Richard J Harney.

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

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plat of the Western Addition was laid out the year following.
"Previous to 1S50, the river was crossed by a ferry, but in
that year Col. Tuttle built a float bridge across the stream at
'he foot of Main Street, where Thompson & Hayward's Car-
riage Works are situated.

"The fiist well dug in the village was by William Parker
and Alexander Allen, near the old Compound building.

" We find by the records that in 1850 there was quite an
accession to the population of the village, and the business of
the place. N. Frank and C. Bigelow came in that year. N.
Frank came up the river on the steamer " Badger," the first
steamer, so far as known, that ever came up the river so far as
the bridge. At that time the bridge was not finished. The
freight was unloaded on the end of the bridge in the north
channel, and plank laid down to get it across to the south
shore. The south channel was then very shallow, and many
supposed it would never be navigable ; but Mr. Frank and
some others were of a different opinion, and put a yoke of cat-
tle and a scraper at work dredging it out. After the current

296 (/)



got fairly started through, the water deepened, and it soon
became the main channel. Mr. Frank put up a building at
the south end of the bridge — the same building which Thomp
son & H.iyward have been using fi)ra paint shop and office, and
built a dock. Mr. C. Bigelow became associated with him,
and they opened the first store of any n. ic in the place, although
a Mr. Terwilleger had previously been in trade here in a small
way. To show the extent of the business done during Mr.
Terwilleger's time, and the prices, we mention a little inci-
dent which happened : A certain gentleman brought a load
of wood to town, and tried to sell it After trying for several
hours he gave it up, and started for the river to throw it in,
rather than to haul it home again. Mr. Terwilleger saw him,
and came out and offered him a pint of whisky for the load.
The trade was made, and the seller went home with the pro-
ceeds. Tradition doesn't say what became of the w — ood.

" Mr. C. Bigelow built the Goodwin house, Lots 97 and 98,.
Western Addition, just south of Sam Shaw's.

" In the same year, 1850, the first hotel in the village was
built — what is now the Larahee House, except that it has been
enlarged and improved until there is scarcely anything left of
the original structure. The old Exchange Hotel was also
built the same summer, but a little later.

"In 1 85 1, the saw mill on the north side of the river, known
as "Johnson's Mill," was built by Hiram Johnson and a
gentleman by the- name of Bump. The mill was burned in
1866, and the present one erected on the same site.

" Educational matters were not neglected in those early
days. The first public school teacher in the village was Mr.
Henry Purdy. He taught in the winter of 1850-51, in the first
school-house erected in the village in the year 1850. It was
situated nearly on the spot on which Mr. H. Carter's barn
now stands, just west of the present high school building.

" Mr. L. A. Reed soon after taught a school in the building
now owned and used by A. J. Dickerson ; and there was also
a school on the north side, in Patterson's building, nearly on
the site of Pelton's store, with Miss Peabody as teacher.

" The first record we have of a school meeting is on the 7th
day of May, 1850. This meeting was called by G. W. Beck-
with, Town Superintendent of Schools. The meeting was held
at the house of George Gallatin, at 2 o'clock P. M., and W, P.
McAllister was elected Director, James Peck Treasurer, and
W. W. Wilcox, Clerk. The meeting adjourned to meet at the
same place on the following day at 7 o'clock p. M., for the
purpose of designating a site for a school house. At the
adjourned meeting it was decided to raise $200 for the school

"This vear — 1851 — was not a very flouri?hing one for
Omro. Nevertheless, the people stayed and struggled through
the best they could, and there were some new comers. Among
those who came in ihat year, and the year previous, we men-
tion, L. O. E. Manning, the Wilsons, Wilcoxes, L. Andrews,
J. Waterman and the Pattersons. According to the recoUec
tion of N. Frank, Esq., there are not now ten men living in
the village, who were men at that time, although many of the
boys of those days are now residents of the village.

" In 1S55 the Methodist church building was commenced.
The foundation for the church was laid, and the frame work
put up and inclosed, but it was not finished off until the follow-
ing season. The Baptist church was not commenced until
1866, but it was finished before the Methodist church.

