Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
November 5, 1992, Page 24
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
Good Old Days
By Dee Zimmerman
Veteran’s Day November 11th, a day designated to honor America’s veterans who served in its armed forces to preserve our nation’s ideals and freedom. Every family has had a member or members represented in the military at some time or other in the past wars: We remember their sacrifices of serving when their country called, interrupting their family life and careers temporarily.
There are many veterans living in Clark County. Neillsville has two World War I veterans residing in the city, John Swenson and Edward Greeler.
John Swenson enlisted in the army in May, 1917 and received his basic training at Camp Grant near Rockford, Illinois. After two months, he was sent to Hoboken, New York, for two weeks additional training before being sent overseas. The ocean voyage which consisted of thirteen boats and one battleship arrived in London after thirteen days at sea.
Leaving London, John’s unit joined the 86th Division at LaHavre, France. Then, John and nine others from that unit were transferred to Co. D 341st Infantry, 80th Division then they were sent to the front line, joining another outfit. The German army was retreating from one stronghold to another until they announced defeat and the Armistice, was signed.
The infantry hiked back stopping to billet in villages along the way. After two weeks, arrangements were made for John’s group to join others at Bordeau, France, where they embarked. The ship made its way across the South Atlantic arriving in Newport News, Virginia after a ten day voyage on Decoration Day. They were organized for the journey back to Camp Grant where they received their discharge papers. John arrived home on June 11, 1911, which was on his 25th birthday.
In 1933, John with his wife and family moved to Neillsville, having resided here since. He is ninety-eight years old and a resident at Memorial Nursing Home at present time. There are four sons; Cal, Jim and Charles of Neillsville and Jon of Westfield. He is a member of American Legion Post #73 and the V.F.W.
Ed (Edward) Greeler was drafted to serve in the army, leaving for Camp Grant, Illinois, on July 25, 1918. On September 1st that year, his unit Co. 343-A-86th Division left Camp Grant traveling through Canada. On their journey through Canada, they were able to attend the Toronto Fair.
On September 14th, they left Camp Mills on their overseas trip to South Hampton, England, arriving on September 21st. Then, it was on to France where they replaced the 78th Division. October 13th, the troops were in the Argonne Forest marching and arriving at the front lines two days later.
On October 16th, Ed’s unit encountered heavy machine gun fire and a shrapnel barrage as they fought their way over “the top.” Many men were wounded, one of them being Ed.
The following day, he entered the hospital and returned to his company one month later. He was in Germany for five months and twelve days. The armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The unit left Germany by train at Semur for the Bordeaux, France area. They then hiked to Genecart, where they stayed until boarding the Lancer. On May 16th, they left port and experienced a rough ocean voyage arriving at State side on June 1st. Ed’s group was sent to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, where they were deactivated and then transferred to Camp Grant. Ed was mustered out of service on June 11, 1919. He entered the service on July 25, 1918, eight and one-half months of that time were spent in Europe.
Ed returned to the Neillsville area after he was discharged. He was married to Lizzie Luchterhand and their children were son, Ronald and daughter, Betty. They lived on a farm northeast of Neillsville along County Hwy “C”. Retiring from farming in 1957, Ed and his wife moved to the city of Neillsville. Ed is 96 years-old and still lives in their retirement home since his wife passed away.
(Thanks to these two veterans for sharing their pictures and World War I experiences. John wrote his life’s memories a few years ago. Ed kept a diary of his tour of army duty. An important lesson is to be learned from Mr. Swenson and Mr. Greeler. They have written the events of their life history which will be a gift to their families who will treasure those memories. So much history is lost! If we could keep this in mind and record our life’s experiences, I’m sure our families, too, would appreciate it.)
Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, marked the end of World War I. Many people of Neillsville and surrounding area gathered along Hewett Street to watch a victory parade in celebration of the event. The picture was taken in the 400 block of Hewett. The Zimmerman Brother’s Store at the far left, then to the right of that a variety store (since razed) Eberhardt’s Furniture (now Russell’s Furniture & Hardware), Unger Shoe Store (now the Tannery).
(From the files of City Council Proceedings)
In 1919, Mayor Fred Seif appointed a committee from the Neillsville City Council consisting of himself, aldermen and city clerk to act with the county board on arranging a formal “Welcome Home” for soldiers and sailors returning from Europe.
As a result of their efforts a pair of “Victory Arches” were (was) soon built on Hewett Street. One arch was built at the 4th Street intersection and the other at the 7th Street intersection swerving as a Welcome sign to visitors entering the city from the south or north.
The arches construction was not of material that to withstand the ravages of time, being built of light framework with stucco covering. We are supposing that they were taken down in 1928 or 1929, being up for ten years. Council proceedings revealed a motion to have the arches re-painted in 1924. Does anyone remember the year of dismantling?
North side victory arch at 7th Street and Hewett Intersection
Large building to left center is the Merchants Hotel
South side victory arch at the intersection of 4th Street and Hewett
(Arches Photos are courtesy of Evelyn Walk and Clark County Historical Society, information provided by Ruth Ebert.)
Does anyone have a photo of Vet’s Village which was located on Hill Street? It was a temporary housing provided for returning World War II and wives or families. Please let us know if you have such a photo.
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