The Story of John Jagdfeld

John Jagdfeld is my great grandfather.  He was born September 24, 1858 in Germany to Gottfried Jagdfeld and Margaretha Schingen.  He was christened at Kirchberg KR. Juelich, Rheinland, Preussen, Germany and his name on this document is Johan Hubert.  He is the 5th of eight children. The first five were sons born in Germany (Christian, Nicholas, Caspar, Arnold, and John) and the last three children were born in America (Henry, Agnes and Katherine).  His family immigrated in 1863 and you can read more about this here:

Fond du Lac City Directory 1884

He must have grown up on a farm as I found his father in the 1880 census listed as a farmer. John must not have liked the farming life because I found him listed in the Fond du Lac City directory in 1884 working as a barkeeper and it appears he was working in his brother Caspars’ bar.  His brother Christian is also living there.

Between 1890 and 1899, John was found in 7 city directories in Minneapolis, MN and held down 4 different jobs over that time period.  He worked as a barkeep, laborer, waiter, and porter.  During his time in Minnesota, at the age of 31, he married Olga Roehlke on December 4, 1889. Towards the bottom of this document is his signature.

Marriage License Minneapolis 1889

They had 3 children, Elsie born and died in 1887, John, born  1895, and my grandmother Hazel born 1897.  He was listed on the 1895 Minnesota census along with Olga, John, and Olga’s sister Emma.

1885 Minnesota census

By 1900, the family moved to Fond du Lac, WI.  They can be found on the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.  Of interest, his wife, Olga was not on the 1920 census as she passed away in 1915 and in that same census, my grandfather, Harry Rice was listed as he was married to Hazel by then.

1905 Fond du Lac city directory

John Jagdfeld owned a boarding house and saloon during this time period.  The establishment was called the Northwestern Hotel and was located at 179 Forest Ave which is right across the street from the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot. Below is a picture of the interior of the saloon.  I love this photo with the bottles of liquor, boxes of cigars along the bar, spittoons on the floor, and a sign above the cash register advertising fresh Lamartine buttermilk.

Photo of the saloon. John Jagdfeld is standing behind the bar in the front.
Article from Fond du Lac Reporter, Jan 13, 1973 p 17.

John is listed in 12 City Directories between 1903 to 1930 in Fond du Lac. The directories between 1903 to 1917 lists him as a proprietor of the Northwestern Hotel.   From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition was in effect.  That had to have cut into a significant part of his business. There is a January 13, 1923 article that shows he purchased a soft drink shop that was located at 144 N Main and he also had a partner for this business. He must have sold the boarding house because his residence is now at 36 Oak Av, the same address as his son, John who was a teller at a bank.

Fond du Lac City Directory 1928
Article from Post-Crescent, Appleton, WI, July 14, 1923. p 6.

John and his business partner got into a bit of trouble soon after taking over the soda business because on July 14, 1923, he was charged with illegal possession of intoxicating liquor. I thought I recalled hearing about someone in the family making bathtub gin.  Perhaps John is the person I heard about. I also wonder how much more lucrative selling alcohol was over the legal soda business.  Plus, I wonder if he continued selling alcohol even after this incident. Did he have a little hiding place and only sold to people known to him? Having lived in the community as a saloon owner for such a long time, he most likely had a following.

Tombstone, Calvary Cemetery, Fond du Lac, WI

John Jagdfeld passed away January 25, 1931.  He died after an extended illness at the age of 72. His wake was held at his sons’ home and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Fond du Lac, WI.

Obituary, Commonwealth Reporter Fond du Lac, Jan 26, 1931. p. 3.

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