contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl

This is a photographic chronicle of Mid-Nineteenth Century German emigration to Wisconsin farm country north of Milwaukee, and the culture of descendants of those immigrants through the first part of the 20th Century.  Many elements of the story will strike a common chord with the historical experience of much of the German-American community in the upper Midwest, and indeed with many other communities settled by Northern European farm immigrants.

To get a sense of the nature of most of the future posts to this blog – see:




The setting is the farming community of Cedarburg, 20 miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and now a suburb of Milwaukee.  The chronicle is relayed in three parts using images and tales of the ancestors and family of William and Augusta Lueder:

Preface Fig 12b Edw Rappold grist mill by pioneer cemetery 1872
Wind powered grist mill by pioneer cemetery 1872, Cedarburg. Courtesy of Edw. Rappold

I.  Pioneers – Mid Nineteenth Century

Preface  050 eIMG0033 final sepia+7
“Flashlight Party” – 1899

 II.  Settled & Prospering – 1890s

Preface Fig 078 Gerald at Wheel of Overland About 1923-24 resized
Gerald at wheel of the “Overland,” Lueder’s first car. ~1923-24

III.  Early Twentieth Century

Until relatively recently, Cedarburg’s existence was largely based on serving the needs of numerous small dairy farms. Ethnically, both the townsfolk and the farmers were almost exclusively of German descent.  The size and strength of this local German culture are indicated by the persistence of the language. Only recently has the last generation passed from the scene that will lapse into broken German when overjoyed or spluttering with anger. This longevity of the ancestral tongue occurred in spite of 20th century mobility and communications, the passage of 160 years in English-speaking America, and two horrendous wars in which distant cousins were the enemy. The 20th Century and the “Melting Pot” have ultimately had their effects, and evidence of German roots among young people is only a remnant at best – a brogue in speech that hints at German and some values that were present long ago.

My mother’s family, Lueder, has long been part of the German-American farming community. Laughter, hard work, great food, ancient customs, intelligence, high energy, hunger for learning, lovely environs, and laughter again, comprise my treasured memories of these people. As the beneficiary of that culture in abundance, these photos and comments have been prepared in appreciation and remembrance of the William and Augusta Lueder family and their immigrant forebears: Fromm, Niemann (now Nieman), Lüders (now Lueder and Lueders), and Brüss. Having heard fragments of their stories since childhood, I began collecting these tales and images in earnest in the late 1970s, taking notes and searching out and copying long buried, dusty photos. The following history emerged as a result of contributions by William and Augusta’s family as well as other, more distant, relatives. (see: SOURCES & THANKS I am very grateful to them for their interest in the past as well as their willingness to share their pictures and stories.

Harold W. Pfohl

March 2016