"In 1855, the 5th District voted to have a new school
house, the old one not being large enough to meet the demands.

and JS600 was appropriated for the purpose. At a special meet-
ing held December 15, 1855, a proposal of E. C. Matoon for
building the house was accepted, the price being $1,500. At a
subsequent meeling, March 3, 1856, Mr. Maloon was released
from his contract, and a proposal to build the school-house of
brick, from George Stokes, was accepted, the price to be
$2,140. The building was put up the same season, but was nut
finished until the following summer.

" In the year 1856, the grist mill was built by Mr. McLaren.
This was quite an event for the place, and was the means of
drawing considerable trade into the village.

" In the same year Andrew Wilson built his mill on the
north side of the river. The float bridge which occupied (he
place of the present structure was also put across the river the
same season. A compromise between the two sections of the
village had been effected, and the bridge was located on the
line between the two. It was constructed by a company, and
opened as a toll bridge

''In 1857, we find among the new residents of the village,
Dr. McCall, W. Ames, Dr. Gibbs, Benj. Sadwy and W. Lara
bee. The first village charier was granted that year, and the
first charter election was held on the I3lh of April. The whole
number of votes cast was 105. W. P. McAllister was elected
President, and Chancellor Johnson, A. C. Patterson, J. Gibbs
and W Larabee, Trustees. W. B Holcomb was elected Clerk;
J. V. Taylor, Treasurer; Benj. Sawdy, Assessor; and A. ].
White, Marshal.

" The village expenses during the year were $234 21. There
were 457 rods of sidewalk constructed, at an expense of

" The building on the corner, now occupied by Berkley &
Cain, was erected during the summer, by N. Frank, and rented
to Joel V. Taylor, who put in a general stock, and continued
business here for several years.

" The project of a railroad to Omro was first brought into
definite shape during this year. In the spring and summer the
stock was all taken, $90,000 in cash and bonds being the
amount which the Town and Village of Omro pledged or paid.

" In 1858, the float bridge across the Fox was purchased by
the town for $800, on condition that the Bridge Company put
it in repair, and that the village maintain and keep it in repair.
The village, at their annual meeting the same year, empowered
the Board of Trustees to take action in the mailer, and the
proposition of the town was agreed to. The purchase was
made, and the bridge declared free to the public. G. W. Sha-
fer came to Omro this year and commenced business where
the Northwestern House stands. Grading and tieing the rail-
road was commenced this year, and progressed steadily but not
very rapidly. In the following year the work went on, and
the grading was nearly completed through to Winneconne.
The first depot was built by private subscription, and was
located on the bank of the river, on the west side of the track.

" Track laying was commenoed in' i860. In the early part
of the winter of that year the iron was laid as far as Waukau,
and on Sunday, the 1st of January, i86i, the last rail was laid
at the bank of the river in Omro.

" The spring of 1861 was ushered in with the first dread
notes of war. * * * Company C, of the Fourteenth
Infantry, was recruited in Omro in the fall of 1861, mustered
into the United States service, January 30, 1862, and left the
State on the 8lh of March. * * * David Hinman, a son
of J. L. Hinman, now residing In the village, was the first i-ol-
dier from Omro who was killed. * * * *



296 U)

" Tht Fourteenth was under fire from the time it reached the
front until it was mustered out. » * * Company A, of the
Forty-eighth Infantry, was recruited here, and was composed
almost solely of Omro men. * * * The Third Cavalry,
which was recruited in 1S61, and mustered into service in Jan-
uary, 1862, also contained many citizens of Omro. * * *
The Eighteenth Regiment also had one company from Omro,
Company F. *'^*'^'^'^**

" It was during the 1863 that Mr. George Challoner
built the shingle mill now occupied by Thompson cSc Hayward.
He put in a shingle machine of his own invention, and did a
good business.

'* In May, 1S65, the first permanent newspaper, 7^c Omro
Union, was established.

The opening of the spring of 1S66 witnessed a general
increase of business in Omro. The soldiers had nearly all
returned to peaceful pursuits, and the feeling of joy that the
Rebellion had at last been crushed seemed to encourage every-
body. Improvements were commenced, new enterprises talked
of and started, and the busy hum of industry was heard from
one end of the village to the other All who wanted work
found plenty of it, and at good wages and prompt pay; and
workmen from other places flocked here for work, the reputa-
tion of Omro as a live, growing town having gone abroad.
Both Wilson's and Johnson's saw-mills were run " for all they
were worth," and then could not supply the demand ; and
when they shut down in the fall there was no lumber left in the
yard. It had all been shipped green from the saw. Johnson's
mill unfortunately butned down in the busiest time, and,
although it was immediately rebuilt, much of the best part of
the summer was lost. George Challoner put up a large shop on
the site of the present foundry and machine shop.

