The History of Electricity in Clark Co., Wisconsin


If you have memories of the onset of Electricity which you'd like to include, please don't hesitate to send them our way!




In the Town of Worden History 1893-1993 electricity came to the Town in 1939 and people who wanted it bought shares in the Clark Electric Cooperative.
"Through the Rural Electric Association and the hard work of some progressive minded people electricity was brought to Worden Township in 1939. Township residents who wished to have electric lines brought to their homes and farms purchased shares in the Clark Electric cooperative. Many of these agreements were signed on the hoods of cars as neighbors convinced neighbors to sign up and bring modern conveniences into their homes. Wallace Landry, who had been a teacher at Busy Bee School became County Agent and worked very hard to help bring electricity into the area."  Ken Wood




My dad, Frank Artac, was an electrician and plumber in Greenwood. In his memoirs he wrote that "At 26 years of age he took an electrical course. In 1938 he started electrical work from his dad's farm." (northwest of Willard). I know that he said that at that time the power plant was in operation in Marshfield. They were starting to run the power lines to the rural areas and he learned electricity in preparation of the power lines coming to Greenwood and Willard.

I am not sure that the REA and Clark Electric are one and the same.  Maybe it was Northern States Power that was their competitor.


He was unusual, taxidermy study by night, electricity study by day. I don't know what year he started the plumbing. I do have many of his licenses but never sat down and sorted them. For an eighth grade graduate he held State of Wisconsin licenses for Master Plumber and Master Electrician plus held license for septic. It was not unusual for him to have to drive to Madison to take the classes and tests.

We did not have indoor plumbing until the late 1950's. He was too busy plumbing everyone else's homes. I remember the outhouse and copper tub in the kitchen for baths. I always remember electricity but also remember the stove with the wood burner on one side and electric on the other. I guess we were kind of progressive.


It was August 1940. That spring & summer our folks built our new home. Now we were ready to move from our log home to our new modern one. One day we were in Neillsville attending the Clark Co. fair. When we arrived back home, the REA had been out and we had electricity. I remember, as some of you have stated, I went from room to room turning the on & off light
switches. And we had an indoor bathroom. No more 3 holer and Sears Roebuck catalog.That small building was not torn down immediately. The men folks used it occasionally in the
summer, esp. during the peach canning season. My wife informs me it was still there when we were married on Sept. 2, 1961.  Duane Horn


Ah yes, as I get some time here, when I am not out digging in the dirt around the sewer line, and hauling away rocks, I will get something written, as I am one who had the experience of kerosene lamps, lanterns, gasoline motor on the washing machine, hand clothes wringer, double wash tubs, etc as a child, as we got electric in about 1945-46, and in the barn at first for the milking machines. Heated irons on the stove, heated all water on the wood stove, pumped water by hand, carried it into the house and then carried out the slop water, no bathroom until about 1973 in my folks house, just the outhouse, out behind the house. So I will have to do some thinking about this. Do believe there was electricity in the school house when I started school in 1944.  Dolores Mohr Kenyon


What I remember..... ""Himmel!" that darned fuse burned out again!.... better put another penny in 'till we can get to town to get some more fuses!"  


I also remember Northern States Power in our area of Twp. Green Grove. Not sure where they were based out of. I thought there was a payment office (or substation) in either Abbotsford or Colby.

"Ready Kilowatt" was the cartoon character! 
Robert Lipprandt


Growing Up in the '20s and '30s
By John M. Jenkins-Contributed by Pat Phillips.

Back in the twenties and thirties when I was a boy,
It was a real special day if we got a new toy.
Those days they were well made and built to last,
Not made of plastic as thin as isinglass.

Everything was done the hard way, all by hand.
Only one or two people had tractors to work the land.
No insecticides, fertilizer or hybrid seed,
You furnished everything for your own need.


In the summer, when it rained, we were like any child,
Out playing in the mud and going wild.
Wearing old clothes is how we would dress,
Mud oozing between our toes, what a lovely mess.

