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Record 210/261
Description 
Silver plated speaking trumpet with orange cord. Engraved: Union H & L No. 1 Presented to/R.A. Brauer 5-28 1877 by Union H.L. Co. Osh Wis. Also engraved with images of fire pumpers, ladders, and helmets. The Union Hook & Ladder Company of Oshkosh presented this speaking trumpet to Robert A. Brauer on May 28, 1877. Speaking trumpets such as this date back to the 19th Century and horse-drawn fire wagons and hand pumped water wagons. The fire officers needed to use speaking trumpets, which are a type of megaphone, that amplified their voices and allowed their orders to be heard. Silver-plated decorative pieces were often presented to commemorate a special event. Robert A Brauer was born in Bitterfelldt, Germany on September 21, 1840. In 1854 Brauer moved to Oshkosh with his family. His father, Gottlieb Brauer, had walked to Oshkosh from Milwaukee to purchase a home and then walked back to get his wife and five children. The family traveled to Oshkosh in an ox cart. Brauer was a member of the Oshkosh Fire Department for fifty-three years and was the Fire Chief for thirty-two of them. He joined the volunteer department in 1867. He served for several years in that capacity before becoming a ladder man. Shortly after that he was elected second assistant foreman and in 1874 was made captain and tillerman when the department was put on a paid basis. There were four companies in existence at that time, the Phoenix Company, the Brooklyn Company, The Doe Company, and the Hook & Ladder Company. While captain, Brauer participated in the fighting of some of the most disastrous conflagrations in Oshkosh's history. These include the Fourth Ward fire of 1874 and the "big fire" of April 1875. In 1875 while fighting in the "big fire" he sustained a leg injury that ensued him to walk with a limp thereafter. Brauer became chief of the fire department on April 10, 1885. Brauer was also active in the Oshkosh community outside the fire department. Brauer in his youth was prominent in the Turner Organization (see explanation of the Turners below) being very athletic. In July of 1876 his skills as an athlete were tested when out sailing in Lake Winnebago with friends. During a storm their yacht overturned and after spending a harrowing night hanging on to the boat, Brauer swam through high waves to shore and obtained help for his friends. Brauer was also an active member of the Masonic Order, joining in 1885 and was one of the founders of the New American Bank of Oshkosh. Brauer died on February 5, 1936 at the age of 85, he is buried at Riverside Cemetery. The Turner Organization: Were the principal German organizations, other than the churches, for maintaining cultural and social German traditions with singing and gymnastics societies, known respectively as the "Gesang Vereins" and the "Turn Vereins" (Gesang = Singing; Turn = Gymnastics; Verein = Club or Society) established not long after the arrival of the first significant numbers of Germans in the late 1840's and early 1850's. These groups, which came to be known among the non-Germans in the community simply as the "Turners," and traced their origin to the work of Father Freidrich Ludwig Jahn who established the first Turn Verein in Berlin in 1809 at the time Germany was being suppressed by Napoleon. Father Jahn supposedly formed the group to drill his followers in gymnastics and military tactics with the object of making them better soldiers. In later years, however, music, theatricals and oratory were added to the social function in the German community. The first Turner organization in Wisconsin was in Milwaukee in 1853. The Oshkosh Turners were organized in the fall of 1868. Oshkosh in fact had two Turner Societies, one on the North Side-founded in 1869 and another on the South Side-founded in 1886.
Trumpet, Speaking -PIONEERS AND IMMIGRANTS -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009