Stratford Lumberjack Days Speech by Gordon Conner

The material on this page is presented free because of the efforts of myself and other volunteers.

The first article is  by Gordon Connor with many many local names of interest, delivered at the Stratford Lumberjack

Days in 1956.

The second article is about War Declared on Germany  - WWI - from the Stratford Journal Lumberjack Days Edition.

The material was given to me by Patti Laessig



It is a great honor for me to be here on this occasion representing the

Connor Lumber & Land Co., and my father, W. D. Connor. You people of

Stratford and your service clubs are to be congratulated upon the fine job

that you have done. I think having this celebration at 65 years of growth

rather than waiting for 75 or 100 years to pass is a very good idea. This

allows many of the "old timers" to enjoy this occasion and also contribute

greatly to the interesting historical recollections.

Stratford and the people from the surrounding territory deserve much

credit for the progress and the new industry that you have developed during

the past 65 years. You have developed your farms into the finest dairyland

in America. My only regret is that W.D. is not here today to see this

thriving but changed community.

At the age of eight years, my father moved from Stratford, Ontario, to

Auburndale, Wis. When he was only 28, we find him president of the R.

Connor Co., operating a sawmill in Auburndale and starting the sawmill and

town here in Stratford. Early company records and payrolls show that the

Stratford mill construction was well underway in November of 1891.

It took great imagination, courage, and foresight to come into the

timber, stumps, rocks, and mud to start the construction of a sawmill and

town. His vigilance and hard work brought about a successful operation,

and records show that by 1892 there was a considerable volume of lumber


Of course, the backbone of any organization or any company and the

success of any enterprise depends on the calibre of the men employed in

that particular organization.

With this in mind, I went back into the company records to Auguest of

1891, and have taken down the names of a number of men who played such an

important part that first year in the founding of Stratford. These men,

for six days a week, worked from "Kin to Kant" cutting out the heavy stand

of timber, room enough for the mill, boarding house, store and later homes

and houses.

Wm. Adams, O.K. Anderson, Mike Baltus, N.M. Berg, Peter Berg, R.

Borchart, John B. Borgeson, George Bower, Jerry Bradley, August Budkey,

Ferdinand Budkey, Wm. Budkey, John Burton, Wm. Cady, Wm. Chrouser, Andrew

Daul, W.C. Dean, M. Derfus, Wentz Dillinger, Joseph Dennee, Geo. Fenrich,

Ignatz Fuhr, Wm. Fulmer, Ed Fulmer, John Haefs, H. Hafenbradle, Chas.

Hanna, John Harrington, Ed Hayes, Frank Hilgart, Ed Hughes, Alex Johnson.

August Junemann, Frank Junemann, Gregor Junemann, Christ Kaiser, Peter

Kaiser, Frank Jatlow, Jr., Ed Kennedy, John Kennedy, J.C. Kieffer, Mark

Kieffer, John Kohl, Joe Koller, Jr., Joe Koller, Sr., Lewie Koller, Nute

Kolstad, August Kroening, Charles Kroening, Ernest Kroening, Fred Kroening,

Peter Krings, Herman Langer, Wm. Lawrie, Albert Leffel, Jacob Lusk, Wm.

Madenwalt, Fred Wews, Jr., Fred Mews, Sr., George O’brian, Ed Palage,

Julius Palaga (Polege), Casper Pankratz, Frank Pankratz, Joe Pankratz.

C.H. Parham, Peter K. Peterson, H. Pfifer, Joe Raab, Albert Radtke, Ed

Radtke, Ernest Radtke, Wm. Radtke, Arne Revling, Alley Rogney, Nute Rogney,

Thomas Rogney, Gilbert Rudi, Fred Schutte, Jr., Fred Schuette, Sr., Fred

Schultz, Albert Seivert, John Sell, Joe Seidl, Arthur Singleback, Sam

Smith, Joseph Sturm, Fred Summerfield, E. Vashow, Andrew Weber, Christ

Weber, Henry Weber, Wm. Weinfurter, Emil Wetterau, Ben Williams.

Many of these men continued with the company on through the winter of

1891-92 and worked in the mill the following spring and summer. The next

company record that I examined started with October 21, 1892.

