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Stratford centennial
(1891-1991)

Stratford beginning,   pp. 21-36


Page 21

Stratford Beginning
The Railroad
In 1890, the land that became the Connor Mill site was a
homestead owned by a Mr. Hafner. The immediate area was
sparsely settled, not being reachable by river or rail. Although
there was little pine here, the countryside had some of the best
hardwood.
On June 19, 1890, The Milwaukee Lake Shore and West-
ern Railway Company presented a proposal to the Marathon
County Board of Supervisors to build a railroad through
Marathon County from Wausau to Marshfield. The proposal,
in the flowery legal language of the time, is recorded in
Marathon County records and describes the intention to
extend the line as follows: a line of railroad westwardly or
southwestwardly through the County of Marathon which
shall constitute a line of railroad to furnish transportation fa-
cilities by rail from the City of Wausau to the western or
southern boundary of said County of Marathon and thence
southwesterly reaching a crossing of the so called Wisconsin
Central lines at or near Marshfield in Wood County.
The proposal was accepted; the Railroad and the Supervi-   W.D. Connor Courtesy of the Connor Family.
sors determined the route and the needed land was acquired.
R. Connor Company
The announcement of the proposed route attracted the
attention of Robert Connor, a successful lumberman in Au-
bumdale, Wisconsin. Mr. Connor was depleting his supply of
lumber in the immediate area of Auburndale and had been
comtemplating expansion of his operations.
The R. Connor Co. was a thriving lumber company in
Aubumdale, located in Wood County, Wisconsin. Three
brothers, Robert, John and James Connor, natives of Scotland,
came to Auburndale from Stratford, Ontario to take advantage
of the nation's demand for lumber. John and James left after
the lumber in the Auburndale area was depleted. Robert
remained and called on his son, William Duncan Connor to
help him run the company.
William Duncan Connor, better known as W. D., took on
more responsibility in 1888 when his father, Robert, entered
the Wisconsin State Legislature. In 1890 he became president
of the company.
There were successful lumbering communities in the
southwestern comer of Marathon County but no large opera-
tions. The area seemed to be an ideal location for Mr. Connor
to expand his growing lumber business.
The Connor Mill Courtesy of Terry Frank


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