Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 8, 1992, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



By Dee Zimmerman

In the fall of 1883, Romadka Bros. trunk manufacturers of Milwaukee bought up about 4,500 acres of timber land in the townships of York and Fremont, north and northeast of Granton.  They sent a crew of men to locate a site for a saw mill on that tract of land.  John P. Kintzele then a young man who had been a bookkeeper for a firm in Seymour, was with the crew and was the first man to put an ax into the timber on that site.  Kintzele and 14 other men arrived at the old Neillsville depot west of Black River with several cars of supplies, tools, equipment and teams. All this was taken over the Ridge Road east of Neillsville, then through Maple Works, Windfall Corners, North about three miles to the spot selected for the mill.  (That mill was located a mile south of Highway “H” on Romadka Road and on what is now farm land owned by the Crothers.)


The mill was built in two wings-one 50x130 feet, the other 60x120 feet, two stories high and employed 50 men.  There was a boarding house, two large warehouses 36x300 feet, 15 dwelling houses plus sheds for storing manufactured products.  They made lumber, shingles, hubs and spokes, and all that had to be transported to Neillsville and loaded on railcars.


A few settlers lived in the area and helped with the logging.  Settlers did little actual farming at that time.  The Upham Manufacturing Company built a logging road in from Marshfield coming down from near Veefkind on what was later the Soo branch to Greenwood, striking through the northwest corner of Fremont and into the northwest corner of York in 1889.  Upham owned landings along tat railroad.


The George Hiles Lumber Co. had built a logging road from Dexterville to Lynn, which was later sold to the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Co.  That company in 1889 extended the line to Romadka and later after Upham abandoned their logging road and removed the rails, they laid tracks beyond Romadka on part of the old Upham road.


In about 1898 the Romadka lands were sold to the Hiles Lumber Co.  Lumber from the big Romadka mill was then sold to area settlers who began building barns for farming. 


Several years later an immense amount of four-foot cordwood was shipped out of the vicinity over the old railroad.  Mr. Kintzele remained as a permanent settler after the Romadkas closed out, being the principal cordwood shippers.  Some years he shipped as high as 10,000 cords.  Max Opelt, Sr., also shipped some from Lynn and later A. Reuth shipped a considerable amount of cordwood.  Several trains a day ran up and down the line with cordwood and lumber during its existence. 


Eventually, the timber source diminished and farming took over on the land.  The railroad line was discontinued and racks removed in about 1927-1928.  The mill and dwellings also disappeared with only a road named “Romadka” as a reminder of where the general area of that settlement had been.


(A correction on the name of a business located in the former Paulus Hotel, which is the “Kiln-Dried Millwork & Cabinetry Shop.”


After writing the article about “Snake Street” we received calls and found an old Press article explaining the origin of the name.)



Compiles by Terry Johnson

Fifty-Years Ago

Four inches of snow fell here on September 26.  The snow came after a week of rain and high wind.  These conditions made harvest very difficult, and some farmers went back to using horses because tractors could not get through the fields.


“Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Smith, Sr. moved from their cottage at Lake Arbutus last Thursday to their new home on South Hewett Street.”


“Thomas Wren is home from Loyal where he had been working for the Loyal Canning Company as an engineer since June 29th.  The plant closed on Saturday, September 26th, after a very successful season, canning peas, beans and carrots.”


Nearby in Wisconsin.  Bailey Sentenced—Robert T. Bailey, confessed slayer of two Kenosha social workers, grinned Tuesday as he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment in Waupun.  Judge Cowie declared Bailey’s crime to be the most terrible in his 50 years of acquaintance with Wisconsin law.”


Seventy-Five-Years Ago


An ad was run by four local merchants announcing that as of October 1, 1917, their stores would be “open for business one night only during the week, namely: Saturday evening.”  Part of the reason for this decision was that the Industrial Commission of Wisconsin had issued an order limiting “night work for female employees in mercantile establishments” to one night per week.  “…if work is done on more than one night per week after 6:30 p.m., then the while service for that week shall be construed as night work,” the order stated. 


“East Weston—West York”:  “Will Joyce was busy fixing fence Sunday.  He said his pigs are so poor that they crawl through the holes in the woven wire.”


“Globe”:  “Ernest Hemp and John Seif are the owners of new Ford Cars.”


“West York”  “The cheese factory shut down last week as the cheese maker was drafted.”


One-Hundred-Years Ago


About two-thirds of the front page was made up of paid ads.  Two of the ads were for soap.  One read:  “Kirk’s Dusky Diamond Tar Soap.  Healthful, Agreeable, Cleansing, Cures Chapped Hands, Wounds, Burns, Etc. Removes and Prevents Dandruff.  American Family Soap, Best for General Household Use.”


The other soap ad read: B. J. Johnson & Co.’s Old Black Joe Soap.  Pure North Carolina Tar Acknowledged by all who work with their hands to be The Best Tar Soap on Earth.”


Clayton “Duke” Boon is shown here operating the log-jammer, with Alfred Boon on top of the load, and “Pat” Boon far right.  They are shown logging, south of Grunke”s Cheese Factory, which was located on County Trunk “H” east of Highway 73.  The logs on this truck were taken to Hastreiter’s Mill, Marshfield, which was located on Oak Street, where Schierl Tire and the Melody Gardens Roller Rink are now located.



The two men in this photo, which was taken south of Wakefield, MI, near Chainey Lake are (L-R) Everett Schaeffer and Bill Joyce.  The particular load of logs scaled out at 3,890 feet, the largest load hauled that winter.  To give you an idea as to the size of the logs, these two men stand just over six feet tall.



































Bill Joyce is shown here walking around a 1946 Ford truck while it was being loaded with logs.  On the left one can see the log-jammer, with a cable running through a pulley that was attached at the top of the two poles.  At the end of the cable, which ended in a fork, were two hooks (pup hooks).  These hooks were placed on the ends of each log, and when tightened, held the log firmly.  The winch on the log-jammer tightened the cable, lifting it upward with the help of poles, and the log was then placed on the truck.


Noon meals were usually a packed lunch, which was taken along out to the woods.  Birds, such as chick-a-dees and Canadian jays, would become quite tame in their search for food. If you look closely in this photo, a chick-a-dee is helping himself to a sandwich in the right hand of Bill Joyce.


In this 1947 photo, it is evident that big stout teams of horses were required to withstand the grueling, cold work of logging.  While most of the “giants” could be considered gently, not all horses were, as was told of a “killer” horse in a Michigan camp, who had grabbed and killed one man.  In this photo are (L-R) Alfred Boon (owner of the team) and Clint Aspen, logging south of Grunke’s Cheese Factory off of County Trunk “H”.


It did not take many logs to make a load, as is shown by the birch and red oak logs on this ’36 Ford truck.  These logs were hauled into Ironwood, MI, to the Roddis saw mill that was located there.  The saw mill was destroyed by fire a few years later.  While working in the severe cold of northern Michigan (with temperatures well below zero), each night the radiators of the trucks would be drained. The water carried into the bunkhouse to be warmed in the morning and pour back into the trucks.  This procedure would aid in the starting of the trucks.




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