"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"
Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others.
Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill.
787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three
counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.
CHAPTER IX. THE CITY OF MERRILL
Merrill, the seat of government of Lincoln County, is situated in Township 31 North, Ranges 6 and 7 East, at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Prairie rivers, which streams divide it into three major portions. It is reached by the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad and by State Highways Nos. 10 and 64. Its population in 1920 was 8,068 and it is a brisk manufacturing city, the center of an extensive lumber industry. The history of Merrill as a settlement begins in the year 1847, when Andrew Warren started the construction of a dam across the Wisconsin River at this point. Previous to that time but few names are associated with this locality. M. Bollier had a trading post on the west side of the Wisconsin River about one and a half miles below; another such post was conducted by a man named Stevens at the mouth of the Prairie River, he having secured squatter's title to a tract of ground there; and John Hogan had taken a squatter's claim in 1843, which he relinquished to Warren in 1846. Active settlement, however, dates from the development of the water-power by Warren in 1847 and the con-struction of his sawmill in 1848 and 1849.
Many difficulties were encountered in this work, as might be expected in the attempt to carry out so pretentious a project in this outpost of civilization. The foreman of the construction work, who was the only experienced dam builder in the party Mr. Warren had brought from Watertown, Wis. to carry on the work, fell ill and the prospect of a long delay loomed large at one time. The work was taken up and completed, however, by Levi Fleming, Edward Bosworth, and O. B. Smith, all of whom had had earlier experience in dam building. The last named, coming from Elburn, Ills. with a party of thirteen in 1844, had walked from Chicago to Wausau, there being then no railroad in the country north of Chicago.
The dam completed, a wooden water-wheel was constructed from live oak timbers with a few iron braces; sawmill machinery was brought from Stevens Point in canoes, a precarious means of transportation for this material, the heavier pieces of which weighed as much as 400 pounds; and in the winter of 1849 and 1850 the mill made its first cut. It was a very small affair as sawmills go, having two "muley" or up and down saws, one with a single blade and the other with two blades; barring breakdowns, it could saw from 7,000 to 10,000 feet of lumber per day, a "day" consisting of from twelve to fifteen hours. The mill was located at the foot of the present Mill street, approximately on the site of the vacant building formerly used as a power house by the Merrill Railway and Lighting Co. The first logs to supply it were cut by O. B. Smith along the Prairie River in what is now the seventh ward of Merrill. About a year after the completion of the mill Warren sold a half interest in it to the Cooper brothers, Benjamin F. and John, the latter of whom was conducting a store in the new settlement. In 1851 O. B. Smith bought out John Cooper. Warren continued to conduct the west half of the mill while Smith and Benjamin Cooper ran the east half, virtually two mills being conducted under the same roof and with one" bull slide" and wheel for both. In 1857 the" Horicon" railway scheme was projected, the road to run from Milwau-kee via Horicon and Berlin through to Merrill; like a great many others, Warren permitted his interest in the future of the community to overcome his prudence and invested heavily in the project, mortgaging his interest in the mill and turning over the proceeds to the promoters. The railroad scheme proved a fiasco; the stock was all sold in the East and had to be paid for, but the road never came through; farmers living along the proposed right-of-way had mortgaged their land in the interest of the proposal and titles to these lands were affected for many years. Warren succeeded in recovering his mortgaged interest in the mill, but soon afterwards he returned to Elburn, Ills. and nothing further is known of him but that in 1888 he was living with a son on a large farm near that city. As he was an old man then he has almost certainly been dead for a number of years. His interest in the mill was purchased by Harrison Combs and F. M. Andrews, who also purchased the Cooper and Smith interests. Combs and Andrews con-ducted the property until about 1870, when T. B. Scott bought out Combs. It was run as Scott & Andrews until about 1880, when Scott acquired the whole property and consolidated it in the T. B. Scott Lumber Co., taking in the Hixon interests of La Crosse. It had been greatly improved from time to time, and under Mr. Scott's ownership was practically rebuilt, using the original foundation. The new structure was much larger, and was one of the most modern saw mills on the river when it was destroyed by fire. In 1880 it had capacity for cutting 10,000,000 feet of lumber and 2,000,000 shingles per year, and at a later date its capacity was 25,000,000 feet of lumber and 20,000,000 shingles. It was operated by the T. B. Scott Lumber Co. until it burned in 1899.
