Menomonie, Wisconsin History/El-MurrFudd

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James Huff Stout (September 25,1848 - December 8th,1910) [1]is arguably one of the most influential people to the town and culture of Menomonie, Wisconsin. Being a man of politics, and a Wisconsin State Senate for 16 years, he had the opportunity to do big things for his community. One of his most famous accomplishments was founding the Stout Manual Training School of Menomonie in 1891, which is now known today as Wisconsin's only polytechnic university, the University of Wisconsin-Stout. [2] UW Stout is the only school in Wisconsin to be named based off its founder rather than the city it is in. James used his personal wealth acquired from working in his father's business for a number of years, the Knapp-Stout Lumber company, to devote his life to education and libraries. His contribution to numerous libraries across the country and his dedication to libraries landed him a position on the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008, along with having a day dedicated to him, the James Huff Stout remembrance day of December 8th, which is only celebrated in the state of Wisconsin. [3] The Stout family name should be viewed as a true legend based off of all of their accomplishments, contributions and positive effects they made on the great community of Menomonie.

Portrait of an older James Huff Stout

Family[edit | edit source]

The most influential person in James Stout's life was his father, Henry. Henry Stout was born in New Jersey on October 23rd, 1814, son of William and Eleanor Lane Stout.[4] Henry Stout's main place of residency throughout the majority of his life was in Dubuque, Iowa. While in Dubuque, Henry Stout met and married Eveline Duming in 1845, and proceeded to have four children; James, Jennine, Fannie, and Frank. [4] James Huff Stout being the oldest of his children. James' first marriage was to Kittie Morrill in 1871. Kittie Morrill was the daughter in a very wealthy family from Reads Landing, Minnesota. The marriage between James and Kittie did not last long, it quickly came to an end in 1879. James' second marriage was with a lovely woman named Angeline Wilson on June 12th, 1889. James was 42 years old at the time and Angeline was 27. James and Angeline ended up having 3 children together, James Huff Stout Jr, who was born in 1890. James Jr. was always considered frail and after a short 20 year life, passed away in 1911. They also had a daughter named Eveline Deming Stout, born in 1895. She lived an even shorter life than her brother James Jr., Eveline passed away at age 8 due to diabetes. James Huff Stout’s second son, William Stout, was born in 1898 and unlike his siblings, lived a full life, passing away in 1958. Outliving his parents and siblings, William was the manager for the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company in Arkansas and then moved to California, only returning a few times to the place where his family's name is famous. [1]

Henry Stout and the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company[edit | edit source]

Henry Stout spent the early years of his life in New Jersey, but soon moved out and away from his parents to Philadelphia in 1834. He spent two years of his life in Philadelphia but realized it was not the place for him. Henry saw himself doing bigger and better things with his life. He packed up his things and set out for Iowa, landing in Dubuque near a very popular lead-mining area which covered a vast majority of the Midwest states. Henry Stout spent a number of years investing his time in the mining business along with some merchandising work on the side. Around 1851, Henry wanted to expand and become even more successful, so he became a lumber salesman for a very large lumber company called the Knapp-Tainter Lumber Company. In 1853, Henry Lane Stout bought a quarter interest of the company which lead to the name change of the even more popular company, the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company [4]. The company soon expanded to other locations on the Red Cedar River, including in Menomonie. As the business continued to expand beyond what was expected, the company's headquarters were moved to Menomonie in 1886. At the 50 year anniversary of the Knapp-Stout lumber company, its net worth was around $11 million, compared to the $2 million it was at when Stout entered the company. Henry Lane Stout had created a legacy in the logging industry, perhaps the biggest of that time. As Henry Stout's working days were coming to an end, his eldest son, James Huff Stout, entered the lumber industry by joining the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company in 1889. Henry Lane Stout passed away at the age of 85 on July 17th, 1900[4].

