Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin

by Mabel Schlender Jonkel

Contributed by Sarah Poertner

transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.

*James Sindelar and wife were born in Czechoslovakia where he was a butcher by trade both there and in the states. They were married in1887 and came to Chicago in 1889. In 1897 they came to Columbia where they lived for forty-four years. Their sixty acre farm was one and one-half miles west of Columbia. Two of their three children, August and Charles passed on in youth. Otakar lived on the farm wtih his parents except for a short period that he served in WWI. He was clerk of Hewett township and was substitute mail carrier on the Columbia rural route for a short time. He retired in Humbird. A nephew from Chicago took over the farm for a summer home.

*Fred Bonhoff was born in Germany in 1875 and came to the states with his parents. They settled in Elizabeth, Illinois. After getting out of service as a Spanish-American veteran in 1898 he came to Columbia where he homesteaded a forty acre farm two miles southwest of Columbia. When he proved up, he sold to Louis Haenel who later sold it to----Niedermeyer of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Wedding picture of Viola and Fred Bohnhoff



When Dad Schlender was postmaster, he and a government inspector mapped out a rural route from Columbia post office. Fred Bonhoff was interested and became the first rural mail carrier covering a thirty-two mile route with horse and buggy. Later the route was divided with the main route carried one day and the following day a part delivery. At noon fresh horses were taken to serve the Dells Dam area. This was done during my term as postmaster.

Employees on the Dells Dam construction of a dam and also the gravel pit nearby received and sent their mail on the route. Because of this volume of mail it made my post office a temporary third class rating. When Fred came in at 2:30 p.m. his buggy was well loaded. Three of us worked fast to get the mail ready for the five o'clock train. Sometimes we could not get it all out, and I worked evenings to be ready for seven a.m., mail the next day. Later Fred had a motorcycle to carry mail.

Fred Bohnhoff motorized his mail delivery on Route 1, Columbia

In 1908 he married Viola Barnes who had lived with her uncle, Dr. Barnes, the veterinary three miles east of Columbia. They lived in the former Johnson store building for several years and then bought the Charles Baxter farm at the edge of town where a new home was erected. His fine bass voice was heard in many quartets and choruses. Fred was active in Modern Woodman and community affairs. He passed on in 1918 during World War I.

Their daughter Amanda grew to womanhood and passed on. Edna married Julius Marten of Columbia. She too passed on in young womanhood. Fred Jr. passed on in infancy. After Fred's passing the widow married Frank Lockman in 1925 and moved to his farm where her son, Wilson Bonhoff, helped with the work and took over the farm after the passing of his parents. He married and continues to live there. Frank Lockman passed on in 1954 and Viola in 1967. Both are buried in the Columbia cemetery.





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