So far as has been possible, the controlling idea in compiling this ALBUM is
to show pictures of comparison with some previous time or different situation.
"BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF GRAND RAPIDS 1874"
The map which the artist styles a "Bird's Eye View of Grand Rapids 1874" will be a great help to locate spots for which there is no equivalent to-day.
The Rablin's property extended along the east bank of the Wisconsin River between Drake Street on the south to Mill Street on the north.
These streets hold their same position to-day as then.
"D" – Opposite Page 1
The top picture is from an original of the Rablin & Robb foundry and machine shop. This was later sold and converted into a flour mill, which is shown on the opposite page.
This foundry and machine shop was built by John Rablin in 1869
The picture shows the workmen and John Rablin is the middle figure shown on the incline in the center of the foreground.
If this mill was here to-day it would set exactly on the south side of the east end wall of the dam, as shown in lower picture on page 3.
The middle picture just below the "foundry and machine shop" shown on this page was John Rablin's planing mill and later converted into a foundry and machine shop.
In 1876 Patrick & Mahoney bought this and operated it for several years and sold out to E. Roenius, who on January 2nd, 1896 incorporated the Grand Rapids Foundry Co. with Benj. W. King and Julius King.
In 1905-06 the Grand Rapids Foundry Company joined with the American Carbonic Co. and built a new brick plant on the west side at 610 High Street. The American Carbonic Company was incorporated in 1907. E. Roenius was principal stockholder.
The Grand Rapids Foundry Company owned the water power where they were located on the east side and the Consolidated, as a part of the purchase price, must furnish them with 30 Horsepower delivered by electricity to their plant on west side, for all time and shall be a first demand on the power developed by the Consolidated.
The lower picture on this page is the mill and office and yard of what was the property of the Pioneer Wood Pulp Company. Organized by Geo. E. Hoskinson. This was originally where the saw mill stood of John Rablin.
It was originally built by J. J. Kruikshank of Milwaukee, heavy creditors of John Rablin.
They sold the property to Welcome Hyde of Appleton in 1882.
Mr. Hyde, under the direction of Anson Pride, developed the power and put in a six grinder pulp mill in this saw mill building where they made ground wood pulp.
In October 6, 1886, the Pioneer Wood Pulp Co. was incorporated by Caroline K. Hoskinson, Geo. E. Hoskinson, Walter F. Mackinnon, to manufacture wood pulp and paper and paper articles.
The Pioneer became owner of this pulp mill and worked out the idea of "skinning" the pulp off the roll in thick sheets and drying these by air and sun outside in the mill yard. These heavy pulp sheets were sold to box makers who would nail this onto box frames.
The idea was to make a lighter box for shipment of cotton batten in rolls, millinery materials and such stuff as was bulky but light, and make a good saving in freight.
About 1888-89 their superintendent Mr. Green suggested the idea of installing a long row of steam dryers, similar to those in paper mills before the stock reaches the calander stack.
The stock was too thick and the time spent on the hot rolls was too short. The method was not a success and soon was abandoned. The Pioneer returned to the original out-door drying process.
It looks very much as if these pulp board sheets were the forerunning of the present day box board. The very great difference being, that instead of trying to dry a solid and thick sheet of wet pulp, the makers now take paper of different weights and run them through in a gleuing up process and the number of sheets determining the thickness and strength of the built up stock.
These three powers all were later absorbed in the consolidation of all the powers on the river between the bridge and Elton under the Consolidated Water Power Co. which later became the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. See their story.
"NEEVES FLOUR MILL"
This picture represents the flour mill that was built of the original foundry and machine shop of John Rablin.
All property of John Rablin was acquired by Landauer, Hopkins and Friend, who sold it to Welcome Hyde of Appleton.
C. A. Podawiltz with Geo. A. Neeves and Wm. B. Neeves incorporated the Grand Rapids Flouring Mill Co. in 1883 and bought this machine shop of Welcome Hyde.
They converted it into a flour mill as shown in the picture and operated it until 1891 when the Thos. E. Nash and John L. Nash bought the property and it was then known as the "Nash Mill" and was owned by them when it burned June 11, 1889. Shown on fire in the small insert.
The lowest picture shows the "guard lock" to the Neeves Mill which protected the Patrick & Mahoney foundry and the Pioneer Pulp rail from accidents from ice or when necessary, could be closed and water drained cut of the race.
The middle insert is a view across the "rapids" from the west side looking towards these mills and shows the character of the darn then in use. It shown in opposite direction from that view found at the top of page 2, and these two pictures give a very good idea of character of the "rapids" before consolidation.
This is the way the "rapids" looked all during the days of rafting. The high water in the spring and occasionally in the fall gave a sufficient depth of water over all these rocks to permit the "running" the rapids with fleets of lumber in shape of rafts.
This view was taken from about the location of the present swimming pool. It is looking from the east bank straight west and would be at the junction of High and Second Avenue North, west side. The flour mill shown in the distance is the same mill as is shown at the top of this page and lettered "Jackson Milling Co. "
The dams were erected on the ridges of the different elevations and one was built on the east side by Henry Rablin under a charter Jan. 29, 1847 to John Werner. Rablin purchased all rights granted by this charter the same year. Fair view of this dam is shown on page 92, middle picture.
George Kline built the first dam from the west side which he began in 1839 and completed it by extending it to the island below the Green Bay bridge in 1843.
This formed the first "race" to the three locations on the west side. The first or upper one being the flour mill site, the second or middle one being the "Garrison" saw mill site and the lowest one or third one being the "Lyons" saw mill site that later was bought by Mack & Spencer and is shown in the middle picture of page 2.
This power and site was originally bought from Daniel Whitney who entered it from the government in 1841.
Orestes Garrison bought the west side power sites from Daniel Whitney in 1854. In 1866 Orestes Garrison sold this lowest mill site to Reuben C. Lyon. In 1866 Orestes Garrison sold the upper site and the deed conveyed the use of water "being 2000 cubic inches under 11 foot head" to George Weller and this became the flour mill of the community for great many years. The interpretation of what was meant by "2000 cubic inches under 11 foot head" became a question for the courts.
A partnership consisting of "Coleman, Jackson & Co. " operated the flour mill until 1887 when the Jackson Milling Co. was incorporated by Gilbert J. Jackson, J. D. Witter, Frank Garrison, Edmond Rossier, Wm. W. Rose, Fred E. Timian and C. C. Rogers.
