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George B. Mattoon, Page 315
GEORGE B. MATTOON, President of the Mattoon manufacturing Company of Sheboygan, is a native of the Empire State, born in Troy, February 27, 1847. His father, Samuel Mattoon, was a native of Northfield, Mass., where the most of his life was spent. His mother, who bore the maiden name of Mary Vaughn, was a native of New York State. In 1842 they located in Troy, which they made their home for some ten years, then moving to Swanzey, N. H. The father died in Sheboygan while visiting his son; the mother spent her last days in Troy. Of their nine children, but four are living, George B. being next to the youngest.
The educational privileges of Mr. Mattoon were very meagre, as he was not permitted to attend school after reaching his twelfth year; however, his experience in business affairs has given him a fund of practical knowledge more valuable than information gained from books. When twelve years of age he asked his father for the privilege of beginning the battle of life for himself. His request being granted, he went to Swanzey, N. H., and worked three months on a farm, receiving for his services a three-year-old heifer, which he traded for a horse and a silver watch. It will thus be seen that he early had a genius for business. We next find him at Ashuelot, N. H., where he worked in a hotel for his board, and went to school for a time. A year and a-half later he went to Northfield, Mass., and again worked in a hotel. Saving his earnings, he accumulated $200.
Although not fifteen years of age, he enlisted, September 12, 1861, at Brattleboro, Vt., in the First Vermont Cavalry. During three years and two months' service he took part in seventy engagements, of which forty-three were regular battles. Two horses were shot from under him; one at the battle of Gettysburg, and the other at the battle of Culpeper Court House. At the battle of Cedar Creek, where Sheridan made his famous ride, "the First in that brilliant charge captured sixty-one prisoners, twenty-three pieces of artillery, three battle flags, fourteen caissons, seventeen army wagons, six ambulances, eighty-three sets of artillery harness, seventy-five sets of wagon harness, ninety-eight horses, and sixty-nine mules. The whole army took forty-eight pieces of artillery." Sheridan states that no regiment up to that time had captured so much in a single charge. When Mr. Mattoon entered the service he weighed one hundred and sixty pounds, and when discharged one hundred and eighty pounds, although but eighteen years and seven months old. During his term of service he was neither wounded nor taken prisoner, and was never absent or in the hospital a day. Mr. Mattoon's father served the Union cause three years, and his brother Charles three years.
Upon the conclusion of the battle of Cedar Creek, Mr. Mattoon received an honorable discharge, and in the spring of 1865 came to Sheboygan Falls, Wis., and entered the chair factory of his brother as a day laborer, working there three years. Having bought a retail store of his brother, and conducted it alone for three years, he took as partner William Parker. They also established stores at Sheboygan and Plymouth, continuing all about three years. The second year Mr. Mattoon bought his partner out. He also engaged in the manufacture of furniture, employing some eight men, and doing all the work by hand. On starting the store in Sheboygan in 1871, he moved to that city, which has since been his home. In 1881 he bought some machinery, run in connection with a planing-mill, and began the manufacture of furniture, employing about fifteen men. Two years later he sold his store in Sheboygan to Hanchett Bros., and purchased the grounds where his present factory stands. though it was then but a swamp. A new three-story building was erected, 50 x 100 feet, into which the machinery was moved, and manufacturing was begun on an extended scale, thirty-five men being employed. A year later the capacity of the building was doubled, and from that time to the present business has constantly increased. In 1886 the Mattoon Manufacturing Company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $300,000, which has since been increased to $500,000. In 1887 the factory burned, entailing heavy loss. Thereupon, a new plant was erected, the factory proper consisting of two buildings, respectively 50 x 200 feet and 40 x 200 feet; a finishing room, 75 x 150 feet; a warehouse, 50 x 218 feet; a second warehouse, 50 x 150 feet. All of the above buildings are four-story except the last, which is three-story. At this plant some nine hundred and fifty-two hands are employed. Besides, the company has a sawmill fifteen miles south of Antigo, where one hundred and seventy-five men are employed. They own about two thousand acres of timberland surrounding the mill, to which they have built twelve miles of railroad. The output of the concern for 1892 was valued at $1,063,000. In order to facilitate the sale and shipment of goods, a large warehouse and salesroom are kept in Chicago. The officers of the company are G. B. Mattoon, President; F. S. Merrill, Vice-President; and E. E. Panzer, Secretary and Treasurer.
Our subject is also interested in the Halstead Manufacturing Company and the Sheboygan Novelty Company, and in the Electric Light Plant and City Railway. Politically, he is a Republican, and, socially, is a member of Gustav Wintermeyer Post No. 187, G. A. R., of Sheboygan.
Mr. Mattoon was married in Sheboygan, in July 1878, to Nellie F., a daughter of Warren Smith, a pioneer settler of the county. Mrs. Mattoon was born in this county. Their family consists of two children, Laura and Robert. Their first-born, Warren, died in infancy.
Mr. Mattoon has made a war record of which anyone might be justly proud, and as a business man, he has put on foot enterprises that will be of lasting benefit to the city and county.
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