Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company records, 1871-1920
Using These Materials
- The record group is open to research. There are restrictions on the copying of the images from the compact discs in box 50 for commercial purposes; researchers should contact the IXL Museum in...
- Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company.
- Corporate records of C.J.L. Meyer of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and Hermansville, Michigan, manufacturer of doors, lumber for sashes, hardwood flooring, and related products; records of the William Mueller Company of Escanaba and LaBranche, Michigan, a firm taken over by Wisconsin Land and Lumber in 1909. Financial journals, ledgers, inventories, payroll ledgers; letterbooks of C.J.L. Meyer, Edwin P. Radford, company superintendent, and of other company officials; office correspondence files; and photographs.
42 linear feet
65 oversize volumes
- Call Number:
- 86346 Bb.2; BB.2
- Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff
- Scope and Content:
This record group which came from the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company in Hermansville, Michigan is in fact an accumulation of records from three distinct business enterprises. First, there are records of C.J.L. Meyer business enterprises in Chicago and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Next are records maintained in Hermansville with the establishment of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company in the 1870s. A third, smaller portion of the records are from the William Mueller Company, which WLL purchased in 1909.
When originally received in 1948, the records consisted of nearly 500 volumes of business journals and ledgers, time books, and letterpress books. During 1979-1981, the library began a program of microfilming to reduce the size of the record group. With the permission of the company, records that had been microfilmed were discarded. Also discarded were records duplicative in content of the records on microfilm. Other records were retained in the original without filming. The record group then consisted of 53 reels of microfilm representing approximately 112 volumes of business records, 65 oversized volumes, and 42 linear feet of boxed records (volumes, letterpress books, and correspondence files). In 2006, the library received additional microfilm (18 rolls) and computer disks containing scanned images of the photographs in the possession of the IXL Museum, which is the repository for the records of the company not received with the first accession. These records, which were retained, include personal correspondence of C.J.L. Meyer, some records of Meyer prior to the establishment of WLL, and records then considered current or of continuing value to the operation of the company.
The record group has been arranged as much as possible into series, but the researcher should note that identification of individuals volumes or files was not as certain as one would like. Thus, for example, there are various ledgers and journals, some with overlapping dates, but it was not always clear where these records were created or what function or division within the firm they documented. The fact that the company retained some of the earlier records accounts in part for what appear to be broken series. Further complicating the structure of the following finding aid is the interspersing of microfilmed materials and oversize volumes. Similar kinds of records (such as time books), for example, are thus found both in original and on microfilm.
As much as possible, like kinds of records have been kept to together (letterpress books, etc.). These are followed by records known to be created by a specific organization or maintained in a specific locale (e.g. Fond du Lac). The series in the record group are: Letterpress books (mainly business correspondence); Letterpress books (mainly business correspondence); Inventories, order books, etc.; C. J. L. Meyer Business Records; Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company; William Mueller Company; Photographs; and IXL Museum additions.
In 2007, the IXL Museum of Hermansville, Michigan, successor to the company and custodian of additional records of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company, entered into agreement with the Bentley Library to exchange microfilm of selected portions of the records housed in the other's repository. In addition, the two repositories agreed that the Bentley Library would place on indefinite loan to the IXL Museum the originals of WLL photographs in its possession, and that the IXL Museum would donated to the Bentley Library digital copies of all of the many hundreds of photographs in its collection.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company of Hermansville, Michigan was originally founded as a subsidiary firm of Charles J. L. Meyer, a successful Chicago and Wisconsin businessman. Meyer, following the Chicago fire of 1871, made a fortune by expanding his door and sash manufacturing plant located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. As one of the few such facilities in the upper Great Lakes region, Meyer profited handsomely from the rebuilding of Chicago.
By the mid-1870s, lumber supplies in the Lake Winnebago region of Wisconsin were being depleted; and Meyer, to insure himself a supply of wood, purchased the Menominee County, Michigan land holdings of the Hamilton Merriman Company. In 1879, Meyer relocated the sawmill he owned in Fond du Lac to his Michigan property. The site of the mill became Hermansville (named after his son). Mill No. 1, as the facility was called, was a softwood mill, preparing pine for shipment to Fond du Lac. His Michigan property, however, also had significant stands of hardwood trees on it, and so, in 1882, Meyer began to operate kilns in Hermansville to convert the hardwood into charcoal.
The production of charcoal never proved profitable, however, and Meyer continued to search for a way to use his hardwood lumber. After much study, he concluded that a market did exist for hardwood floors. The problem was that there was no satisfactory machinery to mill hardwood into flooring. After years of experimentation, he finally perfected his "Meyer matchers," milling machines which made possible the mass production of acceptable hardwood flooring. Meyer had begun construction of a hardwood flooring facility in Hermansville in 1885. That factory was completed in 1888 and the first regularly scheduled commercial production in the plant began in 1889.
