Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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EARLY DAYS IN THE LUMBER BUSINESS

Pages 64 & 65

Page 62 & 63

Page 66 & 67

( Rita's notes) This photo was taken during the closing process of the Holt Lumber Company in 1938, as the last logs were cut. It was during the Great Depression of the 1930's and represented a sad occasion and a serious economic downturn for the people posing in the shot. The tall cone shaped object at the rear, center, of this picture was an old sawdust burner, used in the 1800's to burn, day and night, what was then considered a waste product. Later, sawdust became an important by-product used in the production of paper, cardboard, and pressed board for building. 
The Holt Lumber Co., of Oconto, Wis., after 91 years of business during which the active management of the Company has been continuously in the hands of the founder, the late D.R. Holt, and his sons, took the initial step toward complete retirement from the lumber manufacturing industry early in November. For several months preceding that time final cuts were being made in various sections of the concern's large tracts. The last tree was cut and skidded out of the woods, and the final carload of logs to be taken to the old sawmill at Oconto was delivered on November 14, 1938. When the last lumber emerged from the mill to be piled with some 27,000,000 feet of finished lumber in the yard, the company's long and honorable woodland and sawmill Career became a closed chapter. All that remains is to dispose of physical assets and sell the large stock of lumber. 

With the same absence of ostentation which has characterized its activities throughout three-quarters of a century of producing quality lumber, the company's operations were concluded very simply by W. A. Holt who blew the whistle at 3:50 P. M., November 15th, drawing the final curtains on an important episode in the romantic and stirring pageant of logging in northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan. The Holt Lumber Co., and the men who have guided its destinies have been prominent factors in the industrial and commercial development of much of the middle west since settlers began to arrive in large numbers. This fact with the added fact that the company's history is an excellent illustration of progressive and constructive American industry makes appropriate a brief presentation of its record and the biographies of its leaders. 

DeVillo R. Holt, the founder of the business, was of English lineage, and was a native of Watertown, N. Y. He was first heard of in the middle west as a young man in the employ of the American Fur Company on Mackinac Island. In 1847 he went to Chicago and established a wholesale and retail lumber yard, near the Randolph Street bridge over the Chicago River. About 1854, D. R. Holt, with Richard Mason, began the manufacture of lumber at Masonville, Mich. on Little Bay de Noquet, under the name of Holt & Mason. The concern shipped its products to the Chicago yard by lake boat. At that time all lumber from the north was delivered to Chicago in boats. Issac Stephenson, who later became one of the country's most prominent lumbermen, had just come west, and his first job in that part of the country was superintendent of logging for Holt & Mason. Some time in 1857 the firm of Holt & Mason was dissolved,  D.  R.  Holt  taking  over  the  vessels  and  keeping  the  Chicago  yard. 

Sixty-five 

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