Upham & Russell... Having raised our three children watching "the Little House on the Prairie" series, I think of Oleson's Mercantile when I think of Upham & Russell (minus the Harriet & Nellie).  Just as the Oleson's Mercantile was "the" store in town, Upham & Russell was the same for many years... small Midwest town with new settlers needing your basic farming & day-to-day household supplies... and the nearest "big" city was days away back in 1858.  And, maybe back in the beginning it was BASIC supplies, but as the "Souvenir of Fiftieth Anniversary 1858 - 1908" booklet shows, by the early 1900s they carried everything  that a household could want or need -- from soup to nuts... and when you look at the pictures, try to step back in time and imagine you walking into this establishment for your monthly shopping trip - you can almost hear the creaking old wood floors... they have several large buildings and they even had an incentive program to use cash instead of credit - trading stamps.  As you can see from the listing below, THEY HAD EVERYTHING!  And if you click on the larger pictures below, you'll see an even larger picture with more details.
General Merchandise Main & Divisions Streets
Meat Market and Hay Barn Division Street
The Hub - Clothing Masonic Block
Hardware Store Main & Green Bay Streets
Elevator (Feed & Grain) C & N. W. Railway Tracks
Real Estate Office Main Street
It is a long look backwards from the Shawano County which a stranger sees for the first time today, with its fertile farms, modern farmhouses and barns, its school-houses, churches and creameries dotting the landscape in every direction, to the wilderness of primeval forests, absolutely unbroken except for the little settlement at Shawano, trodden only by the foot of wild animals and the moccasined feet of the Red men of the forest, which was its appearance fifty years ago. And harder still is it to imagine in the beautiful city of Shawano, with its electric lights, paved streets, beautiful homes and modern places of business, the little village of scarce a hundred souls, nestling on the banks of Wolf River, in 1858. Into this wilderness in the summer of that year came a boy of twenty-one to start the pioneer store of Shawano County. It was an up-hill fight, for Shawano County boasted no railroads nor wagon roads in those days, and he traveled the thirty-two miles from New London on foot, following the Indian trail through the forest. His little stock of merchandise—a few groceries, a few provisions, and a few, very few, dry goods, $600 in all— came by water from New London on a barge poled by Indians. The receiving of merchandise in those days was not the simple matter which it is today. The nearest railroad was at Fond du Lac, one hundred miles away, and mail was carried on horseback from Menasha only once a week. Goods ordered from the distant city took weeks to arrive.  But perseverance and pluck won, and from the modest beginning of a $600 stock made by Charles M. Upham in the little store 16 x 18 feet in 1858, has arisen the mercantile house of The Upham & Russell Company, with its $80,000 of stocks and annual sales close to a quarter of a million dollars.  As the County and City have grown during the fifty years, so has the growth of the business founded by Charles M. Upham in 1858 kept pace with it. Believing that our customers who have traded with us for so many years, and through whose help the improvement and progress has been possible, will appreciate having in permanent form views of the familiar places, we submit this little booklet as a souvenir of our Fiftieth Anniversary.       The Upham & Russell Co.
History and Growth

We believe that there are very few country or city stores which have been under the management of one man for a period of fifty consecutive years, but since 1858 the Upham Store has been under the management and control of C. M. Upham. Associated with him at various times have been his brothers Nathan and Calvin Upham, and in 1870 the co-partnership of Upham and Russell was formed, at which time H. C. Russell and G. W. Gibbs entered the business. In 1884 the partnership was merged into a corporation, The Upham & Russell Company, with a capital stock of $200,000. In 1896 and 1897 Chas. R. Stier was a member of this firm.

Floor space in 1858..............................288 sq. ft.
Floor space in 1908
General Store................................. 22,568
Meat Market and Hay Barn................ 10,120
Elevator and Coal Sheds................... 5,896
The Hub........................................ 2,280
Hardware Department...................... 11,200
  52,064 sq. ft.

