I was at the Pabst Mansion, 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., last weekend for a wedding. It’s a beautiful setting and the George Bowman Ferry and Alfred Charles Clas designed home is an amazing part of Milwaukee’s history.
As I walked through the home, one the coolest pieces is an original copy of a letter that Captain Frederick Pabst wrote to his children. I should have snapped a photo, instead I complied with the request to refrain from photography in what is now an historical museum.
I did, though, pick up a copy of the letter that sits on Pabst’s desk in his study that features an oak coffered ceiling with his favorite German proverbs worked into the beautiful design. I’ve cut and pasted it below. It’s touching, relevant and loving. The third paragraph is wonderful, "Be generous and unselfish to each other in case of need, and above all, be honest and noble in all your dealings, not only with each other, but with the world."
On a side note, you may not know this but when The Pabst Mansion was sold in 1975, it was nearly torn down to make way for a parking lot. After a three-year crusade for its preservation, it was spared demolition and went on to become the house museum that it is today. And, to this day, revenue from admissions, sales, events, grants, donations and memberships are used for ongoing restoration.
If you haven’t been to the Pabst Mansion, go. Use the Captain’s letter as your inspiration.
August 30, 1899
My Dear Children!
I place these few lines in the package containing my last will and address them to you, instead of your dear mother, for the reason that she & I have several times talked the matter over and she fully understands my wishes herein expressed. You have all been good children, and a great comfort to me. My happiest thoughts are connected with you in the hope and belief that after I shall be called away, you will, all of you strive to be kind and good to your mother, and to each other. I have the earnest and cherished desire that you will, after I am gone, strive to preserve harmony and good will and unselfish relations among yourselves. Try to keep the estate I leave you together, so far as you can, and make it productive if not only of increase and substance, but let it be a cause for mutual confidence and affection. Each of you should yield to the other if necessary to preserve harmony and union.
Sickness, misfortune, perhaps something worse can come to someone of you, but my dear children, face it bravely, an d with hearts full of love for each other, and do just what you think I would like to have you do, if I was present to advise and counsel you.
Be generous and unselfish to each other in case of need, and above all, be honest "and noble in all your dealings, not only with each other, but with the world.
I want you to always have a good name, it is better than riches, and your greatest happiness will come from the knowledge of doing right.
You must first of all be good to your mother. Do all you can to make her last days her best days, and when she is gone, and you are left without either father or mother, try always to remember my last wishes that you my dear children shall live in harmony and mutual confidence, each doing all in his or her power to keep the estate productive with the best results for the interest not on any one child, but for all surviving children, I can not say more in this letter, it is merely a last word to you all, begging you to remember you father's last wish, that you each and all do all you can to promote each other's happiness and welfare through life, no matter what changes may Come, or how one may be favored or another be frowned upon by the fortunes of the world.
Good-bye my dear children,
Your Loving Father
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.