Promoting Langlade County: Deleglise Style
Among Francis Deleglise’s many roles in the history of Antigo was his promotion of the city, and his realty business, through brochures and letters encouraging families to settle in the region. Together with his business partner W.W. Hutchinson, in 1884 they published a booklet that extolled the virtues of Langlade County. The booklet proclaimed in bold letters that Langlade County was an ideal place because: “The soil is wonderfully fertile”, “ The water cannot be excelled for purity”, “The timber is magnificent”, “The markets are steadiest and surest”. “The society is the best in the west”, “Occupations are a multitude”, “Recreation can be taken with pleasure and profit”, and “Investments are safe and profitable”.
The booklet proclaimed that in “The queen of the forest – ANTIGO” one could acquire 40 acres for $50. This could easily be paid off with sales of timber or maple syrup with a comfortable profit. It promised an absence of tornadoes, a good high school, wide streets, local shopping, and most important, no taverns. It noted that Antigo had grown in population from 823 in the past year of 1883 to 1,337 and predicted it would soon grow to 5,000. The booklet provides an insight into Deleglise and Hutchinson’s view of what an up and coming city should be like.
The museum archives contain letters from people seeking further information in response to the booklet and ads Deleglise and Hutchinson took out in Chicago newspapers. They received inquiries from the mid-west and also from New Jersey, the west, and even Canada. They asked about timber & marketability, railroads, and quality of farming land. One man from Dodge County asked if it were hilly. Someone asked where Antigo was as he did not find it on a map. (Langlade had just been made a separate county.) Some inquiries were from entrepreneurs thinking about starting businesses in the area. One asked what the prospects were for starting a newspaper. He had years of publishing experience. Another asked about the need for a dry goods store or a harness shop, or millenary. Some letters were in Bohemian. Someone from Milwaukee wanted to come and set up a machine shop. There were labor problems in Milwaukee that impacted his business and besides he went on “I do not particularly fancy Milwaukee for a permanent home. The German element does not suit me.” Another writer from the Milwaukee area wrote on behalf of a group of German immigrants who were considering relocating as a group and setting up a German community. Most inquiries ask about the timber. It was indeed a diverse group that were attracted to the promise of Antigo as described by Deleglise and Hutchinson.