The Olive Tree
The papers of the Lowell and Engel Company were presented to the Special Collections at the dedication of the Rosalie Waterman Rehabilitation Center at Ross Manor in Bangor. The collection was found in the basement of the Ross Home, contained in 6 old, green, wooden boxes with various titles, such as “Lowell and Engel” and “Logging Operations No. 6,” stenciled on them. These materials will be an excellent complement to our William Engel papers.
The collection appears to contain records of William Engel’s timberlands
business and of the firm of Lowell & Engel. There are many bills and receipts,
papers concerning logging operations, lumber surveys, and sales reports. There
also seem to be some personal papers of William Engel.
According to his contemporaries, William Engel was a hard-working and ambitious man who was also loyal and maintained high standards of business integrity. He came to Bangor, Maine at the age of sixteen from Germany, where he had just graduated from the University of Breslau. He began working for S & J Adams as a dealer in dry goods and notions, traveling throughout eastern Maine. He worked for the company for 18 years and for Wheelwright and Clark for 3 years, all the while investing in timberlands. He anticipated the boom in lumber that would come later.
In 1884, he formed the firm of Stratton, Gilman and Engel. Mr. Stratton died in
1891 and Mr. Gilman in 1893, leaving Engel in full control of the firm, which
eventually became William Engel and Co. Over the decade, Engel organized, leased
or purchased several mills and began a partnership with Waldo Lowell.
In addition to his business, he was also active in civic life. He served in 1886 on the Bangor City Council, in 1887 and 1889 on the State legislature, in 1895 and 1897 as a State Senator and in 1902 as Mayor of Bangor. He campaigned for McKinley in Maine and Michigan. He was also a member of the Tarratine Club and the Unitarian Church.
By the time of William Engel’s death in 1909, the mills he controlled employed 1200 men and handled 40,000,000 feet of lumber each year. His estate was worth around $1,000,000, which in 2003 dollars is something around $363 million.
His wife, Rosalie Waterman Engel, inherited a third of the estate and their
daughter, Sylvia Engel Ross, inherited the two-thirds and was the administrator
of the entire estate. It appears that both were just as involved in political,
social, and business life as William Engel. They were best known for their
charitable work. They gave support to the Bangor Theological Seminary, and
Eastern Maine General Hospital, as well as many charities that helped the aged,
the blind and animals.
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