News: Neillsville – Became
County Seat due to Whiskey (1854)
Surnames: O’Neill, Weston
---------Source: Pittsburgh, Pa. Press (21 Dec 1927)
Neillsville, Wisconsin, Dec 21, 1927 – They tell a story of how this little hamlet came into its own as the county seat back in 1854 through a barrel of whiskey.
Two factions, the O’Neills and the Westons, dominated the district at that time, the story goes, the O’Neil settlement being at the site of the present city and that of the Westons about two miles north on the Black River.
The O’Neills started a movement to have their settlement named the county seat. This was strongly objected to by the Westons, who though it should be at their settlement. An election was arranged to decide the issue.
Voting was done in the O’Neill settlement. Those who came from Weston had to cross the Black River on foot to get to the polls. There were no bridges at that time, and the O’Neill supporters had to cross the creek on a narrow foot bride consisting of boom logs.
Neillsville supporters place a keg of whisky at the north end of the boom, history relates. Weston settler coming to the polls stopped to imbibe of the amber fluid after their two mile walk.
It wasn’t long before many of the Weston constituents, imbibing too freely of the contents of the keg, it is said, became unable to make the hazardous trip across the creek. As a result Neillsville was selected as the county seat by a majority of 23 of the total 163 votes. The Weston district is no longer a settlement.
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