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Gottlieb Vanselow Farmstead

Location:                  Oakwood Road, east of Nicholson, west of Chicago Northwestern Railroad tracks

                                   Oak Creek, WI

Established:             1864

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Gottlieb and Wilhelmina Vanselow


Gottlieb Vanselow Log House, photo taken about 1915

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Gustave Vanselow Brick House, built in 1914

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Gottlieb and Wilhelmina Vanselow’s Children 1898

Front Row, Left to Right: Bertha, Pauline, Alwine, Elizabeth

Back Row, Left to Right: Herman, Adeline, Anna, Gustave

Gottlieb Vanselow was born on March 25, 1827, in Dollfussbruch, Province of Pomerania, Prussia in Germany.  Gottlieb married Wilhelmina Schlender on December 10, 1852.  Children born to them in Prussia were:

Alwine Augusta                  1854

Pauline Ottilie                     1855

Bertha Louise Johanna      1857

Adeline Charlotte Minna   1859

Herman Friedrich               1962

Anna Sophia                        1864


On April 20, 1864, Gottlieb obtained a Prussian passport to emigrate to the State of Illinois in North America. Wilhelmina’s mother, Maria Schultz, also traveled with the family to America, along with Wilhelmina and the six children, the oldest being ten years of age and the youngest only a few days old. Their ship, named Ferdinand, sailed from Bremen on April 29, 1864.

The family arrived in New York on July 27, 1864, at a time when the Civil War was raging.  After they arrived in Wisconsin, they lived for a while in Milwaukee.  Gottlieb had money in gold to invest so he decided to buy land in Oak Creek township.  On August 27, 1864, he bought sixty acres including a log house located on Oakwood Road for $2,600.  The log house was built between 1765 and 1770. It had two rooms, an attic, and a basement. The basement was built of solid logs 1 ½ feet thick with gaps between the logs filled with split wood, gravel, and plaster.  The floor was made of hand-hewn planks.


Three more children were born to Gottlieb and Wilhelmina in Oak Creek:

Elizabeth Emma                  1867

Gustave Albert                    1869

Ferdinand Richard              1872


The Vanselows were a self-sufficient family. In addition to the typical food crops, they raised sheep for wool and grew flax for linen.  The sheep were taken to the creek to be washed before they were sheared. The flax was pulled out of the ground by the roots to get long fibers. It was Elizabeth’s job to get the flax ready for spinning. The family had a large handmade loom for weaving. When the cloth was ready, Gottlieb, a tailor, made clothes for the family.


All the children went to the country school across the road from their home. The children also received religious instructions at the church school at Trinity Lutheran Church in Caledonia at the corner of 7 Mile Road and Nicholson Road.


During the year 1870, when Gustave was one year old, a one room addition with a basement was added on the north side of the log home. In 1881, Gottlieb and Wilhelmina purchased an additional 40 acres of land just north of the existing farm.


Marriages and Deaths:

Alwine Augusta                              Married          Louis Schmidt                    1874 

Pauline Ottilie                                 Married         Henry Kehe                         1876

Ferdinand Richard                         Died of diphtheria                                     1877

Adeline Charlotte Minna              Married           Frederick Christgau          1880

Maria Schultz                                 Died                                                              1882

Herman Friedrich                          Married          Anna Koch                           1885

Anna Sophia                                   Married          Ernst Wohlust                     1885   

Wilhelmina                                      Died   of heart attack                                 1889

Gottlieb                                            Died of cancer                                            1889

Gustave Albert                                Married         Elizabeth Ranscht               1891


Many of Gottlieb and Wilhelmina’s children married into other neighborhood pioneer families.  Adeline and her husband, Frederick Christgau, lived in Frederick’s father’s (Conrad) home in Caledonia until 1882 when Frederick and his parents moved to Dexter, Minnesota. Adeline stayed with the Vanselow’s in Oak Creek with her newborn baby until the spring of 1883, then traveled to Minnesota to reunite with Frederick.


Anna Sophia’s husband, Ernst Wohlust, purchased a blacksmith shop on the corner of Oakwood Road and Nicholson Road in 1889 from Frank Loppnow.  Loppnow purchased the shop from Mr. Niering in 1847. Ernst operated the shop for many years until his son, Edgar, took over.  After Edgar's death in 1964, a portion of the blacksmith shop was moved to the Oak Creek Historical Society Museum. The blacksmith shop and other buildings at the museum are open for tours on Sunday afternoon during the summer.

After Wilhelmina’s death, Gottlieb arranged to legally transfer the 100-acre farm and home to his son, Gustave, with Gustave’s commitment to support his sisters for the rest of his life.  In 1914, Gustave built a large brick home on the land and the family moved out of the old log house. The brick home remained on the site until it was razed around 2020.

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