On October 1st, 2005, a group met in Hudson to organize the German Settlement Heritage Society, Inc. (GSHS) to preserve our heritage in addition to holding occasional reunions and genealogy gatherings. 

On December 12, 2005, a larger group met to unanimously approve our bylaws. On April 26, 2006 GSHS was officially incorporated with the state of Wisconsin and affiliated as one of the 360 affiliates of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The German Settlement Heritage Society, Inc. is a registered nonprofit charitable organization under state laws and IRS code 501(c)(3).

The German Settlement Heritage Society’s mission is to document, preserve and appreciate the heritage of the first German settlement in St. Croix County.

The German Settlement Heritage Society Forms Board of Directors

The German Settlement Heritage Society formed its first board of directors on October 1, 2005 at the Winzer Stube Restaurant in downtown Hudson.  The board of directors at that time were: Gene Bonnes, JoAnn Carlson, Evonne Ganz, Mel McElwain, Judy Schlei, Richard Schwenk, Margaret Strehlo, Charles and Barbara Garbe.

The goals of the Society are to preserve some of the historic buildings, artifacts and memories of the German Settlement along with the Tower Ridge Big Woods located six miles southeast of Hudson, Wisconsin. The group has met informally since 2002 to research and compare family histories.

Wayne Peterson, President of the Glenwood Area Historical Society, gave an inspiring message of what his group has done in the last three years since their founding.

Community service and various historical projects are planned. For more information contact Judy Schlei or Kathleen Hunter.


Here is a list of some of the attendees: Linda (Mayer) Nelson, JoAnn Carlson, Margaret Strehlo, Richard Schwenk, Mary & Gene Bonnes, Wayne Peterson, Shirley & Norm Matzek, Donna Coulter, Charles Garbe, Doris Garbe, Rick Baines, Barbara Garbe, Bob Freiermuth, Marian Timmerman, Merton Timmerman, Mel McElwain, Evonne Ganz, Hubert Wegele, Judy & Dietmar Schlei, Bill McCarthy and Wayne Nelson.

History of the German Settlement near Hudson, Wisconsin

Nicholas and Hely Schwalen were among the first farmers in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. They emigrated from Honsfeld,Prussia, in present day German-speaking Belgium. The brothers arrived in Racine in 1848 and steadfastly worked their way to St. Paul by 1849.  They laid claim to government land six miles SE of Hudson and built a cabin in 1851. Nicholas Schwalen returned to Honsfeld to marry Cibilla Schneider. Coming back they were accompanied by members of the Bonnes, Mayer, Roehl, Rohl, Ross, Schwalen andYost families. After sailing 46 days on the ship Columbus they landed in New York on 31 May 1852. They traveled the Erie Canal route to Racine where the pioneers bought six teams of oxen and wagons for the 170- mile trek to Galena, Illinois. All traveled on a steamboat going to Hudson arriving on 27 June 1852. They began clearing their land claims and built a common shelter into a hillside where the colony lived during their first winter. Wanner, Knott, Hapsch, Von Kuster andMoelter families were the next to join them. Schools were started at the east and west edges of the settlement in the early 1860s along the Stage Line Road.

 Learn more about the German Settlement Cemetery