This week we’re highlighting a collection at the Archives which many may not be aware of: the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Company Records. The Oconto Company was a logging company in northern Wisconsin which operated from 1867 to 1944. The Bay de Noquet company was a subsidiary of the Oconto company which operated from 1881 to 1952. It logged in Alger, Delta, and Schoolcraft Counties in the UP. Its headquarters were in Nahma in Delta County.
The records include tax records, land records, operation records, and correspondence. The land records include the sale of land which would later become part of Nicolet National Forest. Much of the correspondence is with various companies who were customers of Bay de Noquet and Oconto. However, there is also correspondence between Bay de Noquet and the company’s office in Chicago, as well as correspondence with federal agencies during and after World War II. The collection also contains minutes from the meetings of the directors and stockholders of the companies. Newsletters from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufactures Association and various other business associations with which the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Companies were affiliated are also part of the collection.
The records show how federal agencies oversaw production during World War II, how companies kept track of which employees were eligible for the draft, and how the federal government tried to control costs and prices after the war to prevent inflation. Other newsletters discuss organized labor in the period. The correspondence with the Chicago office of the company also contains discussion of federal oversight and organized labor, as well as customer service, sales, and the logging industry as a whole. The finding aid for the collection further expresses the historical importance of these records:
“While the records for each company are scattered, the combined records give a reasonable picture of the problems faced by the industry in the upper Great Lakes region due to the declining availability of usable timber and the Great Depression of the 1930s, as well as some of the issues faced by the companies during World War II. The items from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufacturers Association help to put the situation in the upper Great Lakes into a national context.”
For more information about this collection, see the complete finding aid or this article about how the collection was acquired.
Blog written by Annika Peterson