Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 December 16, 1993, Page 32

 Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days 


By Dee Zimmerman

100 Years Ago


Shopping for gifts in Neillsville could have been very interesting with a variety of stores and merchandise.  Then, as now, what you purchased depended upon how your budget allowed you to spend.


On the practical side, you could go to the Coffland Bros. Store in the Dewhurst Building, across the street from the Neillsville Bank, at 538 Hewett for variety in clothing.  There was a selection of jersey over-shirts and special bargains on the flannel shirts.  Wright’s fleece-lined underwear, especially suitable for the northwestern climate, with sanitary qualities was highly recommended and sure to please the recipient.  A large assortment of gloves and mittens, of serviceable wear, that would keep the hands warm, was available for that special someone.


The styles and qualities of the plush and cloth caps were sure to suit everyone.  They sold at prices lower than anywhere else.  You were to notice the new shapes before buying.


Woolen Hosiery was something for everyone to be interested in with an excellent class of those goods for fine wear as well as good solid durability.


To be in the finery – a second invoice of the Black Galloways in a full assortment of sizes and different qualities had just arrived on December 1st.


H. C. Peters, photographer, offered a Holiday Special – One Crayon enlargement, free, with every dozen cabinets, until Christmas, only.


B. E. Luethe had toys, toys and more toys, more varied and better than ever!  A more beautiful line of Haviland’s decorated china, never before shown, was a great gift idea.


A family gift, to be enjoyed by all, could be a piano or organ.  C. Cornelius Co., the factory that turned out the best pianos and organs, in the market for the money, and at most reasonable terms was located in Neillsville.  It was advertised as the largest music store in Northern Wisconsin.


C. F. Schulz offered Merchant Tailoring for men and boys.  He made the finest goods into the most fashionable suits at marvelously low prices.  He promised that a misfit would never leave his shop.  Also, he advertised-no rent to pay, he could afford to do his customer well!  All you had to do is try his service – you would be convinced.


T. Johnson’s in Youmans Drug Store had a fine assortment of gentlemen’s and ladies gold and silver watches, plus all kinds of jewelry and all kinds of watch repairing was done, too.


C. C. Sniteman’s Drug Store had a selection of books, stationery and various fragrances of perfumes, available in bulk or in decorative bottles.  The prices started at 10 cents and went to $5.  Also for the ladies, there were dainty cups with matching saucers from 5 cents to $1, an ideal gift to be used for entertaining and serving tea.


Gates, Stanard & Co. (J. L. Gates, J. D. Stanard and H. D. Rajfeld) in the Gates Block, corner of East & Second Streets, Grocery store displayed fresh apples and oranges, a must for every child’s Christmas stocking.  Mixed nuts and peanuts, as well as other holiday goodies, were in good supply.


The Neillsville Brewery had bottled beer, 1 dozen quarts for $1 orders filled promptly, at the brewery store or delivered to your door.


A Mid-Winter Benefit sale was on at Balch & Tragsdorf “The Merchants,” corner of 5th and Hewett Streets.  Boys and men’s suits cloth overcoats, ladies’ cloth cloaks and jackets, at a reduction of 25 per cent.  Christmas bargains in groceries – Premium roasted coffee, 25 cents; 20 pounds good English currants, $1; 22 pounds good clean rice $1; 10 pounds raisin-cured California prunes, $1; 20 pound pails of jelly, assorted fruits, $1.  Badger and B. T. smoking tobacco, 15 cents a pound; Finest table syrup, 30 cents a gallon; Headlight oil, 10 cents a gallon; 17 pounds granulated sugar, $1.  We discount our bills, hence own our goods at lower prices than those who do not buy for cash, and can afford to sell you the best quality of goods at prices less than others.


We charge no goods at these prices, but will pay you for – good butter, at 23 cents a pound and fresh eggs at 22 cents per dozen.


