|GREEN BAY PRESS GAZETTE
JULY 31, 1935
WAS SETTLED 50 YEARS AGO
Village Was Incorporated In 1910, 25 Years Now
PULASKI, Wis. — Culminating fifty years of strenuous labor
and hardship to develop an unpromising lowland of brush and pine stumps
into, a thriving community of industries and homes, Pulaski village, on
Saturday and Sunday, observes the fiftieth year of its founding with a huge
homecoming celebration. It is also twenty-five years since the village was
incorporated, making the celebration a joint Golden-Silver Jubilee festival.
Half a century ago, in the summer of 1885, J.
J. Hoff, a Chicago landowner and real estate dealer, having bought up a vast
tract of land in this territory, made plans for the building of the village
that he called Pulaski. Evidently he was something of a visionary, since it
is apparent that by his selection of the village site at the exact juncture
of the counties of Brown, Shawano, and Oconto, he predicted the growth of a
large and prosperous trading and manufacturing center.
Name Was Attraction
Large numbers of Polish immigrants were then coming to the Middle West to
settle. A few were in the town of Hofa Park, named after the landowner, and
were induced to make their "stakes" in Hoffs proposed community. Many Polish
people in Milwaukee, Chicago and the Pennsylvania mining regions were
attracted by Hoffs' circulars and personal visits that were glowing account
of the attractions to be offered at Pulaski. it An instance of Hoff's keen
sense of business strategy and psychology in attracting Polish immigrants is
shown in his selection of the name "Pulaski," in honor of Count Casimer
Pulaski, the Polish nobleman who fought with the American patriots in the
War for Independence. Most of the people who came bought their land in forty
and eighty acre lots, "sight unseen," building a town and community whose
people even today are largely of Polish extraction.
Retail beginnings were made in 1887, when Valentine
Peplinski brought his family from Hofa Park and opened the first grocery
store. This old building was still in service until last year as a
blacksmith shop, having been moved from its original location on Pulaski or
"Main" street, near the Pulaski state bank.
Accompanying Valentine Peplinski of Pulaski was his son
John B. who, with his father, must be given much of the credit for the
town's early development and steady growth. The Peplinskis were born in
Poland, and John was 17 years old when they came to Pulaski.
Still Operates Store
The elder Peplinski died in 1915, and today John is still
a robust and an active businessman, one of the "oldtimers." Besides several
other connections, he operates a well stocked hardware store, representing a
passing generation of the old-fashioned, conservative type of store keeper.
Mr. Peplinski likes to tell about the conditions as they
were in those early days. Contrasted with the village as it is today, the
changes seem almost phenomenal, since the community is a comparative
"youngster" as against the histories of many similar sized Wisconsin towns.
There were only the barest excuses of roads laboriously chopped through the
trees and underbrush, and during the first half dozen years the town itself
was only a wide space in the road. "And not too wide at that!" Mr. Peplinski
recalls. Today it has grown to a population of 900, surrounded by a thickly
populated farming section.
A trip to Green-Bay for supplies, a distance of eighteen
miles, was an event in itself. Travel was by ox team and wagon, and if
everything went well the driver usually was gone no longer than two days. If
the roads were "bad" there was no telling when the driver might be expected
back in town.
A settler named Mike Jaroch was the first farmer to locate
in the section immediately north of Pulaski, having come from Milwaukee in
1884. By 1890 there were only five farmers on the road to Angelica, with
others sparsely scattered about. Farming was mainly on a subsistence basis
during the first years while the land was being cleared, and there was very
little cash handled by the farmers. As soon as the land was cleared,
however, it was found that the soil would raise fine crops, and the farmers
Had Plenty of Work
"It was a tough life," Mr. Peplinski relates. "Making a
living was hard, but when we made some money we kept it until we were ready
to spend it; no depressions and overnight business failures touched us then.
Salt pork, flour, and salt were the main staples of the grocery trade by the
Peplinskis before the turn of the century. Most of the people were farmers,
and those few who followed some other line of business had gardens that
produced much of their food.
"We had no pleasures; it was all work, and plenty of
that!" Mr. Peplinski averred in answer to an innocent question as to what
the settlers did for relaxation. "We used to have a picnic every year on the
Fourth of July, though," he reflected after a pause.
In 1890 the Peplinskis expanded their grocery and general
merchandise business to include farm
implements. That this was a happy decision is attested by the fact that the
J. A. Peplinski Hardware company today enjoys a heavy run of business and is
one of the village's largest stores.
During the same year, in 1890, the
facilities of the postal department were brought to Pulaski. Valentine
Peplinski was the first postmaster, handling the sparse volume of letters
and other matter in his store. Until 1905 the mail was brought by the
stagecoach passing through Angelica, where the "mail runner," who obviously
couldn't do much running over that particular road, carried it the three
miles to Pulaski.
John Peplinski also had the honor of being
postmaster for a time. Today the post office has a third class rating,
having fallen from second class during the years of the depression. It is
located in the J. A. Peplinski building on Pulaski street. Three rural
delivery routes are maintained, covering a total of 145 miles.
