Alma Historical Society

Alma Historical Society Recapturing the Small River Town Atmosphere of Early Alma, Wisconsin
The Alma Historical Society works to preserve the history of Alma, Wisconsin and to promote awareness of our heritage through educational programs, displays and exhibits.

In the spring of 1978 several local residents of Alma, Wisconsin began meeting to organize a group with the idea of recapturing the small river town atmosphere of early Alma. As a result of these meetings the formation of the Alma Historical Society was begun.

Mission: Recapturing the Small River Town Atmosphere of Early Alma, Wisconsin

BEST OF THE RIVER NOMINATIONHelp Us Out By Voting Now Through May 31stVote Here:
Best of the River 2020 - River Travel Magazine

Help Us Out By Voting Now Through May 31st
Vote Here:

Thank you for your support and "Best Of The River" nomination with River Travel Magazine.

-- Best Museum (History) -- Alma Area Museum

We would appreciate your vote! Final voting period is open until May 31st, winners will be announced on June 9th.

#BestOfTheRiver #AlmaHistoricalSociety #AlmaWisconsin

River Travel Magazine has moved up its Best of the River 2020 in hopes that it will shine a light on the valuable attractions, eateries, and accom...

UNION BREWERY In Alma, WisconsinEXCERPTS From "Alma On The Mississippi"To celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Alma On The...

UNION BREWERY In Alma, Wisconsin
EXCERPTS From "Alma On The Mississippi"

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Alma On The Mississippi", the Memorial Edition is available to purchase at $18 plus shipping. Please Message us if you are interested in a purchase.

1855 -- 1st brewery in Alma was built by John Hemrich and the 1st industry was established. Hemrich built a log building in the 800 block of South Main (between Iron and Bluff Street) and was the main owner until 1890. The beer cave is still in existence and prominent on the property today.

1876 -- erected a brick malt house and four years after that a stone ice house was constructed to store beer above ground. There was a tunnel under Main Street from the brewery to the river used to bring ice during the winter. At this time the brewery employed 5 men and produced 4,000 barrels of beer a year. Much of this brew was marketed in Alma although there was a delivery route to the farming communities of Herold, Cream and Praag.

1887 -- new frame building was erected in place of the log structure with a steam engine, elevator and other fixtures acquired from the Neumeister feed mill.

1888 -- Hemrich leased the brewery to his sons William and Alvin and moved to Washington state. They conducted the business for two years and sold to Henry Huber and Fred Hemrich.

1891 -- The other brewing operation in town, the Alma Brewery closed. The Union Brewery changed their firm's name to the Alma Brewing Company. Christ Carisch was the brewer and produced such excellent beer that they took him into their partnership.

1907 -- William Ulrich, formerly with the Fountain City Brewing Company, along with Charles Huber, AW Hofer and William Huth of Cochrane, formally incorporated the Alma Brewing Company and purchased the business. Ulrich was both manager and brewmaster. He erected a bottling works and for the first time their beer was available in bottles. They also distributed for other firms such as Michel Brewery of La Crosse.

It is known that at least two kinds of beer were made, one of which was a bock beer, dark in color and brewed in spring. The intended name of the other was Alma Pride but due to a batch of misprinted labels it became known instead as "Alma Bride". A replica of their beer label has been erected as a sign on the side of today's Alma General Store.

1909 -- Huth and Ulrich became the sole owners and conducted the brewery together with Ulrich's son, Henry George, as brewer.

1919 -- The passing of the National Prohibition Act forces the closing of the Alma Brewing Company and the discontinuance of their ice business. Henry George Ulrich and his family continued to live at the property.

#AlmaHistory #UnionBrewery #AlmaBrewingCompany #AlmaWisconsin

ALMA ON THE MISSISSIPPI40th Anniversary Special -- Look For Excerpts From This Book Throughout The YearPublished in 1980...

40th Anniversary Special -- Look For Excerpts From This Book Throughout The Year

Published in 1980, our iconic book on the history of Alma, Wisconsin is available at the "Memorial Edition" price of $18 plus shipping & handling of $6. Regular price is $28. Send us a Message if you are interested in purchasing a copy.

In 1980, the Historical Society completed a survey of the buildings in Alma, Wisconsin erected prior to the Second World War. This information was used to obtain designation as a Wisconsin Statel Historic District with placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Society's premier publication, Alma On The Mississippi, was a natural response to the volume of information gathered during the survey. It had been over 60 years since a history of the county was written. Alma’s history was never written in book form and the Alma Historical Society decided that a history book would be of interest and value to the community. As a companion to the research and in preservation of the work completed, the book Alma On The Mississippi was compiled and published in 1980 by the Alma Historical Society, with reprinting in 1982 and 1994 and 2012.

Documenting the buildings in the City of Alma from 1848 through 1932, this work preserves the town from its origination to the time before the Lock & Dam system opened on the Mississippi River in 1935, changing the community forever.

#AlmaHistory #AlmaOnTheMississippi #AlmaWisconsin

2020 CIVIL WAR EXHIBIT PREPARATIONHAUSER & HIS "BLOND GOOSES"Buffalo County Rifles | Black Hat Brigade | The Iron Brigad...

Buffalo County Rifles | Black Hat Brigade | The Iron Brigade

After Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina was fired upon, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion in the South by force of arms. Wisconsin Governor Randall also issued a proclamation on April 16, 1861, calling upon residents to support the war.

In the sparsely settled County of Buffalo in Wisconsin this call to arms was organized by John F Hauser, a Swiss immigrant settled in Fountain City. He raised a group of 100 men, this community-based militia company added the benefit of joining and serving alongside friends and often relatives. Hauser had been trained at the Swiss Military Academy in Thun, Canton Bern, Switzerland. Served on the staff of Guiseppi Garibaldi (Italy) during the Eurpoean Wars. Very few officers had military training, Hauser was the exception and he was called upon throughout his military service because of his expertise.

The Buffalo County Rifles, the company being assembled by John Hauser, was mustered in on July 16, 1861, as Company H of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry at Camp Randall in Madison WI. During their first drill at Camp Randall, Captain Hauser allegedly said they looked "yust like one damn herd of goose." This was the origin of the company's nickname: "Hauser's Blond Gooses."

That fall the 6th Wisconsin joined the 2nd and 7th Wisconsin along with the 19th Indiana to form the "Black Hat Brigade" named after the felt hats its members wore. They were assigned to the Army of the Potomac's 1st Corps. There first duty was the protection of Washington City from the Confederate Army. Their first major action, August 1862, was at the Battle of Groveton, Virginia.

WITH THE 6TH WISCONSIN AT GETTYSBURG by Rufus R Dawes, Brevet Brigadier-General
“To our major, John F Hauser, I assigned the duty of marching this body to the provost-guard. Major Hauser, a thorough solider, had been educated at a military school in Thun, Switzerland, and he had served with Garibaldi. His shout of ‘Forwarts, Forwarts’ as we charged, is well remembered by all of us who yet survive.”

April 17, 1863 MADISON JOURNAL
“Major Hauser, of the 6th Regiment delivered today at The Executive Office (Wisconsin), the old regimental flag of the gallant Sixth regiment, worn and torn, and tattered in the fierce conflicts of Gainesville, 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. It will be replaced by the Governor with a new flag under the law passed by the late session.” The flag itself accompanied newly appointed Major John F Hauser on his brief leave to Wisconsin.

DURING THE CIVIL WAR, March 31, 1864 near Culpepper by Rufus R Dawes, Brevet Brigadier-General
"Major Hauser has been appointed a Consul to Switzerland and he will soon start with his wife for Europe."

FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WAR, John Hauser bought the Republikaner newspaper in Buffalo County. Due to poor health from his time in service and following the death of his wife, he later went to the new National Soldiers Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He died there and is buried at the National Soldiers Cemetery.

Unit: 6th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company H
Eastern Army, Army Of The Potomac, Division 1
Conflict: War Of The Rebellion, The Civil War
Service: July 16, 1861 - March 31, 1964

The "Buffalo County Rifles In The Civil War" exhibit will open in 2020 with the seasonal opening of the Alma Area Museum.

#BuffaloCountyRifles #WICivilWar #AlmaAreaMuseum #AlmaHistoricalSociety

THE FIRST MAYOR OF THE CITY OF ALMA, 1885The pioneer settlement of Twelve Mile Bluff began in 1848 when two Swiss fellow...


The pioneer settlement of Twelve Mile Bluff began in 1848 when two Swiss fellows (Victor Probst and John Waecker) arrived on August 20th and settled below the bluff. They chopped wood for the steamboats traveling the Mississippi River to make a living from the land. Great inspiration to choose the best known landmark on the River. From that humble beginning a community was born.

In 1868 the settlement became the Village of Alma and the first president was Conrad Moser Jr. This was the year the first dwellings were built on Second Street. Before 1868, Second Street was home to the American House and various sheds and horse barns. There were orchards, vineyards, a dairy and farm fields too.

