Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 November 2, 1994, Page 36

 Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days  

By Dee Zimmerman


Neillsville’s oldest service club, the Kiwanis, will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 1996.


A service club, such as the Kiwanis, is as the word implies, a local group of people joining together to be of service to their community-making it a better place to live.


The Kiwanis Club idea was originated in 1914 by two Michigan residents. Their first slogan was “We Trade.”  Suggestions for a club name were encouraged by Allen S. Brown, one of the original organizers.  Of the various names submitted, an agreement was made on an Otchipow Indian word “Kee (made Ki) in KIWANIS, which their language meant “We gather together – We make a big noise.”


On January 21, 1915, the secretary of State in Michigan incorporated the Kiwanis Club, the birthdate of Kiwanis International.  Neillsville’s Club was the 527th Club to be formed only six and a half years after the national charter.


The club motto was changed from “We Trade” to a humanitarian motto “We Build.”


In 1924, constitutional objectives were adopted as a guideline for the Kiwanis goals in building a better community where they live, locally and nationally.


John Moss, Milwaukee, Dist. Governor, who later became International President, presented the Neillsville charter to Vic Nehs, its first Kiwanis president, on September 7, 1924.  At that meeting, the local club showed a membership of 66 people.  W. D. Martin was secretary and N. E. North was treasurer.


A yearly publication of the year 1938, listing achievements of the state Kiwanis Clubs, credited the Neillsville Club with accomplishments of their sponsorship in awarding Schuster Municipal Park to the City of Neillsville.   They sponsored a swimming pool for the city and Boy and Girl Scout Troops.  Up to that time Forest Calway and Jess Scott had served as Lt. Governors.


Through the years, there have been 789 club presidents, the present one being Sam Ray.


The club’s first meetings were held in the meeting rooms of the former Neillsville Bank building basement, on the corner of Hewett and 6th Streets, Mrs. (Neverman) Tompkins was the chief cook who prepared family style meals on their weekly meeting nights.  After several years, the meetings were moved to the Merchants Hotel dining room, later to the Arbutus Café and in the past ten years they have met at Mary Lou’s Restaurant.


Through the years three other service clubs have started in the city; the Rotary Club, the Lion’s Club and most recently, the Optimist Club.


The Kiwanis Club held an annual “Liar’s Contest” starting in 1936, continuing for many years.  Pictured above, left to right, front row: S. G. Patey, 1936 contest winner; Donald E. Peters 1940 contest winner and who is a former Superintendent of Neillsville Public Schools; back row: Dr. Milton C. Rosekrans, 1937 winner, and Jess Scott, 1941 winner.  Tall tales made up about hunting, fishing, golfing etc. enabled the men to become winners.  (Photo and info. Contributed by Fred Kieser)


Prior to the service club days, Neillsville had a Boosters Club which promoted the Clark County fair, touring through the county, stopping at each village and community, inviting the residents to attend the fair.  The above scene was taken in front of the Merchant’s Hotel.  Notice the sign on the front of one car that reads “overall boys,” that was apparently some employees of the overall factory which was located near the 7th Street and Grand Avenue intersection.  (Photo courtesy of Mrs. W. H. Lauer)


A circa 1930 photo of the Neillsville Kiwanis Club as they posed in front of the public library.  Front row left to right: Pete North, Claude Sturdevant, Lewence Geo. Rude, Forest Calaway, (unidentified), Wm. Campman, Father, unidentified, Levi Wm. son, Harry Zimmerman,  Geo. May Tufts.  2nd row: unidentified, Bill Dahnert, Otto Laurence, Richard Welch, unidentified, Joe Zimmerman, George Zimmerman, unidentified, Oscar Schoengarth, Herb Brown, Jake Hoesly, Jule Neverman and Jess W. Scott.  Third row: Victor Woelffer, 2 unidentified, Bill Smith Jr., 3 unidentified, Roy Schmedel, Donald Peters, Victor Nehs, Geo. Ure, Dr. Milton Rosekrans, Bill Smith, Sr., un-identified, Geo. Crothers.  As the view indicates, it was the era of the wool Melton overcoats and Fedora hats, and a few coats – an age of business suits being the attire worn to the meetings.  (Photo contributed by Mrs. W. H. Lauer)




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