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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"Trempealeau County" by Clarence J. Gamroth:

Volume 1B:

Biographical Data:  
Surnames S through Z:

The following information was gathered from various sources - mostly newspapers.  Many of these biographical items are obituaries.  This data was compiled in 1975 and includes biographical data on the following people:

SKROCH, Andrew
SKROCH, Joseph P. M. D.
SLABY, Thomas
SMIEJA, Casper
SMIEJA, George
SMIEJA, George T.
SOBOTTA, Michael
SURA, John
SURA, Paul
SURA, Peter Edward Jr.
SUSA, August
SUSA, John
TAYLOR, James C.
TRUMBULL, William R.
WARNER, Raymond K. & Rufus C.
WARNER, Rufus C.
ZIMMER, Hannah

SKROCH, Andrew

Source - Independence News Wave, 30 Oct 1941

Andrew Skroch, resident of this village and town of Burnside, died on October 23, 1941.  he was born in Poppeleau, Germany and at the age of nine in 1882, came to this country with his parents where they settled on a farm two miles southeast of this village in the Town of Lincoln.

On November 8, 1897, he married Agnes Kamala and took over management of the home farm which he operated until 1926, when he turned the farm over to his son, Edward.  He and his wife then took over the management of the Hotel Independence.  After four years gave it up for health reasons.  He then bought the house just east of the Village Hall (now owned by Ernest Sobotta in 1971).

Wife and nine children survive:  Edward, Eleanor, Viva, Alphonse, Clotilda, Eva, Joseph, Adrian.  Son Bruno and daughter Bernice have died.

Parents of Andrew were Frank and Mary Sobotta Skroch.


SS Peter and Paul Baptismal records show 12 children entered as children of Andrew Skroch and Agnes Kamala.  They are:

Edward            b. 10 Jun 1898
Blanche           b. 14 Oct 1899
Bruno                                         d. 30 Apr 1915 at age 15
Valeria             b. 08 Sep 1901
Eleonora          b. 21 Feb 1903
Alphonse         b. 29 Apr 1905
Clotilda            b. 05 Feb 1907
Eva                 b. 12 Mar 1909
Joseph            b. 02 Mar 1912
Marion            b. 02 Oct 1913
Julianna          b. 22 May 1917    d. 20 Feb 1918
Adrian             b. 11 Nov 1919


SKROCH, Anna (Mrs. Peter)

Mrs. Peter (Anna) Skroch, daughter of Lawrence Blaha and Mary Gamroth Blaha, was born in Poppeleau, Upper Silisia, Prussia (Germany) in August 1862 and in 1882 she married Peter Skroch (Lame Pete).

Sister:  Mrs. Julius (Hedwig) Smick
     Mrs. Andrew (Mary) Sobotta


Source - SS Peter and Paul Church Records

Anna married Peter Skroch on October 30, 1882 at St. Michael's Catholic Church in North Creek, Wisconsin.

They were the parents of eight children:  Mary (Mrs. Urban Skroch), Peter, Victoria (Mrs. Michael Kampa), Matthew (Wife, Helen Kuka), Stanley (wife, Praxida Kamala), Albert, Anna (Mrs. Albert Waldera), and Frederick.

Anna died on September 13, 1932 at 70 years of age.  She is buried in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery in Independence.

SKROCH, Joseph P., M.D.

Source - newspaper clipping, dated 06 Sep 1959, (name of newspaper unknown)

Valley of Life

There's a Close Knit Bond Between Man and Nature in Coulee Near Arcadia

Arcadia, Wis. - Doc has given life to his isolated valley and the valley has returned the favor.  Eighteen years ago, Dr. J. P. Skroch was near death from disease for three months.  When he left the hospital, he was sentenced to a life of retirement, of nonemotional activities.

Doc gave up his practice in this Trempealeau county community.  He found his valley seven miles west of here, in a coulee accessible only by a steep, unsurfaced road.  He bought 288 acres, dammed a creek, dredged three ponds and planted trout.

An apple orchard struggled along on the hillside.  Doc nursed the trees and planted more.  White and red pines - some 15,000 of them - he planted to hold the soil.

For a few years Doc farmed the land.  Now it has been placed in the soil bank as a permanent wildlife area.

There is life in Doc's valley.  Willows are mirrored in clear pools.  Wild flowers dot the hillsides.  Mallards dip their wings and wrens live in houses that Doc built.  There are trout in the pools, deer in the rugged hardwood ridges, pheasants and quail on the uplands.

