Bio: Condit, E. R. (3 March 1885)

Contact:  Crystal Wendt

Surnames: Condit, O’Neill

----Sources: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) 3 March 1885

Thirty Years ago

A Barrel of Whisky ? the Location of a County Seat.

Visit of a Gentleman Who helped to Give Neillsville ? ? .

Mr. E. R. Condict, a brother of T. D Condit, of this city, arrived here last Saturday, after an absence of thirty-one or thirty-two years. About that number of years ago Mr. Condit walked from Milwaukee to La Crosse, where he fired out to Sam Weston to work in the woods, and came on foot to camp located at the point known as Weston Rapids, where Sam Weston had built a house and proposed to build a town.

At that time Mr. James O’Neill, Sr., and two or three younger men, had already been located on the site where our city now stands Mr. O’Neill had erected an unpretentious dwelling, and was building a dam on O’Neill Creek for mill purposes. At this time Clark County had been formed and a vote was to be taken on the location of the county seat. Sam Weston wanted the county seat at Weston Rapids and Mr. O’Neill wanted it here. The election was to be held at this point, and Mr. Weston told his men, numbering about one hundred, if they would go to the polls and vote in favor of his place he would give them the day and pay them the regular day’s wages. So the whole crew came down. Mr. O’Neill met them very pleasantly and invited them to the "dug-out" under his house where he had a barrel of whisky. A small tin cup was produced and the boys had a drink all round. After a time they wanted another drink, but Mr. O’Neill had locked the door and refused to give them any more. They then broke the door in and rolled the barrel of whisky down to the banks of the creek, where the head was knocked in, and as the men had forgotten to secure the cup, they dipped the liquor up with an old wool hat and passed it around among the men. While this was going on speeches had been called for, and after each speech the boys took a drink.

Along about three o’clock in the afternoon Mr. O’Neill came around and reminded that boys that they hadn’t voted, and as they had drank his whisky they felt under obligations to vote as Mr. O’Neill wanted them to, so they went to the polls in a body and voted in favor of Neillsville while under the pay of Sam Weston.

Mr. Condit winds up by saying that we owe the existence of our growing city to the barrel of whisky drank from an old wool hat on the banks of O’Neill creek over thirty years ago.

Mr. Condit says hay was very high in those days. They had to pay as high as fifty dollars a ton for it, and go a long distance to secure it.

Mr. C. had come here with the intentions of purchasing land, but the country was full of Chippewa Indians and he thought it never would be permanently settled by white men. But what a change to one who was here over thirty years ago, and now returned for the first time! In place of the wilderness of waving pines are thousands of acres of fertile land under the highest state of cultivation and adorned with prosperous, happy homes, while schools and churches thrive throughout the county.



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