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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Michael Winter

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 726 - 727

Michael Winter, deceased. Among the German emigrants who came to this county in an early day, and by industry and thrift accumulated a fortune, should be mentioned the well-known gentleman whose name heads this sketch. Possessed of a strong physical manhood and indomitable energy, he pushed forward to completion whatever enterprise he undertook. Mr. Winter was born at Stettin, Pomerania, Germany, August 10, 1825. His education was acquired in the schools of his native country. In 1839, in company with his parents, two brothers and three sisters, he embarked in an old sailing vessel at Hamburg for New York City. Going on to Buffalo, he was employed on the canal for about three years. The year 1842 witnessed his arrival at Milwaukee, Wis. Money not being very plentiful with him, he worked at whatever he could find to do. For a time he served as cook aboard the lumber-vessel "Black Hawk," well known to the early settlers of Sheboygan. For some twelve years he was engaged in running sawmills, in and around Milwaukee. He is said to have operated the first gang sawmill used in the State, the date being 1843. Mr. Winter came to Sheboygan County in 1853, locating in the town of Sherman, where he engaged in farming. There his parents spent their last days. On his farm he opened a store, which he conducted some ten or twelve years.

In politics, Mr. Winter was a strong advocate of Republican principles, and in the councils of his party took an active and prominent part. Appreciation of his worth and ability was shown by his fellow-citizens in his election to numerous responsible official positions. In 1864, he was chosen as Representative to the State Legislature. Two years later he was elected Sheriff of this county, serving one term. To better attend to his official duties, he removed to Sheboygan, which continued to be his home until his death. For two terms he was honored with the office of Mayor of this city, and also served as a member of the Common Council.

While serving as Sheriff, he started a sawmill and lumber-yard at Dalton, Mich., and soon after opened a lumber-yard at Sheboygan. It was he that shipped the first vessel-load of lumber to this city. He purchased a lot, which is a part of the present yard of the company, and which at that time was partially under water. During leisure hours, Mr. Winter amused himself by filling in his lot with the wheelbarrow. A friend, Mr. Hinckley, passing by, saw him thus engaged, and made the not very complimentary remark, "All the fools are not dead yet." Subsequent events showed this statement to be absolutely true, but proved that the "fool" was not the one who used the wheelbarrow. By close attention to business, and a careful consideration of the wants of his customers, Mr. Winter worked up a large and lucrative trade. Later he also began to deal in coal, continuing that line of business two years. He owned several vessels at different times, and, with a, partner, built the "City of Sheboygan" in 1870. He was always an indefatigable worker, and it is said that when a wage earner he received pay for more days' work than there were days in the year, this being accomplished by working overtime.

Mr. Winter was public-spirited, and was identified with several of the important industries of the city. He was one of the founders of the Bank of Sheboygan, of The Sheboygan Gas Company, and of The Sheboygan Coal Company, of which he was President at the time of his death.

On the 8th of April, 1849, he was married in the city of Milwaukee to Miss Bertha Benter, who was born in the same locality as her husband, December 26, 1830, and with, her parents came to the United States in 1847. To Mr. and Mrs. Winter were born seven children, two having passed away. Theresa died when about seven years of age; and Albina, wife of Charles A. Bodenstein, died September 29, 1885. The living are: William M., Superintendent of The M. Winter Lumber Company; Augusta, the wife of J. J. Koepsell, of Sheboygan; Louise, who married J. J. Jung, of the same city; Arthur F., Secretary and Treasurer of the above company; and Jesse A., Vice-President of the same.

On the 13th of October, 1889, Mr. Winter was called to his final rest. He was an active member of the Lutheran Church, as is also his wife, who still survives.

In order to keep his extensive interests intact, The M. Winter Lumber Company was incorporated in January, 1890, with the following officers: Mrs. Bertha Winter, President; J. A. Winter, Vice-President; A. F. Winter, Secretary and Treasurer; and W. M. Winter, Superintendent. The capital stock of the company is $100,000. The yard covers nearly a block, on which is situated a four-story planing-mill, 60x108 feet, the two upper stories being leased to The J. A. Winter Manufacturing Company. The M. Winter Lumber Company handles yearly about fourteen million feet of lumber, and give employment to some forty-four men. This is the most extensive industry of its kind in this part of the State. In 1893 they erected an elegant office-building, furnished with the most modern appliances. Since the death of the father, his three sons have conducted the business in the same able and efficient manner as it was carried on during his life.


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