Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

December 24, 1992, Page 8

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 





By Dee Zimmerman


Christmas 1892… Christmas 1992… a span of 100 years…. a span with many changes through time.  Regardless of those changes, some things have remained the same and one of those is the need for a place to worship, a church home.


This week, many of us will attend the church of our choice to join fellow Christians in celebrating the birth of a baby Jesus.  Jesus who came upon earth so long ago.  Jesus who brought Christianity to the world, the Jesus who draws us to worship.


When the European immigrants arrived in Clark County during the mid 1800’s, one of their freedoms was to practice their religious beliefs.  Most wanted to worship with the some (same) doctrine that they had learned, practiced and grown up with in their native country.


The fur traders who first came here were of the Catholic faith, from Canada.  Next came the Mormons.  The first worship services were held by the circuit riders of the Methodist Episcopal faith.  In 1847, Rev. R. R. Woods, a Methodist clergyman, of Black River Falls, preached the first sermon in Neillsville, coming as a guest of James O’Neill and preached at his home.  For ten years succeeding that date, the people of Neillsville had no regular religious services, not until 1858, was the village of Neillsville made a regular stopping point for a circuit rider.  Rev. James Cady began visiting once every three weeks, being followed by Rev. John Holt and then Rev. Wm Carl, in 1860.


Meetings were held in private houses, until 1869, when a little church was erected, the lot being a gift of Mrs. James O’Neill.


The second church in the county was built in the Town of Grant, east of Gottlieb Garbisch’s corners.  It was built in the early seventies by those of the Lutheran faith.


Zion's German Reformed Church's Congregation purchased the building from the Unitarian Church with first services being held there in 1913.  It was on the corner of Clay and 5th Streets, now the site of the Assembly of God Church.


Zion’s Reformed Church,of the Reformed Church of States, first congregation was started at Columbia by Rev. W. H. Schroer, with services later being held at Pine Valley where a church* was organized September 6, 1903.  Original members were Fred Pflughoeft, Henry Stelloh, Wm. Martens, Herman Gehrt and Fred Stelloh.  Their first services in Neillsville were at the Unitarian Church in 1907.  In 1913, the Congregation purchased the Unitarian Church building.  Rev. W. H. Schroer was first pastor, followed by Rev. J. Stucki, then Rev. D. Grether.  That building now is the site of the Assembly of God Church.  (West Fifth and Clay Streets) (* this church believed to be the Prince of Peace Church)


The Christian Science building which had first services held there in January of 1917.  The lot was donated by Wells Harvey.  Some of the contributors for the building cost were C. C. Sniteman, Hempels, Colways and North families.  Living Hope Evangelical Free Church Congregation purchased the facility for their church home and held their first service there on Easter Sunday of 1981.


The Christian Science Society formed an organization in January 1912.  A desirable lot was chosen an (on) Fourth Street, east of Hewett Street and bought for their building.  The first service in the new facility was held January 24, 1917.  When completed with heating plant, electric fixtures, etc. the cost was $7, 500.00.  Many years later the congregation dissolved.  That building is now occupied by the Living Hope Evangelical Church.


St. Luke's Episcopal Church 4th and Court Streets.  Efforts to form the church began in 1881 when the lot was purchased.  This building is now the home and business site of Tim and Carla Voight who have the Rural Insurance business.


St. Luke’s Episcopal Parish was inaugurated as a mission in 1877.  Early meetings were held in the schoolhouse.  In 1881, a lot was purchased and a church building erected.  James O’Neill, Freeman, D. Lindsay, Stanley Chubb, and D. B. Dickinson advanced $400 for the lot with the providing means for the construction.  When it opened for service, there were twenty communicants and eleven families as members.


Congregational Church organized in 1891, completed in 1893, located on the corner of 5th and West Streets.  The Mid-Wis. Neillsville Bank now occupies that corner lot.


Congregational Church of Neillsville was organized in 1891.  There were 33 original members with names such as—Hart, Deutsch, Chambers, Ackerman, Brown, Williams, Weinberger and Condit.  The first services were held in the old court house, then the city hall and Episcopal Church until their building was completed in 1893.  Their first pastor was Rev. J. O. Buswell.


St. Mary's Catholic Church on Black River Road.  It's original building was razed by fire when struck by a lightning bolt in 1923.  Shortly after, a new worship facility was erected.


St. Mary’s Congregation In the early 1870’s the first county Catholic parish was organized in Humbird.  In 1876, Rev. Fr. Hergman, from Humbird organized the Catholic Mission, which later became the Catholic Church at Neillsville.  The first Catholic Church in Neillsville was erected in 1877.


In the year 1877, a parish was established at Neillsville and the church was erected.  In 1844, a new parsonage was built and Rev. J. Volz was the first pastor serving for 18 years.  The parish membership increased rapidly and in 1887 a parochial school was built and opened by the Franciscan Sisters with an enrollment of 75 children.  An addition was built on the church in 1889.  In 1915 and 1916 improvements were made such as furnaces being installed.  The structure burned in 1923, when struck by lightening (lightning) and a new building was completed in 1924.


Presbyterian Church, 5th and Court Street, one of the first organized denominations in the area.  It was built in 1875 and destroyed by fire in 1930.  Now site of the Drs. Foster Optometry.


First Presbyterian Church the first services were conducted by a traveling minister who preached in a small log house near O’Neill creek in 1850.  In August of 1869, a formal organization was perfected with Joseph C. Benedict as chairman.  In 1873, the church was organized with eleven charter members.  A brick building was built on the corner of 5th and Court Street.  Rev. Wm T. Hendren became renowned as pioneer and founder of that church as-well-as through out the county, having preached in every area country log school house, with many stories of braving all kinds of weather to keep his appointment for services.  He retired and lived out his life in Greenwood.  Rev. T. C. Hill had then been a pastor as-well-as, serving the Dell’s Dam Church, for 4 ˝ years.  There were several pastors who served through the years of church’s existence.


German Lutheran Church as it appeared on the corner of 5th and Oak Streets during its early existence.  The new church and school building at 711 West 5th Street, was built and moved into during 1968.  It is now the St. John's Lutheran Church.


The Methodist Church had an early existence, 1847, in Neillsville.  Their first church facility was built in 1869, at the corner of 4th and Court Streets.  That site is still the home of the United Methodist Church.


The Norwegian Lutheran Church on Prospect and 12th.  Services were led by Pastors who spoke fluent Norwegian.  It was built in c. 1880 and was dismantled in the first half of the 1900's.



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