ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

Blaesius Table Slide Company

Watertown Table Slide

Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing


The Watertown Table-Slide Co. DID NOT make tables.

The company patented and manufactured wooden slides for extension tables.

Furniture manufacturers from all over the country bought

extension slides from the Watertown Table-Slide Co.

The firm was sold to Reiss Industries in 1985.


Ad from Watertown Daily Times, 27 Nov 1917

Profile of the Company

The Watertown Table-Slide Company was established in 1889 with Emil W. Schultz (early business man) as president, Max H. Gaebler and Richard Blaesius; the business was incorporated in 1891.  Its capital in 1917 is twenty-five thousand dollars with an earned surplus of sixty thousand dollars also in the business.

The company's plant is located on Hart Street south of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad tracks and has its own spur track. Here they have three and a half acres of ground on which are several buildings and three dry kilns. They manufacture patented slides for extension tables and their product is sold exclusively to table manufacturers, mostly in carload lots, throughout the United States and Canada.

The material used is principally birch and the annual consumption is a million and a half feet of lumber.  The dry kiln capacity is two hundred thousand feet and the equipment of the plant is first class, all special machines used being designed by the company's secretary and treasurer, Max H. Gaebler.  Employment is furnished forty hands, one-half of whom are skilled workmen and over thirty thousand dollars are annually paid out in wages.

This is today one of the most prosperous and successful enterprises of Watertown and its success is largely due to the stubborn energy of its former president, Emil W. Schultz, who was its manager until his death, June 27, 1916.

The officers are now Mrs. Estella Schultz, president, widow of the former president, William C. Schultz, vice president, and H. Gaebler, secretary and treasurer.  Its superintendent, Henry Winkler, has been in charge of the factory since the establishment of the business.

It is the only concern in its line in Wisconsin and one of the two largest in this class of manufacture in the United States.

Above derived from Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People:  A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Vol. II, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co (Chicago), 1917.


Watertown Table Slide stock certificate



Table Slide Firm Formed Here in 1889


Blaesius Brothers Had Original Plant Here


Watertown has been making nationally famous table slides since 1889 when the Watertown Table Slide Co., now a corporation, was organized by E. W. Schultz, Max H. Gaebler and Richard Blaesius.  Prior to that time there had been a small table slide shop here operated by Blaesius Brothers and the Watertown company, launched in 1889, was the outgrowth of that earlier concern.



Jefferson Banner, 10 10 1889.


Tuesday evening a fire destroyed Edward Blaesius’ furniture factory and his dwelling house at Watertown, together with machinery, lumber and stock, the entire loss being estimated at about $8,000, upon which there is not a cent of insurance.  This is the most serious fire that has visited this town in several years.  The fire department fought hard against the flames, but without avail.  The furniture factory is adjacent to the depot, and was one of the best employing manufacturers in the city.  The cause of the fire is as strange as the absence of insurance.


In 1924 another table slide company, known as the Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Co., was launched here under the leadership of E. W. Schultz.  That concern continued to operate until last year when announcement was made that it was going out of business, that the factory building had been sold to the Hevi Duty Electric Co. of Milwaukee, and that the Watertown Table Slide Co. had purchased its equipment and inventory.


Mrs. Muriel Thauer, wife of Attorney Wallace Thauer, was president of the company at the time the announcement was made last July 15 that it was going out of business. She had headed the company for many years, being a daughter of the late E. W. Schutz. She was not connected with the Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Co. at the time her father helped organize it, but became interested in the company a few years after it was organized.


She became head of the company upon the death of her father and had also been general manager. As a girl she had assisted her father in his office and accompanied him on many of his business trips and was practically brought up in the table slide business, gaining much experience which was to prove valuable in a business way for the company when she later became head of the concern. Last year, after many years in business, she decided to retire and began negotiations for the sale of the property.


At the time of her retirement, Mrs. Thauer acknowledged the efficient and helpful services to the company of Benjamin R. Krueger who was for 19 years the company's secretary and treasurer. Fred W. Pfeifer of this city was for many years associated with the company and had-served as its first vice president.  Otto Fischer was superintendent since the company was organized and had over 50 years experience in the manufacture of table slides. Several other employees had more than 40 years experience.


