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Biography of John Pugh

John Pugh, of Racine, who is filling the office of state game warden of Wisconsin, was born September 1, 1847, in the city in which he still makes his home. Almost three score years and ten have since come and gone and he has witnessed remarkable changes as the state has become thickly settled and the work of progress and improvement has been carried forward. His parents were James and Jeanette (Hughes) Pugh, both of whom were natives of Wales, but they were married in this County. The father on coming to the United States settled first in Utica, New York, afterward removing to Ohio and in 1842 arrived in Racine, where he resided until 1850. He then went to California, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast, and for two years remained in that district, but in 1852 returned to Wisconsin. He died May 30, 1890, while his widow survived until 1892, and in their passing the County lost two of its representative and honored pioneer residents. John Pugh was educated in the common and high schools of Racine and was a youth of but seventeen years of age when, in 1864, he responded to the country’s call for aid, enlisting for one hundred days’ service. He was stationed on guard duty at Memphis and when his term of enlistment had expired he returned to Racine. During the succeeding three years Mr. Pugh worked as a boiler maker in the railroad shops and then became a sailor on the Lakes, devoting his time to that pursuit from 1868 until 1894. The vessel on which he...

Biography of Frank L. Mitchell

In taking up the personal history of Frank L. Mitchell it is unnecessary to tell to Racine and her people the place that he occupies, for his position has been established by the consensus of public opinion, and in considering his career one is led to the reflection that opportunities slip away from the sluggard, tauntingly play before the dreamer, but surrender to the individual with high purpose, undaunted courage and indefatigable determination. It is through the wise use of his opportunities that Frank L. Mitchell has reached the prominent position which he now fills. Born in Kenosha on the 4th of December, 1852, he is a son of Henry and Margaret (Mitchell) Mitchell, natives of Scotland and representatives of one of the old families of that country. Henry Mitchell’s parents, William and Elizabeth (Jackson) Mitchell, were of that Scotch type of earnest, industrious people who held to the Presbyterian faith and guided their lives according to their strong religious convictions. The father carried on an express business between Edinburgh and neighboring towns. To him and his wife were born eleven children, seven of whom reached adult age and became heads of families. Henry Mitchell was born in Fifeshire. Scotland, March 10, 1810, and early was thrown upon his own resources, for it was necessary that he aid his father in the support of a large family. His education was therefore largely acquired in night school. He possessed natural mechanical ability and early displayed much efficiency in drafting. When a youth of fifteen he entered upon a seven years’ apprenticeship to the wheelwright’s trade and at the close of...

Biography of Judge Elbert Osborne Hand

Judge Elbert Osborne Hand, long a distinguished member of the Racine bar and for thirteen years occupying the bench of the County court, passed away June 19, 1915, an occasion which carried with it a sense of deep regret and sorrow to many who have been his associates and contemporaries. He was then nearing the eighty-fifth milestone on life’s journey and there came to him “the blessed accompaniments of age-honor, riches, and troops of friends.” Judge Hand was a native of New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York, born November 29, 1830, and came of English ancestry in both the maternal and paternal lines. His grandfathers were natives of New York, and John S. Hand, father of the judge, was born in New Lebanon, in 1804. He became a mechanic and was employed along that line until after his removal to the west, when he became connected with agricultural pursuits. Before leaving New Lebanon, however, he married Miss Emma J. Cowells, who was there born in 1810. She too was of English descent and her grandfather served in the War of 1812. It was in 1841 that John S. and Emma Hand arrived in Wisconsin, settling in Walworth County, where the father entered land and with ‘characteristic energy began the development of a farm. He lived a quiet and unassuming but useful life, never seeking to figure prominently in public connections. He gave his political allegiance to the Whig party until the question of slavery became a foremost one in the minds of the public, when he supported the abolition party. When the Republican Party was formed to prevent the...

