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Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County
([1949])

Mackesy, Lillian; Schubert, William E.; Brummund, Walter H.
Industrial progress,   pp. 141-163 PDF (10.2 MB)


Page 163


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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