Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

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street since it was rebuilt has been wholly




destroyed, the fire simply consumingthe inside
finish. The business center of Oshkosh is,
therefore, placed on a foundation of safety, and
the danger which so long menaced the place

Although times were unusually dull through-
out the country at the time of the great fire,
many of the business and manufacturing firms
enlarged their facilities, and this was especially
the case with the mammoth sash and door f: c-

KVKNTS IN 1877, 1878 AND 1 879.

In 1877-8 a number of fine residences
were erected, and some additional business
buildings. On Wednesday morning, January
24, 1877, the Revere House was destroyed by
fire. This was a sad calamity as it involved
the loss of life. Jefferson Murdock in attempt-
ing to find egress from the burning building
was intercepted by the flames and perished.
His untimel)- death caused a wide-spread
grief, as he was a young man of much promise,
whose untimely end was mourned by a large
circle of relatives and friends.

Among the events of the year was the
Northern State Fair, which is held annually in
this city. It was attended by an immense con-
course of people and was universally pro-
nounced one of the finest agricultural exhib-
itions ever held in the Northwest.

In 1878 the Schmit Brothers erected the
new trunk factory, which employs from forty
to fifty hands, and is quite an accession to the
manufactures of the city.


The year 1879 ushers in an awakened spirit
of progress and marks a new epoch in the
advancement ofthis city. Thespirit of improve-
ment and enterprise is fully aroused, and Osh-
kosh is making rapid strides in public and pri-
vate enterprise, giving her future an appearance
of the brightest promise. Among the public
improvements of theyear is the new Nicholson
pavement on Kansas street. This fine piece
of work was done by William Sharpe,with his
usual dispatch and thoroughness, and adds
very much to the handsome appearance of that
main business thoroughfare. The new brick
block just constructed on that street is an addi-
tional improvement. Kansas street, with its
fine brick blocks and Nicholson pavement
crowded with teams, wears a decidedly busi-
ness-like look and is a credit to the city.

The new bridge, now in course of construct-
ion, to cross the river from Oregon to Light
street is to be a massive iron structure, and is
contracted to cost $27,000. Henry Schneider
is the contractorforbuiltlingthe stone supports,

which is sufficient warrant that that part of the
work will be well done.

Theexpositionbuildingof the Northern Wis-
consin Agricultural and Mechanical Associa-
tion was completed in August. This is an
immense structure, and is the largest agricul-
tural exposition building in the Northwest.
Oshkosh may well feel proud of her achieve-
ments in the year 1879, and this and the new
railroad are the crowning glories.

This mammoth building is four hundred feet
long and sixty feet wide, and is another evi-
dence of Oshkosh enterprise. A grand har-
vest ball was held in the building on the sec-
ond of September, The building was lighted
with over one hundred lamps and presented a
gay scene. Over 600 persons were dancing
on the floor at one time.


In May, 1879, the Milwaukee, Lake Shore
& Western Railway submitted to this city a
proposition in substance as follows, viz: To
issue to said Company its bonds to the amount
of$7S,000, bearing interest at therate of seven
per cent, and payable $15,000 fifteen years
from date of issue, and that amount annually
thereafter until the whole is paid; and said
bonds to be placed in the hands of Alexander
Mitchell in escrow, to be delivered to said
Company when they shall build and fully com-
plete a road from Oshkosh to connect with the
road at Hortonville; and at the time of deliv-
ery of said bonds, that the Company deliver to
said City of Oshkosh certificates of stock in
said road to the amount of $75,000, the said
proposition to be binding on the City of Osh-
kosh if approved by a vote of the people ofthis
city. ,

The above proposition was submitted to avote
of the people on Tuesday, June 24th. The
election resulted in an almost unanimous vote
in its favor, nine \otes out often being cast for
the proposition.

The route was immediately surveyed and
the right of way purchased. The construction
of the road is now in progress, and it is
expected that it will be completed early in the
coming winter. This gives the city a direct
road to the Northwest and is a much needed

The summing up of public improvements
in this city for the year 1879, as will be seen
from the foregoing, are the Nicholson pave-
ment on Kansas street, the new bridge to cost
$27,000, the exposition building, the northern
railroad and the iron bridge of the Chicago &
Nothwestern Railroad.

Residence of Hon.S.M.HAY,Algoma.ST'.,oskosh.Wis.

Pete RSI LEA , Homestead J853 Oshkosh.Wis.

