The community of Rothschild originated when a small group of Wausau lumbermen chose to develop a paper mill on the Wisconsin River about one mile south of the Village of Schofield. The site was chosen primarily because it offered favorable conditions for a dam and hydroelectric plant to support the mill.
Land was acquired from William Hewitt, William Schmidt and others, and the dam and paper mill were built in 1908 and 1909. By 1910, the mill was in full operation and the company had built a score or more of houses for the workers and was also operating a general store to serve the community's needs.
In the fall of 1911, several dams on the upper Wisconsin River burst under prolonged and unusually heavy rainfall, and disaster struck the new mill. As the floodwaters threatened to destroy the new mill it was reluctantly decided to sacrifice eh new dam to save the mill, and the west wing of the structure was dynamited thereby opening a channel o relieve flooding of the mill itself. In spite of all of the effort, much damage was done to the mill as well as to the dam, Due largely to the efforts of DC Everest, the energetic young Secretary-Manager, new capital was obtained and with temporary coffer dams and makeshift repairs, the mill was soon again producing paper.
It is interesting to note that one of the parcels needed for the mill site, and which now is part of the north yard, was owned by an elderly recluse named Rothschild. The old fellow was extremely reluctant to part with his property and move elsewhere, but finally consented to do so after the mill people promised to name the new community in his honor. Thus it was that the new Marathon Paper Mills Company began operations in the new community of “Rothschild.”
Both the company and the community prospered and in 1917, Rothschild was incorporated as a Village. William Hewitt, one of the original owners of the land, was elected the first Village President and H.C. Falk, the young manager of the company store, was elected Village Clerk. In the early 1920's the company instituted a policy of selling all of its property in the Village which was not directly involved in operating the mill, and in a short time practically all residential property was owned by company employees.
Weston Avenue was the first main street in Rothschild, with a post office, store, barber shop, boarding house, drug store and other business places. The Post Office was located in the drug store and the front window of the drug store displayed hats. Many ladies looked forward to seeing the new styles.
Eventually, it was decided that Brown Blvd. would become the community’s downtown. As a result, some of the buildings were moved from Weston Avenue to Brown Blvd, including the local barbershop, operated by Walter Kersemeier from 1914-1965. According to Mrs. Bill Hewitt, her husband assisted in moving the barber shop on rollers with just a team of horses. In addition to cuts and a shave, the barber shop was used for Village board meetings and elections until the Village hall was built in 1918 – in fact, the shop was colloquially known as Barber's Hall.
The local butcher, Mr. Palm, also moved his building to Brown Blvd. with the re-establishment of a new downtown. Since the move, the building has served as an ice cream parlor, bakery, and bar.
The Paper Mill built a company store on Brown which later became the Rothschild's IGA and Jim's Superette. The Company store enforced restrictions such as: there was to be no other grocery store in the Village for ten years, and Mrs. Best had to discontinue her bakery and Mr. Palm could not sell canned goods in his butcher shop.
Mike Varo operated a boarding house located at 30 Brown Blvd, feeding as many as 300 at a meal. Meal tickets were $3.50 per week for 21 meals. A sizable chunk of Mike's pie was 10 cents. Other women packed baskets with food, delivered them to the mill and charged 35 cents. Mike's boarding house is now the apartment building on Brown Blvd.
Most homes in the Village were known as company houses. The three O'Dean brothers procured the contract to construct 75 company houses, which rented for as low as $8.00 per month. These homes were heated with space heaters and the basement had dirt floors. Floors on the street level were of tamarack, splintery and hard to scrub. Every home took roomers. It was during the late 1930's that the tenants who were living in these homes had a choice of buying the homes or vacate them, and many did buy.
In 1936 the Village formed its first police department, until then the Constable and Marshall had been elected. Julius Beeker was hired as the first police officer. Having been born in Rothschild, he spent most of his life there, and in the early 30's he had served the Village as Constable. As part of his position, he was to furnish his own car, and was on call around the clock. At night if he needed an ambulance, he had to wake up a neighbor or go to the nearest tavern to call for assistance.
Rothschild Fire Department was organized in the early 1900's. It not only served the local community, but the surrounding area as well. There were 15 men on the department, and their equipment consisted of a cart on wheels, which carried a hose. The men would push or pull the cart to a hydrant nearest to the fire to hook up the hose. Later, a Model T Ford truck was purchased, complete with one 50 gallon tank and 100 feet of hose.
The first school was known as Joint School District No. 4, serving the towns of Weston and Fiieth (later known as the Town of Rib Mountain) and Rothschild. The first school house was located south of the Rothschild's Pavilion, it then was moved down on what is now So. Line Road. It was a one room school and had grades one through eight.
On June 5th 1912, an agreement was signed for building a new school – a two story brick building with a basement. The new building opened on September 8, 1913, with Eva Bernier as principal, also teaching grades 6-7-8; Mary Abel, assistant, teaching grades 2-5, and Miss Hattie Friedmann, teaching Kindergarten and 1st grade.
Most social activities were held in the new school house. Permission had to be personally secured from the board members. Basket socials, dancing and parties were popular.
The first Village Library began in April 1949, and was located in a small room on the first floor of Rothschild’s original Village Hall. It later grew to occupy a larger space in the Hall’s upstairs.
Rothschild’s original Village Hall was destroyed by fire in 1969. Built and furnished at a cost of $93.00 in 1918, it contained a fire station, three jail cells, bowling alley, restaurant, a three room fireside fleeting complex, two motion picture machines, library and an auditorium. The auditorium-was equipped with theater seats, a stage where the Little Theater Group (comprised of Rothschild residents) performed.
Since that time, two new Village Halls have been dedicated; the first in 1970, and the current Village hall in 1997. The current Hall houses the Village Library, Village Board meeting room, staff offices, and the Village Police Department.