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Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)

Ihde, Aaron J.; Conners, James W.
Chemical industry in early Wisconsin,   pp. 5-20 PDF (5.8 MB)

Page 10

 10 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 44 
mary producer. It became a part of the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company
in 1926.6 
 A large amount of Wisconsin potash found its way into soap, but since soap
manufacture is such a simple chemical operation it is difficult to trace
the development with any accuracy. Soap making was a household operation
in the nineteenth century Wisconsin, as it continues to be in some rural
households in Wisconsin even today. 
 In the urban centers, commercial soap manufacture achieved some importance.
In Milwaukee, for instance, Flower found four flourishing establishments
in 1880.~ The oldest, that of F. Trenkamp, had been established in 1848.
Weekly production had risen from 1000 pounds in the first year to 30,000
pounds in 1880. Frederick Wackerow's factory had been established in 1856
by John Langdon. Gross Brothers, established in 1867, was producing 125,000
pounds per week in 1880. This level of production was exceeded by the youngest
firm, that of Ricker, McCullough and Dixon, established in 1873, with a production
of 173,000 pounds per week. Most of the soap manufacturers were German immigrants
who found in Milwaukee a good source of alkali and, as a result of the rapidly
developing meat packing industry, a good source of fats. 
 Milwaukee was the site of the first match factory to be established in the
west. Its founder, R. W. Pierce, came from Massachusetts in 1844, bringing
the necessary chemical supplies with him. Wood for matchsticks was both abundant
and inexpensive in Wisconsin. The first matches were produced in the upper
story of a dwelling house. Three employees produced $900 worth of matches
during the first year, but Pierce sustained a net loss of $300. Despite the
loss, Pierce expanded into a small factory building during the next year.
The enterprise grew and "Superior Percussion Matches" found a ready
as far east as Cleveland and as far south as New Orleans. When Pierce sold
his interest in 1860, the factory was employing 30 persons. Subsequent owners
failed to carry on successful operations and, after changing hands several
times, the business was abandoned.8 
 6 Haynes, W., Ed., "American Chemical Industry", D. Van Nostrand
Co., New
York, 1949, vol. 6. p. 332. 
 7Ref. 3, p. 1226. 
8 See ref. 3, page 1509. 

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