(First image – provided by the Oshkosh Public Museum) Bust view portrait of Oshkosh Fire Chief Robert A. Brauer wearing his uniform and cap. A badge on his cap reads “Chief” and is surrounded by radiating fire trumpets. Robert August Brauer was born September 21, 1850 at Bitterfeld, Saxony, Germany, the son of Amelia and Gottlieb Brauer. The family immigrated to the United States in 1854, settling first in Milwaukee and later in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a young man he apprenticed in his father’s cabinet making shop, was active in the Turnverein, and at the age of 17, joined one of the volunteer fire companies as a “Torch Boy” in 1867. Robert served in the Oshkosh Fire Department for 53 years, 1st as a volunteer while running a cabinet shop and later full time when the city formed it’s own department. He rose from Ladder Man; Foreman of the Union Hook and Ladder Company in 1879; Chief Engineer in 1883; and Fire Chief of the city in 1888. He would hold that position until his retirement in 1920. On December 4, 1876 Robert married Rosina Ganzer and the couple had one son, Robert A. Brauer, Jr. Robert was also one of the founders and board members of the German-American Bank, later called the New German-American Bank and then the New American Bank. Robert was also active in the Centennial Masonic Lodge which he joined in 1885. His wife passed away June 13, 1931, and Robert died of a sudden heart attack while walking home from shopping.
(Other images provided by the Oshkosh Public Museum) Exterior view of the Brooklyn Fire House No. 4. A hose cart and steam pumper are in front of the building with a large group of firemen. The men are wearing fire helmets and surplus Army overcoats from the Civil War. The image was taken prior to the addition built in 1879, and shows the original 1868 structure. Same image as P1923.2, but when this print was made the men’s feet were cut off. The Brooklyn Steam Fire Engine Company Number 4 was organized in Oshkosh, WI on October 3, 1867. The construction of a building was authorized that same year. On January 2, 1868 a steam engine was purchased for the company. William Waters was contracted for the design, which was a two-story brick building with a bell tower and was constructed by L. G. Alger and G. C. Fitzsimmons in 1868. The structure was built in the Italian Revival Style. An addition to the east side of the building was also designed by Waters and built by Alger in 1879, and was occupied by the Union Hook and Ladder Company. The building was in use until 1949. It was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1969 and is located at 17 West Sixth Street.