Contents © 2016 Harold Pfohl

The story of this era is told through the family of William and Augusta Lueder, who were grandchildren of the immigrant families, Fromm, Nieman, Lüders and Brüss.

Click on image to enlarge – Augusta and William Lueder at their wedding in 1899 and 28 years later in 1927 at the wedding of their eldest daughter, Renata

Click on maps to enlarge – The family lived three miles west of Cedarburg on a 135 acre dairy farm.


The children who blessed the marriages at the turn of the century were born into an era of the most profound change.  At the time of their birth and childhood, the Industrial Revolution was affecting virtually every aspect of their lives.

Fig 069 MM 04 hp fam negs 02282013 10 copy.jpg

Augusta and William Lueder and their children, Edgar, Renata, Elda, Viola, Cordelia, Gerald, and Harold   Photo: October 20, 1927, at the Lueder home.  At the time of their wedding they had decided to have two children.  They had nine; two died in infancy.

For William and Augusta, farm and house work were labor intensive.


Source – Sears 1902 catalogue – Bounty Books

Cooking was done on a wood stove.


Click on images to enlarge – Outhouse/privy – Lueders had a two seater.  Severe weather or illness required other means. The commode – “Does not have to be emptied until filled no matter how long it stands.”  ???!!!!  Good grief.

Source – Sears 1902 catalogue – Bounty Books

Click on images to enlarge – There was no plumbing and laundry was still done by hand albeit vastly improved vs the washboards used by their grandparent immigrants.


Source – Sears 1902 catalogue – Bounty Books

Rooms were lit by kerosene and gas lanterns.

The industrial revolution was progressing rapidly and the family had the benefits of farm machinery that greatly improved productivity, e.g., the reaper, threshing machine, drill (for seeding grain), steam engine, etc., but great physical labor was very much required.

Elda 3 ring bndr img056 copy copy.jpg

Edgar Lueder seeding a field with a “drill.”  Photo from the 1920s.

Casey and Dixie were the horses, faithful servants and friends for many years but eventually food for the foxes on Nieman’s Cedarburg fur farm.  Rover, the dog, was omnipresent for many years.

WIS GPA LUEDER GERMAN MAG  IMG2895WIS GPA LUEDER GERMAN MAG  IMG2894 resize blogNews and entertainment came with the German daily paper, The Milwaukee Herald.  The family also subscribed to “Die Abendschule” (The Evening School).

wolf hunters j o curwood.JPG

The Wisconsin Agriculturalist, a weekly, published a chapter per issue from exciting pulp novels. Two well remembered by daughter Cordelia were “Wolf Hunters” (about the gold rush in Alaska), and “North of Fifty Three (about a school teacher north of the Brooks Range in Alaska) both by James Oliver Curwood. The romantic imagery and drama sent children’s pulses racing and Cordelia awaited each new chapter coming in the mail with eager anticipation.

Toys were homemade. Eldest son, Edgar, built his own out of wood and scrap metal. These were often miniature farm implements that he powered via a six-foot tall windmill that he had built. When mother wasn’t home and aware of what he was up to, he powered his toy machines with her sewing machine treadle.

By the time William and Augusta’s children were teens and young adults, gasoline engines and electricity were commonplace, creating relief from arduous hand labor, providing rapid personal transportation, speeding communications, and expanding entertainment.

phone antique

The Lueders obtained a phone in 1908.

Fig 078c Overland ad.jpg

And an “Overland” car in 1915.

Samson tractor ad

Source – Foroactivo

They bought a Samson tractor in 1922, and were wired for electricity in 1927. Along with electricity came lighting, an electric oven, and radio.

milwaukee brewers

Source – chudnowmusuem.org – Milwaukee Brewers AAA Baseball Team

With a radio William became addicted to the Milwaukee Brewers, an early AAA class baseball club.

* * * * *


The scope of change was so radical that even though the German-American community north of Milwaukee was very large, its demise as a separate, distinct culture was inevitable, particularly after two world wars during which Germany was the enemy.

The language chosen for church services provides an indication of the decline. German services were often held four Sundays per month with one English service per month during the 1930’s.    During the 1940’s, the reverse was true, and only the elderly attended the German services, taking comfort in liturgy, hymns, sacraments, and sermons provided in the language of their youth. Today, church services in German are non-existent.


hard cider 2

Children always get into what they shouldn’t.  Otto Lueder was assisting brother William to add a structure to a chicken coop.  This congenial joint effort was helped along by a pail of hard cider.  Edgar as a very little boy observed the elders, drank from the cider pail, imitating them and soon couldn’t walk.  He announced “Ich kann aber noch gaut gut sehen!” (But I can still see straight!)



4 thoughts on “III. EARLY 20th CENTURY – OVERVIEW

  1. Really enjoyable to read. Love the pictures and illustrations. Enjoyed identifying all of the Lueder family including your mother. Rover looks so attentive. You must have asked a lot of questions before everybody was gone and remembered the answers. For example, I know my Dad had horses, but nobody knows what their names were. We do have the dog’s names. Those were important.


    1. Thanks! I have four notebooks filled with notes from conversations around the farmhouse table at Lueders and from stories from the extended family. Plus Aunt Viola wrote her memories of growing up on the farm. I’m delighted that you enjoy this, and thanks for the feedback.


      1. I wish I would have had the foresight to take notes. That farm table was one of my favorite places and i consider myself very fortunate to have had those experiences growing up.


      2. re: favorite places – likewise. And one of the best parts was all the funny stories and the laughter. And, the best part of the laughter was that they laughed at themselves. Elda’s dry, cryptic humor was priceless.


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