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Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest

City of Menasha,   pp. 215-229 PDF (10.6 MB)

Page 223

Stevens Point, and in anticipation of the com-
pletion of the Milwaukee and Northern Rail-
road, in 1872, the Wisconsin Central erected
a depot in the northern part of the city,
removing its business to that point.
In 1873, the Milwaukee and Northern was
completed and opened from Milwaukee to
Green Bay, with depot and grounds adjoining
the Central. The same year the Wisconsin
Central, while negotiating with the Lake-
shore and Western Railroad, then running
from Appleton, via Manitowoc, to Milwaukee,
for a lease of that road, constructed a track
from their line at Menasha to Appleton, con-
necting with the Lake Shore & Western at
that place, but obtaining control of the Mil-
waukee & Northern, negotations with the
Lakeshore & Western were broken off,
and subsequently the track to Appleton taken
up. This gave the Wisconsin Central a con-
tinuous line from Milwaukee and Green Bay
to Lake Superior at Ashland, whenever they
should complete their contemplated line from
Stevens Point to the latter place, which was
consumated in 1877.
In the meantime, the Wisconsin Central
Railroad had constructed side tracks the
entire length of the water power at this point,
which with that of the Chicago & North-
western Railroad and the facilities for shipping
by water from any point on the water power,
gave this point advantages nowhere excelled,
if ever equaled, in this particular point, and
there is no place to-day that has greater advan-
tages for manufacturing and general bnsiness,
or more of them, if properly improved and
made available, than Menasha.  What its
future will be rests entirely with its business
men, and, whatever the result, they can always
have the satisfaction of knowing that nature
and outside influences, have done all that
could be done anywhere.
The following account of the commencement
and progress of the wooden-ware manufacture
at this point, has just been obtained from Mr.
E. D. Smith, under whose management its
present proportions have been attained.  The
original pail factory was commenced in the
spring of 1850, by Messrs. Sanford, Beckwith
& Billings.  A two story building, 24x36,
and one small dry-house was the extent. The
timber for the frame of the building was cut on
what is now the canal, and stood so thick on
the ground, that when the shop was done, one
of the firm could not see his house, which
stood directly opposite the factory, across
what is now a canal, one hundred feet in
They manufactured the original machinery,
including a sheet-iron stave-saw, with steel on
the edge for the teeth, and a wooden head.
Their entire outfit of machinery would, at
the present day, prove as great a curiosity as
the original locomotive.  They were delayed
in starting their machinery, until a small race
could be completed tosupplythe water. Strug-
gling along for six months, with little means
and paying high rates of interest, (as the note
drawing fifty per cent, interest, before quoted,
gives ample evidence), their entire production
was 1,500 pails-this being the only article
manufactured.  In 1851, Joseph Keyes and
Lot Rice became the owners, but with similar
In 1852, E. D. Smith purchased the estab-
lishment, and has been connected with it to the
present time. Additions were at once made to
the buildipg, the old machinery taken out to give
place for that which was more suitable, and fur-
ther additions with all the later improvements
in machinery have, from time to time, been sup -
plied, until at the present time two large fac-
tories and three saw-mills are kept busily
engaged, with twenty-four dry kilns, extensive
paint shops, cooper shops, and several large
warehouses, requiring the services of from two
hundred to two hundred and fifty persons.
The daily product of pails far exceeds that
of the first six months, besides the manufacture
of wash tubs, keelers, churns, measures,
butter tubs, fish kits, covered buckets, horse
pails and barrel covers, consuming annually,
about six million feet of timber.  The first
ware shipped to Chicago was carted to Kau-
kauna, shipped thence by boat, via Green Bay,
subsequently by boat to Fond du Lac, thence
by railroad, and still later to Oshkosh, by
boat, and from there by rail, until 1862, when
the cars run through to Menasha.
The present wooden-ware company own
their cars and have the choice of two railroads,
or water transportation, and their wares are
pretty generally distributed throughout the
During the Government occupancy of the
improvements at Winnebago Rapids, 1836-7-8,
Father Vanderbrook, then stationed at Little
Chute, held services at the Rapids once or
twice a year, for the benefit of the few resident
In 1848, a mission was established among
the settlers, about four miles West of the
present city of Menasha, by Father Vander-
In 1840. he was succeeded by Father Faran-
r850-79 ]
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