Paul Emil Preuss was born April 30, 1872 at Graudantz, Germany, the son of Ernest and Augusta Preuss. He came to the United States at the age of 19 with his parents and four brothers. The family settled in Wausau, Wis., where Paul went into the general merchandise business. In 1902, he married Augusta Girdwood and a few years later, in 1906, the couple moved to Perham with their daughter Evelyn.
They first lived in the red brick house that stood across the street from Matz and Greiff garage and opened a general merchandising store in the Thoelke Building, on the corner of Main Street and First Avenue SW. Later they moved their merchandise to the Bauck Block at the corner of Main Street and 2nd Avenue SW.
In 1916, Mr. Preuss bought the cement block building across the street (now Boedy’s Appliances). It had been used by the Perham Holding Company to store beer and other commodities by the Schroeder Brewery. In 1930, Paul sold out the store. He rented the building for awhile and then in 1935, he opened Paul’s Tavern. After he retired, he rented the building to Ray and Vera Herr for 10 years. The building was finally sold in 1973 to Sturdevant’s.
Paul and Augusta bought the Davison house in 1914 and lived there until Paul was unable to care for himself and had to go to the nursing home. In 1971, the home was sold and a grocery store (now Service Foods) was built in that location.
Paul and Augusta were parents of eight children: Evelyn was born in Wausau in 1906. She married Herman (Babe) Weickert; Lauretta, born in 1908 and married LeRoy Atkinson; Ethel, born in 1913 and married Robert Morris; Florence, born in 1915 and married C. K. Howell; Dorothea, born in 1919 and married David MacMillan; Gertrude, born in 1920 and married Wesley Harvey; Paul Jr., born in 1922 and married Mary Lou McAdams; Geraldine, born in 1925 and married Eugene Jeszewski.
Information for this column came from the East Otter Tail County History books, available online at www.HistoryMuseumEOT.org. Lina Belar is the founder and former director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.