Collection: Racine County Wisconsin History

Biography of Theodore R.Olson

Theodore R. Olson, characterized by a spirit of marked enterprise and progressiveness. is proprietor of a five and ten cent store, located at No. 1354 Washington avenue in Racine. His colleagues and contemporaries recognize him as a most wide-awake and progressive business man whose activities are typical of the spirit of the times, and thus it was that he was chosen president of the Junction Business Men’s Association, of which he was one of the organizers. He was born in North Cape, Wisconsin, October 18, 1878, a son of Soren and Sina Olson, both of whom are natives of Aalborg, Denmark, but were married in this country. In early life the father came to the United States and settled at North Cape. While residing on a farm he also carried on blacksmithing. During the infancy of his son, Theodore, he removed to Racine, where he established a smithy which he conducted for many years but retired from active business about five years ago and is now at the age of seventy-eight years enjoying well earned rest which is the merited reward of his former industry and activity. Although now well advanced in years, he is still hale and hearty. His wife is living at the age of sixty-eight years. In their family were eight children: John, deceased; Mary, the wife of Frank Kammerer, of Racine; Martin, a machinist of...

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Biography of Captain William Mitchell Lewis

Captain William Mitchell Lewis has established and promoted in Racine, one of the largest manufacturing enterprises of this character in the United States. The development of the trade in the last few years has been so great as to seem almost magical, but back of this are the well defined and carefully executed plans of Captain Lewis and his associate officers of the Mitchell-Lewis Motor Company. Racine claims him as a native son, for he was here born on the 25th of February, 1869, his parents being William T. and Mary (Mitchell) Lewis. At the usual age he became a public school pupil and afterward entered Yale University at New Haven, Connecticut, where he was graduated on the completion of a law course with the class of 1891. During his college days he was much interested in athletics and played at center on the famous Yale eleven of 1890. With his return to Racine in 1891, Captain Lewis engaged with the Mitchell-Lewis Wagon Company, but all personal and business considerations were put aside at the time of the outbreak of the war with Spain, when he volunteered for service at the front and was commissioned captain of Company F, of the First Wisconsin Infantry. He saw active service under Major General Fitzhugh Lee in the Seventh Army Corps and was’ stationed at Jacksonville, Florida. When he again came to...

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Biography of William Henry Miller

William Henry Miller was born in Racine, on the 2d of November, 1847. and is a son of Moses and Frances Augusta (Durand) Miller, natives of New Jersey and Connecticut, respectively. The father arrived in Wisconsin about 1844 and was a wholesale merchant of Racine for a number of years prior to the building of railroads to this city. His goods were distributed by four-horse peddling wagons to stores all over the southern part of the state. Later in life he engaged in the insurance business. His influence was always on the side of right and improvement and the many sterling traits of character which he displayed won for him the love and esteem of all with whom he was associated. His wife was a sister of Henry S. Durand who came to Racine in the late ’30s and was one of the prominent pioneers here, building the Racine-Mississippi railroad and actively supporting many other projects of worth to the community. It was in the early ’40s that Frances A. Durand arrived in Racine and here she married Moses Miller, who died in Racine in 1868, at the age of fifty-three years. His widow survived him till 1907, when she passed away at the age of seventy-nine, at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. William Henry Miller was the oldest of four children. In 1864, when a youth not yet seventeen and...

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Biography of John Storm

John Storm, who is successfully engaged in farming and dairying on section 28, Norway Township, is a native of Wisconsin, his birth occurring in Milwaukee on the 13th of July, 1857. His parents, Frederick and Christina Storm, were both natives of Germany, the former born in 1816 and the latter in 1836. Coming to the new world in early life, they were married in Milwaukee, where they made their home for a time. When a young man the father cut cordwood during the winter months at twenty-eight cents a cord and during the summer season worked in a brickyard. Subsequently he came to Racine County and purchased land in Norway Township, owning at the time of his death a good farm of one hundred, and twenty acres. His success in life was due entirely to his own unaided efforts and the prosperity that came to him was well deserved. By his ballot he supported the men and measures of the Democratic Party and both he and his wife were consistent members of the German Lutheran church. To them were born seven sons and two daughters, of whom six are still living, namely: John, of this review; Charles, who is employed in a factory in Milwaukee; Henry, who is also working in that city; Christ, who is engaged in farming in Racine County; Joseph, who owns and operates a farm...

