If Tombstones Could Talk

George Nau: 1856-1928

Posted October 20, 2020

My name is George Nau and thanks to a popular clothing store once here in Green Bay, you may recall my name. Actually, it was my grandson George Nau Burridge who opened the Nau Sommer ladies wear store. George and Max Sommer were partners for 5 years until Max retired. My grandson, George moved from the Washington St. store to Port Plaza Mall in 1977 and after he retired the business was sold and the store closed in 1987. My claim to fame doesn’t come from ladies wearing apparel. Mine comes from having the foresight to see an opportunity and seize it!

My father, Lambert Nau, had a successful Ship Chandlery business on Washington Street selling supplies needed for sailing vessels, including meat, fish and poultry. He also had a fleet of sailing vessels. He died of tuberculosis when I was 17, but Lambert, my older brother, and I took over father’s business under the tutelage of Rufus B. Kellogg. I had no interest in the business and when my brother died from tuberculosis in 1896, I rid myself of the ship chandlery business and sailing vessels. Instead I replaced the vessels with tug boats…large tug boats, capable of hauling log rafts down the lakes to the lumber mills in Green Bay. When lumbering was declining and paper making was increasing, I put my energy in the pioneer paper mills. I was an early investor in Hoberg Paper and Fiber Company, the Green Bay Paper and Fiber Company, and the Northern Paper Mills. I also was involved in practically every banking and investment concern in Green Bay.

I passed away in March of 1928 of tuberculosis, the disease that took my father, my brother and my sister. I thought I had beat the “Nau curse,” but that was not to be.