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Town of Frankfort centennial

Pioneer memories,   pp. 77-110

Page 77

Pioneer Memories
Henry C. Eggebrecht
Henry C. Eggebrecht came to this area in 1877, at the age of
13, with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Eggebrecht. They arrived
inWausau May11,1877. After a two-day stop over at the county
seat, they were taken to their new home in that portion of the
town of Wien which is now Frankfort. The drivers on the trip
were August and Fred Kickbusch. The journey was made in one
day. They stopped overnight at the Carl Marquardt home and
became acquainted with their first neighbors, who had settled
here ten years earlier. The next day they walked to the location
of their new home.
They moved into an abandoned homesteader's cabin, owned at
that time by Fred Barr and located on the present John Schuma-
cher farm site. That summer they erected a cabin of their own
and cleared what land they could. By the fall of 1877, four acres
of broken ground permitted the sowing of winter wheat.
In the spring of 1884 Fred Eggebrecht and Fred Hamann
purchased a portable sawmill. The Eggebrecht and Hamann
sons were able to man the outfit so it was turned over to them.
It was the next spring when Fred Eggebrecht with Fred
Hamann, his neighbor, purchased the portable sawmill belong-
ing to a Mr. Richardson, who had brought the rig from Ohio.
Mr. Richardson was willing to sell out here as he had found it
hard going. The Eggebrecht boys that summer had helped Mr.
Richardson and were familiar with the workings of the mill.
They with the Hamann boys, William, Henry and Charles,
were able to man the outfit, with little outside help. So it was
that the older owners turned the work over to the younger
boys who entered upon a period of successful operation. It was
not as easy or as profitable as might be supposed for at that
time only pine was sawed into lumber. The hardwood, of which
there was an abundance, found little or no market until later.
With the first mill, powered by a direct-acting engine, it was
possible with a crew of 11 men to produce from 12,000 to
15,000 feet of lumber per day. This meant real work, and often
they were handicapped by engine trouble. The direct-drive, 24
horsepower engine, with its butterfly valve control, was at
times a perfect piece of mechanism. At other times, things did
not run so smoothly. Despite the draw-backs of the old
portable outfit, it was in use for 13 years when it was replaced
by a new one in 1896. The second mill, located across the
creek, offered ponding advantages and other helps which the
first mill site did not provide. The later mill, with its crew of 30
men was capable of producing three times as much lumber in a
day's operation. Its improved 80 horsepower engine, belt
driven allowed for a better grade of work as well as for in-
creased volume. About that time, too, the market opened for
hardwood, resulting in renewed activities. The Eggebrecht-
Hamann mill, which during its lifetime did an enormous
amount of custom sawing, also had sizeable contracts for in-
dustrial firms, including the R. Connor company, Marshfield;
William Gamble, Wausau; the Campbell sash and door factory
of Oshkosh; Moss Katz and others.
The operations of the Eggebrecht-Hamann mill were cut
short in 1914 when, during the sawing season, a fire of
unknown orgin completely demolished the plant. At the time
of the fire, 300,000 logs were yet untouched. And so it was
that the Eggebrecht-Hamann firm finished that last season
with a portable mill belonging to John Hilger of Colby.
Among Marathon county's earliest cooperative enterprises,
was one in which four neighboring families of the town of
Frankfort, the Eggebrechts, Lueschows, Brockmans, and
Meischlers, in 1885 purchased a horse-driven threshing outfit.
This was one of the first machines brought into this part of the
country and, although it was primarily for the use of the four
families who bought the rig, it was used by others in that
vacinity. Prior to the purchase of the threshing outfit it was
necessary to thresh by flail, an undertaking which greatly
hindered production of wheat. Later on another partnership,
in which the Eggebrechts were interested, brought in the first
steam-operated threshing outfit, which they operated on a
business profit basis.
Mr. Henry Eggebrecht told the following
When asked if he could recall any Indians in the vicinity of
his home, he replied: "Yes, there were Indians that I recall.
They lived in the vacinity of Rozellville, and every spring
would come through what is now Stratford, down past our
place, following the road, such as it was, going to 'the Lord
knows where' I don't I have seen as many as fifty Indians,
with their ponies, papooses, and trappings, headed northward;
the same group returning in the fall to take up their quarters
again at Rozellville. Often, too, they would go through our
woods in search of slippery elm, ground pine, used for decora-
tion, and herbs that they could market or wanted for their own
use. These Indians were not savages, though, nor bad, but we
did find it necessary at times to put a stop to the forage of our
woods. They offered no opposition, and would move when told
to do so.
"Animals?" Mr. Eggebrecht echoed, as the question was
put to him. "Yes, there were plenty of wild animals, especially
a great number of deer. Why, I recall," he continued, "one
time when I had just traded for a gun, the sights did not suit
me exactly, so after filing them down, I sauntered towards the
woods, hoping to see a bird or something at which to shoot.
Snow was on the ground, and chancing upon some fresh deer
tracks, I followed them and soon came upon two deer. Of
course they got wind of me and scampered across the road. I
went back to the house for my father, hoping to have him help
me corner them. We located them easily, and this time, dad
drove them down the road towards where I was hidden behind
the gate. From where I was, I could see the first deer - at
close range - but did not shoot as I only had one bullet in the
gun. In a moment, the mate was standing beside him, and I let
go. The bullet went through both deer, neither of which got
more than sixteen rods away from where they were shot. It
sounds like a fish story," he concluded, "but the files of the old
Colby Phonograph will attest to this fact."

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