The Village of Brunswick in Hanover Twp., Lake County, had its beginning in 1858, when a general store was erected at the corners. It was settled mostly by German farmers who brought with them the trades which they learned in Europe.
In older historical documents, Brunswick was described in many different ways: "a quiet, solid town," "a haven for the oppression and violence of Germany," "has a tradition of seclusion that has been passed down from generation to generation," "protective of a slow-paced way of life," "seems to be prosperous," and "there isn't much to be seen."
In 1872 Brunswick had 18 families, one general store (it sold about $12,000 in merchandize annually), two blacksmiths, two wagon shops, two masons, one carpenter, one shoemaker, one harness maker, one doctor and one horse doctor. A two-story school building was erected there at a cost of $1,200. Water elevators were also being manufactured there at that time. Some of the homeowners included H.C. Beckman, Dr. Charles, Joseph Schmal (the Old Timer's great-uncle), A. Farwell and Frederick Echterling.
The early general store in the village was opened in 1858 by Herman C. Beckman, born in Langwedd, Germany, in 1822, who came to America in 1846. He first became a merchant at the early village of Hanover (now a part of Cedar Lake), where he had a large store building.
He was elected Lake County Commissioner in 1867 and was postmaster at the Village of Brunswick for 29 years. He died at the village in 1894 and was buried in the Meyer Family Cemetery in the Meyer Manor area of Cedar Lake, where other members of his family are also buried. He was an uncle of John H. Meyer, who settled in the area in 1851.
About 1900, with a population of 65, Brunswick was becoming quite a busy business center. Storekeeper Beckman bought, in a single day, 3,700 eggs and about 300 pounds of butter.
After Herman's passing, his son John N. Beckman continued to operate the store, raised Jersey cattle, and took over other family business pursuits. The old store had many owners through the years, but when it was sold in 1955, it still held a large assortment of goods. It is now a residence.
Many of the family names of the people who now live in Brunswick can be found in historical articles of times gone by.
Two of the early wagon makers, well-known for their "Einsele Buggy," were Valentine and Michael Einsele (1805-1899). Sebastian Einsele (1837-1914), son of Michael, was born in Baden, Germany, and, according to historian Rev. T.H. Ball, did much for the development and industrial welfare of Lake County. In 1899 Sebastian began the construction of a large resort hotel at Cedar Lake, now the large monastery building along Parish Ave., across from the monastery golf course.
The Perfection Musical String Co,. housed in the converted two-story school house, was established by George Einsele. After his death in 1940, it was managed by his sister, Ella M. Einsele, until she passed away in 1958. Then Raymond Neiner became the owner and operator until the plant was closed. For a time the company also made violins, making 1,000 fine, hand-made instruments. The products were sent all over the world, and 95 percent of all stringed instruments in symphony orchestras in the United States use Perfection Strings.
In 1970 Perfection employee Catherine Rhein wrote about the company and also included the following about the village: "Brunswick has not grown appreciably like some of its neighboring Lake County communities. There isn't much to be seen. In fact, aside from the String factory, there is only Ben Reichert's Tavern, Niemeyer's Sales and Service, John Ericson, violin maker, and about thirty homes."
One of the early blacksmiths in the village was a man by the name of Bieriete, who rented space in his shop to a wagon maker by the name of Charles Hildebrandt. The shop was sold to Charles Schreiber in 1900, and he built a garage building there in 1917.
It was later operated for many years by his son, Arnold (Ike) Schreiber, as a Hudson Dealership, with some Fords and Chevrolets also sold there.
Some of the doctors serving the village were M. Hoffman, Constantine Schlemme, H. Volke, and Charles Groman.
The Brunswick Co-operative Creamery Co. was another of the early business ventures in the village. It was organized in 1892 and was in operation until 1908. Alfred Schmal, farmer and stockman, son of pioneer Joseph Schmal, was the manager for several years. In the 1860's, during the Civil War, butter tubs were manufactured in Brunswick by August Buchholz.
The oldest building in the village which is still in operation is the Reichert Tavern on the downtown corner, across the street from the site of the general store. The dance hall next door holds many memories for longtime area residents.
The Old Timer can't quite agree with the writer who wrote "There isn't much to see" in Brunswick.
It is a great pleasure to drive down the paved road from Cedar Lake, to drive down the street in the old quaint village with all its history, and view all the neat homes along the shaded street.
You can still see the site of the string factory in the school building, the old tavern on the corner, the old general store building still standing across the street and the Hudson sign still hanging on the old dealership building.
After a short drive south on what is now Calumet Ave., you can see the unique round house and round barns built by Julius Echterling in about 1910. Julius was born in Brunswick in 1861, and purchased the family farm from his father, Frederick Echterling, in 1891.
The round buildings have been featured in many publications, including a fine book about the round barns of Indiana, published in the last decade and available at the Lowell Public Library. Julius Echterling was Georgene (Schutz) Schmal's grandfather.
The recent changes at Brunswick can be seen by going north on Calumet Ave. a short way to see a large modern subdivision, a totally new look as compared with the old town, with more homes there than in the original village.
The best description of the Village of Brunswick is "a quiet, solid town," according to the Old Timer.
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