Stories from the Grave

John Baum: 1861-1927

Posted May 19, 2020

Hello, I am John Baum, of Baum’s Department store.

It was 1861 that I was born in Russia and for the most part life was good. That is until 1881, when Tzar Alexander II was assassinated. For some reason, the blame was cast upon the Jewish people at which point life became much more difficult for me and my family, since we’re Jewish.

I sold all my processions for what money I could get for them, and book passage for America. I arrived in Green Bay in 1887 with basically the clothes on my back.

One of the first things I did was purchase a small hand cart and some household items, then went door to selling. Within a year I saved enough money to open a store, I called the Main Street Fair Store. Eventually I needed more room, so I moved the store into the D. W. Britton Block at the corner of Main Street and Monroe. Over time I purchased the three-story building and Baum’s Department Store became a shopping destination for the area.

In 1922, I retired from the business, turning over operations of the store to my son, Ceil. Now that retired, I had promised my dear friend, T. W. Hagerty we would do a motor trip into Canada this year, but I had to postpone it until July. My health wasn’t the greatest, so I traveled to Chicago to see a specialist. It was there I died on May 4, 1927. I guess I will not be making that trip with my dear Hagerty.