Florence County, Wisconsin

Florence County, Wisconsin




The Milwaukee Sunday Sentinel recently contained a page of excellent advice by different contributors on "How to Succeed." Among the contributors was Hon. H.D. Fisher, of Florence, Wis., who is well known throughout Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula. Mr. Fisher is a self-made man, and his advice if followed will greatly aid all who are earnestly endeavoring to climb the ladder of success. Mr. Fisher says:

A young man starting out in life should first have in his mind an object or plan of what he intends to work for and accomplish, and stick to it. How to do this, advice from old men may be accepted by him. My advice to such is:

Keep all engagements.

Never tell a man or woman you will meet them at any time or place unless you do it.

Never try to make any man believe you know more than you know.

Never meddle with other men's business--attend to your own, and keep it to yourself as much as possible.

Never give advice unless asked for it.

Never try to build up your business by running down others.

Never worry or fret over other men's business.

Never give up and say the work cannot be accomplished.

Never allow yourself to reach a point where it requires you to swear off the 1st. of January.

Never tell the first "fish story." You will be beaten at your own game.

Never cry if you miss with the first barrel--get another shot quick.

Finally--Keep right on sawing wood and you certainly will make a success of your work.

--Sault Ste. Marie News, MI., January 8, 1898




Florence County, State of Wisconsin. Named by H.D. Fisher or J.J. Hagerman for Mrs. Florence Hulst, wife of Dr. N.P. Hulst of Milwaukee. County seat, Florence. Named from the county.

--A History of the Origin of Place Names Connected With the Chicago & Northwestern and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Omaha Railways, 1908





You might say Florence, the county seats of Florence County, came about by accident.

While lost in the Northeast Wisconsin forest, Hiram D. Fisher, a former sailor on Lake Winnebago and a mineral missionary from Menasha, accidentally struck his exploring pick into the side of a hill and discovered a solid ledge of soft red ore in October 1873.

By December 1880, with railroad extensions complete, Fisher and his partners began mining operations, and Fisher laid out a town site. He sold lots for $100 (corner lots for $150) and raised $60,000 in 60 days. A post office sprang up that year and a newspaper, The Florence Mining News, launched in January 1881.

Instrumental to developing the fledgling mining industry was N.P. Hulst, whose wife, Florence, was said to be the first non-native woman to settle in the area. The honor her, the owners of the new iron mine called it the Florence Mine, and the little settlement nearby on the shores of Fisher Lake was named Florence as well. Today, Florence County , which was established in 1882, is the state's only county named after a woman.

By 1890, Florence and vicinity boasted a population of close to 5,000 as people from near and far came to work in the area's mines, logging camps, sawmills and small farms. By 1889, Florence had five hotels, seven boarding houses and 47 saloons. Florence generated an annual retail trade of nearly $1 million.

Badly damaged by a fire that destroyed nearly 50 buildings in 1887, Florence re-emerged quickly. By 1891, it had eight miles of streets, 6,800 feet of water mains and 20 fire hydrants. Fed by jobs related to iron and timber, schools, churches and government buildings sprang up quickly in the early decades as the town enjoyed the trappings of modern civilization.

Early Florence also had its share of vice, largely orchestrated by a notorious gang led by Old Man Mudge, said to be a preacher who made his way here from Ohio or Indian. Early accounts referred to him as a "white slaver" who reportedly used chained timber wolves to guard young women he had imprisoned at a three-story log tavern and dance hall known as the Den. In the early 1880s, the town's newspaper editor and a band of men known as "The Regulators" stormed Mudges stockade and burned it to the ground. Old Man Mudge fled into the swamp and was never seen again.

By the mid-1920s, the mining industry in Florence was in its final stages as quality ore became scarce, and by 1931, the Florence Mine--the last operating mine in the county--was closed.

Since then, businesses and industries have come and gone from Florence, which today has a population of about 1,600. Although Florence is far removed from the early boom years, it still boasts a variety of fine restaurants and taverns, which help drive the economy, along with forest products, public-sector jobs and tourism.

--Florence County Chamber of Commerce, 2013 Visitor Guide


Florence County and Township in the News

History Concerning Lewis "Old Man" Mudge, With Photographs Contributed by Dale Bomberg

Florence County, History Including Biographies-- --History of the upper peninsula of Michigan, 1883,Western Historical Co., Chicago; Western Historical Co.

Florence Walking Tour

Florence County Chronicles, 1998


Hiram Damon Fisher and Miss Emily Oliva Keyes--Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, 1861

The Menominee Iron Range, Chapter 5, Florence .--Nursey, Walter, R., The Menominee Iron Range, Milwaukee, Swain & Tate Co. 1891




(From an article entitled "Florence and Iron Mountain)

FLORENCE, Wis., Feb. 1--One hundred and forty miles northwest of Green Bay, in midwinter! To be dropped down here at such at time a few years since would have seemed next thing to exile from home and native land. But to-day I read the Chicago papers of yesterday and find myself in a home with all the comforts and luxuries even of city life. Outside it is 20 degrees below zero, but summer hear within. Here is a conservatory filled with tropical plants, some of which are in bloom. At night, the gas is lighted; there are voices discoursing sweet music with a piano accompaniment, and other evidences of culture and refinement that make one feel that he is not far from the hub of civilization. And yet it is not ten years since mine host, H.D. Fisher, Esq., wrapped in a blanket, rested by his camp fire on this very spot. It is


the town was platted and the first lot sold. To-day, there is a town of over 2,000 population, a school building costing $12,000, a blast furnace, foundry and machine shops, a lumber mill, three church buildings, a printing office, and two passenger trains passing each way daily. A remarkable growth, this!

It has come from the accidental strifking of a pick into the soil on a hill near by, which revealed the presence of iron ore. This was done by my friend, Fisher, when on one of his exploring tours about ten years since. It was not till 1878 that he succeeded in making others believe that there was iron to be obtained in paying quantities. In about two years the mine began to be worked. Since then

160,000 TONS OF ORE

have been taken out in a single year. This is the basis of the town's growth.

The town has a fine location of the shore of Fisher lake and is in the center of a large mining district. A fine class of people have already settled here, with large hopes for the future. They are expecting a railroad from St. Paul to pass through their town eastward to Sault St Marie and so on to the Atlantic coast. Indeed, they are expecting 'ere long to see the North Pacific express, with sleepers and dining cars attached, a through train without change of cars from Boston and Quebec to Portland, Ore. Well, it is really quite possible.


--Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI., February 8, 1884

If FLORENCE, Wis., isn't, it may well be one of the proudest towns in the land. Situated on the Menominee Iron Range, it and its two non-bessemer mines have been disdainfully looked down upon by more pretentious Iron Mountain, fourteen miles distant. Now Florence neatly but kindly turns the tables by refusing all donations of charity saying: "Thank you, we can take of the few poor we have." Indeed Iron Mountain is to be pitied and much helped. Her's is a sad case.

--Sault Ste. Marie News., Sault Ste. Mare, MI., December 23, 1893



This Web Page Created with PageBreeze Free HTML Editor