Ancient History of Knapp, Stout Company
We have no mention during the early period under consideration of the personal property at the middle and lower mill. The first mention of such property at the mill is in the mortgage given by Greene to Lockwood January 28, 1841, for this in included "6 pairs of oxen with yokes and chains, and 1 set of blacksmith tools, and also all tools belonging to said mill (called Upper Mill.)".
The next mention of such property is in the estate of William Black who died in 1844. The inventory filed shows: "Saw mill $2,200, Frame house, $250, Log house $200, 6 yoke of oxen, yoke and chains $450, Blacksmith tools $45, Farm and kitchen utensils $20." Total value $3,165.
No inventory appears of record in David Black's estate, and the deeds of Black and his administrator to Mr. Knapp the personal property is mentioned only in general terms, as including all that pertains to said Upper Mill. But it appears that Mr. Knapp paid in all for the property $4,600, an increase of the William Black inventory of $1,435. This sum includes of course in part the accumulations for such time as Mr. Knapp may have accounted for the profits of the business to the estate of Black.
By a rough inventory as of
August 20, 1853 the property at the Upper Mill was put at $7,000. By a
more careful inventory, taken in April 1853, it is shown to be
$78,317.21. To those who knew of the millions shown by later inventory
of this Upper Mill this inventory will be of interest in its details.
For it is given here:
The increase of property from 1846 to 1853 would indicate a prosperous condition of the business in these and the intermediate years. The entries in the books of Black and Knapp for the first three years show an immediate increase of business under the management of Knapp and Wilson. 'By the entry, November 24, 1846, there appears to have been put in the Chippewa River 90,090 feet of logs and 21,000 shingles. In July 1847 is shown under the designation of trip number 2, receipts from the raft $1,555.52 and expenses paid getting the raft to market of $701.22 August 24, 1847 trip number 3 a credit of $1,768.95 and debit against the same $599.59. November 1847, trip 4, $1,220.52, debit $887.79. Three trips were made in 1848 and in June of this year there is a credit from the sales at the lumberyard of $1,165,18. The output for 1849 must have increased greatly or the price of lumber must have advanced the credits for the trips during that year are from two and one-half to three times larger than for 1847.
The number of accounts of workmen for 1846 and 1847 indicate a force of men employed of 20 to 25, and the accounts of payments for logs, lumber and shingles shows a large amount of these commodities to have been gotten out by jobbers. The firm of Brown & Vance (Elisha Brown and Levi Vance) operating on Lambs Creek are frequently credited for lumber and shingles during 1846 and subsequent years up to 1851.
The success of these men (Knapp and Wilson) is in strong contrast with prior failures. The records of Crawford County show that Green quit a bankrupt and that William and David Black were insolvent.
At the time Knapp and Wilson
took charge of the Upper Mill it is related that there came here Jason
Ball and wife, Lorenzo Bullard and wife, and a widow, Mrs. Clare.
Ancient History of Knapp, Stout Company
It appears from the records of Dunn County that lot 1, section 22, in Township 27 north, of range 13 west, whereon the Tainter claim, was in 1867 entered as a homestead by Reuben C. Varney and that he got a patent for the same October 1, 1872.
From the statement of Oliver Gilbert; from an inspection of the accounts of Hurd & Tainter and of Andrew Tainter on the books of Black & Knapp; from the record made by the U.S. surveyors, and from the Tainter's account on the books of Knapp & Tainter during his first seven years on this river is readily outlined. From the fall of 1846 to the summer of 1847 he was at Gilbert's Mill; from the fall of 1847 to June of 1849 he was at Irvine Creek Mill in partnership with Hurd; from June 1849 to August 1850 logging on is own account at Varney Creek, and from August 1850 to August 1853 in partnership with Mr. Knapp at Wilson Creek.
B. Tainter of this city says that his brother, Andrew Tainter, in 1845,
the year before he came onto the Menomonee River, was on the Chippewa at
or above Chippewa Falls.
Township 28 north, range 13 west was subdivided in October 1849, and the surveyor in running the meander line north on the bank of the Red Cedar River in section 26 notes, "Dam 6 feet high." Then going south on the west bank notes of the east side of Wilson Creek, "Shingle Shop," and continues, "to Mill Creek. N W 7 chains to dam on river for logs and rafting purposes. There this is 7 houses and mill owned by Knapp & Black and occupied by William Wilson and workmen."
