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Green Bay History
Hoberg Paper Mill
Hoberg Mill

Papermaking came to Green Bay in 1895. John Hoberg incorporated the first paper mill here. He left Kimberly-Clark and moved to Green Bay. He felt a mill could be run on steam power, that waterpower was not necessary. The mill was sited on the north side of the East River between Jackson and Elm Streets.

Street Cars
Street Cars

By 1893 streetcars came to Fort Howard, then to Green Bay in 1894. When the streetcar service began, that first convoy of four trolleys was greeted with fireworks display, and well wishers lined the streets.

Ordinance of Annexation

A referendum on the union of the two cities was held on April 2, 1895 with the following results:

For union –
City of Green Bay 1631
City of Fort Howard 930

Against union –
City of Green Bay 60
City of Fort Howard 154

Majority 2344

Even though there was a regular election that day, officials agreed to count the referendum first. The ordinance does not state merger, but rather annexation and so the City of Fort Howard became part of the City of Green Bay.
Wedding Cartoon of Green Bay/Fort Howard
Wedding of Green Bay and Fort Howard as dipicted in the Green Bay Advocate
A few minutes after 7:30 PM, it became clear the merger was approved. According to long-time residents, the party that followed was unlike anything seen by either Green Bay or Fort Howard. A cannon at the foot of Pine Street roared a farewell to the old and a greeting to the new, and in an instant such a din and uproar followed that was never before heard. From one end of the consolidated city to the other whistles bellowed and screeched, bells jingled and clanged, gun and cannon shots echoed, and above all arose the squawk of the kazoo, hundreds of which were in the hands of men and women and boys and girls that lined the streets. Every steam whistle in town sounded and a siren whistle that had been placed on the electric railway powerhouse and its earsplitting screech added to the din.
Green Bay/Fort Howard Map - 1890
1890 Green Bay-Fort Howard

While a bonfire of tar burned on a raft anchored in the river, a torch-lit parade moved up Washington Street to Main Street in Green Bay across the river where it picked up more people on Broadway before returning to the east side via Walnut Street and followed by two-thirds of the citizens of Fort Howard.

Men, women and children, hundreds with kazoos, joined in the parade. Whistles bellowed and screeched, bells jingled and guns were fired in the air. Dozens of men with instruments formed spontaneous marching bands.
1893 Map
1893 map Click for larger view

The crowds on Washington Street between Main and Walnut numbered 12,000 – 15,000 and included people of all walks of life and all ages.

The marching and horn blowing was kept up until the morning was breaking by two or three hundred of the more enthusiastic. In all the hurrah and excitement, not an ugly word was spoken and not a quarrel occurred.

The proposition of a union was not without opposition. The Green Bay Advocate reported on a group of six, meeting in secret in a Fort Howard office with the blinds pulled down.

Fort Howard residents viewed Green Bay residents as a rowdy bunch and as part of the union demanded that bars would not be allowed west of the west side of Broadway, a law that remained until 2005 when Green Bay voted to allow alcohol to be served west of Broadway in restaurants and hotels. The proposal to overturn the liquor ban had been brought up many times and always overturned.

On Election Day, the opponents in Fort Howard flooded the city with flyers explaining why the two cities should remain as two. The consensus was the effort had little effect.

Thus began the new City of Green Bay.

The following appeared in The Advocate on Thursday, March 28, 1895 – days before the vote.

“Written for The Advocate"

The Wedding Proposal

Green Bay, one day, came over our way,
And asked Fort Howard to marry
Poor old Fort Howard, ancient and gray,
Thinks it is better to tarry.

Fort Howard, if you intend to wed,
You’d better hurry your thinking,
Or soon you will be entirely dead,
To insignificant sinking.

Now Fort Howard, you know you are old,
Most surely you don’t want to die!
Is it because Green Bay is so bold,
Does his bold wooing make you shy?

Take good advice – get married this spring,
And do not tarry still longer,
Don’t be so shy – just accept the ring,
In – union – you will be stronger.

Note: While still a Borough, Fort Howard twice voted on whether to annex to Green Bay, finally deciding in 1873 to become a city.

The existence of Fort Howard as a city legally terminated on April 9, 1895 when the Fort Howard city council met for the last time, canvassed the referendum vote and declared itself dissolved.

  April 9, 1895
The existence of Fort Howard as a separate city legally terminated April 9 when the city council met for the last time, canvassed the referendum vote and declared itself dissolved.
The official canvass on consolidation shows 1,631-60 in favor in Green Bay and 930-154 in Fort Howard, a total of 2,561-214. This is slightly less than a 12 to 1 margin.


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