Bio: Trow, Alvin S. (1838 - 1909)

Contact: Stan


Surnames: Trow, Knapp, Hanson, Stheil, Bolard, Thrall, Halverson


----Source: 1881 History of Northern, Wisconsin, pg. 418


Alvin S. Trow (15 Sep 1838, Walworth, WI - 9 Sep 1909, Battle Creek, Michigan)

ALVIN S. TROW, lumber and saw-mill, and farmer. Was born in Walworth Co., Wis., Sept. 15, 1838. First started lumbering in Winnebago County, where he is still engaged in that and mercantile business. He is also engaged very extensively in raising cranberries, owning between 5,000 and 6.000 acres of cranberry swamp-lands in Winnebago and Jackson counties. Mr. Trow also owns 5,000 acres of pineland and 6,000 acres of land in Dakota, under cultivation. At his sawmill in Merrillan, they manufacture 6,000,000 feet of lumber per annum. He is now Assemblyman from District No. 7. Jackson County, being elected in 1880, and has been Chairman of County Board in Winnebago County. Was largely interested in steamboat business on Fox and Wolf rivers, and was superintendent of Wolf River Transportation Company for three years. He is a member of the A., F. & A. M., Berlin Lodge, No. 121, Green Lake Co., and of the I. O. O. F., Rushford Lodge, No. 121.

Family Records

Alvin S. Trow was the son of Israel and Isabelle Green (Dickerson) Trow.  He married Sarah J. Knapp 22 Jan 1865 in Winnebago, Co., Wisconsin.  Israel Trow was born 18 Dec 1802 in New Braintree, Worchester Co., MA and he died 17 Jul 1868 in Eureka, Winnebago Co., WI.  He was the son of Israel and Hannah (Makepeace) Trow.  His wife, Isabelle Green Dickerson, was born 5 Aug 1806 in South Kingston, RI and died 2 Oct 1892 in Eureka, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin.  Israel and Isabelle married New Year's Day, 1824, in Holden, MA.

Jennie (Sarah Jennifer?) Trow died 28 Oct 1907 in Jackson Co., Wis., vol. 5, pg. 131.

1880 Federal Census, Alma, Jackson, Wisconsin, United States, pg. 274

A. S. Trow, married American male lumberman
relationship to head : Self
birthplace : Wisconsin, United States

Household Members
self A. S. Trow M 41 Wisconsin, United States
other J. H. Burnell M 46 Ohio, United States

1900 Federal Census, ED 42 Alma town, east side Merillan village, Jackson, Wisconsin, United States, pg. 10, family 210

A S Trow, white, married, male
father's birthplace: Massachusetts
mother's birthplace: Rhode Island
years married: 35
estimated marriage year: 1865

Household Members
head A S Trow M 62 (Sep 1838) Wisconsin
wife Jenney S Trow F 54 (Nov 1846) New York
domestic Emma Hanson F 30 (Dec 1870) Norway
clerk Joseph Stheil M 29 (Feb 1871) Wisconsin
clerk Mary Bolard F 31 (Aug 1869) Wisconsin
clerk Earl Thrall M 21 (Dec 1879) Wisconsin
bookkeeper Chris Halverson M 26 (Oct 1874) Norway

Wisconsin Marriage Records

Alvin S. Trow
groom's birthplace: Eureka
bride's name: Sarah J. Knapp
marriage date: 22 Jan 1865
marriage place: Rushford, Winnebago, Wisconsin
groom's father's name: I. Trow
groom's mother's name: Isabel Trow
bride's father's name: P. M. Knapp
bride's mother's name: L. A. Knapp
groom's race: White
bride's race: White

Jerome A. Trow
groom's birthplace: Wisconsin
bride's name: Elizabeth Lefeore
marriage date: 02 Aug 1869
marriage place: Omro, Winnebago, Wisconsin
groom's father's name: left blank
groom's mother's name: Isabella Trow
bride's father's name: David Lefeore
bride's mother's name: Mariah Potter
groom's race: White
bride's race: White

Wisconsin Death Records

Isabelle G. Trow
gender: Female
death date: 10 Oct 1892
death place: Eureka, Winnebago, Wisconsin
age: 86
birth date: 14 Apr 1806
birthplace: Massachusetts
occupation: Housewife
race: White
marital status: Married
spouse's name: Israel Trow

(Additional Information Provided by Natalie McDonald)

Dear Stan:

Thank you so much for posting information about the Merrillan "lumber baron" Alvin S Trow (1838-1909). Alvin is my great-granduncle. Alvin had no children, so he was instead generous to his four nieces, and I am researching one of them and need help with a couple of huge mysteries. I will put links at the bottom of this email so you can follow along -- a tremendous amount of research has already been done on the family.

My grandaunt Nathalie Trow (1877-1937) is the youngest of four daughters born to Alvin's brother Jerome Oscar Trow (1843-1928). Nathalie was a professional guitarist, music teacher and radio performer who began playing in public around 1894, but she put her career on hold during two unfortunate marriages. Both of her husbands were engineers whose work took Nathalie and her family all over the world, and of her four children, Nathalie had two daughters who both died young. Both of Nathalie's divorces were covered in the newspapers, the first in 1907 from Lowe Whiting (1873-1957) in Milwaukee and the second from Paul Christian Birch Schioler (1883-1945) in 1919 in Winnipeg. Both Lowe and Paul were employed as engineers at the construction of the Panama Canal.

