Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

  January 19, 1994, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days  


By Dee Zimmerman




One of Neillsville’s early businesses was a hardware store owned by Adolph Radke.


Adolph F. Radke was born in the Province of Posen, Germany, in 1858.  Six years later, he traveled with his parents to Mequon, Wis., where he lived until 1885, then traveling to Neillsville.


Shortly after taking up residency in the city, he entered the hardware business, carrying on until retiring in c.1924.  In 1885, he married Miss Minnie Mieske of Mequon.


Radke had business interests in addition to the hardware store, such as a building supply department, selling lumber, cement lime, and other building material.  Also, he built a number of residences some of which he sold and others were rentals.  He was a promotional figure in Neillsville’s growth as a city, having arrived here three years after it was chartered as a city.  He immediately became actively involved in its development.


Radke had the respect and confidence of his customers.  He was known for honesty in their business dealings.


There were four children in the Radke family, three daughters, and one son; Mrs. Wm. Hellerman, Mrs. Albert Dahnert, Miss Frieda Radke and Herbert Radke.


Shortly after retiring, Radke passed away in January, 1925.

The first A. F. Radke Hardware Store, started shortly after Radke arrived in Neillsville during 1885; Notice the walking plow, and wares on display at the front of the building. 

C.1910 interior view of Radke Hardware with a large display of kitchen ranges and space heaters, which were fueled by wood or coal.  Left to right: Mr. Resong, Herbert Radke (in knee pants, standing on the counter), Tom Hommel (police chief), and Adolph Radke.  Man standing among the stoves is unidentified


The A. F. Radke Hardware Store in the building on the corner of 5th and West Street, (now occupied by Dave’s Auto Parts).  That was the second site for this hardware business.  As a typical hardware store of that time, the hog wire and chicken wire fencing and metal milk buckets were in the front window or on the sidewalk, advertising the merchandise.  Left to right: Adolph Radke and children; Elsie, Tubby and Frieda.  A son-in-law, Albert Dahnert took over the store management when he was mustered out of the Army in 1919. The business was sold to M. N. Manley in 1927.  Dahnert then became the first city mail carrier in 1928.


Snake Street in 1893


A rooftop view of Seventh Street looking east from the roof of the old (Omaha, or Paulus or Hamilton, the various names through the years) hotel

“Snake Street,” 7th Street as we know it, as it appeared in 1893.  The days of the boardwalk, passed many empty lots not yet built upon.  Goose Creek was still visible then and made its presence well known when it went on its rampage during spring run-off.  Now, Goose Creek runs underground, starting near Schuster park until it reaches O’Neill Creek.


The year, c.1893, has been derived by the surrounding buildings visible in the photograph.  The upper left shows the Merchant’s Hotel, corner of 7th and Hewett, moved to that location in 1889.  Side views of the Ed Markey building, (now the Laundromat) is on the 7th Street and Grand Avenue corner, built in 1890.  The east side of Markey building was known as the Wasserburger Block, built up and completed in 1904.


The lone brick house (on right side of street, in foreground) with little “back house” and wash on the line was razed when Neillsville Milk Products built on that site.  The southeast corner of Grand and 7th became occupied by the Zbinden milk-cheese factory in 1928 (later the Press building and now the Anywear Factory). Zbinden was in business for only a short time when he sold out to American Stores.


At the corner of 7th and West Streets stands a brick building, which at that time was the Fred Hump (Hemp?) Saloon.  The building still stands but is vacant.  Behind the brick structure is a small, long horse shed building.  The two-story white structure to be seen east of the Hump Saloon, corner of 7th and Hewett, was that of Danger’s (Urban’s Garage now) were more horse sheds.


Between the Hemp (Hump?) building and Grand Avenue (vacant lots in picture) later, was built a Blacksmith Shop, next to the Dresden building.  Later, Em. Roessler had a printing shop there.  Also, there was a shoe service in a small building.


All of those buildings were razed to be replaced by new buildings, now B. Struensee, Const.  The Medicke building and Fred Vornholt’s Small Engine Repair


Apparently the elevator building hadn’t been built yet at that time.  The Overall Factory and Washboard Factory (both in short existence) were located between the 7th and Grand Corner and Omaha Hotel lot.  That hotel was built by Ed Schoengarth in 1893 probably under construction when photo was taken – can assume that by the stack of lumber in view.  Schoengarth owned and operated the brick factory, (located on what is now Tock Field along Park Street).  He built the hotel to accommodate his workers needs for rooms to stay in while they were in his employ.

The winter scene, with a first snowfall, shows the single lane sled track down the middle of 7th Street.  The boardwalk, on the right, crossed over Goose Creek and making it way up to Hewett Street.  The name “Snake Street” was derived from the snakes that hid under the board walk to avoid the sun during the summer, coming off the creek area.


The building in view, at the east end of 7th and east side of Hewett, still stands, vacated recently by Sears Catalog Stores and now Tammy Marty’s antique shop, ‘Timeless Treasures.’


Three spires are in view, starting at the left the O’Neill House, the Clark County Courthouse dome and Presbyterian Church spire which was along 5th Street between Court and Hewett.


As we can see, there have been many businesses, and buildings built and gone within a one hundred year span.


(Thanks to the Clark County Historical Society for the photos.  Also, thanks to Ruth Ebert, our historian, who gathered information on the Radke article and photos)



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