Bio: Withee, Niran H. 1827

Contact: on Sun, 11 Feb 2001


----Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., WI, by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge




NIRAN H. WITHEE. The life and record of Niran H. Withee has been one of more than usual interest, and his career was of such benefit, and wielded such a wide influence over the people of the Black River Valley, that a sketch of his career will convey some idea of his usefulness in the various walks of life. He was born in Norridgewock, Maine, June 21, 1827, the son of Zachariah and Pilly (Longly) Withee, who were also born in the Pine Tree State, the father of Irish and the mother of English extraction. Zachariah Withee was born in Norridgewock, Maine, Mar. 21, 1794, and was a leading agriculturist of the section in which he resided. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and for services rendered the Government in that capacity he received a land warrant. Niran H. Withee was one of seven children, and was given the rudiments of an academic education. When the tide of emigration swept westward Mr. Withee embraced the opportunity then afforded of being one of the pioneers of La Crosse County, Wis., and in 1852 settled in this region, with the commercial interests of which he thoroughly identified himself, eventually becoming one of the most successful business men and extensive land owners of the county.

Soon after his arrival he embarked in the lumber business and his operations in that line became so extensive that in 1870 he removed to Clark County. From 1857, however, he was closely identified with the logging interests of the Black River country in La Crosse County, and was a prominent figure in all the progressive business movements in the Black River Valley, in the lumber and flooding-dam companies, and was scarcely ever heavy official responsibility of some kind. He did much to shape policy and manage the affairs of Clark County, and was its treasurer 1875 until his brother Hiram succeeded him in 1882. He represented county for two terms in the General Assembly of the State, where his ability as an able leader was felt and acknowledged. His integrity and uprightness of character won for him the regard of his contemporaries, and his clear, analytical and well poised mind and quick perception brought him into immediate recognition. His activity and keen business foresight led him into many important enterprises which have been of permanent benefit to the country, and his generous impulses won him numerous whom he rarely lost.


At Hemlock he built a grist and saw mill and cleared up a large farm, and at Longwood he built a stave and heading mill and cheese factory, the latter of which was the first built in that part of the county. He also cleared a large farm at Longwood which he called the home farm. Mr. Withee built a saw mill at La Crosse which became known as the Island Mill Lumber Co., and of which he was the head of until his death. He was also heavily interested in the Hannibal Saw Mill Co. He also had a line of tow boats on the Mississippi River. Mr. Withee was married to Mrs. Louisa (Wood) Stratton, widow of Avery Stratton, of New York, and daughter of Colonel Artemus Wood, of New Berlin, N. Y., the latter being colonel in the State Militia. To Mr. and Mrs. Withee the following children were born: Niran Haskell, William Wood, Theodore Owen, and two who died in infancy. Mr. Withee was a Republican in politics. In social life he was highly esteemed for his cordial and agreeable manners, and in the domestic circle he was a model husband and father. Mr. Withee died at his home in La Crosse, July 2, 1887, at the age of sixty years and eleven days.




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