(Click to enlarge)

Bernhard Tragsdorf and son, Will, an early Neillsville businessman.

He was born in Germany in 1855, came to Neillsville in 1876 to visit his brother,

Julius, and lived out his life here.


For the sweet tooth – Chas. Lee had stick candy and mixed candy; 10 cents a pound.


Youngsters could buy a gift for dad at marsh’s Store, large men’s hankies, bright red and white or blue and white, all at half price.


Festivities of the Holiday Season were many through out the City!  The Boy’s Band with solos, quartettes and duets by leading local vocalists accompanied by brass band music made its first time public appearance on December 28 at the Opera Hall.  Billed as the “greatest on earth,” everyone was expected to attend.


The Methodist church was to be turned into “fairyland Christmas” on Christmas Eve, a brightly lit tree with presents underneath, a sight for the happy kidlets to behold in memories forever!


Sunday evening at the Unitarian Church, instead of the usual literary programme, the church was put in the care and keeping of Santa Claus.  It was devoted to the children.  A fine Christmas tree, loaded with things for the little ones, and a most interesting programme by the Sunday school scholars.


The Chicago Lady Quartette gave a rarely fine entertainment Monday evening at Congregational Church.  The educationist Cornelia Nettnof was charming, and the crowd went wild over her.


On December 11, 1893, Mr. and Mrs. Tom P. Haugen, residing on Clay St. welcomed to this world of fun, frolic and good luck, a bouncing boy, their eighth of that gender, he weighed a full 10 pounds.  Tom says he is a dandy – just like all of ‘em.  But, he thinks it a strange thing that there hasn’t been a girl, though eight boys is a good start.  This baby arrived in time for Christmas.


The events of December were many.  Shopping up and down the Neillsville Streets was done leisurely throughout the month.  Fruit cakes were baked Thanksgiving week being marinated with “juices” twice a week prior to Christmas, so as to be just right for the taste buds on the day.  An assortment of cookies were baked, and stashed in some well-hidden, cool place, to be brought forth when the relatives arrived for the family gathering.


On Christmas Eve, families walked to church or rode in the sleigh across the open fields to their house of worship.  The youngsters, anticipated Santa’s arrival – the girls wishing for a new doll, the boys a new wagon or jack-knife and always found a stocking, for each filled with fresh fruit, candy and nuts.


Christmas of 1893 was a much slower, relaxed pace.  Relatives, neighbors and friends came to visit during Holiday week, between Christmas and New Years.  That meant, time for adults to visit, play cards and games, “The kids went outdoors in search of a hill for sledding or skiing, even could pick State or 5th Street with those nice hills – there weren’t cars to worry about.  Afterwards, everyone joined in eating the holiday delicacies with plenty of eggnog and coffee before they departed for home in the crisp, wintry night.  If they walked or rode the sleigh, they often sang Christmas carols along the way.”


Memories of Christmas then were different in some ways, but the same in the basic meaning – celebrating the birth of the Christ child who came so many years ago, the same reason for our celebrating Christmas now.


(Click to enlarge)

Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Eberhardt; Mr. Eberhardt came to Neillsville in 1892

establishing a furniture store and undertaking establishment.



Do any of you recognize yourself, waiting in this line, anticipating viewing the movie, “The Yearling”?  For several years, the Neillsville Bank sponsored a free Christmas Season movie at the Adler (later named Neillsville) Theatre.  An appropriate movie was chosen for that special day.  As the marquee advertises, there were two viewings on that Saturday 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.  The movie was “The Yearling”, a very touching story and if you remember it as I do, a sure “tear-jerker”, a movie you could watch again and again.  There were two showings, but look at the line-up of people for the first viewing, to be repeated again at 3:15.  We know the year, when we recognize that shiny, new ’57 tu-tone hardtop Chevy parked in front of the theatre.  (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Meier of Marshfield, formerly of Neillsville; Her husband, William, was owner of the theatre at that time.)



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