HISTORY OF WILLIAMSBURG
HISTORY OF WILLIAMSBURG
When Solomon Juneau came to Milwaukee to establish a trading post, he little realized what a great city would flourish there in years to come: Within a few years after he first established his trading post, the city showed marked progress and expansion, so that at the present time we have a population of over 500,000 inhabitants. Space is too limited at this time to mention in detail the gradual growth of the city in its various phases.
The development of the north side of Milwaukee was somewhat different from the usual growth of other large cities. Instead of a rapid growth of the city outward, a portion of the north side grew toward the city proper. The expansion of the city proper did not take place until about the year 1877.
During the early years of Milwaukee's progress, a man named William Bogk settled in the locality now known as Pabst Park, where he conducted it pleasure resort. This community was known as William's Burg and had the distinction of being the highest point in the city. It was a custom in the early days to call resort-keepers by their first name, thus this community was named Williamsburg. Picnics and family gatherings were held in this park and in fact every Saturday afternoon and Sunday William's place was the scene of many a merry party. William Bogk's business career, however, was not successful. He joined the army at the outbreak of the Civil War and upon his return, endeavored to again re-establish his business, but of no avail. Debts on his famous park had accumulated during his absence which he could not pay. His property was seized by foreclosure and funds realized thereby were utilized to pay his obligations.
The Val. Blatz Bxewing Co. acquired the property for a time, however, some- time subsequently sold it to the Milwaukee Sharpshooters' Society, who called it "Schuetzen Park." This change in name apparently did not affect a change in the name of the community (Williamsburg) and in spite of the fact that about 47 years ago the Pabst Brewing Company bought this property and named it "Pabst Park". the name of the community "Williamsburg" still remained. The old time William Bogk's park was much different from the present Pabst Park, for it was the custom in the early days to have people come during the day so as to enable them to enjoy the open air, the hills, trees and flowers. Today, the largest crowds come in the evening amidst the glare of electric lights.
At present the City contemplates purchasing the park in order to turn it into a play-ground so that the present densely populated community may avail themselves of a nearby recreational center. Directly across the street from William's place lived one Chas. Fahsel, a prominent citizen and business man. He was alderman of the thirteenth ward for many years and a member of the school board. He was also instrumental in the early development of the North side. Mr. Fahsel conducted the first general store in Williamsburg. He started this business in 1867 and continued successfully for nearly forty years. The building which he then occupied remained as a land-mark until a few years ago. Among the inhabitants of this community were a large number of Mecklenburgers who were very industrious.. They were employed by the railroad, the cement mills, flour and paper mills and other industries operating at that time. Some of them would rather work for 50 cents a day than to be idle. How different from today! Thus it was not an easy task for these early settlers to make any great headway, for their earnings were meager and the building up of a community required capital.
The city had no sewerage system at that time, and in Williamsburg during the spring of the year, the waters due to heavy rains, melting ice and snow, rushed down William's hill. It was very difficult to travel over the Green Bay Road during this period inasmuch, as the road was extremely muddy. Toll was collected by a man named Lindwurm, and the funds so realized were used for the improvement of roads and thoroughfares. Trees were felled and burned, the ashes of which were used for the roadbed. The toll gate was erected at Third and Center Streets and remained there until 1873. when it was moved to Davis Street on the Green Bay Road. The first street pavement was made from cedar blocks, yet this was not much better. At this time the population moved somewhat farther north of William's place, and these business men were responsible for the further development of the community along the Green Bay Road and vicinity. Green Bay Road once was an old Indian trail over which Traders and Indians traveled from Green Bay, Wisconsin, to the tradepost located at the foot of the lake near Chicago. It was later known to be one of the longest roads in the State. The Indians liked to roam along the river and generally camped on the bluffs. In this way some of their tribesmen could go to Williamsburg to do their trading. Gradually more and more farmers came to the little village and this resulted in the establishing of more stores and places of business.