It was a busy day at the company store. Fred Schuette, the first

customer, purchased two plugs of tobacco, two planes, a brace and a

bit--all for the sum of $2.30. The next customer was William Radtke, who

held his purchases to a minimum in buying half a pound of smoking tobacco

at 12c, seven yards of calico at 7 cents a yard, 3 window panes at 8c

each--for a total purchase of 85c. Henry Weber was in for a larger order,

as well as Ed Laessig. Ernest Radtke and P. Docter Sr. went heavy for

tobacco, each purchasing a pound plug for 50c. H. Soper, who in later years

established his own lumber business at Soperton and Wabeno, purchased 11

yards of calico at 8c per yards. John Kaiser, V. C. and R. A. Chrouser were

in for miscellaneous purchases as well as Andrew Daul and Garrett Hughes.

Fred Schuette returned later in the day to purchase a bottle of pain killer

at a cost of 25c.

W.D. Connor was charged 25c that day for a message to and from

Marshfield, Ed Radtke, John Kaiser, Garrett Hughes and the Chrouser

brothers brought in several pounds of hides which they sold at 3c per lb.,

and Hughes sold 180 pounds of beef at 6c per pound. E. Wetterau sold one

mule for 20c.

Saturday, Oct., 22nd, saw the work on houses No.s 1, 2, and 3 progressing

rapidly. Many of the same customers returned for merchandise in such items

as port at 8c per lb., butter at 18c per lb., eggs at 15c per dozen, cheese

at 12c per lb., crackers 8c per lb., cabbage 5c a head. One of the best

buys that day, I believe, was made by Andrew Kaiser when he purchased a

half a dozen chairs for total sum of $2.50.

J. W. Goetz came in and picked up his washing and had the 50c charged to

his account. A.R. Rusch dropped in to purchase 4-3/4 pounds of butter for

which they charged him 58c. His brother, A.F. Rusch, was also in to

purchase 6 pounds of oatmeal for 25c. The Rusches were later show up in

the sawmill business at Wabeno, Ole K. Olson, Nute Rogney, and Jake

Oettinger were also in for miscellaneous buys as well as E. Kroening,

August Kroening, Fred Ottinger, G. Junemann and Frank Junemann. Andrew

Kaiser came back before closing to purchase a box of cigars at $1.50.

Herman Langer, not to be outdone, dropped in for a half-pound package of

smoking tobacco at 10c.

It being Saturday night, some of the boys thought they should make a

small draw, ranging from Ole Olson’s 50c to $1.00 and $2.00 for Sam Smith,

the Junemann brothers, Nute Rogney and Herman Langer. P. Doctor Jr. got

set for the biggest time of all with a draw of $5.00.

The following week at the store found among other customers, August Gust,

Ed Fulmer and Pete Kaiser who bought a barrel of flour at $4.75 and a

barrel of salt at $1.35. Fred Schuette was back to purchase 25-1/2 yards

of calico at 8c a yard. Joe Kindheimer dropped in towards the end of the

week for a bottle of midicine and Ed Zehlke was in for quite a list of

groceries including 100 pounds of flour for $2.40; a pound of coffee for

25c’ sugar at 6c, and half a pound of smoking tobacco at 12c. John Stangle

and L. Kaiser, along with George Fenrich were in for miscellaneous items

before the Saturday night closing.

In on the usual Saturday night draw were Sam Smith, Fred Schuette, Ole K.

Olson for his 50c, Nute Rogney cut down his draw from last week to 25c; A.

Hogan drew heavy at $5.00 and J.R. Goetz was best of all with a $14.00 draw.

The first part of the following week saw Charlie Daul, Charlie Schultz,

Charlie Schuette and Martin Kurtzweil on the books as new customers, as

well as Henry Hallfrisch.

We are now into the first part of November 1892, with many carloads of

lumber being shipped out of the yard. The price on the lumber ran from

$4.00 to $33.00 per 1,000 feet, and an entire carload was selling from

$80.00 to $170.00, now the price paid for a small tractor load. Board and

keep at the boarding house was 50c a day.

