Albion Interactive History / Businesses / Wilder Lumber

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Industry

S.A. Wilder & Son, 101 S. Monroe St., 1892
    Closed 1940s

The firm of S.A. Wilder & son was familiar to Albion builders from the 1890s until the early 1940s. It was there that lumber waspurchased, supplies were ordered, and contracts were made between builders, painters, and carpenter.

Samuel Andrews Wilder came to Albion from Tekonsha in the fall of 1892, and entered into a partnership with a relative, Edward P. Keep, also of Tekonsha. The men purchased the defunct business of Hathaway & Moore at 101 S. Monroe Street, and the firm became known as Keep & Wilder. Five years later Mr. Keep retired and sold his interest to Mr. Wilder and his son, Allen J. The business was renamed S.A. Wilder & Son.

The firm of S.A. Wilder & Son dealt in retail lumber, lath, shingles, contractors and builders materials, and other construction supplies. The site was service by a railroad spur off of the main Michigan Central railroad tracks. When S.A. Wilder died in 1918, the firm was continued by his son, Allen J., who operated it until 1941.Allen also purchased the Concord Lumber Company, and operated it for many years, thus giving the Wilder firm two locations. In 1941, Wilder’s Lumber Yard was sold to Louis R. Legg of Coldwater, and the firm became known as the Citizens Lumber Company.

Wilder’s Lumber Yard was more than just a place where business was conducted. It became a center where carpenters and builders gathered and discussed various items on current topics. Even during the Depression, Allen J. Wilder hosted semiannual builders’ parties in the basement of his office building. Even during the Depression, Albion’s carpenters could leave their cares outside and attend one of Allen J. Wilder’s parties.

In a letter dated March 1, 1930, Wilder contrasted the lumber business of 1930 with the business in 1892, the year the firm was started:

In 1892, thirty-eight years ago this fall, we started in the lumber business in Albion.

Thirty-eight years, or more than half of man’s allotted time on this earth is quite some period.

Still, we have vivid recollections of our early experiences and of the vicissitudes attending those trying times.

Michigan was then the banner lumber state of the Union and where now all white pine graveyards of the north country, there then flourished towering forests of pine and hemlock.

Framing materials, then called bill stuff and now dimension, such as studding, joists, rafters, etc. sold as low as $9 per thousand and contrasted with No.1 Yellow Pine or Fir today at a $42.00 base.

Drayage then was largely effected with one-horse wagons, a team being necessitated only during the boom years. Our horses were sorrels and grays. It required an hour or two to load a deliver a thousand feet of lumber a mile or so distant. Some different now when one of our speed wagons, with nearly twice that amount, completes a delivery to Duck Lake and returns in about the same time.

In the winter, boys skated on the pond in our lumber yard and in the spring, frogs sang merrily among the bull rushes around the lumber piles. Where now stands our three story warehouse, a span of mules once mired.

Only one or two business men, now active in Albion, were doing business when our institution was organized.

But enough of this, lest we weary you with historical reminiscences; we’ll get down to the point of this narrative.

During these thirty-eight years, we have built up and operate at two places a business in which we take a pardonable pride. Throughout all these years of ever changing conditions in the lumber industry, we have maintained our stability, else we wouldn’t still be here doing business today.

We believe that the increasing good business we now enjoy is due to good, faithfulhonest service extending back to 1892. We have customers today who bought lumber from us more than a third of a century ago.

The Wilder Lumber Company was sold to Louis E. Legg of Coldwater on March 18, 1941, it became known as the Citizens Lumber Company.

Source: Frank Passic. Homestead Savings and Loan and the Builders of Albion: One Hundred Years of Service, 1889-1989. Albion, MI: Homestead Savings and Loan Association. 1988.

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