Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

  February 2, 1994, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days  


By Dee Zimmerman


George Erickson, while a teenager, often went with Charles Hubing to help show horses at the fairs.  Erickson’s father bought the Nicolas Hubing (Charles’ dad) farm when they moved from Menomonie, his dad was a great horseman, and taught his sons the respect and proper care of horses.


At the end of a workday, horses were fed an ample diet of hay and a portion of oats according to the amount of work they had done. After the harnesses were removed and cared for, the good horseman would take a currying comb in one hand and a brush in the other to groom the animals.  The main purpose was to massage the weary, aching muscles, restore the circulation, and as well, it gave each horse a shining coat.  Well cared for horses could be recognized by their appearance.


As a six-year-old and while living near Menomonie, he remembers his dad leaving in the early hours of morning to work in the woods.  His mother would begin to worry after the evening darkness, anticipating and hoping for her husband’s safe return.


She would periodically open the door, peering into the darkness for some sign of the man and his team.  Finally, as she opened the door once again, the sound of the harness tug chains, jingling on the double trees that echoed in the valley’s stillness, ended her fears.


Erickson owned draft horses during his years of living on the farm, a hobby of many years.


George Erickson showed his Belgian stallion, Mighty Mike at the Clark County Fair in 1982


The City of Neillsville celebrated its Centennial in 1982.  One of the units in the celebrated parade was that sponsored by Gene Ross Auto Clinic.  Depicting the mode of hauling during moving, one hundred years ago in comparison to 1982, George Erickson drove his Belgian team, June and Princess, with a covered wagon as Gene followed with a present day U-Haul truck.  In earlier years, George Erickson and Leo Hemp often combined their two Belgian teams to make up a 4-in-hand hitch for parades.


There was always one team, or one horse, that stood out amongst the others when a farmer owned several.  The team that was clam under any situation, pulled good together, could be trusted when driven by any member of the family – was the basic team called upon when only two were needed for a task.


Scanning through old Press issue, revealed other horse related news items:


August 1873 – “The great event of the Saturday Sparta Races was the 2:40 race, for which there were three entries; Prince Elmo, owned by Stewart of Mauston, John Palmer (namesake of the well-known owner) and Minnie H., owned by James Hewett of Neillsville.  A better race has never been trotted in western Wisconsin.  The fourth and deciding heat, like the third, closed with horses, bunched under the wire in grand shape.  The Prince was a fraction ahead, and took the heat with race time at 2:39.75.  Minnie H. was a close second, and Palmer, third.  The crowd shouted their enthusiasm.”


July 18, 1873 – “The Humbird Stage, which was delayed until night on Tuesday, upset near King’s Mill, with eighteen passengers on board, including several ladies.  One man was somewhat bruised, but not seriously.  The roads are in terrible condition, and the wonder is that the stage got through at all.”


August 15, 1873 – “A spirited horse trot has been agreed upon to come off over the Greenwood course on the 16th, next Saturday.  Several fiery, untamed steeds have been entered, and a sufficient forfeit put up to insure the race.”


September 5, 1873 – “The race at Greenwood, last Saturday was won by Aleck Lynn’s stage coach.  The other old sports heard he was coming and withdrew their horses; but it is the opinion now that they could have beaten him, as he had all the girls and boys in town on board, taking them to the concert.”


August 15, 1873 – “Mrs. Teller and Mrs. Marsh, of this place, are no timorous pair.  They drove horse and buggy, alone, back from Black River Falls to Neillsville, last Monday night, making the whole distance after dark.  They made the trip down, early that morning, returning during the night, and they testify to having had a good time.”


“Mr. Robert Ross, who owns a valuable stock farm near this place, has some No. 1 stock.  Recently, he purchased one 3-year-old stallion colt, weighting 1,100 pounds as well as another stallion and mare.”


At one time, the city of Neillsville had a cemetery for horses.


The idea to procure an area to be used for the special cemetery came about in 1882.  The newly chartered city, that year set up ordinances, and one of those ordinances stated that no animal could be buried in the gardens or backyards.