At Gilbert Creek is given this legend "come to corner of a house near which 5 others belonging to Samuel Gilbert and some and occupied by their families and workmen." "Breast of mill dam is 15 feet high, 50 links south is a sawmill running one upright and two circular saws."
At Irvine Creek we find this statement by the surveyors, "Creek 25 links wide. Hurd's Mill on this creek is a small fixed one saw and very little timber around."
The frame house and log house specified in the inventory of William Black's estate, which are two of the seven houses noted by the surveyor, served later to become, the former store of Knapp, Stout & Company and the later the nucleus of Captain Wilson's cabin. The log house stood near the west bank of Wilson Creek not far to the north of the present Milwaukee railroad tracks. It was build by Captain Wilson to the west, thence around to the south becoming eventually a long succession of additions. The frame house stood where the office building of The Knapp, Stout and Company is now located. Mr. French says tat it was a long building, which was subsequently extended westward to about the same length as the original building. In the new part of the Knapp, Stout and Company, and a small bedroom; here is where Mr. French worked and slept when he first came here.
Mr. French, who came here November 10, 1853, we learn that in front of
the cabin of Captain Wilson there was then the company kitchen. The
north bank of the river has been much dug into since that time so while
the kitchen stood on the bank, it was well out on what is now the north
approach of the bridge. This statement of Mr. French indicates that at
an early day the lower bank of Wilson Creek at the mouth extended much
further south than now, and makes plain Lockwood's statement that in
1830 the millwright "built the mill on the Menomonee River and dug a
canal across a point of land from the small stream to the mill."
The dam across the Menomonee River had been finished in 1852 and on the north end of the dam had been built a sawmill having one upright and one circular saw, with a small gang saw in process of construction. In the store account of Mr. B.B. Downs, dated October 25, 1851, is a credit of $150 for "patterns gang, October 14, 1850." Undoubtedly for this mill, Mr. Downs was a millwright and seems to have begun work at the upper mill in October 1850, and worked there until the spring of 1854.
The houses were frame buildings covered with rough boards. Mr. French's recollection is that aside from the mill, the warehouse and the store, there was not in 1853 more than five other buildings here.
Following up this statement of conditions here in 1853, we may add the statement of Mr. George Gallaway that his father James Gallaway in June 1854, came to the upper mill with his family and that the same week came Mr. A.J. Brunelle, a millwright and family. Among others testifying matter given by Mr. Gallaway is the following" His father and family on Sunday June 25, 1854, went into a new house. This house had been built for Mr. Brunelle who was expected to arrive during the summer. The house stood about half way between the present well and warehouse. One week after the Gallaways moved in, Brunelle and his family came. Both families were obliged to jointly occupy the house for some time, however soon after, Knapp, Stout and Company, built, so Mr. Gallaway states, and this is affirmed by Mr. French, "two rows of houses, three in a row, which stood between the back of the present day warehouse and the stone foundry." That is ground now occupied by the eastern part of the piano factory building.
The coming of the Gallaways and the Brunelles is also evidenced by the accounts at the Upper Mill. On June 26, 1854, James Gallaway is charged a bill of groceries, $12.52 and on July 12, 1854, A.J. Brunelle is charged for one broom, 38 cents, and on July 12, 1 bed cord, 50 cents."
Thomas B. Wilson worked with the government surveyors when they were
surveying the Red Cedar River. It was such service that fitted him to
made subsequent long, fatiguing and solitary cruises on the upper
tributaries of this river, locating pine lands, which afterwards bought
from the state and the United States for the firm of Knapp, Stout and
On July 4, 1846, Mrs. William Wilson came to live in a log house, built, we know not by whom, appraised in the estate of William Black, and selected by William Wilson as his home. At her arrival her step-son, Thomas B. Wilson, saw her take one quick glance at the rough, untidy room, walk to the window that overlooked the stream, bank and camp, and in silence, furtively wipe away the gathering tears. Then she turned and in apparent cheerfulness took up the duties of her home.
This woman, and these men, with other women and men, who were their earliest associates at these mills, have passed away, and the forest that once encompassed their homes has passed away also.
They were God's patients, but industrious poor. By reason of their lives we, who have followed after them, have been made richer, in comfort like unto Dives, not poorer, scrambling as Lazarus for falling crumbs.
Transcription by: Timm Severud, Winter Wisconsin
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This page last updated: 02 April 2003 09:44 PM -0500