alois wollenmann

Dr. Alois G. Wollenmann 

Jan 1, 1864 - June 21, 1912

 Physician, Pharmacist, Postmaster

Kundek Corner:
Ferdinand Distinguished Citizens
ALOIS WOLLENMANN

 

Dr. Alois G. Wollenmann born in Neu (Neuen) Kirch, Lucerne, Switzerland, received most of his education in Europe.  In 1889 he emigrated to America, learned English at the Seminary in Saint Meinrad, Indiana and, in 1892, set up his medical practice in Ferdinand as physician/surgeon and pharmacist, succeeding his future father-in-law, Dr. Mathias Kempf. He married Fidelia Kempf in 1893 and they moved to the colonial-style Kempf home in Ferdinand on the east side of Main Street (then known as Ohio Street) between 10th and 11th. 

He called his drug store the Adler Apothak (Eagle Apothacary) and built it on the corner of the property. This building also became the US Post Office when Dr. Wollenmann took on the duties of Ferdinand Postmaster in 1897, serving in that capacity for 15 years until his death in 1912.

From the accounts of future generations, Dr. Wollenmann was not only a talented medical practitioner but also a hoot and a holler, always loving a good joke.

The couple's two sons, Werner and Max, were born in 1894 and 1896, respectively. In 1902, Fidelia gave birth to a daughter, Mary Margaret, but tragically both mother and daughter died.  With two young boys to raise, meals to prepare, cleaning, etc to be done, Alois hired two ladies — residents of the Freedom Settlement — to help him out.

One of these ladies was Ida Hagen. While in his employment Dr. Wollenmann assisted her in learning English and encouraged her to begin a home study course in Pharmacy (she passed the exam in 1907). When Dr. Wollenmann decided to take an extended trip to Switzerland in hopes of regaining his health, Ida Hagen was sworn in as Assistant Postmistress and handled the job in his absence and until his death in 1912.

The new house was built by Seufert Construction to the doctor’s specifications and completed in 1903. It was glorious — the first house in Ferdinand with indoor plumbing. Some in the community found that very strange and could not imagine life without an outhouse. The unique structure was bedecked in brown shingles with stripes of red and white under the second story windows for a splash of color. The front door featured a small sliding glass panel so the doctor could ascertain how sick someone was when he or she came knocking on his door. The windows were uniquely European and opened sideways, each in four vertical panels. The curtain rods were crafted to accommodate the windows. A room on the southwest side was deemed “the sick room,” where Dr. W. could ensconce a really sick patient so as not to infect his family.

This house was like nothing ever seen before in Ferdinand — or since.

In August of 1911, Alois decided to return to his native land to visit his sister and improve his health. He had been stricken with Tuberculosis, most likely from contact with his patients, and already suffered from the disease when he built the chalet, covering interior walls with thin, horizontal beadboard strips to allow air circulation, then thought to be beneficial in treating "consumption."

Neither the slatted walls nor the trip to Switzerland helped. He returned to Ferdinand and was confined to his bed for three weeks, succumbing at 11:50 a.m. on Friday, June 21, 1912. He was 48 years, six months and 20 days old.

Dr. Alois Wollenmann is buried in St. Ferdinand Cemetery.

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