Collection: Racine County Wisconsin History

Biography of Elmer E. Gittins

Elmer E. Gittins, a member of the Racine bar, who has been actively engaged in practice in this city since 1898, was born in Caledonia Township, Racine County, August 31, 1869, a son of Ellis and Jane (Gittins) Gittins, both of whom were natives of Wales. The paternal grandfather, William Gittins, left that little rock-ribbed country to become a resident of America and first established his home in New York but afterward removed to Racine County, Wisconsin, where in 1845 he purchased a farm, spending his remaining days thereon. His son, Ellis Gittins, was reared to agricultural life and always continued to devote his attention to the work of the fields. After attaining manhood he began farming on his own account and was thus engaged to the time of his death, which occurred in 1883. His widow still survives at the venerable age of ninety years and enjoys remarkable health and vigor. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now Elmer E. Gittins obtained a public school education...

Read More

Biography of John Martin

John Martin, a retired farmer, living in Union Grove, holds title to two hundred and sixty acres of good land in the County and is also financially interested in The Greenhouse and in the Union Grove Milling Company. A native of Cornwall, England, he was born on the 11th of August, 1849, of the marriage of Joseph and Amy (Tucker) Martin, also natives of that country, where the father engaged in farming. In their family were four children, of whom two survive, John and Joseph, the latter farming in Connecticut. The parents were communicants of the Episcopal Church and were actively interested in its work. Both grandfathers of our subject, John Martin and Robert Tucker, passed their entire lives in England. John Martin of this review received a good education in England and remained there until 1868, when he crossed the Atlantic to the United States. In September he located at Union Grove, Racine County, Wisconsin, and began working as a farm hand for an uncle. Subsequently he rented land for a time and later purchased a tract of land to which he added as he could. He now owns two hundred and sixty acres, all of which is well improved and in a high state of cultivation. He raised the usual crops and also engaged in dairying to a considerable extent, beginning to ship milk to Chicago at...

Read More

Biography of Sinclair M. Driver

Sinclair M. Driver, president of the T. Driver & Sons Manufacturing Company. is closely associated with the industrial interests of Racine. He has long been connected with the business and his enterprise has been a dominant factor in its successful control in late years. Mr. Driver was born in Racine. Wisconsin. June 8, 1856. a son of Thomas and Marian (Mainland) Driver, who, in 1854, came to Racine -from the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Making his way to this city he entered the employ of Lucas Bradley, with whom he remained for several years, and then in 1867 purchased the business, which had been established more than two decades before and which was then located at the corner of Sixth and Campbell streets. He continued at the head of the business throughout his remaining days, engaging in the manufacture of sash, doors and woodenware. As the years went on he admitted his sons to a partnership and the brothers were associated in the conduct of the enterprise for a considerable period. One of his first jobs in the field of building operations was on the Presbyterian Church. He and his wife were long consistent members of the congregation that worshiped in that church and their lives were guided by the highest principles. Mr. Driver died in Racine, July 11, 1899, and his wife, January 17, 1912. Reared in his...

Read More

Biography of Arthur William Simonson

Arthur William Simonson, president of The Wisconsin Agriculturist, published at Racine, succeeds to a business already established and one in which he has the inspirational example of a distinguished and honored father. His training was received under his father’s direction and the course which he is pursuing fully sustains the reputation which has long been associated with the family name in journalistic circles of the state. He was born in Racine. August 15, 1887, his parents being Andrew and Annie (Porter) Simonson, of who mention is made elsewhere in this volume. The Simonsons have been residents of Racine since 1869, when the paternal grandparents arrived with their family. In the public schools Arthur W. Simonson began his education, which was continued through successive grades until he became a student in Racine College, afterward spending two years in the University of Wisconsin. He was early trained in the field of journalism and upon the death of his father became manager of The Wisconsin Agriculturist, a paper the value of which has been demonstrated in its increased patronage. As manager he has adopted the most modern ideas of newspaper publication in relation to the interests of the farming class. In February, 1914, he was elected president of the company and now largely controls the destinies of the paper, which is proving a vital force in putting before the farming community facts...

Read More

Biography of T. D. W. Manchester

There are few more highly esteemed men in Union Grove than T. D. W. Manchester, who for many years engaged in the practice of law here but is now living retired. He has also been quite prominent in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is further entitled to recognition as a veteran of the Civil war. He was born in Cayuga County, New York, on the 18th of October, 1840, of the marriage of James T. and Lucy A. (Thornton) Manchester. The family has been represented upon the American soil since early colonial days, as one Thomas Manchester is known to have been a resident of Plymouth Colony in 1639. The line of descent comes down to T. I). W. Manchester, who is the eighth generation born in this country, through Elias Manchester, a soldier of the Revolutionary war. He was wounded at the battle of Saratoga and when seventy-four years of age was pensioned by the government for his services when at the front. He had fifteen children, of whom his son Elias was the father of James T. Manchester. The last named was born in Cayuga County, New York, in 1815 and in 1844 removed to Cleveland, Ohio, whence two years later he came, with his family to Racine County, Wisconsin. He dealt in grain in the city of Racine for many years and built up...

Read More

Biography of Harry W. Apple

One of the most prosperous and substantial citizens of Norway Township is Harry W. Apple, whose home is on section 26. He has been a lifelong resident of that Township, where his birth occurred June 29. 1875. His parents, Adam and Dorothy (Eckels) Apple, were natives of Germany, the former born in 1839 and the latter in 1849. They were married, however, in Norway Township, this County, and continued to make their home here throughout the remainder of their lives, the father dying in April, 1907, and the mother in February, 1913. In 1849 the father went to California and after his return from the Pacific coast, in the ’50s, came to Racine County. He purchased a farm of one hundred acres in Norway Township, and as time passed and he prospered in his undertakings he added to his property from time to time until he had three hundred and forty acres. He was very successful in all his undertakings and became one of the wealthiest men of his community. He was quite prominent in public affairs and was called upon to fill all of the town offices, serving as chairman for a number of terms. He was state representative for twelve or fourteen years and state senator for two terms. His political support was given the Democratic Party and he was an honored member of the Masonic fraternity....

Read More

Biography of John M. Scott

The name of John M. Scott appears on the list of the successful business Wren of Racine. He possesses inventive genius that has made valuable contributions to the world and, moreover, he has the executive ability that enables him to place his inventions upon the market at a profitable figure. Racine County is proud to number him among her native sons. His birth occurred in Raymond Township on the 17th of January, 1844, his parents being Elias and Hannah Scott, natives of New York. ‘Wisconsin was still under territorial rule when they removed westward, establishing their home in Racine County, having made the journey by steamer from Buffalo. Only here and there had a claim been entered from the government and there were still many traces of Indian occupancy in this section of the country, showing that the white race was even then establishing its supremacy in the middle west. The father secured land and converted a wild tract into productive fields, becoming a successful farmer. He has now passed away, but the mother is still living at the notable old age of one hundred years, her birth having occurred in October. 1816. John M. Scott acquired a public school education and was reared to the occupation of fanning, which he continuously followed until 1862, when, at the age of eighteen, be put aside business and personal considerations and...

Read More

Biographical Sketch of George B. Wilson

George B. Wilson, who has been actively associated with important business interests of Racine, was born in Boston. Massachusetts, in 1871, and. spending the first twenty-five years of his life in his native city, was accorded liberal educational privileges. He prepared for college at the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, the oldest public school in America, and received the degree A. B. cum laude from Harvard University with the class of 1894. He then spent some time in the Harvard Graduate School in preparation for the profession of mining engineer and was afterward for many years actively engaged in the west and in Mexico in mine examination work and as manager of several important gold and copper properties owned by Boston mining interests. In 1910 he came to Racine and entered into active connection with the Mitchell-Lewis Motor Company as a director and vice president and later was president and general manager of the Racine Rubber Company. In 1908 Mr. Wilson was united in marriage to Miss Helen Tumor Lewis, a daughter of William Tumor Lewis, deceased, who was one of Racine’s distinguished citizens and is mentioned elsewhere in this volume. In his political views Mr. Wilson is a republican. He is a Mason. a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the Harvard Club of Boston. and various other societies, while his religious faith is evidenced...