The facilities of this mill were enlarged and continued to operate until the power was needed in the consolidation under the Consolidated Water Power Co.
They were given a deed to 125 electric horse power to be delivered to their machines free of all cost for all time.
In 1901 the Grand Rapids Milling Co. was incorporated by J. D. Witter, I. P. Witter and John P. Horton and they took over the business of the former Jackson Milling Co. and built the brick mill shown in insert on this page. This was discontinued as a flour mill and became a part of the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. plant for the "beating" up of old papers into stock which went into sheets for paper box manufacturing.
"SHAURETTE OR SHERMAN ROCK"
In the foreground of the mill picture "this rock" is shown very distinctly. It is commonly called "Sherman Rock" but J. B. Passineau, who is now about the oldest native born Frenchman living here, says that he never heard it called "Sherman Rock". "Its true name is Shaurette rock".
This beautiful rock has caused many a raft to break up when the speed of the swift river carried the raft too far to the side in an attempt to come down the rapids.
"Sherman Rock" received its name from an incident in the "running of the river" days when a man named "Shaurette" was hung with his raft on this big rock late one afternoon and as no help could get to him that night he stayed on the raft on this rock all night. After that it was called "Shaurette Rock".
"CONSOLIDATED WATER POWER & PAPER COMPANY"
It is not possible to tell the complete story of this achievement. It is the culmination of the dreams of at least two men, J. D. Witter and George W. Mead, his son-in-law.
It was intended that Nels Johnson should share the glory with J. D. Witter in harnessing the river at this point and Nels Johnson was to be the manager of the new mill then projected on paper and which he hoped soon to see rise into shape and action.
Thos. E. Nash first conceived the idea of forming a "Consolidated" company. In 1894 the Consolidated Water Power Company was incorporated by Thos. E. Nash, J. L. Nash, B. G. Chandos, C. A. Spencer. F. Mackinnon and Geo. F. Hoskinson.
It was in 1891 that Thos. E. Nash and his brother John L. Nash bought the "Neeves" flour mill power. Then it was in January 1893 that Thos. E. Nash with others incorporated his Nekoosa Paper Company.
Mr. Nash was very deeply interested in the subject of water powers and it was this impelling motive that suggested to him the idea of a consolidation of the powers on the east side of the river.
The incorporators with him were his brother who with him owned the upper of the three powers of the old original "Rablin" powers.
B. C. Chandos was the representative of the Bensley interests who owned the middle power on the west side of the river, almost opposite the Nash Mill; then C. A. Spencer was half owner of the Mack S. Spencer power, the lowest of the three powers on the west side of the river and just below the "Bensley" power; and F. Mackinnon who was son-in-law of Geo. F. Hoskinson, with Mr. Hoskinson, owned the Pioneer Wood Pulp Co. power plant, the third and lowest power on the east side.
The three powers on the east side of the river and the three powers on the west side of the river were of about equal value, the river water belonged to both, with the possible exception that because the Mack & Spencer location was farthest down the river is should be capable of the greatest head.
The flimsy character of the construction of the dams for either side and the great quantity of water that passed on down stream without coming to any water wheels could not help but impress even a casual observer of the possibilities of what could happen If all were combined into one power.
J. D. Witter was the most heavily interested man in the community in the business of water powers and making of paper. His experience in his "Lincoln Mill" investment and then in the building of the Centralia Pulp & Water Power Company, only proved to him that this was evidently a real source of endeavor.
Nels Johnson and J. D. Witter had been long associated in the mercantile business before the purchase of the store of Frank Garrison by J. D. Witter and the short life of the Geo. M. Hill & Co. which operated the Garrison purchase before the joining the two concerns, the N. Johnson & Co. and the Geo. H. Hill & Co. Mr. Witter was the "Company" in both cases.
With the consolidation and taking in of Geo. M. Hill, Mr. Johnson had ambitions and the time to devote to larger ventures.
In 1901 J. D. Witter and Nels Johnson acquired the whole stock of the original Consolidated Water Power Co.
With the acquiring of this working company and the purchase of all other "powers" not owned by the "Consolidated" the ground plan was laid for the development of the river as one power.
In 1902 it was decided to build the mill on the west side, and Mr. Johnson was the president and manager of the company.
March 22, 1902, J. C. Witter died, leaving Nels Johnson and Geo. W. Mead, Mr. Witter's son-in-law to carry out the building of the Consolidated mill.
Nov. 10, 1902 the name of the Consolidated Water Power Co. was changed by amendment of the articles of incorporation to Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. and this is signed by N. Johnson as President, and Geo. W. Mead as Secretary.
Dec. 17, Nels Johnson, then president of the Consolidated died suddenly at the hotel at Wilmington, Del. He was on a trip to buy machinery for the new Consolidated mill. Immediately after his death F. Mackinnon was elected president and Geo. W. Mead Vice-president, and manager of the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co.
One remarkable and up to then unheard of operation, was the application of variable speed motors, to handle the paper machines. The customary method of handling paper machines was by use of steam power controls.
Mr. Head's electrical engineer Mr. V. D. Simons prepared plans for variable speed controlled motors and though it sounded revolutionary, Mr. Mead ordered the steam engines and appliances to be kept housed on the unloading tracks and the purchase of the necessary electrical equipment. This method is followed elsewhere.
Under Mr. Mead's guidance the "Consolidated" has reached far in its place with the other large successful paper and pulp mill manufacturing plants.
The Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. owns the Consolidated Mill shown on page 56; and the Stevens Point mill not shown.
"NEKOOSA PAPER COMPANY"
Such was the title of the company to build the first paper and pulp mill on Section 10 T 21 R 5.
Daniel Whitney first selected this point along the river in 1834 and called it Whitney Rapids. He built the saw mill probably on Gov. Lot 2 close to the north line of Gov. Lot 3 and on the east side of the river.
The dam reached to Gov. Lot 1, an island in the river.
The paper company located their dam just a little below this, with the east end of the dam on Gov. Lot 3 and the mill of to-day, located on Gov. Lot 5 on the west bank of the Wisconsin River.
Daniel Whitney, by reason of the rights he obtained from the Chiefs of the Menominee Indians built his saw mill on Whitney Rapids in 1831 and operated it about twelve to fourteen years and then it was abandoned.
