Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 April 6, 1994, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days   

By Dee Zimmerman


Eli Williams was possibly the first settler in the present Granton.  He came from Pennsylvania in 1856, with descendants living there, through many years.  Wage and Marsh arrived shortly after, all taking up war claims of 80 or 160 acreage parcels of land.


An early area logger was Congressman W. T. Price, a colorful character, who had many interesting anecdotes told by those who knew him.  John Paul also was a logger, some years after Price.


The Granton heading mill was built by Philip J. Kemmeter in 1890, sawing basswood belts into staves for barrels and pails.  The mill’s peak production had an annual output of 2,000,000 pieces and employed 15 men for 10 months out of the year.  Pulp was brought in by area farmers processed at the mill and the heading was sent out for assembly.  The mill closed down in 1916 after the basswood trees had all been cut.


Another saw mill, owned by Elroy Osgood, was erected in c.1900.  He also ground feed for the area farmers. 


In 1881 an ordinance was passed to confine horses, mules, cattle, sheep and swine.  A “public pound” was established where stray animals were brought to.


Granton’s village site was platted in 1890 by surveyor C. S. Stockwell.  The first attempt to incorporate the village was in 1903.  A census showed a population of 313 people at that time.  Thirteen years later, a census revealed 328 residents.  A signed petition was presented and granted by the court in 1916.  A charter election was held that year with Philip J. Kemmeter, E. J. Schroeder and Price Lee in charge.


The town of Grant was divided into road districts with each district electing their own path master.  The path master was in charge of chopping out and turnpiking roads with his district.


Windfall or Windfall Corners was an early settlement bordering the north side of the present Granton village.  The name was derived from devastation of an early pioneer storm which left the area in a shambles.  A school house that served the Granton district was located at Windfall Corners, as well as a church building.  The Windfall Cemetery was established by the early pioneers and the Windfall Cemetery Association was organized in 1882.  Across the road from the cemetery is a church building which was built in 1870.  The land that the church stands on was donated to the congregation by a lumbering company to be used for the church site free of any charge, as long as it served as such.  If, or when the Seventh Day Adventist congregation ceased to have the church, the land was to return to the lumber company.  By the time that happened, the company no longer existed, so when the church was merged with the Bethel Marshfield churches and services curtailed at the Windfall Church, the monies were given to missions.  Among those actively involved, in the church’s beginning, were the Allen’s and Hallock.


A new construction is being erected next to the old Adventist church building.  Hopefully, the old building will remain, as it is the oldest church building in Clark County.  Too many of our old buildings have been destroyed or razed, symbols of our local history…gone.


A 1915 Business Directory of Granton listed as such:


            Amiden, G. E.  – Drug Store

            Baer, F. J. – Publisher

            Beaver, George – Saloon         

            Bergeman, Gust – Hotel

            Bladl, J. R.  – Harness Shop

            Connor, R. Co. – Lumber Yard

            Davis, H. F. – Hardware

            Farmers State Bank

            Finnigan, James - Blacksmith   

            Hammerler Bros. – Furniture

            Jahr Bros. – General Store

            Kemmeter, P. J. – General Store & Heading Mill

            Knorr & Rausch – Garage

            Knickle, E. H. – Garage

            Lautenbach, August – Hardware

            Peterson, O. A. – Cheese Factory

            Rahm Bros. & Winn – Feed Store

            Reichert, Alvin – Photographer

            Reichert, F. W. – Jeweler

            Rath, R. R. – Physician

            Ross, H. L. – Dentist

            Ross, R. M. – Physician

            Ross, George – Livery

            Storm, Wm. – Saloon

            Hart, Fred – Meats

            Thayer, W. J. – Hardware

            Wagner, Herman – Saloon

            Witte, H. C. – General Store


In 1906, a small hospital was started by Dr. Schwarze, being located in the old Marsh house on Third Street.  Dr. R. R. Rath came to Granton in 1906 and stated his practice, serving the community for 51 years.  He also developed the Granton Clinic (c.1930) which served the public for several years.


James Finnigan was the town’s blacksmith, having his own building that in later years was moved.  His son, Chester, remodeled it later operated a garage until selling to Mr. Mott, a dealer of Case Machinery. 


Other blacksmiths of Granton were Jarvis, Felser, Walter Moldenhauer, Mr. Schmolke and Art Lautenbach.


Neill Downer operated the Eagle Hotel from 1916 to 1918.


Fred W. Davis, born in Essex, N. Y., married Ruth P. Lee and came to Clark County in 1864.  He bought 60 acres of land in the Town of Weston.  Later the township was split up with that portion renamed Township of Granton.  The land was on the north side of what is now Granton, east of the present Granton area school.


Davis purchased a cow, fixed up a shanty on the property and began clearing land.  To earn some money, he hauled supplies to the lumber camps.  Eventually, he purchased more land, built a barn and a new home shortly after, as the family had grown to 8 and the farm prospered.


Sometime during the 1880’s Davis lost an arm in a logging accident.  Following the accident, he oversaw the farm operation, started a business of buying/selling cattle and supervised the bridge/road building for the county. 


Enjoying music, he was a great fiddler, played for many dances until the accident.


Near the turn of the century, Davis’ wife, Ruth, died at age 52.  Subsequently, he married Amelia Gerlach and to that union was born a daughter, Caroline (who married Freemon McHone).  Children of his first marriage were: Ellen (Nell) Peitenpol; Frank (m. Kate Harriman); Truman (m. Effie Breese); Scott (m. Ada Kimball); Louis (m. India Leighton Draney); Hale (m. Ora Cole) and Victor who died in infancy.


Davis was an expert horseman, having won many driving championships, with his favorite horse “Old Dick” at the Clark County Fairs.  Even after the loss of his arm, he continued the competition of horse racing.  When he retired “Old Dick” from competition, the horse had the task of hauling milk to the factory one half mile from the farm. The elderly mother-in-law would forget to hook-up half of the harness, but the horse knew their objective, making the trip, delivering she and milk on schedule, safely.


Davis died in 1923 and is buried at Windfall Cemetery.  At one time, there were many Davis’s in the Granton area.  Though the name “Davis” isn’t around, there are descendants such as Lila and Lucille, who married to Arthur and Charles Hubing.  Emily Winstead was also a granddaughter and who contributed the data on his live history.


Fred W. Davis, a Clark County pioneer, bought a 60 acre tract of land shortly after arriving in the county.  His farmstead was located at the north edge of what is now Granton.  After losing an arm in a logging accident he turned the farm work over to his sons.  Davis became a cattle buyer and his skill in that type of work was known through out the community.  In addition he supervised the bridge and road building for the Clark County.  It was through his efforts that the railroad, being built from Neillsville to Marshfield, in 1889-1890, established their depot named Granton.


Fred W. Davis, an avid horseman, traveled around the Granton Community in his one horse buggy, a doctor’s buggy.  Davis and his favorite horse “Old Dick” often competed in horse races held at the Clark County Fair, winning on several occasions.  In that photograph, taken on Granton’s Main Street, the awning on the store front, behind the buggy top, reads Kearney Davis, who was related to Fred, who owned and operated a barber shop.


The Lautenbach Hardware Store as it appeared in 1924.  Near the center of the photo, holding a rake in his hand was William Messenberg.  Arlo Lautenbach was standing behind the counter.



Justice and truth are of too fine a quality to be measured by our clumsy human instruments. – Pascal



We cannot be just if we are not kindhearted. -- Vauvenargues



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