Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
November 4, 1993 Page 28
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
Good Old Days
By Dee Zimmerman
The City of Neillsville has several unique, older homes which were built in the late 1800’s. Those houses were built of lumber from the virgin hardwood timber, quality material. The oak or maple woodwork, hardwood floors, some with the outer ornate Victorian style trim, gives each house its own character and beauty. Fortunately, most of these houses have been kept and/or restored by those who appreciate their style.
In the earlier times, there were no funeral homes. The deceased were taken to the Preparatory Room and then back to the family home for the wake and viewing before the burial.
The late ‘20s and early ‘30s was the start of a new trend with funeral homes in Neillsville.
J. B. Lowe owned a furniture store and had a preparatory room in the same building on the 500 block of Hewett Street. A fire destroyed the building, making it necessary for him to relocate the business. Herbert (Tubby) Lowe, J. B.’s son, started a funeral home in the Cornelius house at the corner of Clay and 2nd Streets in 1927. After a number of years the business dissolved. The house is now apartments.
At the corner of 2nd and Clay Streets is the stately Cornelius house, once serving as the locality of the
Lowe Funeral Home in the late 20s and 30s
A second funeral home occupied the Ultimus house, corner of 5th and Court Street. It began, as such in 1939, by Arthur Jaster. Prior to Jaster’s purchase, it had served as offices for a chiropractor. After Jaster’s death in 1945, Elmer and Edna Georgas became the new owners. Elmer served in the U. S. Navy during World War II, and returned to reside and work in Neillsville after his discharge from the service.
One block south of the Jaster Funeral Home, there was a third funeral Home. That house had been referred to as the Huntzicker home. The William Tragsdorf family had owned the home c.1920’s, later sold it to Wm and Rose Schiller.
The Huntzicker house which was remodeled to suffice as a funeral home, located at the corner of 4th and Court Streets, now the Gesche Funeral Home
H. H. Eberhart had a furniture store and funeral parlor in a building which is now the site of Russell’s Hardware & Furniture. He sold the businesses to William and Rose Schiller. The Schillers moved the funeral home business to the Huntzicker house, purchased from Tragsdorf.
Elmer Georgas had worked for Rose Schiller before entering the Navy. Mrs. Schiller sold the business to Millard Coles, who shortly after, sold to Arthur Terhune. Then John Bergemann took ownership. Eventually, Elmer Georgas purchased the Bergemann Funeral Home on the corner of 4th and Court, owning two at the same time. Later, the business was combined into that one location and renamed, “Georgas Funeral Home.” Georgas first location, the Ultimus house, has since been used as law offices. After Elmer’s retirement, Lowell Gesche assumed ownership with the business name “Gesche’s Funeral Home.” Recently Lowell sold the business, but it has retained the name and its site on 4th and Court.
A hearse, built in the 1800’s, designed to be horse drawn, was used for funerals in Neillsville. The last trip it is known to have made was c.1940. Millard Coles, a former funeral director, is shown by the hearse.
Early Masonic funeral, left to right, back row: Pete Johnson (undertaker) Matt Kappelan, George Trogner and Sy Stockwell. Front row: Mont Brown, Will Klopf and Joe Morely
(Thanks to Ruth Ebert and the Clark County Historical Society Jail Museum for information and photos)
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