The Menomonee Falls area’s first non-native settler is believed to be Hollingsworth S. Smith. The pioneers who followed him to the area came because of the abundant waterpower generated by the Menomonee River. The river, which has etched through limestone, meanders through the Village – thus giving the community its name.
William R. Hesk and Frederick Nehs purchased the first large tracts of land in what is now Menomonee Falls. Hesk established a post office and a public house. In 1847, Nehs erected the area’s first stone building. Nehs recognized the area’s potential and built a limekiln to supply the necessary materials for the stone buildings he constructed. Lime was later shipped to Milwaukee by horse teams and later by rail. In 1851, his son, Jesse B. Nehs, built a gristmill, giving impetus to the small settlement and establishing it as a commercial center for the surrounding area.
The community values and carefully preserves its history in the Old Falls Village living history museum, which features nine historic buildings on a 17-acre park. The Menomonee Falls Historical Society operates the museum and collects items of local interest. Written and pictorial history is also maintained in the local history room of the new Menomonee Falls Public Library, Menomonee Falls Village Centre and Community Chamber of Commerce.