noon, where they were received by the Hon. Fred Horn, Fred Hilgen and other
leading citizens and invited into the Horneffer House, where, after a short rest,
they were invited to a good and substantial meal. After the party ahd done justice
to the dinner, they reentered their carriages and were driven to points of interest
in and about the village and its surroundings to Milwaukee River, a short distance
below Grafton. At this point the Hon. Fred Horn gave the party interesting information
in relation to the waterpower of the Milwaukee. From this the party returned to the
village and prepared to attend the railway meeting at Turner Hall.
This creek is a branch of the Milwaukee River, entering a little below the falls
near Grafton, and having a similar fall near the junction, over the same limestone
ledge. It is a rapid stream, supplied chiefly by many copious springs, and had a
crooked and irregular course. It is the outlet of Musquewoc Lake, a beautiful sheet
of water neat the western part of the county, four miles in length, five-eighths
of a mile wide, and nine and one-quarter in circumference. A little above its embouchure
it is confined between high, perpendicular walls. Messrs. Horn and Schleifer have
opened two fine quarries along the south side of its banks. When the railway is completed
they will be able to supply us with both stone and lime. The banks of the creek are
lined with cedars, which accounts for its name.
The town of Cedarburg is situated on Cedar Creek, Ozaukee county, about eighteen
miles north of this city, and has a population of about two thousand souls. The creek
furnishes excellent waterpower, along which several mills are built - among them
the woolen-mill of Hilgen & Wittenberg and the Cedarburg and Columbia flouring-mills,
the latter well-known through their brands. The former employs thirty-five hands
- twenty-three men and twelve women - and daily turns out about five hundred yards
of goods in the line of doeskins, cassimeres, flannels, blankets, jeans, etc. The
mill runs thirteen looms, some of them double-warp, and three spinning-jacks, and
has two sets of cards for custom works. The entire establishment, from basement to
attic, is a model of neatness, and its manufactures, for texture and finish, were
found equal to any in market. Last year the establishment consumed one hundred and
twenty thousand pounds of wool, which was purchased at Milwaukee and Chicago prices,
and turned out two hundred and fifty thousand yards of cassimeres, tweeds and flannels,
and sixty thousand pounds of stocking yarn. The products of the mills are shipped
to various markets in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, and the mill, through the superior
quality of its goods, finds a ready sale for all that it can deliver.
The mill is a handsome and substantial three-story stone building, its white dormer
windows and tower adding greatly to its appearance. A short distance west of it is
the store where the goods are sold, packed and shipped. This is also built of stone
and in a style of architecture corresponding with that of the mills.
Some distance below the woolen mills are the Cedarburg flouring mills, and beyond
the turn the Columbia mills, both establishments of importance. There is also a mill
within a mile of the outlet.
The residents of Cedarburg are all apparently well-to-do - have fine business places,
as well as residences and gardens. A gentleman, an old resident, informed us that
there was not a poor man in the village, and showed us a handsome farm, with a fine
stone residence, and a new one in course of construction on another lot, all the
property of a carpenter, who arrived from Germany, without more than his clothing,
ten years ago. With thrift and temperance, the Doctor said, the village afforded
good mechanics the advantages of a comfortable home and liberal return for their
As an evidence that the town has a metropolitan air, we have but to mention the fact
of having seen Grecian bends and late style coiffures displayed by the ladies,
and a youth of thirty summers propelling a velocipede through the streets at 2:40
On the outskirts of the town, along the line of the Milwaukee road, the Roman Catholics
are erecting a handsome stone edifice in the Romanesque or mixed Gothic and Italian
style of architecture. The cornerstone was to be laid with appropriate ceremonies
on the following day.
The Cedarburgians have created a fine Turner Hall of material from the quarries just
mentioned which has room for eight hundred people, and is fitted up with gallery
and stage. The proscenium of the latter is very creditable. A gentleman informed
us that the society has twenty five active members, and that they varied their exercises
with musical, dramatic and literary entertainments, affording the residents suitable
amusement. We are pleased to learn that the endeavors of the society are liberally
sustained - a fact telling, well for the taste of the burgers.
The meeting took place at the fine hall of the Cedarburg Turners, at three o'clock.
The Hon. Fred Horn nominated Joseph Vogenitz for chairman, which was unanimously
ratified, after which P. K. Gannon, Esq., was appointed secretary.