Returning to pioneer days, with the mill as a nucleus a small but thriving settle-ment sprang up. A. C. Norway, Henry Goodrich, Orville Jones, George Strow-bridge, Joseph Newcomb and William Averill, with their families, were here as early as 1851. Other early settlers were Orson Russell, George Goodrich (who lived three miles north of the settlement), Zachary Space, H. Streeter, T. P. Math-ews, Cyrus Strowbridge, William Sigafus, Harrison Combs and Frank White. In 1855 there were seventeen pioneer shanties. In 1856 a railroad was completed from Chicago to Watertown and in that year William J. Ebert, William Bauman, and the Mueller and Muelling families came by rail to Watertown. Leaving their families there, these pioneers walked the remaining distance to the new settlement and after locating homesteads here returned to Watertown, walking by way of Stevens Point, Green Lake Prairie, and Sauk Prairie. They brought their families and settled here permanently in the fall of 1857, having in the meantime secured a little capital by working on farms in the vicinity of Watertown.
The name of the settlement went through a number of transformations. The rapids on the site of which the dam was built had been at one time known as Bull's Falls, and were christened by Andrew Warren" Jenny Bull Falls", by which name the settlement also became known. Later this was changed to" Jenny Falls" and soon to" Jenny", which latter name it bore until it became Merrill in 1881, pursuant to an act of the Legislature, in honor of S. S. Merrill, then general manager of the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad.
The first buildings to be erected were a boarding house and barns, built in front of the present Citizens National Bank location. These were constructed of logs. The first frame building was erected by Cooper & Smith in 1854 where D, B. Rein-hart's business building now stands; it was a one-story building 16x24 feet in dimensions. The next frame building was a shed which a half-breed Indian, Joe Beseau, used as a trading post, and which stood near the site of the present Lincoln Hotel. Jules Posey and Beseau conducted this trading post in partnership for a time; during the summer Posey lived at Grandfather while Beseau ran the post, and during the winter Posey resided in Jenny and carried on the trading, sending his children to school here, while Beseau went north. Among other early buildings were John Feeley's residence at the mouth of the Prairie River near where First Street commences; the Eagle House, which Z. Space built, the front part in 1858 and the wing a few years later; a two-story building erected in 1858 or 1859 by Cyrus Strowbridge on the site recently purchased by the American State Bank for their new home; the Jenny Hotel, started in the early 50's by Alexander Watson; and the first residence of O. B. Smith, which was erected back of the present Livingston block in 1857, This residence was 24x32, two stories high, with a one-story wing 18x24 and had seven rooms. In it the first children born in Jenny were brought into the world; they were twins, Fred and Frank Smith, born July 20, 1858; their mother was Miss Sorona Ravilin before marriage. One twin, Frank, died in Spokane, Wash, in 1914; Fred is still a resident of Merrill.
The Merrill Daly Herald in its issue of Jan. 20, 1921, giving the reminiscences of Mrs. Susan Russell, formerly the wife of Frank White, says: "In 1860 Jenny was a very tiny place, with a lane following approximately the course of the present :Main street and connected with the road from Wausau on the south and the road to Grandfather on the north. The latter road crossed the Prairie River but there was no West Merrill, nothing but a small community hemmed about the saw mill. Two hotels: one, the Jenny Hotel, was located on the site purchased recently by the American State Bank, and the other, the Eagle House, located on the present site of the Merrill Commercial College building. Z. Space conducted the Eagle House and Cyrus Strowbridge the Jenny Hotel. The present court house site was then a steep hill where only the coarsest weeds would grow. There was no railroad and where the present Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul right-of-way is, south of Main Street, was a large cedar swamp. There was a store between the mill and the garden approximately where the Reinhart building now stands. A dwelling built by Cooper and purchased by Mr. White was situated west of the present Lincoln site and in part of this house school was conducted until the new school building was completed by Mr. White. Miss Mary Jane Miller was teaching in this one-room school in the White dwelling, but there had been teachers before her time in this little village. The new school was located where the Dr. C. C. Walsh residence is now, and was built by two carpenters who were brought here from Wausau by Mr. White. The lumber was manufactured at the mill and the shingles were made by hand by Mr. White. The school house was not only used for school purposes, but also for Sunday School purposes. No minister came to Jenny at that time and the village people resorted to union services.
Those were unusually happy days for the simple pioneer folk of Jenny. Dances were featured in which all the residents gathered as a large family and there was a general neighborly helpfulness and mutual understanding that has since disappeared with the natural growth of the city. There were no bridges across the rivers at that time and it was necessary to ferry across with boats. Mr. White cut the first timbers for a bridge at Jenny. The bridge crossed the river at the same place where the present bridge crosses near Riverside Park. There were no banks and no saloons, but neither of these absences proved a handicap to the village folk, whose fortunes were meagre but who nevertheless lived very happily in what was then the farthest north settlement in the Wisconsin valley.
"The Indians were plentiful then and their migrations from place to place along the .Wisconsin and Prairie rivers added a unique color to the scene. A large part of the time their camping site seemed farther back in the woods, and from it they came to Jenny laden with articles which they offered in trade to the whites for' flour, cornmeal, and bread, and less often for money. There were plenty of deer in those days and venison was one of the treats brought in by the Indians. They also brought in berries of various kinds, wild rice, fish and game. Pickerel and pike were the most common fish. They made maple syrup and sugar, birch bark canoes, mocassins and mittens of buckskin, belts and chains of beads, furs, and rugs made out of rushes. The Chippewas were a less industrious tribe than some of the other Indians and their work was negligible as compared with the white man's. Among the best known Indians were Jack Bates and Big Pete. These and some of the other Indians frequently offered to chop wood for the settlers. The method of cutting wood was the reverse of today's. Each dwelling had its wood lot and trees were hauled there with limbs intact. The tree was then chopped into fuel at the back door of the dwelling. The Indians also cut edgings hauled to these wood lots from the mill. The Redskins tanned leather for the whites and in other ways proved an interesting help to the settlers, although in instances they resorted to escapades such as ransacking settlers' homes to obtain flour or meal, of which the Indians had none.
In this article Mrs. Russell also mentions an old mill boarding house which stood where Allen & Zanders' garage is now located, and the boarding house in use in 1860, which was on the site, now vacant, west of the present Reinhart building. A garden, fenced in and tended by a chore boy, covered the block in which the Citizens National and American State banks are now located, and fur-nished vegetables for the boarding house. At that time there was a deep ravine extending from north of Third Street to the river and coinciding with the present Center Avenue one block north of Main Street. George Strowbridge owned a farm commencing near the site of the Hieb box factory and running back to the range line, which is just west of the Anson, Gilkey & Hurd company's plant.
The Jenny Hotel, referred to in these reminiscences, changed hands a number of times; as mentioned previously, it was started by Alexander Watson in the early 50's; Cyrus Strowbridge acquired it from Watson and added to it in 1856, and in 1864 Strowbridge sold it to Han Streeter for $1500. Streeter was logging at the time and quartered his men there. In 1865 he sold it to A. C. Norway, who added to it from time to time until it assumed the form it had when M. L. Poirier bought it. It is still the property of the heirs of Mr. Poirier and a portion of it is used by them as a residence; it has been removed to the northwest comer of the block. Another hotel of pioneer days was the Posey House, built by Jules Posey about 1863 on the site of the trading post previously conducted by himself and the Indian Beseau. Posey later built the first Lincoln House, which burned about 1878, and the second Lincoln House, which replaced it. The latter was also de-stroyed by fire Oct. 27, 1897, and was replaced by the present structure of the same name, built on the site of its two predecessors. An early stole was that built by Keyes & Kline, by which firm it was conducted as a store until the dissolution of their partnership, after which Kline ran it alone for some years. The first bridge across the Wisconsin at Jenny, which Mrs. Russell refers to, was obtained largely through the influence of T. P. Mathews, who appeared before the county board at Wausau on behalf of the people of Jenny and those in the settlements south of the river, and succeeded in obtaining an appropriation for the construction of the bridge. D. L. Plummer and Charles Nutter, surveyors from Wausau, made the survey and drew up the plans and specifications; the contract was let to the lowest bidder, B. G. Plummer, who in making his bid was advised by T. P. Mathews; and the construction was personally superintended by Mr. Mathews. The latter was a very influential and progressive citizen and was untiringly active in the develop-ment of the community. He was instrumental in having Lincoln County set off from Marathon County and spent two winters in Madison lobbying for this cause; he succeeded during the winter of 1873 in bringing about the division, and was elected the first treasurer of Lincoln County. In this and many other causes he often neglected his own interests in his devot on to those of the community.