As many city residents owned horses for transportation, there was no place to bury their horses after they died.  They became fond of the animal, had paid a good price for it and took pride in its care and performance.


It was decided to use land on the west side of North Grand Avenue, just over the Grand Avenue Bridge in the Town of Pine Valley.  It was next to the shale pit.


Another city ordinance relating to horses, passed after the turn of the century stated that a person driving an automobile on meeting a horse raveling in the opposite direction, had to stop to allow a horse and buggy to pass.  The automobile could not go through a street crossing, exceeding three miles per hour, a precaution for the safety of the horse and buggy.


A humorous story is recorded about one of the horses that pulled the fire wagon in the c.1870s. The man, who had a dray line service, had one horse that pulled the wagon around town, making freight deliveries to stores in Neillsville.  It was conveniently arranged, that in case there was a fire, his horse would be used to pull the fire wagon to the fire because the horse was harnessed and in the area.  After hearing the fire whistle sounded a few times, the horse learned that meant “get to the fire station.”  More than once, the horse’s owner would be in a store delivering boxes when the fire whistle (blew) and the horse took off, running to the fire.


In recent years, the showmanship of horses has again grown throughout our area and state.  If you have attended the Clark County Fair, recently, you can vouch for that.  There are many fine draft and saddle horses entered with the numbers growing each year.  That is the first place some of us head for, once we are through the gate – to the horse barns to view those fine animals.


Area draft horse showmen represented are Don Marg of Neillsville, Alfred and Dan Meyer of Loyal and Willie Stickert of Chili, etc.  Several saddle horses are shown by the 4-H club members and other county residents.  Delbert and Pat Struble of Neillsville raise the American Saddlebreds which they enter and show throughout the United States.  During their 35 years of participation, they have had several World Champions Saddlebreds.


In summary, the love of horses, as a hobby, rather than a necessity at this point in time, still exists among many of us.


Larry Langreck with the family’s reliable mare, Maude, as they left the farm to haul milk to the Milk Products plant in Neillsville.  Ben Langreck, Larry’s dad, rented the Buddenhagen farm, northeast of Neillsville.  The farm is now owned by Walter and James Wetzel.


Cutting ice on the Granton Pond was a winter chore during the 1920s – 1930s.  The chunks of ice were stored in a dugout area or old building with at least two feet of sawdust packed around it, to keep it frozen.  During the summer it was sold to businesses and homes for refrigeration use.  Ben Langreck and his team of horses hauled the ice.  Some neighbors, Schlinsogs’ and Garbischs’, helped with ice cutting and hauling.


Rocky (left) and Nina a light team owned by Wm. Joyce, Sr.  Rocky, a strawberry roan, and Nina were half-Morgans, with Rocky being considered very intelligent and somewhat cantankerous.  One of Rocky’s habits was to free himself from his stall and indulge in the molasses bin.  The next morning he would be found with his head cover (covered) from ear to ear with molasses and hay.  Shown with the team are Wm. Joyce, Jr. and “Frosty”.


Colonel (left) and Bob a team of heavies, owned by Wm. Joyce Sr.  Visible in the photo are the graduated rings through which the lines were run to keep them from becoming entangled in the neck-yokes of the harness.  Wm. Joyce is shown holding the lines.


(A correction on last week’s article: George Hubing and his team were the first pictured in the late 1920’s Clark County Fair photo – as they had won first place in the pulling contest.


Nicholas and Mary Hubing were the parents of then children, Charles and George were two of their sons.


Charlotte (Mrs. Bob Jacob) is the daughter of Lila Hubing and the late Charles Hubing who with her husband, Bob, lives in Port Edwards.


Thanks, also, to Larry Langreck and Bill Joyce for photos and information.


This article is a tribute to horsemen, past and present, one of those being my dad.)


This week’s Words of Wisdom: “What is not good for the hive is not good for the bee.” – Marcus Aurelius



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