News: Neillsville - Jail Museum displays Local History (2010)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Anderson, Listeman

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 7/21/2010

Jail Museum displays Neillsville’s History (2010)

Jail Museum displays Neillsville’s History

The 1897 Clark County Jail Museum provides a look into Neillsville’s history. The dining room (above) was one of the many rooms in what once was the home of the Clark County sheriff. The jail was connected to the sheriff’s home. ‘Barney’ (below) spends his days playing cards by himself in what once was jail cell. (Photos by Peter Spicer/Clark County Press)

By Peter Spicer

Much of Neillsville’s history is prominently displayed at the 1897 Clark Count Jail Museum, located at Fifth Street in Neillsville next to the Clark County Courthouse.

Not only did the building have jail cells to temporarily hold those sent there, but the building also served as a home for the sheriff and his family for many years.

The jail was constructed in 1897 for $15,000 and served as Clark County’s third jail. It was designated a Historic Landmark in 1978. The home portion of the building includes two floors. A parlor, dining room, kitchen and family room are all on the main floor and is furnished with many historical donated items.

Due to Clark County’s large logging industry at the time, the house has “wonderful woodwork,” said Shirley Anderson, who gives jail tours and is a member of the 1897 Clark County Jail group.

The Listeman Foundation donated many historical items to furnish several of the rooms, including one room named the Listeman Legacy Room.

Prior to becoming a historical landmark, Clark County used some of the home’s rooms for offices. Many area residents recently took time to rewire, paint and decorate the kitchen, said Anderson.

The home’s upstairs includes five bedrooms, which include several historical displays.

One room is decorated as a children’s room and features many clothing and toys children used many years ago.

Another upstairs room contains many historical maps and photos of Neillsville and Clark County, including a map showing where former towns were located along a train route.

Some of those sent temporarily to the jail included those with mental health issues, truant students, those who could not pay their bills and those with more serious crimes.

The sheriff always lived alongside the jail, which could house up to 30 people, said Anderson, who explained the jail never had nearly that many people jailed at once; some jail cells held up to four people at once.

A military room is displayed at the jail, which includes memorabilia and military uniforms from the Civil War to the current Iraqi War, said Anderson.

The military room is needed because of the amount of military items donated to the jail museum, said Anderson, who explained people trust the group to protect those items.

The jail also displays items and pictures from the Winnebago Children’s Home, which was located near the Sunburst Properties in Neillsville.

Children at the home learned trades, such as carpentry, mechanics and how to grow food, before attending high school, said Anderson.

The museum also has electronics from many eras, including some early radios, televisions and VCR Players.

The Clark County Jail Museum will soon be on the Internet, said Anderson, who added the group hopes to electronically document old records as well.

The museum’s goal is to have information available to people, said Anderson.




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