Chapter XVII, 23 September 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin

Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.



FROM 1870 TO 1880 --- CRIMINAL AND





"If there is one thing, the Lord doesn’t know, it

Is the outcome of a law suit."


--Oscar W. Turner.

By the reapportioned of the State into Senate and Assembly districts in March 1876, Clark and Jackson counties, that for many years, were attached together as one Assembly district, and for the same period had been together as a part of the old 32nd Senatorial district, were separated from each other. Jackson county became an Assembly district, and Clark county was placed with Taylor, Lincoln and Wood counties as a district.

From the 32nd Senatorial district, Clark county was transferred to a new district, the 9th, composed of the counties of Chippewa, Clark, Lincoln, Taylor and Wood.

There was some regret manifested by the Clark county people at the change. Our interests and those of Jackson county, if not identical, at least had much in common, logging and agriculture were the chief industries of both counties, the Black River was common to both, and the relations between the citizens of the counties were at all times pleasant and cordial.

We had been represented in the State Senate by men of high character and standing, Judge A. W. Newman, Hon. William T. Price, Hon, Carl C. Pope, and others so that when a change was made it was received with little enthusiasm in this county.

Our first Assemblyman was F. D. Lindsay of Neillsville, elected in November, 1876, the previous year we were represented in the Assembly by Hugh B. Miller of Jackson county, and our first Senator under the new law was Thos. B. Scott of Grand Rapids, Wood county.

The following were the county officers who served in the years 1877 and 1878:

County treasurer, N. H. Withee; county clerk, J. F. Canon; district attorney, J. R. Sturdevant; register of deeds, Herman Schuster; sheriff, T. B. Philpot; clerk of the court, Jas. G. Parkhurst; county surveyor, Chas. E. Bussell; coroner, Geo. W. Hubbell.

Judge Bunn was re-elected at the judicial election in the spring of 1874, for the term commencing January, 1875; he resigned in 1877 to accept the position of U. S. District Judge. Judge Bunn was succeeded on the bench of the 6th circuit by Judge A. W. Newman, who held the position continuously until the first Monday in January, 1892, when the new 17th judicial circuit went into existence.

In 1876 civil actions were brought by the board of supervisors of the county of Clark against, W. C. Allen, and his bondsmen, against S. C. Boardman and his sureties, and also against Ira B. Pope, and the sureties on his official bond as county clerk.

In the case of Boardman the sureties on his bond had from time to time paid considerable of the shortage, and no judgment was ever taken against them in that case.

The final judgment went against Boardman alone, and was entered on the 26th day of June, 1878, for the sum of $9, 566.64.

In the case of Pope, county clerk, judgment was taken April 17th, 1877, for the sum of four thousand dollars, against him and his bondsmen, Hans Johnson, Hiram Palmer and A. W. Clark.

In the Allen case judgment was rendered October 6, 1876, for the sum of $29,235.13 against Allen and his bondsmen Chauncey Blakeslee, J. W. Sturdevant, James O’Neill, and James Hewett.

All of the bondsmen in each of the cases settled and compromised with the county and were long ago released from their liability.

Criminal proceedings were also commenced against each of the officers named, but only one case was brought to trail, that of the State of Wisconsin against William C. Allen for embezzlement.

The county had employed S. U. Pinney, and the firm of Gregory and Pinney of Madison, to assist the district attorney in the civil cases, and Mr. Pinney personally directed the proceedings in the criminal case, and took charge of it at the trial.

Allen was arrested on March 14, 1876, and was brought before Judge Bunn, circuit judge, for examination, he having consented to act as examining magistrate. The preliminary examination was waived by the defendant, bail was fixed at $5,000.00, which was given and the defendant was bound over to the circuit court.

The trail took place at the April term of the court in 1877. Nearly two weeks were occupied in the trail of the case, including the selection of the jury. The members of the jury who were empanelled and sworn to try the issue were: Walter Brown, Jacob Demouth, Wilfred Nichols, Erwin S. Brooks, George McAdams, William Sires, W. H. H. Kilty, H. R. Hare, C. C. Long, G. W. Wilson, S. A. Brown, and Thomas Thompson.

The taking of the evidence, begun on the 21st day of April, and the trail was concluded on the 28th day of the month.

Judge Bunn who presided at the trail, immediately after the jury were sworn, announced that he would order the jury kept together, the same as is done in murder cases, that they should not be allowed to separate, and would not be permitted to have any conversation with outside parties.

After remaining out all night the jury returned into court the following verdict: "We, the jury empanelled to try the above entitled action, do find the defendant not guilty of the several counts in the information, but fine him guilty of ‘secrecy’ of the defalcation existing in the treasury prior to his term of office for 30 days or more."

This, of course, was an acquittal, and the defendant was discharged.

This verdict returned by the jury, was on that they framed themselves, and the latter part of it was a surprise to all parties connected with the case.

There was at the time a statute that provided in effect, that if any public officer, should conceal a defalcation that the knew existed in his predecessors accounts, and not bring criminal prosecution against him within 30 days, he was liable to a fine of $500.00.

This statute had been read several times during the trial, and the jury seemed to have remembered it. The verdict rendered was not guilty of embezzlement, but your predecessor was, and you concealed it for more then 30 days.

The election of N. H. Witheee to the county treasurers office done much to restore confidence in the integrity of our county officials. He was a man of wealth, of high character and enjoyed the confidence of all the people. All of our subsequent treasures and clerks, have been men of integrity and uprightness, against none of whom there has never been the breath of suspicion.

During the years from 1??1 to 1880, the following persons were elected to the office of county superintendent of schools, in the order named: S.. S. Smith, R. J. Sawyer, William T. Hendren, Horace J. Hoffman, and John S. Dore.

In the election in November, 1875, W. T. Hutchinson was elected county treasurer, to fill the vacancy caused by Allen’s failure to have his bond approved and he held the office from January, 1876, until hid death Oct. 4, 1876, after which Richard Dewhurst, was appointed county treasurer, for a few months remaining the term, and until the first Monday in January 1877, when Niron H. Withee assumed the duties of the office.

The county officers who served in the year 1879, were N. H. Withee, county treasurer; J. F. Canon, county clerk; Herman Schuster, register of deeds; James Houston, sheriff; Horace Stiles, county surveyor; J. R. Sturdevant, district attorney; J. G. Parkhurst, clerk of the court; and William J. Armstrong, coroner.

At the November election in 1877, Solomon L. Nason, of Nasonville, Wood county, was elected to the Assembly, as a Greenbacker, without any opposition.

N. H. Withee was elected to the Assembly in November, 1878, and reelected in November, 1879.

It was in the seventies that the first brick store building was erected in Neillsville. This was the store building of Hewett and Woods, built in 1872, on the northwest corner of what is now known as 5th and Hewett Streets, the same building at present occupied by W. J. Marsh, and the Masonic fraternity. A few years later George L. Lloyd erected a brick store building directly opposite on the northeast corner of the same streets. It was built of cream colored brick brought from Depere, Wis. This building is now occupied by the Cash Hardware Company.

The store Hewett & Woods was always called the "Brick Store." It carried a large stock of goods, and employed a number of clerks, and office men, among them were David R. Brown, Stanley F. Chubb, Frank S. Kirkland, John Duncan, Chas. Deutsch, Tobias Johnson who kept his jewelry goods there, Charles D. King and others.

All of these men were more or less influential in politics, or at least in getting votes, and when they started out for anything they generally succeeded.

Shortly after the city of Neillsville was incorporated, there came on an election, at which Chubb and Rms. Jas. Hewett were both candidates for a city office, on the same ticket, but for different offices.

An editor of one of the Neillsville papers, who was supporting an opposition ticket, printed and distributed to the voters, on the day of election, a ticket of his own nomination, that read in this wise:


For Mayor --

Whole Brick Store.

For Treasurer ---

Jack Duncan.

For Assessor --

Tobe Johnson

For Police Justice --

"Billy Sherman."



For Alderman -- Stanley F. Chubb.

For Supervisor --James Hewett

It may have be stated, that the "Billy Sherman", the candidate for police justice, was not the grim old veteran that disturbed the turkey gobblers in his march through Georgia, but Billy was a horse owned by Mr. Hewett, it is perhaps unnecessary to add that the ticket supported by Mr. Hewett and boys in the store, won out at the election.

The wave of Greenbackism that had swept through Clark county for a few years, had in 1879 completely subsided. At the generational election in November, 1879. Gov. Wm. E. Smith, was re-elected in the State, and in Clark county he received 1005 votes, against 151 for Reuben May, Greenback, and 347 for James G. Jenkins, Democrat.


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