updated 06/11/2017

Allamakee Album
New Albin People

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Unless otherwise credited, all of the photos & articles on this page were contributed by Errin Wilker.

Jenny and Alex Woods stand with their horse and wagon in New Albin. Whether they were dressed for a parade or what, we're not quite sure, but their horse is all decked out, his fringed blanket and collar clearly advertising Peerless Beers.
~vintage photo, reprinted in the Allamakee Journal, 1990's

~notes: Alexander Woods (b. January 1861 in MN) was a stock buyer & horse dealer in New Albin. He died in 1949. Jenny (Hartley) Woods also died in 1949. Obituary. Peerless Beer was brewed by the John Gund Brewery in LaCrosse, WI, 1854-1920, then by the LaCross Brewery until 1955. The photo is likely ca1915.

Gil's Welding Shop, New Albin 1939 This combination gas and electric welding unit was built by Young Sales, Inc., here for Gilman C. Beeler (left), who has just finished the course at the welding institute of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He will open his own welding shop at New Albin, Iowa, but in this case the shop will go to the customer. With him are Raymond Young, president of the firm, and Richard Oster, salesman.
~The Milwaukee Journal, March 2, 1939

~Notes: Gilman 'Gil' Crawford Beeler, 01/07/1911-07/19/1983, is buried in St. Joseph's cemetery, New Albin.

~Photo & notes were contributed by S. Ferrall

Lansing Fish Day Queen, Dixie Irons of New Albin
Shown being crowned queen at the Venetian Night pageant held in connection with Lansing's Fish Day is Dixie Irons of New Albin. Paul Schneider of Lansing, committee head, is affixing the crown. Attendants to her highness are, Jean Ann Middendorf, next to the queen, and Margaret Snitker, runners-up in the polling, both of Lansing.
~ Allamakee Journal clipping, Lansing, ca mid-late 1940s
The Farmers Store of New Albin is now under the management of Mr. and Mrs. John Schuldt, who took possession during the latter part of February, and renamed in Schuldt's Grocery.

Mrs. Schuldt is the former Mrs. Lulu Hudson of Viola, Wis., who owned a shop there in which she sold both clothing and groceries. In 1942, she went into the restaurant business in Viroqua, Wis., but sold out a year later to manage a boarding house.

John Schuldt was a farmer until he moved to New Albin upon retirement. He was a member of the school board and secretary of the New Albin Cooperative Creamery for the past 35 years. He also was a shareholder in the Farmers Store before he became owner. The Schuldts were married in 1946 in Waukon.
~newspaper clipping, hand-dated 1948

~notes: Minnie Pohlman was John's 1st wife, Lulu Hudson his 2nd wife; he died in 1967; obituary
New Albin farmers & businessmen who traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby congress for funding to straighten the Upper Iowa River. They were successful & the river was straightened.
L-R: John Mendenhall, Leonard Moore, George Hammell Sr., Frank Weymiller Jr., Earl Welsh, Alan Hartley & Roy Moore
~ca1951 original photo

Mrs. Mary Beneke, 88, of New Albin, heads a five-generation family.

From left, front row, are Kelly Sue Meisch on the lap of her mother, Mrs. Arnold Meisch, Winona, Minn.; and Mrs. Mary Beneke.

From left, back row, are Mrs. Charles Rollins and Mrs. Alma Kannenberg, both of Caledonia, Minn.

Kelly Sue is five-months-old and Mrs. Beneke will be 89 Oct. 10. Mrs. Beneke raised a family of 12 children: seven girls and five boys.
~newspaper clipping, hand-dated Sept. 1969

~note: Mary (Meyer) Beneke died 4/6/1970. Obituary

James C. Valesh of New Albin, Iowa, loves steam engines and he is shown here in the cab of an eight-ton locomotive which he had imported from Germany and is now located in his backyard. It was built in Kassel, Germany, in 1935 and is the only one of its kind in Iowa. It is in perfect condition and ready to steam up. Valesh also has a large 75-horsepower Minneapolis threshing machine that was built in 1914.
~La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, Wisconsin; 1963

