News: Clark County Memories - Anderson Ruskins (Jul 2020)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Anderson, Ruskins, Opelt, Dusold, Ormond, Murphy, McLay, Hansen, Mead, Foss, Schaefer, Miles, Grzanna

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 7/08/2020

Anderson Ruskins Get Glimpse into Clark County History (Memories - 2020)

As the Anderson Ruskin family started to go through some belongings when things slowed down recently, they were reminded of a chance encounter with some relics from Clark County’s past they received a few years ago. Now, they have a plan to make sure the pieces of history live on.

In December 2016, Craig Anderson Ruskin was given a unique Christmas present. His mother, Sandra Ruskin, gifted him 17 postcards of Neillsville and other memorabilia from the Neillsville and Granton area. Craig’s mother helped coordinate and run Bethel estate Sales in Madison at that time.. Sandra found these items at Norm and Mary Ann Opelt’s estate sale in Madison, after Mary Ann’s passing.

“She bought them on a whim, considering her son and daughter-in-law’s connection to the area,” said Tonia, Craig’s wife.

Thirteen of the 17 postcards are dated between 1908 to 1916. Most postcards simply have the receiver’s name and the town of destination on them, versus house numbers and street names. They capture another era and document the beginning of a young city. The postcards include drawings and black-and-white pictures of the Neillsville Opera House and Armory in 1909; Hewett Street looking south in 1908; the mouth of the O’Neill Creek in 1909; a creek scene near Neillsville in 1910; the corner of Hewett and 5th streets in 1914; Neillsville High School in 1915; a birds-eye view of Neillsville in 1912 and 1916; Neillsville Catholic Church; a tornado in Neillsville on Aug. 22, 1910; Merchant’s Hotel; and few more recent town center and gazebo and the World War II tribute at The Highground.

In August 1909, Captain wrote to Carl Dusold, Esq. The postcard was published by C.C. Sniteman Co. of Neillsville and made in Germany. Captain wrote, “How are you, Carl. Hope to meet you again in Mil. later arrived here O.K. – Captain.”

Above is a postcard written to Carl Dusold, Esq. from a “Captain” that the Anderson Ruskins have. They plan to donate the postcard, along with several other items, to a local historical society so they can be preserved. Submitted photo

In September 1910, Esther Ormond wrote to Miss Joe Murphy of Mendota, saying, “My Dear, I got home safe and sound. I had a nice journey. It was cold enough, but I am lonesome for the girls and I miss the whistle very much. As ever, with love – Esther.”

In October 1910, Stillie wrote to Miss Florence McLay in Beloit, saying, “Everything going fine now but it was pretty hard to get down to business at first. My work is much the same as last year only it is much easier this time over. Play tennis every night now. Better come and have a game. – Stillie.”

In October of 1914, Martha wrote to her sister in Marshfield. The postcard was published by Real Photo Post Card and Hansen Photo Co. of Withee. She wrote, “Dear Sister, Received your card. I suppose you are through cleaning house. I have not started. Florence Mead is staying with us. Her folks have gone to La Crosse. Will write more next time.”

In August 1936, Hugo’s cousin wrote to Jennie Voss in Lake Geneva, saying, “Hello, Am passing thru here and find this a wonderful place. I hope you are fine. Hugo’s cousin.”

The back of card picturing the town center and gazebo reads, “Neillsville Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

“Take time to step back and smell the roses as the music of a 1910 brass band gloats upon the summer breeze,” Tonia wrote. “Painted by the husband/wife team of Schaefer-Miles, we see the site of the original Frist National Bank building in Neillsville, across from the present-day gazebo, in a fantasy that blends the spirit of the past with the dreams of the future, dedicated to the proud people of that town. Sponsored by M & I National Bank of Neillsville.”

Other memorabilia from the home of Norm and Mary Ann included a Pine Valley Sweet Cream Butter box (Neillsville Milk Products Co-op); Farmer’s Union Co-op of a Neillsville tooth-pick dispenser; an ornamental, stemmed Neillsville souvenir shot glass; a Neillsville souvenir porcelain cup; and a Granton souvenir creamer dispenser.

Norm Opelt graduated from Neillsville High School in 1933. Mary Ann Grzanna graduated from Neillsville High School in 1936. Mary Ann married Norman Opelt in 1937. Following this, they moved to the Madison area.

“Though they moved out of the area, it is clear that Norm and Mary Ann kept Clark County near and dear to them through their collection of postcards, memorabilia and their memories. Norman’s obituary shared that his father bought him a beautiful horse, Tony, that he would ride to school and that he won ribbons with racing at the Clark County Fair,” Tonia wrote.

Norman Opelt was born in Lynn in 1915. Craig and Tonia Anderson Ruskin currently live just outside of Lynn. Craig is the Neillsville High School Principal and Tonia is director of special education for the Neillsville School District.

Over 100 years later, like Norm and Mary Ann, Craig and Tonia value what Clark County has to offer. Particularly, at this time, they feel fortunate for the fresh country area, the extra space to must be, and the sense of community that exists in Clark County. They are proud to call this place home and raise their children here. They intend to donate the postcards to a local historical society so they can be preserved.

Pictured is a shot of the corner of Hewett and 5th Streets from 1914, which is on a postcard that came from the estate of Norman and Mary Ann Opelt. Submitted photo

Above is the old Merchant’s Hotel, which is an image on a postcard Craig Anderson Ruskin received as a gift a few years ago. Submitted photo

The shot glass is one piece of memorabilia from Neillsville and throughout Clark County. Submitted photo

Above is a postcard the Anderson Ruskins received as a gift a few years ago. The postcard is a bird-eye view of Neillsville from 1912. Submitted photo



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