FRONT ROW: Chas. Brooks (General Store), R. W. Jackson (Treasurer - 37 years), Chas. M. Upham (President - 50 years), G. M. Knapp (Secretary - 25 years), E. S. Austin (Mgr. General Store)
BACK ROW: Fred Brei (Drayman), Aug. Cattau (Mgr. The Hub - 21 years), Alma Rohloff (General Store), R. A. Upham (Vice-President), Margaret Cattau (The Hub), Henry Seering (General Store), Wm. Schenk (Mgr. Elevator - 20 years)


FRONT ROW: Edward Sprague (General Store - 20 years), Chas. Schroeder (General Store - 11 years), M. P. Altmeyer (Hardware Store), Jesse Brooks (Hardware Store - 27 years), Thomas MacNichol (Mgr. Hardware - 40 years), John Trochell (Hardware - 22 years)
MIDDLE ROW: Emma Raddant (General Store), Mayme Klebesadel (General Store)
BACK ROW: Gus Weikel (Meat Market), Chris. Schenck (Elevator - 11 years), August Kruse (Teamster), John Christ (Hardware Store), Clyde Ragan (Cashier), Louis Schroeder (Teamster), Chas. M. Upham (President)

General Offices

Here are shown the General Offices of the Company, Vault and Private Office. It will be a familiar picture to most of our customers, as for years the farmers have been paid for their produce, collections made and business transacted over the bank desk, presided over by R. W. Jackson, Treasurer. The desk of Charles M. Upham, President, appears in the foreground, with the desks of G. M. Knapp and R. A. Upham in the rear. The office is fitted with all modern office conveniences, typewriters, filing cases, adding machine, fire-proof vault and modern vault fixtures. From this office is also transacted the Real Estate business of the firm, with sales amounting to thousands of dollars annually.

Dry Goods Department

Showing view on entering the General Store from Main St. Dress Goods and Silk Department on the right, followed by Notions and Trimmings Department. Between these departments a door leads to the Cloak and Suit Department, Wash Goods on the left, followed by Hosiery and Underwear, with Flannel Department in the rear. Fancy Goods, Dress Goods and Ribbons are shown in the center. Our Dry Goods Department is unquestionably the largest and best equipped in the county, comprising stocks which would do credit to a city four times the size of Shawano.

GROCERY & CHINA Departments

"Shawano County's Finest Grocery Department" is the verdict of many pleased customers who have purchased groceries of us for years. We have always made it a point to have our groceries fresh and clean, and to carry all the latest in cereals and breakfast foods. We make a specialty in our "Martha Washington" Canned Goods, Coffees and Teas and Dried Fruits. Another feature of this department is the prompt attention given to telephone orders from busy housewives. In the center of the picture is shown the Cashier's stand, the hub of the cash-carrying system, giving instant service to all parts of the store. A portion of our China Department is shown at the left.

Garment Department

A corner of our Garment Department is shown by this view, a department which embraces Suits, Cloaks, Dress Skirts, Petticoats, Shirt Waists and Furs. This department has always received our special care and attention, as many thousand dollars worth of garments go annually to points outside of Shawano County. Over a thousand Winter Coats alone are sold each season. This room is equipped with all the modern conveniences for display: wax figures of the best make, triple mirrors of French bevel plate, skirt racks, display stands, etc. As an item instancing the quality of goods in this department, we would mention that we carry Ladies' Fur Lined Coats up to $60.00.

Shoe Department

This view shows but one side of our Shoe Department, on the second floor, where everything in Footwear may be found. As an indication that our line is exceedingly broad we point to the fact that we are the sole agents for the famous "Budds" Baby Shoes, the Moore and Shafer Ladies' "Ultra" Shoe, the "Sharood" Men's Dress Shoe and "Meyer" working Shoe for men. In addition we carry the well-known "Gold Seal" and "Ball Band" Rubbers. "Daniel Green's" Felt Wear, the best-known brand in the country, will also be found here.

Carpet, Rug, Wall Paper and Drapery Department

This department is located in the rear of our second floor and comprises Carpets, Rugs, Linoleums, Mattings, Wall Paper, Lace Curtains and Draperies. Our Rug Department is large for a city the size of Shawano, and many of the handsomest homes in Shawano County bear testimony to the taste there displayed. We aim always to be first in the display of new goods, being the first to put in Paper Fibre Rugs. Rugs are carried as high as $40.00. On the sale of Wall Paper we are pioneers, having purchased from one of the foremost houses in the country for twenty-two years.

Premium Department

A view of only half of our Premium Department, but showing some of the beautiful and artistic articles given with our own trading stamps. Believing that the cash customer whose transactions required no bookkeeping and left no bad accounts was entitled to an extra premium for his trade, we were the first merchants in Shawano County to extend this in the form of trading stamps. For eight years we have followed this custom and hundreds of homes in Shawano County show the results of encouraging cash trade, in the form of Chairs, Lamps, Bric-a-brac, China, Furniture of all kinds, Toys, Silver, Cut Glass, etc.

Flour and Feed Department

A view showing a small section of our Flour and Feed Department, which occupies a space 30 by 165 feet, in the rear of our General Store. Here are carried Flour, Salt, Cement, Grain of all kinds, Feed, Stock Food, Sugar, Seed, etc. Believing this to be one of the most important departments in a General Store and one usually neglected by the average merchant, we have fitted it up with all the accessories to quickly carry on sales and have two employees whose sole duty it is to see that sales and purchases in this department run smoothly. At the rear of the picture is a farmers' rest and lunch room for out-of-town patrons.

The Hub—Clothing and Men's Furnishings

Originally a Department in our General Store, it grew with such rapidity that a new home had to be found for it, and in 1889 a separate store was established in the Murdock House. It again outgrew its quarters and in 1894 was transferred to the Masonic Block, its present home. In 1904 it was incorporated with a capital stock of $10,000. The view given here takes in everything but the clothing, which is on the left side, and hung in beautiful cabinets of Quarter-sawed Oak. As an indication of the Hub's progressiveness, we mention the fact that it exclusively handles the following well-known lines: "Sincerity Clothes," Hart, Schaffner & Marx Men's Clothing; Kuhn & Sons Boys' and Youths' Clothing; W. L. Douglas Shoes, Sweet Orr Trousers, The "Belmont" Hat, etc. It is unquestionably the largest and best equipped clothing store in the county.

Hardware Department

Our Hardware Department was added thirty-six years ago, being first started as a tin-shop, with a few stoves in addition. Its stock was then not over $400. It gradually outgrew its quarters and thirty-four years ago a separate building was purchased for it, on the corner of Main and Green Bay Streets, where it still stands. Its stock has increased from $400 to $17,000, and from a tin-shop it has grown into a modern and fully equipped hardware store, carrying every line usually carried therein, and making a specialty of Building Material, Bar Iron, Guns and Ammunition and Farm Implements. We are exclusive distributors of McCormick Machinery, "Keen Kutter" goods, Fish Bros. Wagons, Wilson Heaters, Acorn and Garland Stoves and Ranges, Sherwin-Williams Paint, etc.

Farmers' Sheds

A view of the Sheds for the comfort and convenience of our Farmer Patrons; 180 feet long and 20 feet wide, with 20 stalls that afford shelter and protection from sun and rain. The idea came to Mr. Upham from the old Massachusetts Meeting-House Sheds of his boyhood, and the general features of the Massachusetts Sheds have been retained. Their popularity is shown by the fact that since these sheds were built, every Mercantile establishment in Shawano has followed our example.

If you have more pictures or stories about the Upham & Russell Co., please email them in and we'd love to post & share them.  And we'd love to make a history page for any other older Shawano Co. business you might have information on as well.  I thoroughly enjoy researching all the aspects of my ancestor's lives, including the day to day activities to help me get to know them as people, not just names on a pedigree chart.

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