His interest was located in the water powers on both sides of the river at Grand Rapids about this time.
In December 27, 1854 Whitney sold a one-half interest to Moses M. Strong, a very prominent attorney living in the southern part of the state.
August 15, 1857 Daniel Whitney and his wife Emmeline S. Whitney gave Moses M. Strong a warranty deed to the property, thus placing an entire interest to Strong.
It covered the Government lots in both Section 3 and 10.
Moses N. Strong proceeded to organize the Nekoosa Lumber Co. and records indicate that for his interest he received $40,000. The lumber company built a dam from Gov. Lot 2 to the Island but the high water after took this dam out, and nothing further was done to develop the power and soon after the lumber company went into bankruptcy. Moses M. Strong again acquired title to the property in 1862-63. The property was all but abandoned until about 1887.
The developments that seemed to be in the making among the other powers nearer the Rapids stirred interest in this power.
George N. Wood is responsible for the active interest he finally developed in the power and succeeded in getting his brother Frank to join him buying this property. George obtained an option from Mr. Strong and then worked on the proposition with the final result that Moses M. Strong sold to F. J. Wood and Geo. N. Wood, the property December 31, 1887.
Thos. F. Nash interested his personal and long time friend Col. Vilas, in the proposition and Mr. Nash bought the Wood title November 17, 1888.
In 1893 the Nekoosa Paper Company was organized and Mr. Nash deeded the property to his company and at once became its president and manager. Associated with Mr. Nash was Frank Garrison and L. M. Alexander as stockholders of the Nekoosa Paper Company.
The Village of Nekoosa was incorporated August 1893
An interesting feature relative to the machinery of this mill is the fact that the paper machine installed was the same one as was exhibited by the Beloit Iron Works at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1892, where it was shown to the world as a model paper machine.
When the mill was ready at Nekoosa, this machine was taken down and brought to Nekoosa and set in place where it may be seen to-day doing duly as an efficient machine.
The two pictures at the top of page 4 are copies from old stereopticons, made of one of the last rafts that went down the Wisconsin River in 1888. John Farrish sent a crew with lumber that went through the Rapids on down to St. Louis. Daly S Sampson sent another fleet of lumber from the mouth of the Yellow River on down the Wisconsin River to Points on the Mississippi. These two pictures wherever taken are as true a representation of the walls of the River at Nekoosa as else where. The term, "Swallow Rock" applied to the East bank of the River at Nekoosa earned its name because of the swallows that would drill into the soft sandstone for a nesting place.
The figure standing in the picture at the right is pilot Young well known to the rivermen. The little shack shown on the left hand picture was all the housing and shelter permitted to the crew. Pilot Young was known to his intimates as Archie.
"NEKOOSA PAPER COMPANY"
A very fine set of pictures of what the Whitney Rapids looked like before the mill was built may be seen in the scenes of "Running the rapids" in the rafting views shown on top of page 4.
Whitney Rapids and the mill property that went with it was located on Govt. Lot 2 and the Nekoosa mill of to-day is built on Govt. Lot 5, east end of dam rests on the west side of Govt. Lot 3, all in Section 10 T 21 Range 5 East in Town of Port Edwards, Wood County.
The records show that Levi Sterling entered these Govt. Lots in Nov 30, 1852 and Levi Sterling and Chas. F. Legate deeded these lots to Daniel Whitney Dec. 8, 1852.
I have no way of locating Levi Sterling and take it that these entries suggest that Daniel Whitney had a reason for having these lands entered in the name of another person and immediately took their deeds. Similar procedure is at Point Bosse, though there Robert Wakely enters Lots one and two and deeds them to Daniel Whitney.
Later the Nekoosa Paper Company became a part of the consolidation with the Port Edwards and South Centralia properties under the title of Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co. June 5. 1908 of which the incorporators were Thos. E. Nash, C. F. Steele and L. M. Alexander.
Three years later Mr. Nash retired from active management because of ill health. His death occurred Dec. 15, 1917 thus closing the career of a very able man whose rise was phenomenal.
"JOHN EDWARDS & COMPANY"
"NEKOOSA-EDWARDS PAPER COMPANY"
The first saw mill built at Port Edwards was by Sam Grignon who sold it to Whitney & Merrill in 1836.
Evidently Samuel Merrill had acquired Daniel Whitney's interest some time soon after they bought the site from Grignon, for in 1841, Mr. Merrill sells the location of John Edwards Sr.
In 1859 John Edwards found that he must have some assistance in the operation of the saw mill's rapidly increasing business, for he placed John Edwards Jr. into the harness with him and began his education in the saw mill business.
There were several sisters and brothers besides the widow left in the family when John Edwards Sr. died.
John Edwards Jr. then became in title John Edwards and in the final operations he bought the interests of all the other heirs and in 1873 sold a one-half interest to Thos. B. Scott, and started the very prosperous partnership of John Edwards & Co.
This company operated the saw mill shown at the top of page 5 The portraits of John Edwards and Thos. B. Scott are very true likenesses of each of these gentlemen.
In 1889. Thos. B. Scott died and the partnership ceased and Mr. Edwards and the two sons of Mr. Scott, with Mr. Edward's son-in-law L. M. Alexander. incorporated the John Edwards Manufacturing Co. and continued the manufacture of lumber.
In the spring of 1891 Mr. Edwards was a member of the State Assembly and while in Madison he died, February 23.
In the spring of 1896, Mr. Alexander was the directing Manager of the John Edwards Mfg. Co. and began the building of the paper and pulp mill plant. The picture of this mill is shown at the bottom of page 5.
In 1906 Mr. L. N. Alexander, Thos. E. Nash and J. B. Nash incorporated the Port Edwards Fibre Co. Centralia Pulp and Water Power Co. at South side and the sulphite plant was added to the Port Edwards mill. In 1908 Thos. E. Nash, G. F. Steele and L. M. Alexander incorporated the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co. which consolidated the Nekoosa Paper Co. and the John Edwards Manufacturing Co., the Port Edwards Fibre Co. into one corporation owning the mill plants at Nekoosa, Port Edwards and South Centralia.
August of 1934 L. M. Alexander died, but the Nekoosa Edwards Paper Co. was under the management of his son John E. Alexander and so remains at the close of this period.
"CENTRALIA PULP & WATER POWER CO. "
Page 6 - 7
This property was located at 'Hurleytown"; A name that has stuck because of the fact that a man named Timothy Hurley operated a mill at that point. To-day it is South Side, and previous to the consolidation of Centralia and Grand Rapids it was called South Centralia.
This site on the river had falls that created some head and constituted an easily developed water power.
A. B. Sampson and Reuben C. Lyon built the first saw mill on this location in 1848, but did not complete their application to enter this land until August 16, 1853 when they completed the entry of Govt. Lots 1 and 2 Sec. 24-22-5.
In 1854 A. B. Sampson and wife Jane conveyed their interest to Reuben C. Lyon. In 1856, Lyon sold the property to Timothy Burley and Hugh Burnes. Evidently Burley and Burnes struck some tough financial weather for the property was sold by the sheriff to John Rablin in 1869. John Rablin added a pail and tub factory in 1871. He successfully operated all his mill properties until he had financial trouble and all his property was acquired by Landauer, Hopkins and Friend of Milwaukee, in 1879. They sold it to Henry Mann and in 1886 Mann sold it to the newly organized company "The Centralia Pulp & Water Power Co. "
This marked a new chapter in the use of water power on the Wisconsin River. After they built their first pulp mill in 1887, they experimented with the water and finally decided that they could use it for making paper. Appleton mill men had said that there was too much vegetable matter in the water, but that was before the days of taking almost any kind of water and processing it for paper making purposes.
In 1901 the first paper machine was installed and two years later they added another machine.
Among the incorporators of the Centralia Pulp and Water Power Company were J. D. Witter, Frank Garrison, E. B. Rossier, N. Johnson & Co, Jones & Nash, Daly & Sampson, Chas. Briere, F. J. Wood and Caroline Rossier. Feb. 16, 1886.
George Whiting from Neenah and C. F Steele from Appleton came into the company following a stockholder meeting in 1887. George Whiting was elected President and G. F. Steele, Secretary. G. F. Steele became the Frank Steele of the community. Frank Steele built the mill and was it's first manager and the first assistant in the office at South Side was Miss Callie Nason. June 20, 1890 Mr. Steele entered an executive position with the McCormick Company in Chicago and returned here some years later and again became identified with the mills at South Side and Port Edwards. Frank Garrison succeeded G. F. Steele as manager of the South Side mill and the plant at Port Edwards until his death in December 1905. Callie Nason was elected manager in fact, of the Centralia Pulp & Water Power Co. She was most successful in the management of the company until it burned in 1912. The mill was not rebuilt. Miss Nason was reputed to be the only woman manager of pulp and paper mill plant of any size in the United States. Her long active career was evidence of her ability. Miss Nason died in August 1932.
The hydro-electric plant is owned by the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co. and when the Street Railway was in operation it supplied the "juice" for the electric operation of the cars.
The picture at the bottom of page 7 is that of the dam across the river at this point and when the water will permit, there is a very good roadway on the dam making possible a short cut for people at Port Edwards and Nekoosa to reach the Country Club.
"GRAND RAPIDS PULP & PAPER COMPANY"
"CONSOLIDATED WATER POWER & PAPER COMPANY"
October 5th, 1840, Gideon Truesdell, Joshua Draper, Paul Kingston and Harrison K. Fay entered Govt. Lots 5 and 7 Sec. 34-23-6, being the land and island whereon the "Biron Mill" was originally built as a saw mill. Tradition has it to say that "Fay & Draper" went down the river with the first lumber sawed at Biron. If this is true then the mill was built before the owners made an entry of the land, which is very likely.
The title of this property switched around so that when Francis X. Biron bought it, the deed came to him from Weston, Heldon and Kingston in 1846. Widow Fay was not the one to sell the saw mill property at "Biron" to Francis X. Biron but the successors of the men who entered the land originally so Biron's title came from Weston, Kinston and Heldon.
Francis Biron rebuilt the mill that is shown at the top of page 8, in the year 1853. He successfully operated this plant for years. He died Sept. 28, 1877.
The property went into hands of executors, and about 1890 came into the management of George Severe Biron, the youngest son. He and his sister, Laura Biron held the property together. Severe operated the saw mill and in Dec. 14, 1892 the Grand Rapids Pulp & Paper Company was incorporated by J. D. Witter, G. S. Biron, J. W. Cameron, Daly S Sampson and E. T. Harmon.
They tore down the old saw till and in 1895 erected the brick pulp and paper mill shown at the bottom of page 8.
Severe Biron continued with the new company to capacity of assistant manager with Nels Johnson as manager.
Severe Biron died, Sept. 26. 1899. Severe Biron is one of the group shown page 90.
The Grand Rapids Pulp & Paper Company had several different managers, and was finally absorbed by the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. in the year 1911.
The bottom view was taken in 1932 and shows the present dam. The smaller insert shows a picture taken about 1895 and is looking from the west shore across towards the east side. The location would be about where Washington St. West Side would come to the river if it were extended east to its limit. It shows the small dams and guard lock which would turn the water to the original Lyon Mill which later became the Mack & Spencer pulp and electric light plant on the west side between Jackson and Roosevelt Streets on the island. Picture shown and discussed under page 4.
The view shows plainly the long drying shed of the Pioneer Mill and the Pioneer Hill, also the foundry which is the middle building and the last to the left is the "Neeves" Flour mill, later to become the "Nash" Flour Mill. The Arpin residence is at the extreme right of the picture.
The top picture of the river was taken in 1933 looking from the wall just below the south end of the swimming pool bath house.
This page of pictures center around the two pioneers of the early days of the "Rapids".
George Neeves the small portrait near the top of the page came to Grand Rapids in 1839. He located at the southern end of the town and platted a part of it. He built the steam saw mill about 1851 at the foot of present Third street somewhere near 1340 south Third St.
The Bird's Eye View map of 1874, found mounted on page 30, will show the location of "Neeves Mill" about at the foot of Belle Isle at the lower right hand corner of the map.
It was George Neeves, Thomas B. Scott, and J. D. Witter who organized the First National Bank in 1872. The picture at the top of this page shows the old First National Bank building. The second from the top, a reprint picture. It was just a one story building and the street picture at bottom of page 22 shows where J. D. Witter filled in the corner with a brick addition.
