Some lumbermen prosper, others don't

     Lumbermen came from all over. Some from Maine, Illinois and other states.
     There were many who tried to make it rich in lumber and timber. Some made it, others failed.
    Here are sketches of some men involved in larger operations.

     Jean Brunet may not have been the first person to live at Chippwa Falls or Cornell, but was among the first to have any great influence on events which were to follow settlement.
     Politics, construction and trading were fields Brunet was involved in at one time or another.
     He made his first appearance at Chippewa Falls about 1832, but it was four years later when he returned and started a mill at the Falls.
     Brunet was associated in this venture with H. L. Dousman and General Sibley and Lyman Warren put together the expedition to the Falls.

Brunet placed in charge

     The Frenchman Brunet was put in charge of a group of French Canandians and Chippewa half-breeds on the trip.
     Brunet stuck with the mill until 1844, although Dousman and the others pulled out within a few years, citing a large loss of money.
     Brunet continued to operate the mill until selling his interest to H. S. Allen about 1846. Brunet then moved up the river to what became Brunet Falls, then Cornell.
     At one time Brunet was a territorial legislator and had journeyed to Burlington, Iowa, to serve when James Lockwood died.

Operated stop for travelers

     Brunet operated a rest stop for travelers and traded with the Indians. He also assisted in pulling rafts around the rapids with the use of oxen.
     Not much is known about his early life. One story puts his place of birth at Green Bay where there was a rather large French settlement, yet an inscription on his monument in Hope Cemetery, Chippewa Falls, lists his date of birth as 1791 in Gascogne, France.
     At one time he served as an ensign in the militia and as early as 1822 was part owner of a boat on the Mississippi.
     During a Winnebago uprising in 1827, Brunet served with the militia at Prairie du Chien's Fort Crawford. he reportedly had a good rapport with the Chippewa Indians, often acting as an arbitrator in their disputes.

     George A. Buffington came to Eau Claire in 1856 and purchased real estate and the Niagara House. He built the steamer "Chippewa Valley" in 1859.
     Also in 1859 Buffington purchased half-interest in the Ball and Smith sawmill and became its president.
     In addition to his active interest in lumbering, Buffington was a mayor of Eau Claire and at one time chairman of the county board.
     He held a major interest in Valley Lumbering Company.
     Buffington was born in 1825 in Catarugus County, New York. He died in 1893.

     William Carson was one of the early lumbermen. He started sawing logs on Eau Galle River in 1840 with Henry Eaton and George C. Wales. He claimed an area which is presently north of Eau Claire, sold the property for a profit in a few years and from that capital gain was able to build up his won interests.
     At age 13 he was working in lumber camps in the Prairie du Chien area. In 1874 he moved to Eau Claire and took over management of Valley Lumber Co.
     Carson later became active in Eau Claire civic affairs and was an officer at Eau Claire National Bank.
     Carson was born in 1825 in Inverness, Canada, and died in 1898 in Eau Claire. He donated land on which Carson Park now stands.

     O. H. Ingram was one of the most successful lumbermen on the Chippewa. His father died when Ingram was quite young, and he worked at a Canadian mill until he saved enough money to come to Eau Claire with Donald Kennedy and start in the lumbering business.
     He was born at Westfield, Mass., in 1830 and died in 1918, leaving a large estate.
     He was president of Rive Lake Lumber Co., an officer of Chippewa Valley Lumber and Boom Co. and was with several other business ventures, including trading at Read's Landing.

     Delos R. Moon was associated in a number of businesses in Eau Claire before becoming president of Northwestern Lumber Co. on the death of Gilbert E. Porter in 1898. Moon came to Eau Claire in 1857 as a banker, but when his bank closed he became involved in logging.
     He later had interests in warehouses and operated a store which he sold to enter lumbering with Porter.
     Moon also build several of the "better" homes of his time in Eau Claire and Porter's Mills. Both were destroyed by fire. he build a large brick home later in Eau Claire.
     Mrs. Moon donated $8,000 for the Moon Library at Stanley were Northwestern Lumbering Co. had a large mill. The library was one of the few buildings to survive the disastrous Stanley fire in May of 1906.

     John S. Owen was one of the last lumbermen in the Eau Claire area, operating until November of 1930.
     He came to Eau Claire in 1872 looking for timber and settled here, joining the Rust brothers in founding Westville Lumber Co.
     Owen also owned large tracts of timber area in the Ashland and Cable areas. he was involved in a number of Eau Claire business firms and in 1900 was listed as one of the city's millionaires.
     Owen was born in Michigan in 1849 and died in Eau Claire in 1939.
     The City of Owen, where he had a mill and box factory, was named after him.

     Gilbert E. Porter came to Eau Claire in 1856 and managed the Chapman and Thorp lumber mills. Later he left the company and edited the "Eau Claire Free Press."
     In 1867 he joined Delos Moon in Northwestern Lumber Company and they operated mills at Eau Claire, Porter's Mills, south of Eau Claire, and east of Thorp.
     Porter was associated in other Eau Claire business interests, and at one time was president of Dells Improvement Company and mayor of Eau Claire. He died in 1880 at Hannibal, Mo., at the age of 54.

     Daniel Shaw came from Maine where his family was in lumbering, arriving here in 1856. Daniel Shaw and Co. lumber mills were among the longest-operating in Eau Claire.
     Shaw was one of the most respected of lumbermen in the valley and often was seen visiting his lumber camps high on the Chippewa and Flambeau Rivers.
     The company was the first to use Half Moon Lake as a reservoir for holding logs, building a lift to carry logs from the lower Chippewa River to higher water of Half Moon Lake.
     Shaw's mills were located near the outlet of Half Moon Lake and the Shawtown area in Eau Claire is named after him. Shaw died in 1881.

     Joseph G. Thorp was among the first loggers in Eau Claire to make it big. He and his brother-in-law, N. C. Chapman, organized Eau Claire Lumber Company and annually cut more lumber than any other mill in the city, reaching 94 million feet in 1884.
     The men operated mills on the Eau Claire River and had better luck obtaining pine along this river and tis tributaries than other mill owners further up the Chippewa.
     In 1856 they bought the Eaton-Carson holdings on the Eau Claire River. Thorp and his firm were hit often by costly flooding and a fire destroyed their main holdings in 1867.
     Thorp's company was second only to Knapp, Stout & Co. in feet of lumber sawed.
     Thorp sold his interest to Frederick C. Weyerhaeuser in 1887.
     The Thorps traveled extensively in Europe and lived there for three years. Their daughter, Sara, married the famous Norwegian violinist, Ole Bull.
     The family had a large home in Madison, where Thorp served as a state senator, and also built one of the largest mansions in Eau Claire on the Chippewa River. The mansion was valued at $20,000 in 1882. Thorp was also connected with the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad.

     Frederick C. Weyerhaeuser was born in Germany in 1834 and moved to Illinois in the mid 1850s. When he died at age 80 in 1914, he had amassed a fortune estimated at $50 million. Much of it came through his ability as a businessman.
     Weyerhaeuser moved into lumbering about 1872 when he became interested in the operation on the Mississippi River.
     Weyerhaeuser purchased control of the failing Beef Slough Logging Company and incorporated under the name of Mississippi Logging Company.
     This firm became very active in lumbering on the Chippewa River.
     Weyerhaeuser gained further control of the logging business in the valley in 1879 when he purchased controlling stock in Chippewa Lumber and Boom Company which had fallen on hard times. He paid $1,250,000 for the firm, which was considered a high price.
     By his purchase of the Beef Slough Company and the Chippewa mill, Weyerhaeuser was able to put the squeeze on Eau Claire mill owners.
     Weyerhaeuser managed to end one controversy among loggers on the river when he devised a quota of how logs would be divided. Mill owners agreed that 35 percent of logs cut went to mills on the Chippewa and 65 percent went to the Mississippi River logging company.
     Weyerhaeuser gained a firmer control on valley logging in 1887 when he purchased J. C. Thorp's interest in Eau Claire Lumber Co. In 1891, the mills operated under the name of Mississippi River Logging Company.
     Weyerhaeuser logged in the north country for 20 years and brought many of the more modern logging operations to the area.
     He later transferred his logging operations to the Pacific Northwest and one of the nation's largest lumbering firms still bears his name.
     For years Weyerhaeuser's headquarters was in Chippewa Falls although he lived in St. Paul most of the time.


Extracted from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram
Special Publication, Our Story 'The Chippewa Valley and Beyond', published 1976
Used with permission.

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