Descendant Host: Rita
Mary Ferm Collection
1865 - 1947
Peter Joseph Kurz
Veronica was born in New Denmark, Wisconsin on March 29, 1865, the fifth child of Peter Joseph and Catherine Bibelhausen Kurz. She grew up with farm chores and many siblings. Her father was a well educated man in his mid 30's when he immigrated to Wisconsin in 1854 after participating in protests against the Prussian takeover of his Rheinland home. he had indicated that leaving his homeland was not entirely by choice and had considered returning there if political issues were settled to his satisfaction. He did not return.
Her mother immigrated from the same Palatinate Rheinland at the age of 9 years with Bibelhausen parents and several siblings. Their reason was to seek opportunity for economic advancement that was definitely not in the offering in Europe. This family entered the dense mixed wood wilderness of Wisconsin in 1844, before statehood. They homesteaded land there until 1852, when they sold their property in Pine Grove settlement and again pioneered the unsettled county of Shawano Wisconsin along with several of their neighbors who had also come from their European hometown. Four years later, Veronica's parents met and married, settling on their first farm in New Denmark. In the mid 1870's Peter Joseph and Catherine sold their Brown County farm and bought land in Red Springs Township, Shawano County, Wisconsin. This was among her mother Katherine's Bibelhausen brothers and sisters and their families. She knew her grandparents, John and Katherine Kenali Bibelhausen well and visited them often during family get togethers. The family spoke German almost exclusively, not so much by choice, but because all their neighbors and friends were also German speaking people. Veronica was fluent in German and English. She read and wrote in both languages as well.
Veronica continued to mature
and along the way, gained
the valuable skills necessary for successful farming in this new land.
In the early 1880's she met a young man named John Holl who was
a fine piece of property in neighboring town of How, Oconto County.
were several Holl brothers, all single and each having homesteaded land
in the neighboring county. They were members of the same church
in Shawano as the Bibelhausen families. On April 28th, Veronica Kurz
the bride of John Holl at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Shawano. This
was also her new husband's 28th birthday. From that day on, John and
made every year's celebration a very special event attended each year,
for the next 50 years, by generations of family, neighbors and friends.
Tintype - First Wedding Anniversary of John
and Veronica Kurz Holl
Fronnie (Veronica) and John worked hard on their homestead, continuing to clear land of the tree stumps left from logging; cut trees and haul them to the sawmill for use in farm building and for lumber to sell; planting crops and developing pasture land; growing garden food for their meals and for trading; preparing and storing food for winter months; harvesting, selling and storing grain, hay and silage; feeding and clean up for the livestock; milking cows; making butter and cheese; taking produce to town; sewing, washing and mending family clothing. A large Victorian house was built on the homestead named "Sunny Hill Farm" in the early 1890's to accommodate the sizable extended family that was beginning to join the couple. Fronnie and John became parents for the first time just before their first wedding anniversary when daughter Margaret was born March 14, 1886. Margaret Holl, sister of John Holl, was her godmother. Baby Margaret was named in honor of her paternal grandmother, Margaret Dollar Holl. It was an old world custom to name the first son and daughter after the paternal grandparents, and the second son and daughter after the maternal grandparents. Large families were greatly desired, since they provided the help needed to succeed in this newly developing country. Children were generally considered "infants" until they reached the age of 5 years, since the mortality rate among the very young was as high as 60 percent. Veronica and John were among the very few to see all their children reach adulthood.
In 1888, two years after the
birth of their first
child, a second daughter Catherine joined the family. Another of John's
sisters, Catherine Holl, was her godmother. She was named in honor of
maternal grandmother Catherine Bibelhausen Kurz. Their first son joined
the family in June 1890. This was cause for great pride and celebration
as the family name was now sure to be carried on. The boy was named
John's brother Joseph Charles Holl, who lived nearby and also farmed a
homestead. In 1994 third daughter Anna Alice was born, bringing the
of offspring to four. The township was quickly becoming filled with
families as brothers Joseph, Peter and Henry also developed
own homesteads along with John and Jacob. By the mid 1890's, all 7
with spouses and several small children of the oldest ones, two
sisters and their widowed mother lived in Oconto County. Family history
tells us that they were a close knit group who worked and celebrated
often, helping each other start side businesses.
John and Veronica Holl bought
a general store in
1892 from Mr. Hankwitz in the once prosperous village of Hayes, town of
How. The original store had been built by pioneer Joseph Suring as a
trading post and later provided supplies for loggers. It was illegal at
the time for Native Americans to enter and do business in building that
sold liquor. From the beginning, they had decided to have the general
open to all customers, and did not sell distilled spirits. With a
or two, just down the street, it was no inconvenience for his customers
to fill those needs elsewhere while in town. There are many stories of
how the Menominee passed through town as they migrated from summer to
quarters. Friendship made during this time lasted for decades and
with frequent invitations from tribal members to important Pow Wow and
Celebrations on the Reservation. The "Dog Feast" was a favorite. It did
not involve dogs in any way. Rather, it was a traditional
feast with dancing and stories which featured roasted Sturgeon, known
"Dog Faced Fish".