Read More

Biography of Morris Carl Matsen

Morris Carl Matsen is operating a wood and coal business, with moving and storage as a department of his undertaking. His patronage has grown steadily and today his is one of the important enterprises of this character in Racine. Diligence and determination have been the crowning points in the career of Mr. Matsen and success has been the legitimate result of his industry. He was born in Jutland. Denmark, on the 17th of August. 1881, a son of Peter and Anna M. (Scriber) Matsen, who were born, reared and married in Denmark and came to the United States in 1897, establishing their home in Racine, where the father died in 1906. The youthful days of Morris C. Matsen were spent under the parental roof and his education was acquired in the common schools of his native land. He came to the United States in 1898, when a young man of seventeen years, and established his home in Racine, where he learned the moulder’s trade. This he followed until he embarked in business on his own account about thirteen years ago, becoming a dealer in fuel. He handles both wood and coal and he also does moving, while later he added a storage department to his business. He started in business in partnership with his brother and from the beginning their patronage has steadily increased. They now have two offices...

Read More

Biography of Andrew Simonson

Lowell said, “An institution is but the lengthened shadow of a man;” it must perforce partake of his character, his purpose and his principles and becomes the expression of his effort and his ideals. It is not a matter of marvel, therefore, that The Wisconsin Agriculturist has been a most successful farmers’ journal, accomplishing far reaching results for the benefit of the agricultural community, for back of that paper were the ideals and determined energy of Andrew Simonson, a man whose rare virtues and lovable character endeared him to the entire circle of his acquaintance. Andrew Simonson was a native of Porsgrund, Norway, where his birth occurred on the 9th of August, 1861. He was eight years of age when his parents brought their family to the new world, arriving in Racine in 1869. He here became a public school pupil but very early had to take up the task of providing for his own support and that of other members of the family, owing to the father’s death. He secured a situation in a dry goods store, where his diligence and fidelity won him rapid promotion, with increased responsibilities but also with broadening experience and a wider outlook. After several years spent in connection with the dry goods trade he became identified with S. Freeman & Sons Manufacturing Company and it was a step toward his later activity...

Read More

Biography of Peter T. Stoffel

Peter T. Stoffel, who for thirty years has been engaged in the dry goods trade in Racine, has contributed in large measure to the substantial growth of the business, which is among the foremost enterprises of this character in the city. His course at all times measures up to high commercial standards and he follows the most modern methods of merchandising, the salient features of his success being unremitting enterprise, judicious advertising and honorable dealing. Mr. Stoffel was born in Racine, July 8, 1864. a son of Nicholas J. and Juliana Maria (Schmidt) Stoffel, both of whom were natives of Germany, the former of Neierkirch and the latter of Leidneck, Castellaun, in the district of Koblenz along the Rhine. In that country they remained until their marriage, and then, thinking to enjoy better opportunities in the new world, they came to the United States in 1851 and settled in Racine. The father was a cooper by trade and for a time carried on business on his own account, but later was connected with the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company for thirty-five years. Both he and his wife have now passed away. Peter T. Stoffel attended a parochial school conducted under the auspices of St. John’s Lutheran church and afterward became a public school pupil. He made his initial step in the business world as an employee of the...

Read More

Biography of Simon M. Reinardy

Simon M. Reinardy, an enterprising druggist of Burlington, not only occupies an enviable position in business circles but has also displayed marked public spirit in his devotion to the general good and has been called upon to fill many positions of honor and trust by his fellow townsmen who recognize his worth and ability. He was born in Chicago, November 18, 1868, a son of Peter and Margaret (Bohr) Reinardy, both of whom were natives of Germany. The paternal grandfather always remained in that country, but the maternal grandfather came to America in early manhood, bringing with him his family. This was in the late ’40s and he located in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Peter Reinardy crossed the Atlantic when a young man and established his home at Brighton, Wisconsin, where he worked at the trade of sign painting, which he had previously learned in his native country. Following the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted as a member of Company M, Illinois Heavy Artillery, and served throughout the period of hostilities, making an excellent record in his devotion to the country’s need. He still survives and now makes his home in Milwaukee. Simon M. Reinardy is the eldest of a family of seven children. He spent his school days in Chicago and completed his education as a student in the pharmacy department of the Northwestern University at Evanston. Prior...

