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)
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 SOAP 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. MATCHES 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 market 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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