Doc's hours are still spent improving his valley.  He gives new life to a rabbit by protecting brush piles, to a duck by scattering wild celery seed in one of the pools.  This year, Doc has added rock garden flower beds and has endged the pools with stone.

Doc is 65 now; his valley is older.  Both were near death, for as surely as the viurs spread through Doc's veins, so did the cancerous erosion spread through the valley.

By helping each other, both Doc and the valley are alive.

Tom Guyant - Journal Staff Correspondence


June 1968

Dr. Skroch, 71, Arcadia Dies

Dr. Joseph Skroch, 71, a retired physician, died this morning at St. Mary's Hospital, where he had been four weeks.  he had a heart ailment several years.

He was born Feb. 25, 1897, in Whitehall to John T. and Mary Parazynski Skroch.  He served in the Canadian army and was a U. S. Navy veteran of WWI.  A graduate of Ferris Institute, Big Rapids, Mich., and Marquette Univ. Medical School, Milwaukee, he interned at St. Francis Hosp., La Crosse and was a member of the hospital medical staff.  He was a fellow member of the Mayo Foundation and a member of the Wis. Medical Association, the American Medical Association, St. Stanislaus church and the American Legion.

He married Mabel Gillans, Dec. 23, 1933.  He established the first hopsital here (Arcadia) and practiced until illness forced his retirement.

Survivors are:  his wife and three daughters, Mary (Mrs. Thomas Slaherty), Milwaukee; Josepine (Mrs. James Smieja), and Jane, a student at Marquette University, Milwaukee; one brother, Roman, Independence, two half-brothers, Gregory, Loveland, Colo., and Ted, Indianapolis, Ind., and one half-sister, Clara (Mrs. Russell Grabery) Ashland, Wis.

Two brothers, one sister, and two half-brothers have died.

Funeral services will be Saturday at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.  Burial will be in the church cemetery.


SLABY, Thomas

Source - Independence News Wave, 25 Jan 1935

Thomas Slaby Sr. is laid to rest Saturday.  Died Thursday last week from heart attack.

Was born in Charnoventz, Germany on December 29, 1850.  Was 84 years old at time of death.

He came to this country with his parents, Basil and Agnes Slaby when he was 24 years old.  They homesteaded in Lewis Valley.

In 1880, he married Anna Filla.  He operated the homestead until 1908 when with his family he moved to Independence.  His wife died in 1927.

Before marriage, Mr. Slaby worked for Perry Heath, Nathan Comstock and John Gaveney.

Before he came to this country, he served in the German army.

Eleven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Slaby:  Frances (Mrs. Peter Kamrowski), Mary (Mrs. Ignatz Sobotta), Joseph, John, Anna (Mrs. Louis Kulig), Aloysie, Stella, Agatha, Anastasia, Paulina (Mrs. Frank Marisek), and Thomas.  Two children preceded him in death.  Also surviving is a brother, Norbert, 86, at Arcadia.


SMIEJA, Casper

Source - Independence News Wave, Friday, 28 Oct 1927

Casper Smieja buried Wednesday at age  of 69 years, 9 months, 22 days.

Born in Germany on Dec. 31, 1857.  Was 22 years old when he came to this country and settled on a farm in Travis Valley.

At age 28, he married Julia Skroch and moved to Independence.  His occupation was that of a stone mason.  His wife died in 1904.  Three years later he married Valeria Palkowski, she survives him.

Mr. Smieja was the father of 11 children, 6 by his first wife, and 5 by the second.

The oldest children are:  Roman, George, Sylvester, Mrs. Agatha Klimek, Mrs. Francis Kupka, and Mrs. Rose Weir.  The children born to the latter union are Helen, Peter, Dorothy, Sarah and Edward.

Three brothers and four sisters also survive, John and Ray, Boulus, Minn., Frank in Royalton, Minn., Mrs. Johanna Waletzki, Mrs. Thomas Benusa, Boulus, Minn., Susan Suchla, Jamestown, North Dakota and Mrs. Lucy Kulig.


SMIEJA, George

Source - Independence News Wave, Friday, 20 Jan 1928

Was born in Germany on May 9, 1847 and died at Independence, Wisconsin on January 13, 1928.  Was 80 years old.

Was married in old country and came to America a little later.  Settled on the farm known as the Jake Klimek place.  Later bought the farm now occupied by Simon Kulig.  He disposed of the farm and bought one in Maule Coulee where his son Andrew now lives.

Wife died in 1917 and he moved into the village and lived with his son, August.

Was father of 9 children, 8 of whom survive.  Those surviving are:  Peter, Royalton, Minnesota, Mrs. Joe Ressler, Independence, Mrs. Matt Sylla, Independence, Mrs. Stanley Halama, Independence, Mrs. Albin Woychik, Independence, Mike, Andrew and August.


George Smieja's wife was Pauline Warzeha.  Her parents were George Warzeha and Elizabeth Benusa.  Pauline died September 18, 1915 at 64 years of age.


SMIEJA, George T.

Source - Independence News Wave, 08 Jan 1976

George Smieja Dies of Heart Attack

George Smieja, 77, Independence, died of a heart attack, Tuesday, December 30 at 6:30 p.m. at his home.

He was born May 16, 1898 in Independence to Casper and Julia Skroch Smieja and married Clara Sobotta June 8, 1920.  For 32 years, he operated  the Smieja's Meat Market with his brother Roman.  Later he went into the mink business where he became very prominent with his prize mink, winning many state and national honors.

Survived by his wife, and three sons, Raymond, Edmund and James, Independence.  Six grandchildren, one great grandchild, one brother, Sylvester and a sister, Rose Weir, Independence, and one half-brother, Edward, Eau Claire and a half-sister, Mrs. Ed (Helen) Eichman, Milwaukee.  A daughter, two sisters and a half-brother have died.

Funeral services were Friday at 11:00 a.m. at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, the Rev. James Binkowski officiating.  Burial is in the church cemetery.

Kern Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


SOBOTTA, Michael

Source - Independence News Wave, 16 Jan 1920

Mike Sobotta, aged 83 died last week.

Was born September 29, 1836 in German, Poland.

Married Agatha Kulig at age 20.

They came to this country in 1861 and settled on a farm in North Creek where they lived until 15 years ago when they moved to Independence where they resided ever since.

Survived by his aged wife and ten children:  Mike of Thompson Vally in Town of Arcadia; Mrs. John Rozek of Winona, Minnesota; Mrs. Paul Woychik of Plum Creek; Mrs. Jake Klimek, Tony and John of Independence; sister Theopeasta of Chicago Convent; and Father Paul M. Sobotta of Chicago.  Six children preceded him in death.


SOSALLA, Agnes (Mrs. John)

Source - Independence News Wave, Sep 1943

Mrs. Sosalla died September 27, 1943.  Was born in Norok, Germany in Dec. 1851.

Came to this country 65 years ago.

Mother of Mrs. Gertrude Lisowski, Albert, John, Ray Joseph, others?


Source - SS Peter and Paul Church Records

Agnes Sosalla's parents were Thomas and Anna Biernick Gabriel.

She was married to John Sosalla.

She died September 27, 1943 at the age of 92.  She is buried in the SS Peter and Paul Cemetery in Independence.

Children baptized at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church:

CHR. REC. #    NAME        BORN               MARRIED
  210                John         20 May 1880       Marie Blacha
  290                Marie        01 Apr 1882        Frank Waldera
  370                Julianna    18 Mar 1884        John Sygulla
  491                Rosalia      08 Jun 1886        Martin Kampa
  586                Joseph      19 Mar 1888        Victoria Marsolek
  754                Lucy         08 Dec 1890        Tom Mish
  902                Albert        26 Apr 1893        Christina Mish
1035                Gertrude    29 Mar 1895        Paul Lisowski



Dealer of farm machinery in Independence.

Born Nov. 29, 1850 in Troy, Sauk County, Wis.  Lived there with his parents until 1873.  Came to Arcadia for Krumdick and Muir, who were engaged in the farm machinery business.

He came to Independence in 1876 where he conducted the business for his former employer for two years.

In 1878, he bought Krumdick out and the firm was known as  Muir and Sprecher for one year.  He then bought out Muir and has since run the business alone.  Also has a farm of 160 acres.

Is a member of Evangelical Church at Independence.  His wife was Caroline Scaffer of Sauk County.   They have one son - John H.

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., 
go to here.)



Source - newspaper clipping from the Independence News Wave, 09 Mar 1972

Otto A. Sprecher, Retired Banker, Dies Thursday

Otto A. Sprecher, 89, passed away at Tri-County Memorial Hosptial on Thursday, March 2, after a brief illness.  He had enjoyed good health until shortly before his hospitalization.  He was a member of the Board of Directors of the State Bank of Independence from 1911 until his death.  Mr. Sprecher was the bank's oldest director in years of service, having served in that capacity for 61 years.