~note: James C. Valesh died in 1980. Obituary

Fishing on the Mississippi River provides fun for these New Albin boys. From left are Ty, son of Gary and Sara Thomas; Jeff, son of Albert and Monte Meyer; Kenny, son of Merlin and Marge Krambeer; Chris, son of Joe and Margaret Fink; and Shane, son of Edmund and Jane Carroll.
~La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, October 15, 1978
Mrs. Myron (Charlotte) Krambeer has opened a new restaurant in New Albin. Flanking Charlotte are Roger Colsch, left, and Herb Colsch. Others of the Colsch Construction crew who helped get the new East Side Cafe ready are Ed Smerud, and David and Kenny Becker.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, handwritten on the article: Opening Date Aug. 5, 1978

above: New Albin barber Walt Breeser hears joke from Harris Wild.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, September 1978


Walt Breeser gives one of his $4 haircuts to customer Floyd Pottratz
(the news article, below, accompanied this photo)

“s't1aW.” That's how the sign in the New Albin Barber Shop window used to read from the street. It wasn’t easy to decipher, but it certainly drew people's attention. However, it never kept anyone in the tri-state area from locating barber Walt Breeser, and once inside they could see what the sign really said: “Walt's.” Since 1951, Walt's Barber Shop had been located in a small building on Railroad Avenue. Monday, Nov. 24, Breeser's business relocated to a newly remodeled yellow building on Main Street (across from Sires Oil Company) — the same building in which Walt opened his first barber shop in 1949. Haircuts were 75 then. The old barber shop on Railroad Avenue has since been demolished to accommodate the grounds of the recently constructed New Albin Community Center. The community center has been financed through donations from many local businesses and residents, including a generous $10,000 pledge from Breeser and his wife, Phyllis. “I figured if you want something, you have to pay for it,” he said. "We're (New Albin) going to have a beautiful building when it's done.”

Breeser, who has been barbering for almost 49 years, received his training at the Cedar Rapids Barber School a half century ago. “And by golly, I haven't been back since,” he laughed. Following barber school, he served an eight-month apprenticeship in Waukon, followed by 10 months in Lansing. “Just to show you how times have changed,” Breeser commented, “when I was in Waukon, there were 11 practicing barbers. Now I believe there is just one. “When the long hair came in during the 50s and 60s it was tough on the barbers,” he said. “Now people are back to more traditional styles again.”

For years, Breeser charged a mere $3 per haircut. It has only been in recent months that he upped his price to $4. “Actually, $3.76 plus tax,” Breeser is quick to point out. Working more than five days a week, and charging such a modest fee, he stays busy accommodating all his customers from the tri-state area.

Breeser said his favorite art of the barbering business is meeting people. “Sometimes you hear things you want to hear — and then again — things you don't,” he said. With Walt's scissors zipping through his hair, patron Floyd Pottratz teased, “I never heard anything Walt wasn't interested in — good or bad!” — a comment that drew chuckles from two other customers awaiting their turn in the chair. “He'd be here at midnight if you asked him to,” offered Pottratz from the chair while Breeser was busy on the phone making an appointment with another customer. Humor and laughter seem to be a regular part of Walt's business. One sign on the wall reads, “By the time you decide to look for greener pastures … You're too old to climb the fence.” A picture drawn by his wife, Phyllis, depicts a large bull and states, “Cows may come and cows may go, but the bull in this place goes on forever.”

How many haircuts Breeser gives on an average day is “a barber's secret,” he said with a wink and a sly grin. The toughest haircut he ever gave was to a three-year- old with long hair, he said. The young lad refused to sit in the chair and put up quite a battle. “I sat on him, his mother held down his legs, and somehow we got it cut. After that he was a good customer,” he laughed, remembering the episode.

Breeser said he once had an interest in electronics, but not enough to pursue it as a career. He has never regretted his decision to become a barber, and plans to continue working until he tires of it. In his spare time, he said he enjoys traveling, raising flowers, bike riding, and spending time with his family. Although he had a few misgivings about relocating his business at first, returning to the site of his original barber shop has been a positive experience for Breeser. “I really like it here,” he said with a smile. “I feel like I've come full circle now.”

~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, December 1997, article written by By Betty Zarwell

~Walt Breeser died in 2012. Obit & another picture

Woodworker Carves New Life
By Karen Lee

Many ordinary people do woodworking. Gerald "Jerry" Breeser, 39, New Albin, does it, too. However, he is not an ordinary person. In April 1972, he suffered a stroke that affected his left side. As a result he has little use of his left arm and must walk with a cane. After a lengthy stay in a La Crosse hospital, Breeser decided to expand upon a previous pastime: woodworking. But in April 1974, while working in his shop, he suffered convulsions, fell backwards and struck his head on the concrete floor. Doctors diagnosed a blood clot in his brain. For six weeks he was in a coma, and remained hospitalized for nearly a year for therapy. This injury destroyed much of his memory about the previous two years. Undaunted, he returned to woodworking full-time.

Breeser, who lives with his father, starts his day early. By 8 a.m., six days a week, he has his shop stoves lit and is on his walk to downtown New Albin for breakfast. By 10 a.m. he is home and at his work, which continues until about 6 p.m. He has converted half of his father's garage into a workshop. His work is done one-handed on sophisticated power tools. "I like to complete my projects totally on my own," says Breeser. "I don't want people to feel sorry for me." He only allows help when lifting large or completed projects, something he cannot do with one arm.
His first project was a shelving unit. Since then, his building ventures have included plant stands, coat racks, ash tray stands, gun racks, children's table and chair sets, toys, and picnic tables. A time-consuming task has been building five detailed children's farm sets, each consisting of a barn, machine shed, granary, and fences. There are sliding front and back barn doors, plus a hinged door leading to the hay loft. The fence has a gate that swings open, and the windmill has moving parts.

Some unusual products joined his list of items this winter. He built 24 hymn book holders for church pews, and spent many days building a wagon box to be used on a horse-drawn hay rack. Fast-selling items are his bird feeders and bird houses. They range in size from single-dwelling units to 60-unit Martin houses. A gun cabinet made of solid black cherry wood is Breeser's favorite achievement. It is his own design, as are all of his items, and will hold 12 guns. There are locking storage areas at the bottom for ammunition and supplies. He purchased the rare wood from a friend. Ordinarily he uses oak, walnut, redwood and pine.

"I make up my own plans and often dream them up at night," says Breeser. He keeps a notebook of them for future use. "I do woodworking for therapy, but mostly for my personal satisfaction. It's something I can do."

~La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, March 1978
Mr. William Gordon was recently promoted to Training Support Supervisor, Training and Audio-Visual Support Center at Sparta. Mr. Leroy G. Lewiston, acting TASO, (Training Aids Service Office), presented Mr. Gordon with the promotion. Mr. Gordon has been working in his recent job as a Training Support Supervisor for the past three weeks, but has been in Civil Service for the past seven years. Mr. Gordon was in the Navy for four years and at Winona State University, studying business management. He is the son of William E. Gordon of New Albin, Iowa. His wife is the daughter of Mrs. Carl Peterson of Lansing, Iowa.
~Allamakee Journal
, Lansing, May 1979
The New Albin fund-raising drive for a new ambulance has reached its goal of $10,500. Longtime New Albin resident Herman Dannenbring points to the graph which shows the progress made since the drive for a new ambulance was begun last July.
~Allamakee Journal,
Lansing, hand-dated 1979

~note: Herman Dannenbring died in 1991. Obituary

The Northeast Iowa Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, Inc. vice-president, Cloy Kuhse (far right) and Maurice Elliot, president of the club, to his right, are shown here presenting the new Ford Fairmont to the winner, Bob Grahlman and wife, Barb. The winner of the car was announced at the Snow Fest dance, held Jan. 19.
~newspaper clipping, unknown paper, 1980
May is Beef Month across the nation. But in New Albin May is "Mower Month," that is, if you ask Alford Tabbatt, left, and Louie Breeser, who have fixed dozens of grass cutters at Alford's garage. Alford and Louie are both longtime fix-it men from the New Albin community.
~newspaper clipping, unknown paper, hand-dated May 1980

Alford Tabbatt obituary

Louie Breeser obituary

Al Mauss has joined the New Albin business community as operator of Al's Auto Clinic in the Skelly station, owned by Tat Sires and which has recently been remodeled into a fine new facility.

Al is experienced in all phases of auto repair. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Connie Mauss of New Albin.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, January 1981
The children of George Hammell, Sr. are hosting an open house in honor of his 90th birthday on Sunday, August 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Town House in New Albin. All friends and relatives are invited to attend.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, hand-dated 1982

~notes: George Hammell died in 1985. Obituary

Walter Rummel of New Albin will celebrate his 90th birthday on Sunday, April 8, with an open house at the New Albin Town House from 2 until 4 p.m. Walt is shown with his wife Peggy. The Rummels taught school in the mid-1950s at New Albin, and since their retirement they have traveled around the world four times. As recently as seven years ago they traveled abroad. Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Hyde and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Rummel are hosting the birthday party for Mr. Rummel.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, hand-dated 1984


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