Marathon County, which included all the present Lincoln County besides much other territory, was set off from Portage County in 1850, and very shortly after this the Town of Jenny in Marathon County was formed, taking in all of the present Lincoln County and parts of the present Taylor and Price counties and running north to the Michigan line. The first township officers were: W. Wilson, chairman; John Cooper, clerk; and Joe Snow, side supervisor. At the meeting held when the town was formed, $1,000 was voted to build a schoolhouse. The heaviest tax payers, O. B. Smith, George Snow, Andrew Warren, and A C. Norway, were opposed to this step, feeling there was little need for a school house, there being only two or three children of school age. Of these tax payers, however, only Mr. Norway was present at the meeting, and the mill hands, having no taxes to pay and being backed by T. P. Mathews, readily voted the $1,000 for the project and the building was erected. Another school was built in 1860, as mentioned in Mrs. Russell's reminiscences already quoted. This stood about on the site now occupied by Dr C. C. Walsh's residence, west of the Lincoln Hotel. John and Richard Dobie were probably the two carpenters Mrs. Russell speaks of as having been brought from Wausau by Mr. White to erect this building. The following is believed to be a complete list of the teachers who taught school in it: Miss Kate Goodrich; Mrs. Matt Beebe; Mrs. Peter McKeller; Mrs. D. A. Kline; Mrs. George Strowbridge; Mr. Charles Marvin; Mrs. Samuel Ashman; and Mrs. Emanuel Beckwith, with possibly the addition of Mrs. Mary Jane Miller Armstrong, though it is doubtful if the latter taught here after this building was completed. In 1872, largely through the efforts of T. P. Mathews, a new school building was erected, and the previous one was then moved across the street from its original location, and was used as a voting station and to house the justice court for a number of years; subsequently it was moved to the site of the present second ward school building, and it finally degenerated into a woodshed on the property of H. A. Keyes. The building erected in 1872 is the one still in use as the third ward school, abandonment of which is contemplated in the immediate future.
The first firms to do a general logging business were Newcomb & Averill and Goodrich & Fleming. Harvey & Barnes had a line of teams on the road from Sycamore, Ills. to this section of the state very early in the history of Jenny, but transportation over the highways, few and crude, which then existed was a difficult matter, and in the summer months canoes were the common means of conveyance. From 1,000 to 1,200 pounds could be loaded on a canoe and the trip from Jenny to Grandfather made in a day, and as many as 25 or 30 canoes were often seen on the water, each with three men, bound for Grandfather. It required four days to make the trip to Eagle River by this means and two to return downstream. O. B. Smith and a crew cut out a road from Wausau to Jenny in 1854; the road from Stevens Point to Wausau had been completed the previous year. In the fall of 1857 Helms & Co. from Stevens Point cut out a "tote" road from Grand-father to Eagle Lake on the Eagle river. In 1860 the government appropriated certain lands for the construction of a road from Jenny to Lac Vieux Desert via Pelican and Eagle River, and this road was turned over to the county, which in turn appropriated $3,000 in tax certificates for the work. At Lac Vieux Desert the road intersected a military road to Ontonogan, Mich., the completed route was known as the Wausau and North State Line Road. It crossed Pine Creek near its mouth and led to the mouth of Pelican at the point now Rhinelander. Work was commenced on it in 1861. O. B. Smith cut the portion from Jenny to the mouth of Pelican, John Curran had the contract for the section from Pelican to Eagle River, and Fox & Helms completed it from Eagle River to Lac Vieux Desert. The sec-tion from Jenny to Pelican was never used, the old river road by way of Grand-father to King's and then to the mouth of Pelican being preferred. North of Rhinelander, however, the road is still in continuous use.
The Dudley road was built in 1874, and in the fall of 1876 John Curran got an appropriation from the county to cut the road from Dudley to Pelican. This had formerly been an old logging road, in use in the early 50's. In 1877 P. B. Champagne, who was interested in extending the Grandfather road, got the county board to cut a highway through from Louis King's place to Eagle River, where only three logging camps had been in operation up to that year. The camp owners were O. B. Smith, John Curran, Dan McPhail, and the Gumaer Bros., John and George.
From an interview with Fred Smith, published in the Aug. 26, 1921 issue of the Merrill Daily Herald, we learn that" Early farms included one owned by A. C. Norway near where 1. Malsin now operates an excelsior plant, on the bank of the Wisconsin. William Averill, Sr. had a farm on the bank of the Wisconsin which is now part of the Parrot farm. Thomas Mathews had a farm at Lake Pesobic, and George Strowbridge where Anson, Gilkey & Hurd Co. 's sash and door plant now is. West of the trading post conducted by Frank White (near the present Andrew J. Kaul, Jr. residence) and along the banks of the Wisconsin a man named Stevens had made a clearing and had farmed. Later the mill company used the clearing for a horse pasture. It was the Indians' favorite camping ground when they passed through Merrill to get their government allotment at Wausau."
The first postmaster was Cyrus Strowbridge, who conducted the office in his hotel, the Jenny House. The mail was carried from Wausau on horse-back. Z. Space was the first mail carrier, and during one summer this work was done by Mr. Space's daughter Etta, who later became the wife of M. H. McCord, the well-known lumberman and newspaperman who subsequently became governor of Arizona. Daily mail service started July 1, 1875.
Smallpox visited Jenny during the winter and spring of 1872, not entirely disappearing until well into the summer. It left a terrible trail of death and desolation in its wake. Its ravages were so widespread that at one time there were scarcely enough well people in the village to look after the sick and to attend to the burying of the dead. A pest house was built on East Main Street that year; this building now forms the main portion of the Patzer Hotel. The pest house was in charge of William Merrill. It was not long, however, until almost every house was a hospital, for only a few families completely escaped the disease. There was no doctor in Jenny then, but during the previous winter Mrs. Dr. D. B. Wylie, of Wausau, came up and vaccinated every one who desired it, even going about amongst the lumber camps, and though vaccination had not then attained that scientific perfection which it possesses today, yet it was wonderfully potent in pre-venting infection.
At the first meeting of the county board for Lincoln County, held Oct. 24, 1874, "Section 12, Town 31, Range 6, commonly known as the village of Jenny", was designated as the seat of county government. In 1880 a courthouse block was purchased for $1,200, and on this a courthouse was erected the following year; a county jail was built north of this property in the fall of 1885. These first county buildings now house the Lincoln County Training School.
With the advent of the railroad in the spring of 1880, a new chapter was opened in the history of Merrill. This long-sought addition to the facilities of the locality brought the prosperity that had been dreamed of. The road was the Wisconsin Valley Railroad Company, later made a part of the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul system; it submitted its first proposition to "extend its rails from Wausau to Jenny, a distance of 17 1/2 miles" in 1878, and this proposition was almost un-aniously accepted at an election held Oct. 15th of that year. Strong opposition was exerted by the minority, however, and a circuit court ruling was secured designating the acceptance, with the involved obligation to buy capital stock in the company to the amount of $110,000, as "illegal and void." A second proposition was sub-mitted May 26, 1879, whereby the county was to raise $55,000 by the issue of bonds bearing 8%, the bonds to be exchanged for capital stock. At a special election held Aug. 7, 1879, this proposition was accepted by a vote of 319 to 16, and construction of the road began immediately; the first train was run on Dec. 27, 1879, and the road was adjudged completed Jan. 31, 1880.
In the development that then started the foundation of the city as it exists today was formed. Lumbering, of course, was the leading industry, and mills sprang up all along the river. From the fact that the location of the mills followed the natural pond advantages of the river there resulted the elongated geographical outline of the present city. In 1881 S. S. Merrill, Alexander Mitchell, J. W. Carey, T. B. Scott, C. K. Pier, and M. H. McCord, associated as the Merrill Boom Company, obtained a charter for a boom across the river. The original plat of the village of Jenny was surveyed Oct. 22, 1881 and recorded July 3, 1882, by order of the following owners: John Phelps, Amelia Truax, John T. Adams, Ann R. Adams, G. Young, Mary B. Smith, John B. Sypher, E. M. Kaiser, G. B. Robinson, Ann Pose, J. Faerber, C. E. Willard, T. P. Mathews, William H. Dickey, R. G. Campbell, C. Woesner, A. C. Norway, Frances Cooper, H. A. Aucult, Martha A. Mathews, W. H. Swinehart, H. T. Kline, Charles Norway, Martha Norway, William Derey, Abbie Morrow, G. L. Park, E. A. Kollock, Thos. B. Scott, O. B. Smith, Theodore Compton, Harrison Combs, Samantha C. Phelps, George Phelps, Ellen C. Phelps, Orlo Phelps, Tim O'Connor, Margaret E. Stewart, Mar-garet A. Space, and August Strehlow.
The first mill to be built in the new era was that of M. H. McCord and H. E. Howe, constructed in 1879 and located on the site of the present Kinzel Lumber Co. 's mill. This mill was destroyed by fire July 19, 1881. McCord then associated himself with H. W. Wright and rebuilt the property in 1882. After two years of operation under this ownership the entire interest was acquired by Wright, who continued to operate the property until his death. It was then continued by his sons for a few years, after which it was sold to the Stange Lumber Co., who organ-ized it as the Kinzel Lumber Co., under which arrangement it is now operating.
The next mill was that of the Merrill Manufacturing Co., consisting of Col. C. K. Pier, H. R. Skinner, and Charles Mihill, of Fond du Lac, the latter being -manager. After a few years of operation the financial circumstances of this mill became straitened and it was sold at a sheriff's sale. The property was acquired by some of the same interests, however, and was leased to Charles Mihill, who operated it for a year or two, after which A. H. Stange became its owner; the present Stange Lumber Co.'s mill was later built by Mr. Stange on the same site. , The original mill was built in the winter of 1880-81.
The Champagne Lumber Co. was organized by P. B. Champagne and John Woodlock in 1881; they built a mill in that year located just west of the Grand-father road on the site now occupied by the Merrill Excelsior Co. 's plant. This mill was operated until the death of Mr. Champagne and up to 1896, when, its timber supply having practically failed, it was closed down.
Following the destruction of McCord & Howe's mill in 1881 and at about the same time that this mill was rebuilt by McCord and Wright, H. E. Howe, the other partner in the original mill, associated himself with Capt. H. H. Chandler and Edward Whitlock in the construction of a mill on the island opposite the site of the mill which had burned. After two years of operation by the founders their interest was taken over by the Gilkey & Anson CG., who operated the mill until 1910, when they closed it down and wrecked it.
The next mill to be erected was that of the Merrill Lumber Co., consisting of Murray Haywood of Davenport, IA., T. P. Mathews, and E. N. Foster. This mill, erected in 1883, was the first to be built on the west side of the Wisconsin River here; it was located about sixty rods north of the bridge connecting the Sixth Ward and the West Side, and was also the first mill to be built down the river from the old boom dam. It failed financially after a few years of operation by its founders and after passing through the courts went into the hands of Foster, Bradley, Collins, and an associate from Janesville. After operating it for a number of years these owners sold it to the Collar Lumber Co., who sold it to A. H. Stange after operating it for a short period. It is now out of existence.
The next mill was also on the west side of the Wisconsin, at the mouth of Devil Creek; it was built by H. C. Russell and J. D. W. Heath as the Wolf River Lumber Co., and was operated under that name for a few years, when it became the property of Russell, who conducted it for some time and then sold it to L. N. Anson. The latter ran it as a planing mill for a few years, after which it was made a veneer factory, and finally it burned down.
In the early nineties D. F. Comstock of Bay City Mich. erected a sawmill where the Merrill Woodenware Co. now operate. Comstock operated it a short time and closed it out to C. B. Flynn and W. W. Schultz of Chicago, who changed the name to the Illinois and Wisconsin Lumber Co. and operated it until it closed as a sawmill about 1906. The building was later wrecked.
In 1892 when the lumber industry was at the height of its prosperity, eight of these mills, operated respectively by the Gilkey-Anson Co., the Illinois & Wisconsin Lumber Co., the Champagne Lumber Co., the Merrill Lumber Co., the T. B. Scott Lumber Co., the Wolf River Lumber Co., the H. W. Wright Lumber Co., and A. H. Stange, were in operation and the total cut for that year was approximate-ly 150,000,000 feet of lumber and 86,000,000 shingles. In 1896 the cut had fallen below 100,000,000 feet of lumber and 30,000,000 shingles, and from this time on the volume declined rapidly. As the pine supply diminished the hemlock and hard-wood resources came more and more into prominence. George E. Foster & Co. opened a hardwood office at Merrill in 1893 in connection with the handling of pine lumber, and by 1898 about twenty mills in Lincoln and adjoining counties were engaged in hardwood manufacture. Other industries have grown up; agriculture and dairy-ing have followed close on the trail of the lumberman's axe, and thus the prosperity of Merrill has escaped serious injury through the decline of her forests.
During this period of transition the most outstanding names in the history of the city are those of J. N. Cotter, Julius Thielman, and (a little later), A. H. Stange. Messrs. Cotter and Thielman have for more than 40 years been the leaders in the public affairs of the county. The new courthouse, the county training school, county home and hospital, the employment of a county health nurse, the modern school buildings-in fact everything pertaining to the develop-ment of the county-is owing in some measure at least to their efforts either as chairman or influential member of the county board of supervisors. Each served as mayor of Merrill several times, and they were members of the city council, school board, fire department, etc. Mr. Stange since his coming has been a leader in civic work and has spent large sums of money in public enterprises. S. Heineman also did a great deal to aid in the development of the county; merchant and later banker at Merrill, he aided many new settlers in getting started.
Chapter IX Continued on next page Part B
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