Seventy-five years ago, Carl and Hilda Abraham came to Fremont to start a business.
Years later, their legacy remains in the many memories they helped create and left behind.
Those memories include the ice-cream cones and candy that children got from their station, the Wolf River Oil Co., and the hockey rink and swimming pool that Carl developed.
This year, the Carl and Hilda Abraham family and their descendants will be honored during Fremont’s 10th annual Christmas Tree Lighting.
Sponsored by the Fremont Area Historical Society, the event is being held Sunday, Nov. 21.
A vigil candlelight walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. Those who want to participate should meet at the Fremont Hotel.
There will be caroling as they walk to the Wolf River Crossing Park, where the tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
Ken Abraham and Muriel Abraham Puls, who are the two remaining children of Carl and Hilda’s six children, will light the tree.
After the tree lighting, there will be refreshments and a social time at the Fremont Village Hall, including a carnival for children, music and a holiday gift and bake sale.
This year’s event marks the final year that the Fremont Area Historical Society is honoring a family as part of the Christmas tree lighting.
Elsie Mae Yohr is a member of the group, and she said that because the members of the organization are getting older, it was decided that this would be the final year of honoring a family.
The society is celebrating 10 years of families, and next year, there will just be a tree lighting, she said.
Ken Abraham and his sister Muriel Abraham Puls are both in their 90s and still living in the area. They are looking forward to the Christmas tree lighting.
It was in 1925 that Carl and Hilda Abraham started the Wolf River Oil Co. in Fremont, later building their home and office just to the left of the station.
The original station is on the Ed Wohlt property.
Carl sold gasoline, kerosene, distilled fuel oil, motor oils and lubricating grease.
At that time, the gas was Shell, and they had what they called “Shellubrication service.” It later became DX and was well-known by its sign and name.
For those who grew up in the village during that time, it was much more than just a station. It was a place where any child who lived on the east side of the village loved to play.
Both Carl and Hilda loved children and the things in which the children were involved. Their station had plenty of flavors of ice cream and candy.
The Abrahams had six children: Verna, Muriel, Lucille, Bob, Ken and Jack. Their station was a family business, and they all were involved in it. Their place was a place for people of all ages.
Carl managed a Fremont hockey team – the only team the village ever had – that played on a regulation-size rink that he erected at his own expense. It was located on the east side of the station and was fed by springs. Behind that ice rink pond, Carl built Fremont’s first outdoor swimming pool. It was about 8 feet deep and had a diving board. Draining the swampland, Carl turned it into a large yard with lawns. He built ponds on the land – one that was used by skaters and hockey players during the winter and another that was developed into a swimming pool.
When boat racing came to the village in the 1940s, he started carrying outboard Johnson motors. His son Bob decided to build a boat in their basement, only to discover when he had completed it that he couldn’t get it out of the basement.
The Abrahams were among the local families that began surf boarding and boat racing, becoming the first Web Footers of Fremont.
The three Abraham sons were all in boat racing, with Jack being especially successful in it.
Carl was 54 when he passed away on Nov. 17, 1942. His three sons were all serving in World War II and were away when he died, returning home for their father’s funeral.
Carl was born in Oshkosh, where he attended school and married the former Hilda Schnell in 1914. They lived on farms near Oshkosh and Junction City until around 1920, which is when they moved to Redgranite. There he operated a co-op and also worked for the Standard Oil Co.
Two years later, they moved to Shawano, where he worked for Winona Oil Co.
When they moved to Fremont in June 1925, he bought land, largely swamp and unused, on the north side of the Wolf River. It was there that he established the Wolf River Oil Co.
He developed what became one of the showplaces on the banks of the Wolf River in the village – beginning with the station and then their home and also additions to the station.
He was active in the community, including in the chamber of commerce and as a supervisor on the county board. He was assistant fire chief, president of the Fremont Conservation League and chairman of the local council for the sale of War bonds and stamps. He was also active in the Republican Party.
Hilda died on May 30, 1978, at the age of 83.
She, too, left her mark on the community. Hilda started a 4-H group and the Red Cross in Fremont. She was also involved in the American Legion Auxiliary and the Women’s Improvement Club. She started the Gray Ladies, a group of volunteers that visited the veterans at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King. Her favorite hobby was flowers.
Hilda’s daughters followed in her footsteps.
Lucille was the bookkeeper for the family’s business, Muriel served the community, and Verna was a Master Gardener known for her beautiful flowers.
Today, the Abraham family name continues to be a part of Fremont.
The business became Wolf River Marine and stands where the original station was started 75 years ago. Mike Abraham, who is the grandson of Carl and Hilda, eventually took over the business and continues to run it today.