Fox River House, Menasha, Wisconsin

Decades ago, someone told me that Frank and Julia Winarski used to own some kind of lodge in Menasha, Wisconsin. I asked my parents and they had never heard of this—I have absolutely no idea who told me this information.

I started researching this when I found the obituaries for Frank and Julia in The Menasha Record newspaper. Thanks to that subscription, by searching for the name of Frank Winarski, I found numerous articles between 1913 and 1916 that confirmed he was the proprietor of the Fox River House in Menasha. The building was originally built in 1875 and is currently vacant.

Source: Wisconsin Historial Society

Most of the articles were either about fights going on, or taking bids to build a moving picture house next door. In October 6, 1915 Frank appeared before the city council to find out why the council turned him down for a liquor license for the property.

A couple of months later, the Wausau Daily Herald reported on January 21, 1916 that the Fox River House would be closing as the owner (Frank) stated that without a liquor license it would not be profitable.

So then the trick was to verify that that Frank Winarski is my family’s Frank Winarski. I found a great blog about the city of Menasha by David Galassie, who is an expert in that area, and emailed him. He was kind enough to send me a bunch of links, one of which was for an Oshkosh city directory from 1914. Lo and behold, on page 87, Frank Winarski is listed as the proprietor with his wife Julia, and they are listed as living at 230 Main, which is the address of the property. A Paul Winarski is also listed as working as a mason and living at the property. That was enough confirmation for me as I know for certain my family’s Frank and Julia had a son named Paul.

This is when I really love the internet, there are so many resources available I don’t know if I ever could have solved this puzzle without it!

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