Biography of William Turnor Lewis

When death called William Tumor Lewis on the 30th of December, 1915, Racine lost one of its prominent pioneer manufacturers and capitalists, a man who was freely accorded honor and respect, not only because of the success which he had achieved, but also on account of the straightforward and commendable business principles which he always followed and the spirit of helpfulness which he manifested throughout his entire life. He never deviated from a course which he believed to be right in all of his relations with his fellowmen and his memory remains both as an inspiration and a benediction of those with whom he was associated. A native of New York, Mr. Lewis was born in Utica on the 10th of March, 1840, and received his early education in that city. In 1855, when a boy of fifteen, he became a resident of Racine and at an early age studied telegraphy under the guidance of his older brother, James F. Lewis, who afterward became chief justice of the supreme court of Nevada. At the outbreak of the Civil war Mr. Lewis was manager of the Racine office of the Western Union Telegraph Company and handled hundreds of messages relative to the great conflict. He soon enlisted in the Federal Military Telegraph Corps and was stationed at Cartersville, Georgia, at the headquarters of the Fifteenth Army Corps as military telegraph operator and railroad agent. On the 27th of October, 1864, Mr. Lewis was united in marriage to Mary Isabel Mitchell, a daughter of Henry Mitchell, deceased, who was the founder in 1834, of the business which later was incorporated as...

Biography of Judge William Smieding, Jr.

Judge William Smieding, Jr., who for the past fifteen years has been the municipal and juvenile court judge of Racine County, is a native son of this city and his life record stands in contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, for worth and ability have gained him professional recognition and he is regarded as one of the representative members of the Racine bar. He was born September 9, 1868, a son of William and Mary (Wustum) Smieding. The father’s birth occurred at Lübbecke, in western Prussia, November 11, 1831, and he was a son of August and Amelia (Mix) Smieding, who were likewise natives of that country, while his paternal grandfather was a brewer and baker of Germany, where he owned a small shop. He and his wife both died in Germany at an advanced age. Their son August followed in the footsteps of his father, acquainting himself with the trades of brewing and baking, but afterward went to Holland, where he secured a situation as clerk in a store. He was engaged in military duty under Napoleon I in the year 1815. His death occurred in 1850, when he was fifty-six years of age, while his wife passed away about six years before. Their family numbered seven children, including William Smieding, who obtained his education in the public schools near his home and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a general merchant for a term covering about five years. The reports which he heard concerning the opportunities of the new world led him to the...

Biography of W. A. Crane

W. A. Crane is now living retired, his home being at No. 1654 College Avenue in Racine. For many years, however, he was actively identified with farming and dairying interests in this County and his persistent and intelligently directed efforts constituted the foundation upon which he built his success. He was born in the town of Mount Pleasant, Racine County, September 11, 1844, a son of Augustus B. and Lavina (Baldwin) Crane. The father was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was early left an orphan, after which he was reared by an uncle. It was in the year 1839 that he arrived in Racine County, at which period the work of progress and development seemed scarcely begun here. At the Rapids, in January, 1843, he wedded Lavina Baldwin, who was born near Syracuse, New York, and whose parents removed with their family from the Empire state to Kalamazoo, Michigan, making the journey around the Lakes with ox teams and in 1842 coming from Kalamazoo to Wisconsin. The young couple began their domestic life in Mount Pleasant Township, where they spent their remaining days. Mr. Crane secured a tract of new land from which he cleared the timber and then turned the furrows, whereby the place was converted into productive fields. Throughout his remaining days he continuously and successfully carried on general farming up to the time of his death, which occurred February 15, 1908. He was quite prominent in the community and was frequently called upon to fill public offices, the duties of which he discharged with promptness and fidelity. His widow survived him for little more...

Biography of Hon. T. W. Thiesen

Hon. T. W. Thiesen, Racine’s popular mayor and one of its most efficient and progressive business men, now president of the Red Cross Drug Company, was born in Hamburg, Germany, November 19, 1867, a son of Thies and Emma (Karsten) Thiesen. He began to earn his living when but six years of age as a bootblack and newsboy and afterward became a butcher’s apprentice. On the 18th of June, 1884, when a youth of sixteen years, he left Germany and on the 4th of July, 1884, arrived in Racine. Here he secured employment in the drug store of Charles Giesler, with whom he worked for three years at ten dollars per month. He afterward spent one year in Milwaukee. Wisconsin, where he was employed as a drug clerk, and then, feeling the necessity of further educational development as a preparation for advancement in life, he entered the University of Wisconsin, through which he made his way by practicing strict economy. He had previously saved from his earnings the sum of one hundred and eighty dollars and by living frugally and utilizing every opportunity he managed to complete the course, being graduated from the pharmaceutical department with the class of 1890. Mr. Thiesen next went to Kansas City, where he spent three weeks, after which he proceeded to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was employed for two and a half years. In September, 1892, with the capital which he had saved from his earnings, he returned to Racine and opened a drug store on State Street. The following year he became one of the organizers of the Robinson Drug Company,...

Biography of Martin O. Senseny

Martin O. Senseny, president and treasurer of the Racine Malleable & Wrought Iron Company, has been connected with this business since 1906 and its development within the past decade is attributable in substantial measure to his efforts and keen business discernment. A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Senseny was born in 1852, a son of Jacob and Elizabeth Senseny. His mother died when he was but a few weeks old and his father when the boy was but three years of age, so that he was reared by his grandparents. He became a school teacher and later a bookkeeper and for a time was associated with the Eberhard Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, but in 1906 removed to Racine and purchased an interest in the Racine Malleable & Wrought Iron Company, which had been organized in 1884. The present officers are: O. Senseny, president and treasurer: W. H. Houssman, of Cleveland, vice president, and Charles Van Ornum, secretary. The plant is located at Twenty-first and South Clark streets, where the company owns ten acres of ground with buildings covering half of that amount. The original plant was located on the north side, but was burned in July, 1898, and at that time the company selected the present location, erecting two story buildings in which they installed modern equipment to facilitate the work. In June, 1915, a cyclone struck the plant and demolished the top story of all four of the buildings, causing a loss of about thirty-five thousand dollars. They employ two hundred and fifty men, most of whom are skilled workmen, and they manufacture castings, wagon and carriage hardware, harness...

Biography of Gerald Francis Wilson

Gerald Francis Wilson. Among the contributing factors to progress and prosperity in Clay County are the newspapers, and in taking them into account the Leader, at Longford, should by no means be overlooked. It is a live, wide-awake, progressive journal becanse such are the characteristics of its able editor and manager, Gerald Francis Wilson, who had the advantage of being a practical printer and before assuming charge of the Leader had had editorial experience. Gerald Francis Wilson was born at Racine, Wisconsin, November 4, 1891. His parents were Fred Morgan and Miranda (Kennedy) Wilson, the latter of whom was born in Pennsylvania in 1870 and died at Detroit, Michigan, in March, 1909. The Wilson ancestry is Scotch-Irish and the family to which Editor Wilson belongs had been in the United States since colonial times. His father, Fred Morgan Wilson, was born in Michigan in 1860 and had practically spent his life thus far in his native state and had always been identified with railroad affairs. He is a republican in political affiliation, fraternally is a Knight of Pythias, and belongs to the Episcopal Church. His family numbers three sons: Chester, who is a miner in Montana, and Gerald Francis and Leonard. Gerald F. Wilson attended the public schools of Omaha, Nebraska, until he completed his second year in the high school and then passed two years in Creighton University at Omaha. After leaving the university in 1908 Mr. Wilson entered a printing office and learned the trade, subsequently worked as a journeyman printer in Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, Utah, California, Washington, North and South Dakota and Iowa, during this...

Biography of Leon Misslin

The career of any pioneer is interesting. An account of that of Leon Misslin will be found especially so to the many who know and respect him for his many good qualities of head and heart. He came into the “wilds of Idaho” eight years before the government surveyed the land, and as a pioneer had many thrilling experiences and encountered numerous hardships and over-came many obstacles. The story of his struggles and triumphs, could it be given in full, would be of the greatest interest. Leon Misslin was born at Nantes, Loire, France, a son of J. A. and Mary (Ortteschurd) Misslin, and came with his parents and his seven brothers and sisters to the United States in 1855. The family lived at Racine, Wisconsin, until 1861, when they went to Minnesota, where Mr. Misslin achieved success as a farmer and there died, aged seventy, in 1869. His wife survives him and has attained the advanced age of ninety-two years. Of their eight children, seven are living. Leon Misslin, who, in the sequence of birth, was the fourth child of J. A. and Marv Misslin, received a common-school education in Wisconsin, and took up the battle of life for himself at the age of fifteen. He devoted three years to hard work in a blacksmith shop, becoming a thorough master of the blacksmith’s trade, and in 1863 he entered the United States service as a blacksmith in connection with military operations, and was with the army in Arkansas. After the war was ended he went to Salt Lake City, Utah, and thence to Idaho. About this time he...
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