1 879]



IN 1879.
The manufactures of Oshkosh have received
an important accession in the establishment of
the extensive carriage works of Parsons, Nev-
ille & Co. This firm was doing a heavy busi-
ness in Chicago, but believing that this city
was a favorable location for their business,
they moved their works to this place last spring.
They occupy the building formerly known as
the Vulcan Iron Works, which has been
remodeled and is to be further enlarged. One
hundred hands arc employed and the force is
to be largely increased,

The moving of a grist-mill to this place from
^^'inneconne is one of the novel events of this
season. It was floated on barges and is prob-
ably the only instance of a large building being
moved in this manner.

The handsome residence and grounds of J.
J. Moore have been purchased for the pur-
pose of turning it into a hospital by the Broth-
ers of Mercy.

Among the business and manufacturing
structures erected the present season are the
large saw-mill of Geo. W. Pratt, Horn's large
brewery, the brick block on Kansas street,
Geo. Cameron's livery and sale stable, and
several fine residences.

The inside construction of the Fraker Opera
House is to be remodeled on a grand scale, so
as to convert that splendid building into a first-
class opera hall.

The Government ship-yards were in full
blast last winter. A large steam dredge and
steamboat were built to be used in the improve-
ment of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. This
work in the ship-yard gave employment to a
number of men.

The favorable weather last winter for lum-
bering operations gave full employment to a
large force of men, and the log crop is esti-
mated at I 20,000,000 feet.


Among the events of the season was the
assembling of the State Editorial Convention
in this city, the regatta of the Oshkosh Yacht
Club, the rendition of the operetta of the Naiad
Queen, which was given for seven successive
nights to crowded houses; the Pinafore also
raged extensively. The Hess Opera Company
also gave two entertainments. These drew
large crowds here from neighboring cities.
Oshkosh is, in fact, becoming quite a center
for popular amusements.

The annual fair of the Northern State Agri-
cultural and Mechanical Association was
attended by an immense assemblage, the

attendance one day being estimated at 12,000,
and the fair is unanimously declared to be the
best ever held in the State.

George Peck, during his attendance at the
editorial convention sent to his paper, the Sun,
the following communication:

They took the crowd of editors and their wives, and other
female relatives all over town, through the busy streets, around
the residence streets, where some of the houses and yards
would do great credit to Grand Avenue, or Cass, or Marshall,
or Division streets in Milwaukee. We could see the outside of
the fine homes reared by hard labor of rich men who com
menced life riding a saw-log, and are now honored by the state
and by the nation. We passed mills that turn out the best of
lumber in quantities to suit, and we drove to the bank of Lake
Winnebago, where one day Oshkosh will have as fine a park
as there is in the State. We passed the stores where men have
been burned out so often that when they smell pine burning
they put their insurance policies in their pocket and go to pack-
ing up their goods, in the belief that they will soon have to put
up a board shanty to do business in. Every business man has
the appearance of a man who is prepared for any emergency,
be it from fire, flood, chinch-bugs, grasshoppers or the devil.
Oshkosh has a crowd of men that know no such word as fail.
If I were asked to pick out a hundred men would illus-
trate Western pluck and enterprise, I would go to Oshkosh,
pick up the first man with a slouch hat on, and ask him to ring
afire bell and get the boys together, and the hundred men
could be picked out in four minutes by the watch.


March, 1S68 — Wheat, No. I, $1.90; flour,
$iO! oats, 60c; corn, 90c; potatoes, 70c;
pork, per barrel, $24.

Marcli, i86g — Wheat, No. i, $i.90(g<i.95;
flour, 10.50; oats, 62c; corn, 65c; pork, mess,
32.00; potatoes, 75c; hay, tame, 14.00 to
18. OO; lumber, common, 10. OO; dimension,
12.00; cleasboards, 30.00; clear plank, 40.00;
sugar, i6c; coffee, 25 to 40c; tea, i. 00 to 1. 80;

Jtmc, 1870 — Wheat, No. i, $i.8S(q;i.90;
flour, 9.50; corn, 90c; oats, 50c; potatoes 60c;
hay, tame, io.oocSj 12.00; pork, mess, per bar-
rel, 32.00; butter. 20c; cheese, i6c; coffee 25
to 3Sc; sugar, 11 to 14c; tea, i.ooto 1.60;
lumber, common, 9.00; clear boards, 28.00;
plank, first clear, 35.00

