Gideon Cooley Hixon
Gideon Cooley Hixon was known for his strong character, ingenuity, generosity to friends, and his business acumen. He was a skillful entrepreneur and a true venture capitalist, recognizing opportunities before their time. He became a leading citizen in his community and Senator for the 31st District of Wisconsin. Gideon lent money to individuals whose business enterprises were perhaps speculative, but if successful, would contribute to the growth of La Crosse, and thereby support his hometown area.
Gideon Cooley Hixon was born in Roxbury, Vermont in 1826. While he was still young, his family moved to Massachusetts, where he received a common grammar school education. Gideon apprenticed for a tinner during this time and continued until he finished his term of service. He married Sarah Crosby and eventually Gideon partnered with her brother in a lumber mill venture in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a great location for lumber and its transportability. He recognized the need for this commodity, especially in the southern U.S. after the Civil War. Gideon lived in La Crosse for the next 36 years, expanding his business enterprises into lumber, flour, woolen mills, tanneries, railroads, pulp and paper manufacturing, electric power, and banking. After the death of Sarah, he married Ellen Pennell, a schoolteacher from La Crosse, in 1861. Gideon and Ellen had five sons together: Frank, Joseph, William, George and Robert. Gideon’s sons all worked in their father’s businesses, continuing on after his death in 1892 to form Hixon and Company in 1900. Ellen Hixon was not only a great philanthropist, but she also worked as a corporate officer of Hixon and Company.
The Gideon Hixon family home in La Crosse stayed in the family until it was donated to the town in 1962. It stands today as a National Landmark Historical site and as one of the most visited tourist attractions in the area. The house is an excellent example of true Victorian architecture and “original” Victorian furnishings and clothing.
The pinecone seedling comes from the logo on a letterhead used in the venture Gideon started with T.B. Brittingham in the retail lumber business in 1883. Gideon’s son, Joseph Morris Hixon, helped run this company during the 1880’s until it was incorporated. The seedling represents the growth of the lumber business and of Gideon’s many enterprises.
Gideon Cooley Hixon’s legacy has formed a business tradition and a passion for venture investing for many generations to come.