Bio: Randall, Adin (1914)

Poster:: Crysal Wendt

Surnames: Randall, Babcock, Ingram


----Source: History of Eau Claire County, Wisconsin (1914) pages 839-842


Adin Randall. The beautiful city of Eau Claire clusters around the junction of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. These picturesque streams are not navigable and the uninitiated instinctively asks: What caused a city to grow up at this place? The answer is, the great lumber industry of the last half of the nineteenth century, and that brings in the names of men men of the woods, the river and the mill the sturdy pioneers. Among these was a carpenter, a man of unusual energy and enterprise, a true pioneer, who saw so clearly the possibilities of the site of Eau Claire that he stood upon the forest-lined banks of the Chippewa and visioned the future city.


Adin Randall was born near Clarksville, Madison county, New York, October 12, 1829. School facilities were meager in those days and he had no great opportunity to take advantage of even the little education obtainable. While still a youth he learned the trade of carpenter and worked at it in New York state until he was twenty-five years of age. In 1852 he married Clamenzia Babcock, and in 1854 moved west and settled in Madison, Wis. There he became a building contractor and made a little money, with which he bought an interest in a saw mill in Eau Claire in the fall of 1855.


It was in that year that Mr. Randall first came to Eau Claire. Quickly he saw the advantage of the location and, selling out his interest in the saw mill, he moved his family here in the spring of 1856. For a short time he was associated with Gage & Reed, but soon sold out his interest in the business and purchased the land which is now the west side of the city of Eau Claire south of Bridge street and between Half Moon lake and the Chippewa river. This tract he had platted under the name of the city of Eau Claire, but it was then, and for some time afterwards, known as Randall Town. This tract was then covered with brush and stunted trees, and all this part of the state and to the northward was primitive wilderness, but he talked Eau Claire to everyone and sounded the praises of this location wherever and whenever possible. He built a small planing mill at the foot of what is now Ninth avenue, and he secured the right to operate a ferry on the Chippewa, between the east and west sides.


Acting upon the faith which he had in the future of Eau Claire a faith that others now see realized he began to anticipate the future city. To that end he donated the land for Randall Park to the corporation and also the site for the West Side cemetery. To the First Congregational church he gave the land which that society still owns and occupies, and to the Methodist church he donated half of the land which constitutes the present high school grounds. He planned to build his own residence upon the attractive site where the court house now stands, and he took pleasure in assuring the pessimists that the west side would one day have street cars running along its thoroughfares. But, standing amid the brush and trees, they could not see the panorama that rose up before his time-penetrating eyes.


Few living can remember, but who has not read, of the period of hard times that came to this country after the close of the Crimean war. Then, as now, a European conflict brought a war tax to America, but then the tax was paid in a different manner. A wave of depression swept over the country, money was more than scarce, it was hardly obtainable, and Mr. Randall was one of the thousands whose plans and hopes were shattered by the financial convulsions that shook the very foundations of the West from 1857 to 1860. In order to carry out his plans he had mortgaged the west side and being unable to meet the claims of the mortgagees they took the property.


In 1860 he sold out his planing mill and went to Chippewa Falls. He remained there but a short time, however, and then built a saw mill at Jim Falls, which he ran for two years. Having sold that mill he purchased a grist mill at Reed's Landing and made it over into a saw mill. This he operated until the time of his death, which occurred in April, 1868, when he was but thirty-nine years of age.


Notwithstanding his remarkable energy, his buoyant optimism and his irrepressible spirit of enterprise, he never shared in the harvest of wealth which he clearly saw was coming to Eau Claire, but he helped to sow the seed for that harvest. His inclinations were entirely for business projects and it is said that he started or suggested more enterprises than any other man the city has known. He cared nothing for public life, yet when Eau Claire county was erected by the legislature in 1856 he was elected the first county treasurer.


He is described as a man of cheerful disposition and undaunted courage. Disaster could not crush him, and when it came he continued to work with an ardor and energy that were the admiration of his friends. He was revered by his family and he will always live in the hearts of the workingmen, with whom he was a great favorite. A mechanic himself, he took a personal interest in their lives and affairs and liked to get their ideas on all matters pertaining to their welfare. When the civil war broke out his employees and other workingmen came to him and said they would form a company and go to the front if he would be their captain. This he wished to do and was only hindered by the fervent solicitations of his wife and children.


A handsome bronze statue commemorates Adin Randall in the park which he gave to Eau Claire. The memorial was a gift to the city from Mr. O. H. Ingram, and, unquestionably, is a tribute of high regard from a wonderfully successful man to the memory of a truly remarkable one. But there is a legend in Eau Claire which tells of a secondary reason for the erection of this statue. It is said that when Mr. Ingram came to Eau Claire, in 1857, he was, at first, disposed to return to Canada, where he had interests too promising to exchange for the wilds of Wisconsin. But Mr. Randall talked to him of the advantages of Eau Claire, took him up the Eau Claire river, showed him the vast forests of pine, and ultimately persuaded him to locate here. If this be true, Mr. Ingram would, naturally, hold him in kindly remembrance, and for this one act, had he done nothing more, Adin Randall was worthy of perpetuity in Eau Claire, for he secured to the city the greatest constructive business man the community has ever known.





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