Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club

Colonel N.P Iglehart and the Oakton Springs, Pewaukee, WI

Iglehart’s Early Years
Nicholas P. Iglehart was born in 1811, in Maryland to parents William and Jane (Smith) Iglehart. Both families were prominent in early U. S. history. Iglehart’s father fought in the War of 1812.

Little is known of his early years, but Nicholas’s upbringing must have been strong on principles and education. Living next to the Iglehart homestead was Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, whom he knew well.
In 1833, at the age of 22 he set out for Cincinnati, Ohio, to engage in the pork packaging industry. He was financially successful over time.

In 1837, he married Francis Mary Gano of Cincinnati. She came from a prominent family that included a Revolutionary War veteran and significant patriotic involvement in the country’s formative years. Francis was extremely religious and very committed to the causes she pursued later in life. The couple had 4 children.

N.P. Iglehart-Real Estate Baron
In 1851, the Igleharts moved to Chicago and Nicholas became one of the first to deal in real estate. Again, he was incredibly successful financially during this period.

 In 1856, they moved to North Shore, which eventually became Evanston, Ill. There, they built a country estate with a grand house and extensive grounds, naming it “Oakton.”

 Building the first train depot in Evanston, he convinced the Chicago & Northwestern to stop daily in this suburb. Iglehart subdivided a large part of early Evanston.

 His wife founded the first His wife founded the first Baptist Church. To this day, the church members tithe in her honor.

How Did He Become a Colonel?
Nicholas P. Inglehart is listed as an engineer and Colonel in the 6th Division of the Illinois State Militia in 1858-59. This was likely a rank bestowed upon him because of his influence and prominence. He did not serve in the Civil War as far as my research shows.
However, he was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, “who reposed great confidence in him, and during the early years of the Great Rebellion he was for a time in government service in Washington and the State of Maryland. Throughout his private and public service, he set an example to which his posterity may ever point with pride and satisfaction.”

(Album of Geneology and Biography, Cook County Illinois, 3rd edition revised; Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving 1895, p. 596-598.)

Why Did Iglehart Come To Pewaukee?
About 1869, Col. Iglehart took ill with an unknown malady. In search of relief, and undoubtedly encouraged by the testimonials from Waukesha’s Col. Dunbar and his Bethesda Spring, Iglehart set his eyes on Waukesha County. He bought several properties in Pewaukee in 1872: the Deacon West Octagon house, a burntout shell which he rebuilt, and a hotel on which he spent $40,000 to upgrade. He renamed it the Oakton Springs Hotel.

And to emulate Col. Dunbar, he founded and incorporated the “Oakton Spring Water Company” in 1873. It had two spring sources, one on the southwest side of the lake designated “Spring A” and one on his house property, “Spring B.”
(1873 Annual Report of the Secretary of State to the State of Wisconsin)

The Oakton Springs Hotel was one of many in the area during the “Resort Era” that spanned about 1868-1910.

Distribution of the Product
Oakton Spring Water was distributed throughout the Midwest, especially to Chicago. The Windy City was a great source for tourists coming to the southern Wisconsin resorts, spas and springs. Guests enjoyed the scenery, fishing and boating, and of course the medicinal waters. The water was shipped by rail, primarily in barrels but also in less efficient (and less durable) bottles and stoneware jugs. The Oakton Springs Company had a branch office on East Van Buren Street in Chicago.

Col. Iglehart was an astute marketer. He copied the Saratoga, NY bottlers in “package” design. Pint and quart bottles were listed in his 1874 brochure along with 1, 2, 3 gallon jugs and 10 to 42 gallon casks.

He shipped to a number of Midwest markets including Chicago and cited the Pullman family in one of his testimonials.

Less Relevant Facts About the Bottle Pictured
I did not find the bottle, although I would have. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it!). My wife Diane beat me to it at the old Dicken’s of a Place Antique Mall in Waukesha in Nov. of 2001. She called me over to a case and asked, “What do you make of this?” After a short gaze, pondering what I was looking at, I shrieked “Holy ----!!!” I stood guard while she summoned an attendant to open the case. The dealer was also having a 10% off sale.

Several months later, the mall owner, Wally Anderson, introduced me to the dealer. After having to endure her insults for “stealing” the bottle, and Wally reminding her that she priced it, she composed herself and proceeded to tell me she bought it in a box of bottles at the old DeLellis Auction barn in Dousman (Wasn’t that in Eagle?).

So where did the bottle come from? We will probably never know.

Where are the glass quarts mentioned in the brochure? Are there Spring “B” bottles as well? Time will tell........
Col. Iglehart spared no expense to package and transport his spring water, commissioning a Greensboro, PA potter to mold and decorate his stoneware jugs in 1, 2 and 3 gallon sizes based upon the examples shown below and his brochures from the 1870s.

Iglehart Was an Odd Fellow
Col. Iglehart was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, serving as Grand Patriarch of the Grand National Encampment of Illinois and Grand Representative of the Supreme Lodge of the United States.

It is possible that he was involved in the Pewaukee Lodge that still stands on Oakton Street but this hall was not built until 1876.
The three links in the chain in the Odd Fellows logo stand for Friendship, Love, And Truth.

Without Iglehart’s Energy, a Sad and Rapid Demise of the Pewaukee Businesses
Alas, Iglehart’s world was soon threatened both by his continued health problems and The Panic of 1873. The latter event undoubtedly affected his real estate empire as this recession lasted until 1879, the longest unabated recession in U. S. history. Some economists assert that the country did not fully recover until 1896. The recession certainly spanned the entire time of his involvement in Pewaukee with the resort and his mineral water business.

Maintaining his two residences, he returned to Evanston in 1877 and died there in April. Apparently, he did not drink enough water.
Without his driving force, Oakton Springs soon ceased operation and the hotel fell into hard times struggling to survive. So, the business only operated for four short years and that undoubtedly explains the scarcity of bottles and jugs that have been discovered to date.

Past Glory Goes Up in Flames!
The once grand Oakton Spring Hotel went through a succession of owners after 1877; and by 1893 it was vacant.
In 1896, the Gustave Marzinke family moved into the second floor. Marzinke was a shoe maker. During this time, a Chicago brewery owned the building.

In 1899, F. X. Savoy & Son bought the property with the intent of tearing it down and putting up a new hotel.
Workers had begun salvaging material when in the early morning hours of March 6th, 1899, a fire started in the laundry room.
A clerk at the railroad depot saw the flames and called in the fire.

A bucket brigade was able to save surrounding businesses. The Marzinke family escaped safely but the hotel was a total loss.

Col. Iglehart’s home still stands and is a Pewaukee Landmark.
The Deacon West Octagon House, built in 1856 (another source gives the year as 1854) by Deacon Josiah West, is an historic elevenroom octagonal house located at 370 High Street, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The wooden sign posted in front of the house states, “Josiah West 1854 Octagon House.” It is only one of nineteen such structures in the state. West sold the house to Ira Rowe in 1866; and in 1870 it was partially destroyed by fire, but its strong 18-inch-thick cement walls remained standing.

In 1873, Col. N. P. Iglehart of Kentucky bought the house and rebuilt it. The restoration included a mortar finish called grout. The roof was crowned with a belvedere, allowing a better view of the lake, village, and the countryside, but it was destroyed in a windstorm in the early 1900s. The house passed through several owners until Margaret Ann Kirley sold the house to her son and current owner, Jeffrey D. Kirley in 1998. It features stucco covered walls and a metal peak in lieu of a cupola. Local lore says that the home was involved in the Underground Railroad and that a tunnel exists from the house east, since sealed. The well is in the basement and rock lined. The Kirleys insist the house is haunted.

The Mystery - Is the House Haunted?
The Pewaukee octagon house is one for an Edgar Allen Poe story.

Legend says the man who built it killed his wife. The truth about the mysterious noises that were heard in the house was that when it was built, communication speaking tubes were placed in the walls. With time, the outlets were covered with wall paper but still transmitted sounds.

But several owners, including the current ones have seen vaporous apparitions and heard footsteps with regularity!!!

Miscellaneous Facts about the House
About 1977, Bruce Phillips and I made a cold call to the Octagon house and bought an open pontilled Binninger Clock figural bottle from the owners. It had been found in the house. After the 2011 Milwaukee Antique Bottle and Advertising Club annual show, Sid and Jeanne Hatch, Peter and Julie Maas and Diane and Henry Hecker were invited by Mr. Kirley to tour the house. Jeff and his mother, Margaret, were gracious tour guides and great custodians of this historical relic. Jeff Kirley told us a story about a day wherethey left the house with the windows open to ventilate some newly painted rooms. A rainstorm blew up while they were gone. When they arrived home, the windows were closed. Later, a neighbor told them he saw a man inside the house close the windows and assumed the Kirleys were home.

Can You Help?
We are always looking for artifacts from the Oakton Springs Hotel and Oakton Springs Water Company. There must be other artifacts out there including quart bottles, 1 gallon jugs, maybe even a water cooler and etched glasses. There must also be more photos and paper ephemera to be discovered.

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Author: Henry Hecker
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