Mr. Sprecher was born in 1882 in Black Hawk, Sauk County, Wis.  He attended high school in Prairie du Sac, where he completed the normal 4-year curriculum in three years, in order to minimize the expense of attending school away from home.  Following his high school graduation in 1900, he was county school teacher in Black Hawk for two years.

In 1903 Mr. Sprecher was engaged as a bookkeeper by the State Bank of Independence, which had been founded a few years earlier by his uncle, John A. Sprecher, and Anton A. Senty.

In 1904 he became assistant cashier and served in that capacity until 1923, when he was advance to cashier.  He was elected a vice-president in 1943, and in 1961 he became executive vice-president of the bank.  Later in 1961 a serious illness led to his retirement as executive vice-president, but, after his recovery, he continued to serve as a director for the remaining eleven years of his life.

During his retirement years since 1961, Mr. Sprecher could be found at his desk in the bank for an hour or two every morning.  He seldom missed a day.  His principle activity was greeting and chatting with the people who came into the bank.  He liked people, and his friends were legion.  To many of the bank's customers, he was the link between the past and the bustling present.  Many remembered him as the man who had given a helping hand in the "old days", when they were struggling to get started and help was hard to come by.  Whent he new bank building was completed in 1970, Mr. Sprecher's desk was installed in the lobby, and many of the bank's patrons would stop at his desk for a short chat before transacting their business.

Early in his career, Mr. Sprecher demonstrated a skill and dependability in record-keeping and management which led to many positions of trust and responsibility.  He designed and installed the first double-entry bookkeeping system for the State Bank, and guided it through many years of subsequent evolution.  Similarly, he originated the records system for the Sprecher Lumber Co., where he served as treasurer for a few years, and as a director and secretary of the board for many years after that.  He was also appointed by the court to a number of guardianships.

The community frequently called upon Mr. Sprecher to contribute his time and his talents to the operation and progress of civic affairs and projects.  For 50 years he was treasurer of the Independence Volunteer Fire Co., and fought fires as well as keeping books.  For 47 years he was the treasurer of the United Methodist Church.  For 25 years he was secretary of the Trempealeau County Bankers Association.  He also served for many years on the Independence Board of Education and as a dirctor of the Greenwood Cemetery Association.

Among other organizations, he was a member of the 50 Year Club of the Wisconsin Bankers Association; and in recent years he cherished his honorary membership in the Independence Lions Club, of which he had been a charter member.

Throughout his career in Independence, Mr. Sprecher was an active supporter of innovations and changes aimed at the betterment of the community.  In recent years, many of his friends regarded this as a remarkable trait in a man who was no longer young.

In 1916 Mr. Sprecher married Ella Meyers, of Kenyon, Minn.  She was a registered nurse at that time, and had come to Independence to care for a seriously ill member of the Anton Senty family.  Two sons were born to this union.  In 1966 the many well-wishing friends of Otto and Ella Sprecher honored them with a Golden Wedding Celebration.

Survivors include:  his wife; two sons, Roland of Madison, Wis., and Robert of St. Louis, Mo.; four grandchildren; and one sister, Cora, Reedsburg, Wis.

Funeral services were held in the united Methodist Church on Sunday, March 6, the Rev. Gary Clark officiating.  Burial was in the Greenwood Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Earl Pape, John Senty, Edward J. Kulig, Peter Gruenes, Raymond Warner and Lee Hutchins.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - Otto Sprecher was the last of the Sprecher dynasty in Independence area.  First came John Sprecher, founder of the Independence State Bank.  Upon his death, son Walter became president.  The latter's son Drexel had interests in the East, and was never involved in the local banking business.  However, he was a stockholder and later sold out.  Otto, nephew of John Sprecher, came up from the ranks and became executive vice-president in 1961.  He was a kindly man, very approachable.)


STAMPHE, Susan (Mrs. John)

Source - Independence News Wave, 23 Dec 1943

Mrs. John Stamphe Obituary

Mrs. John (Susan) Stamphe, age 70, of Superior, Wisconsin, formerly of Virginia, Minnesota, and at one time a resident of Independence, died in a Superior hospital on Dec. 7, 1943.  Mrs. Stamphe, the daughter of George and Maria Klimek Kampa, was born in Independence July 8, 1873.

On February 29, 1892, she was married to John Stamphe.

Ten children were born to this union of whom seven are living:  Rose, Mary, Lucy, Sophie, Ann, Jennie and Agnes.  Also surviving is a sister, Mrs. Thomas Cech, and four brothers, Peter, Martin, John, all of Independence and Lawrence of Royalton, Minnesota.