A sawmill was erected by Hoff, and here
local farmers brought their own logs to be cut into boards and shingles for
their homes and farm buildings. Trees consisted largely of oak, hemlock,
second growth pine, and a sprinkling of maple, beech and other hardwoods.
Many of the buildings were constructed of heavy logs, roughly hewn to shape.
"Raising bees" and "shingling bees'* were about the nearest approach to
social enjoyment for these hard worked men, who banded together in comradey
fashion to help their neighbors with building operations.
A profoundly religious people, embracing
the Roman Catholic faith, these early Polish settlers were never without the
ministrations of the church. Occasional masses were
read by visiting priests until 1887, when J. J. Hoff made a 120 acre grant
to the Franciscan Fathers for a monastery and church. Before the close of
the following year, a humble chapel was erected and work started on the
From these meager beginnings, the monastery
and church grew into the present splendid institutions. The monastery is a
thriving community of its own, housing a printing establishment that does a
rushing business for the church and the Order and job printing for the
general public. St. Mary's church, a beautiful new edifice, is one of the
prides of the village.
A modern parochial day school of eight
grades is maintained by St. Mary's parish. The Polish National Catholic
church, a comparatively smaller parish, is the only other church in Pulaski.
Villagers and nearby residents of other faiths are served by out-of-town
churches in the vicinity, including a Methodist church at Angelica, and
Lutheran churches at Owego, Lessor, and Kunesh. The Kunesh Lutheran church
celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year.
Incorporated in 1910
John Peplinski was the first president of the Pulaski Merchants' and
Farmers Telephone company, organized on March 14, 1910. Other officers were
Louis Peplinski, vice-president, and F. K. Ramczewski, secretary-treasurer.
The original capital stock of the company was $5,000, which since has grown
to $25,000. D. E. Riorden is the present manager. The first telephone line
was built to serve subscribers between Pulaski and Angelica. Today the
exchange has a total of 500 subscribers, maintaining service 24 hours of the
The year 1910 evidently was a busy one for
Pulaski, for in addition to the organizing of the telephone company, the
village was incorporated, the Pulaski Stats bank capitalized, and a new
public school building completed. The village was growing rapidly at this
time, no little credit being due to the Chicago and Northwestern railroad
which finished building its lines from Green Bay with
branches out of Pulaski to Gillett and Shawano in 1907.
Being elected the first president of the village when it
was incorporated in 1910, was another milestone in the career of John
Peplinski, a busy citizen who never courts fame or publicity, but is always
ready to talk over "old times" with his numerous friends. Charles L. Lebich
was the secretary of the first village board, and Lawrence Szymanski was
The Pulaski State bank was organized with a capitalization
of $15,000, the investment of 22 stockholders. John Peplinski, Harry T.
Peplinski were instrumental in organizing the bank. John Peplinski was
elected president and F. K. Ramczewski was cashier. For several months
business was conducted from an office in the Peplinski home and the present
bank building was finished the following year.
Always conservative in its dealings, the Pulaski State
bank weathered the years of the recent depression safely. Today it has a
capital stock of $50,000. Harry T. Peplinski is the president and Tony Efta,
Organized Fire Department
Prior to 1910, educational facilities, while provided,
were informal and inadequate to the needs of the growing community. Teachers
conducted classes in private homes and vacant rooms above stores. The first
unit of the present modern building was completed the same year the village
was incorporated, and Oscar H. Cooley was the first principal. The high
school addition was finished in 1923.
In 1912 the first fire fighting equipment was purchased,
at a cost of $2000. Ably manned by volunteers, Pulaski's fire department
today is the means of saving much property from destruction by fire. Not
only are residences and business places within the village protected but
frequent calls are answered from nearby farming sections.
One of the outstanding businessmen in the village at the
present time is Malon Prokopovitz, whose large department store, elevator,
and oil products company grew out of a small retail business established in
1908. The White Store, on property owned by Mr. Prokopovitz on St. Augustine
Street, today is housed in his own building of 110 feet frontage, and with a
depth of 100 feet.
The White Elevator, also operated by Mr. Prokopovitz, is a
trading center for farmers as far as 15 miles away. Grains, cabbage,
potatoes and other farm produce are bought, with a large part loaded
directly into freight cars and shipped to Chicago and Milwaukee markets.
Farm needs of all kinds, as well as gasoline and other petroleum products,
The Pulaski Canning Company, Inc., representing Pulaski's
largest manufacturing business, is a direct benefit to farmers who have
vegetable produce to sell. and to local employees. First opened in 1928, the
factory cans large amounts of beans, corn, beets, and cabbage, and during
the actual canning season has approximately 105 men and women on the pay
Good Canning Year
D. J. McIlree is the present manager of the concern.
Products are sold to wholesalers or handled through brokers, with some being
shipped as far away as New York. Much of it is sold under the firm's own
brands, "Nu-Gold,'* and "Gold-Kist." Various sizes of cans, including 1, 2,
2½, and 10, are used.
Indications for the season this year, if weather continues
to be favorable, point to the largest output in the experience of the
company. Contracts made with growers include 180 acres of beans, 342 acres
of corn, 28 acres of beets, and 6 acres of carrots. In addition, 100 acres
of cabbage, to be canned into kraut, have been contracted at the prevailing
market price, although it is anticipated that a heavy tonnage of
non-contracted cabbage will be purchased.
Pulaski is the center of a prosperous agricultural region,
and some of the most efficient and best equipped farms to be found in the
entire state are located near the village. Accordingly, many of Pulaski's
businessmen depend to a great extent on the handling of farm products and
supplies, and their prosperity is immediately proportionate to the
prosperity of the farmers.
Farming is almost wholly of a diversified nature, with
emphasis on dairying. Farms run from 80 to 160 acres, with the average
perhaps 140 acres, although there are several of 200 acres or more. Two
cheese and a milk bottling plant within the village, and numerous other
cheese factories in the neighborhood, handle most of the heavy volume of
fluid milk produced.
|EXCELLENT HIGH SCHOOL IS MAINTAINED FOR
PULASKI, Wis.—In the Roosevelt High School is seen the reason for one of the
proudest boasts of Pulaski's citizens. Besides offering excellent and
educational opportunities to the youth of the village and many from outlying
districts, it also serves local townspeople through its fine library and its
athletic and extra-curricular program of music, dramatics, and other
The building, which houses all twelve
grades of the public education system, is well-equipped, modern, and
declared fully adequate for the needs of the community by the state
department of public instruction. Recently the entire building was
redecorated; and renovated, and a fine lawn established. The large gymnasium
and the auditorium with its stage, compare favorably with any in
similar-sized high schools of northeastern Wisconsin.
Training for Life
Much of the credit for the high standards maintained in
the school is due to the efforts of Alvin E. O'Konski, who will begin his
third year as village superintendent of education and principal of the high
school. Mr. O'Konski is keenly interested in the recent trends in education
believing that the present emphasis on practical training is highly
"The purpose of the high school has changed considerably
in the eyes of educators and citizens in general during the past ten years,"
he points out. In the past, the average high school was looked upon
primarily as a preparatory school for college,
regardless of whether the student had means or desire to continue his
"Today the high school is, and should be, regarded more
and more as a training school for practical life. By effective guidance,
students should be led to select a schedule of work that will be of the most
practical value to themselves individually. Formerly the curriculum was
almost total compulsory; today it is widely elective."
A course in business law was introduced last year as an
elective subject. Chemistry and journalism are also
among the new electives taught. Beginning with the next term, every student
will be required to take the first year typewriting course. In addition the
usual range of subjects of the smaller high school is provided.
During the past two years, the enrollment in the high
school grew from 137 to 208. The school is fully accredited with the North
Central Association of Schools. Beginning next year, all of the high school
teachers will be required to have at least a bachelor's degree.
One of Mr. O'Konski's most noteworthy achievements has
been to build up a library of 4,000 volumes, with an "A-1" rating from the
standpoint of supplementary material and fiction. Library cards are issued
to the general public, and it is reported that people from as far as 14
miles away take advantage of this privilege. The library is also a branch
unit of the Kellogg Public library in Green Bay.
Music was first introduced last year, and a 45-piece band
developed under the direction of William Loebol, music instructor, The band
appeared in several concerts recently and will take an active part in
Pulaski's anniversary celebration. It is planned to organize a junior band
in the grades next year, and to further increase the music opportunities
available to the students through several other projects.
Mr. Loebel resigned his position as music instructor
recently and will be replaced by Victor Zimmerman. Zimmerman comes as a
graduate of the Oshkosh State Teachers college, and with two year's
experience with the Chicago Symphony orchestra. Miss Shirley Layde, West De
Pere, recently engaged to teach history, music, and Latin, will also assist
with the music and band work.
Strong in Forensics
Other instructors on the high school faculty for next year
will be Miss Annabel Carroll, Durand, Wisconsin, Miss Veronica Hemmings,
Janesville, and R. P. Kennedy, Pulaski, with a science teacher still to be
engaged. Teachers in the grades are the Misses Janice Kelley, Fond du Lac,
Lois Brehmer, Manitowoc, and Edna Konsora, San Francisco. One other teacher
for the grades has not been selected up to this time.
The extra-curricular program includes a highly developed
program of forensics and public speaking. Last year's debating team won all
of its scheduled meets with local high schools, including Oconto, Shawano,
West De Pere, and Neenah. Numerous dramatic programs drew hundreds of people
for each performance.
Football and basketball are the chief athletic activities,
and during the past years the school always proved worthy opponents even
against teams from comparatively larger schools. Next year teams will appear
in games scheduled with the Catholic conference. R. P. Kennedy will begin
his fifth year as coach. A girls basketball team has been in
existence for several years.