Fish Brothers
From the Racine Walking Tour Guide published 1994.


"Fish Brothers Wagon Company makes the best wagon on wheels," boasted the company trademark, a paper fish used as its logo. On workdays one hundred years ago, it was a common sight to see "strings of freshly painted wagons being hauled through the streets on their way to steamboat docks or railroad freight yards, headed for Mexico, South America, and Australia, to be used a livery, milk, lumber, and police well as phaetons, trotting buggies, road and spring wagons of every description."

The wagons were turned out at a rate of one every half hour, or five hundred per month. There was the "No. 180," a one-and-a-half-axle phaeton with a red body and blue wheels, often used to illustrate Fish Brothers ads. Buggies costing $210 and surreys costing $375 were handmade by workers who earned $1.25 to $1.75 an hour for shaping bar iron into tires, and making cushions, tops, and covered dashboards. Located on the south side of State Street (the present site of Merchantís Delivery), the Fish Wagon Works encompassed ten acres. Sheds for drying, curing, and storing the hardwood lumber which arrived at the companyís wharf and docks sat alongside offices and shops.

Titus G. (1833-1899, Abner C. (1835-1899), and Edwin B. (1840-1924) Fish were nephews of industrialist J. I. Case. They grew up in Janesville (Wisconsin). At the age of 21, Abner walked to Racine to attend Racine High School. He became a teacher, then a lawyer in Boston. In 1864 he returned to Racine to join his brothers. Together, they bought out Daniel Bullís interest in Fish and Bull and, in 1866, changed the name to Fish Brothers.

Industries such as the Fish Brothers Wagon Company and the Mitchell Wagon Works were just two of many local concerns in need of skilled trades and crafts people. That need prompted the immigration of countless Danes and Germans and other skilled artisans to this area.

Submitted by Deborah Crowell