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John Brogan: 1865-1939

Posted November 17, 2020

Hello, my name is John Brogan and I am here today to tell you about my rags to riches story. Let me start at the beginning. I was born in the Town of Holland on February 8, 1865 to an Irish family. I was raised on a farm, but that life was not for me, so left when I was old enough to go off on my own. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad were looking for strong men for the clearing, gradings and laying of track for their railroad, so I joined the work crew and started to earn my own money.  Eventually I became involved in the feeding and housing of the railroad workers which lead to forming a supply company in the late 1890s. I called it the the Western Boarding and Supply Company, and my company supplied railroad camps across the northern portion of the county with food and a places to sleep.

I believe it was about 1903 or so, when I got into construction.  I was putting in bids for the construction of railroad bridges and paving of road.  Over time, my construction business did so well, I sold the boarding company in 1910 and focused strictly on construction.  My company was building from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago and Wisconsin to Iowa.  For those in Green Bay, it was my company that paved many of the streets in Green Bay during the 1910s and 1920s.  As with many things in life, there are good times and there are bad times.  Even with all the construction projects, my business went bankrupt in 1915, but I was able to reestablish myself in 1919 and continued my company until about 1931, when I became disabled due to diabetes. I passed away on May 19, 1939 at the age of 74.

Even though my company has closed many years again, I am remembered today for constructing one of the largest homes on Green Bay’s west side. It still stands today at the corner of Ashland Avenue and Dousman Street.