Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 30, 1992, Page 12

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 




By Dee Zimmerman


The theatre building of Neillsville, located in the 600 block, was built in c.1920 by William Tragsdorf.


William lived an adventurous life.  During the early 1900s he traveled to the Panama Canal Zone.  While there, he worked as the personal secretary of one of the engineers who directed the building of the lock-type navigation canal which was completed in 1914.


After returning to Neillsville, he built and took ownership of the theatre building.  The theatre even had an orchestra pit which is still in the back, lower portion.  The 20s was the era of silent movies. A piano was kept in the pit and a pianist was hired to play during the movie.  The pit was also used by musicians who would be with a theatrical group for “live theatre.”


After a few years, William sold the theatre, did some traveling then returned to Panama where he lived out his life.


In recent years, William Meyer owned the theatre, then (it) was sold to Gustafson’s who have a video rental business in that building.


Bernhardt Tragsdorf was William’s father, Bernhardt built the building on the corner of 4th and Hewett, known to many of us as the “old Farmer’s Store building.”


After the building completion, a merchandise business of Balch and Tragsdorf existed for some years.  It was sold to the Zimmermann Company, later D. M. Store, Hometown and now vacant.


“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”  It was a dirt road, lined with young trees on both sides.  This photo is South Hewett Street with an avenue of trees on both sides.


As we look at it, we can imagine that after a few more years of growth, (as) the summer travelers ride down that portion of street, had to have been one with a canopy of shade, also, a very scenic view with the green shades of summer color and the array of yellow, gold and orange/red colors of the fall season.


Throughout the recent years, one by one, many of those trees have had to be cut down.  As with all living things, various diseases and age have taken its toll among those beautiful trees.  Most recently, several which wee elm, had to be removed.


After a long standing tree has to be cut down, in our yard or nearby, it’s like losing a friend.


“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”  (Do you remember having to memorize Joyce Kilmer’s poems “Trees” when you were a 5th or 6th grade student in elementary school?)


The Old Neillsville Hospital (originally the home of Judge James O’Neill) was purchased and opened by Mrs. Naomi Stamper in 1931.  She operated it for 6 years—when she announced on June 24, 1937 that she was closing; but would be open temporarily for emergencies, first aid, and X-rays until she could secure a renter or buyer.  In a very short time it was sold along with the cottage directly to the south, to H. W. Martin and his wife.  It was again re-opened in September of 1937.  They operated it until 1942 when they closed the hospital and left the city.


Once again the City of Neillsville was left void without a medical facility until it was again re-open(ed) in 1943 with the accomplishment of Herman North, a banker, and H. I. Brown and son, Walter (Buster) who took over the management until 1953 when Memorial Hospital became a reality.  They retained ownership, serving as a Nursing Home, until the present one was built.  It was then sold to Dr. T. M. Thompson, who operated a private practice there.


Some information on the hospital was contributed by Mary Filitz (who worked there as a nurse), also, Ruth Ebert who had information and compiled this article.


The Old Neillsville Hospital (originally the home of Judge James O’Neill) was purchased and opened by Mrs. Naomi Stamper in 1931


Compiled by Terry Johnson




“C. J. (Chuck) Jordahl, John (Jack) Bertz and Mrs. Fern Swenson were elected to the Neillsville district board of education in district-wide voting Tuesday.”


Some in Neillsville believed that a tornado passed over the city at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, [March 30, 1967], but did not touch down.  Three different persons from three areas of the city were quoted as saying it “sounded like a train.”  Said the press, “The high wind came at the end of the first really warm day of the spring, when the temperature on some thermometers in the area registered as high as 78 degrees.  There had been severe storm warnings for the area posted during the day; but no tornado in the area was reported to have touched down.”




Ammon talked about John L. Lewis and he (the) United Mine Workers of America.  He said this group was trying to organize dairy farmers in Wisconsin.  “I think Mr. Lewis very dumb,” Ammon said, to believe that he can organize 3 million dairy farmers of this nation.  Those who have had experience know what a difficult job it is to organize 30 farmers—let alone 3 million.  I doubt if he can convince them of his sincerity.  After all, there is only one group sufficiently interested and sincere to control agriculture, and that group is the American farmer.”


In Washburn news, Mrs. Ralph Short reported:  “We had our first thunder shower of the season Sunday night.  Quite a lot of rain fell in several hours.”


“Mr. and Mrs. Homer Ralph and two of their sons, Joe and Teddy, Platteville, spent the weekend with friends in Neillsville and at Pleasant Ridge.  The two boys were guests of Dannie Patey.”


A two-column ad on the same page read:  “NOTICE Temporary Gross Load Limits 7500 pounds Enforced on all County Trunk Highways in Clark County, By Order of CLARK CO. HIGHWAY COMMISSIONER.”




The wet/dry issue was on the spring ballot.  The results:  “In spite of the vigorous campaign carried on in behalf of a dry city, Neillsville stayed wet by a majority of 42 votes, which is a smaller lead than that of last year… Greenwood, Loyal, Owen, Withee, Abbotsford, Chili and Merrillan went dry.  Black River Falls increased her dry majority.  Fairchild, Alma Center and Stanley went wet and Eau Claire also went wet.  Humbird voted on the question and stayed wet.”


Drainage Hearing On:  As the Times goes to press the report of the Clark County Drainage Commission is being heard before Judge O’Neill.  A large number of protests have been filed against the report and the Hearing is being attended by a large number of interested parties and their attorneys.”


In local news:  “The ice went out of Black River on Sunday and the channel is now free of ice.”  “The Community Club will meet at the Carnegie Library Friday at 2:30 o’clock p.m.  All members are urged to come.”  “The Ladies Aid of Shortville will meet with Mrs. Thomas Winters on Thursday, April 26th instead of the usual time.”




“Dr. Rose Willard of Chicago came up last Saturday morning to visit her friend and college classmate Dr. Viola French.”


Drake and Foxes:  Geo. L. Drake, of Fremont, was in the city Saturday.  For a man who has had the misfortune to have lost one of his hands he is a very active citizen.  Recently he has, with the aid of a dog and an ax, succeeded in killing fourteen foxes, for which he gets $1 each county bounty, and about $1.25 each for the pelts.  His method is to have his dog run them to their holes in the logs where they usually live and then he chops them out usually succeeding in killing them with a blow on the head.  Mr. Drake is certainly a benefactor to his neighborhood, and a much abler hunter than Lyman Rodman, who has to use his gun.”


Dogs Poisoned:  Last Monday morning M. C. Ring’s dog ‘Carlo’ was found by the household lying on a lounge in the sitting room, dead.  He had no doubt eaten poisoned meat the evening previous.  ‘Carlo’ was a great favorite about town.  He as a brown water-spaniel of great intelligence and amiability, without a fault, and his killing was a black outrage.  Marshal Hommel lost his spaniel Monday morning in the same way.  He had refused $75 for the dog, which was a great pet.”



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