ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


William Gorder

Watertown Shoe Company




In Watertown, in 1886, three firms were vying for the privilege of supply coal.  Beeses and Knoll were handled coal from their yard opposite the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Railroad Depot, William Gorder did business near the Northwestern Railroad Depot, and John McGolrich dispensed coal from his yard on Washington Street.  Each one claimed to be supplying coal which provided more heat per ton than any other coal -- an unprovable claim.    Source  




J. M. Peeples, the boot and shoe man of Chicago, was in the city last week the guest of Wm. Gorder, superintendent of the boot and shoe factory.  He was here for the purpose of getting more intimately acquainted with the management of our boot and shoe factory, with whom he has been dealing for some months past, taking 200 pairs of shoes each day from them.  While here he endeavored to make arrangements to be supplied daily with 500 pairs, but the capacity of the factory is not sufficient to turn out so many each day and a contract to that effect could not be made, whereupon Mr. Peeples informed Mr. Gorder that unless he could get 500 pairs daily after January 1st he would have to cease dealing with his factory altogether.  An effort is now being made to increase the capacity of the factory in order to secure Mr. Peebles’ immense trade by increasing the capital stock from $25,000 to $50,000.  The business of that enterprise has been paying well the last six months, and it appears to us that the extra amount needed could be readily raised here.  Mr. Gorder is at present endeavoring to interest our citizens in taking the extra $25,000 in stocks, and it is hoped that he will succeed.    WG




1899-1900 Watertown City Directory



11 07       COAL WAR

There appears to be a coal war on among our dealers, and the old prices seem to have been knocked into a cocked hat.   WR




On motion the contract was awarded to William Gorder, that being the lowest in all details, for the sum of $14,374.49.   WR



Frank Peterson, employed as foreman by William Gorder, unpleasant experience Sunday afternoon subsequent to one of the heavy showers.  He was engaged with a gang of workmen laying a sewer drain at J. W. Wiggenhorn's residence, on Clyman Street, when the sides of the ditch caved in, covering Mr. Peterson up to his neck.  Luckily, he was in an upright position, and after a half hour's work by his comrades he was extricated without any harm being done.  Had he been stooping, serious if not fatal injury would no doubt have resulted.  Another workman was also caught by the cave in, but only covered to his knees.



Pipe line job for waterworks system to William Gorder suggested.  WR





Oct           SHOE FACTORY OPENED AT 416-422 S. FIRST

Gorder shoe factory of the commenced business in Oct. 1902.  The Wm. Gorder Cos., located at 416-422 S. First Street. 





-- --           DELIVERY WAGON



-- --           WILLIAM GORDER






An Industry Which Adds Greatly to the Several Substantial Enterprises of Watertown


    Employs Large Number of People on Good Pay.


According to the critics in the sculptor’s art, perfection of outline and shape in the human foot is rarely found nowadays.  The writer, being no critic in this line, would not attempt anything, not even mere opinion on this question.  One thing is certain -- we have feet or need them, and consequently need shoes to cover them.  In securing this footwear all are anxious to get something, not only durable, but artistic as well.  Fortunately for those not blessed with the perfect trilbys, shoe manufacturers have attained such a degree of perfection in their work, that shoes of all description are now turned out in such shapes as to offset any deficiency of nature.


Watertown numbers among her many industries, a concern which, though young, has attained a high reputation for its high-grade footwear, and consequently is building an enormous and rapidly growing business.  It is needless to state that the concern referred to is the shoe factory of the commenced business in Oct. 1902.  The Wm. Gorder Cos., located at 416-422 S. First Street. 


The plant occupies a brick building four stories high, 81 by 85 feet and company employs constantly 45 hands who turn out 150 pairs of boots and shoes per day, the material in which is valued at from $35 to $40.  The payroll each week aggregates from $250 to $300, thus placing a good sum of money in circulation among our people.  


Gleaning so much information in regard to this, one of the city’s most valuable industries, one naturally has his interest awakened regarding the processes of making this necessary adjunct to the well-dressed man or woman.


