Marshfield, January 1917: The lasting legacy of Louis Baumann
By Kris Leonhardt
As Louis Baumann set foot on American soil, the land he saw before him was ripe with promise. Though the social and economic divide between the United States Union and the Confederate States of America had torn the nation apart the years prior, the reconstruction of America had begun.
The Civil War had left 620,000 soldiers dead and millions impacted by the brutal four-year struggle. The result, however, was a unified nation where all were declared free with its eyes set on developing its industrial presence.
Though just a toddler, Baumann’s first steps into the country would catapult him to a place that would guarantee his recognition as a pioneer.
Born in Germany in 1863, Baumann immigrated to the United States in the mid-1860s, where his parents would create a homestead in a state that was similar in environment to their home country.
Baumann spent his childhood in Manitowoc County, Wis., in a small community called Branch. After reaching the age of 18, Baumann left home and the tight-knit Branch community to earn a living in carpentry.
Industrious by nature, his labors led him to purchase a farm near Hewitt, where he would reside for two years prior to moving to Marshfield.
His first marriage to Anna Meidl would yield nine children, the oldest of which would later help homestead property in Eagle Butte, S.D., as well. Following his wife’s death, relatives would assist Baumann in rearing the younger children until Baumann would marry Amelia Vogel.
Upon moving to Marshfield, Baumann became an instrumental player in building the city, its societies, and its business presence. With a strong work ethic and innovative attitude, Baumann became a stockholder in multiple businesses, which included banks and factories.
In July of 1909, the Marshfield Brewing Company reorganized as a stock company, and Baumann was elected its vice president. Baumann would help lead the Marshfield brewery through a massive improvement and reorganization campaign, and the company would grow to provide the majority of the beer served locally.
In addition to his business sense, Baumann would do much to create a social presence in the municipality. As a charter member of the Marshfield branches of the Catholic Knights and the Catholic Order of Foresters, he would help create two organizations that would serve the community for numerous years.
In addition, Baumann was active in the Eagles, the German American Alliance, and multiple other societies found within the city.
Baumann also helped provide direction to the young city of Marshfield, serving as alderman for a number of years.