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Biography of George Gorton

Prominent among the enterprising, progressive and prosperous business men of Racine is George Gorton, who in 1892 embarked in his present line of business-the manufacture of fine machine tools and engraving machines. The work done in his establishment is of expert character and the excellence of the product insures a ready sale on the market. Mr. Gorton, a native of Racine, was born February 5, 1865, a son of George and Elizabeth (Buffham) Gorton, both of whom were natives of Rochdale, England. The father, who was born in 1825, became a resident of Southport, now Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1845, and the following year removed to Racine, where he continued to reside until his demise. He was a druggist and chemist and conducted the first drug store of this city. He was long identified with commercial interests here and the enterprise which he displayed in the conduct of his interests made him one of Racine’s foremost merchants for many years. His wife was a daughter of William Buffham, a Racine pioneer. Both were consistent members of the Baptist church and in his political views Mr. Gorton was an earnest republican. He died June 14, 1888, while his wife survived for more than a quarter of a century, passing away in April. 1914. Reared in the city in which he still makes his home, George Gorton obtained a public school education...

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Biography of J. W. Trumbull

With the public interests of Racine and the County J. W. Trumbull has been closely associated through his business connections and in other ways. He was born in Caledonia Township, this County, December 1, 1872, a son of John and Emily (Hazelton) Trumbull, who were natives of Mansfield, Connecticut, and of Vermont, respectively. They were married in Racine in 1865. The father was at that time forty-nine years of age, his birth having occurred in 1816. He had come to this County in 1839 when Wisconsin was still under territorial rule. The city of Racine was then but a small village and the district bore little resemblance to the County of today. He took up his abode on sections 7 and 18, Caledonia Township, and there engaged in general farming, contributing much to the agricultural progress of the locality. He was always deeply interested in politics, kept well informed on the questions and issues of the day and voted with the Republican Party. He wrote quite extensively for the press and was a man of broad and liberal education. He died in 1894, his remains are interred in Racine, and his widow, still surviving, occupies the old homestead. In their family were four children: Pearl, deceased; Florence, the wife of F. L. Clugg, living at Marshfield, Wisconsin; J. W.; and Mary, at home. J. W. Trumbull obtained his education...

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Biography of B. H. Meyers

B. H. Meyers, president and treasurer of the B. H. Meyers Company, has the oldest and largest business in monument and tile work in Racine, the steady development of his trade bringing him a substantial income which places him among the representative business men of the city and one whose interests contribute to public prosperity as well as to individual success. He was born in McHenry, Illinois, a son of Theodore and Susan Meyers, both of whom were natives of Germany. After coming to the new world they remained residents of Illinois until called to their final rest. B. H. Meyers was educated in the schools of his native state and came to Racine in 1889 after having previously learned the marble cutter’s trade in Illinois. Here he entered the employ of Mrs. M. A. Paddock, with whom he remained for a year and then became a partner in the business under the firm name of Paddock & Meyers. This relation was maintained until 1904, after which it became the Paddock & Meyers Company. This association was maintained until February 27, 1909, when the business was reorganized under the name of the B. H. Meyers Company, of which he is the president and treasurer, with Katie Meyers as vice president and Matt Starke as secretary. In this connection he is engaged in the monument and tile works, selling to...

