Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County
Mackesy, Lillian; Schubert, William E.; Brummund, Walter H.
Industrial progress, pp. 141-163 PDF (10.2 MB)
INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS large number of fires, this with an abun- dance of water nearby. It is perhaps under- standable when it is realized that both the materials used and the structures were highly inflammable, but it deserves men- tion, nevertheless. Page after page tells of complete burn outs wvhich by sheer repeti- nion became commonplace. If one. wonders about how some of the early industries vanished, this is what happened to them. Many a going concern ended in flames never to start up again. Some, however, like the Richmonds with their paper mill in 1859, and Hutchinson with his woolen mill in 1863, started right over again. Few would suspect that in a corner of the industrial history lurks an oil boom. Yes, in Outagamie County, Wisconsin. More correctly speaking, it would be an oil, gas and mineral boom. Coal was supposed to have been found on a Ballard farm and copper was discovered in a number of spots but in no commercial proportions. As for the oil and gas, well, in 1865, a gentleman by the name of S. J. Roudebush had a farm near Appleton, and on this farm there was a well, and in the well there was some gas which, from a depth of 60 feet rushed out with a gurgling noise in large quantities, and which, when ignited burned to a height of several feet. Where there's gas there must be oil, and one may imagine %vhat this did to the price of land around farmer Roudebush's place. Two instances are reported when oil was actually dis- covered. One of the wells of the North- wx est Petroleum Company is said to have brought up oil daily, and farmer Leonard Smith's land in the toxvn of Center also showed traces of oil. A number of com- panies were formed and wells were sunk, but other than the two instances men- tioned, they apparently only found what they already knew they hadd gas. Gas there was. And in some quantitv too, for in 1886 a fuel gas company was formed to sell the natural gas. An ordinance limited the price to 33 cents per thousand feet. In that year the firm of C. E. Grey & Son bored a well and struck gas at 50 feet. It roared up and promptly died out. The Outagamie County industrial com- munity would seem to be thriving and healthy. At night the thousands of in- dustrial lights certainly give that impres- sion. A number of reasons have been ad- vanced for such a state of we ll being. Some have said that the diversity of in- dividual enterprises has given the group as a whole a hard core. Surely the paper industries, no longer novices but masters in their field have given it stability and longevity. The promotional era is passed. Industries themselves are taking steps to assure a healthy future through research. There appears to be no evidence of the beginning of a transition into another phase of industrial development, and no disturbing influences are in sight. In taking a final look over the last 100 years, there remains but one disquieting note. In 1891, 16factories making 1,977,850 cigars were in operation around here. To- day there are none. 163
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