Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 26, 1992, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Index of "Oldies" Articles 




By Dee Zimmerman


When someone mentions the Columbia area to any Southern Clark County resident, they know that site as located southwest of Neillsville, (as) a scenic wooded area, popular with some of those wanting to temporarily escape the work routine and city life.  And to retreat into the country setting with wildlife and trees to enjoy, as their neighbors.


Columbia’s beginning (although not named at the time) was started by five Civil War Veterans about 1880.  The government had given land for homesteading.  The land was all wooded with a winding path through brush and trees.


In 1880, Joseph Kopp and family arrived to live in Columbia.  Five years later Horace Wright came, then H. D. Lockman and Elliot Bliss in 1887.  Charles Baxter came in 1894.


James Chase made a platting of the town site for the Columbia Improvement Company in 1893.  That company handled sales promotion work through their office in Chicago, during the Columbia Exposition.  Columbia received its name from that exposition.  The site was plotted in lots which were promoted at the exposition fair.  At one time, the statement was made by a county official that Columbia was the finest laid our city in the county.


In the early 1900s Columbia had a number of businesses which included: two general stores, a post office, tailor shop, a dentist, a school, a church, two boarding houses, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, candy store, millinery shop, dry goods store, a depot with full-time agent, cheese factory, dance hall, pickle factory, newspaper and veterinary.  Houses were scattered around the town and into the wooded area surrounding the businesses. 


Now in 1992, the only visible signs of the city having been there are the hotel foundation and old bed which remain; other than that, there are only the fond memories of those who lived in Columbia, or attended the school, the friends they know and their experiences of growing up in a neighborly community during its existence.


The Columbia Sawmill on Five Mile Creek with Wedges Creek to the right.  The saw mill was put up in 1896.  There had been two mills two miles upstream.  One was owned by Bright Lumber Company, and the other by two brothers, Pete and Ole Frisley.  Frank Farning operated the Columbia mill.  During this period many mills had been abandoned as the operators came in as transients.  When the mill closed they moved on closer to the uncut timber, leaving their homes vacant.  As seen in photo, the trees had all been cut down around the mill, sawed into lumber.  Shortly after 1885, then in 1893, and again in 1896, the country was denuded of trees by fires that crept across the land leaving it to look like a prairie.


The first general store with a corner of it used as the post office was built in the early 1890s.  The second general store, shown in the photo, was started in 1897, by August Schlender.  The main store building was in front and living quarters in the back.  Additions were later added to the store area and living areas with a dance hall on the second floor.  Mr. Schlender operated the store for 23 years.  During that time he also bought the first general store building nearby which was converted into a feed and hardware store.  Pictured above starting at the far left: Joe Weisner, August Schlender, Mabel (Schlender) Jonkel, Mrs. August (Susan) Schlender, and Mabel’s half-brother, Erwin Simmons.


Compiled by Terry Johnson




“Seventeen empty cars of a Chicago & Northwestern Railway freight train were derailed by a broken rail at Grant about 7 a.m. Wednesday.  No one was hurt… Country K…was blocked off for several hours… Clark County Highway Department caterpillar tractors were taken to the scene to move [the railroad cars].”


“A painting by Mrs. Patricia Struble of Neillsville was one of the five chosen as ‘outstanding’ at the central regional art show in Marshfield Saturday.  The painting is eligible for showing in the state art show in September.”


In the women’s city bowling tournament, winners of all events without handicap were: June Schoenfeldt, first, 1488; Bette Marshall, second, 1466; and Peg Urban, third, 1460.  Addie Schoenherr was the women’s association secretary.




The masthead of The Clark County Press included the following phrases: Seventy-fifth year…One of Wisconsin’s Oldies (Oldest) Weeklies…Clark County’s Largest Newspaper.”


In front page headlines, General Douglas MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of United Nation’s forces in the southwest Pacific.  He was described in The Press as “The dauntless, brilliant American general.” 


Outbreaks of the mumps were affecting preparations for the spring musical contest in the schools.  “Richard A. Becker said virtually every instrumental ensemble and quartet has been broken up temporarily because of the disease.”


County Clerk Calvin Mills estimated it would take 5,833 man hours to administer the 35,000 war ration books for rationing sugar and other materials. 




Canning Factory Meeting:  Monday evening the annual meeting of the Neillsville Canning Co. was held.  Robert Kurth was re-elected president, Gus. Krause vice-president, L. Williamson secretary, and Geo. Ure treasurer.  The affairs of the company were found to be in a very flourishing condition and a 6 per cent dividend was declared.  Arrangements were also made for the building of a new warehouse and kraut vat shed.”




Local matters:  Bailey’s circus opened Monday.  Marsh Bros. moved into their new store Monday.  Spoke-making begins this week at the Bruley mill….The Mississippi River is open as far north as Lake Pepin.  The vernal equinox has been passably decent this year.  Garven & Ackerman broke camp on Jump River last Saturday.  John Servaty removed his horses and livery outfit into the Crocker & Campbell barn last week.”


“Teacher’s examinations begin tomorrow at Loyal and continue through next week at Colby,Thorp, and Neilslville.”


“You can buy a Rail Road Suit at Reitz & Haugen’s for $4.00, strong and good looking.  12 w 4”


This issue of the Neillsville Times quoted the Marshfield Times as saying: “A number of Masonic fraternity of this city, visited with their brethren of the mystic tie at Neillsville last Friday evening and all were highly pleased with the reception and cordial greeting extended to them.  Neillsville is one of the prettiest cities in the state and contains within its boundaries some of the best men in the state.”


“On Wednesday evening Mr. and Mrs. Decate Dickinson entertained a house full of invited friends at their new residence corner of Fifth and State streets.  Misses Caddie and Grace gracefully assisted in entertaining, and the housewarming given the handsome abode will long be remembered as an event in Neillsville society.”


“Maple sugar makers are now going into the bush.  The season is on.”



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