Brief History of Mosinee, and the Priest, Gardner, Robbins and Young familes

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The City of Mosinee was first called Little Bull Falls. The surrounding area was a dense forest inhabited by an abundance of wild animals. The untamed Wisconsin River, with its large rocks and boulders, went roaring and swirling past. The banks were barely able to hold back the raging water.

Little Bull Falls became Mosinee on July 22, 1857, when the post office was officially designated. Soon more people came bringing new ideas. Openings appeared in the dense forest. Farms were started, buildings grew, and churches were built.

Mosinee's first business was a sawmill started in 1836. Soon after, businesses such as a boarding house grocery store, a shoe shop, a saloon, a tannery, a grist mill, and a blacksmith shop opened. Lumber was an important business at that time. Large rafts called cribs were floated down the wild Wisconsin River. Sometimes as many as ten men a year lost their lives working the rafts.

After coming to Marathon County, Henry B. GARDNER (1832-1864) worked in the pineries and at lumbering and logging, was for some years engaged in shingle manufacturing, and for several years conducted a hotel called the "Prairie House," about four miles north of Mosinee on the Wausau and Stevens Point Road.

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Henry B. GARDNER married Ellen R. PRIEST, daughter of Orin and Mary PRIEST and had three sons:

Charles A. GARDNER (1857-1907) in Mosinee, Marathon County, WI d, 18 Jan 1907 in a logging or lumber accident. He married Effie Pauline LOCKE, daughter of Alfred Jay LOCKE and Sarah Pauline MANNING and their son Raymond Locke GARDNER (1895-1961) was born in Mosinee.

Fernando George GARDNER, born about 1859

Alonzo Henry GARDNER, born about 1863

Henry B. GARDNER enlisted in the Thirty-eight Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in 1863 and died in the Civil War battle near Petersburg, Virginia in 1864.

Mosinee's first constable was elected in 1889. The first high school began in 1902. A bank was built in 1905. A volunteer fire department was formed, also. Walking was the most common mode of travel. Alternatives would be to hire a man, a team of horses, and a lumber wagon at the speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour or you could catch a ride on the mail wagon. Finally a platform spring wagon was put into service until the Concord (stage) Coach, drawn by four horses came into the scene.

In 1875, the railroad was put past Mosinee to Wausau and train service called the " The Iron Horse" began.Three steamboat enterprises were started between Mosinee and Stevens Point but all failed to make a profit and shut down operations.

Charles A. GARDNER was educated in the public schools of Mosinee, Marathon Co., WI. He was a prominent merchant of Mosinee, Marathon Co., and senior member of the firm of C. GARDNER & Co. Charles A. GARDNER engaged in lumbering and agricultural pursuits until July 1887. In May 1887, Mr. GARDNER, in conjunction with his brothers George F. (or Fernando George) and Henry A. (or Alonzo Henry) embarked in mercantile pursuits. In 1890 George F. and Henry A. retired from the business and Charles A. GARDNER formed a co-partnership with Louis DESSERT and Frank McREYNOLDS, under the present firm name of C. GARDNER & Co.

"Early and Late Mosinee" by Edgar E. Ladu, published ___ page 22 mentioned "the splendid palace now owned and controlled by C. A. Gardner stands, and was known as the Whitelaw house."

Page 73: "In the year 1883 Robert Freeman entered into partnership with Frank Fellows of Mosinee, under the firm name of Fellows & Freeman, for the purpose of engaging in the lumber manufacturing industry. They built a sawmill on four mile creek, six miles north of Mosinee, where they owned quite an extensive tract of fine timber lands. They operated this mill with success for about fourteen years. Then they sold out the sawmill property to the Gardner Brothers." "....the lumber mill of Charles A. GARDNER and his two brothers was situated about six miles from Mosinee."

Early and Late Mosinee" by Edgar E. LaDu continued. Page 185: Third street is one of the long streets, reaching as it does from Buchanan to Fremont street and the picnic grounds. We find on this street twenty-eight private residences. The most conspicuous is the large modern residence of Mr. Louis Dessert, one of the stockholders and manager of the Joseph Dessert Lumber Company, and also a member of the Mosinee, Land, Log & Timber Company. This company operates a sawmill seven miles north of the village. Mr. Dessert is also president of the village of Mosinee, a position that is of great responsibility and influence. Mr. Frank McReynolds, another member of the company, has his beautiful up-to-date dwelling on this street."

". . .Fourth street has forty private residences. It is the most populous street of the village. There is no very noticeable structure with the exception of the late deceased C. A. Gardner, which is certainly a beautiful home. All the dwellings on this street are neat and tidy."

Page 194: "We will now go back to Main street and take a look at the C.O.D. store of David Doherty, successor to the late deceased C. A. Gardner."

Page 218: The biography of Arden Paronto includes: "In 1900 he came to Mosinee and accepted a position as salesman for Mr. C. A. Gardner in his mercantile establishment. He remained with Mr. Gardner for two years, and then concluded to start in business for himself."

Politically Mr. GARDNER is a stanch Republican and he served as President of the village of Mosinee one term; socially he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. He is a live, progressive business man, enjoys the esteem not only of the residents of Mosinee, but of all who are acquainted with him, and his high character and genial qualities have made him generally popular.

"Early and Late Mosinee" by Edgar E. LaDu, pages 75-76.

"O. E. and O. A. Priest

"Orin Elliot Priest came to Wisconsin and settled in the township of Mosinee in 1853. He moved from Cattaraugus county, New York. He was located there on the Indian reservation on the Allegheny river, two miles up the river from the mouth of Little Valley Creek, where it empties into the river. The mills that he owned and operated there were known as the Hemlock Mills. Their location was on the south bank of the river, not far from the east end of the city of Salamanca, which city at that date was not in existence.

He bought land and erected his dwelling about four miles north of Mosinee, on the southline road. He followed his trade of millwright for a term of years. In 1867 he lost his wife and he took up his residence with his daughter Mrs. Ellen R. Gardner, wife of Henry B. GARDNER. With her he made his home until his death, which occurred in September, 1889.

"Orin Alonzo Priest the son of Orin E. Priest was born December 13th, 1835 in Cattaraugus county, New York. He came to Mosinee in 1854, one year after his parents, and on April 29, 1857 was united in marriage to Miss Julia A. Robbins of Mosinee. To them have been born five children; Harvey A. born Feb. 6th, 1858, Oscar E. born March 11, 1861, Ester E. born April 26, 1866, Anna M. born July 26th, 1871, Mary E. born Oct. 26th, 1876.

"Mr. Priest on July 16th, 1861 enlisted in the army and was mustered out June 7th, 1865. As a veteran, having served his country nearly four years, he was engaged in several hard fought battles and was in the battle of Gettysburg. He was one of the Iron brigade under the command of the famous General Bragg. On his release from the army he returned to his home in the town of Mosinee where he still continues to reside. His long term of service and the exposure and hardships of a soldier's life in the line of duty were so wearing upon the constitution that he has suffered more or less from the time of his discharge and has with great difficulty been able to manage his business successfully. He is one of the old landmarks of Mosinee township of old times and is known throughout its extent. He is a thorough, rather radical, republican in politics, is a good talker and believes what he advocates. The family religiously lean towards the Methodist Episcopal persuasion."

Pages 121-122: Listed among the other Civil War soldiers from Mosinee are:

O. A. Priest

Henry B. Gardner

Joseph Robbins - (Father of Julie Robbins Priest)

King Young - (Brother-in-law of Julie Robbins Priest)