George Neeves built a good hotel that he named the Wisconsin House. It was on the opposite side of First Street from the street running to the river where the Eusebe Lavigne ferry landed. The Wisconsin House burned. It was built by Neeves in 1853 and stood on what is now 210 First Street North.
George Neeves was one of the organizers of the Toll Bridge Company. He was a very worthy citizen and an enterprising and industrious pioneer that helped to build up the town. He died June 10, 1878.
Joseph Wood is shown in the picture on the center of the page. He came to the Rapids in 1846 and occupied that portion of the town called "Punkin Hill". He platted a portion of that part of the town lying between Baker Street, north, to land on Washington Avenue.
The picture at the bottom of the page titled "Magnolia House" was built diagonally across from Mr. Wood's homestead to the southwest and on corner of 9th and Washington Avenue, at what is now 840 Washington Avenue, east side. It was built by Mr. Wood in 1852 and was a hotel, store and hall. The first county court was held there and Joseph was the first county judge.
The first meeting of the board of supervisors of Wood County met in this building.
Joseph Wood was elected to Assembly for Marathon and Portage counties in 1856 and passed a bill that set Wood County off from Portage County. His fellow assemblymen named it "Wood" out of courtesy to Mr. Wood. He suggested "Greenwood" as an appropriate name considering the wonderfully fine green timber in the land described as the limits for this new county.
Joseph Wood sold to the School District the block where the present Howe School is now located and on this the district built a small frame school building that was later moved to the Fair Grounds, where it burned.
The Map on page 30 shows the small school on the south side of the Howe School in 1874.
Mr. and Mrs. Wood had a family of three boys, Franklin, George and Walter. Joseph Wood died Feb. 5th, 1890.
[Added in pencil.] Joseph Wood also had one daughter Sarah Jeanette, who married William Balderston.
"FRANKLIN J. WOOD"
The picture of this gentleman is shown on this page upper right hand corner. F. J. Wood was born here Oct. 19, 1850 and died Aug. 17, 1931. He received his schooling here and then went to Madison to the University where he stayed less than two years, being called home because of financial reverses of his father, like many others at that period of the new country.
Mr. Wood held county offices for several years and with his brother Walter owned and operated a drug store, which is shown on page 29.
Mr. Wood was S. D. Witter's cashier for several years and in the year 1891 incorporated the Wood County National Bank. They first located the bank across the street from the location of the present bank at the northwest corner of the intersection of East Grand Avenue and Second St. south, which is now 180 2nd St. S. The original home of the bank is shown at bottom of page 26. In 1911 the Wood County National Bank built the new stone building they now occupy shown at bottom of page 27.
Mr. Wood was prominent in the Congregational church from his boyhood days. He was one of the principal donators to the fund to build the present stone Congregational Church just one block south from his bank. Shown on page 41.
He was also very generous in his donations to the T. B. Scott Public Library.
Mr. F. J. Wood was a very kind and courteous gentleman deeply interested in the movements for the highest good of the community. He was a fine student of both religious and secular affairs. He was also heavily interested in the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co. , and other industries in our city.
George N. Wood whose picture also appears on this page was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wood.
George was an outdoor man all his life. Real estate and title were his study. He is to be given the credit for inducing his brother Frank J. Wood to join him in buying the Nekoosa water power lots from Moses N Strong, which they held but a short time. They purchased this power in 1887 and in 1888. George made the deal whereby they sold the power to Thos. E. Nash.
George retained a forty acre tract to the south west of Nekoosa which he platted, and was successful in selling many lots and a nice profit.
George was a great traveler and made several tours with the State's editors association, and one or two across country trips with the Tripoli shrine of Milwaukee of which he was a member.
George was a genial good fellow, well versed in the local history of the community and he promised many times to compile his notes and complete from memory the part lacking, but he did not live to carry out this plan. He died Feb. 21, 1930.
Walter L. Wood does not show on this page but his picture may be found in a later picture in a group of young men most of whom lived at the Witter House. The picture is shown on page 90.
Seth Reeves picture is shown on this page. He was the first mayor of Grand Rapids about April, 1869. Seth Reeves was a son-in-law of John Rablin and a brother-in-law of Franklin J. Wood. He was a natural accountant and held many positions in the county. He was the private secretary of John Rablin. Seth Reeves died July 7, 1889.
"WISCONSIN RIVER SOUTH OF BRIDGE"
The pictures in the lower left band corner entitled "Looking West from the Wood Block" shows the Wisconsin River south of the bridge. The bridge shown here is the second bridge. On the river bank are the old buildings that were removed through the efforts of the Women's Federation. In 1910 these building were bought by the temporary purchasing board and bonded for the unpaid portion and given to the city and assumed the indebtedness. The Women a Federation was assisted by George W. Mead, Theo. Brazeau and many others.
Shown more clearly on the middle picture to the right on page 13.
The building nearest the bridge was that of Jos. Le Madelin; the 2nd was a saloon; 3rd a tailor shop; 4th Saul Preston's blacksmiths shop. Beyond that was a warehouse and livery stable. The picture to the right of this shows a view of the west side, with the River Block cleared, but Mackinnon block in evidence, the old Nels Johnson store across the street to the south; the Centralia Hardware Co. next to the frame warehouse which was originally built by H. W. Jackson and occupied by him as Postmaster for 21 years. A part of the same store he rented to G. A. Corriveau for his mercantile store. The next is a frame saloon building office. Setting back farther is a two story frame dwelling, located about where Geo. Baker was born. He was the 1st white child born in the city. This was removed later by Normington Bros. and their laundry enlarged. The last building at the left is the Chambers livery stable as it appeared at that time. The small insert shows in addition, a good view of the commercial House.
The composite picture at the top of the page, running clear across the page, shows the new bridge, the "River Block", Nash Hardware Company's enlarged store, the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Normington's Laundry and the Wisconsin Valley Dairy Co. Beyond the trees, one corner of the Commercial House appears. The three pictures are a study in progress.
The first bridge was a toll bridge built by the Wood County Bridge Co. March 22, 1865. Picture shown at top of page. This topic is discussed under the title of "TOLL BRIDGE" on 13, Second Vol. The county by reason of one of the provisions in the charter to the bridge company, bought it in 1873 and made it a free bridge.
This bridge was repaired in 1874 by Purdy & Chaney at a cost of $3500. It was this same bridge that was carried out by the spring rise in April 1888 as shown by picture on the middle of this page.
It required nearly a year before the second bridge was opened to traffic which was on May 24, 1889. Again the ferry was operated while the bridge was being built.
The second bridge had heavy 12 x 12 timbers for uprights and after several years these were taken out and replaced by steel.
In the picture shown at the bottom of page 12, you will notice a pier. This was built with the idea that it would act as an ice breaker and take the brunt of the shove of the ice instead of being spent on the pier of the bridge itself. This pier was large enough on top to serve as a platform and the city bank played many of its summer concerts there. The white post in the picture was the electric light standard.
The present cement bridge was designed and constructed under the supervision of the State Highway Commission. The bridge was dedicated as "Grand Avenue Bridge" Oct. 18, 1922.
These two views of the present bridge speak for it without much further comment. The "end view" was taken from the roof of the River Block.
The Buildings on the East end of the bridge, shown of the picture at the bottom of the page reading from right to left are; Elks Club, Wood County Telephone Co., Wood Block and across the street from that, Wood Co. Realty Block.
The two insert pictures in center of page 13; the one to the left shows the east bank of the river before the Elks Club was built. The first building was Jim Walsh's blacksmith shop and the further one down river was "Lane cabinet and paint shop". The insert picture to the right are the old buildings on the river bank at the west end and south of the bridge which came into the discussion of the pictures on page 11.
"LINCOLN SCHOOLS -- OLD AND NEW"
The top picture is of the Old Lincoln School that was built in 1902 and 03 at a cost of $55,000. The prevailing type for high schools at that time, was like this Lincoln School. It was way in advance of many other schools in the state because of the stage effect, modeled after the Wausau High School, which was considered a model of its kind then.
When this was nearly completed the writer of this history suggested to Mr. J. D. Witter that he outfit the third floor as a domestic science school, at a cost of about ten thousand dollars. His reply was that he had other ideas for the school that he was not then ready to explain. It was not more than a month after this interview, before his attorney Mr. B. R. Goggins called me and asked for the legal title for the board of education. This I supplied.
Before this new school was finished, Mr. Witter died and by his will bequeathed to the Board of Education the sum of $50,000 to be used as the board saw fit. It took the shape of the Witter Manual Training School that was erected in 1907.
Mr. H. S. Youker was the superintendent of the schools at the time of building of both the Lincoln and Witter Schools. He appealed to the State Superintendent for a copy of their outline for mechanical courses and he was told that they had none, that our equipment was more perfect than they had at Madison and he would have to formulate his own courses in Domestic Science and Manual Training.
The Lincoln was the first school among the high schools in the state to graduate the first class that had had the benefit of a complete course, beginning with the kindergarten on through the grades and through the manual training or domestic science course, and still graduate in the proper length of time.
Helen Taylor and Ruth Horton, at present a teacher in the city, were two such pupils to have received this complete course.
The old Lincoln School was torn down during the summer of 1931.
"NEW LINCOLN SCHOOL"
A front view of the New Lincoln is shown at the bottom of page 14. This School was built with the special feature of the Field House in cooperation with the Athletic Field. It is a beautifully appointed school for high school scholars. The gold room, for smaller stage work and musical features is highly praised. The field house has a capacity seating of 5000 persons, second to none other than the one at Madison.
The New Lincoln School cost $600,000 and was made possible by reason of George W. Mead's position as mayor, in giving the movement financial support and backing the architect, thus saving many cost items that otherwise would have run the cost up higher. New Lincoln School and Field House dedicated by Mr. Mead, May 29, 1931.
The handling of the State Band Tournament here would not have been possible had we not had this fine school and large Field House to handle the several activities.
The top picture here shows the Witter at the left, the Old Lincoln in the center and the New Lincoln at the right. The writer took this picture just before the work of tearing down the old Lincoln began.
July 4, 1934
The picture at the bottom of page 15 showing the entrance to the Athletic Field, was taken just as Mayor Nobles accepts it in his speech of dedication. City appropriated $8500 for the building of this gateway.
The following is a copy of the Mayor's address and as it recites the history of the field, it is naturally appropriate to insert it here.
"Monuments, statues and permanent structure can justify their existence upon two grounds; the nature of the subject which they commemorate, and as works of art.
They ought, of course, possess both of the qualifications in the fullest measure.
Theoretically, they should ever illustrate and should always have a permanent, laudable and public purpose.
This Dedication, on the anniversary of our American Independence, of the permanent structure at the entrance of our Athletic Field. presents to us all a useful structure and complies in every respect with the demands of the public and will adequately serve all of the purposes for which it was intended.
In addition thereto and in accordance with my text is commemorates an event which dates back to a time when our Athletic Field, as the same stands partially developed to-day, was nothing but a piece of unoccupied real estate, used by the Wood County Agricultural and Mechanical Association as a fair grounds.
The Association which existed a number of years from 1865 or thereabouts up to Feb. 23. 1897, had run into financial difficulties.
Two avenues of liquidating their debts were open before them; one avenue was to have the twenty-five acre tract plotted into lots and blocks and sold for residential purposes. This met with the demand of those who saw in such a program an opportunity to pay off obligations of the Association, and at the same time showing perhaps a slight profit.
Against this were those who saw in this defunct Association an opportunity not for themselves, but to posterity, in the development of a public play grounds or place where people might congregate to celebrate occasions such as these.
Among those who had this thought in mind was the Secretary of the Association, Mr. T. A. Taylor, and a plan was adopted whereby the debts of the Association, which were mostly in the form of judgments, would be assumed and paid by the city of Grand Rapids in turn for a deed of the premises.
He, along with his associates, in the face of strong opposition, promoted and put through this plan and although they were forced to defend themselves in a court action, never-the-less, they prevailed and as a result of their foresight, we have stretched out before us to-day this beautiful Recreation Field, open to the public and to cur friends and neighbors who associate with us and make use of the same.
This little building in my opinion is but the beginning of what will soon follow, and is the proper beginning, in that all structures hereafter placed upon this Athletic Field should be permanent and of such a kind as will serve the public best.
