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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Kiel [brief history]

Definition: Kiel is located halfway between Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago on the border of Calumet and Manitowoc Counties. In 1852, Charley Lindemann acquired land in the area and his wife chose to name it Kiel in tribute to her German birth city. At that time, many Menominee and Potawatomi Indians lived in the area and frequently traded with the incoming settlers.

In 1854, Col. Henry F. Belitz, known as “the Father of Kiel,” bought up the surrounding land, built a mill and two years later a hotel known as the Fremont House.  Already amassing a large population, Germans became the predominant European settlers in Kiel.

Construction efforts to build a navigable road from Green Bay and the Fox Cities to the southeastern cities in Wisconsin took a big step forward when a bridge was built across the Sheboygan River in 1858. The bridge connected Kiel to Sheboygan.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kiel transitioned to a manufacturing community with furniture, brickyard, woodenware, and machine companies. In 1898, a soda pop bottling factory opened in Kiel. Additionally, and still in operation today, is the H.G. Weber Company, which manufactures paper bag machinery.

[Source: WHS Library-Archives staff, 2009]

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