Mr. Vogenitz, on accepting the position, called the attention of the audience to
the object of the meeting, and invited a discussion upon the importance and value
of the proposed railway, in order that they might vote understandingly on the following
SPEECH OF THE HON. O. H. WALDO
The Hon. O. H. Waldo, being called upon, addressed the people at some length upon
the importance of a railway connection with Milwaukee. American citizens had learned
that no one thing has so much to do with building up a country as the provision of
means for the ready transportation of its products to market. Experience had taught
the people that under the old system of carriage a large portion of the profit on
products was lost to the producer because of the loss of time and expense in getting
them into market. Having learned this it followed that millions of dollars have been
expended in canals and railways, and people everywhere through the length and breadth
of the land were interested in enterprises affording them ready channels for the
transportation of their commodities.
He was pleased to say that the people of Cedarburg had already given evidence of
their desire to keep step with the march of improvement, but was sorry -- extremely
sorry -- that their confidence had been shamefully and disgracefully abused. They
had already given money enough to have given them the railway facilities they so
much desire, had it been honestly applied by those entrusted with its disbursement.
The speaker said that this circumstance was a source of great embarrassment in his
advocacy of the importance of the early construction of the Milwaukee and Northern
Since his arrival in town he had heard it remarked “that the railway men were all
scamps.” Railway men were like other men, and experience had taught him that they
were not all scamps. Cedarburg was not alone the loser by the failure of the former
railway project. Milwaukee had issued bonds in aid of the enterprise, and has now
to pay a tax of $200,000 as the result. But because our people have been overreached,
can they afford to lie upon their backs without ambition to retrieve their losses?
If cattle get into a farmer's field and destroy his crops, would it be wise to refuse
to plant another? Great men never say die - brave men work truer and harder while
under the cloud of adversity.
Very few of the citizens of Milwaukee, he was surprised to find, had a knowledge
of the thrift, wealth and resources of Cedarburg and the surrounding country. With
these advantages it would be unwise in the people to refuse to cooperate in a project
that would advance their interests and enlarge their common wealth. The opening of
the railway would have substantially the effect of moving the village within three
miles of the city of Milwaukee. With prompt cooperation the company would have its
road completed to the village by the Fourth of July, when its opening might be celebrated
upon the banks of Cedar Creek in connection with the anniversary of American Independence.
We intend that the road shall carry the residents of your section to the city and
back on the same day at less expense than they could hitch their teams and drive
it and back. The people of Janesville, Berlin, Ripon, Madison, Monroe and Beloit,
and intermediate stations, can visit the city in the morning, and, after making their
purchases, return in the evening, and it is highly desirable that the residents of
Cedarburg should avail themselves of the same facility of travel and transportation.
A few years ago Ripon was asked to contribute $50,000 to aid in a railway connection
with Milwaukee, and then Ripon was far from being the place it is today. The people
voted the sum, and the result is, she has become one of the important places of the
With a railway, the magnificent waterpower would be of more use and value than if
it lay within the boundaries of the city of Milwaukee, and this because rent is cheaper
and insurance less than in the city.
The city desires to reach you as much as you the city. Milwaukee loses nearly all
the trade between Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan. She desires your trade as well
as that of the cities, towns and country north of this place. To aid the project
the company asks Cedarburg to subscribe $16,000, and Milwaukee $200,000. The latter
it expects to get by an overwhelming vote, say of four to one. The company did not,
as at Ripon, ask Cedarburg, to vote $50,000, although there is no doubt that you
could subscribe that sum if you chose to do so.
The citizens of Milwaukee are deeply interested in the project of this northern railway.
When it was first agitated, the business men of the city formed a Committee on Commerce
and Manufacturers. Under its auspices during the past session of the Legislature,
a very liberal charter was secured, under which a company was organized with such
men as Tweedy, Ricker, Ober, Pfister and Mann at its head. These, together with other
substantial citizens, men not given to railway scheming, have been asked to take
part in this railway enterprise, and will see that every cent subscribed for the
purpose will be properly expended. It was not the part of wisdom to trust men who
had overreached us, and for this reason Milwaukee asks the residents of Cedarburg
to trust the men in whom she has the utmost confidence.
The charter authorizes the company to build as many branches as they may deem advisable
between the Lake and Fox river valley. They will therefore so build a road that it
will draw a large portion of their trade now carried around Milwaukee to Chicago
by the Northwestern Railway, and that this road can successfully compete with that
railway, lies in the fact that it will be sixty miles nearer Chicago. Calumet cannot
go to the lake shore, nor can Sheboygan and Manitowoc go to a road on Lake Winnebago.
Therefore each must have its own road, and the Milwaukee and Northern Railway is
so planned that it shall accommodate both sections. Could a better plan be devised
to divide the business of this country? From the point we purpose to go to the S_______
road, and tap it probably at the Falls and north of that to have the road fork, one
branch to terminate at Manitowoc and the other at some point on the Fox river.
One year from next Christmas we intend to have the road or system of roads completed.
To get out of Milwaukee the company will make use of a portion of the old grade to
this point. We expect to get to Cedarburg within forty days from the time the first
shovel is put into the ground.
Voice - “When the road gets to Cedarburg, we will pay, and not before.”
Mr. Waldo continued - “Next week the people of the town would be called upon to vote
aid to the enterprise, and he knew of no better way to regain a portion of the money
lost by the former railway scheme, than to give the proposed road a hearty endorsement
by voting the aid it solicited. The proposition of the company was a long stride
in advance of the plan by which corporations commenced to build railways twenty years
ago. Then they called for individual subscription, by which liberal men gave too
much, and mean, little or nothing. He had himself lost from six to seven thousand
dollars in the road on which the residents of that section had staked so much. The
plan adopted now-a-days was that of Indiana, Illinois and other states. Roads are
now built by bonds in small amounts given by the cities, towns and counties to be
benefited by their construction. All new roads were built by bonds or land grants
issued by the localities through which they were to pass.
The speaker gave his hearers the assurance that he would not hesitate to vote for
this issue of bonds if he were a resident of Cedarburg. The sum called for would
not exceed thirty-five dollars on each farm in the town. For so wealthy a town as
Cedarburg the tax would prove a very light one. Any one who would take the trouble
to find the number of eighty-acre lots in the town and figure how much the tax would
be would be surprised at its insignificance, and he was sure upon learning it no
farmer would spend a day to oppose the project. The village of Cedarburg was wealthy
enough to vote aid to the railway.
The speaker in conclusion urged an earnest consideration of the proposition, and
called particular attention to the proviso stating that no money shall be called
for until the trains of the road reached the Cedarburg depot.
COUNCILOR HILBERT'S SPEECH
H. J.Hilbert, Esq., President of the Board of Councilors, was next called on for
a speech. Mr. Hilbert said that when he started out with the party of distinguished
citizens of Milwaukee he did not expect to see so large and intelligent an audience
as that before him. He was much interested in the proposed railway to the north through
Cedarburg. He had been engaged in the work of surveying the route between Grafton
and Milwaukee; and was so favorably impressed with the country and its advantages
that he took every opportunity at home to advocate the interests of the road. The
section of the citizens of Milwaukee as well as the press showed the interest manifested
in a railway through the country north of the city. Congress for the past few years
had shown its interest in railway projects by granting lands in aid of the construction
of important roads. Millions of acres of land had been given in aid of roads through
new or sparsely settled sections of country. In older sections of the country aid
must come from the sections to be benefited. Railways cannot be built without the
friendly cooperation of the people, and this cannot be obtained until the matter
is fairly and squarely placed before them, in order that they may see the benefits
to their community. Gentlemen are here to show you the benefits of a railway connection
with Milwaukee, and it remains for you to decide whether the road shall be built
or not. The people of Cedarburg are asked for aid enough to build but three-quarters
of a mile of the road. This is asked more as an evidence of their sympathy and support
than to secure means for the work. By your endorsement of the project, Eastern capitalists
will see that the residents of this section really desire a railway. We of the Council
of the city and the County Board all feel that we are to have one of the finest railways
in the country in that proposed through this section, and want your endorsement of
the project. Railways are forerunner of civilization. On the completion of this railroad
the cars will reach the city in half an hour, enabling the residents of this place
to send their children to the schools of Milwaukee daily. If the residents of Cedarburg
do not place themselves in track of civilization they will miss its advantages.
The speaker said he had been engaged in many railway enterprises in the Northern
states, but had met few places enjoying the advantages of Cedarburg and its vicinity.
It was not fair that so much wealth and so many natural advantages should nat have
the benefit of a railway. While coming out with the Mayor he pointed out the weather-worn
grading of the track of the old road, when gentlemen remarked that it was a shame
that it had been idle so long. Cedarburg held the key to this northern line, and
it was hoped that it would not hinder the work by refusing to vote the paltry sum
of sixteen thousand dollars.
MR. HOLTON'S SPEECH
The Hon. E. D. Holton said he had no expectation of the beautiful ride he had enjoyed
to Cedarburg when he left home in the morning - having accepted an invitation to
fill the place of a citizen unable to come because of illness. He was very happy
to be at Cedarburg, and was agreeably surprised at its growth since his left visit
twenty-five years ago. he then became acquainted with Messrs. Horn, Hilgen, McElroy,
Thomas and others, and since that time, while engaged in business at Milwaukee, had
often conversed with them, but never dreamt that they had built up a beautiful town,
with substantial residences, stores, banks and mills. Here is Mr. Hilgen, with his
family of nine children, hale and hearty, comfortably settled, and the proprietor
of one of the finest woolen mills in the state. The speaker reiterated that he was
pleased to be with this old friends, and stated that his first visit to Cedarburg
was on invitation of Col. Ben. Moore, with whom he had business relations. He made
his way on horseback and spent a very agreeable evening. The mill of Mr. Moore, he
understood, passed into the hands of Mr. Wells.
The speaker informed the audience, though not directly interested in the enterprise,
he was a hearty supporter of the project. To reference to the old road he said that
he was a friend of law and thought it was a great mistake that the assignees or creditors
of that road were allowed to take up their iron and ties. We have slept for fifteen
years, and think it about time to forget disappointment, and carry the work to a
successful issue. the party was not here to take money out of the pockets of the
people. Yonder sits the Mayor of the city -- there the Supervisors, and here the
representatives of the press. They are here for business - none of these men are
The business of this section should go to Milwaukee, where it belonged. Milwaukee
deserved it as the metropolis of the state. When Governor Randall returned from Europe
he visited the residence of Mr. Holton, and during his conversation on matters connected
with his tour on the continent, remarked that after all Milwaukee was one of the
finest cities on the face of the globe. During his late visit to New Orleans the
speaker met Jonathan Taylor, formerly a contractor in the city, and asked him where
he lived. He replied, “Mr. Holton, I live in Milwaukee.”
As he had said before, the citizens of Cedarburg ought to have had the road fifteen
years ago. He was amazingly astonished to find a road graded almost fifteen miles
without taking advantage of it. The people must take this matter into their own hands
- must, in fact, have such control over the road that they can govern the timetable
and send in a number of rapid trains every day. The of sixteen thousand dollars was
a mere trifle to vote in aid of so important as enterprise. There were residents
of Cedarburg who could give fifteen thousand dollars without injuring themselves.
Mr. Holton said he was well acquainted with Mr. Hilbert, engineer of the road, having
known him since the early days of railroading in Wisconsin. he was a prominent citizen
of Milwaukee, and one whose statements of the advantages of the road could be fully
relied upon, because of his great experience in these matters. Cedarburg is called
upon to endorse the project so that capitalism may become interested in the enterprise.
Because we were once the dupes of designing men was no reason why we should allow
a golden opportunity to pass us, especially when the enterprise is in a measure subject
to the control of the people, as in the present case. He would not detain the audience
to argue the advantages of the Northern Railway, more than to say that in case of
its completion, Cedarburg will have a population of five thousand inhabitants, every
man, woman and child adding wealth to the community. the company had a fine depot
in the Second Ward, and the use of four miles of track, which was a glorious beginning
in a new railway enterprise. Mr. Holton gave the people an inkling of the difficulties
experienced in the first railroad enterprise, the Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien
Railway, in which he was one of the prime movers and subscribed five thousand dollars,
half of his fortune at the time. How he went from house to house to solicit aid,
how they fought the sheriffs who were after the company on their short time mortgages,
and held them at bay until the indebtedness of the road was met. He also drew a picture
of the enterprise of the people of mountainous Switzerland.
