Edward Paddock Sherry: Sherry Family Business Papers, 1853-1961


The Sherry family of Milwaukee and Neenah has been prominent in state commercial circles since the end of the Civil War. Their interests have included some of Wisconsin's most important industries: paper manufacturing, electric power, lumbering, and real estate. Hugh Sherry, a native of Philadelphia, located in Neenah in 1849 and engaged in the milling business. However, he remained in Neenah for only a few years before moving to Minnesota. It was under Hugh's son Henry, born August 3, 1837 in East Menden, New York, that the family's Wisconsin holdings expanded and first flourished. Henry apparently remained in Neenah to oversee the family holdings after his father went to Minnesota. On May 2, 1865 he married Abbie Paddock of Ripon. They had one child, Edward Paddock Sherry, born at Neenah April 12, 1871. E. P. Sherry graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1892 and entered the family business shortly thereafter.

By the 1870s Henry Sherry owned a shingle mill and saw mill, and operated one of the largest lumber businesses in the state. During the 1880s he acquired extensive land holdings in the Flambeau River region from Cornell University and other sources, secured rail service to his holdings, and purchased a saw mill, dam, and water rights at Park Falls. In August 1890 the Park Falls Lumber and Pulp Company was incorporated, with Henry Sherry holding 150 of its 200 shares of stock. In April 1895 the corporate name was changed to the Park Falls Lumber Company, and in September of that year a new concern, the Park Falls Paper and Pulp Company was formed. Initially, Henry Sherry and C. W. Howard held an equal number of shares, but within six months Howard had severed his connection with the firm, leaving Sherry in control.

The Sherry family lost heavily in the depression of 1897, and both Henry and E. P. were forced into bankruptcy. However, the business of rebuilding the family holdings began almost immediately. In August 1898, the defunct Park Falls Paper and Pulp Company was reincorporated as the Flambeau Paper Company, and in 1899 the Winnebago Realty Company and the Wisconsin Realty Company were formed. Controlling shares in the Winnebago Realty Company were held by the Sherry family. The Milwaukee Trust Company, holder of a mortgage on the paper company, held controlling interest in both the paper company and the Wisconsin Realty Company. Management of the paper company and the Wisconsin Realty Company rested with E. P. Sherry. After the bankruptcy Henry Sherry's role in the family businesses became progressively more limited, although he retained an active interest in the Winnebago Realty Company and the Flambeau Shingle Mill. Moreover, until his death on November 7, 1919, he remained a close adviser to his son.

Between 1904 and 1906 the Flambeau Paper Company sold its products through the General Paper Company, a marketing trust which was declared a monopoly and broken up by the federal government in 1906. The following year the Milwaukee Trust Company relinquished control over the paper company and Wisconsin Realty Company. E. P. Sherry subsequently served as president of the paper company until 1935. Under his direction, the mill consistently prospered and expanded. Major improvements included the addition of hydraulic power plants, a sulphite mill, and other facilities which made the company largely self-sufficient in terms of its power, pulp, and paper making needs. In addition, a storage dam was built approximately 20 miles north of Park Falls in 1926. The effectively maintained a uniform flow of water, and prevented potentially dangerous spring floods. During this same period E. P. Sherry founded and presided over a number of related firms in the Park Falls area, including the Park Falls Water, Light and Power Company, Flambeau Public Service Company, Flambeau Farm, and Flambeau Power Company. He also took an active role in the Wisconsin Water Power Association and other interest groups designed to further the goals of water power and paper manufacturing interests in the state and region.

On January 15, 1902, E. P. Sherry married Laura Case of Prairie du Chien. They had one child, Avery, born in 1904. Avery Sherry received degrees from Princeton in 1927, and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1929. He joined his father in business after finishing school, and succeeded him as head of the family concerns after the elder Sherry's death on August 6, 1941. Under the stewardship of Avery Sherry, the Flambeau Paper Company was sold to the Kansas City Star Company in 1947. As of this writing, the Winnebago Realty Company and the Wisconsin Realty Company are still in business and are presided over by Avery Sherry.