Frank Mader 1842-1916


The second son of David and Mary, Frank was born February 14, 1842, in Baden, Germany and came as a boy of eleven to America.

At age 34, Frank was joined in marriage to Rosa Gantert on February 24, 1876. It appears the couple lived with the Mader family in the stone house for two years and their first child Frank B. who only lived five months was born in the stone house.

“It was written in an old family Bible belonging to Frank Jr. that Frank and Rosa had five sons. Two children died, one an infant and one several months/years old. The Bible has since disappeared.”

David’s stone, engraved in German letters, reads; “Frank B., son of Frank Mader, born 29 January 1877, died 15 June 1877.” Following a German custom from the old country, Frank and Rosa gave all their sons the first name of Frank.

Frank worked on his father’s farm and brick yard until he was 36 years old. In January of 1878, Frank and his younger brother Dominick purchased the Weimer Brick Yard located on adjoining land. It is probable that Frank and Rosa moved into the house belonging to the brickyard.

In the spring of the year, Frank Henry was born on April 29th. The partnership ended after only eleven months when on December 12th, Frank sold Dominick his half of the brick business and on that same day purchase the Charles Fritz farm of 160 acres for $6,000 (The Mormon Coulee overhead of the Burlington Railroad on Highway 14 is above its center. In later years it was known as the Shelby Dairy.)

On this farm in a little white frame house, Frank Joseph was born March 1880 and Frank, Jr. in May 1882. Frank John also would have been born here. Enclosed walkways connected the house to other outside buildings. Frank Jr. remembered when he was about 10 years old one of the chief activities on his father’s farm was raising strawberries which he helped to pick. A 16 quart crate of berries hauled to the John C. Burns Fruit House in La Crosse brought his father 45 cents. The profit was 19 cents a crate. He also raised a lot of watermelon.

Part of the property was sold to the Burlington Railroad. In 1895, Frank sold the farm and moved his family to La Crosse. At that time Frank was 53, Rosa 55, Frank Henry 17, Frank Joseph 15, and Frank Jr. 13 years of age.

First they rented a house on Park Ave. and then in 1896 Frank build a big two-story frame house at 1402 So. 13th Street because he wanted to be close to the church. The new house sat on two lots with an open front porch running around the side and another porch off the kitchen. Inside the front door was a beautiful open stairway. When they opened up the new house, Holy Trinity Church held an ice cream social in the yard and the parishioners toured the house.

A horse barn stood in the back of the second lot by the alley, with a garden in front. Frank kept his horse there and a two-seated buggy with fringes on top. His grandchildren can remember riding in the buggy out to Caroline and Dominick’s farms. The children played on the open double lot between the two houses on 13th Street. Water collected here and in the winter they skated on it.

The 1900 Federal Census is very descriptive of the Mader family living on 13th St:

Frank Mader, Feb. 1842, age 58 m. 25 years. Naturalized.
Occupation Capitalist, Own House Free.
Rosa Feb. 1840, age 60, Im. 1872, cannot speak English
Frank H., May 1878, age 22, Bookkeeper Laundry
Joseph, March 1880, age 20, Coachman
Frank Jr. May 1882, age 18, Grocer/Clerk

Frank converted the house into a duplex, ca. 1906 when Frank Jr. got married. Frank Jr. and his wife Magdaline lived in the upper apartment while his parents lived in the lower apartment. When Rosa died in 1908, F. Joseph with his wife Angeline moved in with the Father to take care of him in his reclining years.

Using the house as collateral in 1914, Frank borrowed $2,500 to set his sons up in the Mader Clothing Co.

He died at his home at age 75 on April 20, 1916 after a year of illness.

Memories of their Grandfather

“Someone was locked in the church and was ringing the bell to get out. Everyone just stood around and was afraid to see who was in there but grand father wasn’t afraid and let the person out.”
“He always sat in the kitchen because in those days it was the only room being heated.”
–John Mader

“One of the few remembrances that I have of my grandfather was when I was three years old. I was so mad! Grandpa was going to kill a turkey for Thanksgiving and he chased me out of the barn and wouldn’t let me watch.”
“Grandfather Frank was of medium height in stature and had the most luxuriant hair which his sons Joe and Henry inherited. As young men they never went bald. The luxuriant hair is a Mader trait.”
–Florence (Mader) Hoff

“Our father always said his father Frank was a pallbearer for the first funeral and burial in the Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse.”
“My Dad said something funny about Grandpa Mader. ‘He worked hard all summer but in the winter he just read love stories!'”
“He was so sick when I knew him, he would sit out by the barn with his head back.”
–Viola (Mader) Winkel

“Grandpa would sit in front of the wood stove with his legs crossed and I would sit on his foot. Grandpa would give me a ride swinging his foot and say ‘Benny, Benny, Dockendorf!”
“Before his funeral, Grandpa just laid out on the front porch and the pallbearers just walked off the porch and into the church.”
–Ben Mader

“Grandfather Frank was gentle, genteel, and a very nice man!”
–Isabelle (Mader) Anderson


(1) Florence (Mader) Hoff
(2) We could not find Frank John in the cemetary records.
(3) Bernard Dockendorf was a friend of Frank.

FRANK MADER, farmer, Sec. 22 La Crosse; was born in Germany in 1842; emigrated to America in 1853 and came direct to La Crosse, where in 1876, he was married to Rosa Gantert, born in Germany in 1842. In 1878, purchased his present farm of 160 acres. The children are Frank H. and Joseph. His father, David Mader (deceased) was born in Germany in 1798. Was married to Mary Schalk in 1837. Emigrated to the United States in 1853, purchased land and settled in La Crosse Co. where he worked at farming until his death, March 1, 1880; he left a wife and five children — Martin, Frank, Theodore, Dominick, and Caroline. Mrs. Mader is living with her son Theodore.


Frank Mader, Sr., a resident of La Crosse since 1853, died at 9 o’clock last night at his home, 1402 South Thirteenth street, after a year’s illness due to the infirmities of his age. Mr. Mader was in his seventy-fifth year.

Mr. Mader has been prominent in La Crosse for many years. He came to the city at the age of eleven with his parents,. German immigrants from Baden, who came up the river of a rafting steamboat. The older Mader took up land in Ebner’s Coulee. After his death Frank Mader worked the land until twenty years ago when he moved to the home in the city, where he died last night. Mr. Mader at one time was largely interested in Mormon Coulee brickyards.

Three sons, Henry F. Frank and Joseph Mader survive the pioneer. All are residents of La Crosse. A sister, Mrs. Jacob Boma, lives in the town of Shelby. Of Mr. Mader’s three brothers, Theodore and Dominick live in this city. Martin Mader is a resident of Spokane, Wash. Mr. Mader had been a widower for eight years.

Funeral services will be held at 9 o’clock Monday from Holy Trinity church, Rev. Joseph Riesterer officiating. Burial will be made in the Catholic cemetery.

The following inscription appears on the Mader Family stone.

Hier ruht
GEB 14 Feb. 1842-GEST 20 April 1916
GEB 18 Feb. 1840- GEST 27 Jan. 1908
Sie waren uns lieb im Leben
Wir werden sie im tode auch nicht Vergessen
Auf ein frohes Wiedersehen

Here rests
BORN 14 Feb. 1842–DIED 20 April 1916
BORN 18 Feb. 1840–Died 27 Jan. 1908
They were dear to us in life
We will not forget them in death
Upon (we look forward to) a happy reunion