Francis Huebschmann [Franz Hubschmann], was a physician, from Milwaukee, before the war. He was enlisted as Surgeon on August 14, 1862. Franz was assigned to duty at corps hospital on January 10, 1864. He resigned on September 23, 1864. He was a founding member of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment Association. He was elected to state senate in 1871 and 1872. Franz died in Milwaukee March 21, 1880.
DR. FRANCIS HUEBSCHAMANN
The Cultured Pioneer and Framer of Our State Constitution
During the stormy, thundering
years of growth, from an insignificant hamlet to the present industrial
metropolis, we have neglected many of our notable and outstanding pioneers
who took an intense part in the founding and the progress of our city.
More than a century-four generations- Milwaukeeans kept up a terrific pace
and during this early strife few ever gave a moments thought to look back
and try to visualize the early and often futile, struggle of these old
timers who are responsible for the present opportunities at our disposal.
Dr. Francis Huebschmann was one of these early outstanding characters. He is more so important since he represented a foreign element in which nearly sixty-five per cent of our population has its origin.
When Dr. Huebschmann arrived in the pitiful little shantytown which was hardly organized and later called Milwaukee, in the spring of 1842, there were exactly seven eligible voters among the German settlers within the district, and he was the first physician. the rest of the population of a few thousand consisted of Irishmen, and a few sprinkling of New England Yankees.
The prospects were negligible for a resourceful and ambitious young man. Yet there was a steady stream of immigrants arriving daily, sometimes at the rate of two or three hundred per day of whom remained in the unsightly town of hills and crooked lanes with its unpainted log cabins and dreary little shanties.
The young doctor had made his choice, however, and he was here to stay. With characteristic energy he pitched in and rendered in a space of a few years an invaluable service to the community, the state, and particularly to his newly adopted country. He took an intense active part in the social life of the village and became an outstanding, almost unique figure among the pioneers and the annals of the history of Milwaukee.
Dr. Francis Huebschmann was born in cradle of German classical culture - the home of Goethe and Schiller and many other geniuses of world reknown - Weimar, Saxony. It as a complacent, traditionally stultifying social life in an excessively beautiful environment, a veritable paradise of romantic atmosphere for those fortunate to be born into the realms of leisure and nobility. Weimer, Saxony was one of the smallest of the thirty-six independent duchies which made up a devastated Germany after the restoration and emancipation from the French Hitler a century and a hold ago - Napoleon Bonaparte.
Under the excessive pressure of innumerable little despots, with its arrogant officials and endless custom barriers, Francis Huebschmann grew up, to despise these petty sovereignties, and comic opera robber barons. He was fortunate to attend his studies at Jena. Jena with Heidelburg and Goettingen were the tree traditional centers of higher learning during the 19th century. While Heidelburg was the stomping ground of a feudal caste, Jena was steeped in a "Korpsgeist", that arrogant, superior conception of the offspring of the wealthier middle class who so much wanted to keep up with the tradition of the ruling caste, the many officials, lackeys and stooges f the despots.
Arrived in 1842
It is natural that under
this narrow caste system a youthful rebel such as Francis Huebschmann could
not survive without permitting to the most luditous humiliations. Soon
after he had received his doctor's diploma he left for a freer atmosphere.
In the spring of 1842 he arrived in Boston to visit some relatives and
then journeyed a few months later to the west where he at last arrived
in Milwaukee to settle down for his live work.
His previous training in the English language stood him goos stead as a representative of the German element. One year after his arrival in 1843, he was elected one of the first school commissioners, a position he held for eight years thereafter. He was instrumental in brining Moritz Schoeffler to Milwaukee with whom he founded the first German newspaper, the Wisconsin Banner.
As a staunch uncompromising Jeffersonian Democrat, he fought his greatest battles against the ruthless rodyism of the foreing-baiting "Knownothings", who had organized under the American Alliance, and the conservative Whigs. His aim, however, was to help frame the forthcoming constitution of the newly created state of Wisconsin. It was his duty to protect the much exploited foreign element form the hands of a few fanatics, bent on imposing into this constitution such measures which were reactionary and would disfranchise his countryman. He had the great honor to be elected delegate to the first convention and was responsible for the paragraph in which "every person of 21 and over was entitled to vote after one year of residence within the state and his declaration of intention to become a citizen."
The first constitution was defeated, however, but the second constitution being adopted, carried this, his paragraph with it. It remained part of the constitution of Wisconsin until 1912, when it was revoked, to the despair of many old times and their children who suddenly discovered they had voted for fifty rears without being citizens. They had merely declared their intention and never thought or took the trouble to obtain the second finial citizen papers.
In between his political
and professional activities the inexhaustible Dr. Huebschmann found time
to take part in a number of cultural organizations. He was one of the founders
of the first Milwaukee Male quartet as charter member of the famous Musical
Society, and took part in the organization of the Englishman School, which
later became the German-English Academy.
In 1844 he became president and secretary of the German Democratic Association in Milwaukee. During the first monster celebration in Milwaukee in 1843 over the first appropriation for a harbor Dr. Huebschmann was the marshal leading a large group of Germans down Spring Street, over a hold a mile long, a feat for the small community at the time.
In 1848 and 1852 he was presidential elector and in 1853 was appointed by President Pierce as superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern district which incorporated New Your, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
One of the most beautiful, little known friendships formed during these years, shall be recorded here to give some highlights of the generous character of Dr. Huebschmann. The first Milwaukeean to lay down his life for his adopted country in the field of battle at Buena Vista, during the Mexican War 1847 - 48, was the gifted poet Alexander Conze, an intimate friend of Dr. Huebschmann. After the announcement of the death of Conze, Dr. Huebschmann took charge of his remains and notified Conzes's widowed mother in Bueckeburg, grieved and had dreams of her son's success and wealth, which however did not exist. It was Dr. Huebschmann who, in order not to disappoint the old lady, encouraged and embursed her out of his own meager purse without ever mentioning this fact to anyone. Only of late was this fact learned from his correspondence which has been preserved by his daughter, Mrs. Anna Hottelet, and is now in the archives of the Milwaukee County Historical Museum.
Much than can be said
in favor of, or against, the stormy and often blunt Doctor: nevertheless
he had good reasons for his blustering and often impatient behavior towards
some opponents. He was sure of himself, his philosophy of life, of his
superiors education, and his principles. He did not like to be misled,
and he refused to be annoyed by some of the political windbags, who rattled
meaningless phrases in order to make an impression, which was a fashion
in the early years of our countries existence, and perhaps is still in
fashion today. The political demagogs before the Civil War felt his contempt
which he freely expressed, by which was not always to the benefit to hid
otherwise excellent reputation.
Nevertheless, he adhered in the last breath to the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, even after many of his intimate friends deserted him and joined the newly organized Republican party in 1854. As a leading left-wing honest democrat he was vigorously opposed to chattel slavery, but he did not make it the only boisterous issue as so many of his political opponents, who disappeared in the shadow of silence at the moment the Civil War became a fact. Dr. Huebschmann was one of the first to enlist in the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment.
Before the doctor left to become a staff surgeon, he had been a member of the assembly, in 1851 - 52 and an alderman since 1852, acting as mayor in 1860 in place of Mayor William Pitt Lynde. He had lost his first wife during the horrible cholera epidemic in Milwaukee, 1848, but married again this time the daughter of an old settler, John Hess, in 1852.
He left a family at home while he went to war in order to preserve the Union. After some month's activity in the brutal battles at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chicamauga, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountains, Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta he became Brigade Surgeon. On October 1, 1864, after three and a half years of service in the field he returned home to his family. The war, however, had taken its toll even among those who returned . Dr. Huebschmann was never again the same strong, robust man who knew no limits in his various activities. It no doubt shortened his life considerably.
During the destructive
battles between the Northern and Southern armies it happened that Dr. Huebschmann
with nine of his assistants and 500 wounded were caught between the firing
lines while located in an improvised old church near Gettysburg, used as
a field hospital. Significant to his fearless character, Dr. Huebschmann
became annoyed by the senseless bombardment and sniping of the southern
troops at the hospital. He boldly laid down his instruments after an operation
and walked out into the open fields in his blood-spattered white coat,
a perfect target for the snipers lifting his arm. He implored in a booming
voice to the troops to stop firing at the wounded and pick on the healthy
soldiers who at least could defend themselves.
The firing ceased and they were for three days prisoners of the southern forces until these forces treated. Few forget the courageous, unapproachable "Dutch" doctor who with his energetic interference saved many lives.
After he return from the war he lost this forceful energy and strength to carry on as he had done during his early days. Yet, he found time to write a scholarly thesis on the bloodpump "Die Blutpumpe", and was on to the first to warn against the ruthless destruction of our forest.
He insisted on reforestation and made extensive and made extensive studies in this field which were submitted for approval by the Department of Agriculture. In fact, he mentioned the problems of reforestation as early as 1846, at the time the ruthless destruction had begun, which he had observed in his travels in the various Indian territories.
Interested in Culture
Although ailing, he nevertheless
kept an interest in the various cultural activities. He never missed a
performance of the German theater, or events such as the Musical Society
offerings. For years he was a prominent supporter of the Engelmann School,
while he was consistently interviewed on the local state and national political
issues by his former followers.
Dr. Huebschmann departed suddenly from this world he loved so deeply, so impulsively early age of 63 on March 22, 1880. He passed on quietly without a struggle to the surprise of those who knew him as the vigorous proud, "Old Gent."
Thus ceased a life of intense energy, hopes and dreams, the realization of which he unfortunately could not witness. Let us remember him for his sincerity, honesty and his undaunted beliefs in the principles of the ultimate good of democracy - his lifework.
(Photo and story courtesy of the Milwaukee County Historical Society)