SURA, John

Source - unknown

John Sura, Civil War Veteran, Age 16

Private Co. I, Regiment 36, Wisconsin Volunteer in service of United States.  Enlisted March 30, 1864.  Died from effects of gun shot wounds in right leg, Battle of Cold Harbor, State of Virginia, on or about June 3, 1864.

Born in Poppeleau, Upper Silesia, Prussia, son of Peter and Tekla Kahil Sura.  Both born in Poppeleau, Prussia, came to the United States in 1855 and into Burnside Township, Trempealeau [County] in early 1860s.  Settled in the Independence area.


Source - General Services Administration National Archives and Records Service

Civil War Veteran
John Sura, Son of Peter Sura Sr.
Enlisted at La Crosse, Wisconsin, age 16
Credited to Town of Arcadia, March 30, 1864

Private Co. I, Regiment 36
Wisconsin Volunteer in Service of United States.

Died at place unknown from effect of gun shot wound in right leg at Cold Harbor.  Incurred at or near Cold Harbor, in the state of Virginia on or about the 3rd day of June, 1864.  Burial in Military cemetery, Cold Harbor, Virginia.

Father - Peter Sura Sr., born in Poppeleau, Poland Upper Silesia, Prussia
Mother - Tekla Kachel, Born in Poppeleau.


SURA, Paul

Source - unknown

Paul Sura, a well known real estate dealer and businessman of Independence was born in the village June 11, 1880.  A son of Peter and Agatha Lukaszczyk Sura.

His father was born in Germany.  Came to America in 1857.  Was first Polish settler in Township of Burnside.  Died May 11, 1879 at age of 79 years.

Paul Sura married November 16, 1904, to Annie Wojcik of Independence, a daughter of Thomas and Frances Gierok Wojcik.


SURA, Peter Edward Jr.

Source - General Services Administration National Archives and Records Service.  Service No. 100333

Son of Peter Sura Sr.

Served in U. S. Marine Corps, Put. Co. 6, 2nd Division

Born - May 22, 1894, Independence, Wisconsin
Died - July 19, 1918 in France
Entered Service - August 8, 1917

The above data was supplied to Clarence J. Gamroth by Mrs. Joseph Meinholz (Veronica Sura) of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  She was the niece of Peter Edward Sura Jr.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - Peter Sura Sr. and his wife, Teckla Kachel came to the U. S. in 1855 and eventually settled in Township of Burnside.  He was present at the first township meeting in March 1864.  After Teckla died, Peter Sura Sr. married Agatha Lukasik.  John Sura and Peter Edward Sura Jr. were half-brothers.)


SUSA, August

Source - unknown

Was born August 26, 1875, died July 30, 1954. 

Son of John Susa and Josephine Gamroth Susa.

Farmed the Susa homestead in Korpal Valley near Arcadia.

In 1900 married Hattie Mish.  She was born August 26, 1874.  She died March 30, 1913.  Children:  Mary (Mrs. Stephan Slaby), Arcadia, Wis.; Emma (Mrs. John C. Bautch), Independence, Wis.

Second wife of August Susa was Mary Gabriel, born June 19, 1891. 

Son Michael lives in Arcadia, daughter Helen (Mrs. Joseph Jaszewski) lives in Dodge.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - As of February 1975, Mary Gabriel Susa lives at 205 Adams St. Independence, Wis.  A portion of the house was erected in 1876 by David Garlick.  It also served as a store and part office.  The village of Independence was platted in 1876 at which time David Garlick was among the first to buy a lot and build on it.  His daughter, Endora, married Phil Lambert.  The Lamberts' continued to live in the house until death.)


SUSA, John

Source - unknown

Born July 17, 1841 in Poppeleau, Upper Silesia, Prussia.  Served in Prussian army, fought in Prussian-Danish War and Prussian-Austrian War.

In 1868, at age of 27, came to U. S. with John Sygulla and twins, Clemence and Andrew Killian.

Worked for immigrants Albert and Lawrence Bautch in North Creek, Arcadia/Independence area.

In November 1873, married Josephine Gamroth at Waumandee, Buffalo County, Wisconsin.  She was the daughter of Albert Gamroth and Kate Siwek (Sheveck).  Eventually settled on a farm in Korpal Valley in the Arcadia - Independence area.  Two sons and a daughter were born to them.  One son and daughter died.  Son August survived.

John's wife, Josy, died Feb. 2, 1892.  On Jan. 30, 1894, John married Kate Bautch.  She was born Feb. 27, 1864 in Poppeleau, Prussia.  Died March 4, 1940.  They had three children. 