Nathalie was not "discovered" until she was a 50-year-old grandmother, but she had the satisfaction of being acclaimed in the last decade of her life. In April 1928, she first performed on WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee on a "barn dance" radio program. She received a great review in the Milwaukee Journal, got a booking agent who later became Walt Disney's orchestra leader, and through this she was able to offer guitar lessons in Milwaukee and Sheboygan as one of "Milwaukee's Favorite Broadcasting Stars."

In 1930, Nathalie and her oldest son John Nininger Whiting (1897-1954) were in the Chicago census, where Nathalie was listed as a "music teacher." In 1933, a custom guitar bearing her initials was crafted for Nathalie by the Larson Brothers of Chicago, and historians who have examined the instrument believe it may have been created for Nathalie as a cast member of the WLS "National Barn Dance" radio show. By 1935, Nathalie's younger son Bud Lowe Whiting (1901-1953) was also living in Chicago. Bud was divorced but his remarried ex-wife Sarah Dorothy May Warmington (1903-1987) (then known as "Sally Webster") and their son Dinty Warmington Whiting (1922-1986) had also settled in Chicago. In 1937, Paul Schioler, who had remarried and permanently relocated his new family to his home in Denmark, also permitted his second wife and their children to return to Chicago for an extended visit.

That's why it was so odd that when Nathalie died on March 7, 1937 in Chicago, no family members contributed to her death certificate information, no obituary was published, and she was buried in an unmarked grave by the railroad tracks at a Catholic cemetery out in the suburbs of River Grove, Illinois (it came up in divorce court that Nathalie was Presbyterian).

There are two things I am trying to figure out and I need help to search around the Merrillan area. I have no photos of anyone in the Trow family except my grandmother Alice Louise Trow McDonald (1873-1947), whom Alvin named for himself and wanted to legally adopt, and Nathalie's other sister, my grandaunt Isabel Marie Trow Servis (1870-1950), who testified in the hotly contested court proceedings over Alvin's massive estate. I read over 3,000 pages of court documents online (twice!) and only found two references to Nathalie, once by her childhood nickname of "Hattie" and once as "Nathalie Trow Schioler of Winnipeg" as she was known at the time of the testimony. I am hoping that there is a collection of Alvin's papers from Merrillan which might contain photos of the Trow family.

From what I can piece together, Alvin based his business empire from his home in Merrillan and employed his brothers, my great-grandfather Jerome and my other great-granduncle Elliott Eugene Trow (1849-1911) to relocate whenever necessary to diversify the family's holdings from lumber to mining. This caused the brothers to move first from their hometown of Eureka in Winnebago County, where the Trow sisters were born, to La Crosse, where the older girls were educated before Alice and Isabel went off to teachers' college at Winona State Normal School.

In the summer of 1893, the brothers moved to the Gogebic Range, with newspaper clippings placing the Trow family members in Minocqua, Tomahawk Lake and ultimately Hurley. Jerome left his wife Elizabeth Mary LeFevre (1847-1921) and daughters in Hurley so that he could establish a new base of mining operations for the family business in the Canadian border town of Porthill, Idaho. Alice graduated and came to Hurley and worked as the assistant principal of the high school there from 1894-1898, while Isabel returned to La Crosse.

This leaves the perplexing question of how Nathalie got her musical and literary education. Nathalie was described in articles about her marital difficulties as appearing educated and sophisticated. Her handwritten letters show an excellent command of language. Nathalie did not appear on lists of children who went to elementary schools in La Crosse in the 1880s, although her sisters' names were there. By the age of 16, Nathalie was already singing and proficient on guitar in public in Minocqua. By 17, she was performing in Hurley and also working in the Hurley public schools. Nathalie first married at 19 and her husband had been educated in London before he went to the school of mining at Columbia in New York City. Lowe Whiting came from the extended political clan of Minnesota Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey, where a two-year European education was not uncommon in those families.

I would like to find out if Nathalie attended any schools in the Merrillan area, or if Alvin might have paid for Nathalie's education elsewhere. The only mentoring I could document came from the former community of Centralia, where the bridegroom of an adopted cousin of the Trow family was a professor from Marshfield who founded the Centralia high school. In June 1894, even though the high school only had one graduate receiving a diploma that year, the town nevertheless went ahead with a full formal commencement ceremony for that one student. Nathalie performed several songs for the occasion, including a duet with the music teacher. Yet another newspaper clipping from that month mentions Nathalie going on a picnic with the Centralia teachers. However, Nathalie is not listed as graduating from Centralia herself.

Stan, please feel free to forward my request to any librarian, archivist or society which might be able to help me find a picture of Nathalie and figure out where she got her education. In my family, several of us are named after either Nathalie or her sister Alice Louise, and we have devoted many years and a great deal of resources to solving this mystery. We will gladly pay any costs involved in the search.

Many thanks for your time and consideration of this lengthy request -- as promised, the links are below for Nathalie's genealogy pages and musician biography.

With sincerest appreciation,

Natalie Hermine McDonald <>
110 Lallah Street
Pineville, Louisiana 71360-5159
(318) 308-5155 mobile

nataliemcdonald55 on Ancestry - McDonald Family Tree (Public)
Nathalie Trow direct link:

Nathalie Trow on FamilySearch:

Nathalie Trow Whiting artist bio (including "1933 Larson NTW Special" guitar) on



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel