"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.


Chilsen, Walter B. editor and manager of the Merrill Herald and president of the Merrill Publishing Co., was born in this city June 22, 1885, son of A. S. and Alvina (NELSON) CHILSEN. The father, A. S. CHILSEN, was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1853 and lost his mother at the time of his birth. His other parent, who was a ship owner, soon afterwards went down with his ship in the North Sea as he was returning from Italy with a heavy cargo. Being thus orphaned at the age of a year and a half, the baby was brought to America and was reared by relatives in Dane County, Wisconsin, after growing to manhood becoming a mechanic. He was still quite young when he entered the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co., working for it fo some time at Tomah, Wis., from which place he was transferred to Wausau. Two or three years later, in 1881, when the line extended to Merrill he was transferred to this place. He later worked at other occupations, returning to the employ of the C. M. & St. P. road, but was obliged to give up that position on account of having sustained an injury. His marriage to Alvina NELSON took place in Newport, Columbia County, where she was born and reared, and they resided there for awhile before removing to Tomah. Walter B. CHILSEN was reared in Merrill and at the age 15 years, in 1900, began his journalistic career as "printer's devil" in the office of the Merrill News, with which paper he remained for two years. He then went to the Merrill Advocate and worked on that paper as pressman until 1905, striving to learn all he could about the newspaper business. Then, on account of poor health, he was obliged to seek other occupation for a time and accordingly obtained a postion as mail carrier. Eight months of exercise in the open air put him into good physical shape again and he went back to the Advocate, this time as a reporter. About a year later he resigned that position and went to work for the Stubbs Construction Co., but after remaining with them for a short time he resumed newspaper work, entering into partnership with C. N. JOHNSON under the firm name of Johnson & Chilsen, and taking over the management of the Merrill Herald. The two men ran that paper from 1909 to 1913, when the Merrill Publishing Co. was organized, with A. H. SMITH, president, F. J. SMITH, vice president; W. B. CHILSEN, secretary; and J. A. CHILSEN, these officers being members of the board of directors also. As managing editor, Walter B. CHILSEN'S influence over the policy of the paper is by no means small and the financial success of the Herald has also been largely due to his ability. In politics he affiliates with the Republican party. Fraternally he is a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Elks, Eagles and Moose orders.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 738, History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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