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Cream City Chronicles
A Book Review

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Cream City

Stories of
Milwaukee's Past




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The Making of


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Byron Kilbourn
and the Development
of Milwaukee


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Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee's Past
by John Gurda |  Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2006
Click here to order this book.

Through a series of delightful vignettes, John Gurda paints a series of word pictures of Milwaukee's history that should prove of interest to those who love the city or simply love a good story.

John is an award-winning author and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist and the book is a compilation of the best of his Milwaukee history columns that ran monthly on Sundays starting in 1994. That helps explain why they are such enjoyable reading.

The narratives, each two to three pages in length, are arranged into the following categories:  Spring, The Early Years, A Heritage of Diversity, Water: The City's Lifeblood, Summer, Making a Living, A Sense of Place, Fall, The Common Good, Celebrations, and Winter.

The people who fill these tales range from founding fathers and mothers to the rich and famous to those who labored in Milwaukee's industries.

In many ways, Cream City Chronicles is the perfect companion to the rich array of photos found in Milwaukee Then and Now by Sandra Ackerman.

She takes you on a visual tour of public buildings including Milwaukee's famous City Hall, retail and office buildings, art spaces including the historic Pabst Theater, breweries, mansions, parks, residences and more.

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Then and Now

John's stories tell you more about many of the historic figures who lived and worked and rested eternally in those buildings and locations.

Both touch on the city's famous breweries and brewers; Borchert Field that preceded Milwaukee County Stadium and Miller Park;  the world-famous Santiago Calatrava addition to the art museum; the Milwaukee Auditorium; the Forest Home Cemetery, and more.

It is worth noting that Milwaukee's sobriquet as the Cream City has nothing to do with Wisconsin's famous dairy industry and everything to do with the bricks manufactured there.  Made of local clay, the bricks turned a lovely cream color when fired. As more and more structures were built with these bricks, they became Cream City Bricks and Milwaukee became the Cream City. Thus the book's title.

Among my favorite stories in the book is the one on the Schuster's Christmas Parade and Billie the Brownie. My mother and I recently talked about how we both enjoyed the parade and Billie as children. And I was delighted to see the column about the Milwaukee Auditorium, now reborn as the Milwaukee Theater, with the quote from William George Bruce. The building and the man were remarkable parts of Milwaukee's saga.

John Gurda is also the author of the 450+ page master work The Making of Milwaukee. His new book will bring history to those who who love a good tale but can't imagine tackling a history book!

Whether you were born in Milwaukee or are interested in the city's vibrant history and fascinating people, you will want this book to dip into time and again. For people doing family genealogy research that includes Milwaukee ancestors, the book offers a fascinating historical context for the city's earlier eras.

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Milwaukee Streets:
The Stories Behind
Their Names

Hats off the the Wisconsin Historical Society for publishing this fine volume of Milwaukee history.

Click here to order John Gurda's Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee's Past

Click here  to order Sandra Ackerman's Milwaukee Then and Now.

Learn more about Milwaukee and Wisconsin history and genealogy.

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German-American Urban Culture:
Writers & Theaters
in Early Milwaukee


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Kidding Around


Milwaukee Buildings: A Sampling   [ Top ]

Milwaukee Architecture 1837 to Today: a wealth of photographs from early residences such as the Benjamin Church House and early churches to the Milwaukee Art Museum's world-famous Calatrava addition

Famous Buildings of Milwaukee: from the 1988 MIlwaukee Center to the 1895 Flemish Renaissance-style Milwaukee City Hall and more about City Hall

Registered Historic Places in Milwaukee County, including the Kilbourntown House or Benjamin Church House, a Greek Revival residence now a museum

Milwaukee Architectural Sites from    
the Pabst Mansion to the 1844 Benjamin Church House, the latter in Greek Revivial style

Historic Milwaukee and its tour programs and history presentations give  many a look at Milwaukee heritage

Historic Third Ward describes the notable buildings there and their modern uses

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Santiago Calatrava:
Milwaukee Art Museum,
Quadracci Pavilion

to Finding
Family for Free


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Books, Software
& More



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Erving, Burdick &
Co's Milwaukee city directory, for
1857 & 1858

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2007 Calenda


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Art Poster Print:  Milwaukee, City of, 1873


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In Search of Your German Roots. The Complete Guide
to Tracing Ancestors in Germanic Areas
of Europe




The German
Immigrant Press
in Milwaukee

and Community
in a Frontier City


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South Milwaukee (Images of America)


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Women's Wisconsin:
From Native
Matriarchies to the
New Millennium


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German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation and Transformation


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Swiss in


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Genealogist's Guide
to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors


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Tracking Down
Your Ancestors


Historic Photos of Milwaukee     [ Top ]

Milwaukee historic scenes from the Milwaukee Public Library collection include:
  Grand Avenue swinging bridge in 1880s,
    now Wisconsin Avenue downtown
  City Market on the East Side with stalls for
    merchants in 1885,
  Newspaper Row: home to numerous
   papers andthe Press Club, 1885
  Gimbel's Department Story in 1897
  Ice Skaters filled the Milwaukee River, here
    in January 1897
  Milwaukee Auditorium in 1909, interior
    scene. A key leader in its development was
    publisher William George Bruce
  Beer bottling was mechanized, Pabst, 1915
  Milwaukee City Hall as seen in 1923

Historic Milwaukee Photos from the Journal Sentinal Online with five archive pages:
  Archive 1: with one of Old City Hall
  Archive 2: Schlitz Palm Garden and more
  Archive 3: one of 4th & Chestnut, 1860s
  Archive 4: includes one of a three-masted
   schooner on the Milwaukee River, 1885
  Archive 5: photos of early stores

