Watson D. Crocker

Volumes have been written concerning success but no matter how much fantastic theorizing one may indulge in concerning the causation of success he must ultimately arrive at the conclusion that industry intelligently directed is the basis of all honorable prosperity. Recognizing this fact at the outset of his business career Watson D. Crocker has, through diligence and determination, reached a prominent and enviable position in commercial and industrial circles of Sheboygan as president of the Crocker Chair Company. He was born in Crown Point, New York, February 10, 1841, a son of Silas R. Crocker, of whom an extended sketch appears on another page of this work. He was only thirteen years of age when brought to Sheboygan, and his education begun in the schools of New York, was continued in this city.

He pursued his studies and work until May 17, 1861, when at the age of twenty years he enlisted as a private in Company B, First Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He joined the army for three months, the usual term of enlistment at that period, and was honorably discharged on the atst of August, 1861. On the rath of October of the same year he reenlisted, becoming junior first lieutenant of the Ninth Light Battery of the Wisconsin Volunteer Artillery. He was mustered out as first lieutenant on the I st of I April, 1865, by reason of his promotion to the captaincy of the Ninth Light Battery, and was mustered out as such on the 1st of April, 1865, receiving final discharge from the service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1865. He served continually with the company through the three month campaign in the Army of the Potomac, and participated in the battle of Falling Waters, Virginia, Juiy 3, 1861. He was with the Ninth Light Battery continuously during his term of enlistment until the close of the war, making a most creditable military record by his unfaltering fidelity to the old flag and to the cause it represented.

When the war was over in 1866, Mr. Crocker became identified with the chair business in a small way in company with his father. In 1871, Mr. I. V. Bliss bought out Silas B. Crocker's interest and the firm became Crocker & Bliss, manufacturers of chairs. For four years he was thus engaged and the business was well established and proving a profitable concern when the plant was destroyed by fire. At that time, in 1875, Watson D. Crocker became interested with others in organizing the Phoenix Chair Company remaining with that company as manager until 1880, when he decided to organize a new company. As a result in 1880, the Crocker Chair Company was organized with a capital stock of thirty thousand dollars.

In 1885 the capital was increased to sixty thousand dollars; in 1887 to one hundred thousand dollars; in January, 1903, to two hundred thousand dollars, and in November, 1909, to five hundred thousand dollars. The incorporators were J. H. Mead, W. D. Crocker, A. D. Crocker, R. E. Crocker, and W. J. Rietow. This company was organized to manufacture cane and wooden chairs and J. H. Mead became the first president. is bending his efforts to executive control and administrative direction, and his continued at the head of. the business to the present time. In this connection he is bending his efforts to executive control and administrative direction, and his energy, sound judgment and well formulated plans constitute effective forces of his success. The trade has been a constantly expanding one until its ramifying interests now cover a wide territory, its output being shipped in various directions while the business by reason of its continuous growth now returns a most gratifying annual income. The other officers being W. J. Rietow, vice president; E. A. Zundel, secretary; W. J. Hoehle, assistant secretary; and W. A. Knilans, treasurer.

On October 1, 1868, Mr. Crocker was married to Miss Sarah A. Gibbs, a daughter of James H. Gibbs, one of the pioneers of Sheboygan county. Mr. and Mrs. Crocker became the parents of two children: Marion, the wife of E. A. Zundel, secretary of the Crocker Chair Company; and Ann, the wife of C. F. Brigham of Cleveland, Ohio, who is a member of the Glidden Varnish Company.

From early boyhood Mr. Crocker has made his home in Sheboygan and has been closely identified with its interests and activities through all the intervening years covering more than half a century. In matters of citizenship he is as true and loyal as when he followed the old flag on southern battlefields, and any movement calculated to benefit the community can count upon his cooperation and support.


Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL