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Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County

Chapter 2: historical development of Thiensville,   pp. 3-6

Page 4

Historical and Architectural Resources Survey
Village of Thiensville                                                         Page 4
charged local farmer's one-half of the flour produced and then sold his share in Milwaukee. Thien
died in 1863 and his son Henry John Thien took over the mill.5
In 1871, the Wisconsin Central Railway completed a line to Thiensville and the community
continued its evolution as an agricultural support center that supported the farmers of the Town of
Mequon. Farmers utilized the rail line to ship wheat, flour and other farm produce. Economic life
continued to revolve around Thien's mill, which was replaced in 1876 with a five-story, stone
structure after a fire destroyed the original facility in 1874. By 1879, the settlement had a population
of 150 and was served by a three general stores, a pair of hotels, saloons and shoemakers. Other
businesses included Thien's flour mill, an agricultural implement maker, brewer, harnessmaker,
physician, blacksmith, tinsmith, as well as a lumber yard.6
At the turn of the century, Thiensville remained a tight-knit cluster of residences and businesses
located near the Milwaukee River. During this period, the community's population hovered between
250 and 300 people and the economy had diversified since the 1870s. In addition to the previously
mentioned enterprises, Thiensville had become home to several meat markets, carpentry shops and
wagonmakers. A barber, real estate agent and undertaker had also opened up business. And finally,
local farmers benefitted from the opening of a grain elevator. In 1907, The Milwaukee Northern
Railway completed an electric interurban line from Milwaukee to Port Washington through
Thiensville. This would later become a line within The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light
Company system. The initial stages of suburbanization were the result as Milwaukee commuters
began to take up residence in Thiensville, as well as the surrounding Town of Mequon. However,
in the early days of the interurban, the line brought many weekend vacationers from Milwaukee to
Thiensville to enjoy recreational activities offered by the Milwaukee River and surrounding tracts
of woods. Many of these vacationers stayed at Thiensville's local hotels or constructed summer
By 1910, the local economy had evolved to a point that a bank was needed. As a result, John F.
Nieman, Otto Bublitz and D.M. Rosenheimer founded the Thiensville State Bank, which soon after
opening had deposits in excess of $12,000. Other businesses in the community reflected the
village's role as a thriving agricultural support center and included five saloons, four hotels,
blacksmiths and general stores, three agricultural implement dealers, meat markets and carpenters,
as well as a pair of harness makers and physicians. Thiensville also enjoyed the services of the
5Mohr, ed., History of Thiensville, 14, 16-18, 54.
6History of the Town of Mequon, 23; Wisconsin State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1879 (Milwaukee:
William Hogg, 1879), 485.
7Mohr, ed., History of Thiensville, 4-9, 36, 134; Wisconsin State Gazetteer andBusiness Directory [ 1895-1896],
1023; [ 1903-1904], 1150; Joseph M. Canfield, TM: The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company (Chicago: Gregg-
Moore Lithographic Company, 1972), 294-300.

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