Read More

Biography of Jerome I. Case

Jerome I. Case, a representative of the Case family, needs no introduction to the readers of this volume. No name figures more conspicuously on the pages of Racine’s history. The great manufacturing enterprises conducted by the family have been the chief source of material development, and consequent prosperity of this section of the state. Into this heritage came Jerome I. Case and he has made it the purpose and aim of his life to uphold the high reputation of the family in its business connections. He was born May 6, 1887, a. grandson of Jerome I. Case, founder and promoter of the great manufacturing interests still maintained by the family, and a. son of Jackson I Case. Exceptional educational advantages were accorded Jackson I. Case, so that he was well prepared to meet the responsibilities and obligations that devolved upon him in carrying on the business interests instituted by his father. He supplemented his high school training by study in the Racine Academy and in the Michigan Military Academy and then entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. In 1883 he accepted the position of bookkeeper with the Fish Brothers Wagon Company, with which he remained for almost two years, and for some time afterward he served as secretary to his father. As the years passed he became interested in many enterprises. He was president and a member...

Read More

Biography of Ezra R. Burgess

Ezra R. Burgess, a member of the Racine bar, practicing as a partner in the law firm of Gittins & Burgess, was born in Mount Pleasant Township, this County. September 13, 1873, and is a representative of an early New England family. His grandfather was Benajer Burgess, of Vermont, who in early manhood removed from the Green Mountain state to New York. After residing there for some time he arrived in Southport, Wisconsin, in 1836, and there operated a sawmill on Pike Creek but was not permitted to enjoy his new home, his death occurring soon afterward. His son, Alonzo Burgess, was born in Bennington, Vermont, and accompanied his parents on their removal to the Empire state. Following the arrival of the family in the west he engaged in the brick manufacturing business in Kenosha and afterward located on a farm in Kenosha County. At a subsequent date he removed to Mount Pleasant Township, Racine County, where for a number of years he successfully carried on general agricultural pursuits, but in 1880 retired from active, business life and removed to Racine, where he spent his remaining days in the enjoyment of a rest which he had truly earned and richly deserved. In early manhood he wedded Mary A. Buswell, a native of New Hampshire and a daughter of Ezra Buswell, of the Old Granite state, who in the spring...

Read More

Biography of P. H. Adland

An excellent farm property of one hundred and eighty-five acres, splendidly improved, pays tribute to P. H. Adland, who is the owner thereof. For many years he was actively engaged in agricultural pursuits but is now largely living retired, receiving an excellent income from his holdings. His parents were Thomas and Julia (Nelson) Adland, both of whom were natives of Norway. The father was born near Bergen, August 12, 1831, a son of Mons K. and Ellen (Thompson) Adland. Mons K. Adland was born and reared in Bergen, where he obtained a public school education, and although he became familiar with agricultural pursuits in early manhood, he afterward turned his attention to the fishing industry as owner of a fishing vessel. In 1837 he brought his family to the United States and from New York traveled by way of the Lakes to Chicago and later joined a colony in Iroquois County, Illinois. The family suffered from fever and ague during their two years’ residence there and Mr. Adland then removed by team to Racine County, Wisconsin, settling on a farm on section 30, Raymond Township. He purchased one hundred and sixty acres of government land and at once began its cultivation, the family living in a log cabin for several years. He prospered as time passed on and, adding to his holdings, became the owner of between five and...

Read More


Subscribe to AccessGenealogy

Enter your email address to subscribe to AccessGenealogy and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,866 other subscribers

It takes a Village to grow a Family Tree!

It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Recent Comments

Pin It on Pinterest