Contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl

Section II of the blog deals with the turn of the Century in rural German America.  Part 3 serves to introduce the generation that came of age in the 1890s, grandchildren of the immigrant pioneers.

Their daily work, social lives, births and deaths, religion, and the building of a fortune will form the core of the story in future posts to the blog about this period of time.

The homes and standards of living in the years immediately after immigration were modest in size and quality. Even though land was comparatively cheap, farming required great expense for buildings, implements, horses, cattle, and other livestock. Money was invested in the farm, and it took quite a few years before there was enough profit to enhance life with amenities and to even consider building a modern house.

The focus narrows to two families:

Nieman: Joachim and Marie Niemann, the immigrants, used their profits to pioneer numerous farms. Their eldest son, Johann, stayed put on Pioneer Road (see map below) in Cedarburg.  Johann married Sophie Fromm, Johann and Johanna Fromm’s eldest child and only surviving daughter. The young couple invested their profits in improvements, creating a particularly lovely farmstead

Lüders:  The immigrants Johann Lüders Sr. and his wife, Eva Dorothea, put their profits into expansion of their holdings in Cedarburg Township.  By 1873 total holdings in the Lüders name amounted to 260 acres, perhaps the largest estate in the township at the time. Johann and Eva Dorothea sold 80 acres to their son Joachim on October 19, 1869.

The family disasters that hit the Lüders (See: Luders – Success, Tragedy, Grief, Perseverance) sapped their aggressive optimism. Although Johann and Eva’s son, Joachim, was a pillar of the community and church, Joachim’s ambition seems to have been understandably quenched by the deaths over seven years of his first wife and each of their three children. Joachim’s second wife, Albertina Brüss, had immigrated with siblings; their parents were deceased in Germany. Expansion of Joachim’s farm (see map below) had to wait until his youngest son, William, took over.

Map - Cedarburg 1873-4_010 blog PTII copy2


Johann had a friend and neighbor named Arndt (80 acres abutting Johann on the NE corner of Nieman land – see map above) who was very fond of Sophie Fromm. The distance by horse and buggy from Johann’s Cedarburg farm to Sophie’s home on Glacier Drive northwest of West Bend, Wisconsin was nearly 23 miles which was considerable for a team of horses pulling a buggy (4 mph for a walking horse plus stops – horses aren’t machines and need rest).


So he asked Johann to come along to keep him company. Johann said he would.  In time consumed that trip would be akin to traveling the breadth of Wisconsin today, but on a dirt road behind a team of horses.  The two men must have been very tired and dirty when they showed up on Sophie’s doorstep.

distance nieman to fromm 2.JPG

Niemans’ had orchards early in their life on the farm and Johann took along a bushel of his best apples. He and Sophie hit it off and friend Arndt lost out. “All is fair in love and war,” and those of us who are descended from Johann and Sophie are quite grateful for this turn of events. Arndt’s reaction and whether or not they remained friends is not recorded!

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Johann Nieman
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Sophia Fromm on the right

It would have been very difficult for Johann, a farmer, to make frequent trips to see Sophie. Very likely, these photos of Johann and Sophie were taken and exchanged at a point when they had become very fond of each other. The original photos are daguerreotypes, a primitive, complex, and expensive but beautiful process with wonderful rendering of subtle details. The photos would not have been taken as a casual matter. Date – maybe 1864-5.  Johann’s grandfather died in 1865 and Johann’s parents, Joachim and Marie, headed north to Hamburg, Wisconsin, with their other children for more pioneering.  Johann must have had a lonely life with the sudden absence of that clan filling the house on Pigeon Creek.  He and Sophie were married on September 16, 1866.

Carl (Charlie) and John Nieman Jr.

Sons Carl (Charlie) on the left and John Jr. on the right were born to Johann and Sophie in 1869 and 1868 respectively.  Judging from the size of the boys, the photo was likely taken in the mid-1870s.

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Sophie and Johann Nieman with daughter Augusta (b. 1874), photo 1876
Last child, Alvina Nieman, b. 1877

The photo appears to be a Lutheran confirmation picture.  Alvina would likely have been around 13 or 14 years old, which would date this image to about 1890-91.

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The above image has been seen in every post on this blog.  The children were born in this Germanic pioneer home on Pigeon Creek and the family lived there until 1885 when their new home was completed.  Photo – 1890s, sisters Alvina on the left and Augusta on the right.


