Historic Properties – “Shawano has History”

The J. A. Lieg Building


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A Brief History

The J. A. Lieg Building
201 N. Main Street
Shawano, Wisconsin

Anton and Gertrude Lieg traveled by stagecoach from Green Bay to Shawano and founded their first store in 1868 at 207 North Main Street. It was known as A. Lieg & Son.  In 1895, Anton died and the store was reorganized, calling it J. A. Lieg & Co. In 1900, a modern brick building was erected at 201 North Main Street.  Lieg moved out and businesses, Muehl’s Furniture and Hometown Furniture, occupied the building.  In 1921, the company was dissolved and the building sold.  In 1924, John Lieg and his brother, Joseph purchased property and opened a store at 126 South Main Street.  In 1933, John A. Lieg Sr. built a modern brick building and formed the J. A. Lieg Co. with his two sons, John A. Jr. and Bernard.  It continued operation until 1940 when John A. Jr. became the sole operator and called the store “Lieg’s.”  When John Lieg retired in 1966, the store closed for the last time although the Lieg Family owned the building until 1976.

John Lieg’s obituary
John Lieg was born March 11, 1867 in Green Bay, the son of Anton Lieg. He came to Shawano with his father when he was four years of age, and after completing his schooling here, went into business with his father. The Lieg store at that time was located where the Schumacher Furniture store has its present quarters. In August, 1895, the elder Lieg died and after the re-organization of the store, the enterprise became known as J. A. Lieg and Company store. Later the Lieg store occupied the building at 201 N. Main Street in Shawano.

In 1903 John Lieg was married to Miss Mary Reiss of Ludington, Michigan. One daughter and two sons were born to the couple. They are Mildred, John, and Bernard Ten years later Mary Reiss Lieg passed away. Several years later John was married to Miss Margaret Bartlein of Chicago, and the couple moved to Shawano, where they have lived since that time.

Mr. Lieg was prominent in many community enterprises, and served as a member of the city council for two terms. He was elected mayor in 1908 and 1909, and during his administration many improvements were added to the city. He was one of the first members of the water and light commission.



ANTON LIEG & SON is the name of one of the most prominent business firms of Shawano, and these gentleman demonstrate what can be accomplished through industry, diligence and perseverance. The senior member of the firm was born in Prussia June 22, 1835, and is a son of Kasler Lieg, a tailor by trade. The father died when Anton was only seven years of age, leaving the widow with two children, Anton and John.

After obtaining an ordinary education, Anton Lieg at the age of fourteen began working as a slater, and when seventeen he came to the United States, going down the Rhine to Rotterdam, thence sailing across the North Sea to Hull, England, and from there journeying by rail to Liverpool, where he boarded a sailing vessel, which sixty days later reached New York harbor in safety. From there traveling westward, his funds were exhausted at Erie, Penn., in consequence of which he was forced to seek work there, and obtaining a position as a farm hand, remained there from August, 1852, until July, 1853, when he came by boat to Milwaukee. He had been employed on the construction of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad, but through a dishonest contractor lost his wages. In Milwaukee, he secured work in a brickyard, receiving from $25 to $30 per month, and in that locality he remained until 1856, when he went to Green Bay, Wis., where he again secured work in a brickyard.

On October 20, 1864, in Green Bay, Wis., Mr. Lieg married Miss Gertrude Bibelhausen, a native of Germany, born February 18, 1844. When a child she came to the United States with her father, John Bibelhausen, who engaged in farming in DePere township, Brown Co., Wis. For four years Mr. Lieg continued his connection with the brickyard, then worked as a gardener in the summer and chopped cord wood in the winter. He also clerked for two winters in a store there, purchasing a house on Main street near Rahr’s brewery, and kept boarders. In 1871 he came to Shawano traveling by stage and here worked as a gardener, while his wife conducted a little store, beginning with a capital of only $60. In the fall of 1871 they returned to Green Bay, where for a short time Mr. Lieg was employed as overseer of a gang of men. In the spring of 1872 he again came to Shawano, and purchasing twenty-two acres of land, began the manufacture of brick. He had disposed of his property in Green Bay, and now had a capital of $1,100; but the new business proved a failure, and left him with only $200. With this he began merchandising, at first renting his store room, but after thirteen days he purchased it. He first opened with a stock of groceries, and subsequently added dry goods, later developing a general store. At first the family lived in the store room which was 40 x 20 feet, as they did not wish to go beyond their means; but as time passed prosperity attended the new undertaking, and today the establishment is one of the best mercantile houses in Shawano, occupying as it does a brick building 82 x 20 feet.

The firm of Anton Lieg & Son have carried on a successful business, and fair and honorable dealing, courteous treatment and earnest, desire to please their patrons’ have been the important factors in their success. Theirs is one of the most substantial firms in Shawano, and in connection with general merchandising, they are interested in the Shawano Water Power and River Improvement Co., the Shawano Shoe Factory, and the Shawano County Bank. The business history, of this locality would be incomplete without the record of their lives, for they have greatly promoted commercial activity in this region, and while promoting individual prosperity have advanced the material welfare of the community.