John Susa died Sept. 18, 1934 at age 93.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - Information is that before coming to the U. S., John Susa was a teacher in one of the higher institutions in Europe.  SS Peter and Paul Church recors states that John's first wife's name was Sophia and not Josephine.  Death entry #217 and August's baptismal entry #14.)


TAYLOR, James C.

Druggist, Independence.

Born April 1828 in Ontario County, New York.

Came West in 1861, stayed in Milwaukee for a year.  Then came to Trempealeau where he started a mercantile business.

In 1872 was elected Justice of Peace and was afterward engaged in collecting business.

In 1876 moved to Independence and entered upon present business, which he has followed since in connection with collecting.

Elected Justice of Peace soon after arrival in Independence.  Has been Town Clerk for several years.  Is agent for D. M. Kelly of Green Bay, for sale of lots in Independence.  Is member of A. O. V. W., being charter member of Independence Lodge of A. O. V. M. #27.

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., 
go to here.)



Manufacturer of boots and shoes, Independence.

Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, August 22, 1853.  In 1879 ? moved to Buffalo County, Wisconsin and worked on a farm for one year.

He learned shoe making in Fountain City where he remained until 1876.  In October of 1876 came to Independence and started the first shoe shop in the village.

In the Spring of 1880, he built the brick building he now occupies, it being the second brick building in the village.

On May 4, 1875, he married Helen Turde in Arcadia.  She was born in Wisconsin.  They have two children; Brunn H. and Clara W.

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., 
go to here.)



Dealer in merchandise, Independence, Wisconsin.

Born in Sweden, November 7, 1851.

Came to America in 1857 with his parents.  They first lived in Norway, Racine County, Wisconsin on a farm after which they moved to Trempealeau County where the father bought a farm of 232 acres where he remained with them teaching school at Arcadia during Winter of 1871 and 1872.

In 1874, Thomas Thompson started a store in Arcadia in company with Ole O. Peterson.  At the end of 14 months, sold out to Peterson.  he returned home and married Mrs. Thompson.

Moved to Village of Trempealeau and went into the machine business at which he continued for two years.

He returned to Arcadia and bought out his former partner and ran the store till February 1881, when he moved to Independence.

Is member of the A. F. and A. M., Arcadia Lodge #201.

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., 
go to here.)



Source - Independence News Wave, 10 Jun 1948

Christ Torgerson laid to rest on Monday.  Was born in Norway on December 8, 1865.

Came to U. S. in 1874 and lived in Black River Falls for 2 years before coming to Independence.

Married Martha Bidney in 1883.

Bought L. E. Danuser and Liver hardware store and remained in the business until he sold out to Torgerson's two sons, Wren and Albert.


TRUMBULL, William R.

Proprietor of Trumbull Hotel, Independence.

Born in town of Hammond, St. Lawrence County, New York, where he live duntil 1855 when he came to Wisconsin.

He first lived in Fountain City, Buffalo County where he worked in a small mill.  He continued this for 12 years until 1867 when in the Fall of the year was elected sheriff of Buffalo County for two years.  He then worked at carpentering for one year after which he went into the flouring mill for three years and afterward rented the Mallinger House in Fountain City, in 1875, which he ran for two years.

He then bought his present place in Independence.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - The Trumbull Hotel is now known as The Welcome House and stands on the original site at Third and Washington streets.)

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., go to here.)


WARNER, Raymond K & Rufus C.

Rufus and Raymond Warner are the sons of Robert Warner, who was born at Bantry, County Cork, Ireland.  He died in 1908 in the Township of Hale.  He came to the U. S. in 1850.

In August of that year, he enlisted in the U. S. army and was sent with his regiment to California to protect the frontier from the Indians.  He served 5 years and returned to Massachusetts where he married Margaret Sullivan.  They then came to Adams County, Wis.  In 1864, he moved his family to Trempealeau County.  His wife died in 1868.  In 1870, he married Mary Ann Kersham.

Raymond K. and Rufus C. were born in Hale Township and bought the old farm in 1905.  They farmed until 1913 when they bought the implement business of Tubbs Bros.


WARNER, Rufus C.

Source - newspaper clipping (unidentified regarding newspaper name and publication date)

In Memoriam

Rufus C. Warner, 1882 - 1966

Rufus C. Warner, promenent business man of Independence passed away Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1966 in Rochester, Minn. at the age of 84.  A leading citizen of the community, he was vice president and stockholder of the  State Bank of Independence and director since 1924, a former village president and mayor, member of the school board, member of the Rationing Board during World War II, and charter member of the Lions Club.

