Inducted August 16, 2013
W.D. Connor, Sr. was a pioneer Lumberman and Lieutenant Governor (1906-1908). He built Laona and Auburndale. His leadership steered landmark Workmen’s Compensation legislation for the timber industry. His motto of “Behind the Mills, the Connor Timber Stands” legacy still stands today implementing Wisconsin Forest Crop Law and multiple-use sustained-yield forest management.
More about W.D. Connor:
WD Connor was a pioneer lumberman in Wisconsin. He worked in his father’s mill in Marshfield in the 1890’s and from there acquired land and wealth in Wisconsin and British Columbia, Canada. He was politically active and became Lieutenant Governor in 1906-1908, and was a leader in forestry legislation. He championed he first Workers Compensation Act realizing the danger of logging and mill work to workers. In 1924, the Forest Crop Act passed with strong support from Connor Lumber and Land, which also was a strong proponent of Multiple Use Sustained Yield forestry practices.
Under WD Connor’s guidance of Connor Lumber and Land, the towns of Stratford, Auburndale, and Laona grew from small enclaves. The Connor Mills provided employment and infrastructure, which provided homes, churches, stores, and schools for residents. Laona was said to have had the largest hardwood sawmill in the world at the time, which also provided power to the community.
WD Connor would learn that large investments would have high risk in volatile times During the depression, Connor Lumber and Land lost half of its land holdings, but still kept its business operating.
A phrase that WD Connor always used was “Behind the mills, the Connor Timber Stands.”