THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY
Chapter XII, 19 August 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin
Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.
EARLY ELECTION --FLAG RAISING,
NEILLSVILLE FORTY-TWO YEARS AGO.
"Whoever attempts to haul down the
American flag --shoot him on the spot."
Gen., John A. Dix.
The night of the election day in November, 1866, was an exceedingly lively one.
The victors were rejoicing, and the defeated ones were trying to explain how it happened. Politics cut no particular figures in the election, party lines were not drawn, and no state officers were on the ticket for elections.
The issues were personal, and overshadowing all, was the question who should secure the publication of the tax lists, and other county printing.
The were two or three soldier boys on the defeated ticket, but there was two also on the successful ticket, and the honors on that score were about even. However the defeated party had always claimed their ticket to be the soldiers ticket. There was no primary election in those days, nor conventions either.
The candidates were selected generally by one of the contending parties at Hewett, Woods & Cos. Store, after the store had closed. Two or three men was all that was necessary to constitute a quorum.
The other party made up their tickets, either at the post office (W. T. Hutchinson was P.M.) of at Jack Manley’s printing office. The choice of tickets, to vote at the polls were of all classes and varieties of split tickets. A straight ticket was the exception.
On the election night referred to six young men, along about midnight, went to the old frame court house to secure the American flag that was kept there, for the purpose of raising it in honor of the victors.
At that time there stood in the court house square a liberty pole upon which upon various occasions of a particular nature, was raised the stars and strips. On this particular occasion, the party secured the flag, started to raise it on the pole, but by reason of a defeat in the rope, or pulley, when the flag was half way up, it refused to go any higher, an effort was made to lower it, but it wouldn’t come down, and so it hung at half mast, like Mahomets coffin, between the heavens and the earth.
The sensation that flag created the next morning was startling.
Groups of men walked the streets threatening dire vengeance on the ones that committed the dastardly act.
It was they said an insult to the soldiers, who had only a year before returned from the war.
The truth was the flag was raised, or attempted to be raised, in a spirit or rejoicing at the election of the victors, and not in derision of the vanquished.
Three of the party had been soldiers in Co. I. All of the six who participated in the flag raising are now living, except one, (Chas. F. Bone) three are living in the city of Neillsville, one at the soldier’s home near Portland, Oregon (Joseph Ives) and the other is living upon his farm in the town of Pine Valley.
In the early fall of 1866, Neillsville was a village of a few dozen buildings scattered around within a limited area. There was an old saw mill on the north side of O’Neill creek near where the present electric light plant stands. The mill was an old-fashioned one, with an up and down say, run by water power, but at the time mentioned, it was out of commission. It was a year after, either rebuilt, or else repaired by Maryville Mason, then of the town of Pine Valley, a good man and a good millwright, who long since has gone to his reward.
On the north side of O’Neill creek in what is known as the first ward of the city of Neillsville, there was a blacksmith shop, and not to exceed three or four houses in all of that territory one of them being the home of James Furlong, that then stood, on the same land, and near the site of the fine brick dwelling, built by Gus. D. Hosely a few years ago. The north side was nearly all woods.
On the south side of the creek and on the same location as the present Merchants Hotel was a delapidated frame hotel called the Hubbard House, then kept by L. K. Hubbard, father of Richard Hubbard, no a prominent citizen of Hayward in Sawyer County.
Across the main street, or Hewett street, as it is now called, and a little south of Carl Rabenstein’s brick block was a small two-story frame building, the upper story of which was occupied by a man by the name of Tim Roberts who made logging sleds, at least made the wooden part.
Below, on the first floor, was the store of Hewett, Woods & Co. The room was small, and the store then had no clerks, nor window trimmers.
The one front window was of the two-sash 8x10 glass variety and incapable of being decorated very elaborately. The books, such as they were, lay upon the top of any empty kerosene barrel, that did duty as a desk, when such an article of furniture was required. About November, 1866, the store was vacated and the goods moved to a building that stood on the corner where the Neillsville Bank now stands. This building was s store and dwelling house combined, occupied by Chauncey Blakeslee and his family, and it was only a short time until a very large stock of goods were on the shelves.
Back of and to the north of the original store of Hewett, Woods & Co. and facing the north, and the creek, was the old frame dwelling house of James O’Neill, then occupied by James Hewett and his family, Consisting of a wife and one son, then about a year old, named Sherman F. Hewett. The son is the present county surveyor of the county, more familiarly known as "Frank" Hewett.
All of the land of the east side of the Main street including the store building first mentioned, and the house occupied by James Hewett were the property of Mr. O’Neill, and there were no other buildings on the east side of the street from O’Neill’s creek to the site of the present O’Neill House.
On that corner Mr. O’Neill had built a two-story frame building for a residence, which he then occupied, and afterward for a short time ran a hotel there.
On the west side of the street across from the Hubbard House was a drug store, the proprietor being George O. Adams. He was a full-fledged Yankee from Nashua, N. H. He generally wore a long pair of rubber boots, and always wore a silk high hat. He was a keen business man, but somewhat odd in his manner. He generally walked in the middle of the road peering from one side to the other. One of his common expressions, in conversation, was "I want to know." He died at Waukegan, Ill., years ago at a very advanced age.
South of the drug store was a general store kept by Chas. E. Adams, son of the druggist. It occupied the site where the elder John G. Klopf for many years afterwards resided and had a saloon. It is the building now occupied by August Storm.
On the corner where the Neillsville Bank now stands was the dwelling house of Chauncey Blakeslee, the lower part being used as a store for Hewett, Woods & Co. From that corner south, clear to the end of the block to the site of W. J. Marsh’s dry good store, was an apple orchard and garden.
Across the street on the east side was a printing office and a post office, both one story frame buildings, and to the south of these buildings, and to the south of these buildings was the wagon shop of W. K. Dickey.
Dr. B. F. French had a house on the corner of 4th and Hewett Streets, and south of that was the house of Lambert Miller. To the west there was a house on the old Ross place, and Samuel Ferguson and L. L. Ayers had their residences across the way. On the extreme cost was the house of W. K. Dickey.
The fist sidewalk in Neillsville was built on a Sunday morning in the spring of 1867. It was constructed by B. F. French, James Hewett, and two or three others. It extended from where the Neillsville Bank is located to the corner at marsh’s dry goods store.
It was made of plank, laid lengthways and did good service for many years.
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