The payroll for the month of October, 1892, was entered the first week in

November. It contained many of the names mentioned as customers of the

store and their wage rates ran from $22.00 per month to $28.00 per month

with a few exceptions, such as Fred Schuette at $42.00 per month. Charles

Lee at $4.50 per day, Frank Scheribel at $3.00 per day, Fred Kroening at

$36.00 per month, and E. O. Cady at $50.00 per month.

Among other newcomers in the month of November was Len Sargent, who,

later in the early 1900s operated a hotel and saloon at Laona.

As we got down into the month of November the number of employees

increased considerably and so did the purchase of coffee and tobacco, both

of which were selling at 25c a lb. Overalls were 85c a pair, and the rent

was from $2.50 to $3.00 a month on the No.s 1 and 2 houses. As winter

approached, the purchase of rubbers increased at $1.40 per pair; leggings

were very popular at 75c a pair; and, as the days grew shorter, the

popularity of the lantern increased and many sales were made at 60c each.

Beans sold at 5c a pound with sugar at 6c.

Several Indians were working for the company, both in the mill and in the

woods and there are many listings of moccasins sold at 90c per pair.

Venison was sold in the store at 10c a pound, and Frank Young, an Indian,

received $1.00 for a venison he delivered that day.

As Thanksgiving neared, Pete Kaiser delivered 125 pounds of turkeys at

9-1/2c per lb. and L. Kaiser delivered 18 pounds of geese at 8c per lb. A

load of wood was delivered readily at 75c per load. Mike O’Connell

outfitted himself for the winter, paying $1.50 for a pair of pants, 70c for

a jacket, and $1.00 for a cap.

In December, 1802, [correct date 1903] houses No.s 4, 5, and 6 started to

take shape, and the middle of December also saw the issuance of "script,"

the lumberman’s currency.

Early that December the names of Mike Baltus, E.L. Rozell, Jerry Bradley,

August Leffel, Herman, August and Rudolph Viegut, F. Guenther, John

Harrington, Wm. Grambo, Joe Kurtzweil, D. Reed, and many others began to

appear on the company’s payrolls as Camp Nos. 1, 2, and 3 got under way for

the winter’s work.

A new January, 1803, [correct date 1903] customer was Frank Curtin. On

that January payroll, Joe Kundinger was drawing $45.00 per month. August

Mews $30.00 per month, Frank Sheribel $78.00 per month. Most of the

sawmill wages were from $24.00 to $26.00 per month. Fred Schuette in Camp

No. 1 was drawing $45. per month; Herman Langer in Camp No. 2 was getting

$50.00 per month. Casper Aschenbrenner appeared on the payroll for the

first time in January, 1803 [correct year 1903], in which month he worked 3

days at $78.00 per month. The highest paid man at the mill was J. C.

Emberson at $91.00 per month.

By March, 1803 [correct year 1903], Fred Dix, John Severin and John Kohl

were regular customers, as were many Indians such as Charlie Pottwein, Jim

Eagle, Pat and Paul Whitefish, Joe Jack, Charlie Sky, Jack Brown, Jim Young

and numerous others. Lena and George Koller were steady store customers,

and on March 17th they purchased a barrel of salt for $1.25, a washboard

for 25c, and a corset for Lena at 50c.

Indicative of the thrift of those days, John Baltus was in for the

purchase of 8 old shoes at a cost of $1.00 and Ed Kennedy bought one old

shoe at 25c on March 18, 1893. W. D. bought a pair of moccasins for 50c

and suspenders, rather high at 50c.

March 1893 was cold, but with an eye to warmer weather ahead, the

icehouse was filled with 4 days of work at a total cost of $5.85.

Through the winter logging seasons the crews in the camps and the mill

were made up predominantely from the surrounding farm area. Oxen and mules

were used for skidding the logs, and many parts of harness, rigging, etc.

were purchased, as these farmers worked with their own oxen and teams,

augmenting their yearly incomes. John Baltus worked at the mill with his

team for $70.00 per month for himself and team. Will Ebbe, later of

Marshfield worked at Camp No. 2, M. Stauber, related to the Marshfield

Staubers, worked at the mill as did Frank Stauber, later of Laona. Mike

Kohlbeck was working in the lumberyard at $26.00 per month.

Many of the farmers delivered their own logs for sale to the company as

well as having lumber sawed for them to be used on their small farms at a

cost of $3.00 per M. John Haas delivered 35,000 feet of logs at $6.00 per


On Tuesday, April 18th, the total winter log production is stated at

2,734,174 feet from the three camps in operation. On our present-day

operations in Michigan we would put in this amount of logs in about three

weeks, but we certainly would like to purchase stumpage at that 1893 price

of $2.50 per thousand.

A little bookkeeping trouble on April 17, 1893, was cleared with the

joyous notation: "To account to balance ledger, last error found this

day....’Hurrah for us.’ In presence of J.J. Martin, C.P. Arnold, J. C.

Kiefer, and J. W. Goetz.

Checks were drawn that month of April to many still well known names:

Dr. K. W. Doege of Marshfield, Louis Laemie of Marshfield, Murray Mfg. Co.

of Wausau, Wausau Steam and Laundry, Carson Pirie, Scott and Co. of

Chicago, Standard Oil Co., Atkins Saw Co. of Chicago, Armour & Co., John

Pritzlaff Hdwe. Co. of Milwaukee, and Goodyear Rubber Co.

May bargains that year showed Frank Curtin buying 4 pieces of underwear

at $1.80, 6 pairs of socks for 25c, and similar sundries for H. L. Klemme

and Len Sargent on May 13. Lots were selling in Stratford at that time for

$10.00 each, with the cost of the construction of the chimneys on houses at

$3.00 each.

Houses No.s 7, 8, and 9 were started in May, 1893, but Casper

Aschenbrenner and Frank Sherbel were still living in Marshfield and walking

home each Saturday night, ten miles down the long railroad tracks, and back

again Sunday nights, ready for the whistle Monday morning.

Through the next years the names of Burkart, Brunner, Ulrich, Schuster,

Oettinger, Sheribel, Warnke, Aschenbrenner, Verch, Lawrie, Drexler, Bartz,

W. F. Goetz, Franzen and of course, the well known Dr. N. S. Wahl all

becameconnected with the successful operation of the company at Stratford.

Interestingly, many of these same names are today found on the operations

of our company at Wausau, Laona and Wakefield. In Michigan, many of the

responsible jobs are held by men who came to that job as I did from

Stratford. I refer to Casper Drexler, Chester Pilarczyk, Louis Verch, and

many others in less responsible postions. The same thing is true of our

Laona operations where many families who had worked for years for the

company came either from Stratford or the surrounding territory. I refer

to the Sturzig, Aschenbrenners, Bohmans, Godins, Baltus’s, Bradles, and

many others.

We give a good deal of credit for the success of our company to these men

and their families. We have always found them to be dependable, hard

working, trustworthy individuals and the Village of Stratford can be proud

of them. And we, in our company, take deep pride that these sons,

grandsons and even great-grandsons of the hardy pioneers continue in the

employ of our company.

Let us contrast those early days with today.

Numerous changes have taken place in the management of timber and forest

lands since our company operated here in Stratford. These transitions have

been brought about by many factors. Perhaps the most important is fire

protection and forest fire fighting equipment; secondly the development of

road systems, fire towers, and the education of the general public to the

importance of forest fire damage. Third, the change over from railroad to

log truck hauling has brought about the networks of roads to formerly

inaccessible areas, that are so important to fire protection.

All of these factors have changed log cutting practices from

clear-cutting to taking; instead, only the larger mature trees from a stand

of virgin timber. In the days of no fire protection, fires were commonly

expected to run wild in the spring and fall months; the primary thought was

to get the timber cut, removed, and sawed into lumber that was needed so

badly in the development of our farms and our cities.

The hunger for farm land coupled with the increase of our population at

that time created a demand for new towns, new buildings, new cities, new

farm lands, all of which demanded a tremendous amount of lumber. The end

result of this thinking was the great number of fine farms that entirely

surround this area.

