Last week, I published an illustration of the Landgraf Hotel. It was one of those idealized pen and ink lithographs that always seemed to feature horses or a trolley passing by- very Currier and Ives stuff. Above is a photograph of the hotel I featured back in 2012. I came across the published obituary for the namesake of the hotel after the fact but I have decided to feature it today. While I am always intrigued by the histories of our esteemed citizens, sadly and too often, the news of their passing doesn't always give a good accounting of what they accomplished and they become just a shorthand name for a building. I came across this accounting of his life through an online genealogical site, for which, the author claims him as an ancestor. I thought you might enjoy learning a bit more about Valentine Landgraf.
Note to readers: the Dr. Forkin mentioned in the story was my family doctor and delivered me into this world in 1956.
_______________________________________________________Death Ends Long Life/Val Landgraf, Proprietor of Hotel Landgraf Dies Suddenly/In Business 44 Years/Death Came Almost Without Warning at an Early Hour Saturday Evening--Funeral Tuesday
Valentine Landgraf, proprietor of the Hotel Landgraf and one of Menasha's pioneer businessmen, died suddenly Saturday evening at about 8 o'clock at the Luedtka Turkish Bath parlors on Main Street where he had gone earlier in the evening in accordance with his regular custom. Death was due to heart failure, from with Mr. Landgraf had been a sufferer for some time.
Mr. Landgraf spent the early part of the evening about the hotel in jovial conversation with members of his family and guests at the hotel and left for the bath rooms apparently in good health. Only a few minutes after entering the private apartments at the bath parlors, he was engaged in conversation with Mr. Leudtka when he staggered and fell to the wall, where his body was supported by the proprietor until assistance arrived. Dr. Forkin was summoned but death resulted soon after his arrival. A thorough examination revealed that Mr. Landgraf had suffered an attack of heart failure which had resulted in his sudden demise. Members of the family were notified and the remains were removed to the family apartments at the hotel.
Valentine Landgraf was born in Germany, June 20, 1842, and came to America when only four years of age, settling with his parents at Richfield, Wis. Here he attended the public school until he became a boy eleven years of age when he went to Milwaukee to complete his education. At the age of 16 years he went out with a party in a prairie schooner and crossed the then almost unknown western country to Idaho. To tell of the experiences of his western trip was one of the most favorite traits of the local host and he often spent hours in going back to the trials and hardships of his boyhood days.
After spending nine years in the west, Mr. Landgraf returned to Menasha and on Nov. 22, 1867, was united in marriage to Miss Emma Brugger, of Richfield, the sweetheart of his childhood, at the home of the bride's sister in Milwaukee.
Soon after arriving here, Mr. Landgraf purchased the property at the corner of Main and Tayco streets and during the past forty-four years has been engaged in the hotel and grocery business in this city, making him one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of the city's active business men. In the course of these years, he has received many flattering offers from would-be purchasers but these were all politely but firmly denied as Mr. Landgraf continued to live out his long life in Menasha in his own contented way. He served several terms as a member of the city council, having been elected to the office of alderman from the Second Ward and he was also a charter member of the Germania society of this city.
Deceased is survived by his wife, one son and three daughters as follows: Alex Landgraf and Miss Ida Landgraf, of this city; Mrs. Card Garrison of Detroit, Mich., and Mrs.Harry Gunderson of Sheboygan. One brother, John Landgraf, of Milwaukee, also survives. The funeral will be held from the family apartments at the hotel, tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev. Kleinhans officiating. Burial will be made at Oak Hill cemetery.
Published October 16, 1911