Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1st National

With the news that the old First National Bank is to come down, I thought this photo was timely.  Most of us think of the four columned bank when we picture the First National.  But this building preceded it in 1887 and has resided next to the more familiar columned version ever since its 1916 debut. 

Notice the second floor office of J.M. Pleasants, attorney.  He was the brother of yesterday's subject, Ellen Lee Pleasants Banta. 

 June 30, 1887 Oshkosh Northwestern

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ellen Banta

Ellen Lee Pleasants, born March 7, 1866 in Virginia, was affectionately known as "Nellie," and was the wife of George Banta, insurance agent, and (later) publisher.  Based in Madison, George frequently travelled to Menasha on business.  But upon meeting Nellie, he moved permanently to our city and they married in June of 1886. 

It was not until 1901 that Mr. Banta decided to make a business of his printing hobby. In that year the George Banta Printing Company was incorporated, with a capital of $4,000.  But George, who suffered from ill health, essentially had to relinquish control of his firm from 1904 to 1911 to tend to his health in Arizona and other environs upon the advice of his doctor. Meanwhile, Nellie remained in Menasha and ran the day-to-day operations.  Her deep involvement in the firm in its early years was, in no small measure, a significant factor in carrying the business through the lean years and contributed to its evolution into a multimillion dollar corporation.

Upon George Banta's death in 1935, Nellie assumed the presidency until her own death in 1951.

(A side note, it was Ellen's older sister, Luci Lee who was convinced Elisha D. Smith to form a public library in Menasha and became its first librarian.) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Railroad Bridge

October 19, 1861 Menasha Weekly Manufacturer
In February 1861, the Chicago & North Western Railroad was extended from Oshkosh to Appleton.  Its original path was along the west shore of Little Lake Butte des Morts, bypassing Neenah and Menasha.  Eventually, the villages of Neenah and Menasha were allowed to pay for the right of way, grading, ties, and bridges to induce the railroad to reroute the line across Doty Island.  That would then necessitate building a railroad bridge across Little Lake Butte des Morts for the railroad to continue its journey northward.
That first railroad bridge across Little Lake Butte des Morts had 115 supports spaced about 10 feet apart.  Menasha provided $12,000 in municipal bonds for the project.  This wooden bridge served unitl 1909 when the railroad announced its plans to double track the main line from Fond du Lac to Green Bay which meant the bridges would then have to be rebuilt using steel and concrete.   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Herziger Farm

This photograph shows the Louis Herziger truck farm around 1911; Louis had purchased the farm just four years before. The farm was on the south side of Nicolet Boulevard across the street from Smith Park in Menasha.  The farm was parceled into 38 lots for sale in 1928.
Photograph courtesy of the Neenah Public Library

August 20, 1928 Appleton Post-Crescent

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Armory Football

As an extension of yesterday's post about the armory, I came across this photo of the Company I football team of 1907.  The funny looking things hanging around their necks are leather nose guards.  Before face masks became prominent in the 1950s, it was the only protection against a bloody (or broken) nose.  Compare this to the blog post of 9/22 about Menasha regaining football in the early 1920's:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Armory Detail

One might argue that this edifice does not deserve mention in a blog about all things Menasha, but this building, just across the border in Neenah at Nicolet Boulevard was well known to residents of both towns.  Built by S. A. Cook, a former soldier, mayor, and assemblyman, in 1906 to house Company I of the Wisconsin National Guard, the building saw its demise in 1988 and has since been replaced by a warehouse. 

See the following link to learn more about Mr. Cook who led a rather remarkable life:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ace Tavern

Well on its way to being extinct, for the uninitiated, this is an ashtray- a once-common item on every bar and restaurant table.  Now it is merely a collectible as are the matchbooks that once advertised these very same bars.