Gradually, as the timber disappeared, the value of the woodlots left in

Marathon county and other parts of Wisconsin have increased tremendously in


Today, anyone owning a wood-lot considers this acreage as a crop., with

the cutting of the trees on these wood-lots a matter to undertake with

great care and study. To slash down a good growth of small hardwood trees

is like plowing under a good grain crop just before harvest time.

A careful selection and thinning of the poor, deformed trees that can be

removed for hardwood pulp will greatly increase the growth on the remaining

healthy stems. It is surprising to see the amount of growth that will come

to a hardwood stand that is given half a chance. The future income that is

possible from matured sawlogs and veneer logs will be many times the

present market and prices that can be obtained from harvesting good small

hardwoods for pulp. These trees of 6-inches, 8-inches, and 10-inches

diameter will rapidly develop and grow into a much greater cash return to

you wood-lot owners.

A large proportion of the timber left in Wisconsin and Michigan is in the

hands of you wood-lot owners. It can be one of your most profitable crops

if you handle it carefully. The State of Wisconsin has 25 trained ,

experienced foresters available to help you in wood-lot management; our own

company has available foresters. So do many other wood using industries,

who are anxious to assist you in the proper selection and cutting of your


In looking over the old records from 1891 to 1893, dealing with old

cross-cut, the axe, the oxen, the mule, and the sleigh-haul days, I could

not help thinking of the wonderful developments in mechanization which have

transformed our timber industry.

Today, the roads are constructed with bulldozers, and, in many cases,

trees are felled and topped with power saws. Large tractors with arches

behind them are used to skid out four or five large, full-length hardwood

trees on a 1/4 mile skid. Many of these stems are up to 65 feet long.

They are handled in the full length, loaded on to trucks in the full

length, and hauled to a central point where they are carefully measured up

to give us the best possible veneer logs, saw logs, pulp logs, or chemical


The days of the old sleigh hauls are gone. The old lumber camps are a

thing of the past. The old lumberjack has been replaced. In most cases,

with a young married man who lives in town and drives out to his job each

day in one of the latest model cars. These men work with mechanized

equipment, are strong, active, tough individuals who make about as much

from one day’s work as the men made from one month’s work in 1891 to 1893.

Many changes have also taken place in the sawmills and especially in the

handling of the lumber produced. The development of new log and lumber

handling equipment has been almost as remarkable as the development in new

farm machinery. Many of the latest sawmills operate the carriage with no

setter or rider. I don’t know of a single sawmill operating today that has

more than one man on the carriage.

One of the most outstanding accomplishments in the sawmills has been the

reduction of waste; the sawdust from our company mills is now dried and

sifted to various grades that are used for many purposes. The slabs and

edgings are put through a chipper and at our Wakefield mill we now produce

a carload and a half of chips per day, or one ton for each thousand feet of

lumber sawed. These are used largely at the present time in the

manufacture of charcoal and other wood chemical products.

Within a very few years I believe that practically of the hardwood logs

sawed will be peeled and the bark-free chips will be moving to the paper

mills here in Wisconsin.

The balance of the lumber manufacturing refuse is used for the generation

of power int he operations of the saw mill and other manufacturing and

drying facilities.

The demand for kiln dried lumber has greatly increased, and our kilns at

Wakefield alone will dry a fourth of a milling feet in a single charge.

The old long tramways have disappeared and lumber is now handled with

large machines. We are installing at Wakefield this year a machine such as

we have operated at Laona the past several years, which automatically piles

the lumber on stickers ready to go out into the yard or dry kiln.

I wish to invite you to visit our woods and mill operations at Wakefield

and Laona to see the modernization and mechanization that has taken place

in the past several years, also to visit our timber lands that have been

selectively cut and where each tree that is to be cut and removed is marked

and the smaller hardwood is left to grow into merchantable timber.

You perhaps saw in the parade today our load of logs which, of course, is

still the backbone of our production. The Connor Company is still using a

tremendous quantity of logs. In fact, we consume 3 logs per minute each

day on an 8-hour day basis. We employ in our wood operations, sawmills,

flooring plant, furniture plant, veneer plant, and by-products division,

about 700 men. These people live in Wausau, Wakefield and Laona, and in

the surrounding areas. The employment of these people means to us a

payroll of over $10,000 per day. This is quite a contrast with the

combined payrolls of 1893 for both Auburndale and Stratford, where

approximately 300 men were employed with a daily payroll of approximately


I have here with me the old records of the Company, running back to 1891.

We are going to turn these records over to your representative here today

and ask him to have them available for your inspection at your local

library for a few months. Following that, I would like to see them turned

over to the Marathon County Historical Society in Wausau for safe-keeping.

Again I wish to thank you for inviting me to be here today and I hope

that I have given you some information that may be of interest to you. THE

STRATFORD JOURNAL, Thursday, July 19, 1956


Newspapers Bring the News that U.S. Declares War on Germany in World War One

THE STRATFORD JOURNAL, Thursday, June 21, 1956

[Lumberjack Days Edition of the Stratford Journal]

Spring had come early in 1917. It was a warm Saturday morning, April 7.

In the building where Orville Wetterau now has his barber shop, J.J. Kaiser

and his sister, Miss Teresa Kaiser, were sorting the mail. The Marshfield

and Wausau papers brought the news, carried the headlines, "U.S. Declares

War." The action had been taken the previous day and these were the papers

published April 6. Word was spreading from house to house, "U.S. had

declared war on Germany."

It would take some time for us to realize the real meaning of those

headlines. There were mixed emotions. Many had come from Germany and had

loves ones there. Some of the villagers had served in the German army.

But this was our country and if there were those who sympathized with the

Germans cause they were silenced by a great wave of patriotism that

engulfed the country.

Soon the date, June 5, was published for the registration of men from the

ages 21 to 30 for military service. It would be several months before any

of our soldiers would be on foreign soil.

This was a busy summer. The drive for contributions for the Army

Y.M.C.A. began in June and each week the names of the contributors were


Names of purchasers of Liberty Bonds appeared in the local paper. The

first Stratford men received notice to appear before the exemption board in

Wausau in August.

Co. A. Wisconsin National Guard was a Camp Douglas, and then at Waco.

There were letters from the Stratford boys in Waco and Camp Grant published

in the Journal and each week they were read eagerly by all.

With the National Guard gone, a Home Guard was suggested. R. R. Hubbard

had been called to officers’ training camp at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, early

in May, having successfully passed the examinations as a candidate. Two

months later he was rejected as being underweight. He was the ideal man to

organize the local Home Guard; so it was Captain R. R. Hubbard and Lieuts.

J. B. Clark and Frank Lillge.

By the spring of 1918, the ranks were depleted, leaving only a few of the

older men; the rest had enlisted or had been drafted.

The Stratford Concert and Military band dwindled in the same manner.

When the first groups of draftees left, the band was on hand at the depot

to play as part of a fitting farewell. By the next May only five members

of the band were not in the armed forces.

In the midst of all this, Edward Becher moved into his new modern

restaurant, where he was to serve the public and provide a meeting place

for the youth for more than 30 years.


Village Organized in 1910; Frank J. Curtin First Clerk; Census Shows 815


THE STRATFORD JOURNAL, Thursday, June 21, 1956

[Lumberjack Days Edition of the Stratford Journal]

For some time the business men of Stratford had felt that a village

should be organized. It had been nineteen years since the railroad had

come and the first settlers arrived.

Among the first settlers was F.J. Curtin, who had come here in 1892 to

work for the railroad. He had served as depot agent and in 1907 had

organized the Stratford Reporter, which was later to be called the

Stratford Journal.

The boundaries of the new village were laid out in November, 1909, and on

the 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th of November, 1909, F. J. Curtin took the

first census and found the population was 815.

April 11, 1910, the first meeting of the village board was held in the

village hall. W. F. Goetz presided at the meeting and Christian Franzen

was appointed street commissioner. Ordinance number one was relative to

restraining horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and goats from running at large on

the village streets.

Trustees were Jno. Bannach, Chas. Doll, Geo. Davel, Louis Klumb and Phil

Burkart. Chr. Franzen was the assessor and F.J. Curtin was Village clerk

and justice of the peace. Curtin was to continue as clerk until 1939 when

he was defeated by Herbert Bartz. He held the justice position until his

death in 1944.

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