Obit: Bright, Halbert A. (1835 - 1913)

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----Source: GREENWOOD GLEANER (Greenwood, Wis.) 01/09/1913

Bright, Halbert A. (12 OCT 1835 - 2 JAN 1913)

Halbert A Bright died at his home in this city (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.), at 6 o’clock, Thursday morning, Jan. 2nd, 1913, of cancer of the stomach, after a long and painful illness. While it was known by his family and friends that his condition was very serious from the time he underwent an operation, his remarkable will power had kept him up until a day or so before his death. He was then compelled to take to his bed, and during the last twenty four hours he failed very rapidly, suffering greatly.

Mr. Bright’s illness dated from nearly a year ago. Last March he experienced some trouble of a stomatic nature, which at the time was diagnosed as indigestion. The medicine of the physicians failed to give more than temporary relief, and along in the summer he was compelled to forego some of his usual activity in consequence of a lessening of his strength. It was not until late in September, however, that he commenced to recognize that he was suffering from something more than a minor malady, and finally he went with his home physician to the Mayo Hospital at Rochester, Minn., to consult the eminent surgeon there. They quickly saw that the only possible hope was in a surgical operation, and even in that they could give no guarantee of permanent relief. On his birthday, Oct. 12, weakened by lack of nourishment on account of the impossibility of retaining food, but with that same vim and determination which characterized his life, he bravely walked to the operating table and announced his readiness for the operation.

Though skillfully performed, the operation was only partially successful. Mr. Bright continued in the care of the physicians there a couple of weeks, and then on Nov. 3rd, accompanied by his wife, his son, B.H., and his daughter, Mrs. Edna West, he was brought back to his old home.

He was hopeful and of good cheer, and surrounded by his family and in the midst of his friends, he passed the long days of illness with the wish that his strength might return to him and that he might eventually resume the activity of his business life, which had been his pleasure as well as his occupation since his youth. Given every care, at home with his loved ones, and relaxing for the time from the cares of his business matters, he seemed to gain for a time. He became able to ride out in an automobile, and to walk about his premises. He received his friends and enjoyed with them the recounting of the incidents and adventures of the life of years ago. But for the pains of his illness his last days were of peaceful sociability with the people and friends among whom he had lived so many years and of enjoyment of the warm devotion of his family. Until the last he evinced no fear of death, nor did he indicate any lessening of his determination to surmount his illness with the same persistency with which he had overcome the obstacles of a lifetime.

The news of his death came as a shock to many of our people who had not known of the sudden change for worse which had taken place, and who were hoping against hope that he might recover his health and continue to be among us. For more than half a century he had been a active, prominent figure in the life of the community and it seemed almost impossible to realize that his long career had been brought to a close.

Halbert A Bright was born near Halifax, in Nova Scotia, on Oct. 12, 1835, and his age at the time of his death was 77 years, 2 months and 21 days. He came of a rugged family, people of sturdy strength of mind and body, who have been the successful pioneers in all the walks of life. One brother, Simon Bright of Minnesota, still survives at the age of 91. At the age of six years he came with his parents to Wisconsin. They first came to Milwaukee, then but a straggling village of a few hundred people, and thence made their way to Washington Co. near Hartford, which was then attracting immigration because of its agricultural resources. In that vicinity Mr. Bright grew to manhood, building a powerful physique and training in his mind by youthful experience for the part he was to take in the affairs of life in a distant portion of the same state.

In 1856 he came to the Black River Valley. He was then 21 years of age, stood six feet in height and of powerful build. In mind and body he was fitted for the bold, adventurous and arduous life of those engaged in the lumber industry, practically the only industry in this section at that time. At that time one of the big daggers and mill men was Andrew Sheppard, who owned a mill at Boomville, near the present Charter Oak Mills. Mr. Bright entered his employ, and in only brief time was advanced in authority until ultimately he was superintendent of Sheppard’s business.

He continued with Sheppard for several years, until growth in his experience and capital caused him to engage in business on his own account. Among his first associates in such enterprises at various times were E.L. Brockway, Jet Olson and John Forbes, well known loggers of that period. These enterprises were carried on with varied success and Mr. Bright laid the foundation of his later extensive business. About the close of the Civil War he opened a hotel near the site of the residence now standing, and he conducted it for a number of years. The Brockway Bridge was then the only one on Black River, and serving all the county and north country, which marketed at Sparta. The hotel did a prosperous business.

His logging operations were carried on in different partnerships and corporations until as late as 1892. He was one of the largest stockholders of the Island Mill Lumber Company, of La Crosse, which operated extensively in the lumber business for twenty years or more. His associates in that company were Levi Withee, N.H. Withee, and Abner Gile, of La Crosse, all prominent lumbermen of that day, and all of who are now deceased. For sever years Mr. Bright was in charge of the company in the state of Mississippi, and then returned to look after its affairs in this state. This company finally closed up its affairs in 1893.

Mr. Bright was also one of the organizers of the Black River Improvement Company, the driving association which wrought a great change in the log driving business on Black River. He was for years general manager of its operation, and directed many of its improvements. He built the Dells dam, and also the Hemlock dam, in the upper river, which formed the immense reservoirs for driving purposes. His knowledge of the river, and of the business of driving logs, was probably greater than that of any man of his time, and he brought about many (the rest of my copy was cut off)



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