History of Slinger, WI
The Early Years: 1840s to 1880s:
CBS 58 Video clip from 2023 click here
"Baruch Schleisinger Weil was born in Strasbourg, France on June 29, 1802, and settled in Washington County on November 1, 1845. He owned property and erected what was at the time considered an elegant residence on Section 31 south of Cedar Lake about 1847, and he lived there at the time. On the best portion, in the northwest quarter of the Town of Polk on Sec. 18 he platted the Village of Schleisingerville. He built a large store and dwelling on the corner of Main and Franklin streets and started a thriving center of trade. (1854-56) Through the energy of Mr. Weil, the village soon became the center of trade for a number of adjoining towns. Weil himself kept a full assortment of goods adapted to the wants of the country trade, and he established a good local hide business. Other branches of trade and manufacturing were started. There were shoemakers, blacksmiths, a wagon-maker, a hotel and tannery. The tannery was built by George Ippel and Thomas Jenner who did a fair business and established a good local hide business. Later Weil built a distillery which was run by him and his associates until he left in 1869.
Through the exertions and influence of Mr. Weil, the route of the old LaCrosse Railroad (later the Milwaukee & St. Paul Road) was located so as to pass through the village, and the occasion of its completion to Slinger was celebrated with great rejoicing on August 23, 1855. A large party of excursionists came out from Milwaukee, including the president of the railway and other prominent citizens. Salvos of artillery saluted the approach of the train, and the party was royally entertained during the day by Mr. Weil who fed and feasted the entire group in the upper rooms of his hotel Mr. Weil remained in the village he had built until 1859-60, at which he moved to Cedar Lake and then to West Bend. Mr. Weil was the largest purchaser of government land in the county. In December 1845 he purchased in the name of Jules Schleisinger, his son, and Eliza Adelaide, his wife, the following land: Sec. 5 – 477 acres; Sec. 6 – 408 acres; Sec. 7 – 378 acres; Sec. 8 – 160 acres, and Section 18 – 587 acres.
Soon after the completion of the railroad to Schleisingerville, another man of rare business tact and energy came to the village and commenced merchandising. In 1856, Lehman Rosenheimer opened a store and in connection with it carried on a large trade in cattle, grain, and other farm products. The trade of nearly all the adjoining towns centered at his store. Five of his six sons became merchants. John, Max and Joseph remained in Schleisingerville. Moritz and Adolph became merchants in Kewaskum and Norway, Michigan. Rosenheimer built a larger store to accommodate his constantly increasing business. It was two stories in height and 38 x 50 feet in size. It doubled in size in 1867. Following his death in 1878, the sons added a grain elevator and large warehouse."
The village of Schleisinger was officially incorporated in 1869. (www.vi.slinger.gov)
Late 1800's to World War Two:
"Farming, retail, banking, and small-scale manufacturing dominated the village’s economy from the 1850s through the World War eras. Notable businesses included Roth’s Hotel, State Bank of Schleisingerville, Lehman Rosenheimer Farm Implements, Washington County Telephone Company, and Schuck & Frey’s general store. For more than eight decades after 1868, Slinger also housed a brewery. The Storck Brewery survived as an ice cream and bootleg beer maker during PROHIBITION and supplied the Milwaukee BRAVES during the city’s 1953 Brewery STRIKE."
"Following World War II, heavy manufacturers and sporting attractions served to recast Slinger’s rustic image. Maurice Holtan, founder of the Slinger Foundry Company (1944), patented and distributed the cast iron cylinder liners used by BRIGGS & STRATTON and HARLEY-DAVIDSON for their products’ engines." (Encyclopedia of Milwaukee)
The Slinger Super Speedway was built in 1948 and Little Switzerland SKi Hill was opened in 1941 providing regional sports and recreation attractions for thousands of people over the years.
