Stories from the Grave

John Hagerty: 1828-1897

Posted June 30, 2020

I would like to wish you a good day and a fine how do you do. My name is John Hagerty and I was born in Aclare, Ireland. I was 19 years old when my family sent me to America in 1847 due to the potato famine. I first settled in Cherry Valley, New York which is near Albany. It is there I got married to my loving wife Ellen. We soon moved from New York to Wisconsin. I worked hard doing odd jobs and saving money. All that hard work paid off. In 1858, about ten years after I arrive in Green Bay, I constructed a modest hotel on Pine Street between Washington and Adams Streets, calling it the New England House.

When the railroad came to town in 1862, and the bridge across the river was constructed the following year, I established a taxi service, known as the Omnibus from the depot to my hotel. I also purchased a piece of property at the corner of Washington and Walnut Street near the new bridge. Because of the prime location, I had house movers jack up my hotel and move it two blocks to the corner lot, renaming the hotel, City Hotel in 1865. When new and larger hotels are constructed in the city, I decided to remodel my small hotel. So, in 1876, I have builders jack the building up twelve feet and construct a new first floor under it, which contained a new dining room, bar room and kitchen. I then cover the whole building in brick, and once again I change the name of the hotel to the American House.

I was 68 years old when I developed a bad cold, and as you all know, those bad colds can turn to bronchitis. I ended up in St. Vincent Hospital. The bronchitis coupled with my asthma made breathing difficult. On February 4, 1897, I drew my last labored breath. I was laid to rest in the family plot at Allouez Catholic Cemetery. As for my hotel, it continued on until 1906, when Dr. John R. Minahan purchased the property and razed the old hotel to make room for his new office building.

This circa 1905 postcard shows the three story American House at the Northeast corner of Washington and Walnut Street.