Richard Miller (1843-1928)
The story of the eagle manufacturing Company began in 1843 in Saxony, Germany. It was there that Richard Miller was born and spent his early youth. In 1853, his family immigrated to America and settled in Ellington in the state of Wisconsin. Richard married Marie Gratz of Milwaulkee, WI. They had four sons and four daughters. His family belonged to the Lutheran Church and were members of the Equitable Union,which was a fraternal insurance society that was incorporated in 1897. He was independent in his political views and even served as a deputy sheriff in his younger days.
As a teenager, Richard was able to gain work in a nearby blacksmith shop and it was here that the seeds were sown for his life’s work. In 1863, recently married, he set off for Stephansville to establish his own blacksmith business. He was soon able to work up a good trade. However, in 1875 his shop was completely destroyed by fire. Miller moved his family to Appleton, hiring out his talents to the Appleton Manufacturing Company.
To profit from these devices, Miller joined forces with John Kanouse and William Polifka in 1881 to create the Eagle Fork Company. In 1882, they erected a 30×50 shop at the foot of the old John Street bridge along the Fox River and secured a lease for water power. They employed six men in the production of various haying tools and farm implements. The business took hold quickly and the partners were forced to move to a larger site westward on the river at Oneida and Water Streets. The product line was expanded to include horse powers and saw frames.
Soon, another major player in the story would come on the scene. Edward Saiberlich, a cousin of Richard Miller, was born on October 20, 1857 in Ellington in Outagamie County, his family having come from the same area in Germany as Miller’s.
Young Edward had trained in the skills of carpentry and in 1885 left the farm to work with Miller’s outfit. Before long, Saiberlich bought out John Kanouse one third interest in the Eagle Fork Company and on December 4, 1888 a new company was created out of Eagle Fork, incorporated as “The Eagle Manufacturing Company of Appleton.” Capital stock was fixed at sixty shares at one hundred dollars each held equally by Miller, Polifka and Saiberlich. The company was incorporated for the purpose of “manufacturing, buying, selling, repairing and dealing in farm implements and hardware.” They had eleven employees.
William Polifka sold his one third interest in 1891 to Edward Saiberlich’s had many plans to move into a broader range of agricultural products, while Richard Miller was more interested on haying equipment. On January 1, 1894, Miller sold all of his stock to the Saiberlichs and set off on his own once again, founding the Appleton Hay Tool Company, another successful venture for him.
Source: History of The Eagle Manufacturing Company by Richard Mannen 1991