Fish Brothers Wagon Company

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From the Racine Walking Tour Guide published 1994.

THE FISH BROTHERS

Fish Brothers Wagon Company, 1905 advertisement

Fish Brothers Wagon Company, 1905 advertisement

“Fish Brothers Wagon Company makes the best wagon on wheels,” boasted the company trademark, a paper fish used as its logo. On workdays one hundred years ago, it was a common sight to see “strings of freshly painted wagons being hauled through the streets on their way to steamboat docks or railroad freight yards, headed for Mexico, South America, and Australia, to be used a livery, milk, lumber, and police wagons…as well as phaetons, trotting buggies, road and spring wagons of every description.”

The wagons were turned out at a rate of one every half hour, or five hundred per month. There was the “No. 180,” a one-and-a-half-axle phaeton with a red body and blue wheels, often used to illustrate Fish Brothers ads. Buggies costing $210 and surreys costing $375 were handmade by workers who earned $1.25 to $1.75 an hour for shaping bar iron into tires, and making cushions, tops, and covered dashboards. Located on the south side of State Street (the present site of Merchant’s Delivery), the Fish Wagon Works encompassed ten acres. Sheds for drying, curing, and storing the hardwood lumber which arrived at the company’s wharf and docks sat alongside offices and shops.

Titus G. (1833-1899, Abner C. (1835-1899), and Edwin B. (1840-1924) Fish were nephews of industrialist J. I. Case. They grew up in Janesville (Wisconsin). At the age of 21, Abner walked to Racine to attend Racine High School. He became a teacher, then a lawyer in Boston. In 1864 he returned to Racine to join his brothers. Together, they bought out Daniel Bull’s interest in Fish and Bull and, in 1866, changed the name to Fish Brothers.

Industries such as the Fish Brothers Wagon Company and the Mitchell Wagon Works were just two of many local concerns in need of skilled trades and crafts people. That need prompted the immigration of countless Danes and Germans and other skilled artisans to this area.

Submitted by Deborah Crowell

Where was the Fish Brothers Wagon Company?

According to this book:

factory_bought

the factory was at State and Marquette Streets.

But according to this map, the Fish Brothers Factory was number 31, way out on Holborn Street:

RACINEMK_fish_brothers_31

Holborn Street, Streetview

Holborn Street, Streetview

The Fish Brothers glass negative just arrived from Ebay -- and here's my first attempt to scan it without a real transparency adapter for my scanner. It's an odd scene -- it looks like John Dorsch showed up first, put up their sign, then Fish Brother arrived and put their banner on the Dorsch sign. The envelope that the glass negative came in says, "Old wagon circus tent sales tent 1910."

The Fish Brothers glass negative just arrived from Ebay — and here’s my first attempt to scan it without a real transparency adapter for my scanner. It’s an odd scene — it looks like John Dorsch showed up first, put up their sign, then Fish Brother arrived and put their banner on the Dorsch sign. The envelope that the glass negative came in says, “Old wagon circus tent sales tent 1910.”

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6 thoughts on “Fish Brothers Wagon Company

  1. I have been working on a family history for my daughter-in-law. In doing I discovered that it is possible one of her grandfathers from PA may have come to work in Racine. He is listed in the 1920 Federal Census. Would you have any ideas as to how I could get more info? Just want to make sure I am chasing down the correct lead!

    Thanks.

    Betty

    • Hi Betty:
      I always start with Google, with the person’s name in quotes — “Jim Smith” and add in the word Racine. If you’re lucky, you’ll come up with some information right away. If you want to give me the grandfather’s name, I’ll search in my books for you.
      –Todd

    • Betty,
      I have been working on family genealogy and found relationship to the Fish brothers. Would be happy to share info. Are you in Wisconsin?

      Dick Fish

  2. I was just looking up articles on Fox Head Brewing was known as Milwaukee Waukesha Brewing Company and found this about Fish Wagon MFG
    Oct 20, 1899
    Dear Sir – Mr. J.J. White a customer of ours and an agent for the Fish Wagon Mfg Company Racine sprained his ankle a few days ago. He was informed by somebody that you sell a kind of oil (Mystic oil) would cure same. Would you kindly send him 2 bottles of the same at once. The amount we will send you by money order. Hopefully you will lets us hear from you and obliged.
    Most Respectfully,
    Milwaukee-Waukesha Brewing Company later Fox Head Brewing

    kind of a cool thing to do for a brewery looking out for a friend. thought you might enjoy

  3. I have an antique traveling desk that has the Fish Brothers fish shaped logo on the back. Did they make desks, too?

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