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October 3, 1897



Written on Mitchell Hotel Letterhead



Dearest Edna:


          Sunday has been a terribly slow day here and I do hope that I can get back before another but don't expect to unless I have extra good luck. This morning I walked across the river about a mile or mile and a half and looked through a lumber yard and found out that they didn't have any such lumber, as we want to buy. This is a most desolate looking town of about 2800 inhabitants mostly mill hands. The hotel is all right though there are some provincialisms about it. I was writing to the concern of another business letter and it got to be half past seven before I noticed the time and when I started to go to supper I found the dining room closed up and all dark. I thereupon inquired of the clerk as to the supper hours and he told me they were rather early on Sunday night but will cheerfully open the dining room and very shortly I had a good supper before me even the water girl seemed to be cheerful over it and tried to make me eat more than I did. The clerk or office boy, I don't know which he would be called or just what his work was, sat down a short time to keep me company as the barkeep had just finished his supper.

          They have one curious dish in this part of the country. Planked Whitefish. They put a nice piece of Whitefish on a plank and bake it, here it was on a nice round piece of oak which didn't get tremendously charred but the first time I had it they used pine and the wood was black as your hat and flavored the fish strongly. The Oak produced the right result according to my taste and is a fast and extremely palatable dish.

          Don't forget to take care of yourself. No your poor old hubby isn't round to look after you. If he doesn't come back and find you stronger there will be trouble. If only I can get through out here this week perhaps it will not be so late to go up to the mountains or somewhere. You went off to please me and now I should like to take some trip to please you. I think you deserve it. If only I could get home over night the daytimes wouldn't be so bad. It is fearfully lonesome going to bed all alone. I believe it makes me worse than ever to write to you. I wish I could get a letter and I shant before Tuesday at last.

          I hope the babies are all right. I think I shall telegraph an address to the office tomorrow so if you have been a good girl and sent some letters than I shall get them.

          I have been reading THE LILLY OF THE VALLEY today but haven't read enough to form any judgment yet. The first part seems to be about all sentiment and no action, a little too much, so I think it seems to be cleaner than most French novels. Balzoc is a wonderful writer isn't he? It is perfectly surprising how pure the sentiment is in some of his works and how tough some of the others are but there is a certain refinement about the worst of them. I must try to read more when I get home, my education is being terribly neglected but still I suppose my first duty is to look after my family and provide increasing expenses. I hope next year will show better results in business.

          Good-bye my dear, take care of yourself and ride your bicycle as soon as you are able






EARLY 1900S.

Tomahawk, Wisconsin Mitchell Hotel Fire March 6, 1929
The fire, known as the Mitchell Hotel fire, broke out shortly after noon on March 6, 1929, in a cloakroom of the hotel. It ravished 18 buildings in 4 hours. It destroyed a three-story frame building so quickly that only a phonograph was saved. While leveling the hotel, the flames, buffeted by a strong wind, leaped across the street to the East, igniting the Standard Mercantile Building, the town's largest store. Within two hours, the flames engulfed the whole business block East of the hotel on Wisconsin Avenue, spread west of the hotel and crossed Wisconsin Avenue to attack a bakery and four other shops. Proprietors and tenants scurried to safety as flames crackled nearby, spreading so quickly that little could be saved. Most of the population turned out. Schools were dismissed and high school students aided firemen in their efforts. The flames and smoke attracted farmers into town for miles around. A strong wind and snow added to the fire's strength and firemen, "Found their weapons inadequate to check it." Tomahawk firefighters had no engine to increase water pressure for their 12 lines of hose. Help was requested from surrounding communities, but when Merrill firemen arrived, their apparatus was rendered useless by a broken shaft. The Phillips fire department arrived to late. As a last resort, dynamite was used to blow a gap in the path of the fire. But that was unsuccessful. The explosion had the opposite effect, contributing to the spread of the fire. The intense heat from the blaze cracked pavement down to the sewers. This aided firefighters by allowing water to run off instead of collecting in pools. William Addis, the hotel clerk, who discovered the fire ignored his personal safety as he hurried through the corridors of the hotel warning roomers to flee. When he reached the second floor, he found his escape route blocked and jumped thru the window suffering serious injury. Firemen rescued C. H. Grundy, superintendent of the Marinette, Tomahawk and Western Railroad, who was confined to his hotel room by illness. Women telephone operators stuck to their posts despite the approaching flames and smoke. The telephone building was saved. Fire watchers-mostly young boys-devoured most of the stock of doughnuts, rolls, cakes, and cookies in the bakery across form the hotel after the owners fled.
The fire spent itself shortly after 5 PM leaving 10 families homeless who resided above the stores in the flats. Losses estimated were ,000.00. Except for the Mitchell hotel, all the buildings were two-story wooden structures. Merchandise and household effects taken from the burned buildings were piled in the streets adjoining the fire area. There was no special police guard and vandals made off with some items. By March 8, the snowstorm had turned the ruins into a jewel box of grotesquely shaped crystal. Electricity was restored that morning and Orville Grant, owner of the Mitchell Hotel announced plans to rebuild a modern, fireproof-50 room hotel-the present Tomahawk House-on the site.
Taken from the Wausau Daily Herald March 1979




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