Marshfield, April 1912: An icy investment
Marshfield Cold Storage finds its niche
By Kris Leonhardt
In the early 1890s, Marshfield residents clamored for a system of cold storage in the maturing city. By the end of the decade, city leaders commenced begging.
Demand for eggs during the winter months had exploded. With the New York City market swallowing them up, the profit in the egg trade had reached an unbelievable level. In order to take advantage of the booming market, the Marshfield area needed some way to preserve eggs in the summer and fall months to capitalize in the winter.
The call was answered by Marshfield businessman L. Nick. Though Nick had his hands in several Hub City business interests already, he researched existing cold storage operations and constructed a new facility near the Wisconsin Central railway, on the east side of its depot.
The facilities were rented by H.M. Smith, who opened the business as Marshfield Cold Storage. Offering cash for butter, eggs, and poultry, Smith proceeded to turn a heavy profit.
Smith operated for just two months at the location, but he suddenly disappeared, leaving area businesses and residents a series of unpaid receipts.
After a month without locating Smith, Marshfield residents discovered that Smith was actually a Chicago swindler by the name of Mulhoon, who had recently pulled a similar hustle in Alton, Ill., operating by the name of Walker.
That was not to be the end of the Marshfield Cold Storage. In April of 1912, after purchasing the Hub City Cheese Company plant, P.J. Schaefer revived the name while filing articles of incorporation on the Marshfield Cold Storage Company, joined by fellow stockholders Alfred Neumann and G.J. Schmitz.
At that time Marshfield was growing as a cheese center, and company leaders hoped to capitalize on the care and storage of the expanding Wisconsin commodity.
In the summer of 1919, the storage facility was sold to Kraft Brothers Cheese, who had already established themselves as industry leaders in New York and Chicago.
In April of 1929, the Stevens Point Daily Journal announced the sale of the Marshfield Cold Storage Plant to the Miller family, who had an established wholesale fruits and vegetable business nearby. The Miller family continued in the cold storage business for many years, dealing with eggs and cheese.
In 1942 the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune announced the sale of Marshfield Cold Storage to a Milwaukee firm. Marshfield Cold Storage became a division of the Wisconsin Cold Storage Company, which expanded its services to locker rentals.
In 1965 Marshfield Cold Storage was attained by Miller family member Steven J. Miller, who remained active in the business until his death in 1974.
Funds from the Marshfield Cold Storage business helped to establish the Steve J. Miller Foundation, which remains active today. The land where Marshfield Cold Storage once stood is now occupied by the Kwik Trip at 101 N. Central Ave.
Kris Leonhardt may be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 51, Marshfield, WI 54449 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.