Category Archives: Frank and Rosa Mader Family

Frank Mader Jr. 1882 – 1971

Frank Mader Jr.
1882 – 1971

Frank was the youngest of Frank and Rosa’s children born on the Mormon Coulee farm March 16, 1882. He received his education at Elm Grove School about two miles from home. (Located where Mormon Coulee Road meets Losey Blvd.) Frank reminisced about his school days in an article in the La Crosse Tribune, July 1, 1951.

“…the snow was so deep that it was necessary for the children to wait for some farmer enroute to La Crosse from some place farther out to break trail with team and bobsled before they could proceed to school.

“Air conditioning of the school was primitive but effective–the loose windows and door did the job. Heat was supplied by a stove.

“First boys to arrive in the morning were required to build the fire, knock the ice from the water bucket and fill it from the pump in the yard.

“Sometimes the teacher was late. This was a serious situation for the shivering youngsters and usually solved by boosting “the smallest kid” (usually Mader) to an opening near the roof. The youngster would crawl in, drop through a trap door to the floor below and release the door latch.”

After the family moved to La Crosse, Frank Jr. only 14 years old, went to work for the Hackner Altar Works on 13th and Ferry for $1.50 a week. The workday was from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. six days a week. Later his wages were increased to $2.00 a week.

He left Hackner’s to work for Ed Riley, a contractor. The hours were the same as before, but the pay was $9.00 a week. “For heaven’s sake, don’t let the rest of the crew know I’m paying you wages like that, ” Riley had told him. “They’d all want it.” One of the buildings he worked on was the Holy Trinity Convent.

Frank almost became a building tradesman but was determined to be a merchant. He left the good job with Riley to become a clerk for the Gaspard Shoe Co. on So. Fourth St. for a salary of $4.00 per week. (Site occupied by Popcorn Tavern.) His chief duties as “clerk” were sweeping the sidewalk, washing windows, stoking the stove, emptying ashes, running errands, and replacing the stock that customers took down from shelves. The work day was still nearly 12 hours long, six days a week.

Later he went to work for Volz and Reuter, clothing merchants located at 125 So. Fourth St. In 1904, at the age of 24, he bought the interest of Volz and the firm became Reuter and Mader. Ten years later with his brothers, Joseph and Henry, they bought out the remaining half and the firm became The Mader Clothing Co.

Coon hunting was Frank’s favorite sport, bagging a total of 866 raccoons, a record he was to regret in later years. He kept the coon dogs in the barn by the alley. One day a coon dog got loose and it went to Strassers who lived a block away. The coon dog took the beef roast right off their table. As a rifle shot he had several championships to his credit and once put a shooting gallery out of business by winning six rifles.

Before his marriage, Frank attended 53 weddings in Wisconsin and Minnesota and acted as best man in 13. Some being overnight affairs. After he married, his wife exclaimed, “This has got to stop!”

In 1906, he married Magdaline Weigel. She was the daughter of Joseph A. Weigel of La Crosse. Frank’s father converted the upstairs of his home into an apartment for them. They had two daughters, Viola born in 1909 and Florence in 1911. Around 1919 the family bought a house at 1227 So. 14th St. Magdaline passed away after a short illness in 1929 at the age of 47.

Frank was unhappy about his daughter Florence’s marriage to Olaf Hoff, a Norwegian, but later Olaf worked in the Mader Clothing Store. Never wanting his oldest girl, Viola, to marry at all, he busted up every relationship that she had with a boy by being rude to him or by talking to the boy’s father – and that was the end of that! Viola kept house for him and worked in the store without pay. One time his brother Henry who kept the books gave Viola a check but Frank found out and tore it up. Finally Viola couldn’t take being dictated to any longer. She went to beauty school in Milwaukee where she met her future husband, Ray Winkel. She came home and told her father, “Dad, I decided I’m not going to be single all my life. I have a boyfriend and I’m going to get married whether you like it or not!” And he had a fit! She was 36 years old.

Frank was the manager of the Mader Clothing Co. and an aggressive salesman. A firm believer on advertising, he never missed a stunt that would publicize the clothing store. The first game of the season, a La Crosse baseball player caught a bouquet of roses from a passing airplane. The attached card, read, “Compliments of Frank Mader.”

Another time a raccoon was discovered atop a downtown building north of the Mader store and a call went out to “Get Frank Mader.” Climbing to the top of the building, he caught the coon in a chicken mesh net but it wriggled out then plunged to the sidewalk. He took it to the Bodega to recover and the raccoon did an advertising stunt caged in the clothing store window.

In 1951, the Mader Clothing Co. was sold and Frank retired after being associated with the store for around fifty years. ” I have enjoyed every minute of my business life in La Crosse,” he said, “and the friendships I have made through the years are my most cherished possessions.”

Learned from his first job at age 14 at Hackner’s Altar Works, Frank enjoyed a lifetime hobby of woodworking. His home at 330 No. Losey Blvd. was filled with cleverly designed and executed items he made. The bowling alley in Leo Hall at Holy Trinity was built by him.

He lived to an old age of 89 years.

F. Joseph Mader 1880 – 1931

F. Joseph Mader
1880 – 1931

On March 18, 1880, Frank Joseph was born on the small white farm house in Mormon Coulee to Frank and Rosa Mader. At age 20 he worked as a coachman living with the family on 13th Street in La Crosse.

Joseph married Angeline Kaiser in 1906. Their first home was on 14th and Adams. Angeline was one of seven children born in 1878 to Joseph and Catherine Kaiser in Leer, Germany. Angeline came to America at age 11 and lived her family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Later the family moved to La Crosse.

After his mother Rosa died in 1908, Joseph returned home with Angeline and baby Joseph, moving into the lower apartment to care for his father. During this period, they became the parents of four more sons; John born in 1908, Marcus 1910, Bernard 1911, and Lambert in 1914.

For eleven years from 1908 to 1919, the two brothers Frank Jr. and F. Joseph and their families shared the house at 1402 South 13th Street. It was never meant to be two apartments. Until ca. 1935 it had a big open stairway and only one bathroom which was upstairs. Downstairs there was a half bath. “Oh, there was friction,” Viola said. “I did not like living there. My mother and Aunt Angie did not get along. My mother was easy going and Aunt Angie was strict.”

At age 34, Joseph joined the Mader Clothing Co. when his father bought out Reuter’s half of the firm for his sons in 1914. In the beginning, everyone was happy and they had a lot of friends. Remembering those times John recalls,

“On Sundays after church, Dad would march us five kids downtown to roll the awning down. We had a special zig-zag way that cut through a playground and some empty lots – two miles down and two miles back. Our dad got quite a kick out of this and would give us a treat on the way back. In the late afternoon we marched back down again in order to roll the awning up. This was when we were about 5 to 10 years old and we thought we were pretty important.”

Joseph kept a horse and buggy in the barn. (1) He thought quite a bit of that horse and buggy. Not everyone had one in those days. He rode a bike to work and later on when his son John got a car he gave him a ride.

In 1914, Frank gave Joseph and Angeline the house for taking care of him. The house had a $2,500.00 mortgage on it which Frank had borrowed against to buy into the clothing store. He later paid $700.00 back. On taking the house, Joseph agreed to pay the loan.

Later, after his father’s death, Joseph felt the clothing store should repay the loan since it was used to buy out Reuter’s share of the firm. His brothers, Frank Jr. and Henry thought Joseph should pay back the loan because he inherited the house.

In those days, $1,800.00 was a lot of money. Also Joseph had five children to support and he needed a larger salary from the store than the other two. This did not make for good feelings between the brothers. John felt those two things affected his father physically and may have been the cause of his father suffering a nervous breakdown. Joseph became ill ca. 1920 and went to Holy Hill Hospital near Madison.

This left Angeline to care for the new baby, a girl named Helen born in February of 1920 and their five growing sons between the ages of 13 and 6. Only one year before they had a lost a little two year old girl, Mary Angela, who died after a short illness. Mary was their first daughter and they took her death very hard.

Joseph never fully recovered from his breakdown, going in and out of the hospital. When he was home he went back to work at the store. John said of his father,

“I always think of the cartoon, ‘Mr. Milktoast’ when I think of my dad. Dad didn’t have very much courage, he wasn’t an aggressive person. My dad wasn’t that way. He wouldn’t argue, he’d rather let the other guy have his way.”

On February 16, 1931, F. Joseph died of pneumonia at age 50, in a rest home by Madison, WI. He had been seriously ill. His niece Florence remembers being at practice for the Holy Trinity Grade School orchestra when Mark came over to tell her his father had died that night. “Joe and his sons all had the strong Mader look after the Mader side of the family.” Florence said. “German looking, he was well dressed and always stood tall and straight.”

Having raised her family, Angeline in her late sixties took on the care of her sons Joe’s five children after their mother died until she was unable to do so any longer. When the children left, her daughter and son-in-law, Helen and Lester Beeler lived with her. Angeline suffered a stroke in 1955 and was hospitalized almost a year before she died of cancer.

Angeline directed in her will in 1946 that her home be sold (not to any member of the family) and the proceeds be given to her son John. (2) Four months after Angeline’s death, John sold the home to his sister Helen’s husband, Lester Beeler, who in turn gave Helen 1/2 interest and the house remained in the family. (3)

(1) Eventually the barn was sold to Barney Borseth for a barber shop and moved to 8th and Adams. (It is still in use as a barber shop today.)
(2) John had supported his mother financially after Joseph’s death.
(3) The house is presently owned by Bill Beeler, Helen’s son.

Joseph Mader, 50, 1402 South Thirteenth Street, for more than a quarter century connected with the Frank Mader Clothing company of this city, passed away at 5:30 Monday Morning.
Mr. Mader was born in the town of Shelby on March 18, 1880.
He is survived by his wife; five sons Joseph, Marcus, Bernard, John and Lambert; one daughter Helen; two brothers Frank and Henry. Funeral arrangements had not yet been made at noon.

F. Henry Mader 1878 – 1954

F. Henry Mader
1878 – 1954

Frank Henry was the oldest living child of Frank and Rosa, born in the State Road Coulee home on May 28, 1878. After high school, he worked at the Hackner Co. making church furniture. He studied for the Priesthood at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee but a nervous condition forced him to drop out after one year. In La Crosse at the Wisconsin Business University, located on the second floor of a building on Main Street, Henry received a degree in business administration.

With his degree, Henry was a bookkeeper for a laundry where he met Anna Puent who also worked there. They were joined in marriage on May 28, 1900. Anna was born in 1876 near Oldenburg, Indiana to Herman and Susanna Puent. The family later moved to La Crosse.

In the spring of 1900, Henry became bookkeeper for the J.J. Hogan Wholesale Grocery Co.. Henry and Anna first lived on 17th and Badger. Here they became the parents of three children. The first child, Cecilia, died at birth. The second child, Stephen, born December 24, 1903 died of an illness at age 13 on February 1, 1916. He was remembered as being quite a bike rider. The third child was Isabelle born in 1905.

The family moved when Isabelle was four to a house on the SE corner of 13th and Vine St. which was kitty corner from Henry’s uncle Theodore. Isabelle said that her dad rode a bicycle for many years and they didn’t get around very much because he didn’t have a car until 1924.

After the death of his father Frank in 1916, Henry joined his brothers Frank Jr. and Joe in operating The Mader Clothing Store. He had an office upstairs where he was bookkeeper. Because of a hearing problem, he did not wait on customers. “He was so friendly,” his daughter said. “When someone came in that he knew, my dad would go down and put his arm on their shoulder.”

Henry stayed with the firm until it was sold in 1951, retiring at age 73. Henry had kept a diary every day of his adult life. The saddest entry he made was in the morning April 29, 1954 when he wrote that he wasn’t feeling well and would finish it later. Henry never wrote in the diary again, for he died that afternoon. Anna Mary lived to age 91 passing away on Mother’s Day of 1966.