A. J. Kingsbury Photographs
Arthur J. Kingsbury was a photographer, based in Antigo, who traveled throughout northern Wisconsin in the first two or three decades of the 20th century. His photographs were used to create picture post card views of Antigo, several other towns and lumber camps, resorts, railroad locomotives and depots and the Ojibwe and Menominee Indians of the region. The Indian photographs are particularly noteworthy as they document the Indians as they adapted to the growing influence of white settlers.
The Langlade County Historical Society holds his surviving negatives, some prints made in the 1970s from the negatives, and some picture post cards made by Kingsbury.
The need for lumber first brought settlers to the forests of northern Wisconsin in the decades after the Civil War. Initially the harvesting of pine took place near rivers and logs were floated downstream to sawmills. Later the railroad opened up new areas to logging. Skidding out logs was first done by teams of oxen, then horses, and later by machines. Often farmers found employment in lumber camps in winter. Lumber continues to be a major part of the economy of Langlade County to this day.
The railroad opened up the Northwoods to settlement and tourism. The first train into Antigo, the Milwaukee Lakeshore & Western (ML&W) arrived in 1880. In 1883 the Chicago & Northwestern (C&NW) took over the ML&W, expanded rail service and, in 1907, made Antigo headquarters of its northern division. The C&NW made Antigo a rail hub and was a major employer until the 1950s when diesel began to replace steam engines.
The logging and railroad photographs in the collection of the Langlade County Historical Society cover the period from the late 19th century to the 1990s. Some photographs were taken by Arthur J. Kingsbury for his picture post card business, but many are by anonymous photographers.
Francis Deleglise was a young man of 25 with a wife and children, living in Appleton, when he enlisted in the Iron Brigade, Wisconsin’s most famous Civil War unit. They fought in the Army of the Potomac, suffering unusually high casualties at Gainesville, Antietam (the Civil War's bloodiest battle), and Gettysburg.
Francis Deleglise describes his arrival at Camp Randall, Madison in July 1861 and training routines. Once he went off into battle many in his company were lost and he was wounded at Antietam. After Antietam, Deleglise was treated at a field hospital then in Washington before returning to the battlefield only to be wounded at Gettysburg. This time his wounds were severe enough that his fighting was done. Deleglise’s recovery was lengthy and took place in Baltimore then New York and then in Madison.
Nineteen letters to his wife, father, and uncles describing these events are in the archives of the Langlade County Historical Society museum. These letters are part of a larger collection of letters and documents of the Deleglise family relating to the settlement and growth of Antigo.
Civil War Diary of Ruben Sweet
Ruben Sweet of Manitowoc, Wisconsin kept a diary of his experiences in the Civil War from November 1863-February 1865. The diary was dranscribed by the Langlade County Historical Society in 2004.
Antigo's 107th Trench Mortar Battery Company in World War I
When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, a military company was formed in Antigo known as Company G of the Wisconsin National Guard. The company drilled in Antigo, then went to Camp Douglas in Wisconsin and to Camp MacArthur in Texas for training. In Texas they officially became the 107th Trench Mortar Battery Company (TMB).
On February 16, 1918 the TMB shipped out to France. There they received further training and saw their first action in the Alsace region. They later fought in the Argonne offensive. On April 20, 1919 they boarded a ship for home and were welcomed back in Antigo on May 17.
William Wessa, one of the recruits, operated a photo studio in Antigo. He took along a small hand-held camera and documented the TMB’s movements. He became the company’s unofficial historian and compiled several copies of photo albums and wrote an account of his experiences. His daughter Betty Fogeltanz edited his account.
The Langlade County Historical Society maintains a museum in Antigo in a Carnegie Library built in 1905. The museum grounds also have the cabin that was the first home in Antigo, erected in 1878, and a restored steam locomotive and caboose, which commemorate the importance of the railroad in Antigo’s history
The museum acknowledges Ross Fischer, Lloyd Godell, Jim Klapste, Jeff Robinson, Jamie Spychalla, and Bailey Helms for assistance in scanning and cataloging photographs for the digital collection. The work was made possible by grants from the Wisconsin Council for Local History and the Alliant Energy Foundation for purchases of archival materials and a scanner.