Going to country school was a big event in a child’s life,
Besides reading, writing and ’rithmetic was trouble and strife.
We learned a lot more than was printed in any textbook.
It would even make computers take a second long look.


There were no refrigerators, the leftover food to save.
Your only chance was to take it down the cave.
It took a lot of energy and steps to go up and down,
’Cos it was 10 or 12 feet below the ground.

When the men threshed, shelled corn or put up hay,
The ladies worked over a cook stove whatever the day.
It was usually hot, over 100 degrees,
The kids picked up cobs on their hands and knees.


Mowing the lawn was a different kind of treat,
Back then mowers didn’t have a seat.
Come to think of it, they didn’t have a motor, either.
You pushed like heck for a while, then took a breather.

Commercial feed was unheard of in those years.
Feeding was done different when tending hogs.
You mixed corn, oats, milk and water to make a whey,
The pigs really liked it, but the flies nearly carried you away.


In the summertime when the grass got short,
They let the kids have a new kind of sport.
We got to herd the cows at least twice a day.
One on each end to tell cars that cattle were in the way.

The young people of today have really missed a lot,
They stay inside for everything including using the pot.
Those outdoor privies really kept you on your feet,
Waiting as long as you could till someone else warmed the seat.


A tin lunch box carried your peanut butter sandwich to school,
While other kids had different things to make your mouth drool.
You’d even trade your homemade bread for the boughten kind,
If you did that today they’d think you’d lost your mind.

Getting ready for winter meant we needed to chop wood,
Calling the fuel or gas man wouldn’t do any good.
It took a lot to get the old heating stove real red,
Then we could bank it with coal and go to bed.


Before school started each fall, we got a new pair of shoes,
Hand-me-down dresses, shirts and trousers is what we’d use.
A new pencil and Big Mac tablet were a must that first day.
But you went through many more before the end of May.

The temperature didn’t matter, school was from nine ‘til four,
When that final bell rang, everybody ran out the door.
We’d go home, change clothes then head for the creek,
Where we’d wade in the water then play hide and seek.


Helping do the chores was part of a farm kid’s life,
Along with the farmer, the hired hand and the farmer’s wife.
Keep the cob bin full, carry water and sweep the floor,
But cleaning the henhouse was a kid’s greatest bore.

There were baby pigs, calves, kittens, puppies and colts
Ducks, geese, setting hens, chickens and poults.
All these cute little things needed special care.
You just don’t realize it, you had to be there.

You fixed fence, cleaned the barns and fed the cows hay.
Slopped hogs, gathered eggs and helped milk every day.
Gathering eggs wasn’t too bad except for the setting hens,
Just like those crabby old sows when cleaning the pens.

A vacation in those days doesn’t compare to now,
We’d go to Grandma’s away from the garden and cow.
Oh, what a treat to act like those kids in town,
To do the same things at home would make your parents frown.

Some of the games we played kids haven’t heard of today.
There was Blind Man’s Bluff, Captain May I, and Pom Pom Pull Away.
Follow the Leader, Annie I Over, and Drown Out Squirrels,
Of course, those recess ballgames with boys against girls.

When people farmed with horses, they visited more,
They even had time for a whole bunch of chores.
Nearly every kid had a pony on the place,
Partly for help, but mostly to race.


Whatever was done, we tried to do in the daylight.
Those lanterns and lamps didn’t do too much at night.
You had to sit or walk just right to see where to go.
One false move and it was nothing but a big shadow.

When neighbors or relatives got together, the time was spent
Visiting, playing cards, but making homemade ice cream was the big event.
Of course there was tea, coffee and a freshly baked cake.
You’d be surprised how many times that trip we’d make.


When school was out and our chores were done,
Supper eaten, schoolwork finished, it was time for fun.
If it was warm, we’d ride ponies or bicycles, from each other we’d hide.
Cold weather meant snowball fights and a long hill for a sleigh ride.

About twice a year, the gypsies would come around,
Asking to camp on our spacious orchard ground.
They’d take what they could but always had horses to trade.
No matter who you’d talk to, a good deal was never made.


School activities then were exciting events,
The programs, box socials but not much money was spent.
The kids had a ball taking part in a play,
When the teacher’s box sold, someone upped the pay.

Picking corn by hand wasn’t as easy as it looked,
The husks on each ear had to be grabbed and hooked,
Then you’d give it a toss and the bang board would rattle,
When the wagon got full, you’d unload, then feed the cattle.


Every fall to the county fair we went,
To see if our summertime was well spent.
If you ended up with a ribbon for your animal or project,
The local 4-H Club would help you make plans for the next.

Water for the livestock came from a well, deep in the ground.
It was pumped into a tank, 2 feet deep and quite big around.
The bad thing was the moss that grew and hung on the side,
But it was home for the goldfish when they wanted to hide.


The last day of school picnic was a big time for one and all.
Parents, children, relatives and neighbors said goodbye till fall.
The next three months, we got to help around the farm.
It seemed boring back then but it didn’t do us any harm.

One ritual then that would make people laugh today,
Was the things you went through for a Saturday night bath.
Heat water on the stove and pour it in an old washtub.
If you didn’t get clean, Mom was there to help you scrub.


Eighth-grade graduation was every year at the end of May.
In the ’20s and ’30s, it was an important day.
You’d go to Wayne to get your diploma from the county superintendent.
After that, you got a job where most of your time was spent.

When it was hot in the summer with no air to turn on,
We’d take some blankets and pillows and sleep on the lawn.
Right next to us our faithful dog would sleep,
Anything strange away from us he’d keep.


It doesn’t matter who reads this, they’ll have something to say,
You forgot this or that or some real special day.
I just hope I can remember until I get home,
So I can add a few more verses to an incomplete poem.

Saturday night, the cream and eggs went to town to buy our treats,
If we were good and helped, we’d likely get some treats.
For 10¢ a bag of candy and a bottle of pop,
Things couldn’t get any better—we were already on top!


When the apples got ripe and they’d fall to the ground,
The kids threw everything in the cider press that could be found.
It was the best homemade drink you ever tasted by far,
But if it sat still too long, it turned to vinegar.

Going to the privy in the summer was a major ordeal,
Those wasps weren’t kidding, they done everything for real.
Just one false move and you were under attack.
Trying to protect your face left you wide open in back.

If you think a car of today is a complicated machine,
The ones of the teens and twenties were a sight to be seen.
They had hard tires, cloth tops and a rumble seat.
To find one and restore it today would really be a treat.

In the winter, the touring cars would sit in the shed,
They used a team of horses and sleigh bells hitched to a sled.
Bales of straw in a wagon box served as a seat,
Hot bricks and blankets were your source of heat.


During the summer, Wednesday night was the best of the week,
You’d go to town early, a good seat to seek.
The free movies, soda pop, your friends and a candy bar,
Then going home, you’d fall asleep in the car.

How many remember washday back in the past?
Those Maytag machines ran with engines on gas.
What a great improvement over the washboard we had,
Plus the hand-cranked wringer, things weren’t all that bad.


The radio we had was run by battery power.
We couldn’t sit and listen for more than an hour.
It was mostly news and weather we’d listen to,
Maybe Fibber & Molly or Amos & Andy, to name a few.

The old box camera was the way our pictures were taken,
Not like today—there was no moving or shaking.
It took quite a while to get your pictures back,
And when you did, they were white and black.


Some things to remember that haven’t been said,
Was Grandma’s lye soap and all the covers on your bed.
Every Halloween, outhouses would get upset,
And stealing watermelons, how many could you get?

There was 3¢ postage and penny postcards,
Fourth of July and Sunday get-togethers in neighbors’ yards.
Toilet paper then would have been a real luxury,
But Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Ward was it for me.




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