He operated the warner Feed and Elevator, Warner Brothers Implement and a large farm on the outskirts of the city.  By ard work and keen ability he achieved success in the business community of the area and had a wide acquaintance of friends and associates.  he was highly regarded by his business associates, and often consulted for his valued opinions.

Warner was born August 24, 1882 in the town of Hale on a farm his father, Robert, homesteaded in 1864, the property being in the family over 100 years.  Robert Warner came to this country during the Potato Famine in Ireland in 1850 from the village of Bantry in County Cork.  Robert Warner served his country in the Indians Wars, enlisting at Sacketts Harbor, N. Y. on the St. Lawrence River, was sent to California frontier by way of Panama, walking across the isthmus.  he was discharged August 27, 1855 with the rank of sergeant.

Robert Warner married in April 1856 in South Harley, Mass. to Margaret Sullivan, of Holyoke, Mass. and in 1857 came west to Adams county, Wisconsin where he purchased 80 acres in Sect. 20, Tn 17, R6 of the Town of Adams.  he sold thi sland in May 1864 for $100 and moved to the Town of Hale, Trempealeau County to section 34, Warner being the seventh settler in the Town.

On February 29, 1868, his wife died leaving him with 2 daughters and 3 sons to care for, Hester (Mrs. James Bryan), Mary Ann (Mrs. Ansel Keith), Rober, John and William.  In 1870 he married Mary Ann Kershaw of Adams County and to them were born 5 children, Catherine (Mrs. Albert Wingad), Margaret (Mrs. Frank G. Wingad), Rose (Mrs. W. H. Boyd), Raymond K., and Rufus C. Warner.

Robert Warner, the father died on February 10, 1908 and Rufus and Raymond operated the home farm since 1905 when they purchased it from their father, farming it till the fall of 1913.  Rufus attended Elk Creek School and was graduated from Whitehall High School and taught in the Elk Creek School.  Rufus owned 80 acres of the original homestead of grandmother Hester Wolfe [or White - very hard to read] Warner in section ? [unreadable] in Town of Hale.  She came to this country from Scotland in 1854. 

In 1913, Rufus and his brother Raymond, bought the implement business of Tubbs Bros. of Independence.  Included was the agency for a "new" spreader called "Independence Special" which was manufactured by Litchfield Mfg. Co. of Waterloo, Iowa.  This machine was made especially to meet the conditions existing in this territory and a great number of them were sold.

For a time the brothers were dealers in livestock with Tubbs Brothers operating under the name of Tubbs and Warner.  Raymond K. Warner died in 1919 and Rufus took over the implement business, acquiring the International Harvester Co. francise which he represented in the Independence area for many years.  In 1949 he purchased the feed and elevator business of Mr. Roberts and in later years, Warners son Raymond R. Warner was associated with him in the elevator in the operation of the farm which specialized in turkeys, hybrid seed corn and beef cattle.

A community service award was presented [unreadable] [ban]quet in February 1959.  The award plaque was given for outstanding service to the community in the field of agriculture with the approval of  the [unreadable] and national FFA.

Rufus Warner was president of the Warner Family Association and was one of the organizers of the group which holds an annual reunion each August at the Cabin-In-The-Pines at Osseo.  The first family gathering was held nearly 40 years ago at the Warner home in Independence.

He married Agnes Morchinek, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Morchinek on January 31, 1921.  Survivors are:  His wife, one son Ramond R. warner, Independence, one daughter, Mrs. Richard (Rosemary) Allen, Austin, Minn., a foster daughter, La Von Reyes, at home, six grandchildren and one sister, Mrs. Rose Boyd, Madison, South Dakota.  Five brothers and three sisters have passed away.

Funeral services were held November 27 at the Methodist Church with Rev. Ruwal Freese officiating.  Burial was in the Greenwood Cemetery, Independence.  Pallbearers were Lester Senty, Martin Weimer, Pat Gruenes, John Lucente, Malcom Warner and Earl Hutchins.  Honorary pallbearers were Robert Gilfillian, Myron Oson, Roy Lyga, Otto Sage___er[unreadable] and P. M. Paulson.



Source - Independence News Wave (no date)

John Woychik died in Independence on Wednesday, 28 May, at the age of 76 years and 10 months.

He was son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Woychik of Poppeleau, Germany where he was born and lived there until age of 11 years when the family moved to America and settled on a farm in the Town of Burnside.

On January 22, 1883, he married Julia Pampuch.  They moved to a farm 4½ miles southwest of the village where they resided until 1923.  Then they moved to Independence when they turned over the farm to their son Thomas.

Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Woychik - two sons and three daughters; Frank died in 1918 at the age of 33 and Susan died in 1928 at the age of 40 years.

Surviving children are:  Thomas, Mrs. Andrew Sura and Miss Seraphine.  Mrs. Woychik also survives.  He also leaves one sister, Mrs. Hyacinth Kulig.  Thomas Woychik was a brother.



Source - Independence News Wave, 13 Jan 1906

John Zilla died Wednesday morning.  He was born in Germany July 18, 1866.  Came to the U. S. with his parents in 1870.  Survived by his wife and three daughters.

John Zilla lived in Independence for 14 years.  He wasconnected with Bautch and Zilla in the well drilling business.

(Comment from Clarence J. Gamroth - Zilla drilled the first well in 1895 for the Independence water system.  The well runs near the site of the present city hall.)


Ship list - "Germans to America" by Glazer and Tilby, Vol. 24.  Jan. 1870 - Dec. 1870, page 228

SILLA, Johana     41    M    Laborer
SILLA, Franzia    33    F    Wife
A.                        5    M    child
Anna                    4    F    child
Joh.                     2    M    child
P.                       .11        infant
Agnes                 .01        infant

Ship Bavaria sailed from Hamburg - Havre  to New York.  Arrived May 28, 1870.

John Zilla's parents were John Sylla and Frances (Warzecha) Sylla.  He was born on July 18, 1866 in Poppeleau.  He married Agnes Motczko Feb. 9, 1892 at SS Peter and Paul Church, Independence, Wisconsin (church record #99).  They had four children:  Lucy (Mrs. Simon Skroch), Helen, Euphrosine (Mrs. Niel Campbell), and Anna E.  He died Jan. 10, 1906 at the age of 39 (church record #516).


ZIMMER, Hannah (Mrs. J. L.)

Source - Independence News Wave, 01 Mar 1929

Mrs. John L. Zimmer Laid to Rest on Monday

Hannah Streage, daughter of Herman and Caroline Streage was born in Pummern, Germany, September 25, 1863 and died February 22, 1929 in Independence, Wisconsin at age 65.

She came to this country at the age of 25 with her parents and two sisters - one sister came here two years previously.  When not working, she made her home with her sister, Mrs. Dan Scholz.  Hannah was a maid at the John Sprecher home for 18 years.

On June 4, 1913, she was married to John L. Zimmer.  No children were born to them.



Farmer, section 19 in Town of Burnside, Independence.  Was born in New York, January 17, 1836.  Came to Wisconsin in 1844 and lived with his parents for one year in Racine County after which they moved to Jefferson County where his father bought a 121 acre farm.

John lived there until he was 20 years old when he married Margaret Wunderlich, a native of Germany.  They moved to Juneau County where he worked in a saw mill and afterward at constructing railroads and then ran a store at New Lisbon for one year. 

In 1862, enlisted in the 12th Wis. Battery and after serving six months was wounded in the right leg in the battle of Corinth which unfitted him for future service.  He returned to Juneau County where he remained until the Spring of 1864 at which time he came to Trempealeau County and rented a farm in the Town of Hale on which he lived for three years.  In 1867, moved to his present farm.  He was a member of the Town Board of Burnside for three years.  Is a member of A. O. V. W. Independence Lodge #27.

(Transcriber's note - this biographical material was copied in part from the book "History of Northern Wisconsin" which was published in 1881 by the Western Historical Society, Chicago.  For an exact transcription of this biography, including references to page numbers, etc., go to here.)



Source - Independence News Wave, 07 Feb 1936

Former Businessman has died on Tuesday

M. H. Zimmer was born in Travis Valley, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin on July 31, 1871.  He was 64 years old at time of death.  Son of John Jacobs and Margaret Wunderlich Zimmer.  In 1891, moved to Independence with his parents.  He followed carpentry and later became building contractor.

In 1896, became manager of Sprecher and Schaffer Lumber Company which later became the Sprecher Lumber Co.  He continued with it until 1927.  He also owned the Independence Brick Yard which gave employment to many.

In 1895, he married Miss Nettie Bach, a daughter was born but died in infancy.  In 1897, the wife died.  He again married in 1906 to Miss Nan Powley who with an adopted son Harold still survive.

Mr. Zimmer's two brothers, John L. and William, preceded him in death.  Of six sisters, only one survives - Mrs. Eliza Cripps.  Those who preceded him in death were two sisters dying in infancy.  The others were Malinda Metz, Mrs. Emma Brewer and Mrs. Bertha Back.


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