Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
March 25, 1993, Page 24
Transcribed by Sharon Schulte
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
Good Old Days
Sometime, while you stroll down Hewett Street in Neillsville and along the five hundred block, glance up at the Victorian Era buildings. There is much to be seen when you look at the decorative gingerbread facing overlaying the brick structures with varied arrangements of bricks adding to the trim.
One of the buildings has C. C. Sniteman, 1895, Company in raised lettering displayed near the top under the eaves portion. The pharmacy business occupying that building still carries the Sniteman name after over one hundred years as a pharmaceutical.
The Sniteman Pharmacy at 538 Hewett Street, Neillsville, which has retained the name of its longtime previous owner, Charles C. Sniteman. Looking at the upper front exterior of the building, you can see the wording C. C. Sniteman Company, 1895. Mr. Sniteman was a very civic minded individual who actively pursued establishing new businesses, factories and helped develop city improvements while being a resident of Neillsville. (photo was taken during c.1940-1950. If you can identify the men in the picture, please contact us.)
In reviewing Neillsville’s history, it seems fitting that the name C.C. Sniteman should be visible in our city out of respect for the man who bore that name. Charles C. Sniteman was a civic-minded individual who actively assumed his responsibilities as a citizen of the community by promoting industry and the various city advancements.
C.C. Sniteman arrived in Neillsville by stagecoach in January of 1879. His original plan was to stay overnight at the O’Neill House, the then elegant hotel in the city, before embarking the stagecoach the following morning to continue his journey further west. However, staying the night at the hotel, he decided to stay and look over the area. Apparently, he was encouraged in what he saw and decided the community held a promising future.
Charles was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1849 and began working in a drug store at the age of 14. Saving from the $5.00 per month salary during four years of employment, he left Peoria at the age of eighteen, traveling to Philadelphia where he enrolled at the College of Pharmacy. After working in a drug store from 1871 to 1876 and buying an interest in a manufacturing concern, he became ill with malaria. A doctor advised him to move to Wisconsin or Minnesota where living in that climate would restore his health.
Evidently, the climate was agreeable for Charles’ health as he lived to be 91 years of age, dying in 1940.
When Charles came to the town, there were two drug stores on the same locations as Neillsville Health Mart and Sniteman Pharmacy are now. Henry Myer, a logger, owned a drug store at 538 Hewett and needing a pharmacist, hired C.C. Sniteman. Within a short time, Charles purchased the business.
In 1882, when Neillsville was chartered as a city, Charles hired a sixteen year old boy, George Sontag, to work in his business. With his encouragement and financial assistance, the young man entered pharmacy college, returning to Neillsville working with the business throughout his career until the time of his death in 1946.
A new brick building was built around the wooden frame building in 1891 not interrupting the pharmacy business for even a day. The old structure was dismantled little by little within the confines of the new facility.
As well as promoting his own business, C.C. was instrumental in promoting the city such as the City Light and Power Company. The electricity generator was located at the present transformer station site on the north bank of O’Neill Creek, which is now owned by Northern States Power Company. Sniteman was one of the first early electricity customers in the city.
As plans formulated for the Furniture Factory, C.C. was an officer on the board of directors, giving his whole hearted support in its development.
Sniteman was the main "push" in establishing the first canning factory in Neillsville. Eventually, there were two such factories providing jobs and a market for local farm cash crops. The canning companies operated until the early 1940’s.
There was a washboard factory, which assembled glass rubbing boards and was established in Neillsville after being purchased from a LaCrosse firm. Mr. Sniteman was one of the partners in that business venture.
Charles Sniteman married in the year 1890 and they lived at 317 Hewett. In 1918, a Chicago architect built a home for them on the corner next to their frame house. The home was built of sandstone and brick.
Not all of Mr. Sniteman’s promotional efforts, of which he invested his own monies into, were successful but it was not for the lack of his enthusiasm and hard work in trying.
It has been assumed that he financially and inspirationally aided some young people into furthering their education at state universities who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve those goals. If that is true, what other investment in the future can be greater than that of our young people? In memory of Charles C. Sniteman, what a wonderful legacy he left to our city, a legacy of giving of himself in so many ways to the community and its people whom he loved.
A view of the City of Neillsville as it appeared during the late 1800's. The old courthouse was the tallest building on the horizon, shown near the center of the photograph. The wooded rail fence was built along what was later to be Clay Street. Houses on Grand Avenue were built up to 2nd Street, at that time the south edge of the city.
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