December, 1871 — Wheat, No. i, $1.10;
flour, spring, 6.50 per barrel; flour, winter,
8.00 per barrel; corn 75c; oats, 45c; pork,
mess, 13.00; hay, tame, 12.00; potatoes, 80c;
butter, i8(a;20c; eggs, 15c; coffee, 25 to 35c;
sugar, 10 to I2c; beans, i.oo to 1.50; lumber,
common boards, 12.00; dimension, 12.00;
fencing, 14.00; siding, clear dressed, 20.00;
clear boards, [email protected]; plank, first clear, 30

January, i8yj — Wheat, $1.12 to 1.15;
wheat, winter, 1.26; flour, per barrel, 5-5°;
corn, 46c; oats, 35c; potatoes, i .00; butter,
20 to 22c; pork, mess, 13.00, lumber, com-





mon boards, 12.00; clear boards, 25.0010 30.00;
first clear plank, 40.00.

April, /.y/^ — Wheat, No. i, $1.20; flour,
6.50; pork mess, per barrel, 17.00; beans,
navy, 2.50; potatoes, i.OO; corn, 70c; oats,
50c; butter, 35c; coffee, 25 to 40c; sugar, 10
to I2c; cheese, i8c; lumber, common, 10.00;
clear, 25.00 to 40.00.

August, iSjs — Wheat, No. i, $1.05 to
1. 1 5; corn, 75c; oats, 55 to 6oc; flour, spring,
6.00 per barrel; winter, 7.00 per barrel; but-
ter, iSc; cheese, 14c; potatoes, 55 to 60c;
pork, mess, 18.00; lumber, common, 1 1 ; clear,
25.00 to 40.00.

June, 1 8^6 — Wheat, No. i,$; corn,
55c; oats, 35c; potatoes, 20c; butter, 20c;
pork, dressed, 9. 00; beef, by the quarter, 5
to 7.00.

May 18, /cy77 — Wheat, No. i, $1.85,
corn, 60c; oats, 45c; flour, per cwt., 5.00;
patent, 5.75; potatoes, 90c; butter, 15 to i6c;
beans, 1. 75; pork, mess, 16.00; beef, by quar-
ter, 4.50 to 6.00; hay, tame, 9.00, lumber,
common, 9 to 10. 00; clear, 20 to 30.00.

January, iSj8 — Wheat, No. i, $l.OO;
corn, 40c; oats, 28c; potatoes, 30c; beans,
2.00; beef, dressed, 3 to 4.00; pork, dressed,
3.25 to 4.00; tame hay, 9. 00; lumber, com-
mon, 8.00; clear, 20 to 30.00.

April i^, [8j^ — Wheat, No. i, 88 to 90c;
corn, 32c; oats, 28c; flour, spring, 2.38- per
cwt. j patent, 3.75; beef, dressed, 3.50 to
5.00; pork, dressed, 4 to 4.25.

August I, i8jg — Wheat, No. i, $.98 to
1.00; corn, 35c; oats, 33c; flour, per cwt.,
common, 2. 50; patent, 3.50; pork, dressed,
3.50 to 4.00; tame hay, 6 to 7.00; potatoes,
35 to 40c; wool, 25 to 28c; butter, 11 tol2c;
cheese, ^c; coffee, 25 to 35c; tea, 50c to i.oo;
sugar, 8 to 1 1 c.


The City of Oshkosh — Its Situation, Tributary Country, Local
Surroundings — Water and Railroad Communications —
Description of the City — Its Manufacturing District — Busi-
ness Streets — Elegant Residences and Grounds — Oshkosh
as a Summer Resort and Watering- Place — The Yachting
Center of the Northwest — The Oshkosh Yacht Club — Pub-
lic Building's.

E City of Oshkosh is situated on one
of the finest commercial sites in the
Northwest; at the mouth of the Upper
Fox river on the western shore of
Lake Winnebago, a magnificent sheet
of water thirty-five miles long and ten
It is a situation of great natural beauty-


overlooking the picturesque lake and river
scenery of the vicinity. It attracted the at-
tention of the early explorers and adventurers
who made it their favorite stopping place in
their travels from the great lakes to the Missis-
sippi. Lake Winnebago and the Fox and
Wisconsin rivers formed the great commercial
highway of the northwest, before the age of
railroads, and ntany a glowing description was
then written of the beautiful lake and river
country now called Winnebago county — of its
lovely prairies, openings and woodlands, its
magnificent lakes and broad rivers, its fertile
soil and salubrious climate, and it has well
maintained its early reputation, and is regard-
ed to day as one of the most favored spots for
the habitation and enjoyment of man.


The adjacent country and that stretching
away from here to the south west, for hund-
reds of miles is the richest agricultural district
to be found in the habitable world. Its sur-
face is undulating prairie and openings, with
its rivers and lakes skirted with timber. The
scenery of this combined woodland, prairie,
lakes and rivers is surpassingly beautiful ; dis-
closing picturesque views which stretch away
in the far distance, like the varying pictures of
a lovely panorama. The rivers and lakes
abound in fish and water-fowl, the woodlands
in game. The facilities for rural and aquatic]
sports have already made the locality famous
for those enjoyments.

The well cultivated farms, spacious barns,
and comfortable, well painted farm houses,
with their tasty surroundings and orchards,
very plainly indicate the general wealth and
thrift of the farming community.

This county has taken the first premium at
state fairs on its apples and grapes, and many
of its agricultural products, and is famous for
the excellent quality of its choice grapes,
which are grown in profusion. At the
World's Industrial Exhibition at Paris, it took
the first premium on wheat, against the com-
petition of the world.

The tract of country lying between Oshkosh
and Lake Superior, and cast of the Central
R. R., embracing the valleys of the Wolf and
Wisconsin, is about eighty miles in breadth
and a hundred and fifty miles in length. This
territory is naturall)' tributary to Oshkosh,
and is one of the most valuable timbered
tracts in the west, pine and hardwood inter-
spersed. It is a country of vast resources —
timber, mineral and agricultural. There is

Res OF Judge D J. Pulling, Jackson St. OsHKOSH Wis.




every variety of character of soil, and face of
country, from the sandy and rough and rocky,
to the very finest sugar-maple lands, compris-
ing whole townships in a body. The latter
are as fine farming lands as can be found, with
all the coveted advantages of rich soil, best of
timber, plentifully supplied with the purest of
running water — springs, brooks, large rivers
and beautiful lakes.

Some portions of this country are already
well populated and in a high state of cultiva-
tion, with fine farms, good houses and barns.
Villages and manufacturing hamlets are spring-
ing up on its water-powers and natural
thoroughfares, and its resources are develop-
ing with wonderful rapidity.

This is the country of the new railroad from
Oshkosh north; a country that can pour into
the lap of Oshkosh a flood of trade and busi-
ness if railroad facilities are provided.

There is a large section of this country as
yet comparatively unsettled, but immigrants
are rapidly occupying it, and it soon will be
one of the populous portions of the State.

The building of a railroad through this ter-
ritory, which is large enough for twenty-five
counties of the size of Winnebago, would
facilitate its rapid settlement and conversion
into farms and manufacturing villages, which
would necessarily peur a copious trade on the
line of their outlet.

Fortunately for Oshkosh, the richest and
finest tract of Northern Wisconsin is open to
the channels of her trade.


The Wolf river, flowing from the great pine
and hardwood timber regions of the north, for
a distance of over two hundred miles, forms
a junction with the Upper Fox, about twelve
miles from this city. The Wolf is navigable
for steamers as far as Shawano, a distance of
one hundred and fifty miles. A daily line of
fine, commodious steamers run from Oshkosh
to New London, a point on the Wolf river,
seventy miles distant. Another daily line of
steamers run from here to Berlin, on the
Upper Fox. Steamboats also ply between
here and Green Bay, making steamboat con-
nection with Lake Michigan, while others run
transiently to the different ports on Lake Win-
nebago. Numerous sail vessels also ply
between here and the east shore of the lake,
engaged in freighting lumber, timber, building
stone, sand and brick. The best of building
stone, and the finest quality of material for
brick-making is abundant on the opposite
shore, and the trade in the same is an exten-
sive one.

This unrivaled water communication is one
of the commercial features of this city,
as it occupies a commanding situation on that
great chain of rivers and lakes, which is one of
the grand, distinguishing characteristics of
this continent, and of which Fox river and
Lake Winnebago are important links in the
connection of the Mississippi with the Great
Lakes. It is, in fact, the great natural water
thoroughfare of the continent, and the de-
mands of our inland commerce have induced
the Government to make the improvement of
the rivers a national work. It will be seen,
therefore, that the city has steamboat com-
munication north by the Wolf River, southwest
by the Fox and Wisconsin to the Mississippi,
and east by the Lower Fox to Lake Michigan.
These intersecting lines of trade, center
here into a natural distributing point. It is
here where the immense products of the pine
and hard wood timber region of the Wolf
river and its tributaries are brought to be
manufactured and distributed through the
agricultural districts bordering us on the south
and west. A large portion of this " up-river "
country is good farming land, and is rapidly
" settling up. " This city is the natural outlet
of its trade, from whence it obtains its supplies,
and where its products find their most acces-
sible market.

These are the Chicago & Northwestern,
with its southern and western connections, and
by the same, north to Green Bay, on Lake
Michigan, and thence to Lake Superior; con-
necting with the inexhaustible iron mines of
that region; the Oshkosh & Mississippi
Railroad, connecting with the eastern and
and western lines of the Milwaukee & St.
Paul. The Milwaukee, Lake Shore and West-
ern Railroad is now in process of construc-

Is a tract with an elevation from twelve to
twenty feet above the level of the lake. The
city extends for a distance of nearly three
miles from the shore of Lake Winnebago up
the Fox River to Lake Buttes des Morts,
occupying the tract between the two lakes and
covering a territorial area of nearly eight
square miles, about half of which is closely
built over, the balance suburban. The river
connecting these two bodies of water, and
bisecting the city, is about 600 hundred feet
wide, forming a spacious harbor, and being
of slow current and not subject to freshets,
affords great facilities for steamers, vessels and
rafts. It is spanned at this point with four





magnificent bridges, each about 600 feet long;
two of which are the respective railroad bridges
of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad
and the Oshkosh & Mississippi Railroad ; the
others for the accommodation of city travel —
structures involving a cost of $100,000.
Another bridge is now in process of construc-
tion — an iron structure to cost $27,000,

The river shore for a distance of nearly
three miles, is an almost unbroken line of
saw-mills, foundries and machine-shops, plan-
ing-mills. sash and door factories, grist-
mills, elevators, ship-yards, lime and
stone yards, shipping docks and depots of
the Chicago & Northwestern, and Oshkosh &
Mississippi Railroads.

The constant hum of this machinery, pro-
pelled by over seventy steam engines — the
steamboats, tugs and sail-craft, plying the
river and lake — the long line of railroad trains
coming and going, and the crowded and busy
streets adjoining, present a scene of businesslife
and activity, which clearly proclaims the manu-
facturing and commercial character of this
lively and thriving city.

The main business street presents a fine
appearance and extends for nearly a mile, and
is compactly built up with business blocks, of
brick and stone. It is paved with the Nichol-
son, and lighted with gas, as are all the other
principal streets. Kansas Street, on the south
side of the river is also a fine business street,
containing a large number of business blocks,
built of brick. Several of the streets devoted
to private residences are not excelled in the
State, and are rarely equaled by eastern cities
of the same size. Among the most beautiful
are Algoma and Washington streets, which
are practically one street, extending from the
lake shore of Winnebago almost to Lake Buttes
des Morts, a distance of nearly three miles;
and which are built up for their whole distance
with tasty residences, many of them being
beautiful and costly structures, with the sur-
rounding adornments of wealth and taste.
The High School building and State Normal
School, with their spacious grounds, are on
this street. The luxuriant shade trees and
original forest trees are among not the least
of its attractions. It is graveled with a mater-
ial which cements into a smooth, hard surface,
and affords a beautiful drive. Irving, Merritt,
Waugoo, Otter and Ceape streets extend from
Main street to the lake shore, a distance of a
mile, and with High, Jackson, Church and
Jefferson Avenue, and the principle streets on
the south side, are all attractive, well graveled,
and built up with fine residences; many of
them spacious buildings, with beautiful

grounds and ornamental surroundings. The
lake shore locality is one of the beautiful fea-
tures of the city, which attracts the admiration
of all, and which affords delightful sites for
surburban residences.

Oshkosh is justly proud of the distinction
she enjoys in having thirty odd miles of beau
tiful smooth streets of cemented gravel, afford-
ing delightful drives and lovely views of her
lake and river scenery.

The many beautiful illustrations in this
work, of the palatial residences and handsome
surrounding grounds, and esoecially the
attractive water scenery fully confirms the
description here given. These views are all
sketched from nature by G. W. Salisbury, for
this book and are correct representations.


This city possesses a rare combination of
natural features for a delightful summer resort
and watering-place. The climate is not sur-
passed in healthfulness; the air ispurc and dry;
the invigorating breezes from the lake temper
the heats of summer, while the adjacent large
bodies of water, to a great extent, have the
effect of preventing those sudden extreme
changes of temperature to which nearly all
western localities arc much subjected. The
water is wholesome, artesian fonntains abound,
the scenery is lovely, the lake the most mag-
nificent sheet of water, with beautiful shores
and good harbors that are accessible in

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 34 of 71)