By Lily Kongslien
When Paul and Katherine Fredrich moved to a farm in McNaughton from Milwaukee in 1912, little did they realize that years later the name Fredrich would be synonymous with Mc Naughton and that late in the century their family would be noted as the oldest pioneer family in the area.
Turning off Hwy 47 onto Bridge Road and continuing toward the Wisconsin River, one can see the stone pillars on the right-hand side of the road leading to the former Fredrich home. This pioneer home is scenically located along the west side of the Wisconsin River and was surrounded by 189 acres. It was sold in 1985 by Tom and his wife, and there have been several owners since. The elder Fredrichs died in 1931 and 1937.
The 11 children of Paul and Katherine Fredrich were sons Harry, Al, Paul Jr., Herb, Roy and Tom; and daughters Ellen, Florence, Alice, Ruth and Lorraine. Ruth is the only one of the children born at the Fredrich farm.
The younger Fredrich children attended the McNaughton School. I must mention here that Paul married my teacher, Esther Peters, when I was in the first grade. She was a kind, loving teacher – so important to a timid little girl. I will always remember her for her gentle ways.
The corner on which the McNaughton School was located was donated to the town by the Fredrich family for school use and later it reverted to them when the school was torn down as a result of consolidation. The Newbold Town Hall, which was located on Bridge Road just beyond the school, was also built on Fredrich property.
Around 1935 Herb Fredrich constructed a tavern and filling station on the curve of old Hwy. 47, just south of the McNaughton School. Previously he had operated a grocery store and filling station on the triangle across from the school, which had been operated by John Baron and family. That business was demolished after the new filling station and tavern was built. At first, Roy and Tom operated the business; later, Ruth came home from Milwaukee to lend a hand.
In 1947 a dance hall, restaurant and sports shop were added to the original structure. Many wedding receptions were held at Fredrich’s. In June 1977 the entire operation was sold, and the sports shop was eliminated. There have been a number of owners since.
Also in 1947 the McNaughton Post Office was moved from the old McNaughton store, north on old Hwy. 47 next to the C&NW tracks, down to Fredrich’s. Tom Fredrich was the postmaster. It was first housed in the sports shop section of the Fredrich business; later it was moved into a separate building across the road in the triangle area. Tom retired as postmaster in 1977; Ruth worked as a part-time clerk there for 30 years. Records show that the first McNaughton postmaster was Douglas W. McNaughton.
Snowshoe baseball originated at the ball diamond on the corner of Bridge Road, the former school site. McNaughton and Woodboro teams started the first competition in this unusual sport. Players were Tom and Roy Fredrich, Malcolm and Walter Wendt and the Gaber boys (and perhaps others that I cannot recall). This sport expanded, and many teams were added to the competition as fans became enthusiastic about this new and unique form of entertainment.
McNaughton may be just a dot on the map of Wisconsin, but there is much history there, and the Fredrich family has given flavor to the community through the lives of their descendants. My early memories and those of my family intertwined with the lives of this early pioneer family and I hope that many readers will also recall pleasant times of yesteryear!