Rita Neustifter Collection
The Outbuilding Library.
A place of quite and rest to study the latest mail order catalogs.
The Holl store was an important community gathering place since it was also the post office. In those days not just personal mail came from all over this country and territories that had yet not reached statehood, it included the equivalent of today's e-mail, the penny postcard from nearby and far away, as well as long letters of news from family in the "old country". The mail also included the often much anticipated big store mail order catalogs from Sears and Montgomery Wards, the weekly county and state newspapers in English and German, seed catalogs, ladies magazines and farming journals. The mail order catalogs were large and thick; filled with hundreds of wonderful drawings that described all imaginable kinds of items. It not only afforded entertainment and education of modern offerings while being used in the farm outhouse; older issues provided the cleanup material needed after the reading sessions there.
In 1898 John and Veronica built a much larger store to accommodate the growing needs of the developing farms. By the late 1890's he owned 9 properties and buildings in Hayes.
While John and Veronica Holl
were running the original
general store in Hayes, and building the larger one, John's brother
was running the "Sunny Hill" homestead. Veronica and moved
family to a large apartment above the new store, until their own house
was built next to the Hayes store in 1898. It was a two story "four
architecture with a spacious front porch and a large one story
summer kitchen and gathering hall wing on attached to the rear.
Veronica Kurz and
The village of Hayes now
boasted a large creamery
for cheese making, two churches, a Lutheran school, two general stores,
two saloons, and a wagon making shop. It also had a full service
shop (important for making those "special needs " items that farmers
and to repair metal equipment), photography studio, shoemaker (cobbler)
and repair, copper and barrel making factory, lumber yard and several
small businesses as well as quite a few residences. The village had
started on higher ground along the Hayes Creek, which was dammed in
and used by early loggers in Spring to move logs down to the nearby
River for milling. The logged off land was then sold to pioneer
who removed the stumps, broke the soil and planted crops. There was an
extensive variety of needs among the people living in the area. John
Veronica were sincere in their offer to have whatever general
their customers needed and often specially order items for people
the customer paid for them.
Bruce Paulson Collection
Looking east in 1907. The first building on the right is the Holl General Store, established in 1892 and rebuilt in 1898, run by John Holl, Sr. who is standing on the store porch with his wife Veronica and second daughter Kate. In the 1920's a gas pump for autos was added to the front near the place where John and Veronica Holl stand in the picture. Daughter Anna Holl too over operation and management of the store and enlarged it greatly in the early 1950's. The Holl General Store successfully served the surrounding community for over 70 years until the time of Miss Anna Holl's death. The building was sold and used as a furniture factory when it was destroyed by fire in the 1980's. Next on the right, in this photo, is Johnson's Saloon, then the Bartz Cheese Factory. On the immediate left is a private home, then several other commercial buildings including the blacksmith shop, and the Hankwitz store. Only one commercial building is left in Hayes, with a few private homes dotting main street of the ghost town.
When the Holls first owned the general store, logging was still in high swing in the 1890's and the farming men and boys of the town of How spent winter months working in the woods. Locals with families were able to stay at home on the farms at night, and show up early in the morning to work the nearby woods. The men cut trees, stripped branches and hauled logs in crews for the large lumber and matchstick companies. The local farm boys, such as brothers John and Joseph Philippi who started at ages 9 and 11, used cross cut saws to cut the trimmed off branches into firewood for sale to townspeople. They walked to the cutting sites each morning and back home at night, a distance of several miles. Each boy carried his own lunch and tea in a backpack, since they did not eat with the men. The large companies who hired the work crews did not contract to feed the young boys lunches. John Philippi grew up to become the son-in-law of Veronica Kurz Holl, having married her daughter Kate.
Hayes was at the center of this local logging activity and the "day laborers" would meet there for lunch break in the large room that attached to the back of the Holl house. At one end of the room was an oversized wood burning stove and ovens used to prepare the luncheon meals that the companies contracted for the woodsmen. Unlike the deep woods lumber resident camps, lunch was the only meal provided to the day laborers, who were home on their farms for breakfast and supper.
These hot lunches were cooked by Veronica and her older daughters family, and hired farm wives, and served on long board tables set up with wooden saw horses. Board and block benches were along either side of the tables for the diners. The food was set out in large bowls and platters at intervals along the tables to be shared by the group sitting nearest. It was the custom not to speak during the logging meals as the men were to finish fast and get back to the woods for several more hours of cutting until nightfall, when they walked home for dinner and sleep. The important income money provided by this winter work usually went into farming needs for the following growing season, and it often meant the difference between the farm's success and failure, especially during hard times.
Top quality offerings in abundance were expected by the men, who needed the nutrition to cope with the long hours of cold weather and hard labor. It was a generally accepted rule that the better meals attracted and returned the highest quality of worker. Cleanup, washing dishes and preparation of fresh food for the next day followed for Fronnie and her daughters.
