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Woodworth History

Woodworth 1870-1980

The Village of Woodworth is located about ten miles northwest of Milford (one mile east of Route 49).

Before Woodworth was settled, it was mostly swamp land, and was drained as people began to make this their home. The people are mostly of German descent. Fred Krueger began a blacksmith shop in 1874, making him the first merchant of the town. In October of 1875, he sold it to Gottlieb Pfingsten. (see picture above.) When Mr. Pfingsten sold it in December 1885 to William Kuester, the following stipulation was made: "also all buildings, blacksmith tools, iron on hand, fences and all other improvements. Provided however that the grantor G. Pfingsten agrees not to work at the blacksmith trade, except for his own work, nor open a blacksmith shop within the neighborhood of three miles in either direction from the above described premises." The house shown in the picture above is the present home of Mrs. Henry (Anna) Brutlag.

Fred Meyer opened a general store and Fred Hartmann a wagon shop in 1875. Mr. Hardekolp, a shoemaker; and William Becker, a harness maker, also opened businesses soon after this. Most of these were located in the area where the fire house now stands.

The town was named after Mr. James Woodworth, the postmaster of Milford, to repay him for helping the town secure a post office which was housed in Fred Meyer's general store.

In its history, the town had a funeral director, two doctors, a chiropractor, hat shop, tow stores, a creamery, tailor shop, garages, tavern, and others.

Today, Woodworth is not much more than an intersection with a stop sign to the passerby, and it is said "don't blink or you'll miss it". The resident of Woodworth may say it, but they say it with pride. It is doubtful that any of them would change it, for the hub of activity revolves around St. Paul's Lutheran Church and School. What may look like a very sleepy little town fairly buzzes with the hustle and bustle of activities of the many organizations of the church, and it is fairly well known that this community serves one of the largest crowds each November at its Turkey Supper put on by the Ladies Aid, and the Men's Club annually has a Fish Fry (made famous by Elmer Brutlag) in December and February.

At this writing, the business community of Woodworth is quite small. The Woodworth Electric Shop (pictured) is owned by Leonard and Ken Ecker. The business is conducted (no pun intended) in a C&EI passenger train car which they purchased in Danville in 1938 for $450. It houses a combination electrical/hardware/appliance/ice cream shop. At first it was on the opposite side of the road, but in 1950 it was moved to its present location. A large addition was built in 1979 which increased their display area and also gave them needed storage space for supplies and trucks.

Walter Bohlmann operates an egg business from the rear of the store building that formerly was his grocery and general store. This same building has been used as a Post Office, creamery, feed store, milk business, and the front is now being used for storage. The authentic shelves and bins may still be seen in this historic building.

As you can see, ingenuity is certainly not lacking in the residents of this community, for they practiced the art of recycling long before it became popular a few year ago.

More example are: The first church was moved and used as a school-then torn down and the lumber was used to build the Walther League Hall- this too, in the way of progress later was moved and became a storage shed.

Edwin Brutlag's home was originally the "south school". Anna Brutlag's home housed a hot shop. Ken Ecker's home was Dr. Luke's office in which the good doctor also performed surgery.

Hugo Menschel's Store was a grocery store and ice cream shop. They sold material, fur coats, and other merchandise. A creamery was housed in the basement. The small home behind the store was Dr. W.R. Robert's office and this building was the original store. It was a variety store and sold beer by the case. The building pictured was recycled. Wayne Dickman tore it down in the early 1970s and used the lumber in building their home which occupies the premises.

A portion of the Leonard Ecker home was the first parsonage, moved now to its present location. The Les Garrelts home, purchased in 1971, was the second parsonage which had been built in 1919. Their garage was Homer Breymeyer's barn.

Clarance Muehling's home, formerly owned and moved to its present site in 1929 by Elmer Brutlag, was the "north school" teacherage, and their garage, originally a barn, housed Bill Hitter's home. Many will remember him for his shelling, well-drilling, and threshing enterprise. The small building directly south of the tavern originally housed the town generator before EIPC came to town.

Paula Hilgendorf's home was formerly a barn on the property which belonged to Tillie Salmon. The garage being used behind the Salmon house was originally a part of the first house. Alfred Schuette's home was a one-room school that was moved into town and renovated.

The large two-story building which was located at the rear of Walter Bohlmann's property is where the caskets were stored many years ago. The young people held plays here at one time, as well as dances. It was also used for storage. The building was torn down approximately 30 years ago. Walter then used the lumber to build his garage, using the windows from the original building.

As one ponders on the success or failure of our village, it is with mixed feelings. No doubt it founders planned for a much larger town than its approximate 110 inhabitants. But if the hopes of the founders was to build a strong Lutheran community, a church with a Lutheran day school where the members of the congregation are involved in the church activities and organizations, then we have accomplished its purpose.

These two pages sponsored By:

Mrs. Juanita Luhman

Woodworth Electric-Leonard & Kenneth

Edgar Luhman Insurance

Homer Breymeyer-Sales Rep. Ford-Iroquois FS Inc.

Vic & Alma Schuldt- In Memory of Lena and Hugo Menschel

(from the Milford and Vicinity Sesquicentennial Souvenir Book 1830-1980 pages 164 and 165)


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