ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Wells Shoe Company


If Shod with “Wells Shoes,” you are “Well Shod”


Wolfram Shoe Company


107-115 North Water Street



                Factory started in 1904 with 37 employees   WG


1908       New Home for Wells Shoe Co.  Last week Friday evening the Watertown Realty Co. let the contract for the remodeling of the Woodard-Stone plant on North Water Street, which when completed will be occupied by the Wells Shoe Co. and the working force thereof will be-greatly increased.  The cost of remodeling will be about $5000.  August Hoefs will do the mason work; H. Willenbockel the carpenter work and W. G. Pritzlaff the tinning.  The plumbing and heating contract will be let on Saturday.  This new enterprise has been brought about by the officers of the Advancement Association, and they deserve the thanks and appreciation of the public in general.  When the present plant of the Wells Co. is vacated, which has proven too small for its business, the Advancement Association says it will have no trouble in securing a manufacturing concern to occupy it.


08 14       Otto Biefeld & Co. secured contract for installing the steam heating apparatus for the M. D. Wells Shoe Co., who will occupy the old Woodard Stone factory.  They were chosen from three bidders.    WG



01 15       Factory employs 178 and capacity could double   WG


07 23       The old Woodard & Stone Co building on N Water Street, which was fitted up for rental for the M. D. Wells Shoe Co is owned by the company.  A dividend of five per cent was declared on the stock subscribed for the building.   WG







Let the Busy Bee Hum

The employees of the Wolfram Shoe Co., in the old Woodard & Stone factory, did not observe the Saturday afternoon off on Saturday last, and the way things hum in and about the building reminds us of old times when Woodard & Stone were filling orders for the superior trade.   WG


1911       The Wolfram Shoe Company was incorporated April 28, 1911, under the laws of Wisconsin for the manufacturing of shoes.  The incorporators were Edward C. Wolfram, Henry J. Schaub, and Otto V. Knaak.  Upon the organization of the corporation, Edward C. Wolfram was elected President /and Treasurer, Henry J. Schaub, Vice-President, and Otto V. Knaak, Secretary.


The directorate and official management of the company has continued in the same personnel with the exception of Mr. Knaak, who disposed of his interest in the firm the latter part of the year 1919 and who was succeeded by Herbert E. Wolfram as Secretary and Director.


The inception of the organization was on the dissolution of the M. D. Wells Co. also a shoe manufacturing firm located in the building formerly owned and occupied by the Woodard & Stone Co., which was engaged in the manufacture of crackers and candies.  This building, now the property of the Watertown Improvement Co., is leased by the Wolfram Shoe Company.


The floor space of this three story building and basement is entirely used for the manufacture of shoes.


The Cutting Rooms and Stitching Room are located on the third floor; the employees are supervised by Foremen Hugo J. Mueller, Otto Lindemann, and Forelady Miss Ida Eckner.


The second floor is divided between the Turn and McKay Lasting Rooms in charge of Foreman J. G. Weihert and the Bottoming Room in charge of Foreman Arthur M. Behling.


The first floor is composed of three departments, the Finishing Department supervised by Foreman Arthur Erdman, the Treeing Department supervised by Forelady Miss Nell Rinehart, and the Packing and Shipping Department supervised by Foreman Albert H. Hoppe.


The basement, in charge of Foreman Gerhard Fendt, contains the Sole and Heel manufacturing departments.


Machinist William F. Arndt (see obit under Cross References) devotes all his time to the repair and maintenance of the machinery and equipment. The factory as a whole is under the direct supervision of Superintendent Arthur F. Mueller.


The product of the factory is Women's, Misses' and Children's shoes of numerous styles and leathers. The sale of these shoes is made through wholesalers and jobbers at Chicago and Pittsburg, while the distribution to retail trade is country wide and even foreign.


The company at the time of organization employed about 100 persons. During the year just recently closed, the employees numbered 220. The average output was 1,000 pair of shoes (per day assumed) that netted gross annual sales of $730,000.00. The annual payroll amounted to $185,000.00.


When they were associated with the M. D. Wells Co., many of the employees of the Wolfram Shoe Company were subordinate to E. C. Wolfram as Superintendent and H. J. Schaub as Cutting Room Foreman. They have continued their services without interruption with their present employer.


On February 1, 1917, the Wolfram Shoe Company purchased the Badger State Shoe Company of Madison, Wis., a long established concern which manufactured Women's, Misses' and Children's shoes. The daily average output of this factory is 1,500 pair, a gross sales per year of approximately a million dollars and an annual pay-roll of $250,000.00. This factory is under direct supervision of Superintendent Chas. A. Kohn, a native of Watertown and formerly employed in a supervisory capacity at the Wolfram Shoe Company plant.


E. C. Wolfram is also President of the Lake Mills Shoe Company, in which venture he is associated with others, and the factory management policy is under his direction. While the factory at Lake Mills, Wisconsin, manufactures Infant's shoes only, the Waterloo factory manufactures a Women's Comfort shoe.


During the year 1920, the Waterloo Shoe Company was incorporated and commenced business on July 5th. E. C. Wolfram is President of this company, H. J. Schaub, Vice-President, and the associate stockholders are employees of the Wolfram Shoe Company, the Badger State Shoe Company, and the Waterloo Shoe Company. The factory is under the supervision of Walter E. Weihert, a former foreman in the employ of the Wolfram Shoe Company.


These four manufacturing ventures give to the owners an avenue for disposition of all materials by minimizing waste in cuttings to a small percentage. Purchases are made in quantities to supply all factories, and every economical feature in the saving of costs and the conserving of materials is employed. Through the years of operation, the Wolfram Shoe Company, from a modest venture at its beginning, has enjoyed a satisfactory progress.   1921 Watertown High School Orbit 




The Wolfram Shoe Co. in the old Woodard & Stone building in North Water Street has just received a large amount of new machinery and it is said the company will shortly occupy the entire building for their business.  This new company did not ask for any bonus, free rent or cash, but the proprietors took their coats off and went to work and the old factory has taken on an air of thrift and industry seldom seen in any inland town in our state.   WG




    Signage on ice house

Selz Royal Blue Shoes were manufactured by the Wolfram Shoe Co., established in 1911 in the old Woodard & Stone building, located along the river at 107-115 North Water St.



-- --           DISTANT VIEW

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In 1918 Ed Wolfram (owner of a shoe factory in Watertown) inquired about opening a shoe factory in Lake Mills.  During this time there was consideration to turn the vacant Rock Lake Hotel on West Lake Street into a shoe factory but WWI erased these ventures.  In 1919 the Lake Mills Businessmen’s Association asked Wolfram again and he started the shoe factory in the former Hotel Central building on South Main Street.   Lake Mills Leader article



05 07       The North Water Street building, formerly owned by the Brandt Automatic Cashier Co., has been sold to Harvey Properties, Inc., according to a deed filed in the office of the register of deeds at Jefferson.  The price is listed at $20,000.  The building was originally the home of the Woodard and Stone Bakeries, makers of crackers and confections which operated there for many years.  Later the business was sold to the National Biscuit Co. which, after some years, discontinued the plant.  Still later it housed the Wolfram Shoe Co. factory and office.  The last owner to utilize it as a plant was the Brandt Automatic Cashier Co., which used it for part of its manufacturing operations until it completed its new South Twelfth Street plant.



Cross References:

William F. Arndt (1873-1944) for many years had been maintenance man at the Wolfram Shoe Co.

1909, Shoe factory, postcard, M. D. Wells Shoe Co.,




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin