New mural depicts small town's historical roots, citizens

Susan Manzke
Susan at the Seymour Community Museum mural.

On July 9, 2022, I joined a group of citizens from the Seymour area to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of the new Seymour Community Museum.

I love small-town celebrations. On this day we were lucky to be gifted with a beautiful afternoon. Seated around the gazebo, we locals enjoyed food, ice cream, music, camaraderie and the unveiling of a 64-foot long and 10-foot high mural.

The mural depicts downtown Seymour during the early 1900s. It was sponsored by the Seymour Community Historical Society and Museum.

Artist Kelly Babler of Butternut, Wisconsin, took copies of old photos from Seymour’s past and painted buildings and people on multiple metal sheets to be assembled to create the large mural on the west side of the old Miller-Piehl Building. Included in the mural were 12 buildings of the city's past, two of which are still in use today.

From the Seymour History Bulletin, I gleaned a list of the buildings. They include Dean and Lorenz Hardware Store, City Hall, Hotel Falck, Muehl Furniture and Undertaking, the State Bank, Central Drug Store, Chase Saloon and Billiard Hall, Seymour Hardware Store, Graham's Store, Hotel Florence, and the public school.

There are also 20 people painted on the mural. The businesspeople of the day were mostly men. Only two businesswomen were included. On the far left sits Hattie Graham in a window of the Graham’s Store which she ran with her husband, Phineas.

The second notable woman is Mary Falck, who with her husband George built and operated the Falck Hotel.

Several of the businessmen wore many hats. Peter Tubbs owned Woodland Farm and was postmaster, news reporter, and bank director. Philip Muehl operated a furniture store and funeral home. Other notables include James Dean owned a hardware store, and Robert Kuehne one of the largest livestock shippers in the state.

Dr. L.A. Le Mieux was an eye doctor and druggist. H.J. Van Vuren was editor and publisher of the Seymour Press. Francis Dittmar's occupations included real estate developer, insurance man, and bank director. William Michelstetter was president of the Seymour State Bank. John Stewart owned Seymour Flour Mill while Dr. James Hittner was a medical doctor in Seymour from 1892 until 1938. 

William F. Cirkel was a state assemblyman and director of the fair. August Wolk was chief of police. Pastor Frederick Ohlrogge served as the pastor of the Lutheran church. F.W. Axley became principal of Seymour High School in 1899. James Veitch owned a well drilling business. Blacksmith Nick Kitzinger served the community for over 40 years. Fred Piehl was part owner of the Miller-Piehl Company and a mason who built several city buildings.

Kurt Boettcher points to the horse-drawn hearse painted on the mural in front of the Muehl Furniture and Undertaking establishment.

Kurt Boettcher, retired from the Muehl-Boettcher Funeral home, recently visited Ashland, Wisconsin, where he was impressed with the murals decorating that city. Those painted buildings sparked the idea to have this mural painted in Seymour.

Boettcher brought his idea to the board and soon the fundraising was underway.

Choosing these notable citizens wasn’t easy, said Boettcher. A committee took extensive time deciding who would grace the side of the building. Archived photos helped them make the final choices.

Many people in the Seymour area have ties to this historic group. Not me. I’m a transplant. My genes connect me to immigrants in the Chicago area. No matter, I enjoy being a member of the Seymour Community Historical Society and a docent at the museum.

Seymour celebrates the tenth anniversary of the new Seymour Community Museum.

My ties to Seymour began in 1978 when Bob and I moved here with two toddlers. Being farmers, it was easy planting our roots here. Now, with my many friends, I feel like a daughter of Seymour, Wisconsin.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;