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Julius Bodenstab (January 13, 1834 – June 1, 1916) was an American farmer from Howard's Grove, Wisconsin who spent two one-year terms as a Liberal Republican Party member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Sheboygan County, and later became a real estate broker. He was the father of Henry Bodenstab, who would himself serve two terms in the Wisconsin State Senate.

Background

Bodenstab was born January 13, 1834 in Ronnenberg in the Kingdom of Hanover. He came to the United States in 1846 with his parents; they settled briefly in Albany, New York but in 1847 moved on to Wisconsin, settling in Hermans Grove in the Town of Herman in Sheboygan County. He received a common school and academic education, and became a farmer.

He joined the United States Army during the American Civil War, entering the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862 as a private and mustering out as a first lieutenant in 1865, having participated in the siege and capture of Vicksburg, Little Rock, and Spanish Fort, Alabama.

He bought the family farm from his father, who went back to his medical practice; and at some point married one Friedericke (last name unknown), who had been born in 1847. They would have a family of one girl and three boys.

Public office

Bodenstab served as town clerk and chairman of the town board for Herman.

In 1870 he ran for the Assembly's 1st Sheboygan County district as a Republican, losing to Democrat Charles Oetling (like himself, a native Hanoverian now living in Herman) with 756 votes to 986 for Oetling.

In 1872, he was elected from a slightly modified 1st district (the City of Sheboygan, and the Towns of Herman, Mosel, Sheboygan and Wilson). This time he was running as a Liberal Republican, and won 1,379 votes to 641 for regular Republican and former State Representative Joseph Schrage. He was assigned to the standing committee on town and county organization. He was re-elected in 1873 without opposition, and was assigned to the committees on the militia, and on privileges and elections. He did not run for re-election in 1874, and was succeeded by Joseph Wedig of the Reform Party (another Hanoverian).

After the Assembly

Around 1875, he is reported to have sold the farm and gone into the real estate business, including building the Howards Grove Cheese Factory in 1878 (now operated as a museum of early cheesemaking under the name of "The Julius Bodenstab Cheese Factory") and trading in several lots in the nearby hamlet of Franklin in the 1880s.

He eventually moved to Milwaukee. He appears to have kept in contact with family back in Germany, as he sponsored a nephew who arrived in New York Harbor in 1902. In 1904 a private bill was passed by Congress, boosting his monthly pension to $30. In November 1908, his son Henry, an attorney, was elected to a four-year term as a Republican state senator from Milwaukee County.

He died in Milwaukee on June 1, 1916, and is buried in that city's Forest Home Cemetery.

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