(Originally published in the Winter 2008 MAGIC Newsletter)
By Marilyn Rohr
With the coming of the automobile, one of the first auto repair businesses in Mishicot was started in the early 1920s by William (Bill) Meineke (on left in photograph). His first garage was located on Main Street, close to the river behind the old grain mill (now the Country Store). Bill and his wife Mayme (Redeker), raised two sons, Donald and Dale. While the boys were overseas in the Second World War, Bill wrote to them, asking if they would join him in business when they returned. If so, he would build a new building next to their home. "Meineke & Sons Garage" was built at 137 West Main Street, now the site of Mishicot Auto Sales, where the three operated the business together. Thus, Meineke’s garage, operated in two locations on Main Street, was active for a total of sixty years. During those years, Bill and his sons also served as Mishicot Volunteer Firemen; Dale was Assistant Fire Chief for 30 years.
The business enterprises of the Meineke families in the Mishicot, Larrabee and Two Rivers area had their roots with their hard working German ancestors, the Schmidt family. Johann & Dorothea Schmidt came to Wisconsin in the 1850s, cleared the land, farmed, and raised a large family in a log home. In 1905, after the great Chicago fire created a need for brick buildings, four of the Schmidt’s sons moved to Chicago and started the Schmidt Bros. Construction Co. Over the next thirty-five years, the company built 250 schools, churches, YMCAs, offices and the famous Medinah Country Club, which hosts major golf tournaments.
Other sons and daughters of the Schmidts remained farmers, such as Minnie, who married Charles Meineke, father of William, and five more sons and three daughters, most of whom remained in the area.
The oldest of the Meineke children was Leona, who married Alvin Jindra. Together they owned a cheese factory in Kingsbridge, later a farm across the road from what is now Fox Hills Resort. Their five children are Ethel Breitwisch, Alvin Jr., Roy Jindra, (who started Jindra Plumbing & Heating), Daniel, and Grace Schleis.
Nora Meineke and her husband, William Menges, also had a cheese factory and eventually ran the Clover Farm Grocery Store in Larrabee. Their daughter, Mildred Haese, later ran the store and William, Jr., Betty Wentker and Paul Menges also from Larrabee. William and Nora’s brother, Raymond Meineke, built a grain mill in Larrabee, which was run by Raymond and his wife, Elvira (Ahrens).
Herbert Meineke and his wife, Hattie (Kadow), lived across the street from the Meineke Garage in Mishicot and sold chickens, eggs and vegetables from their large garden. Hattie could often be seen riding her bicycle to work while she worked at Holst Department Store in Mishicot for forty years. Daughter, Donna (Meineke) Barnes lives in Colorado.
Two of the Meineke brothers lived in Two Rivers. Harold, who married Ruth (Stueck) of Mishicot, was in partnership in the Two Rivers Motor Co. on 16th Street, selling and servicing Hudson and Rambler automobiles. They had two children, Richard and Audrey (Meineke) Shambeau, both of Two Rivers.
Also in Two Rivers were Erhardt and his wife, Viola (Hels). Erhardt was a brick and stone mason, having learned the trade in the Schmidt Family Construction business in Chicago. Erhardt and Viola had three daughters, Marilyn Rohr, Joyce Beth and Bev Etzelmueller. Ervin Meineke and wife, Hilda (Mertens) of Two Rivers, also moved to Chicago to work in the construction company. Esther (Meineke) Holsopple and her husband, Dwight, lived in Beverly Hills, California where Esther had worked as a nanny for Erich VanStroheim, who later became a movie actor. They have a son, Carl, now of Florida.
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