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Biography of David H. Flett

David H. Flett, attorney at law, was born at Kirkwell, Scotland, September 12, 1846, and came with his parents to Kenosha County, Wisconsin, in September, 1855. His early education was acquired in the district schools, after which he attended the Racine high school for two terms, and in 1875 he was graduated at the Oberlin (Ohio) College, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts. That same year he was elected superintendent of schools for Kenosha County and held the office until 1877. He was then principle of the high school at Elkhorn, Wisconsin, until 1879, and in 1880 graduated in the law department of the University of Wisconsin, at Madison. From 1880 to 1897 he was engaged in the practice of his profession at Racine, and four years of that time-from 1886 to 1890-was city attorney. In 1897 he was elected municipal judge, which office he held until 1902, when he resumed the practice of law. Judge Flat was a member of the Racine school board in 1896-97; was one of the trustees of the Racine County Insane Asylum from 1909 to 1915; a trustee of the Taylor Orphan Asylum in 1912-13, and is now one of the directors of the Manufacturers National Bank. On September 30, 1882, David H. Flett and Miss Louise Townsend were united in marriage. To this union have been born four daughters, two of...

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Biography of William Dwight Thompson

William Dwight Thompson, senior partner in the firm of Thompson, Meyers & Kearney, engaged in the general practice of law at Racine, was born at Memphis, Tennessee, November 7, 1867, a son of Seymour D. and Lucy Augusta (Jennison) Thompson. The former was born in Northfield Township, Cook County, Illinois, and was a son of Seymour Thompson of New York State, who became an Illinois pioneer. The ancestry on both sides dates back to about 1640, when representatives of both families emigrated from England, and members of both families served in the Revolutionary war. In the early ’50s there occurred a disastrous prairie fire in Illinois, in which Seymour Thompson, Sr., and his son Charles lost their lives, and it was after this that the family removed to Iowa, where they took up government land, their home being near Fayette. While a resident of that state, Seymour D. Thompson enlisted as a private in the Third Iowa Infantry in the Union army and participated at Shiloh and other battles, as well as in the siege of Vicksburg; and at the end of the war was serving with the rank of captain of artillery at Fort Pickering, near Memphis. About February 1, 1865, Seymour D. Thompson married Lucy Augusta Jennison, at Fayette, Iowa, he being home on a furlough at the time. After the war they established their home at...

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Biography of Joseph Miller

Joseph Miller was long numbered among the substantial and valued citizens that Germany furnished to Racine. The consensus of public opinion established his position as one of the foremost citizens here. He early became imbued with the spirit of American enterprise and progress and a laudable ambition prompted his steady progress in business circles. His activities became an important force in Racine’s upbuilding and his record constituted an example well worthy of emulation, showing what could be accomplished through determined and persistent effort intelligently directed. Mr. Miller was born on the 8th of August, 1832, in Niederzer, Rhenish Prussia, his parents being Reiner and Elizabeth (Gramlich) Miller. He enjoyed the educational opportunities offered by the schools in his native country until he reached the age of fifteen, when he came with his parents to the new world, his father having determined to try his fortune on this side of the Atlantic. Accordingly on the 27th of September, 1847, they bade adieu to home and friends and in the latter part of October landed from the sailing vessel Shakespeare at New York. On the 3d of November they left Buffalo on the steamer Saratoga and on the 11th of the same month reached Milwaukee. They went to Racine, attracted by the fact that some of their friends had previously located here, and throughout their remaining days Mr. and Mrs. Reiner...

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Biography of Hon. Charles H. Everett

In the language of the people, Charles H. Everett is a thinker and a worker, and these qualities have made him a leader. Perhaps no man in Wisconsin has exerted a more widely felt and beneficial influence on the agricultural development of the state. He was born in Rock County, Wisconsin, March 22. 1855, a son of Milton Josiah and Mary E. (Ross) Everett, both of whom were natives of New York and have now passed away. They became residents of Wisconsin in 1840 and here the father followed the occupation of farming. C. H. Everett acquired a public school education, attending the high school, and throughout his entire life has been a strident, especially of everything connected with agriculture, yet by no means has his reading been confined to that line, for he is well versed on the vital and significant problems of the age as affecting the sociological, economic and political conditions of the country. He remained upon the farm until 1895 and success attended his efforts. for he studied thoroughly every phase of farm life, the conditions of the soil, the uses of fertilizers, the rotation of crops, the needs of each cereal and the value of each piece of improved machinery that was put upon the market. Naturally he became a leader and he was called upon to lecture in many farmers’ institutes. He was...

