What’s in a name? Why they changed it I can’t say

Echoes of our past
William & JoyWangemann • forThe Review

Have you ever been to Dog Town, Diaper Ville, Riverside, Rochester or Quitquioc? Do you know where Griffith Street, Spruce Street, the Mill Road or Howards Road are located?

These and many other names were once common knowledge to local residents but are now long forgotten.

Take Dog Town for instance. It was a small enclave of homes in what was Sheboygan County but is now part of the City of Sheboygan.

It was bounded on the north by Indiana Avenue and on the south by Georgia Avenue and it lay between what is now South 23rd Street and South 24th Street. I am an authority on Dog Town because that’s where I live.

I guess that makes me the unofficial Mayor of Dog Town! If you look at the first aerial photographs taken of the city in 1928 the area known as Dog Town clearly stands out.

In those days the West City limits was located just west of 17th Street. In between the west city limits and South 23rd Street there were few houses and several deep ravines.

But getting back to Dog Town, they had their own school and several Taverns along Indiana Avenue.

In those days Indiana Avenue was commonly known as the Lower Falls Road which went west through Riverside, now known as Kohler and along a winding path to Rochester better known today as Sheboygan Falls. In talking about Dog Town many times I’ve been asked how this area got that name.

I have to admit I don’t really know, maybe it’s just that people who lived there had a lot of dogs which I can relate to as I carry on the tradition by having two. If any of my readers know how this area really got its name, please let me know.

Just to the south of what was known as Dog Town and where Madison School is now located was an airport known by most people as the Brotz Airport and basically was situated between Georgia and Union Ave and south 20th and south 24th Street.

Even today this area on City maps is known as the airport subdivision.

As long as we’re on the south side of Sheboygan where was Diaper Ville? It was located on the present day site of Veterans Park.

In 1946 the year after the end of WWII hundreds of veterans returned to the area, married, started families and set up households.

It didn’t take long for an acute housing shortage to develop. The city then purchased farm land which was later to become Veterans Park, and erected barrack like structures for the young vets and their families to live in. In those pre-disposable diaper days families with babies had to use cloth diapers.

Automatic washers and dryers were unknown to these young families which meant that row upon row of diapers drying in the sunshine could be seen fluttering in the breeze as you drove by. Hence the nickname “Diaper Ville”.

My sister-in-law and her husband, a veteran of the Army Airforce, grumbled that he had spent four years living in barracks during the war, every minute of which he was dying to get home.

So what happened when he got home? He got married, started a family and moved into a barracks!

Prior to 1912 the beautiful little village of Kohler was known as Riverside. It was in that year that the Kohler Company assumed the name it has today and the village received its village charter. It was felt, at that time, by village residents that the village should change its name to Kohler.

In its early days Sheboygan Falls was known as Rochester after which their city park is named.

It was a hotbed of temperance in its early days with several local leaders strongly opposed to the consumption and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages.

One incident that was recorded told of a farm wagon standing near the center of town with a large barrel on the wagon bed. Thinking this to be a barrel of alcohol one of the temperance followers punched a hole in the barrel to let “demon rum” run into the street.

Several days later the farmer opened the barrel at home and was dismayed to find that an entire barrel of salt pork had spoiled because someone had punched a hole in it and let all the brine run out.

What is now known as the City of Plymouth at one time was actually two competing villages. The half of the Village to the west of the river was known as Plymouth and on the other side it was known as Quitquioc.

The residents of Plymouth thought that the entire area should be called Plymouth and not have two names; however, the people of Quitquioc thought the entire area should be named after their village.

A poll was held in Plymouth and a petition was sent to the state capital asking that a village charter with the name Plymouth be granted to the entire area. While the document was in Madison someone erased the word Plymouth and wrote in the name Quitquioc.

The unauthorized change was discovered and a charter was granted in the name of Plymouth. The entire episode came to be known as the Quitquioc War. It might be noted that the word Quitquioc is an Indian word meaning crooked river.

Prior to the early part of the 20th century Sheboygan had a rather odd way of naming its streets. North of the Sheboygan River the numbered streets were much as they are now.

The 100 block of 8th street started at the river, and proceeded north. On the other side of the river 8th street became Griffith Street and 12th street became Spruce Street. As you might expect, this caused no end of confusion. For some reason all the numbered streets on the south side were named after trees, such as Hickory, Elm and so on.

I’m sure many old timers remember the Howards Road which today is known as Superior Avenue. Just exactly why it was called Howards Road I’ve never exactly been able to find out maybe it was named after someone named Howard. If anyone out there knows for sure please let me know.

Then there is General King Park better known as the south beach, which makes sense as it is located on the south side of town.

Then there was the Mill Road and that’s a little easier to explain because it had a mill on it. The Mill Road ran north from today’s North Avenue and at the point it crossed the Pigeon River a large dam was built that supplied water power to a flour mill on the east side of the road. A large mill pond was created behind the dam extending to the west on nearly to the area of our present day quarry. During an early spring thaw a flood roared down the Pigeon River and completely destroyed the dam which brought an end to the operations of the mill as the dam was never rebuilt. Today the Mill Road is known as North 21st Street.

As you can see names change over the years, even the mighty city Constantinople is now known as Istanbul. As the well known song goes “why they changed it I can’t say; people just liked it better that way”.

If you’re ever in the area stop in at dog town…I’ll give you a tour!


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