Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 22, 1992, Page 32 

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days  


By Dee Zimmerman



The Hommell home at 217 Grand Avenue


Tom Hommell was a man who wore “many hats” during his life as a Neillsville resident.  He served as fire chief for twenty- five years, and when the city was incorporated January 1, 1992 (1892) he served as city marshal, or chief of police and street commissioner.  Also, he engineered the laying of the city water and sewer systems and supervised the first paving of streets in the city.


During the Spanish-American War, he served as captain and commander of company A 3rd Regiment, acted as provost marshal at Coama and U.S. Commissioner at Cayey and Cedra, Puerto Rico.  Upon his return, he was appointed as an officer in the 3rd Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guards.


Neillsville, Wisconsin Armory


*The above photo was not originally part of this article.  It was submitted by the family of Peggy L. Walter and was taken from a postcard booklet titled, "Souvenir Letter", Neillsville, Wis.


C. C. Sniteman and Tom were instrumental in building the city opera house and armory.  The armory/opera house was built in 1892 and was managed by Tom for many years.  While in Neillsville he had a sideline business of plumbing and it was said that he repaired a faucet, arrested a man, put out a fire and led a grand march all in the space of an hour’s time.


Mr. Hommell was born in 1852 at Long Island, New York, coming to Neillsville at an early age.  He died in 1927.


Lotta Steele was Tom’s first wife and they had a daughter, Nina.  He built a house for his family at 217 Grand Avenue.  (At the present time, his granddaughter Marie Covell resides in that house.)


Nina was married to Victor Woelffer who was a pharmacist with Woelffer’s Pharmacy located at 508 Hewett Street (now Rexall Pharmacy).  Their home was located on the corner of 4th and Oak Streets.


Woelffer’s had three daughters, Marie (married Al Covell), Irma (deceased, was married to Lt. Col. Kenneth Maguire) and Jane (married R. E. Lind), who now lives in Omaha, Nebraska.


The second Mrs. Hommell was the former Ida M. Carnegie.


While Tom was in Cayey during the Spanish-American War, he befriended a five-year-old Puerto Rican boy who became their mascot of the Wisconsin regiment.  The youngster’s name was Placido and after the war he returned to Neillsville as the adopted son of Capt. and Mrs. Hommell. 


An army comrade and Neillsville resident, Attorney Bill Campman, handled the legal arrangements for the adoption.  Placido attended Neillsville Schools, graduating from Neillsville High School and later the University of Wisconsin Medical School, practicing his profession in Iowa.


John W. (Tom) Hommell, former Police Chief, Fire

Chief and Street Commissioner for the City of Neillsville



Lotta (Steele) Hommell, the first wife of Tom Hommell




Nina (Hommell) Woelffer, daughter of Tom and Lotta


(Photos and information provided by Hommell’s great-granddaughter, Mrs. Bob (Charlotte) Drescher of Rt. 1, Neillsville.)




Compiled by Terry Johnson




Neillsville Lodge No. 163 of the Free and Accepted Masons observed its 100 year anniversary at a banquet held on Saturday, October 28, 1967.  The press said the lodge had occupied eight different meeting locations in the downtown area during the 100 years, the latest one being the Masonic Temple built in 1928 on the corner of Hewett and Fourth Streets.


The property had been the site of a house owned by M. B. Ring, who at one time war (was) editor of the local newspaper.


Serving as officers in the Neillsville Masons at the time of their centennial celebration were: Wayne Grap, Robert Lulloff, Art Drescher, Dr. Vic Tharp, Russel VandeBerg, W. H. Allen, Donald Thompson, Jerry Opelt, Bob Kunze, David Paulson, W. H. Yenni, Dale Seif and John Flynn.




“Marvin Hemp and Donald Kunze left for Sturgeon Bay Monday morning to look for work.  The boys having completed a course in welding…”


“Arlene Gerhardt and Marian Kuhl planned to leave Wednesday for California where they have employment.”


“Mrs. Wells F. Harvey entertained at a two-table luncheon-bridge party at her home on South Hewett Street Saturday…”


“Mrs. Arthur R. Wagner and Mrs. Eugene Heintz gave a shower for Mrs. Donald Gall and Mrs. Earl Darling Monday evening at the Heintz home on South Grand Avenue.”


“Nails are little things but 4-H club members in Greensburg, Kentucky, recently salvaged 3,125 pounds of them from the ruins of a burned tobacco warehouse.”




Pleasant Ridge:  “S. Root threshed Tuesday with three or four inches of snow on the ground.  Must be the last job this season…”


North Pine Valley:  “The writer saw two large flocks of wild geese going south on Monday in the snow storm.”


Christie:  “The woods are full of hunters these days looking for the wee rabbits… The Guardians of Liberty gave a basket social last Tuesday evening.”


“Senator Bob LaFollette was hung in effigy at Marshfield on Monday.”


“…Big dance at the armory Friday night... Best of music... Everybody come.”


“Dr. Larson will be at the Neillsville Hospital Friday, October 12, for operations.”


“..There will be a big duck and goose shoot Sunday, October 14, at H. F. Magedanz farm at Heintown.


“Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Hoey went to Chicago Friday and Ed took in the White Sox – Giant game on Saturday.”




There was a regular host of people at the social Friday evening at the home of T. Grafton Owen, and the musical numbers, the cards, and the lunch, filled up an evening that was in every way happy.  Mr. Owen, although a man of profoundest thought and mind heavily freighted, is when he unbends socially, a most agreeable and informal entertainer.”


“A new wire line fence is being put in between the Hemphill sheep ranch and Taylor’s farm.”


“Ad Kimball and family will move into the John Paulus residence at the corner of Hewett and Third Sts. (Figure that out.)”


“Our fellow citizen, James O’Neill is as sure, we think of being the next attorney general of Wisconsin, as the eighth of November is to roll around.”


“Geo Frantz is arranging to leave the farm south of town where he has lived since 1852, and now shortly (the) Frantz farm house will be occupied by Mr. Fred Kalpen, who will work the farm for Farmer Hemphill.”


“As an evidence of the prosperity of the city of Neillsville, it may be stated that there is scarcely a house or store vacant.  Every desirable building is rented and inquiries are made daily for houses to rent.  No more desirable place of residence can be found, when it is taken into consideration that we have churches in abundance, and schools that compare favorably with the very best in the state…. No better class of inhabitants can be found than in this city.  Many people are finding their way here, wishing to enjoy the superior advantages afforded, and many more will come as soon as residences can be built.”




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