Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pages from the Past

Here are two advertisements from the Sheboygan Volksblatt, a weekly German-language paper published by the Central Labor Union and "dedicated to the interests of the working people."

This ad for Prange's department store appeared in 1895, a time of economic depression that began with the Panic of 1893. The ad proclaims reassuringly: "Here stands our store, as steadfast as a rock." Established in 1887 by Henry Carl Prange, the son of farmers who had immigrated to Wisconsin after the Revolutions of 1848, the business flourished, expanding from an initial 4,800 square feet to 27,120 square feet by 1895. According to Wikipedia, Prange "sold everything from cradles to coffins and, unlike his local competition, also extended credit to local farmers and purchased their crops at harvest-time. Soon he was the preferred store for the farming community of Sheboygan. German and English was spoken by all the store's employees from its founding until 1941."

This second ad from 1901 for Ehrhardt's Schuh-Store recognizes the paper's working-class audience by promoting their "union-made" footwear for any purpose. We haven't been able to discover much more about Ehrhardt and his business.

Oscar Loebel, who was born in in Leipzig in 1864 and came to the United States in 1889, was assistant editor of the Sheboygan Volksblatt from 1895 until 1897; he then became managing editor of the paper, holding that position until May of 1901.

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