This image has been seen in recent posts on the header.  By 1885, Johann II and Sophia were in their 40’s, had established their family of four, and were prospering. They completed their new home on Pioneer Rd. that year at a cost of $1680.53. Included in this figure were the following items: lumber $844.85, carpenter $225.00, mason $175.00, and painter $145.00, which together accounted for $1,389.85 of the total!   Photo 1890s


WIS SLIDE NIEMAN OLD IMG3033 copy resize blog
L-R: Alvina, Charlie, Augusta
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Johann and Sophie

This lovely, carefully composed winter photo clearly shows great and justifiable pride in the beauty of their new home. Alvina, Charles, and Augusta are in the sleigh, and Johann and Sophia are at the fence. Since then, the house has been only moderately modified and remains in the Nieman family.


Note also the farm buildings which are comparatively new.

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Sophie and Johann with their children, Alvina, Augusta, Charlie, and John Jr. in about 1900.

The children’s stories include:

  • Alvina – flight to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – avoidance of religious conflict
  • Augusta – married William Lueder, nine children, one starved to death, and a second died of whooping cough
  • Charlie – courted his wife for eight years and wondered why she was in such a hurry when she pushed to get married
  • John – catastrophe and a fortune


Fig 006 0002 05 eIMG0002 Joachim & Albertina Lueder & family (3)

This photo has been seen in previous posts.  It is the only known picture of Albertina and Joachim with their children, L-R: Martha, William, Albert, and Otto in about 1879 – 80.  Joachim and Albertina’s first child, Albertina Jr., was born in October, 1864 and died in July, 1866.

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Martha Lueder
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Albert Lueder
Otto Lueder


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William Lueder

Joachim and Albertina’s children as young adults.

Their stories include:

  • Martha – farm wife, young widow, poor
  • William – married Augusta Nieman, migraine on his wedding night, migraines all of his life.  Tough for a dairy farmer.
  • Albert – liked beer better than farming – that was a problem
  • Otto – farmed next door to younger brother William

Fig 028 hp slides 03062013-12  copy

Joachim and Albertina’s home on Bridge Rd., about 1902. William Lueder married Augusta Nieman in 1899 and a few weeks later his father, Joachim passed away. Albertina lived on with the young couple until she died in 1906.  This is the only photograph that we have of their home.

Christ Burns, an Irishman, originally purchased the Lueder’s 80 acres from the U.S. Government in 1850, then sold it to a man named Eichstadt in 1854, who in turn sold it to Johann Lüders Sr., Joachim’s father, on November 10, 1860.  It has remained in the family since that time.

Very likely the stone portion of the cottage was originally Irish, built by Burns.  It was a frequent practice to acquire land, clear it, build a farmstead, and then sell it for the improved value.  This was a form of intelligent real estate speculation meeting the demand for farms created by the large numbers of immigrants coming to the Midwest.

Johann Lüders Sr. bought the farm for his son Joachim. Joachim lived here with Henrietta and their family of three until she died in 1863. He then married Albertina Brüss and they raised their family of four here.  The Victorian section seems to have been added in later years.

Very likely the stone portion of the cottage was originally Irish, built by Burns.  It was a frequent practice to acquire land, clear it, build a farmstead, and then sell it for the improved value.  This was a form of intelligent real estate speculation meeting the demand for farms created by the large numbers of immigrants coming to the Midwest.

Fig 029

As noted above, William and Augusta Lueder were married in 1899. Four years later in 1903, they completed construction of this lovely home on Bridge Rd. at a cost of approximately $3,000. Augusta had a very fine aesthetic touch which is evident.  Photo from 1927.

The old house survives in the new.  The core of the right side of the house is composed of the wooden section of the old house

* * * * * *

As was the case with most Victorian farm homes, it was not insulated. The upstairs north side center room served as a convenient refrigerator in the winter for storage of smoked meats and perishables. It is interesting to note that these young people, only in their late 20’s and with only 80 acres of land for a small dairy farm, could afford such a home at the time. This was not uncommon. Construction material (mostly wood) was abundant, and the forests of Northern Wisconsin were still yielding timber in vast quantities. Land was so plentiful relative to population that fathers often bought farms for their sons.






    1. William Lueder married Augusta Nieman – both are grandchildren of the immigrants, and are part of the current post. William and Augusta were my mother’s parents. Section III dealing with the early 20th Century takes the story down to one family, that of William and Augusta and growing up on a farm with the advent of the gas engine, electricity, phone, auto, etc.


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