On entering the factory the reporter was taken in tow by Wm. Gorder, Jr., the obliging bookkeeper of the concern, and led upstairs to a room 38x48 feet.  This is the cutting room where five hands are employed.  At the east side of the room is a long bench where the leather is cut into all shapes and sizes.  Going on to the northeast of the building is a room 35x80 feet, where 12 girls are kept busy stitching the uppers, the work being done on special machines provided for the purpose.  In the east end of this room is the department where the eyelets are added to the lace shoes.


Descending to the basement, the sole leathering department and engine room was visited.  In the latter place stands the 25 horse power engine which furnishes the necessary energy for the machinery on the floors above.  Here also the channing and trimming of the sole leather takes place, after which it is ready to attach to the uppers.  On the east side of the room the heels are made ready, and together with the soles, are dyed and put through the rounding machine to bring them to the required shape.  Four men are employed in this department.  In the south part of the basement comes the turn and velting department, where a Good-gear stitcher does the work.  Here, also, is found the sole-leather stock room.


Returning to the second floor, they are put on the laster.  In this department a McKey screwing machine, a Niggerhead laster, and Acme beveling machine does the work.  The boots or shoes are then turned over to the Cable tacker which cuts its own nails from wire and drives them into the foot-gear.  Next comes the heel set slugger.  There is also found in this room a screwing machine used in making a special grade of heavy shoes for men.


After these processes the heeling machine attaches the heel to the shoe; then comes the heel trimmer, sanding machine and polisher and finally we have a completed shoe of the latest and most improved pattern.  The stock, which comprises a full line of medium and fine shoes for misses, women and children, and for boys, youths and men, is now taken to the packing department where it is boxed and prepared for shipment to the numerous customers.


The employees of the establishment are all union hands.  As most of them are well known in the city, it is of interest to know who does the work in the different departments.  In the cutting room are Daniel Pfaffenbach, James Riley and Arthur Pfaffenbach and lining cutters.  In the stitching room, Ida Eckner, forelady, Ella Daly Skiber and Della Gasser.  On the beveling machine, Ida Grabow, Ida Polzin, Minnie Schneider, Lizzie Christensen and table workers.  Sole leather room Wm. Malwitz, head man, and H. Kuckkahn.  Volt turning department, Frank Brouchle.  McKay lusters, Edward Poyer, Anton Sohrweide.  The leveler is Henry Gnewuche.  The heelers are Wm. Behling and Wm. Guetzlaff.  Bottom finishers, Wm. Dollase, Willie Bauman and George Guetzlaff.  Packers, Albert Kaliebe, Malanie Loeser, Clara Polzin. 


The plant is managed by Thos. Byron, superintendent.  Wm. Gorder. Jr., is the bookkeeper and the entry work is attended to by Eupheraia Casey. 


Wm. Gorder, Sr., learned the shoe making trade when a boy and has been engaged in business in this city for 17 years.  The company new conducts two retail shoe stores in this city, being the only concerns here which sell strictly union made goods.  The store at 106 Main Street is known as the factory store.


Edward Kaliebe, the repairer employed here, is also a union man.  Mr. Gorder certainly demonstrates that he understands his business and his large plant plays an important part in the financial and commercial welfare of the city.     Watertown Republican



              Watertown Republican



   Watertown Daily Times, 07 06 1906


Another bold burglary was committed some time Monday night or early Tuesday morning.  This time the victims were Wm. Gorder and company, whose Milwaukee Street shoe store was entered and shoes to the number of fifteen pair taken by the intruder.  Entrance to the place was affected by prying open a rear door from a shed.


The fact of the theft was discovered yesterday morning upon the arrival of the shoemaker, who, upon his arrival at the store observed that everything about the place was in topsy-turvy order . . . A fortunate circumstance of the last robbery is the fact that a check owned by Henry Gorder in the amount of $94, which was lying on the office desk, was not molested and was evidently overlooked by the burglar.  The check was made payable to bearer and could easily have been cashed.


The bold thief will evidently regret his stupidity when he reads the account of the robbery - that is, if the theory of the officers is correct that the robbery was committed by some amateur residing in the city. It is the belief that the theft was the work of some person residing in the city and there are suspicions as to whom the guilty party is.