Stout's Life and Contributions[edit | edit source]

James Huff Stout was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on September 25th, 1848. Early in James’ life, he made the decision to attend the University of Chicago from the years 1867 through 1868. James quickly realized that college was not for him.. He then decided to make the trek back home to Dubuque, Iowa where his family was living. There, his father, Henry Stout gave him a basic choice- he said “You can either go to school or go to work” [1]. With this in mind, at the age of 20, James did some thinking and decided to begin working for his father's business, the Knapp-stout Lumber Company. He slowly started making his way up in the company and sooner or later, he replaced TB Wilson as the manager of operations in Reads Landing, Minnesota. From the years 1877-1889, James was mainly preoccupied with building and managing the newest mill in St. Louis [1]. While he was in St.Louis, James was being educated as much as he could about politics. For the man who went to school for only one year then entered the working industry, he quickly found a love for education and libraries. This love for education and libraries sparked in St. Louis, would forever impact the town and culture of Menomonie, Wisconsin [1].

With the power and respect earned from being a Wisconsin State senate for 16 years, along with having the legendary name of Stout; James used his position to impact his community greatly. In 1891, he was approved to open the Stout Manual Training school in Menomonie. This trading school was located where the present day Bowman Hall is, otherwise known as the Clock Tower, pictured on the right. After vastly expanding in educational classes and opportunities the school offered, in 1908, this school was officially renamed to The Stout Institute. After James Huff Stout's death in 1910, the school's ownership was transferred to the state of Wisconsin. In 1955, the school was again renamed to Stout State College. This institution was now under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents of State Colleges. In 1964, the institute was changed yet again. Under the name, Stout State University, this institution had increased enrollment and expanded in what they offered educationally[2] to an all time high. Finally in 1971, this institution was changed to be called The University of Wisconsin-Stout, joining the University of Wisconsin School systems. In 2007, Stout was officially registered as Wisconsin's first and only Polytechnic University. Not only was this school well known for being a polytechnic university, it also the only school in Wisconsin's history to be named after a person, the notorious James Huff Stout.

Along with founding what is now a prestigious university, James also used his personal wealth to contribute to libraries all across Wisconsin and the country. One of his more notable accomplishments was creating and funding the first Traveling Library in Wisconsin, which would soon expand greatly across numerous states. With the help of his acquaintances Frank Hutchins and Lutie Stearns, he created legislation that ended up founding the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) in 1895 [5]. This is an institution which was founded with the intention of improving and establishing a respectable level of standards for Wisconsin's free public libraries. Along with that, he funded the first "Summer School in Library Economy" which would eventually form into the Wisconsin Library School in 1906[3]. Due to his many contributions to Wisconsin's libraries and other libraries across the country, James Huff Stout was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2008.

Bowman Hall- The Clock Tower

Death[edit | edit source]

On May 14th, 1910, James Stout was returning from a business trip from Arkansas via the train. While returning home, from the Dubuque area, James fell and became severely ill. When he got back to his home in Dunn County (Menomonie), doctors and physicians were called in from Eau Claire and St. Paul to check on his well-being. He was diagnosed with “toxemia or acetone poisoning” [1]. Over the next couple months while he was recovering, he spent a lot of time with his family and decided not to run for the next year's senate. Keeping up with business as much as he could, Stout made his last public appearance in October 22, 1910. From there he was diagnosed with Bright's disease and came to a slow death on December 8th, 1910. James Huff Stout was 62 years old when he passed away, leaving behind a legacy just as great, if not more famous, than his father's.

External Links[edit | edit source]

Dunn County News

Encyclopedia Dubuque


The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

Wisconsin Libraries

References[edit | edit source]

- Agnew, Dwight. (1990). James Huff Stout: Maker of Models)

- UW Stout archives, A Man and his family,

November 8th, 2008, James Huff Stout Inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame. Dunn county News.

- Vogel, John N. "Stout, Henry Lane" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 10 November 2015

- UW Stout Archives, “How we knew it-stouts names over the years”

- John Russell (December 23,2012), “Scenes of Yesteryear: James Huff Stout’s gift to the community” Retrieved from




Menomonie, Wisconsin History/uw stout history?veaction=edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 (Agnew, 1990)
  2. 2.0 2.1 (, James Huff Stout)
  3. 3.0 3.1 (Nix, 2009)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 (Vogel, 2015)
  5. (Wisconsin Historical Society)