While Meyer had identified a potential market and developed the necessary machinery to produce an acceptable product, he was unable to deal successfully with his rapidly failing financial situation. In the fall of 1889 his five companies fell into the hands of creditors, who appointed Henry A. Jewell to oversee operations. To pay the creditors, Jewell sold all of Meyer's asset except for Wisconsin Land and Lumber in Hermansville. When the firm emerged from receivership in 1892, C.J.L. Meyer was titular head of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company, but actual control of the company had slipped into the hands of his son-in-law, Dr. George Washington Earle.
Earle, who had received his medical degree from Buffalo Medical College and practiced in New York State, had come to Hermansville in 1889 for reasons of health. He had already invested in Wisconsin Land and Lumber and throughout the period of receivership and the next few years, he found himself pouring more and more money into the firm, in an effort to save his initial investment. As his financial investment grew, so too did his control of day-to-day operations.
For a time the firm's finances remained precarious, suffering a serious setback when Mill No. 1 burned in 1891 and had to be rebuilt. In the end, however, Meyer's estimate that there was a steady trade in hardwood flooring proved accurate, and the firm flourished. In 1901 the pine mill (No. 1) was rebuilt. In 1910 it burned and was replaced. In 1911 the hardwood mill (No. 2) was rebuilt of concrete. In 1909 the firm was assured an adequate supply of timber when it bought the assets of the bankrupt William Mueller Company at a sheriff's sale. Most significant in this sale were large stands of timber near Blaney, Michigan.
G. W. Earle died in 1923. His sons, G. Harold and Stewart, took over the family business. During the 1930s, the firm entered a period of slow decline. In 1939 the No. 2 mill closed, followed by the No. 1 mill and the flooring factory in 1943.
- Acquisition Information:
- The record group was donated by G. Harold Earle (donor no. 2290 ) in 1948. In 2007, the IXL Museum, in an exchange with the Bentley Library, donated 18 microfilm rolls of photographs and company records, and 4 computer disks of digitized photographs.
- Processing information:
During the original processing of the records some material, primarily outsize volumes of ledgers, journals and other financial records were microfilmed and the original volumes were discarded. Portions of this record group have been reprocessed. Certain box numbers have consequently been eliminated.
In preparing digital material for long-term preservation and access, the Bentley Historical Library adheres to professional best practices and standards to ensure that content will retain its authenticity and integrity. For more information on procedures for the ingest and processing of digital materials, please see Bentley Historical Library Digital Processing Note. Access to digital material may be provided either as a direct link to an individual file or as a downloadable package of files bundled in a zip file.
Summary Contents List
- Letterpress books (mainly business correspondence)
- Superintendent Edwin P. Radford (originals) -- Boxes 1-6
- General Land Office (originals) -- Boxes 6-9
- Corporate Staff and Miscellaneous (originals) -- Boxes 9-12, 18-20, 38-39
- Correspondence files (business) (originals) -- Boxes 21-30
- Inventories, order books, etc. (originals) -- Boxes 13-14, 31-37, 40-45
- C.J. L. Meyer Business Records (originals)
- Fond du Lac milling and manufacturing enterprises
- Various financial records (originals) -- outsize volumes
- Order books, vol. 1-5 (microfilm) -- Reels 17-20
- Miscellaneous financial records (originals) -- outsize volumes
- General Journal (microfilm) -- Reels 1-5
- Sawmill Journals (microfilm) -- Reels 5-10
- Sawmill Payroll Ledgers -- (microfilm) -- Reels 10-13
- General Payroll Ledgers and misc. (microfilm) -- Reels 13-17
- Fond du Lac milling and manufacturing enterprises
- Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company
- Journals (microfilm) -- Reels 20-25
- General Ledgers (microfilm) -- Reels 25-33
- Payroll Ledgers (microfilm) -- 33-51
- Camp Payroll Books (microfilm) Reel 51
- Payroll records and Miscellaneous (microfilm) -- Reels 51-52
- Miscellaneous account and Inventory books (originals) -- outsize vols.
- William Mueller Company (originals) -- outsize volumes
- Album (microfilm) -- Reel 53
- Photocopies of images -- Box 49
- Digital Images (of item s on loan to IXL Museum) -- Box 50
- Photo albums (microfilm) -- Box 50 reel 1
- Miscellaneous records received in 2007 (microfilm) Box 50 Reels 2-18
- Letterpress books (mainly business correspondence)
- Physical Location:
- Portions located in offsite storage; prior notification required for access.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Lumbering -- Michigan -- Upper Peninsula.
Logging -- Michigan -- Upper Peninsula.
Bicycles and tricycles.
Churches -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Dams -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Educational buildings -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Hotels and taverns -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Lumber industry -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Methodist churches -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Mills -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Railroad construction and maintenance.
Railroad stations -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
Railroads -- Michigan.
Schools -- Michigan -- Hermansville.
William Mueller Company.
Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company.
Menominee River Boom Company.
Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway Company.
Meyer, C. J. L.
Radford, Edwin P.
Fond du Lac (Wis.)
Using These Materials
The record group is open to research. There are restrictions on the copying of the images from the compact discs in box 50 for commercial purposes; researchers should contact the IXL Museum in Hermansville, Michigan to obtain these copies.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Donor(s) have not transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
[item], folder, box, Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan