Bio: Champagne, P. B. (Commemorative Bio - 1895)

Poster: Crystal Went


Hon. P. B. Champagne

Hon. P. B. Champagne (deceased). The gentleman, whose life we propose to here briefly sketch, in his day laid no claims to political distinction, far less to military renown. His triumphs may have been of a less brilliant order; but whether less associated with the well-being of his race, and which developing the recourse, and fortifying the powers of the nation than those of a political leader or a military chieftain, the true friends of humanity musty judge.

Mr. Champagne was s Canadian by birth, born in St. Felix de Valois, Jolliette County, Province of Quebec, December 8, 1845, son of Nelson and Amelia Champagne, well to do farming people, natives of France, who emigrated to Canada, where they married and has children as follows: Three sons—P. B., John N. and Nasaire—and two daughters—Mrs. L. Coulters and Mrs. R. Bressett, of whom two sons and two daughters are living with their widowed mother at the old home in Canada; the father died several years ago. At the schools of is place of birth our subject received his education, and when seventeen years old, in 1862, he came to Wisconsin, locating at Grand Rapids, Wood County, where he found employment with Francis Byron, a lumberman, with whom he worked some time later, for one winter, lumbering for H. A. Keyes, who afterward said of Mr. Champagne: “He was a hard worker, one who took as much interest in my affairs as if they were his own, and I never employed a better man.” After that winter Mr. Champagne returned to the employ of Mr. Byron, and with him remained, in the capacity of superintendent of logging, until embarking in business for his own account. For two years he followed mercantile trade at Wausau, Marathon County, after which he returned to the lumber business, continuing to make his home, however, in Wausau until 1880. When he sold out his store at Wausau he moved to Grand Father Rock Falls, Lincoln County, where his family spent their winters, their real home being in Wausau, in order to be near his logging interests, and the post office at that place was named in his honor. When the town of Rock Falls was organized he represented it at the county board three years. In 1882 he moved to Merrill (at that time called “Jenny”), Lincoln County, and he re-represented the town of Jenny at the county board. In 1881, he incorporated the Lincoln Lumber Co., from which he soon afterward withdrew, and built the mill now owned by the Champagne Lumber Co.; then organized the P. B. Champagne Lumber Co., he being president and treasurer. This concern was in turn succeeded by the Champagne Lumber Co., out subject being treasurer and general manager thereof, which position he was filling at the time of his death. He was the most extensive lumberman on the Wisconsin River, and was possessed of superior business ability, which enabled him to weather every financial storm, of which, in his wide and long experience, there were not a few.

Mr. Champagne passed from earth July 1, 1891, after an illness of four weeks, and had the largest and most imposing funeral ever held in Merrill. It was conducted under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity, special trains bring mourning friends and brother Masons from Wausau, Grand Rapids, Marshfield, Stevens Point and many other places. He was a most progressive business man, engaged in many enterprises, was very public-spirited, and made many friends, who one and all mourned the taking away of a good citizen. In the early days of Lincoln County he was a conspicuous member of all the Republican gatherings, for a long time was chairman of the Republican County Committee, and to him was due in the main, the success of that party in the county. In 1883 he was sent to the Assembly to represent his District, but declined re-election, though he served with distinction and eminent ability. Merrill he did the heaviest mercantile business of any and was never tired of giving both time and money toward the advancement and prosperity of that then rising young city. To the stock of the First National Bank of Merrill he was one of the first to subscribe, and was vice-president of the Merrill Railway and Lighting Co. Socially, he was an enthusiastic Free Mason, and at the time of his death was the 32nd degree. Prominent among his numerous friends was Alexander Stewart—a bosom friend, he may be called—who was Mr. Champagne’s first backer in business. Truly he was a remarkable man, one at all times commanding the esteem of his fellowmen-rich and poor alike—for he was universally esteemed and beloved.

On July 29, 1871, Mr. Champagne was married, at Nile, Allegan Co., N. Y., to Miss Alice G. Coon, youngest daughter of Elijah H. and Prudence (Bowler) Coon, and three children were born to them—Percy Beaugrand, now (September, 1895), twenty-three years old, a graduate of Ann Arbor, Mich., class of ’94 (he is practicing law in Detroit, Mich.); Marie and Stella, attending school at Kenosha, Wisconsin.

---Source: Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin Counties of Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano. publ. 1895 by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1110 pages, illustrated; Page 30-31  


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