Beside the logging lunches, Hayes was a major stop for the travelers stage lines and dray (delivery) services. These horse drawn vehicles met the railroads at the nearby stations and took on passengers and freight bound for the villages, settlements and communities without railroad service. The passengers, delivery men and drivers, as well as independent travelers could have hot meals at Fronnie's hall while they took rest breaks. Several small tables and individual chair settings were neatly provided for single travelers and small groups at one corner of the room. They were carefully placed near the stove in winter where it was warmest, and at the far end near the screened open windows in summer where it was coolest. "Soft" drinks were provided and travelers could bring their own "hard" drinks to have with meals. The stages stopped several time a day.
service offered by Fronnie
was providing hot meals to families where there was illness or injury
prevented the making or buying of food for meals at home. There was a
fee for these, which was left up to the customer, and more often than
there was no money in the family budget for these daily meals, which
picked up by the wage earner on his way home, or by the school children
after classes. If no donation was given, it was never
when the family was "back on their feet" they continued as customers in
the store just as before, with the understanding that any fees were
Fronnie would tell friends that it was a shame to see any good food go
to waste, and better to know it filled the stomachs of friends and
than let it spoil for someone's pigs.
The Penny postcard was the e-mail of it's time. This one was sent from John Holl, "J H", husband of Veronica Kurz, to his brother Peter Holl in Underhill, Oconto County, Wisconsin c:1900. The card is inscribed "J. C. Ruppenthal Photo" on the front left edge. It shows a child moving across the street toward business buildings. The building on the far right has a sign that says "Star Brand Shoes Are Best" and the proprietor with white apron stands in the doorway watching the photographer. The postmark is Bowler, which is in northwestern Shawano County, Wisconsin.
The hall room was also used for other gatherings. When the homes of people were too small to accommodate the groups attending, wedding receptions, funeral wakes, and anniversaries they were held at the Hayes hall. The huge old iron cook stove had many uses. Also, community and private dances with live music, township business meetings, court hearings for the Justice of the Peace, social gathers, school graduations, voting and entertainment took place within the hall walls. Square dancing became a popular social event where the ladies in full skirts, petticoats and ruffled blouses danced and twirled to the spoken dance directions of the "caller" was. This was sometimes a grown John Philippi, eventual husband of Catherine Holl. . The directions were "called", not sung, which was a form of rhythmic talking to the music that included phrases such as "do se do that pretty little thing", "promenade your lady fair", "circle to the left", "bow to your partner", "change partners" and "swing your partner round and round". Often the caller included some funny little local jokes and good natured teasing that was understood by the dancers. There were groups of four couples per square, and as many squares dancing as there were people for. Youngsters would happily watch from the "sidelines" and learn, occasionally filling in for an empty place in a dance square. Since many folks played instruments at home, locals most often provided the music. Catering was offered by Veronica Holl.
held annually for decades at the Holl General Store that are still
by many are the Independence Day Picnic and Fireworks, and the Santa's
yearly visit to the children right after Thanksgiving. The 4th of July
Picnic was a whole day affair held on the large newly mowed field
the store. Fronnie and her daughters prepared the meats and poultry,
women brought home made "dishes" to pass, all of which was set up
style outside the hall on the long tables (weather permitting, in the
if it rained). Families dined on blankets spread under the trees at the
edge of the field. There were children's games with small prizes for
participant, volunteer fireman's competitions of athletic abilities to
entertain and delight the crowd (not to mention providing a chance for
a few side wagers by the gentlemen), and a welcome chance to relax,
and talk. After dusk, the local volunteer fire department men set off
at the far end of the field, while everyone sat on blankets at the
of the field, directly beneath the brilliant displays. There was a open
air dance with local musicians providing the music. It was held in a
barn if rain threatened. Johnson's bar next to the store provided
refreshments, mostly in the form of tapped kegs. For Santa's
Fronnie made old German candies, cookies and other sweets for the
who came to tell Santa that they had been good, and would be even
next year. Christmas was not an extravagant time for these hard working
people, and the gift of special bakery or an "exotic" orange all the
from Florida was greatly treasured.
Children of John and Veronica Kurz Holl
Oldest grandchild, Veronica Philippi was named for her grandmother Veronica Kurz Holl, and stands behind John and Veronica . She is the daughter of Kate Holl Philippi. 1925
Postcard photo -
children of Veronica Kurz and John Holl in 1907. Back row Left to
Catherine, Joseph, Anna, Front row: Elizabeth, John E., Jacob
c: 1897Catherine Holl Philippi Collection
Joseph Charles Holl
40th Wedding Anniversary
John and Veronica 1925 taken outside the meeting holl at their home in Hayes, Wisconsin.
Ron Kurz Collection
50th Anniversary 1935
Golden Wedding Anniversary of John and Veronica Kurz Holl. Taken in front of their home in Hayes.
As their children grew to adulthood, their daughter Anna took over the major management of the general store. John was able to travel to see relatives friends, but Veronica preferred to stay at home. Her health began to fail in 1936 shortly after John's death on February 8th and she was visited often by her children and grandchildren who lived nearby. She lived with Anna in their home beside the store and made a great effort to vote each and every election. She passed away January 03, 1947 and was laid to rest at St. Michael Catholic Cemetery in town of How, surrounded by generations of their families, neighbors and friends.
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