Biography - W. P. Mesler

W. P. MESLER, box mill, Cobden, was born in Western New York in September, 1842. In 1862, he came to Pulaski County, and was in the employ of James Bell at Ullin until 1870; then was in the West for two years. In 1872, he went into the Cairo Box Mill; was Superintendent and also partner in the mill. In 1876, he came to Cobden, and in 1877 started in the present box factory three and a half miles west of Cobden, and, as he was well acquainted with the business and the consumers, W. P. Mesler & Co. have been doing a good business since, and one which has rapidly increased. He and his partner, James Bell, also have a box mill in the south part of the county, started in 1882. They manufacture all kinds of fruit and vegetable boxes and baskets not patented. The number of employes of course varies at different seasons of the year, but through the strawberry season they require about fifty persons in the mills and in Cobden; also keep from fifteen to twenty teams at work all the time. When first starting in business here they could sell the green material, but now all want the seasoned material, so they have to keep a large supply on hand. "They ship to all States west of Pennsylvania, except on the Pacific Slope, and have the largest trade of any other company in the same line in the West. Supply all the largest fruit-growers in the Mississippi Valley— Parker Earle, of Cobden, B. F. Baker & Co., of Chicago, the Drs. McKay, of Madison, Miss., etc. In their work annually they use 3,000 pounds of two-ounce tacks, about 200 kegs of three-penny fine nails, etc. They make material up ready for using when desired, and ship it so. One day's orders for immediate shipment amounted to 275,000 quart boxes, and the sales of quart boxes for 1883 will exceed 4,000,000 boxes, about 1,000,000 being for use in the county. Previous years the sales have been over 3,000,000 quart boxes. This one industry has been a source of great profit to Cobden and Union County, making a demand for all timber fit for boxing material, and giving employment to so many persons.

Extracted 26 Jul 2021 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, pages 135-136.

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