01 30       The William Gorder Company are making quite extensive improvements to their Main Street place of business.  A new steel ceiling is being placed in the store and it will be otherwise improved by repairing and repainting.



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10 02       Gorder factory rented.  Wm. Gorder has leased his factory in First Street, just vacated by the M. D. Wells Shoe Co., to the Van Camp Packing Co., receiving $600 a year rental.  The Van Camp Co. intended enlarging their factory in Milford Street, but for the present will not do so, but will use the Gorder factory for storage purposes, there being no room in their factory for that purpose.   WG



01 22       Brandt-Dent Co. to manufacture gas fixtures and chandeliers in the William Gorder building in [416-420 S.] First Street, formerly occupied by the M. D. Wells Co.   WG




Buckwheat Coal, Pea Coal, Chestnut Coal, Stove Coal, Egg Coal, Hocking Valley Coal, Red Jacket Coal, Pocahontas Nut Coal, Smithing Coal, Solway Nut Coke, Solway Stove Coke, Solway Egg Coke, Watertown Gas Lump Coke, Watertown Gas Crushed Coke, Maple Wood, Oak Wood, Mixed Wood, Hardwood Slabs, Mixed Slabs, Pine Bundled Edgings, Maple Clippings, Sewer Pipe, Drain Tile.   William Gorder Co., Main Office 608-610 Main St, Yards West end Milwaukee Street bridge.   WG



02 09        FORGED CHECKS

Last week Wednesday a stranger called at the store of Wm. Gorder Co. and ordered a load of coal for $6.00 delivered at 906 North Second street and also purchased a $2.00 pair of shoes, as he said, for his son, and presented a check on the Merchants Bank for $14.50 in favor of Henry Newman and signed George Nellins, receiving at the Gorder store $6.50, the balance of what the check called for after paying for the coal and shoes.  When an attempt was made to deliver the coal it was found that no such man lived on North Second Street, and further investigation showed the check to be a forgery.  The same afternoon the same fellow called at John W. Burn’s coal yard and ordered a $6.00 load of coal and presented a check similar to above for $14.50, receiving $8.50 in cash from Mrs. Burns.  Both checks were forgeries and were written on the old check forms of the Merchants Bank, now the Merchants National Bank.   WG


03 30        [advertisement] Spring 1911.  Dorothy Dodd Shoes. The new Spring Styles just received are bound to meet with an enthusiastic reception.  They’re in a class by themselves, so far ahead of past season’s successes as to eliminate comparison.  Finished examples of the best shoemaking, correct in every detail.  Stylish and comfortable to a degree.  On sale today.  Your inspection is most cordially invited.  William Gorder Company, 606-608 Main Street, Watertown.   WG




      William Gorder Co. Shoe Stock Going Rapidly at sale conducted by Max Wegemann.


What will quite evidently be one of the most successful sales in the history of merchandising began Saturday morning by the Aeroplane Sales Company, of which company Max Wegemann is manager, and which proposes to dispose of the entire stock of shoes of the William Gorder company within 15 days.


Mr. Wegemann has shown considerable ingenuity in arranging and displaying a big stock of shoes in an attractive and practical manner.  Many additional counters heaped with shoes have been placed on the floor of the double-front store.  The different counters bear large placards stating the price of shoes displayed, and in addition every pair of shoes is plainly marked, making impossible any embarrassment on the part of a prospective customer which might be caused by a misunderstanding of the price of a pair of shoes or other articles.  Large crowds visit the store daily and many exclamations of pleasure were heard as to the bargains offered.  It has long been Mr. Wegemann’s boast that he gives bigger values than he advertises, and it is apparent that this sale will be no exception to the rule.  Genuine bargains are further guaranteed from the necessity of disposing of this stock within a limited time, as this is a bona fide closing out sale, the Gorder’s intending to retire permanently from the shoe business, intending to devote their entire attention to their increasing coal and wood business, consequently their entire stock of shoes and other foot furnishings suitable for all seasons of the year must be closed out to the last dollar's worth.    WG




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin