"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.


Smith Brothers, Robert H. and William, well-known sawmill proprietors and lumbermen, of Gleason, Lincoln County, are sons of Peter and Kate SMITH, natives of Denmark and Pennsylvania, respectively. Peter SMITH came to the United States when 17 years old, locating at Shawano, or in Shawano County, Wisconsin, where he found employment on farms. When the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway was built into Merrill in 1880 he helped to clear the right of way and build the road. After that he took a government homestead of 160 acres of land, all heavily timbered, in Section 24, Township 33 north, Range 8 east, or in the political town of Russell. There he built a log house and started to clear the land. With an ox team he hauled his logs to a mill which he and John CUMMINGS had built, including the dam and waterwheel. This mill was provided with an old up-and down Mully saw, from which only 40 strokes per minute could be obtained, with a cut of 4,000 feet per day. The first lumber they cut was used to build the houses in the little settlement of Dudley and their later cut was hauled to Parrish. In 1893 they made great improvements in their mill, as they changed to steam power and a rotary saw, which latter would cut from 10,000 to 12,000 feet of lumber per day. After clearing the timber from his own land Peter SMITH bought other timber and logs. In 1893 his partner, Mr. CUMMINGS, left him and after that for some nine years the business was carried on by Peter SMITH and his two sons, John and William, under the name of Peter Smith & Sons. In 1901 John was killed in the mill, and in 1907 Robert H. became active as a partner, the father retiring three years later, in 1910. In 1911 the mill was moved from Dudley to Gleason, where the two brothers have since operated it, cutting from 20,000 to 30,000 feet per day of hardwood and hemlock lumber, and employing 25 men during the season. In 1922 they organized a retail lumber yard in Merrill, and on July 1, that year, the concern was incorporated, with William SMITH, president and Carl WEBER, treasurer. In addition to sawing lumber, they also make lath and use the sawdust for fuel, selling the wood. Both Mr. and Mrs. Peter SMITH are still living, though retired. They have had the three sons already mentioned. Robert H. was born at Dudley, Lincoln County, Jan. 11, 1887, and was reared in this county, acquiring his education in the public schools and in Carroll Academy at Waukesha, from which institution he was graduated in 1907. He worked in his father's mill both before and after his graduation, and since that time has operated it with his brother William, as mentioned. They are also majority stockholders in the Gleason Mercantile Co., with E. H. LANG, also a stockholder and manager. This concern carries a general line of merchandise, including hardware, and the post office is located in their store. Robert H. SMITH belongs to the fraternal orders of Free Masons, Modern woodmen of America, and Mystic Workers of the World. He was married at Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1911 to Mary PESTER, daughter of Edward and Olga PESTER, who are still living in that state. Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. SMITH have three sons, John, Robert, Jr., and Wayne. William SMITH was born in 1877 in Pennsylvania, in which state his parents resided before coming to Wisconsin. When they came here he accompanied them, attended school at Dudley, worked in the mill as a boy and has been connected with it and the lumber business ever since. He is a Mason and Modern Woodman and a member of the order of Eagles. He was married in Merrill, Wis., in 1908 to Lydia HEILMAN, daughter of George Michael and Henrietta F. HEILMAN, who were early settlers in that place, Mr. HEILMAN following the occupation of tailor; both he and his wife are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. SMITH have two sons, Edward and Peter. It should be mentioned in addition that the Smith Brothers operated one of the largest Delco electric light plants in the county, which furnishes light for themselves and for a part of the village of Gleason.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 710-711, 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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