One Company Now


Today the Watertown Table Slide Corp. the remaining such plant in Watertown, is one of five table slide manufacturing concerns in the United States.  From the start its policy had been to turn out the best and most efficient product that could be produced and its products have been used throughout, the United States, and some foreign countries as well.


Approximately one million board feet of lumber is used in the company plant.  Only hard wood, such as birch and maple, is used. One of the secrets of its successes always has been in the long and special treatment of the wood used.


In addition to standard size table slides, the company has turned out a great number of special contract jobs, with slides ranging to vast sizes for special tables.


Much machinery and special equipment, some of it being of the most ingenious nature and design, is required to turn out the many types of table slides produced in the plant.


Years ago the special wood treatment process employed in the Watertown table slides attracted the attention of U. S. government wood experts who came here to study the method.


A. M. (Dip) Ellington has been president of the Watertown Table Slide Corp., for many years. He is also secretary. Lois P. F. Ellington is vice president and treasurer.  Edward Dobbratz is the firm's sales manager.  [Profile of Ed Dobbratz, 1924-2008]


Watertown Daily Times / Centennial Edition, June 26, 1954




Blaesius Bros. have commenced a building for their new table factory, near the site of the old Blaesius factory in the Seventh ward.  The boys deserve encouragement and should receive all the help that can be given them in the attempt to establish a manufactory in our midst.   WR



05 04       PAY RAISES

A certain indication of business prosperity comes from the Blaesius Table Slide Company.  On the 1st of May the company made an increase in the wages of all its employees of from 10 to 25 per cent.  The advance is no doubt very welcome to the workmen, and we are glad to note it.   WR




Notice is hereby given that the name of The Blaesius Table Slide Company, of Watertown, Wis., has been duly changed to Watertown Table Slide Company, and that the business of said Blaesius Table Slide Company will be conducted under the name of said Watertown Table Slide Company.


Dated Watertown, March 28, 1899.



Secretary of Blaesius Table Slide Co.     WR



A desperate crime was committed Saturday night at the plant of the Watertown Table Slide company, in the Seventh ward.  Between the hours of 11 and 12 o'clock five men with their faces partially hidden by red bandana handkerchiefs entered the factory and at the point of revolvers overpowered the night watchman, John Bliese, one of the desperadoes hitting him on the head with the butt end of his shooter, after which they bound and gagged the victim and also relieved him of what money he possessed, amounting to about $5.  The men helped themselves to necessary tools and proceeded to the office, where they demolished the front of the safe with three charges of powder.  All the money contained in the safe, some $15 was taken, together with about $500 worth of negotiable paper held by the company against the Wisconsin company, of North Milwaukee; H.W. Klink, of Leavenworth, Kan., and the North St. Paul Table company, of North St. Paul, Minn.  The job consumed some two hours, after which the robbers made good their escape.  Bliese succeeded in releasing himself shortly after the departure of his assailants and hurried to give the alarm, but thus far the police have located no clue, aside from the finding of some of the company's papers which were taken from the safe and hidden in a freight car on the Milwaukee railway.  These were of no value to the thieves.    WR


06 06       The preliminary hearing of George Roberts and James Murphy, who were arrested at Tomah on suspicion of being confederates in the robbery of the Watertown Table Slide company's safe on the night of May 20, was held before Justice Stacy Friday last.   Both men waived examination, and on the sole evidence of John Briese, the night-watch, they were bound over for trial at the next term of the circuit court.  Bail was fixed at $300 each, and failing to secure it they were remanded to the county jail.  Later Roberts and Murphy confessed to Chief of Police Block that they were two of a party of five who blew open the safe and committed the robbery.  They kept the cash they found, but hid the papers in a box near the railroad tracks, where they were subsequently discovered, but in a different location than that indicated by the prisoners.    WR



05 31        STENOGRAPHER

Miss Maude Stapleton is now filling the position of stenographer for the Watertown Table Slide Co.   WG



11 28        The Leader is pleased to note the evident prosperity of one of the local manufacturing industries, which has grown from modest beginnings, till it is now an important factor in the industrial activity of Watertown and gives promise of becoming an institution of far greater importance, due in a large measure to the excellence of management.


. . . It will be a source of pleasure to all . . . to know that [the Watertown Table Slide Co] has commenced the erection of two large additions to its plant in order to accommodate the rapidly increasing business . . . The plant at the present time is being operated day and night in order to complete their contracts at specified times.  The working force has been increased from time to time as necessity demanded, till today there is a force of fifty people employed.  The building operations of the new addition is under the supervision of E. W. Schultz, the president of the company.     WL



07 06       Well-Known Business Man and Manufacturer Dies at St. Mary's Hospital


At 5 o'clock on Thursday, June 29, 1916, Emil W. Schultz, one of Watertown's most progressive business men, and a manufacturer of national reputation, died at St. Mary's Hospital in this city of cancer of the bladder, with which he had been a great sufferer for months.  All that medical skill could do was done for Mr. Schultz and he received every attention from family and friends to comfort and assist him in his last illness.


For six weeks before his death he realized that the hand of Death was on him and he prepared well to meet his Creator, having recourse to the bible many times each day and having it read and explained to him.


The news of his death was learned of by our citizens with sincere regret, for Mr. Schultz had many warm friends here, and besides all our citizens realized that he was a businessman who did much good here, not only by his own manufacturing plant, but in other material ways and in charitableness also.


Deceased was born on a farm, near Lake Mills in May, 1864, and on May 20, 1887, he was married to Miss Estelle Drew of Lake Mills. 


He was a self-made man in every particular, and had he lived no doubt he would have risen to be one of the largest manufacturers in the county, for his business interests were being added to yearly, and just previous to his death a large addition to his factory was built and another addition was being contemplated.


After attending school a few years, he secured a position in a general store at Lake Mills, and resigning that position he went to Fond du Lac and was employed in the furniture store of his brother-in-law, Albert Blankenberg, where he mastered the furniture business, and in 1886 he came to this city and opened a furniture store in the building in West Main Street now occupied by the Baumann Candy Co.  In 1889 he disposed of that business and associated himself with Max H. Gaebler and the late Richard Blaesius in the Watertown Table Slide Co., a business that grew and prospered up to the time of his death.  He was also interested in many other enterprises, notably in the Isle of Pines, where he had large land interest.


Mr. Schultz was a big man physically, and a big man mentally and in a business way, yet he had many traits of the great big-hearted boy, and many there are who will miss him, for his bigness of heart found him on numerous occasions extending charity and assistance to those less fortunate than he in a business way.


The writer knew him intimately for over 30 years, and, though like human beings, he had his faults, his good traits of character were so many, that his faults sank into insignificance alongside of them.


He is survived by his wife and two daughters, the Misses Muriel and Helen Schultz, one brother, W. C. Schultz of the Isle of Pines, and two half sisters, Mrs. Wm. Gruetzmacher, Grand Forks, N. Dak., and Mrs. Wm. Fuerstenau of Lake Mills.  He was a member of Watertown Lodge B. P. O. Elks No. 666 and of Watertown Council United Commercial Travelers.


His funeral was held Sunday afternoon from his late home, Rev. N. Carter Daniell officiating.  Mr. Daniell read the Congregationial service and preached an eloquent funeral sermon.  Song services was rendered by a number of the Congregational choir.  Nearly 75 of the local Elks marched from the home to the Oak Hill Cemetery, as did also a number of the local council of the Commercial Travelers, and all of the factory force over which Mr. Schultz in life presided.


At his grave in Oak Hill the Elks held services . . .


The active pallbearers were Otto Fischer, Wm. Draeger, Otto Draeger, Wm. Schmidt, Herman Neubauer and Arthur Behling of the factory force.  The honorary pallbearers were Mayor Charles Mulberger, E. J. Brandt, Geo. Koenig, James W. Moore, J. W. Wiggenhorn and F. E. Woodard.


