Collection: Racine County Wisconsin History

Biography of Abraham Storle

Among the prosperous farmers and representative citizens of Norway Township is Abraham Storle, who owns and operates a well improved and valuable farm of two hundred and seventeen acres on section 32. He was born in that Township August 10, 1857, and is a son of Ole and Anna Storle, both natives of Norway, though they were married after coming to the United States, in Racine County, Wisconsin. The father was born in 1805 and lived to a ripe old age, passing away in 1891. It was in 1844 that he became a resident of this County and for a number of years was employed in the pine woods, making shingles. He was living in Norway Township when his first wife was accidentally shot by the discharge of a gun and he subsequently married the mother of our subject, who had also been previously married, her first husband being Mr. Engberson, by whom she had three children: Betsy, now the wife of Halber Knutson, of Minnesota; John, who is living with our subject and Ole Engberson, who is living retired in Blair, Wisconsin. There were two children born of the second marriage: Angeline, the wife of Frank Lapen, a farmer of Waterford, and Abraham. The parents were prominent members of the Lutheran church and Mr. Storle assisted in building the church of that denomination at Muskego. He was living...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 L├╝bbecke, 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...

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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...

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Biography of William Horlick, Jr.

It is too often true that successful business men seem to find no time for public affairs and lightly regard the duties and obligations of citizenship. A notable exception to this rule and one whose example is well worthy of emulation is that of William Horlick, Jr., who, while actively connected with the management and interests of the Horlick Malted Milk Company, has also found time and opportunity for co-operation in those plans and projects which have to do with the development and upbuilding of the community in which he lives. He was born in Chicago, in 1875, a son of William and Arabella Horlick, and after attending the public schools continued his studies in Racine College, which constituted his preliminary preparation for life’s practical and responsible duties. Soon afterward he began his life work as an assistant of his father in the development of the business known the world over under the name of the Horlick Malted Milk Company. Resuming his studies he spent several terms as a student of applied science, division of engineering, at King’s College, London, England, during 1898, 1899 and 1900, thus splendidly equipping himself for the further conduct of most extensive and important business interests. In 1900 William Horlick made an extended European tour, also visiting Egypt and the Holy Land, and soon after his return, as recognition of his industry, close application...

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Biography of John Stott Blakey

John Stott Blakey has for many years been prominent in the town of Union Grove, where he is identified with the milling business, with banking and with civic and moral progress. A native of Racine County, he was born within a mile and a half of Union Grove, on the 23rd of September, 1847, a son of Thomas and Mary (Stott) Blakey, both of whom were born in Rochedale, Lancashire, England. The father, whose natal year was 1826, was a son of John and Mary Blakey, the former a butcher by occupation. Thomas Blakey learned the shoemaker’s trade, which he followed for some time in England. In 1844 he came with his family to America and after remaining in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a year, removed to Southport, now Kenosha, Wisconsin. A short time later he took up his residence in Yorkville, Racine County. He traveled over the County, making shoes for the early settlers. but at length turned his attention to agricultural pursuits and purchased eighty acres of land, to which he subsequently added eighty acres more. He passed his last years in Ackley, Iowa, his death occurring in 1896. His wife was born in 1822 and was a daughter of John Stott. a spinner by trade. She passed away in 1886 and following her demise Mr. Blakey married Mrs. Rebecca J. Hussey, who still survives. The children of...

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Biography of John H. Smith

John H. Smith, a farmer of Kansasville, is one of the native sons of the County, his birth having occurred in Dover Township, March 14, 1851. His parents, William and Mary (Welsh) Smith, were natives of England and Ireland, respectively, the former born June 17, 1824, and the latter in 1826. They were married in Racine County, but the parents of neither ever came to America. It was in 1842 that William Smith crossed the Atlantic and established his home in Dover Township, Racine County, after remaining for a short time in the east and for a brief period in Milwaukee. On reaching this County he purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land from the government for a dollar and a quarter per acre and upon the farm built a log cabin, after which he began to clear his land of timber, for it was a wooded tract. In 1875 he purchased forty acres more and he continued to reside upon the old homestead and devote his attention to its cultivation up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1898. For twelve years he had survived his wife, who died in 1886. He was well known and well liked and left behind him many warm friends. His wife was a member of the Catholic Church and Mr. Smith gave his political allegiance to the Republican Party....

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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...

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Biography of George Alvin Uebele

George Alvin Uebele, cashier of the Bank of Burlington, exemplifies in his business career that thoroughness and efficiency which have always characterized the institution which he represents, making it one of the strong financial centers of southeastern Wisconsin. His entire life has been spent in this section of the state, his birth having occurred at Wheatland, Kenosha County, February 25, 1874. His father, Frederick Uebele, a native of Germany, came to America in the early ’50s and settled in Wheatland, near Slades Corners. He was but eight years of age when his parents died and in 1848 the children of the family, of whom he was one of the youngest, came to Wisconsin. He was a young man of twenty-one years when, in 1861, he responded to the country’s call for aid and enlisted in the Ninth Wisconsin Light Artillery. He went to St. Louis and much of his service was in Colorado and the west, fighting the Indians. He experienced many hardships owing to the extremes of heat and cold and starvation conditions which existed. He continued to serve, however, until almost the close of the war, when he received an honorable discharge and with his regiment returned to Wisconsin. Soon afterward Mr. Uebele began farming on his own account and was very successful in the cultivation and management of his property, winning well merited prosperity through his...

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Biography of Hon. J. H. Kamper

Hon. J. H. Kamper, who is carrying on general agricultural pursuits near North Cape, was born in Denmark, December 17, 1857, a son of Peter H. and Christina (Rasmussen) Kamper. The father was born in Denmark in 1822 and died in the year 1896, while the mother, whose birth occurred in 1820, passed away in 1894. They were married in Denmark and in 1866 became residents of Yorkville Township, Racine County, where Mr. Kamper rented land. Subsequently he purchased a farm in Raymond Township, a tract of fifty acres, which he carefully and successfully cultivated. He was a member of the Lutheran church in early life, but after coming to Wisconsin joined the Baptist church. He never became allied with any political party, but cast an independent ballot. The Kamper family is of German lineage, for the paternal grandfather, Hans Kamper, was born in Germany, whence he removed to Denmark. J. H. Kamper is the only survivor of a family of six children. He pursued a district school education and when his textbooks were put aside, concentrated his efforts upon farm work, to which he has since given his attention. He was married in 1885 to Miss Ella Adland, a daughter of Knud and Phoebe (Drought) Adland. Her father located at North Cape, Wisconsin, in 1840, and established the first store there. He was postmaster for thirty-two years and...

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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...

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Biography of Simon Gulick

Simon Gulick is engaged in farming in Dover Township, where he was born and has always resided. His natal day was August 16, 1856, his parents being Eagleson and Isabelle (Qualset) Gulick. The paternal grandfather was Eagle Gulick, who became a resident of Dover Township and here lived to the age of eighty-two years. His son, Eagleson Gulick, was born in Norway, December 1, 1827, and is still living, being now in the eighty-ninth year of his age. He was married in Rochester to Isabelle Qualset, whose birth occurred in Norway in 1816, and in that country her parents spent their entire lives. It was in 1843 that Eagleson Gulick became a resident of Dover Township and that the County was then but sparsely settled is indicated in the fact that he was able to purchase eighty acres of land at three dollars per acre. He then cleared the land, prepared it for the plow, and in course of time gathered good harvests as a reward for the care and labor which he bestowed upon his fields. In 1848 he built a log house and in that primitive home occurred the birth of his seven children, of whom four are now living: Edward, a resident farmer of Nebraska; Simon; Isabelle, the wife of Henry Mossmann, a railroad man of Missoula, Montana; and Mary the wife of Melvin Bemis, who...

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