With major state highways (Hwy 41, Hwy 144, Hwy 175, Hwy 60) and appealing natural landscapes (kettles, eskers, and lakes), Slinger grew fairly quickly between 1970 and 2000. According to Larry Gundrum and Dean Otte's research for the Slinger Historical Album (125 Years), subdivisions like Fairview Terrace, Woodside Heights, and Churchside Estates showed up in the 1970's. Scenic Moraine Park, Winter's Rolling Meadow, and Glen Hill subdivisions were added in the 1980's, and Rauh's Homestead and Elinor Estates in the 1990s. Washington County was the fastest growing county in the state of Wisconsin from 1990 to 2000 and Slinger was the second fastest growing village or city percentage wise within the county during that decade (U.S. Census 2000).
Schleisingerville to Slinger: Name change
Why the name change? Some newspaper articles insist it was the postmaster's decision (shorter name to write and some postmasters were using Slingr as short for Schleisingerville already). Others speculate it was too German sounding (there was much Anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War One and for a few years after the war). John Storck, a descendant of the Storck Brewery, noticed that Storck Brewery brewed a beer called Slinger, and wonders if the Storck Brewery beer name had any influence on the voters. The official 2017 Village of Slinger comprehensive plan says that it was shortened for brevity purposes and due to anti-German sentiment.
Here is the official wording changing of the name from the village minutes.
"Whereas at the annual election held on the first Tuesday of April, towit, the fifth day of April, A.D., 1921 at the Village of Schleisingerville, County of Washington, there was submitted to the electors of said village the question whether the name of said village should be changed and at which election said electros were directed, if in favor of said, change, to suggest the name be adopted for the said village:
And whereas, at said election, there 210 votes cast upon said question, of which number 25 ballots were blanks, and of the remainder 169 were for said change and 16 against, and of which number 145 votes were cast in favor of changing the name of said village to Slinger, 5 for the name Schleisinger, 4 for Hilton, 1 for Tyrone, 1 for Cream City, 1 for Vim city, 1 for Towerville, 2 for Cedar Dell, 1 for Waneeta, 3 for Hill Side, and 1 Lawndale, and 4 “Yes” without suggesting a name:
Therefore, be it and it is hereby resolved by the Village Board of the Village of Schleisingerville, that the County Board of Supervisors of the County of Washington be and they hereby are requested to change the name of said village from Schleisingerville to the name of Slinger, and that County Board adopt an ordinance to said effect in accordance with Section 59.08, subdivision(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes."
Date, May 3, A.D. 1921
William G. Kratz
Slinger resident Gordon Borchardt painting title "Schleisinger to Slinger: 1921"
This mural of Slinger was painted by Slinger artist, Gordon Borchardt, in 1984. He worked four hours a day for six months to create this snapshot of Slinger building history. The title “Schleisingerville Now Slinger -1921 references the community name change from Schleisingerville (after founder Baruch Schleisinger Weil) to Slinger in 1921.
In this painting, Borchardt captures an appreciation for history, a sense of closeness between buildings which exemplifies the spirit of community in this area and two conflicting concepts in Slinger history: the desire to update and the desire to stay the same. Twelve of the twenty-one buildings painted in the mural are depicted in their original state with the dates of their construction indicated on the building. Not only does this mural showcase Gordon’s outstanding artistic talent and love of Slinger, but this painting allows the viewer to take a step back in time to reflect on Slinger’s past. You can see it in person near the Slinger District Office Doors.
We've pulled out a couple audio features from those years and have added student projects about Industry leaders, the Roth House, the County Fair, Homecoming, and Sports which will be showcased on the page you are on.
"There was an attached dance hall that was used for dances, athletic contests, school plays, school graduations, weddings..." Don Roth (West Bend Daily News, 4-17-2000)
Joe's Barber Shop
There has been a barber shop on Main Street for many years in Slinger. Joe Mechenich was one of those barbers and an excerpt from his audio interview is here.
Click here for an excerpt from an audio interview from a site visit to talk to Russ and Ceil Nehm about Nehm Greenhouse history and culture before they sold the business