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Fire of 1915 History

106 years ago, April 16th 1915, Menzner Hardwoods, then known as the Menzner Sawmill and Lumberyard – Flour and Grist Mill, burnt to the ground for the second time in 10 years after initially burning down in 1905. During this time period, the business was very successful, and rapidly growing. The success was partly due to the advent of the railroad throughout Wisconsin, which made logging and the lumber industry a much more profitable business.

Unfortunately, the fire in 1915 would not be the last fire to raze the business. A final fire that took place in 1919, burned the business to the ground a third time, leaving behind a loss of over $6,000. On December 12th, 1919 the Marathon Times wrote an article stating, “Mr. Menzner picks up new courage and starts up again with renewed energies, determined to win out in the end in spite of all his misfortunes by fire losses.” Read below for excerpts from an article written in the Marathon Times titled “Menzner’s Mill Burned to Ground Friday Morning” regarding the fire in 1915.

“Menzner’s mill was totally destroyed by fire, which broke out at about four o’clock last Friday morning. The fire department responded promptly to the alarm, but before the hose could be turned on the fire had spread rapidly over the entire mill that it was impossible to save anything and all that could be done was to prevent the fire from spreading to the lumber yard and adjacent buildings. Within two hours the mill was reduced to a pile of ashes and debris, an entire loss with the exception of the two boilers, and one engine and one smoke stack. The loss amounts to about $7,000 there being no insurance.”

“Whether or not the mill will be rebuilt is still undecided; it is hoped that some way or plan may be found to have the mill rebuilt. The mill was certainly a great benefit to the farmers of the vicinity as well as the village and its loss would surely be keenly felt, in the case it were not rebuilt.”

“Mr. Menzner seems to be hunted considerably by misfortune. In the year 1905, he met with his first serious loss when his lumber yard was destroyed by fire, and in the spring of 1908 during a flood, he lost a large quantity of logs. But in spite of his bad luck Mr. Menzner never lost courage but always resumed his business with a firm determination to win out in the end. During the past two years he made improvements to his mill worth $3,000 and the mill was never in such fine shape and good order as it was this winter. And Mr. Menzner looked hopefully into the future feeling that now he would be able to make up for some of the reverses he has met in the past. But now he sees his hopes dashed to the ground again. Mr. Menzner has the full sympathy of the entire community to his misfortune, but here is a case like we often find where mere verbal sympathy is of little value to the loser, here is where our sympathy should be substantiated in a material form by giving Mr. Menzner practical assistance.”