Historic Milwaukee Postcards: search the Bliffert Postcard Collection or browse its 400 cards including this sample:
  Val Blatz Brewing Co.
  Cathedral Square

  City Hall in the 1867 and 1909 versions
  City Hall in the 1900-1907 era
  Deutscher Club, 1905, now Wisconsin Club
  Germania Building
  Grand Avenue
, east from 11th, 1914
  Juneau Monument, Juneau Park

Astor Hotel - its history

Milwaukee Neighborhoods   [ Top ]

Picturing Milwaukee Neighborhoods: illustrated essay on the city's historic development and ethnic roots

Map of Milwaukee Neighborhoods with links to photos

Eastside and Westside Milwaukee maps, indexed with historic and major buildings

Historic Irish Third Ward with maps

Historic Milwaukee: tours of cultural areas of the city, with 12 photos of historic buildings from mansions to breweries to sacred places

Historic Milwaukee Religious Buildings: from 1847, including German, Polish and Irish Catholic, German Lutheran, African Methodist Episcopal churches and Jewish synagogues

Historic Milwaukee Churches: a sampling of edifaces from as early as 1853

Free Congregation Church: founded in 1847 to continue abolition efforts, served by famous abolition minister Rev. Love. Later renamed.

Milwaukee Neighborhoods Today:  the distinctive parts of town and and more on the city's neighborhoods

Milwaukee Downtown View from Bayview south of downtown

City waterways are the Milwaukee River that flows from the north, Menomonee River from the west and Kinnickinnic River from the south. They flow into Lake Michigan.

Milwaukee's Harbor is integral to its history and commerce. A key force in its development was William George Bruce, the eldest son of Augustus Bruce and Apollonia Becker Bruce.

Milwaukee Genealogy   [ Top ]

Links to the Past for Milwaukee:  a major source for genealogy and history with a wealth of resources such as early  census indexes and the 1848-1849 City Directory

Milwaukee Genealogical Society

Milwaukee County Historical Society and the building that houses the MCHS and details on the county's area historical societies

Famous people with burials at Milwaukee's renowned  Forest Home Cemetery

Other Genealogy Resources   [ Top ]

Family Research Tips & Tools including an index to our growing series of Finding Family for Free segments, reviewing remarkable resources that help you discover your ancestors

Brick Wall Genealogy Solutions: guide to helpful advice for times when you run into a dead end in your research and need new ideas and strategies to keep making progress.

Genealogy Resources: links to many of the most helpful online resources for family history research, many available free, and including a section on getting started in genealogy

Relative Musings:  our blog on genealogy and family history research, including the growing number of Finding Family for Free entries.

Genealogy Products    [ Top ]

Visit our Genealogy Shop for family history and genealogy books, software and other products today. Check out the sections for German genealogy, Irish genealogy and much more.

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Silver Screens: Pictorial History of Milwaukee's Movie Theaters


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Germans in


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City Smart:


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the Particular: Photographs of
Milwaukee's Polish
South Side


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Shorewood Wisconsin (Images of America)


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Finding Your German Ancestors : A

Beginner's Guide


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They Came to Wisconsin (New Badger History)


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The Family Tree
Problem Solver:
Proven Methods
for Scaling the
Inevitable Brick Wall


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First Steps in Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide
to Researching Your
Family History


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Latinos in
Milwaukee (Images
of America)

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Jewish Milwaukee
(Images of America)


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, Wisconsin
(Images of America)


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Irish Milwaukee

of America)


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Rand McNally
2006 Milwaukee


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History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin's Historical Markers


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Cultural Map of Wisconsin:
A Cartographic
Portrait  of the State


Maps of Milwaukee   [ Top ]

Territorial Milwaukee Map: showing original Juneautown, Kilbourntown, Walker's Point

Harry Baird's Plan for Milwaukee east of the Milwaukee River showing street names, some never used, and his 1835 Map

1878 Map of Milwaukee: click for a larger image and then zoom in to specific areas of the city in detail - has important buildings from city hall to schools to breweries.

Version of 1878 Map with sketches of city founders and the court house.

Milwaukee 1904 Map: with many old street names shown

Milwaukee County 1906 Map: topographic map showing extent of development

Collection of Milwaukee Maps: 12 maps from 1883 to 2000. Choose "view descriptive record" for medium-sized version and text

Map of Milwaukee Neighborhoods from 1885 to 1998 with links to photos

Milwaukee Green Map: interactive map to click for specific sites. Shows parks, cemeteries.

Milwaukee River Basin Map: showing the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnikinnic Rivers that come together at Milwaukee as well as the neighboring counties

Milwaukee Map - Downtown: detailed road map and major public buildings, rivers

Milwaukee County Map: map puts city in context of the county, and Lake Michigan to the east and neighboring counties Racine [south], Waukesha [west] and Ozaukee [north]

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Irish in Wisconsin
(People of Wisconsin)


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The Milwaukee

Neighborhood Map
(Maps & Atlases)


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Milwaukee Bike
Map and Southeast


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Miller Beer Barons:
The Frederick

Miller Family and
Its Brewery

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Women's Wisconsin: From
Native Matriarchies to the
New Millennium

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Danes in Wisconsin:
(Expanded Edition)


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The Milwaukee Road
(Railroad Color History)


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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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The Bradley Legacy: Lynde
and Harry Bradley,

Their Company, and
Their Foundation

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Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance
and Renewal

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Wisconsin Lighthouses:
A Photographic &
Historical Guide

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many biographies
History of
City and County
(Volume III)



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