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William H. Hesse

This gentleman, whose popularity is proverbial, and whose name in his city and vicinity is "familiar as household words" comes of that sterling progressive class of Germans, who, wherever they make a settlement, form an impress for good, leaving on their onward march indelible "foot-prints on the sands of time."

Some eight years ago Mr. Hesse be- came interested financially in mining matters in Alaska and continues in the business today. He is accounted one of the pioneers of the Seward Peninsula in Alaska, where he has large interests in the gold placer grounds, and tin and quicksilver deposits, with an office in Nome.

William Hesse, father of our subject, was born in 1834, in Crivitz, Prussia, where he was reared and educated. At the age of eighteen, in 1852, in company with his father and the family, he went to the United States, and for a short time made his home in Rochester, New York. From Rochester the family removed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and there he met his future wife. Miss Clara Vehring, a lady of German nativity, and who, when sixteen years old, went to America with an uncle, she being an orphan. Mr. Hesse died in Neenah, Wisconsin, in 1885, and his wife followed him to the grave in 1893.

William H. Hesse was born in Menasha, Wisconsin, November 2, I860, and received his elementary education in the public schools in Neenah, supplemented with a course at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. At the age of twenty-one he entered into partnership with his father in the hotel business, as managers of the Neenah Hotel. On the death of the senior Hesse, in 1885, the son continued the business until 1 893, when he disposed of his interest.

In the meantime Mr. Hesse discovered the existence of white quartz quarries near Wausau, Marathon County, Wisconsin, and conceived the idea that this might be made a valuable adjunct to the resources of the Badger State. He had given considerable attention to geology and mining. With specimens of the Marathon County quartz in his possession, he returned to Neenah from a visit and began experimenting. He soon discovered the quartz, pulverized, could not only be utilized in the manufacture of a fine quality of sandpaper, and for other purposes, but that it made one of the best water filter beds possible. Armed with this information, he established a factory in a small way in Neenah, and soon won a reputation with his product that induced the people of Wausau to offer him sufficient inducements to remove his plant to that city, where he engaged in the business on a large scale. The correctness of his judgment is testified to by the fact that the Badger Quartz Mill is among the more important industries of the Wisconsin Valley today, its output being shipped in carload lots to all parts of the country.

Mr. Hesse has always taken a deep interest in public matters, whether they con- cerned the prosperity of his home city, the state, or the nation. In his politcal affiliations he is a Democrat. He has served his party as a member of both county and congressional committees, and as a delegate to state, county and city conventions. He served the city of Neenah for three years as a member of the common council, and as mayor for one term, 1891 to 1892. His administration as chief magistrate, was peculiarly felicitious, from the fact that it gave to the people the present excellent water works and inaugurated the street paving system.

At the present time (1905), Mr. Hesse is serving the people as the president of the Board of Libraries of Winnebago County. He has been a member of the school board for several years, and takes a deep interest in educational matters.

In 1887 Mr. Hesse married Miss Flora May Dunham, a native of Ohio. They have one child, Monica A. Hesse.

Descended from sturdy ancestors, some of them in the honorable professions, others in the no less honorable field of commerce, he is, by inheritance, possessed of advantages and surrounded by circumstances combining in a remarkable manner to accelerate the developments of his character and the furtherance of his future prosperity; and that they have been accomplished in no limited degree, his life itself is indisputable evidence.  


Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.



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