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Perspectives
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* Busy Week For M-O Volleyball As Rangers, Bulldogs And Badgers Win
* Second Place Finish For Demeney Racing In TORC Super Stock
* Youth Football Kicks Off In Area
* Peshtigo Into Win Column, Coleman Rolls
* Ruffed Grouse Society Banquet In Crivitz

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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Peshtigo Mill Shuts Down - 1920

Peshtigo was a booming sawmill town for many years, but lumbering was in slow decline in the years leading up to 1920, when the Peshtigo Lumber Company mill shut down for good. My Grandma and her family had lived at Peshtigo Harbor, where the company had another steam sawmill and a thriving little village had grown up. From grandma’s stories, it was all dancing and parties when she was in her teens. By 1918 the harbor mill shut down and the little village was dismantled, house by house. The families moved to the city and life went on until 1920, when the Peshtigo mill shut down. Its main buildings on West Front Street now house the Badger Paper Mill. The workers and their families sought work anywhere they could find it. There was no unemployment in those days.

By the time of the 1920 national census, the population of the little city had declined to 1,440 from an earlier high near 2,500.

My dad, by then married, found a job at the Kissel Motor Car Company in Hartford, WI, though he had worked as a Milwaukee Road Depot Agent in Channing, Mi. earlier. Peshtigo had an industrial revival, with the startup of Badger Paper and Thompson Boats.

We lived next door to a step uncle and aunt, Duff and Josephine LaValley, and Uncle Duff told me one time how he survived the shutdown. I wrote a little poem about his move to Kenosha, where he found work at a foundry. Here it is:



EXILE 1920



(The old guy speaks)

You ask me

What it was like,

Them days; well,

They closed down the sawmill.



We had to go

And find work somewheres;

Some of us ended up in Kenosha

Quite a few, at a foundry there.



We used to go

To a little park

Every Sunday afternoon,

All the ones from Peshtigo,



And listen to the “Dagoes”

Playin’ their “cordeens’



-Adolph LaValley

as told to David Thibodeau


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PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
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