Many of those who were more enthusiastic when this entrance way was planned have been called away, but they were public spirited men who thought not for themselves, but for posterity, and I believe that this is the spirit that should prevail in the minds of all of us when we are taking into consideration any public building program or any structure, not that we ourselves would receive any particular benefit, but that we will be content and gratified in the thought that someone will share in and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
Without this spirit of pioneering no nation, state or city could hope to accomplish anything worth while.
The number of people who congregate here during the summer and the diverse purposes for which the field is used is a sufficient testimonial of gratification to the commissioners in charge and a receipt in full for any amount of money that has heretofore been spent in its development or may in the future be spent to continue the good work.
The commissioners therefore ask that you good people bear with them and cooperate in their efforts to further develop and perfect the work which they have already started
Hoping that you will all have a most enjoyable day and will come often and enjoy the privileges and benefits and welcome which we extend to you on this occasion, I, as the Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids. wish to thank you. "
W. T. Nobles
Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids
The Athletic Field occupies land in the NE1/4 of the SW1/4 of Section 17, Twp. 22 Range 6 East and is in the Fourth Ward of the City. It comprises about 25 acres, including the land where the several schools are built.
It was entered by Robert Bloomer May 1st, 1845 and his patent is found recorded in Vol. 'E" of Deeds page 121. June. 22. 1861.
Robert Bloomer and wife Eliza N. Bloomer gave a deed to William Stewart and Peter L. Brown, who were doing business as a partnership under title of "Stewart & Brown". They executed mortgages to Artimus L. Holmes and it appears that they must have lost this under sheriff sale. I find Sarah Donnelly acting as attorney-in-fact for Mr. Holmes, gave a deed for one-half interest in this forty to John J. Kruikshank Oct. 1, 1857. Later Mr. Holmes gave over his own signature the deed for the balance of his title interest.
The land went back for taxes and the County sold the tax certificate and executed a tax deed to Margaret J. Worden on the sale of Sept. 1867 and therefore her deed bears date of Sept. 16, 1870.
Oct. 1, 1877 Margaret and A. D. Worden executed by the sheriff of Wood County, a deed to Cornelia J. Jackson. Cornelia J. Jackson sold the property and executed a bond for a deed Oct. 31, 1877 for $650 to the Wood County Agricultural & Mechanical Association, with G. F. Witter as President and R. W. Lord as secretary.
The Association evidently collected their payments for the property for on May 9, 1880 Cornelia J. Jackson executed a Warranty Deed to the fair Association for another $650 placing the complete title in the Association. This covered all of the forty acres except two pieces sold previous to the grantors title and it was one lot size 150 ft. by 24 ft. and the other was 30 ft. by 120 ft.
The previous owners had laid out a race track, circular in form and called a half-mile track. The map on page 30 shows this circular track and marks it as "Warden's Trotting Park".
An impression seems strongly to the idea that sometime before the organization of the last Fair Association there existed an organization of some kind. It evidently was not maintained.
Dr. G. F. Witter, a public spirited gentleman, succeeded in creating enough public sentiment so that a number of local citizens and nearby farmers held a meeting and formed an association on June 20, 1877.
They organized the Wood County Agricultural & Mechanical Association and leased the "fair ground" for one year with the privilege of buying it. The first fair was held October 8-9-10 of that year and such fairs were continued each year until about the year 1896.
Same pieces have been sold off since the time the Association bought it in 1880 for the number of acres turned over to the city was 25. Some of the pieces went to make street extensions and one or two sales were for residential lots on the north side.
Few cities have a more desirable piece of land for an Athletic Field.
The past several winters it has been arranged so that ice skating has been part of the field activities in addition to all the various sports of the summer time. One of the finest activities has been sponsored by the Board of Education and that is a play time schedule during the summer vacation for many groups of boys and girls. This is under the intelligent direction of various teachers of the faculty.
"LINCOLN SCHOOL OLD AND NEW"
Picture at the top of the page shows the first few days of the razing of the Old Lincoln.
The lower picture shows the base ball diamond on the Sunday before the Fourth of July dedication. The local Firemen are host to the Chicago Firemen Baseball team and Augy. Miller, local firechief, is pitching the first ball, which the umpire courteously calls "A strike". This was taken from the roof of the Field House.
The Picture at the top shows a view taken during the early construction of the New Lincoln.
The Picture on the middle of page 17 is a view that the author took from the "lantern" of the cupola of the Old Lincoln, the day they began to tear it down. It is a sort of a Birds Eye View in two sections. The section at the right shows 5th St. and beyond that the dam and Consolidated mills. The picture to the left shows East Grand Ave. the Episcopal Church and beyond that the business portion of the West side. The picture at the bottom of the page shows the New Lincoln with the newly completed "Field Entry".
"FLOOD OF 1880"
The three top pictures on this page are of the flood of 1880. The picture at the bottom of the page shows the same street in 1905 or 25 years after. On Page 19 is shown the same street 55 years afterwards.
The flood started before day light on June 13, Sunday and lasted three days. These pictures show the heaviest damage to the street from the present Library location to the Witter and down First Street to Daly drug store where it met the creek and went to the river, 112 S. 2nd St.
There was nothing on the river side opposite the Library location to prevent the river from coming into the street. The land on this street was very marshy and slabs from the Rablin and other saw mills had been piled in to fill up the street to something of a decent level. But the character of the dirt streets made by the wash by the current a very easy matter and the streets were washed out from eight to fifteen feet below their normal grade.
The top picture to the right would be looking from the Witter House of to-day east towards the present Library location. The burned ruins in the center and distance of the picture was the Rablin House which burned on the 11th day of June, just two days before the flood.
The barn beyond the ruins was the Rablin House barn and for many years it served Henry Edwards & Son as a livery barn and was finally moved to the present site of the City Fire station at 350 First Street N. where A. J. Hasbrouck operated a livery stable for a number of years until the coming of automobiles made horse driving too slow a program.
In the foreground of logs and rubbish are several men and boys and the sitting figure wearing a "stove-pipe" hat was J. D. Witter, whose bank building, if it could be seen, would be directly in front of him. There was nothing singular about the man wearing the stovepipe hats for daily use during that period. I think they were dressed better than the women.
The second picture to the left shows the street side that would correspond with that of the "Amusement Hall" of to-day and also called the "Armory", at 351 1st St. N. This is just the opposite side from the right hand view of the top picture. The building that is shown to be tumbled down was the hardware store of Brundage & Furgeson These men were busy bringing out their stock and Furgeson had gone into the store to get more stock when the back end went out and he is supposed to have been carried down with the stoves and other heavy stock into the swift current. Though a thorough search as possible was made, under the terrific handicap, his body was never recovered. His widow refused offers of marriage the remainder of her life.
The damage was very heavy in view of the times.
The small picture in the middle of the page is a view from the Daly location (present St. Number 112 2nd St. S.) north towards the Witter House. The Witter House was not then built.
The wash out condition of the street was just as bad as it could be. The familiar figure of John A. Gaynor is easily recognized by those to whom he was well known. He is the fourth from the left but standing back of the fourth figure. Mr. Gaynor is without a hat.
The long panoramic picture at the bottom was taken 15 years later from the roof of the Witter House towards the Library, both of which were then built. The river view at the left of this picture is interesting as it shows the conditions as they existed at that time.
"FLOOD OF 1935"
Almost 55 years since the flood of 1880. The views on this page were taken on the morning of the 25th and the flood broke in the city about 8 o'clock in the evening of Sunday the 24th day of April.
The top picture shows the wall opposite from the Library and the middle picture is looking from the second floor of the Library towards the Witter and compares in location with the top view of the proceeding page 18. The bottom picture is from in front of the Library. The idea being to give some picture of the thickness of the ice and heights and swiftness that the water must have attained to bring it in over the top of the stone wall.
One factor that contributed to the flooding of the street was the break in the wall at the end nearest the autoparts bicycle shop shown at the left of the picture. Had this space of about six or eight feet been filled and the wall continued at its full height to this building, there is a probability that this water would never have come into the street.
It evidently raised higher than the wall for a good length to bring the size of the ice cakes into the street. The whole street had fully two feet of water and floating cakes of ice between ten and twelve inches in thickness, all the way from the Library down past the Witter to Daly's store and on the south side it spread from the library into the market square and down Third St. to almost Oak Street and down Second Street to Daly's.
The water was not as high except for this Library location as the flood of 1880. There was not the same quantity of water. The 1880 flood came with the June rains and lasted at least three days. The volume and current was the greatest in recorded history.
The peculiar conditions that existed in the rise of the water in 1935 did not exist in 1880. The river was clear in 1880, but in 1935 many things contributed to the accumulation of ice between Biron and Stevens Point and Biron and the bridge here. It could have been decidedly worse.
The following rates of speed were registered since 1880. The figures were furnished by Mr. Gleason, chief engineer of the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co.
Year Cu. Ft. Per Second.
These readings were official government figures obtained at Nekoosa. In the last few years the high water rates were under forty thousand cubic feet per second and has gone below thirty thousand in the dry years during the spring break-up.
This is probably the proper place to introduce the dates that the ice has been known to breakup and pass down the river. From the past files of the 'Reporter" and later issues of the "Tribune" this memoranda has been compiled.
Ice went out on Saturday April 12. Took half million logs with it.
Ice went out on Monday April 13th.
Ice went out on Friday April 9th. Jones New Depot and Dr. G. F. Witter's operating room moved out some. Gerard & Drake suffered loss of half million feet of lumber, where it had been rafted upon the ice below Neeves old dam.
Day and date not mentioned.
Ice went out Thursday April 10th. Moved quietly.
Ice went out on Friday March 8th.
Ice went out on Wednesday April 2nd.
Ice went out on Sunday April 4th. In June the big flood came and lasted from June 10 to the 17th. Loss of one life, Mr. Ferguson. During the flood the damage to property estimated at that time at over $200,000.
Ice went out on Tuesday April 12th.
Ice went out between the 1st and 9th of April, exact dates not known.
Ice went out on Wednesday April 15th.
Ice went out on Saturday April 10th.
Ice went out on Saturday April 9th.
Ice went out on Wednesday at about 12:30 P. M. April 11th. This was the time that two spans of the first bridge were lifted up off of foundation and carried down stream. One pier was pushed out. Property damage on both sides of the river was considerable.
Ice moved down Wednesday March 20th. Abutment of bridge, then under construction was demolished by the ice jam.
Ice went out Saturday April 4th.
Ice went out Saturday April 11th.
Ice went out Saturday April 2nd.
Ice went out Monday April 3rd.
Ice went out Saturday March 10th. Big jam but no damage.
Ice went out between March 28th and April 4th.
Ice cleared river Wednesday April 8th. Ice rotten away no jam.
Ice went out Friday April 2nd.
Ice went out Friday March 25th.
Ice went out Thursday April 13th.
Ice went out Monday April 9th.
Ice went out Saturday April 4th.
Ice went out Sunday March 23rd.
Ice went out March 28th.
Ice went out April 6th.
Ice went out March 26th.
Ice went out March 24th.
Ice went out April 11th.
Ice went out March 30th.
Ice went out March 20th.
Ice went out April 5th.
Ice went out April 7th.
Ice went out April 8th.
Ice went out April 6th.
Ice went out March 27th.
Ice went out March 22nd.
Ice went out March 25th.
Ice went out March 20th.
Ice went out March 26th.
"RIVER BUGS OR ‘LOGGERS"
For a great many years the earliest signs of a breakup were the appearance of what the old settlers called "river bugs or loggers". They would appear to crawl out of the ice with the first early warm days when the ice began to thaw in the river.
Ice formed on the river in various thicknesses. Much of it was caused by the overflow of the river on occasioned by the thaws in the winter.
At the time of the ice jam at the bridge in 1888 the overflow from various sources caused the ice to be estimated at twelve feet in thickness.
The sudden melting of the snows caused the river to rise and caught this ice in a solid condition and the water simply got under it and lifted it and with it the bridge was raised off its approaches.
Before the ice began to break in the spring bets were placed as to the exact date that it would move out and down the river at least, pass below the bridge.
This schedule of dates will revive many recollections in the minds of those old enough to remember these events.
With the building of the many dams and especially the high dam of the Consolidated in 1902 and 03, it was not believed possible that ice jams could form to any former proportions so the annual spring diversion of betting on the break up of the ice passed out of custom and use.
From the experiences of March 1935 it is evident that damage from ice jam and high water is still possible.
Next Section - Pictures in the Album, Part 2