Franklin D. Naber – namesake of “The Naberhood” in the City of Shawano

Published April 16, 2023

Photo Gallery


With the dedication of The Naberhood on April 21, 2023, we believe it’s important to outline more information about Franklin D. Naber, the namesake of the plaza. A little over two years ago, the Naber bulding, built in 1903, was demolished to make way for the new plaza linking Main Street to Franklin Park. F. D. Naber was a “giant” in the City of Shawano, accomplishing a great deal in business and for the city.

Franklin Diedrich Naber
21 May 1853 – 29 July 1925

F. D. NABER – Prominent among the foremost, in progressiveness and prosperity, of Shawano county business men, stands this gentleman, a worthy son, of a worthy father—Judge Naber.

21 MAY 1853 Mayville, Dodge,WI

29 Jul 1925 Shawano, Wisconsin

Sacred Heart Cemetery, Shawano, Wisconsin

Franklin Diedrich Naber was born May 21, 1853, in Maysville, Dodge County to parents Herman and Margaret Naber where, when a child, his parents left him in the care of his grandfather Naber. When they moved to Shawano they found the schools inferior to those of Mayville. So he remained until he was fourteen years old, receiving his elementary educational training in Maysville where the schools he attended being for the most part German; then, rejoining his parents at Shawano, he completed his education at the English school of that then village, which was held in a frame building still to be seen in the southwest portion of the present city limits. His school days over at an early age, he entered his father’s store, where his first lessons in mercantile business were secured, and while yet a boy he began to buy and sell land for the timber growing on it, showing an unusually early aptitude for commercial life. All his transactions in those days, up to the time of his majority, were made, necessarily, in his father’s name, and the success of his ventures were the foreshadowing of his future prosperity.

He thus, continued till he had passed his majority and reached the prime of his early manhood, when he began to launch into still wider fields. In 1881 he purchased from Charles L. Wiley the then almost defunct drug store in Shawano, the fixtures being worth $1,300, while the value of the stock amounted to not more than $400; but the push, energy and sound management of Mr. Naber soon fanned the embers of an expiring business into new and healthy life, for ere long the drug store became one of the most popular and extensive in northern Wisconsin—in fact, no town in all the State, of the size of Shawano, could boast of such a well-equipped store, at the same time enjoying so large a patronage. In 1884 a new business block one of the best in Shawano, was built to accommodate the increasing trade, but in 1893 our F. D. Naber, on account of failing health, had to retire from the business, his brother, Charles C. (who had been employed in the store some ten years), succeeding him. Charles continued to conduct the concern till June, 1894, when the hand of Death removed him from his usefulness. The drug business was then formed into a stock company, entitled the Naber Drug Co., with F. D. Naber as vice-president.

In February, 1894, our Mr. Naber was active in the formation of the Wolf River Paper and Fibre Co., who erected an extensive plant at Shawano for the manufacture of paper pulp from wood, which plant was equipped with the latest improved machinery, etc. Of this important industry Mr. Naber was elected treasurer and appointed superintendent, incumbencies he has since filled with eminent ability. He is also president of the Shawano Water-power Co., who constructed a dam at Shawano; is vice-president of the Shawano Shoe Co., and a director of the Shawano Bank. To the City of Shawano he has made two additions, known, respectively, as “Naber’s Addition” and “Fairview Addition,” one of which has been made to the southeast part of the corporation limits; and in very many other ways has he enhanced the growth and prosperity of the city of his adoption. In 1891 he completed what is said to be the finest private residence in the city, where he and his family live, and he also owns several other dwelling houses.

On August 8, 1882, Mr. Naber was married married to Mary Bucholtz in Clintonville, WI, a native of Belle Plaine township, Shawano County.  Mary was the daughter of Alexander Bucholtz who was among the noble army of pioneers of Shawano County. Four bright children have been born to this union, their names and dates of birth being as follows: F. Bernard, September 17, 1883; Paulina M., June 15, 1885; Alexander H., October 10, 1888, and Charles F., January 21, 1895.

Although Mr. Naber has ever been foremost in all movements tending to the welfare and prosperity of the community at large, yet he has never aspired to political honor, being content, as a stanch Democrat, to give his friends and party the benefit of his influence, aside from which, politics have no attractions for him. In addition to his other interests Mr. Naber owns several thousand acres of timber land, and for years he has been engaged in buying and selling that class of real estate. In every way he is one of the leading men of Shawano County, one of the shrewdest, most capable and yet most unassuming, a happy combination of characteristics that have won for him many warm friends.

Franklin Naber was a prominent Shawano citizen. He had many accomplishments in his lifetime, including platting 3 subdivisions within our community, starting the paper mill, and developing several significantly historic downtown buildings. Some of these developments include the building that Driers Pharmacy currently occupies as well as the building that previously housed Lauerman’s and Senzig’s furniture and stood on the current site of the plaza space.