In conclusion the speaker urged the people to lay aside their prejudices. The businessmen
of Milwaukee were to be met - and they meant business. The men who are at the head
and front of the project are strong and worthy citizens, who will see that every
dollar put into their hands will be spent in the interest of the railway. It remains
for the people of the town to say whether it shall pass through the village or upon
the other side. Sixteen thousand dollars could not be invested in a better or more
profitable way than in subscriptions to the stock of a good railway. The Prairie
du Chien Railway, which cost $8,000,000, now stands on the books of the Milwaukee
and St. Paul Railway Company at $16,000,000, and pays good dividends on that amount.
The speaker thanked the audience for their patience, and urged them to remember and
ponder upon what had been said by the gentlemen who had preceded him.
REMARKS BY MAYOR PHILLIPS
Mayor Phillips was introduced to the people by the Hon. Fred Horn. He said that he
had received rather an unexpected call to visit Cedarburg while engaged at his office
in the morning, and was glad to be present to enter his hearty endorsement of the
gentlemen who had preceded him. He had not as thoroughly posted himself upon the
merits of the route as he should have done, and introduced Supervisor Walters as
one more conversant with the project. Mayor Phillips spoke in German.
SUPERVISOR WALTER' SPEECH
Supervisor Walter gave the audience an outlines of the proposition to the County
Board of Milwaukee. Here the subject had been referred to a special committee of
which he happened to be a member. They held a meeting on Friday afternoon, without
arriving at a definite conclusion. The committee would report at the meeting of the
Board. He did not feel authorized to state what the decision would be. Mr. Walter
spoke in German, and closed his remarks with an anecdote, in which he was an actor
in 1839. He had been out hunting, and while sitting on a log to rest, heard a man
crying as if his heart would break. On investigation he found a countryman sitting
by the roadside blubbering because his team was bemired. Laughing at so ridiculous
a scene, he stirred the countryman to action, and, with the aid of a sapling as a
lever, soon had the fellow on his way whistling at his good fortune. He asked the
audience to apply the moral. If they desired to prosper they must put their shoulders
to the wheel. the happy manner in which Mr. Walter gave the anecdote, and his quaint
way of stating its moral, elicited great applause.
Upon the close of Mr. Walter's remarks the meeting broke up, the party adjourning
to the hotel, where a short time was spent in social intercourse, after which they
repaired to their carriages, which were seen speeding on their way to the city. All
expressed themselves heartily pleased with the trip and their kind reception by the
people of Cedarburg.
(The Milwaukee Sentinel, 6 February 1865)
According to previous notice, a large number of the business men interested in the
water powers on Cedar Creek and the Milwaukee River, met with other citizens, from
the the southern part of Ozaukee county, in the village of Cedarburg, on the evening
of Wednesday, the 1st day of February inst.: and on motion
Frederic Hilgen was appointed Chairman, and P. F. Kaehler, Secretary.
The chairman and others having stated the object of the meeting, a committee of three,
consisting of Messrs. J. W. Horn, Wm. Vogenitz and James Boyd, was appointed to report
resolution, who brought in the following:
Resolved, That the citizens of the southern part of Ozaukee county do hereby
recommend, that if a railroad should be built from Milwaukee to some point northwest
of our portion of this county, that the water powers at and near Cedar Creek and
Milwaukee river be made a point through which said railroad should go; that the water
powers about here are second only to those on the Fox river, in this state, and a
very large business would be done on said road from this neighborhood; that the rail
line to Fond du Lac from Milwaukee strikes only one mile west of the village of Cedarburg,
and that a better or profitable route could be found to make it a paying road.
Resolved, That we most respectfully and ______ request the Legislature go
to dispose of the Land Grant given the State of Wisconsin _____ ____ as to benefit
the State and especially the lake shore and northwestern counties, who are as yet
without railroad facilities, and when we take into consideration, that the northeastern
counties through which the Chicago and Northwestern road now runs, will be under
the control of a monopoly, unless that road is intersected at some point leading
by another route from Milwaukee, it becomes their duty, and is the interest of the
inhabitants of that portion, to assist ___ in building the road from Milwaukee.
Resolved, That our Representatives in the Legislature are requested to act
in conformity of the views expressed in the foregoing resolutions.
After a short discussion, said resolutions were unanimously adopted, and the meeting
adjourned for further action until Monday evening next at seven o'clock at the same
FREDERIC HILGEN, Ch'n.
P. F. KAEHLER, Sec'y.
Return to Ozaukee Places page
Return to Ozaukee County Main