Bio: Sterling, Joseph R. (History - 1846)

Contact: Janet Schwarze





----Sources:  1891 Biographical History of Clark Jackson counties Wisconsin & "Clark Co. Illustrated" by Saterlee, Tifft & Marsh; 1890


Joseph R. Sterling (1846)

Mr. Sterling is a native of Maine. He was born at Anson, in that state in 1846. He came to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, in 1856 where he remained until 1871. He then moved to Clark County and engaged with the Eau Claire Lumber Company as superintendent, in which capacity he served eighteen years, the last five of which he owned an interest with the company. Since 1888 he has owned a third interest in, and is manager of the Sterling Lumber company at Sterling, Wis., in this county. He was married in 1870 to Miss Angie Fessenden, who is a native of Illinois. Mr. Sterling came to this county without any wealth whatever. He now owns a third interest in the mill plant, which is worth $200,000. He also owns a farm of one hundred and eighty acres, one hundred and twenty of which is improved and stocked with blooded stock. He owns other real estate in the county valued at $9,000. Earnest, persistent work in a naturally rich country has wrought the transformation of the poor boy into the man of wealth. "Clark Co. Illustrated" by Saterlee, Tifft & Marsh; 1890


Joseph R. Sterling, of the Sterling Lumber Company, Sterling, Clark County, was born in Somerset County, Maine, April 7, 1846, the son of C.I., a native of Anson, Maine, nut now also a resident of this place. Our subject's mother was also a native of the same place. They were the parents of seven children, six of whom still survive: Julia, John, Philena, Joseph, Caroline, and Aurilla. The parents came to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, in 1853, when the Indians were numerous, and where the father engaged in lumbering.

Joseph R., our subject, was educated in Black River Falls, and has been engaged in lumber most of his life. He served in the late war, in Company K, Tenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, remaining four years, and was in many hard-fought battles. He came to this county in 1860, where he worked for W.T. Price in the pineries two years, and was engaged in driving logs in the summers. He began first in a humble situation, and rose to the position of superintendent and general manager, and is now a member of one of the largest lumber companies here. The firm owns about 5,000 acres of pine and hard-wood land in Clark County, and do an immense business, employing 100 men in their mills alone, beside running three camps which employ 100 men also. The mills run day and night, and they ship in nearly every direction.

Mr. Sterling was married April 30, 1871, to Angie Fessenaber, daughter of Henry J. Fessenaber, of Sterling. They have two children: Gertrude, born April 30, 1874, and Everard F., October 8, 1877. Mrs. Sterling is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and politically Mr. Sterling is a Republican.

Mill of the Sterling Lumber Company, Sterling, Wisconsin


One can not get a very good idea of the size and capacity of this mill from the cut to the left. This plant is valued at $200,000 and cuts 120,000 feet in twenty hours. It is managed by Joseph Sterling, who own a third interest in the business. About 120 men are employed in the sawmill and planing mill, and the wages paid to men each month amount to $2,000. The mill was built in 1881. They have a stock of 5,000,000 feet of lumber in their yard, and logs on hand which, when sawed, will make 8,000,000 feet. The firm also owns a hotel and fifteen tenement houses here at Sterling.


"Clark Co. Illustrated" by Saterlee, Tifft & Marsh; 1890

The Sterling Company's saw-mill was erected by the Eau Claire Lumber Company, and was transferred to the Sterling Company in 1888. The main building is 150 x 32 feet, and two stories in height. They use the hand-saw and band-saw, driven by the Phoenix engine, which is a 175-horse power, supplied by a battery of three Kinney Bros. boilers, 32 x 44 inches each, beside a pump boiler. The capacity of the mill is 60,000 feet in ten hours. The mill and yards are supplied by electric lights, generated by a dynamo in the mill. The engine and boiler room is 24 x 50 feet, and the electric light room is 16 x 20 feet. The logs are brought from their camps and those in the neighborhood camps in winter, and during the summer of 1890 they ran the mill night and day. Their planing mill was erected in 1886, and is a large frame, the main building being 120 x 56 feet, with an engine and boiler room 18 x 36 feet. They use the Fisher Mallory 26-inch double surfacer, The Willoughby, Rugg Richardson fourteen-inch flooring mill, and also have self-fed rip-saws and other machinery, driven by a sixty-horsepower Steven's Point engine, supplied with steam from an 18 x 4 feet boiler.




© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel