East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

Where did the Gisholt Factory get its name?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 18, 2009

An article in the newsletter of the Koshkonong Prairie Historical Society came my way, courtesy of Lorraine Hawkinson of Oregon. The article profiles John Anders Johnson, the founder of the Gisholt Machine Company and a famous “Son of Koshkonong.”

John was born to innkeepers in  Skibsnaes, Norway, who took the place name for their own. Because of the parents’ work at the inn, they placed young John in the care of a paternal aunt and uncle, who lived on an ancient farm named Gisholt. John carried memories for his entire life of the happy days spent there.

At the age of 12, John reunited with his parents and the family immigrated to America In 1844.

Fast forward 10 years:  John purchased a farm outside Stoughton and entered politics with election to the post of Pleasant Springs town clerk. He continued to serve in town and county board positions. In 1856 he married and was elected to the Wisconsin state legislature but four years later, lost both his wife and child. He sold his personal property and moved to Madison.

In the years that followed he showed an uncanny ability to foresee the needs of his growing country, starting an insurance company, a Norwegian language newspaper, and playing a lead role in the Civil War effort in Wisconsin.

When did he get around to starting the Gisholt Factory? I don’t know yet–the story will be continued in the Autumn issue of the Koskhonong  Prairie News. But it’s safe to say he named it after the beloved old family farm in Norway.

-Sarah White for the East Side History Club

 

1952: Union members tour Gisholt. Photo courtesy Charlotte (Legrey) Kalish.

1952: Union members tour Gisholt. Photo courtesy Charlotte (Legrey) Kalish.

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One Response to “Where did the Gisholt Factory get its name?”

  1. odd gisholt said

    Hi, my family comes from this farm in Norway. Can I help you ?

    Best regards,
    Odd Gisholt

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