*' Lewi? & Thompson's shingle mill was then running on full
time, and making money. '*A'' shingles sold for ^5. Good-
enough & Utter put up a spoke and hub mill just above where
Webster's saw-mill is located. It did not succeed very well.
It was burned and not rebuilt. Sheldon & Allen put in a
broom handle factory in a building about on the site of Lan-
sing's barn. It did not prove a success financially, and was
finally abandoned. Scott's shingle mill was built near where
the woolen mill is, and run for awhile That, too, was burned
and not rebuilt. The first brick store was put up that summer
— the Gibbs building. The Webster saw mill was put up that
season by L. B. Lewis and Ellis Thompson. The Catholic
church was built that summer; and Drew & Hicks put up
their carriage shop, now forming a part of the Thompson &
Hayward works.

"The following year, 1868, was not so favorable for Omro;
but there was considerable building during the year. Putnam's
Block was put up, A Pelton's brick store on the North Side,
and many dwellings ; and the highway bridge across the Fox
was also built that year. The Omro Agricultural and Mechan-
ical Association grounds Were fitteil up and enclosed during the
summer and fall, and the fair held there. The Great Western
Compound Company was organized, and the building erected
the same year. G. W. Shafer built his fine brick building on
the corner of Water and Division streets.

''The year i86g was not marked by any great changes.
David Blish put up and run a planing mill on the North Side,
and the manufactories already built were kept running.

" 1870 showed some improvement. The Christian church,
now occupied by the Methodist Society, was also put up,
besides many fine dwellings. The American House, formerly

known as the E.'ichanje Hotel, and by uther names, on
the corner south of Putnam's BKick.''

In 1 87 1, the foundry and machine shop of
George Challoner was destroyed by fire; loss,
^20,000. Mr. Challoner immediately rebuilt
the works.

On the 14th of September, 1871, some
workmen, while excavating near the residence
of John Wilson, found the remains of a Mas-
todon. The following account was published
in the Omro Union.

"The tusks were the lir>t purauiio exhjincd; they Were
mistaken for petrified Wood, and the end of one that projected
into the ditch was consequently struck off with a spade; soon,
however, their true character was discovered, and by a little
farther digging two enormous molar teeth were thrown out.
Subsequently the two huge tusks were removed from the soil,
getting somewhat mutilated, however, by rough handling.
They were of the enormous length of ten feet each, and one
was eight inches in diamater. The teeth, of which four in all
have been found, are of immense size, and in a perfect state of
preservation, the enamel looking as hard and bright as if but
yesterday they were taken from their sockets. They measure
on the crown nine inches in length and five in width, and
nine inches from the crown to the end of the fangs. Each
weighs eight pounds. The teeth of this animal show that it
belonged purely to the herbiverous species They have the
peculiar mastoid or nipple-like elevations on their grinding
surface, from which the animal takes its nnme."

Among the later business structures erected,
are the fine brick blocks of W. W. Race,
Andrew Wilson and Treleven & Orchard.
These buildings, and the Northwestern Hotel,
a substantial brick edifice, are ornaments to
the street. The destruction of George Sha-
fer's three-story brick block is a great loss to
Omro, and one much deplored.

The general business depression which has
prevailed of late years somewhat checked the
progress of the place, but Omro, in common
with other towns, is rapidly resuming the
appearance of its better business days, and
bids fair to make rapid strides in the march of


One of the live, enterprising men of the
place, is Andrew Wilson, who settled on the
site of Omro in 1849. He subsequently
engaged in lumbering, and, in 1856, built a
saw-mill, and continued in the lumber business
for sixteen years. His beautiful residence is
one of the best in the place. The publisher is
indebted to him for the kind interest he has
taken in the publication of this work.

H. W. Webster, one of the leading men of
the place and a heavy lumber manufacturer,
settled in the present Town of Omro, on Sec-
tion 15, in December, 1848. In 1870, he pur-
chased the large saw-mill which he now oper-

296 {/i) .



ates. He is one of Omro's representative men
and has served as chairman of the Board for
six terms, and now represents that district in
the State Legislature.

N. Frank, who is fully mentioned in the fore-
going historical sketch, came toOmro July 15,
1850, opening the first store, and has taken a
prominent part in the history of the place. He
has acted as justice of the peace for twenty-
two years.

Andrew Lansing is another prominent name.
He moved to the Village of Omro, February
12, 1853, and bought the American House,
which he kept for a number of years. He also
opened the first livery stable in Omro. ^ He is
one of the early western settlers, having lived
in Rosendale in 1847 — in the days of Indian

Robert Crawford settled in the now Town
of Omro in the fall of 1849, and was, conse-
quently, there at the very beginning of the
village, in the building up of which he has
taken an active part.

Geo. Shafer came to Omro in 1858, and has
been one of its most enterprising citizens. He
opened a large drug store, and built the finest
business block on the street.

Geo. Challoner, proprietor of a large foundry
and machine shop, has been one of the most
prominent manufacturers. He settled in Omro
in 1849, and is the inventor of Challoner's
shingle-mill. He is frequently mentioned in
the foregoing sketch.

C. C. Morton is one of the proprietors of
the sash and door factory, and Almond Grey
is proprietor of a large barrel factory.

J. M. Heals, present chairman of the Board,
settled in this town in 1857, and is now a resi-
dent of the village. He has served as chair-
man for two terms, and is an efficient and
influential member of the County Board.

M. G. Bradt, now express agent, is one of
the old settlers of this county, having lived at

Delhi and Eureka in 1849, where he was
engaged in mercantile business.

Among the leading business firms arc Trele-
ven & Orchard, whose enterprise gives Omro
one of its finest business blocks.

Richard Reed, Jr. , is one of the most popu-
lar dealers in general merchandise.

W. W Race, one of the enterprising men
of the place, and a heavy dealer in hardware,
etc., and whose finely stocked store is a credit
to the place.

Leighton & Gilman, who keep a finely filled
store, well stocked with groceries, crockery,
boots and shoes, etc.

S. N. Bridge, dealer in musical instruments
and musical merchandise.

J. T. Russell, dealer in harnesses and sad-
dlery hardware, has a well stocked store.

C. C. Covey & Co., dealers in groceries,
crockery, boots and shoes, etc., also carry a
large stock.

A. W. Larabee, the popular landlord of the
Larabee House, is one of the old settlers, and
widely known.

Captain Baldwin has lately become landlord
of the Northwestern House, and knows how
to keep a hotel.

Charles Chase keeps a well-appointed jewelry

A. B. Tice has a well stocked meat market.

Alexander Gadbaw deals in farm machinery,
and is a collecting agent.

F. Bunker deals in hardware, stoves and

Robert Webb deals in groceries and pro-

James H. Caswell is an insurance agent,
town and village clerk.

The population of the village is something
over two thousand.


296 (0



Oshkosh Taking a New Start in the Race of Progress — New
Factories and Mills Erected in the Winter of 1879-S0 —
Another Large Sash and Door Factory Built — Four more
Saw mills Built — Another Machine Shop and a Flouring
Mill Erected — The Oshkosh Carriage Works, a Mammoth
Concern Employing One Hundred and Fifteen Hands,
Started during the past Year — Two Large Additional
Buildings Added to the Trunk Factory — Other Factories
Enlarged and their Capacity Increased — Glazed Sash an
Industry of Immense Magnitude — Twenty-six Car Loads
of Glass Ordered, During one Week, by the Glazed Sash
Factories — Oshkosh the Greatest Sash and Door Manu-
facturing Center in the United States.

jO rapidly are the manufactures of
this city increasing, that in the few
months that have passed, since the com-
pilation of manufacturing statistics were
made, which appear in the former pages
of this work, several new establish-
ments of large proportions have been built.
Among them is the large

This factory was erected in the spring of 1880,
and is one of the largest in the city, being 66
by 184 feet, and two stories high. It contains
forty-five different machines, among which are
two heavy planers, two flooring and siding
machines, one heavy moulder, four morticers,
one large diagonal planer, innumerable circular
saws, etc. The capacity, per day, is four
hundred doors, four hundred windows, and
one hundred pairs of blinds; besides dressed
lumber. Number of hands, eighty.


The mammoth sash and door factory of
Foster & Jones has been enlarged the present
season by an addition 120x20 feet, and two
large additional buildings for warehouses;
additional machinery has also been put in
which will largely increase its capacity.

The large works of Williamson, Libbey &
Co. have also increased their facilities, and
this enterprising firm are now pushing their
manufactures to the fullest capacity.

R. McMillen & Co. have increased the num-
ber of their hands to ninety-two, and this
immense establishment is turning out doors,
sash and dressed lumber in quantities almost
exceeding belief

An addition to the sash and door factories
of this city is the new firm of Hume & Wash-
burn, which has enlarged the old Neff fac-
tory to more than double its former capacity;

having enlarged the building by an addition of
20x152 feet and 30x40, making its present
dimensions 60x152. They have also put in
twenty new machines.

See views in this work of the factories of
Williamson, Libbey & Co., Foster & Jones
and R. McMillen & Co.

There are now seven large sash and door
factories in this city, and another is to be con-
structed the coming summer. Their product
last year was largely in excess of that of any
other place in the United States. Their aggre-
gate capacity per day, then, was one thousand
two hundred doors, two thousand five hundred
windows, and six hundred pairs of blinds.
The enlargement of the capacity of Foster &
Jones' mammoth works, and the additional
large factory of the Radford Brothers, will
greatly increase the product for the present
year A fair estimate for the present year's
product, at the rate they are turning out work,
is 450,000 doors, 800,000 windows and 160,000
pairs of blinds. The several establishments
are as follows:

R. McMillen & Co., employing y2 hands

Foster & Jones, employing 90 hands

Williamson, Libbey & Co., employing ... 70 hands

Conlee Brothers, employing 60 hands

James P. Gould, employing 70 hands

Radford Brothers, employing 80 hands

Hume & Washburn, employing ... .56 hands

These factories contain all the best and latest
improved machinery — some of them having
from forty to fifty different machines — run by
powerful steam engines. Their management,
too, is in the hands of men of lifelong experi-
ence, and this, with their facilities for obtain-
ing the best of stock, gives them the means
for manufacturing their products at the lowest
possible cost; thus enabling them to success-
fully meet any competition in the market.

The completion of the new "Northern"
Railroad, gives a new line of access to the
pine forests and its lumber resources.

The sash and door factories of Oshkosh con-
stitute one of its hopes of continued progress,
as it is a branch of manufacture which gives
every promise of rapid increase.

An industry of immense proportions is that
of glazed sash, and in this no other place can
compare with Oshkosh. Its magnitude may
be seen in the fact that George F. Stroud, of
this city, wholesale dealer in glass, oils and
paints, received orders from these factories, in
one week, for twenty-six car loads of glass.
These aggregated eleven thousand two hundred
boxes, and was but one shipment of several
in the year.


296 U)




Four new saw mills have been built during
the past year. They are those of Geo. W.
Pratt, whose old mill was destroyed by fire in
May, 1879; Foster & Jones, who have built
on the site of the old Sheldon mill; Badger &
Gould, whose new mill occupies the site of the
old Stevenson mill, and the new mill of
O. Beach, now nearly completed. These are
all first-class and ranking with the very best.
They have all the latest improvements in steam
saw mill machinery, and are of large capacity,
averaging about seven millions of sawed lum-
ber in a season, with large quantities of shin-
gles and lath. These additional new mills will
largely increase the lumber manufacturing
capacity of this city.


This extensive factory, a view of which is
given in this work, is a large contribution to
the manufactures of this city, and to that
renewed manufacturing impetus that is now
pushing her forward in the race of progress.

This establishment started up February of
1879. They employ one hundred and fifteen
hands, and turned out two thousand finished
carriages during the year. They are increas-
ing their facilities, and, large as the works are,
they give promise of greatly increased propor-
tions. These carriages are shipped by the car
load, even to California, Texas and the Eastern
States. Their sales for the past year amounted

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 63 of 71)