The out of town people who attended the funeral were . . .   WG




In 1889 three Watertown men, E. W. Schultz, Richard Blaesius and M. H. Gaebler, organized what is now the Watertown Table Slide Company.  They as progressive businessmen had foresight enough to see that at no distant future there would be a great demand for the product they were to manufacture.  Their venture was a success and in 1891 the concern was incorporated at a capitalization of $7500.  The Watertown Table Slide company today has a capitalization and surplus of $90,000.  Directing its destinies today are Estella H. Schultz, president, W. C. Schultz, vice president, and M. H. Gaebler, secretary and treasurer.  Of the three original founders Mr. Gaebler alone survives. Henry Winkler, superintendent of the factory, has been employ of the concern for 28 years.


In speaking of the success of the business, Mr. Gaebler said that it was owing to the equalizer ball-bearing equipped slide that the firm’s prominence is due.  The concern is the sole owner of this device, which by drawing out one end of the table automatically causes the other to move in proportion.  The center leg of the table remains in the center so that no matter how far the end of the table is pulled out the center leg remains stationary.  Several patents were taken out on this invention.  The late E. W. Schultz was one of the inventors.


The plant was recently enlarged, a $20,000 addition having been built.  One of the principal features of the new addition is the steam retort where all the lumber is first steamed under a pressure of from ten to twenty pounds.  It is then put into the dry kilns, of which there are two, each 130 feet long.  This treatment of the birch lumber, of which 1,500,000 feet are used each year in the manufacture of the table slide, has attracted the attention of government experts, for it never warps after it has gone through this process.  “That is the reason why Watertown slides are famous.” said Mr. Gaebler.


A number of especially constructed machines take care of this specially treated lumber after it comes from the kilns.  Automatic boring machines, of which there are two, one boring three and the other twenty-four holes, make the lumber ready for the grooving and routing machines, which were made for this work, completes the necessary machine operations and the slide is ready to be assembled.


The plant has a complete sprinkler system, employs 40 men, covers an entire city block, and has a spur track connecting it with the Milwaukee Road.    The Watertown News, 02 13 1918




Announcement was made today of plans to open a new industry in Watertown in the fall which will employ between 100 and 150 persons.  The announcement was made by Harold E. Koch, an official of the Hevi Duty Electric Company of Milwaukee, following reports of a new industry which have been in circulation here in recent weeks.  Negotiations have now been completed. Mr. Koch said that the company will take over the building of the Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Company on Hart Street and convert it into a plant for the making of electrical transformers for electric furnaces which his company manufactures.





Announcement was made by Mrs. Muriel Thauer, president of Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Company, of this city, that negotiations have been completed for the sale of its equipment and inventor to the Watertown Table Slide Corporation and for the sale of the Perfection factory building and real estate to Hevi Duty Electric Company of Milwaukee. It is expected that the Hevi Duty Company will take possession before the end of this summer and thus bring to Watertown a substantial new industry.


The Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Company was organized about 1924 and has since then been engaged in the manufacture and sale of high-grade extension table slides to table manufacturers in various parts of the country.


Mrs. Thauer had no connection with the Perfection Company when it was organized but a few years later she became interested in the company and has since then been its president and general manager.


A few years later a separate corporation, the Perfection Realty Corporation, was formed to take over the factory building and real estate.




Raymond Winkler, 814 South Third Street, has been honored by the Watertown Table Slide Corp. on the occasion of his 42 years of employment with the concern.  Mr. Winkler is chief maintenance engineer at the plant. He began his work on Dec. 10, 1923, starting as an engineer on the days when the company produced its own power.  He held that position until about 1945 when he became chief maintenance engineer.  At the time he joined the company his father, the late Henry Winkler, was superintendent of the plant.



-- --           BUILDINGS PRIOR TO THEIR REMOVAL.  200 Hart Street




02 01 1974

Watertown Table Slide - Pioneer in use of Aluminum for Slides


An innovative approach using aluminum in the table slide industry, pioneered by Watertown Table Slide, 321 Hart Street, is making the firm more versatile, according to Ed Dobbratz, president.


The Watertown firm had made wood table slides for many years, and which 15 years ago began the use of steel in table slides, has now become the first company in the nation to make use of aluminum in its table slide product.   WDT


Wooden Table Slides Discontinued


The wood line, which for many years was the only line made, was discontinued a year ago and with the discontinuance came many changes in the plant. 


Some of the old buildings used in the old process were torn down and replaced by a new 60 foot by 120 foot building with additional areas for office space.


The completely new facilities handle all manufacturing and business portions of the company.  The remaining old facilities are used primarily for storage of the new raw materials and for some of the old wood slides.


Dobbratz said that while the steel table slides account for the biggest volume of the business, the real future lies in the use of aluminum.


He explained that use of steel is limited by its size and shape, but aluminum can be shaped exactly to the requirements of any particular project.


Dobbratz said “With aluminum there are no design restrictions.  We can make any type of table slide or slide for other purposes and can meet the needs of our clients with aluminum.”


The firm is presently manufacturing slides only for tables with the aluminum and steel, but future applications are limitless, Dobbratz emphasized.  He said “There are many slides which remain to be designed and we feel we will be able to produce them in our new facilities.”


Can Expand Building


The new structure was built with expansion in mind.  Dobbratz said future expansion is planned by adding to the west side of the existing new building.


The building was designed and constructed by Metal Structures, Inc., of Oconomowoc.  In addition to the bright production area, the office space includes the president’s area, business office, private meeting room, drafting room and waiting room and entrance.  The floor is attractively carpeted.


Watertown Table Slide functions with 27 employees handling both the aluminum and steel lines.


The president of the firm takes pride in the equipment used at the facility, most of which was designed for its specific use by officials of the firm.  Several of the machines were designed by Earl Olson of Watertown.


Dobbratz is proud of the accomplishments of the firm, noting that the company sells slides in Australia, West Germany, Switzerland, England, Italy, Sweden, France and other countries in addition to its business in the United States.


Has Long History


Watertown Table Slide has a long history in Watertown, having been formed in 1889 as the Watertown Table Slide Company.  It is now a corporation.


The firm was originally formed by E. W. Schultz, Max H. Gaebler, and Richard Blaesius.


Prior to that time there had been a small table slide shop here operated by Blaesius Brothers. The Watertown company was the outgrowth of that earlier concern.


In 1924 another table slide company, known as the Perfection Table Slide Manufacturing Company, was launched under the leadership of Schultz.  That concern operated until 1953 when it was purchased by Watertown Table Slide.


A.M. (Dip) Ellington has been associated with the firm since the late 1920s, having served as its president for many years.




As a result of the company's recent growth, Reiss Industries has entered into agreement to purchase Watertown Table Slide Corporation.  The Watertown Table Slide assets will be purchased by a newly formed subsidiary of Reiss, Consolidated Industries, Inc., Thomas Reiss, chairman of the board of Reiss, said.  Reiss said the new subsidiary will retain all of the employees of Watertown Table Slide.  He said Ed Dobbratz, current president of Watertown Table Slide, has also signed with Consolidated and will maintain “a vital role” in the new firm.  Reiss Industries recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and operates out of its 120,000 square foot facility at 319 Hart Street.  One of the country's leading manufacturers of custom molded methane products, the firm's products include parts for the office furniture, automotive, health care and aerospace industries.   WDT




Reiss Industries of Watertown has taken out a building permit for factory expansion at its facilities at 319 Hart Street.  According to Thomas J. Reiss Jr., chief executive officer of the firm, the project is part of a $5 million project that includes another Reiss enterprise, Watertown Table Slide Company, 1207 Boomer St.  Reiss recently purchased another company, R-Way Furniture Company of Sheboygan, Wis.  The project includes facility expansion and major equipment acquisitions for both Reiss Industries and Watertown Table Slide, according to Reiss.   WDT




The Octagon House neighborhood harked back to days of old on Friday when vintage Willis Overland cars parked in the streets.  The cars, manufactured between 1903 and 1941, lined the streets while the drivers and passengers toured the Octagon House as part of regional meeting activities of the Willis Overland Knights Register, an international club.  Tours were also given at Reiss Industry Inc. and Watertown Table Slide by owner Tom Reiss, who owns an Overland car which is being refurbished.  The group also toured the power house being restored by Reiss on the lower dam of the Rock River.  Co-chairmen of the regional meeting are Connie and Carol Holcomb of Watertown, who have a 1920 Overland touring car, and Ward and Chris Bruhn of Concord, who have a 1917 Overland touring car.






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History of Watertown, Wisconsin