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Biography of George W. Miller

The student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the records of Racine’s industrial and commercial development without learning that the Miller family has played an important part in shaping the record along that line. George W. Miller is now treasurer of the J. Miller Company, shoe manufacturers, having one of the important concerns of this kind in the state. He was born in Racine, July 12, 1866, a son of Joseph Miller, founder and promoter of the business, who is mentioned elsewhere in this work. He attended the McMynn Academy after mastering the elementary branches of learning taught in the public schools, and when he entered business circles it was as an employee of his father in the shoe manufacturing business. He displayed thoroughness in mastering the tasks assigned him and year by year, month by month and day by day he added to his store of knowledge concerning the business, both in the manufacturing and the distributing end. At length he was made secretary of the company and is now its treasurer. Mr. Miller was united in marriage to Miss Josephine Thomas, of Racine, and their children are Joseph G., Grover F. and Bernard H. The parents are members of St. Rose Catholic church and Mr. Miller is also connected with the Knights of Columbus and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He is identified with...

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Biography of Sands M. Hart

Sands M. Hart, son of John S. Hart, mentioned elsewhere, was sixty-three years of age at the time of his demise. He was born in Baraboo, Wisconsin, April 15, 1852, and was but a small boy when he came with his parents to Racine, at which time the family home was established upon a farm in the town of Mount Pleasant, on what is now known as the Rapids drive. After attending the district schools and later the public and high schools of Racine he continued his education in the Hillsdale (Mich.) College, from which he was graduated with high honors. He entered business circles in connection with the enterprise of which is father had been one of the founders, going upon the road as traveling representative of the Racine Woolen Mills. He afterward engaged in the wholesale jobbing of woolen goods and when his father, John S. Hart, severed his connection with the Racine Woolen Mills, resigned the offices of treasurer and manager and went to California, Sands M. Hart was elected treasurer and manager of the concern and remained as such until the business was closed out. He soon afterward organized the Racine Woolen Manufacturing Company, manufacturers and jobbers, and was at the head of that business to the time of his death, which occurred December 23, 1915, while he was upon the train en route for...

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Biography of Gus Beecher

Farming interests of Union Grove find a worthy representative in Gus Beecher, who for sixty-five years has been a resident of this section of the state. He was born in Germany. November 27, 1849, a son of John Casper and Rebecca (Lentz) Beecher, both of whom were natives of Germany, in which country they were reared and married. On coming to the United States they settled in Kenosha County in 1851 and the father purchased forty acres of good land. To this he added from time to time until he was the owner of one hundred and twenty acres, which he cleared, developed and improved. There were still a few Indians here at the time of his arrival and the district gave little indication of white settlement, the work of progress and improvement having been scarcely begun. The death of Mr. Beecher occurred in Kenosha and was the occasion of deep and wide-spread regret. He was a member of the Lutheran church and he gave his early political allegiance to the Democratic Party, but subsequently became a stalwart republican. For two or three terms he filled the office of town clerk and for twenty-five years he occupied the position of station agent at Kansasville. He was a well educated man, alive to the interests of the community, and he furthered many movements that have been of value in upbuilding...

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Biography of William J. Harvey

There are few cities which owe their existence to a single manufacturing or industrial enterprise but rather to the aggregation of many business interests. Yet among these there are always some that stand out prominently as most potent factors in the commercial growth and prosperity of the community. Such a place in Racine circles is that occupied by the Harvey Spring Company, of which William J. Harvey is the president and whose well defined efforts have been a most potent force in bringing about the development and consequent success of the concern of which he is now the directing head. He comes from another manufacturing center-the city of Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, where his birth occurred June 11, 1846. His father, Thomas Harvey, was born on the Isle of Guernsey and. was a son of John Harvey, whose birth occurred in Cornwall, England, where he resided until a few years after his marriage, when he removed to Guernsey, there passing away at the age of forty-five years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Guille, came of a family whose members were noted for longevity. She reached the age of ninety-nine years and five months, while one of her daughters attained the remarkable old age of one hundred and eleven years, dying April 4, 1903, while another passed away at the age of ninety years and another...

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