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Manufacturers Index - Marinette Iron Works

Marinette Iron Works
Marinette, WI; Duluth, WI; Menominee, MI;, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

History
Last Modified: Feb 11 2018 11:20AM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

In 1867, DeWitt Clinton (Clint) Prescott, along with partners R. H. Trumbell and Austin Cruver, founded a shop for repairing and manufacturing sawmills; located on Joe Bart Island in Marinette, the name of this operation was D. Clint Prescott & Co. In 1870 their shop burned down in a fire that spread from a nearby planing mill. They had already been building a new factory on the mainland, so after the fire the moved into the new premises on Main Street. Prescott bought out his partners in 1872 and incorporated as the Marinette Iron Works Co.

Prescott invented and patented key innovations in steam-powered feed works and set works, and these innovations were widely adopted. Besides sawmills and related machinery, Marinette Iron Works also made mining machinery, car wheels, steam engines, and steam locomotives.

In 1890 Prescott relocated the business, plus himself and his family, to Duluth, WI. The business failed during the financial panic of 1890. Prescott organized a new business, D. Clint. Prescott Co., and leased and operated his former plants in both Marinette and Duluth; this arrangement continued until the bond-holders of his old company sold the plants to him. In 1898 Prescott moved to Chicago where he established a company headquarters. The following year he purchased the iron works at Menominee, Michigan, enlarged them and set up manufacturing operations there. By this time Prescott's sons, Loren, Edward and Sumner had joined their father in business. The Prescott Co. a some point; it is certain that Clint Prescott was operating under that name by 1905. We have also seen the name Marinette Iron Works Manufacturing Co., but have no other information on when that name was in use.

DeWitt Clinton Prescott died in Chicago in 1918. So far as we can tell, the business did not long survive him.

Information Sources

  • April 1873 The Wisconsin Lumberman.
    The Ford River Lumber Co., at Ford River, Mich., are putting in one of D. Clint Prescott & Co.'s (Marinette, Wis.) 52 inch flat gangs, which, by-the-by, is something new in the line of gang mills, and is a perfect success. Using Prescott's patent changeable feed and Prescott's patent oscillating movement, which oscillates from the bottom of the gate, with changeable rake, the feed and rake can be changed from the hightest to the lowest desired instantly, while running in the cut. To be seen is to be appreciated by mill-men, and we predict for Mr. Prescott great success with his invention, he having already introduced it into all the gang mills on the river.
  • From the 1881 book from The Western Historical Co., History of Northern Wisconsin, in their chapter on the history of Marinette County.
    The Marinette Iron Works Company.—In 1867, D. Clint Prescott, with Messrs. Trumbull and Cruver, erected buildings for a machine shop, the repairs and manufacture of saw-mill and mining machinery having been previously done in Green Bay or Chicago. The power was derived from the planing-mill. The works were run under the firm name of D. Clint Prescott & Co. until 1870. When about to move into new quarters, on Main street, his shop was burned, with the James Tweedie planing-mill. In the same year (1870), the Marinette Iron Works Company was incorporated, and business established at the present location. Its officers are: Austin Cruver, of Chicago, president; R. H. Trumbull, treasurer; D. Clint Prescott, secretary and general manager. Saw-mill machinery, car wheels, and pumping machinery for mining operations are principally manufactured. About 140 men are employed. The large foundry building, now nearly completed, will double he capacity of the establishment, and make it the most complete of any outside of Milwaukee—hardly second to any there, excepting E. P. Allis's Reliance Works. This is one of the industries in which Marinette takes a just pride.
  • Advertisements for fire bricks in Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers, volumes 5 and 6, from 1884 and 1885, mention Marinette Iron Works Co. as a reference.
  • A page from the Delta County Historical Society lists an obituary for D. C. Prescott. Volunteer Cheryl Savage kindly photocopied the article and mailed it to me. The obituary, from the 1918-05-07 issue of the Escanaba Morning Press, is transcribed below.
    D. Clint Prescott, pioneer sawmill manufacturer of the northwest and former resident of Marinette, died suddenly at his home in Chicago Saturday morning. He had not been ill and his death was entirely unexpected. His son, Loren L. Prescott, leaves this evening for Chicago and until after his arrival the funeral arrangements will not be known. But it is thought certain that the remains will be brought to Marinette for interment by the side of his late wife, who is buried at Woodlawn cemetery.
    Mr. Prescott's immediate survivors are his second wife, four sons, Fred and Loren L. of Menominee, Edward I. and Sumner of Seattle, and two daughters, Mrs. N. C. Kingsburg, of New York, and Mrs. Petitt of Chicago. He was the founder of the Marinette Iron Works which for years conducted an extensive business in Marinette in the manufacture of sawmill machinery and later moved to Duluth. He has resided in Chicago for about twenty years.
    DeWitt Clinton Prescott came to Peshtigo in 1865 from Chicago. He arrived in Chicago when he was 15 years of age and later brought the first C. & N. W. locomotive to that city. He was engineer on the Rockford Galena division at the time.
    He became master mechanic for the Chicago & Northwestern at Peshtigo. He remained there until the Marinette Iron Works was started here, he being a promotor and organizer of the institution.
    In 1863 he was married to Sarah Holgate, who died a few years ago.
    Mr. Prescott was a charter member of the Mason lodge of Marinette and was the last surviving charter member. He was a founder of the Methodist church here, taking a prominent part in all of its proceedings during his residence here.
  • 1920 biography of DeWitt Clinton Prescott, from The National Cyclopædia of American Biography (via the VintageMachinery.org wiki).
  • A RootsWeb page quoted a history from Marinette County Centennial 1879-1979: "D. Clint Prescott, Trumbell, and Curver built a machine shop for repair and manufacture of sawmill and mining machinery on Joe Bart Island in 1867. During the fire that destroyed the Goddard, White and Ellis planing mill, in 1870, Prescott's plant was also destroyed. The company moved to new quarters on Main Street, and the name was changed to Marinette Iron Works. The Prescotts developed the steam-feed and set works, which revolutionized the sawing of lumber. They also manufactured car wheels and pumping machinery for the copper and iron mines in northern Michigan. In the early 1890s they moved their plant to Duluth, but a few years later, they returned and built another large plant in Menominee."
  • The 1998 book, "--And the river flows on-- ": memories from a Wisconsin-Michigan border town: the Marinette, Wisconsin area, Volume 1, by John F. Boatman.
    Machine Shop and Foundry Built—D. Clint Prescott, along with men named Trumbull (or Trumbell) and Cruver (or Curver), had a machine shop and foundry constructed on Joe Bart's Island in the village of Marinette. Prescott's primary objective was to be able to repair the machinery used by the sawmills in the Menominee River Settlement, as well as mining machinery that was used farther north. Prior to this, all mill machinery had to be sent to Green Bay or Chicago to be repaired.
  • From the 2001 book Duluth, Minnesota, by Sheldon T. Aubut and Maryanne C. Norton, in a caption for a photograph.
    Marinette Iron Works, 50th Avenue West and Roosevelt. The Marinette Iron Works manufactured steam engines and sawmill machinery. It was started in Marinette, Wisconsin, and the owner, Dewitt Clinton Prescott, moved his family and the entire company to Duluth in 1890. The iron works closed in 1898, and became the Union Match Company which produced wooden matches made from white pine. The buildings have since been demolished.
  • American Steam Engine Builders: 1800-1900 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2006 page 150