In 1885 the first city charter was drafted, the Wisconsin State Legislature accepted the charter and Alma became a full-fledged City. MARTIN POLIN was elected the first mayor.

Three wards were delineated with the first set from the southern boundary of the city up to Tritsch's hill (County Road E). The second ward lies between the hill and Cedar Street and the third ward is from Cedar north to the boundary between Alma and Nelson WI. The wards later received nicknames of "cherokee" for the first ward, "flathead" for the second, and "wildcat" for the third.

Peter Polin (Martin's brother) was a partner with John Tester in the Tester & Polin Mercantile Store starting in 1857. The store had several locations in Alma but the final was 215 North Main Street. Peter died in 1870 and Tester continued to operate the store with Peter's wife Magdelena Liesch Polin (she was originally from the Town of Belvidere).

In 1871, as was the custom, Magdalena married Martin Polin (Peter's brother) and Tester sold them his interest in the store. They renamed the store Polin's or the "People's Store" and it operated until 1906 when they retired and moved to California.

2020 CIVIL WAR EXHIBIT PREPARATIONSOLDIER PROFILES | Buffalo County Rifles | The Iron BrigadeUnit:  6th Wisconsin Infant...

SOLDIER PROFILES | Buffalo County Rifles | The Iron Brigade

Unit: 6th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company H
Eastern Army, Army Of The Potomac, Division 1
Conflict: War Of The Rebellion, The Civil War
Service: July 16, 1861 - July 2, 1865
Organizer: John F Hauser, Fountain City

Do you have a family member who belonged to the Buffalo County Rifles during the Civil War?

We're putting together soldier profiles for the new Buffalo County Rifles Exhibit and would love to share your family's stories. Check the DRAFT roster below. The roster printed in the 1888 "History Of Buffalo County WI" by Kessinger lists a few different men than the official Regimental Roster, we are researching them all.

CAPTAIN John F Houser, Fountain City
1st LIEUTENANT John D Lewis, Fountain City
1st LIEUTENANT J A Tester, Alma
1st LIEUTENANT John Beeley, Fountain City
2nd LIEUTENANT Peter Polin, Alma
2nd LIEUTENANT Hiram B Merchant, Fountain City
1st Sergeant Robert Lees, Fountain City
Sergeant Anthony J Barberich, Mondovi
Sergeant Henry Belmer, Town of Buffalo
Sergeant Atwell Cooke, Fountain City
Sergeant William Evans, Fountain City
Sergeant Nicklaus Schneider, Alma
Corporal George W Augustine, Town of Belvidere
Corporal Philip Eder, Town of Buffalo
Corporal Christopher Fimian, Alma
Corporal Warren C Garwood, Gilmanton
Corporal Dennis Kelley, Fountain City
Corporal, Charles Kleffner, Fountain City
Corporal, August Schleritz, Alma
Corporal, Jacob Wirth, Fountain City

Rudolph Bader, Fountain City
Valentine Brehl, Town of Belvidere
John Bugbee, Waumandee
John Baertsch, Waumandee
Lee Degenhard, Town of Buffalo
Henry Ecke, Fountain City
Wm Eckhard, Town of Belvidere
John Fuchs, Town of Buffalo
Sebasstian Fuchs, Fountain City
Michael Fugina, Town of Buffalo
John Havner, Alma
John Herdeg, Town of Buffalo
James Hynes, Waumandee
John Jenson, Alma
John Kaeser, Alma
Balthasar Keller, Alma
John Keller, Waumandee
Henry Kessler, Fountain City
Frank Kiel, Town of Buffalo
Joseph Koffler, Alma
Henry Kohlhepp, Alma
William Korte, Fountain City
Urs Kumli, Alma
John Kurtz, Alma
William H Larue, Town of Milton
Theodore Lewis, Fountain City
Ferdinand Martin, Town of Buffalo
Nicholas Marty, Alma
John McGiveney, Town of Buffalo
John Menzemer, Fountain City
Paul Moliton, Town of Glencoe
Frederick Moy (Soldier Profile attached), Alma
John Moy, Alma
Louis Mueller, Alma
Leonhard Obrecht, Alma
Louis Prentiss, Fountain City
Chas A Raetz, Town of Buffalo
Ernst Shirenborken, Fountain City
Fredeick Schlosstein, Town of Buffalo
Adam Schneider, Fountain City
Jacob Schneider, Town of Naples
John L Senn, ???
Herman Spuehr, Fountain City
John G Stager, Town of Buffalo
Geo Sutter, Town of Buffalo
Samuel Taylor, Town of Naples
John Waecker, Town of Belvidere
Peter Weber, Fountain City
John Wehrli, Fountain City
Henry Wehrmann, Town of Buffalo

This is just a short list of the men from Buffalo County who served during the Civil War. There were other regimental units that included Buffalo County boys and while there is no intent to slight their contribution, the efforts of our project are focused on the 6th Wisconsin, Company H.

#BuffaloCountyRifles #CivilWarAlma

Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin Historical Society

With all the salons and barber shops closed, the sheep at Wisconsin Historical Society's Old World Wisconsin are getting desperate.

A. Mark is wearing a hat and hopes that no one will notice.
B. Dave is just letting it grow.
C. Richard tried to it i himself, and well, the results are mixed.

Who is wearing it better?

Learn more about Old World Wisconsin:

POSTCARDS FROM THE PASTMain Street Looking North, before it became WI State Highway 35 and the Wisconsin Great River Roa...

Main Street Looking North, before it became WI State Highway 35 and the Wisconsin Great River Road.

You can see the old City Hall bell tower (midway on the left). The bell from the tower was salvaged after City Hall burned down and is displayed in one of Alma's pocket gardens.

The building with the awnings on the right was the First National Bank organized in 1906.

#AlmaHistory #AlmaAreaMuseum #AlmaHistoricalSociety #AlmaWisconsin

ROAD TRIP Over 100 Years Ago | Old Alma DugwaySame View, 2 Different Years (1907 & 1918)Upper Mississippi River Valley v...

ROAD TRIP Over 100 Years Ago | Old Alma Dugway
Same View, 2 Different Years (1907 & 1918)

Upper Mississippi River Valley view coming down the old Alma Dugway from the Alma Bluff to Alma Wisconsin. Over the years there have been at least 3 routes. The old Alma Dugway was replaced with an entirely new road, County Road E, in 1928.

Old Alma Dugway Postcard, 1907

Old Alma Dugway
Photographer: W O Hotchkiss (WI State Geologist & WI Highway Commission)
Date: August 2, 1918
Project: Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey

#AlmaHistory #AlmaHistoricalSociety #AlmaWisconsin

POSTCARDS FROM THE PASTWalking the tracks, baclin in the day when thre weren't many trains coming through town.#AlmaHist...

Walking the tracks, baclin in the day when thre weren't many trains coming through town.

#AlmaHistory #AlmaAreaMuseum #AlmaHistoricalSociety #AlmaWisconsin

1916 ALMA VIEW Looking South Down The Railroad Tracks Below North Street & Main ... 100 Years Ago!

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC | Piece Of Alma HistoryThink driving County Road E (current Alma Dugway) is challenging?  Try going ...

Think driving County Road E (current Alma Dugway) is challenging? Try going down this old trail by wagon in 1916.

Check out this image of a wagon being driven down an old trail in ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Published in the April 1916 issue of The National Geographic Magazine, Vol 29, Page 362. Photo was recently found for sale on eBay, purchased & researched to track down it's publication. We were also able to purchase the original magazine.

We originally thought it was the "original" dugway coming up the valley where County Road E travels now but two local folks have confirmed that in fact it's probably the Ganz Dugway, Buena Vista Hiking Trail today. Just imagine!

Eugene J Hall, nationally known commercial photographer, lecturer and editor, officing in Chicago, Illinois. Born in 1845 in Brandon VT, died in 1932 in Oak Park IL. As a young man he was in the publishing business and had traveled extensively as a lecturer. In his last 30 years he become nationally known as a commercial photographer, and there was a high demand for his pictures.

How did it come about that Alma, Wisconsin was in National Geographic Magazine? All we know is they published an expansive article on encouraging Americans to travel America rather than Europe. At the time, for every 100 Americans tourists traveling across Europe there was only 1 American tourist traveling across the United States. “The Land Of The Best” by Gilbert H Grosvenor was written to change that dynamic. “We have wandered far to find the picturesque and the magnificent ...”. And in that goal, this picture of Alma, Wisconsin was included along with a section on the Mississippi River.


505 South Second Street
Alma, WI

General information

Alma Historical Society needs you! While we work with many good corporate citizens throughout the year to meet the needs of our organization, the lifeblood of our support comes from the citizens of our community who join as members, volunteer their time and expertise, and often contribute. Thank you for your support!


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Do you have any pictures of the alma ski hill back in the 70s?